Lecture VIII 12th January, 1940
I read you the “Fundamentum” of St. Ignatius at the end of the last lecture.
With this we come to the actual “exercitia spiritualia” themselves.
It is usually meditated upon in the course of the first week, the director of the exercises must present it for meditation in some form or other.
The first sentence:
“Man was created” condenses a whole attitude, and is of the greatest psychological importance.
We must consider what our position towards such a statement is.
The Fundamentum was written by St. Ignatius himself.
In considering the Anima Christi I purposely did not give you Ignatius’ own comments and annotations, but preferred to use those of a modern commentator,
He meditates entirely in the spirit of his master and is an excellent example of the Ignatian manner of meditation, in modern not medieval language.
I shall use his book again in speaking of the “Fundamentum” but before doing so I should like to make some general remarks on the text.
You can see from the example of Przywara how living these things still are within the Catholic Church.
It is useful and advisable, for reasons into which I will not enter, that we, who do not for the most part belong to the Catholic Church, should try to understand these things today.
“Homo creatus est” means that man was created.
We are inclined to turn our backs smilingly on such a statement, thinking naturally enough of the first chapter of Genesis.
But it is really a psychological declaration of the first importance: does man feel himself to have been created or not?
Natural science holds that man has developed, through long generations of pre-human ancestors.
This is, of course, a process of nature, not a human activity.
Do we feel that we have created ourselves or have we rather found ourselves?
Most people feel the latter, one day we found ourselves and said “I” for the first time.
But had that “I” been created or did it just happen?
This is quite a different question and a very difficult one. Our feeling gives us no answer.
We can only say that we gradually discovered ourselves with our gifts, our vices, our qualities and our imperfections.
No proofs lie to our hand whether this conglomeration had a purpose, an intention, behind it, or whether it was the result of blind chance.
Speaking generally, neither our own feeling nor natural science can assure us that there is any kind of purpose behind.
But if we leave general conclusions and seek out individuals with a long and ripe experience of life and ask them: “Do you feel you are the result of chance, or do you feel that something of some
kind was at work in you, that created you as you are?”
Astonishingly many of such individuals will reply that they have the feeling of something at work which led them, of an inner meaning, an inner guidance, which curiously enough has made them what they are.
Is such a statement simply a subjective phantasy or are there scientific proofs?
We must answer: there is the fact that the unconscious, the unconscious psyche, is older than the conscious.
The child’s psyche is unconscious, an animal psyche if you like to express it that way, and very gradually a conscious condition develops.
Things which we do not know today, which we shall only know in the future, exist already in the unconscious.
There are actual proofs that this is so. If we follow a series of dreams through months or years, we can see a thought appearing of which the dreamer is totally unaware and which he cannot see till,
perhaps years afterwards, it breaks through into his consciousness.
One is, therefore, justified in saying that the unconscious knew it long before the conscious.
Then the question arises: “Has the unconscious consciousness of its own?”
That is a very difficult problem which I will not touch upon today.
We will content ourselves with the fact that thoughts actually exist in the unconscious psyche long before they exist in consciousness.
Again and again one wonders: “Does he know what he is doing?”
But this knowledge comes only much later.
It is a fact, which we can prove in many ways, that an unconscious condition precedes the same thing in consciousness, not only in childhood, but right through life.
Pieces of the personality, thoughts, opinions, etc. which may play an important role later, can be objectively perceived by a careful observer, only not by the individual himself.
This is an empirical fact, and in this sense we can say that consciousness is anticipated, is created.
Consciousness is produced from a quite specific unconsciousness, which anticipates things that consciousness will only later recognise and understand.
It has been thought before we think it; and this makes it very understandable that many people, with a great deal of experience of life, assure us they have the feeling that they were
anticipated and understood by a higher intelligence.
We cannot say whether such an intelligence exists.
It is possible that certain thoughts exist in themselves but no one knows this for certain.
I investigate such things from an empirical point of view naturally and not from any given philosophy.
If I ever discovered a case in which such a higher intelligence was absolutely certain it would make a great impression on me.
It has looked suspiciously like it sometimes, but I have never met an absolutely certain case.
But it is certain that the unconscious prepares us for the future and anticipates us.
Things suddenly become clear to our consciousness and one could say that this is the moment when the unconscious succeeds in pushing the prepared content up into consciousness.
Our whole being is a discovery, it existed long ago.
Perhaps our parents knew it and for long years we did not; then suddenly we understood.
This psychological fact does not prove the feeling of having been created, but it contains a substantial possibility for such a feeling.
This is a very unpopular and antiquated point of view but it is true.
If we understand “man is created” in this sense it changes our whole attitude.
For if we think that everything originates in the conscious the door is open to a Luciferian hybris.
Then we believe “where there is a will there is a way” and think we are the gods of this world.
Then there is not one god but many gods, for everyone is trying to be the one and only god.
But if we understand: “I am created” correctly, then we recognise that we are a product, that we were anticipated.
We were and knew it not.
It was, so to speak, known, but we must leave the question open who it was that knew it.
If we adopt this point of view we are not very far from the old formulation that man was created.
We are thought from our psyche before we know it, we can bring empirical facts to prove this.
So the statement that “man was created” seems to me very important.
I speak, of course, of his psychic existence and this must not be confused with the facts of natural science regarding his anatomical existence.
If there is really an intention, a plan, behind our psychic existence, the question arises for what purpose?
Therefore Ignatius continues “ut laudet Deum Dominum nostrum”, for the purpose of praising God.
We will first ask ourselves: does the feeling of being anticipated engender a feeling of purpose?
In other words, have we the feeling that life has meaning?
I must say here, from the psychological point of view, that the discovery or experience of having been anticipated always brings a feeling of meaning with it.
If I discover that I have been anticipated, it makes an enormous impression upon me; I could not in that moment clearly define the meaning of my life but I feel it as something living.
We could perhaps formulate it: “It must have a meaning.”
But what peculiar kind of meaning has it?
A certain line of thought, for instance, is developed through a series of dreams; and I discover that I am the duplicate of my unconscious anticipation of myself; at the same moment I am filled with a
sense of purpose as if a secret arrangement of my fate existed.
One no longer asks “What meaning has my life” but one is filled with the meaning itself.
You know that such essential discoveries are not made through clear formulations but are rather feeling experiences which have a far greater influence on human life than intellectual reflections.
It is much more important to be contented and peaceful than to be intellectual.
One living experience is worth a great many intellectual formulations and a psychology must be founded on this fact.
Ignatius formulates this purpose as the “laudare dominum”.
We have already spoken of this* and I told you it was a court custom of propitiating the king which had found its way into religion.
We see here again, as we saw in considering the prayer Anima Christi, that man must submit unconditionally to an almighty power.
There is no judge over God, as Job says, and we can only do all we can to propitiate this great power.
Ignatius formulates this as praising, doing reverence to and serving God.
If you translate this into psychological language it means that Ignatius recommended an unconditional submission to the unconscious mind.
Put like this it arouses resistances, we think that the unconscious is only an idea and forget that we are unable to speak the next word if the unconscious withholds it.
And Ignatius recommends this for a definite purpose: that man may save his soul.
If man does not reverence and submit to the unconscious, which created his consciousness, he loses his soul, that is, he loses his connection with soul and unconscious.
Imagine what would happen if a modern psychologist told his patients to submit to their own soul, to obey the objective psychic contents which appear spontaneously in dreams?
All reasonable people would say that was boundless subjectivism and that the psychologist should be put in a lunatic asylum.
But, if we call it ” God”, it is totally different.
Then it falls into the traditional scheme of things and sounds quite safe, hardly likely to lead the wrong way.
Yet it has led to some very peculiar places, there have been some extremely odd saints!
They came on many dangerous ideas, so much so that the Catholic Church was justified in forbidding individual revelation.
The Church decides what can be ascribed to the Holy Ghost and, if it did not, there would be an outbreak of innumerable sects, each one preaching a truth of its own, as was the case after
the Reformation which produced a veritable Tower of Babel.
There were certain cynical philosophers then who said that the world and its riches were temporal and therefore must be destroyed.
They belonged to the communist species and lived at the cost of other people!
They would rob people in order to send their money into eternity, to destroy its worldly power.
This is how such things were justified spiritually in those days.
We see, therefore, that this unconditional surrender is full of dangers.
We think we have conjured away this danger when we call it God, for Christianity has forgotten the dark side of God.
The old Church knew that God was dangerous.
We can see this in the symbols which they used to express God.
One such symbol was a rhinoceros, a dangerous, bad-tempered animal.
And the God described in the Old Testament is a bad-tempered, revengeful, violent God who brought the world into disorder.
It was a Church Father who said that he was changed through the love of a pure virgin and became a God of Love in her womb.
So this fact was well known.
But gradually God was only spoken of as the good God but the Church knew, and perhaps still knows, that God is dangerous.
But it preaches in mild murmurs, for it is not popular to speak as Luther spoke of the deus absconditus.
The dark side of God presents even religious people with a tremendous problem, for even they have to ask why he endures the devil.
But even the devil is largely forgotten, all the light is on the “good” God.
“Omne bonum a cleo, omne malum a homine” and then me are the devil.
Here again is a Luciferian hybris, for we thus claim to direct the dark side of the world, because in the old teaching of the Church the devil was Christ’s opposite, his other half.
The principle of evil is just as autonomous and eternal as the principle of good.
The teaching of the Church does not, it is true, say that God intentionally created the devil but it admits his existence as the equivalent opposite of Christ.
We find this same idea in the old Zarathustra.
The greatest god Ahura Mazda had two manifestations: Vohumanoh, the good intention, (a parallel to the Christian Logos) and Angramainyush, the evil spirit, (parallel to the devil).
These were both together in the original Ahura Mazda.
An old alchemist said that God was obviously displeased with his work on the second day when he had separated the waters above from the waters below, thus creating the Binarius (two) which is the devil.
On all the other days “God saw that it was good” but not on the second day. (Compare Gen. I. 6-8.)
As God is the union, the reconciliation, of all the opposites, it is natural that both the good and evil principles should be in him potentially, should originate in him.
We could formulate it as : where God is nearest the danger is greatest.
We find a similar formulation in an extra-canonical saying of Christ’s: “Who is near to me is near to the fire, and who is far from me is far from the Kingdom.”
This is a very profound thought which contains the idea of the dark side.
For fire devours and destroys.
The devil is connected with fire, he is the Lord of flaming Hell and goes about like a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour”, he has the qualities of fire itself.
There was much speculation about this subject in the Middle Ages; we see it, for instance, in the symbol of the lion in alchemy.
You see, therefore, what a burning problem the absolute surrender ordered by Ignatius constitutes.
Is it practically possible to submit unconditionally to the psychic basis of our own nature?
The existence of Christianity proves that man can submit to God but in Christianity God is something which already exists, is already formulated, and man hopes that his prayers will reach this divinity.
One could say a great deal on this point but we will return to the Fundamentum.
If the purpose of my existence is to serve God so that I may save my soul, the question then arises what should my attitude be to my fellow-beings, to the world in which I live?
If my purpose lies in this world, then the purpose of serving God makes no sense, I should pursue my goal in the world.
This is the modern view: we are here to be good citizens, to pay our taxes, to succeed in our professions and to serve the state with our lives and everything which we have.
The question naturally arises which is better, to serve God or the State?
The totalitarian claim of the state is derived from this absolute submission to God. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 441-445.