Lecture XII 9th February, 1940
In the last lecture I finished reading you some quotations from the modern Jesuit, Przywara. I spoke of his anthropology and showed you how he regards the essence of man as
corresponding to that of God.
The Deity, according to Przywara, contains and unites the opposites, whereas man is torn asunder by them, stretched ap art and therefore in conflict.
Man, as a part of God, participates of the substance of the Deity, and consequently of the opposites, which means conflict.
Therefore man is essentially a being of conflict for, in Catholic theology, Christ was God and also man and therefore he represents the opposites contained in God as well as the solution:
redemption, the union of the opposites.
But in his true human nature he was also hung between the opposites, i.e. suspended on the cross.
The cross is a complete expression of the opposites, they unite at one point and Christ and his suffering were crucified over this point.
He thus represents God in his aspect of suffering and man, in as far as he suffers, really corresponds to Christ.
God is also suffering and he appears in the man who suffers.
God is the causa exemplaris of man, and Christ is not only causa exemplaris but also causa efficiens. It is said that we are created in Christ and by him, that is, in the image of suffering man.
You must keep this point of view before your eyes as we continue the exercitia spiritualia.
There is a prayer, written by Ignatius which is a classical example of the attitude prescribed for those who take part in the exercises.
It is usually used during the preparation or introduction.
It is again a Latin prayer:
“Suscipe, Domine, universum meam libertatem, accipe memoriam, intellectum et voluntatem, et quiquid habeo vel possideo, id tatum Tibi restituo ac Tuae prorsus trade voluntatem gob ernandum; amorem Tui solum cum gratia Tua mihi dones, et dives sum satis, nee aliud quidquam ultra pasco.”
(Take, 0 Lord, all my liberty. Receive my memory, understanding and entire will. Thou hast bestowed on me whatever I have or possess. I give all back to Thee, and deliver it to Thee, to be entirely subject to Thy will. Only grant me Thy love and Thy grace, and I am rich enough, and ask for nothing more.)
This complete submission to a figure outside oneself is not only characteristic of the exercises but it formulates the whole western religious attitude.
Eastern man would say we surrendered to a thought being that had been created by the meditation.
It would not be any the less real for him because of this. Eastern man, through his identity with Atman, the world creator, can create thought beings of definite reality.
His gods are thought beings and yet they are real.
This is incomprehensible to the West, because we never start from within; if Christ does not stand before us as an outer reality then he does not exist.
Man cannot create in himself a being which does not exist, but what is eastern man?
He is Atman, so he can produce Atman.
Western man knows nothing of this, he does not know that the figure of Christ is his own being.
But it is clear from this meditation that man, as “parstotius”, has a share in God and therefore has also a certain ability to place thought beings before him, and the purpose of the images and ikons in western churches is the concretisation of such beings.
These images, in the East. are yantras or tools which help man in the formation of thought beings.
Western man gives his whole being, his whole psychic existence so to speak, to this other figure, this vis a vis being.
It would be almost blasphemous to suggest here that this figure might be a thought being.
On the contrary, this is a matter of course for eastern man.
Our reason makes it almost impossible for us to understand this point of view, because we are of the opinion that anything invisible which we create is just air.
We cannot weigh it or reduce it to a chemical formula, so it is nothing.
But that does not make it any the less real.
It is a reality just as the idea to build a bridge or an engine is real, though we do not grant it reality till it stands materially before our eyes.
It is real for eastern man while still in the head of its creator.
Ideas are absolutely real but we never believe this.
If someone does something peculiar we are always naive enough to think that he will be accessible to reason.
We explain to him how unreasonably and foolishly he is behaving and are amazed that it is useless.
Only well-meaning ignoramuses think that good advice will help when someone is possessed by an idea.
We are foolish enough to think that he is possessed by something unreal, that the whole thing is just nonsense.
But possession is absolute reality and ordinary methods are powerless, it does not allow itself to be talked away.
It is a psychic reality which cannot be criticised by ordinary standards.
This does not fit into our factual scheme but is the latter the only truth?
This prayer shows you the complete surrender which is aimed at in the exercises, and you can easily imagine what an extremely serious matter they are for anyone who can even approach this attitude.
This is not only because of the difficulty and effort but because they contain symbols which adequately express the innermost nature of man.
This is, of course, the real reason why such exercises exist and why they have so much influence on the mind of man.
I have already told you that there is no absolutely fixed programme in the exercises.
The pieces I have read you, which I have treated as a sort of introduction, can also be meditated up on later.
The content of the exercises is strictly formulated but it is the duty of the director to see that the order suits the individuals concerned, he has a free hand in this.
A strict s elf-examination, an “Examen generale et particulare”, is always prescribed and usually takes place during the introduction.
We cannot go into full detail but I will elucidate some points from the introduction of an old Spanish Jesuit, Izquierdus.
The purpose of such a self-examination is to purify the soul, the whole psychic constitution.
It is a sort of analysis, a minute investigation of the psyche, undertaken by one’s own reason.
The standards of conduct are naturally traditional and the teaching of the Church lays down the rules of sin and virtue.
Our author says:
“The soul is purified by discovering the inner roots of the vices so that they can be eradicated. And it is also necessary to note carefully the separate occasions on which these vices have shown themselves, and to observe the circumstances in which such things occur in order to be able to avoid them.”
One must really put one’s whole life under the microscope in order to be able to root out one’s faults and failings.
The form of this self-examination is also prescribed, every separate instance which occurs to one must be noted and also the circumstances: the time, place, etc.
And then one must undertake something to prevent its recurrence.
One can, for instance, resolve not to commit that sin for a whole morning and in the afternoon one should investigate whether one did indeed avoid it.
If in spite of all this careful examination and control the sin persists, the “examen particulare” must be undertaken.
That means that this special case must be examined in greater detail.
Why did the sin approach again, even as a temptation?
It is said that some people go so far as to carry a kind of rosary and push the beads along to mark their backslidings and progress, or others have a notebook in which they write the number of bad thoughts and the like which have occurred during the day.
All this is done with the greatest exactitude and care.
This “examen generale et particulare” is usually the preparation for the first exercise, which is called “The exercise on the threefold sin”, that is, on mortal sin.
The Church distinguishes between mortal and venial sin.
The first is grave offence and is regarded as intentional, the sinner has offended God, more or less on purpose.
The second is pardonable sin, committed through negligence, ignorance or indifference.
Our author, who lived in the early 17th century, says of mortal sin:
“There is really only one mortal sin, which consists in placing the goal in the creature instead of in God.”
The goal is, of course, the end or goal which we considered in connection with the ‘Fundamentum’.
In other words this sentence means that if anyone values his own material ends above the spiritual goal of reaching God and integrating himself in the Godhead, he is in mortal sin.
The text continues:
“For the man who stands in mortal sin there is no God, no Heaven and no salvation. This, therefore, is the enemy against whom we should fight and against whom we should direct
our whole hate.”
You see, therefore, according to this that practically the whole of western humanity is in mortal sin.
We must, of course, allow for the fact that different people have different teachings and that millions of people believe one thing which is contradicted by the attitude of many other millions,
which shows the enormous psychological difference in people.
But, in so far as the Christian attitude is concerned, it is a fact that the goal should be in God and not in the creature.
Therefore we can safely assume that by far the greater part of western humanity has fallen out of the Christian teaching and is in danger of Hell fire.
Is this so or is it not?
If we apply the Christian teaching strictly, we are bound to say that Christianity has ceased to be a world religion.
This meditation on mortal sin has three stages and is therefore called the threefold mortal sin.
The first stage is the sin of the angels.
It begins in the metaphysical sphere.
The sin of the angels includes the revolt of Lucifer against the monarchy of God and the fall of the angels.
The second stage is the meditation on original sin, that is, the sin of the first parents, of Adam and Eve.
The third stage is the meditation on our own sinfulness.
A colloquy follows with a divine figure, the choice of which is left to the individual.
We have already spoken of such colloquies.
We will turn again to our old text in order to study this more closely:
“The first sin is a sin before time began, before the creation of man and that was the sin of the rebellious angels. God created all the angels and adorned them with innumerable perfections, in their own nature and according to Grace; but a great number of them revolted, because of their arrogance and fell into mortal sin. On account of this sin, these angels became demons. The most beautiful creatures thus became the most hideous, and the dearest friends of God became His most hateful enemies.”
We must again ask ourselves what does this mean?
How is it that man has come to such an idea?
Is it mere fable, or is there a real psychological meaning behind it?
If we reduce it to its psychic conditions, it means that before there was any human consciousness a split occurred in the pre-conscious powers.
That is, there is a split in the unconscious disposition, a contradiction comparable to the opposition between angels and demons.
It is remarkable that the angels are always in the plural, a choir of angels.
With the exception of Lucifer, and the arch-angels Gabriel and Michael, the angels are not individuals, they appear in choirs and multitudes. They are essentially collective beings.
Accordingly there are no individual monks but monasteries, for the monks represent the choir of the angels on earth.
This shows that man is necessarily collective before he develops an ego-consciousness, he is an instinctive being with the psychology of his parents, family, clan and surroundings.
He has no psychology of his own, as a small child has none, but has a collective psychology.
This is very clear in the dreams of early childhood, which are not childlike as one might expect, but contain mythological material of which the child itself has never heard.
We are concerned here with a natural functioning of the brain in a psyche where there is as yet no consciousness.
The natural constitution of the human brain produces certain forms, just as a seed produces its own kind of plant, certain minerals follow the laws of crystallisation, a small chicken pecks through its shell and a duckling takes to water.
Man, in the same way, begins by functioning in a manner which corresponds to his constitution.
This can be seen not only in the dreams of young children but also later, and particularly with lunatics.
The whole unconscious psyche sometimes breaks through the surface in such cases and produces things of which the ordinary mortal, fortunately, knows nothing.
Amazing things appear which are also to be found in the mythology of all ages all over the world.
No small child’s psyche is a tabula rasa, from the beginning it is written all over, but the ink is invisible and only becomes clear when it meets those substances and circumstances which make it visible.
Speaking psychologically, the writing appears whenever life produces a situation which activates the latent imprinted patterns.
Therefore when we are told that a split took place before the beginning of time, this refers, of course, to the opposites which reveal themselves in every man.
Before consciousness existed there was conflict between the above and below, between angel and devil in every psyche.
The child is under the law of the opposites as soon as it begins to function, and we see the Christian conception of this fact in the fall of the angels.
The psychological meaning behind the myth of the fall of the angels is the nature of divinity, that necessarily shows this dual nature in its manifestations.
We see the same motif in the legend of Christ, the crucified God.
His image has become the prototype and example for man in his struggle to unite the opposites.
He has in a way to imitate Christ in order to reach redemption.
We have spoken more of the conflict than of the union.
When I say God is himself the opposites I formulate the meditation of Przywara, I draw the conclusion from what he says.
But he also knows the other side, and that God is the reconciler of these opposites.
This a priori conflict in man is original sin, and it is also the sin before the beginning of time.
Man, according to Genesis, was originally righteous but he repeated the sin of the angels.
Adam and Eve fell as the angels fell and were driven out of paradise.
One could say that in spite of the fact that God created man in an original state of righteousness (according to the teaching of the Church] the metaphysical event repeated itself and as the angels fell from heaven so the first parents fell from paradise.
Our text speaks of the fall of the angels and of the awful punishment which they drew on themselves.
The author then says:
“If therefore such a God punishes such beings with a tremendous, eternal and never ending punishment because of one mortal sin, what have we mortals to expect for our mortal sin, for our guilt?”
The meditation must be accomplished with the help of the five senses, so that the condition of the angels and the whole tremendous event is imagined graphically and in detail, and the terrible punishment which followed is grasped to its last particular.
The meditation on the second phase, the sin of the first parents, follows:
“God has also created Adam and Eve in his grace and friendship and adorned them with the gift of justitia originalis, and they were in a condition which was free from death, evil and punishment. He put them in a paradise full of pleasure, paradisum voluptatis.”
They were not able, as we know, to resist the persuasion of the serpent and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
They thus consciously placed themselves in opposition to God’s law.
Thus Adam and Eve robbed themselves and their descendants of the justitia originalis, condemned themselves to death, laid themselves open to the pains, weaknesses and other miseries
of this world, and were cast out from paradise.
This again must be imagined in all its detail.
The punishment, which God inflicts on human beings who are in mortal sin, follows.
One mortal sin is sufficient to condemn man to death, to throw him into the eternal flames where he must burn so long as God exists, and the Church teaches that means forever.
Our author continues:
“That endless sea of compassion designed for the creatures created by Him, whom He loves so much that He allowed His only begotten son to be hung on the cross for them. He has lit this fire which burns them in all eternity without pity, indeed rather with satisfaction, because he sees thus how His eternal justice operates.”
Then Iz quierdus exclaims:
“0 awful wickedness, mortal sin, which deserves such a punishment !”
This aspect is a somewhat unusual picture of God, we can hardly speak here of the “good God” for we are told that he takes pleasure in seeing his creatures burning in Hell for all eternity.
He reveals himself as a “Deus terribilis”, the dual nature of God comes to light here.
He is a benevolent and loving Father when obeyed, but a terrible and vengeful God when disobeyed.
He is capable of throwing people into eternal damnation and can even take pleasure in their suffering while burning.
This is a conception of God which does not agree with our Protestant ideas. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 234-239