Lecture IX 19th January, 1940
We spoke of the beginning of the “Fundamentum” in the last lecture and come today to the sentence:
“And the other things on the face of the earth were created for man’s sake.”
This sentence states that not only man but everything on the earth was created.
The universe did not simply happen, but was created for the purpose of serving man.
This gives man a central significance in creation; he is, so to speak, the summit of creation, the reason that it exists.
Man thus acquires a dignity which natural science would never accord him.
From the point of view of natural science everything happened, it found itself, science does not concede any purpose behind creation or that man is in any way its goal.
Natural science simply ridicules the old point of view.
It is very easy to ridicule such things, to understand them is far more difficult.
It is not necessary to take the statement of creation literally, it rather describes a psychological attitude, an as if.
It is as if man were created, as if everything else were there to serve him.
We must not forget, however, that this gives us no information about the other things in themselves.
They were created, Ignatius continues, in order:
“to help him in the following out of the end for which he was created.”
They were not created for man’s earthly existence, to provide him with meat, bread, wine, etc., but to help man to attain the purpose of his own creation.
We have already seen what this purpose is: to praise God so that man may come to the court and serve the king.
This must be understood symbolically so we must investigate the images which were in the mind of Ignatius in order to understand what he meant.
There is a great deal of medieval material to help us in this task.
Art, for instance, provides us with many representations of the Beyond.
The kingdom of God and the Heavenly Jerusalem are both symbolised by a royal court, and in the rex gloriae the triumphant Christ sits in the place of the king.
A particularly impressive example is to be found at the end of Dante’s “Paradiso”, Cant. XXXIXXXIII.
The court is described in the form of a snow white rose, where the great mediatress, the Blessed Mother, is seated in state, and where the angels, saints, martyrs and fathers of the Church form the petals.
At last, through the intercession of Mary, Dante sees the centre: “the three orbs of triple hue” that symbolize the Trinity.
We find the same idea in those medieval Rose Windows where Christ, as the rex gloriae, is surrounded by the four evangelists, they are, symbolically speaking, the pillars on which he rests.
The Rose Window is a mandala and we come here to a curious analogy between East and West, the mystical flower which is the seat of the divinity.
We have already often spoken of the Indian Padme or Lotus.
It has a female significance, for it really symbolises the womb.
And we read in the Paradiso, Canto XXXIII:
“For in thy womb rekindling shone the love Reveal’d, whose genial influence makes now This flower to germin in eternal peace:”
This rose is the rose we read of in the beginning of Canto XXXI:
“In fashion, as a snow white rose, lay then Before my view the saintly multitude, Which in His own blood Christ epoused . . .”
This is· the multitude of the whole Church and the centre, the womb so to speak, is the innermost sanctuary, the Deity:
. …. , “In that abyss Of radiance, clear and lofty, seem ‘d, methought, Three orbs of triple hue, clipt in one bound: And, from another, one reflected seem’d, As rainbow is from rainbow: and the third Seem’d fire, breathed equally from both.”
Ignatius was probably familiar with all these things, they appear again and again right through the Middle Ages and even up to the present time.
Dante represents the whole sphere of Heaven as consisting of a series of circles and the highest or last is the rose.
That is an exact parallel to those eastern mandalas where the lotus is in the centre surrounded by a magic circle.
Curiously enough I came across a similar picture the other day, belonging to modern Catholic art, a representation of the birth of Christ, the Christmas mystery.
It depicted a snow landscape with mountains in the distance, there were some houses and quite in the foreground a plant with four buds.
The Christ child is emerging from the central flower.
This is a purely eastern idea, the god in the lotus and, as far as I know, it is not to be found in this form in medieval art.
It may also possibly be an effort at syncretism, that is, at introducing the eastern symbol of the lotus into Church iconography.
The Middle Ages certainly had the basic idea of Christ as the centre, the King and the goal.
He was, so to speak, the archetype of the goal and was only reached through the mediation of the feminine principle, through the Virgin Mary, the mater dei.
It is as if the rex gloriae were surrounded by the love of the Blessed Mother and it were necessary to advance through successive circles or spheres, as we see from the example of Dante, in order to reach the innermost vision.
This runs parallel to the eastern conception where the centre is the creative god Shiva, surrounded by his feminine counterpart, Shakti.
As far as I know there was no direct connection between the two, and it is not very likely, because we find the same idea not only in India and Europe but also in the Mayan culture.
In the temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza a vessel was discovered under the altar, which contained a most marvellous mandala with four feathered serpents as guardians of the horizon and decorated with three thousand turquoises.
It was evidently the central secret of the temple, which was in the form of a pyramid of steps, and in the innermost sanctuary we find this representation of what one could call the secret kingdom which has this basic structure.
If, therefore, the goal of the exercitia spiritualia is this secret kingdom, then it is really much the same as the eastern goal: to reach the seat of the Buddha, the centre of the mandala, the symbol of the Atman, the Self. This then is the goal for which everything was created.
We could say that the universe only exists in order that this fruit may ripen; in order that the Self may come into being and reach its own place, which is simply a psychic process of becoming.
Meister Eckhart expresses about the same idea when he says: “The innermost nature of all corn meaneth wheat, and of all metal, gold, and of all birth, man!”
“Hence it follows that man should make use of creatures so far as they do help him towards his end, and should withdraw from them so far as they are a hindrance to him in regard of that end.”
An ethical, or one could say, a philosophical line of conduct is deduced here from the foregoing and he continues:
“Wherefore it is necessary to make ourselves detached in regard of all created things.”
In order to preserve our freedom towards them, and so that we can choose them or refuse them at will.
That is, as man himself is created for a purpose, he may use all created things for that purpose, and in order to do so freely he must be indifferent and unconcerned about them.
One might almost think that this attitude was similar to that of Buddhism.
You know the Buddhist attitude from my former lectures.
The world is not only explained as Maya but is experienced as such, and the whole emotional relation to the world is introverted, drawn back into the individual, in order to experience the centre.
Ignatius’ attitude, however, is not Buddhist but rather stoical.
One must not allow anything to impress one but must remain indifferent, equable and serene.
“. . . Solely desiring and choosing those things which may lead us to the end for which we were created.”
This is obviously not a Buddhist point of view, for this attitude chooses and uses certain things, it even clings to things or people that are necessary to reach the goal.
Nothing is necessary according to the Buddhist standpoint, everything is a deviation from the path, because it is illusion.
We will now turn to the real Jesuit Meditation of the Fundamentum as it is practised in the exercises.
I will again give you some examples from Przywara’s book “Deus semper maior”, as he gives us a profound insight into Jesuit meditation.
He also begins with: “man was created” or rather with man and asks himself: “what is man?”
As you saw in the case of the meditation on the Anima Christi, Przywara thoroughly investigates almost every word.
He says: “Mensch ist Geistwerdung des Leibes” (man is body which becomes spirit) and that he is “Leibwerdung des Geistes” (spirit which becomes body).
We must ask ourselves here: can we accept this point of view?
Is a body becoming spirit something which we can confirm from experience, has it ever happened?
It is, of course, confirmed in the dogma of the Church, the corpus Christi became spirit, it became the glorified body of Christ.
And though it does not belong strictly to the dogma, it has been conceded, from the days of the very early Church, that the body of Mary was also taken up into Heaven, where it became a glorified body, the only material thing in the celestial spheres.
Przywara ‘s meditation is founded on these teachings of the Church but, if we regard the matter from the psychological point of view, we cannot rely upon the dogma but must ask ourselves is there any psychological experience which would justify or prove body becoming spirit?
I must say that I could not bring any direct proof that such a process is possible.
I do not mean can the body be transformed into spirit but is there any experience of which we could say that it felt like the transformation of the body into spirit.
We say sometimes that a man looks like a ghost or a spirit but that just means he looks pale, thin and interesting but that has nothing to do with flesh becoming spirit.
But there is something which can be proved from everyday experience, not body becoming spirit, but body becoming conscious, man becomes conscious of his body.
We know from medical experience that many people are quite, or very nearly, unconscious of their bodies.
They do not know that they have certain bodily weaknesses and have no idea what they look like.
I have even had pathological cases that had to look at themselves in the mirror before they could utter a word.
And people often do not realise when they are hungry or cold, and treat such simple facts as if they were psychological problems, or live in a very foolish way because they have no idea what they are doing.
Such people really have no experience of their body, so consciousness of the body is no matter of course.
Everyone knows theoretically that he has a body, but gymnastic teachers tell us that many people have no idea of their own physical existence and how they really breathe; whereas other people are quite conscious of this and of how they hold themselves and what their muscles are doing.
We must have a psychic image of the body, in order to become conscious of it, we must translate the physical fact of the body into a psychic experience.
We meet with the possibility of a very dangerous misunderstanding here, because if we call becoming conscious becoming spirit, we think that consciousness is spirit and thus mix up the intellect and the spirit.
Spirit is in no way intellect, it is something totally different.
We have adopted the old formulation body, soul and spirit.
Our conception of the soul is that it is something vaguely between the other two and we think that the spirit is what happens above and that the body is what happens in matter.
So we assume that our consciousness is above, as if it were the spirit.
I would cautiously formulate this statement of Przywara’s, not as the body becoming spirit but as becoming conscious of the body.
We become aware that we have a body, that it is made in such and such a way, and is called so and so.
A dog does not know that it is a dog any more than a star knows that it is a star.
The astronomers found out the names of the stars, the stars don ‘t know them!
It is surely inaccurate to say that man is a body which becomes spirit.
It is true that consciousness can reach far into the body and that this may have some effect on the processes themselves, but in a very limited degree.
There are many functions of the body which cannot under any circumstances be made conscious.
So even the statement “becoming conscious of the body” must be very limited.
We will not go further into the problem of spirit and body, but will turn again to Przywara.
He says that when we examine man more closely in whom the body is ascending to spirit; and the descent from spirit to matter, by which man is conditioned, we shall see that the unity
has a rent, and he quotes Gal. V. 17: “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the Spirit against the flesh”.
This is the old conflict of spirit versus body.
He speaks later of: “einem Sturz des Geistes in das Chaos des Leibes” (a plunge of the spirit into the chaos of the body) and implies that body should be spirit.
One naturally asks and should spirit also be body?
He even speaks of “der Aufstand des reinen Geistes gegen die Demut der Bindung in Fleisch” (the rebellion of the pure spirit against the humility of being bound in flesh).
Here it almost seems as if he meant that the spirit suffered from a certain hybris, as if it were haughty, and could not endure the presence of the body.
Later he goes over into the anti-thesis and says “It is matter which becomes God.”
It attains divinity, or already possesses it, for divinity appears in matter.
There is actually this dispute between what we call spirit and what we call body, it is obvious in every moral conflict.
But whether we can call this pair of opposites, spirit and matter, is a different question.
We can have no direct experience of spirit, and we also have no direct experience of matter.
We are very vague about it and can only ask modern physics what it really is.
Apparently it consists of endless mathematical formulas, something exceedingly abstract, which is almost or quite impossible to grasp.
Matter has disappeared into inconceivable things, for it is not solid and heavy as we used to imagine.
It is something totally unknown and we do not even know if modern physics are in a position to give an approximate estimate of what it really is.
And of course we do not in the least know what spirit is either.
Anyway it is neither intellect nor consciousness, the word spirit does not indicate either of them.
We shall come later to the meaning of the word spirit.
We call something spiritual if it has the quality of something which we describe as spirit.
And we call things material if they have a certain quality connected with our psychic experience of matter.
For it must be remembered that we only have psychic images of anything, we can only directly experience things as psychic images.
We have no direct images of things as they are, we need all kinds of apparatus to get even an approximate idea of the objective existence of anything.
There are, for instance, no colours and no tones in themselves, these are psychical phenomena.
So what we call spirit is a psychic translation of something which we cannot describe more accurately.
There are many words for spirit which are derived from peculiar primeval conceptions of it.
We know that the word spirit, which occurs very frequently in the New Testament, is “pneuma”.
The original meaning of that word is simply breath, moving air, translated to mean the breath of life.
It occurs very frequently in the Septuagint and really just means life, breath.
It often means the same as the word “psyche”, soul. The word “psyche” has a similar origin, it is related to the Greek word “psychros”, cool, something which has been cooled by a breath
of wind, and also to parch, the wind parches when it is warm and dry.
It is also related to “physein”, to blow, which is connected with the German word “pusten” (to puff).
All these have to do with breath.
Psychic is, so to speak, that which breathes.
There is an old high German translation of the Bible, where spirit is translated by “Atum” that is “Atem” (breath).
That is correct.
It is the eastern “Atman”, related to “Atem”, (breath) , a sign of life.
The Latin word for spirit is “spiritus”. That comes from “spirare”, to blow, to breathe.
And another word for spirit is “animus” or “anima”, a relation of the Greek word for wind = “anemos”.
We find the same word in other languages, in Germanic, for instance, “usanan” to breathe out or (Latin) “anhelare” also breathing out or the German “ri:icheln” (to rattle in one’s throat).
“Ri:icheln” is an onomato poetic word, it makes the appropriate noise.
Curiously enough it is the word used for the death rattle, the moment when one breathes out one’s soul.
It is “roho” in Swaheli, derived from the Arabic “ruch” soul, spirit. It is connected with “rich” – wind.
All these are descriptions of breath and wind but this is not the case with the word “Geist”. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 217-223.