Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture XI 2nd February, 1940

We were considering Przywara’s meditation on the beginning of the Fundamentum in the last lecture, particularly his conception of the, so to speak, metaphysical position of man.

He regards man as a “medium formale materiale”, that is, as something between “formale”, which means spirit, and ” materiale”, which means matter, and thus as an image of God who is himself a reconciliation of the great cosmic opposites.

You saw, therefore that Przywara regards God as a symbol of the reconciliation of the opposites.

I must refer anyone who is interested in this subject to Chapter V of my book, Psychological Types, where I dealt with reconciling symbols.

In as much as man is also a union of the opposites, he is an image of God, according to Przywara.

As such he is also in a certain sense, if one may say so, the same as God.

This peculiar identity is very problematical, for Przywara describes the condition as “a hanging in God”, (“adhaerere, inhaerere, cohaerere Deo”) and full of suffering, for man is really less a union of the opposites than a conflict of the opposites.

The contact of the opposites in man is not harmonious but is a state of constant disharmony.

Yet he is completely contained in God, suspended in him and is an image of God.

If man is God’s image, his condition must also be the image of God’s condition.

Przywara gives us no further information on this point, but it appears again later, so we will speak of it then.

At all events the image suspended in God is something substantially and essentially similar to God.

Przywara says that man only exists in as far as he depends on God. God is his causa exemplaris and causa efficiens, so the essence of man is the divine essence.

This is a very important point for it is connected with eastern ideas, with “I am Atman ” and “I am the world”.

But this eastern idea is not part of the Christian creed, it comes in very provisionally and in a very problematic way.

But we have evidence for this inner relationship of man to God in the Holy Scriptures themselves.

I reminded you of the passage: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, is aid, Ye are gods? ”

Here Christ definitely calls men gods.

He is referring to the 82nd Psalm: “I have said, Ye are gods and all of you are children of the most High.”

You see, therefore, that Christ’s saying: “Ye are gods” does really refer to the divinity of man.

When he says: “Who sees me sees the Father” he means that his essence is the same as that of the Father.

And when he tells the disciples they are gods, he means that they also are of the same essence.

So it is quite clear that the divine nature of man is recognised by the Christian teaching but with peculiar stipulations.

Therefore Przywara says that this hanging in God may mislead man into an abuse, to possess himself greedily of God, to be as God.

Evidently he means that this hanging in God is an identity which may lead man to think he is as God, which would be a Luciferian abuse.

An image has certainly every right to say “I am like God ” but this may be abused and the drop of water may say:” I a m the whole sea”.

The drop of water is not the whole sea but it is a part whose nature is identical with that of the whole sea.

We find this idea in many medieval texts, and the passage from St. Augustine is also often quoted: “God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”.

Naturally this centre, which is everywhere, is in every man and the circumference, which is nowhere, is the infinite.

It is this abuse, this tendency of the grain of s and to identify with the Sahara, that causes the prejudice against such utterances.

The devil is the ape of God who imitates everything which he does, as some old texts say.

Man is undoubtedly highly imperfect and in constant painful conflict; if someone has no conflict he is simply still unaware of it, and then it will appear as symptoms in his stomach or in some other part of the body because he is deceiving himself.

No one is as he should be unless he is in doubt about himself.

Doubt is a higher condition than certainty, for the opposites come together in doubt, and one leg is missing in certainty which is a lame one-sidedness.

Man is undoubtedly a creature torn by conflict and doubt so he is in need of a redeemer, and Przywara says that God himself entered the rent through the crucifixion of Christ.

This has, as we know, a redeeming significance.

I must admit, that in spite of my Christian upbringing, I was never able to understand why someone else being crucified should have a redeeming effect.

I thought I must be peculiarly stupid but in the course of my life I have met with many other people who did not understand it either.

It is said that for our sins Christ was nailed to the Cross.

Przywara, however, says that man is crucified with Christ, he hangs on the cross and so is in a certain way identical with the suffering of the Son of God.

This says quite clearly that the suffering of man is not only on account of his own imperfections but is the suffering of a God.

Where does suffering come from?

From conflict, so conflict is also in God but this is, of course, a thought which should not be expressed.

It is natural to want to know where the guilt lies that calls forth such suffering and needs such a redemption.

We are told that Christ was guiltless and that he suffered for the sins of mankind, and that our debts were paid by the crucifixion of the Son of God.

But if we leave the dogmatic point of view and look at Christ from the human side, the question arises, what was missing in his life, what psychological sin did he commit to draw such a punishment upon himself?

One can answer that question briefly : he did not live the animal side of himself.

And where is man’s guilt?

That he only lives the animal which makes him unconscious.

That is the guilt of man which is redeemed by the death of Christ, for the conflict in man is the conflict between flesh and spirit.

These are the opposites in man, the form and law-giving spirit and the formless, blind mass of the instincts.

This conflict will never be solved on the level of instinctive man, for he lives instinctively and feels no conflict, and, in avoiding the conflict, the whole spiritual side of man is repressed.

The man who prides himself on living an instinctively right life has refused his own inner humanity.

And the man who makes the opposite mistake and lives entirely in the spirit also has to pay the penalty for ignoring the other side.

Przywara calls these opposites that come together in man: “the beams of the Cross”.

That is for him the symbol of the reconciliation of the opposites, that unite so painfully in man.

So we often hear ” the cross has redeemed us” instead of “Christ has redeemed us”.

This expresses a symbol: the cross, the coming together of the opposites, is redemption.

In other words no one can be redeemed who is unconscious of the conflict and lives either on the material or spiritual side, ignoring the other.

It is only in the uncomfortable condition of doubt and conflict that we can be redeemed.

We always think that we must be all wrong when we are in doubt, but it is just then that we are as we should be.

This condition is the only gate to higher consciousness.

When man is contented he never makes an effort to reach another condition, he must be in a desperately bad way before he does anything about it.

And this is the great psychological meaning behind the glorification of suffering.

It is also the aspect which is ignored by Buddhism; the Buddhist steps out of the conflict, nirdvandva, free from the opposites, he does not look right or left, up or down, and he thus reaches Bodhi consciousness which he calls the highest consciousness.

We should not call this consciousness but unconsciousness.

It is a trance-like condition from which the Yogin emerges, as out of a deep sleep with new strength, just as Antaios gained fresh power from each contact with the earth, his mother.

Conflict is not always the most desirable condition, it can be exceedingly destructive, so that we long to be freed from the opposites and to plunge into blessed unconsciousness where nothing matters.

And that is the greatness of India, they have learnt the art of doing this thoroughly.

Buddha transcended consciousness, that is, he reached something different to consciousness, no consciousness, unconsciousness.

We saw that Przywara regards the psychological existence of man, essentially full of conflict, as the cross.

Man is not only crucified, he is himself the cross.

In some old pictures Christ is not crucified but stands with outstretched arms before the cross, that is, he becomes the cross.

Przywara says:

“In that God as redeemer descends into man, His countenance appears in the truly human medium, namely in the soul as the middle between mere body and mere spirit. But in that He as redeemer descends into man in the form of the rent His countenance appears in the soul, i. e. God appears in the face of the ‘rent as cross’.”

This means that the soul is a cross and this is true in the fullest sense of the word.

To learn to know ourselves, to face the conflict, to become conscious, is a cross.

This is the reason why we prefer to avoid it, we do not want to know our faults.

We forget that this other side is also ourselves.

It belongs to us but if we accept it we find ourselves crucified, hung up between the opposites.

We are in doubt and we no longer know what to do but, when we can do anything in that state, it belongs to both sides, it is not only spirit, not only matter, but something living; and the living thing is never pure and sterile but always somewhat turbid.

So Przywara says that God himself appears in the cross.

God is the cross and himself a torture, and if we let the conflict materialize in us, if we consciously accept the conflict, we carry the cross and this cross is God.

When Nietzsche says:

“You sought for the heaviest burden and found yourself ” he could also have said: “You found God”, for the meeting with yourself is the meeting with God.

The other man in us is ourselves and God.

An Indian would understand this without difficulty, but he would not say that it was painful for he simply refuses the pain.

There are naturally very good reasons in the Indian psychology for this attitude but it is different in the West.

We should doubt ourselves, we should become aware of this inner conflict, but we also do our best to avoid it!

If we understand from Przywara’s meditation that experience of the conflict is experience of God, we can understand when he exclaims:

“0 blessed guilt that earned us such a great redeemer.”

Although it is a term in common use, it is really no facon de parler to call suffering a cross.

It means that suffering is God himself.

We get some idea of what this means from the well-known legend of St. Christopher.

He started one day to carry a small child across a river on his shoulder.

He was surprised to find that his burden grew heavier and heavier as he waded across, and at last he was staggering under such an overpowering burden that he was scarcely able to reach the other bank.

Then he became aware that he had been carrying the Lord.

This child, the Lord, was also St. Christopher himself.

Przywara sees the whole reason for human existence in being crucified with Christ between Heaven and Hell.

He even says that man only exists in the cross and refers to Eph. II, 10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ”.

We are the product of Christ, or in other words the symbol of Christ teaches man that he is himself a sufferer, a cross, in a condition of conflict, and that he who shuns the conflict shuns himself.

One could of course say a great deal more about Przywara’s meditation on the “Fundamentum” but it would lead us too far.

I have touched on the main points and will now turn to the 3rd paragraph of the Fundamentum itself and elucidate it briefly. Ignatius says:

“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.”

This carries the idea expressed in the opening sentence: “Man was created” further.

Man is in this painful condition of conflict for a definite purpose which entails a definite ethical line of conduct; namely that everything should be used or rejected according to whether it helps or hinders man in reaching his goal.

And Ignatius continues:

“Wherefore it is necessary to make ourselves detached in regard of all created things – in all that is left to the liberty of our free will, and is not forbidden it, – so that we on our part should not wish for health rather than sickness, for riches rather than poverty, for honour rather than ignominy, for a long life rather than a short life, and so in all other matters, solely desiring and choosing those things which may lead us to the end for which we were created.”

What is this end, this goal?

We know what it is from the Christian point of view.

Psychologically, taking what we have just said about it into consideration, it is primarily becoming conscious of the conflict.

From becoming conscious of the conflict, from realising that it is our reality, we should learn to desire it, to be able to say yes to it.

For if we can say yes to the conflict we reach something further: we see that it is only through the conflict that we can attain a higher level of consciousness.

We become aware that not only “the one” is ourselves but also “the other”.

This reaching of a higher level of consciousness is the secret behind all cultures.

All barbaric and primitive cultures are characterised by a low level of consciousness, where man is wholly caught in his instincts and nothing becomes conscious except what the instincts themselves rub under a man’s nose.

Man is then at the mercy of his instincts and emotions.

A higher state of culture means control of instincts and emotions, not a complete repression but such a control as allows man to live as a living man, in spite of the urge of his instincts and emotions.

But culture which is a prison, discipline for discipline’s sake, is no culture.

True culture allows the instinctive life to develop within meaningful human limits.

It is not asceticism or repression but the freedom of nature in human measure: sagesse.

A man who simply follows his emotions, instincts, dreams and illusions could just as well be a railway truck in a long train or a sheep in a flock.

Culture is rather a consciousness which has a certain strength, a strength able to deal with the blind emotions and instincts, rather like a benevolent father who allows them to go their own way within certain limits.

If they go beyond these limits it leads to unconsciousness, to a lower grade of culture, which is a destructive condition synonymous with the devil, for the devil destroys all the works of God.

God is, as you have heard, suffering, conflict and the cross.

The beginning of Christianity was a moment in the history of mankind, when a higher consciousness was reached.

If you compare the other contemporary religions with Christianity you will see the difference clearly.

The Dionysian element in antiquity was a glorification of emotion, instinct and unconsciousness.

It was a kind of submersion, a letting oneself go, which reached into deepest unconsciousness.

You can see this particularly in the cult of Dionysus itself, in the frenzied women who tore living animals in pieces with their teeth.

That actually happened and is no fable.

There are vestiges of this still in Islam, in dancing Dervishes and the like.

This is why the retinue of Dionysus is represented as consisting of satyrs and other half-human animals.

Man in antiquity was half an animal but he accomplished some immortal work and established an ideal of beauty which we can only envy.

But as you know the most beautiful plants grow out of manure.

Only one water closet was found in Pompeii, for instance, and the accompanying conditions can be imagined.

Antiquity was built up on social conditions that were really incomparably bad, or rather one could only compare those of today with them!

Three fifths of the population were slaves, an evil which the old Romans were aware of and tried to modify through all kinds of humane laws and liberations.

But it was useless, the transformation only came ab out through Christianity, not through outer legislation but through a transformation from within.

Not only the Emperor and the aristocrat but every man received the dignity of containing a divine soul, and this really destroyed antiquity. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 229-233.