Lecture 10 30 June 1939
asked whether there is a written summary of my ideas about yoga philosophy.
Regrettably, there is currently no such publication.
I have only published one small thing about yoga: an examination and comparison of the Eastern attitude toward yoga and the Western psychological prob lem.
This essay was published in an Indian journal in English: Prabuddha Bharata, that is, “Awakened India.”64
It is a modern philosophy journal devoted to yoga philosophy.
I can’t remember what year it was, but if you are interested, I can write and let you know.
About the texts which I discussed with you, however, I have not published anything.
Last time we -nished with an exposition of the alchemical parallels to this meditation series. I will remind you again brie.y of the sequence:
I compared the first two with the typical stages of the hermetic and alchemical process, and we got as far as the third phase, the via unitativa.
I told you that the corresponding alchemical stage was called the conjunctio, the union of the spirit with the body.
It is usually depicted in the form of the union of sun and moon, sometimes also of gold and silver: that is, precious metals.
I also mentioned that this typical unio of the alchemists is comparable with the purification rites of the Mass.
We will examine this further today. You know that hermetic philosophy, that curious medieval philosophy, was concurrent with the meditations of the Devoti.
The body they sought was supposed to be produced by the mystical pro cess which could only succeed by the grace of God, meaning the body became an analogy to Christ, which seems a gross absurdity to us today.
But in the Middle Ages it was not absurd. It was not necessary to keep seeking an ultimate metaphysical truth.
It was already there. Every thing was completely certain.
That God had created the world in seven days, and that the son of God had been born and God had become man— these were the ultimate truths beyond which there was nothing.
As a result, the relationship of the chemical body could not be understood any other way than in the light of this
If, therefore, a healing body was supposed to be found, it could not happen in any way other than through the grace of God, who had demonstrated this miraculous incarnation through his son.
As a result, they attempted to frame the alchemical pro cess according to the Christian dogmatic sequence of images: conception, birth, suffering and death of the Lord.
This was imagined in material terms, and thus tried to effect the chemical transformation through material substances.
That is why another name for this miraculous body, this lapis philosophorum, was the salvator, the savior—as a way of characterizing it as the physical savior in contrast to the spiritual one which was Christ.
In the Middle Ages, Christ was by no means a historical figure, but rather a presence, as he still is today in the Catholic rites whereby the life and death of the Lord still take place in the Mass.
In the Middle Ages, God was pre sent everywhere, including in chemistry, and his presence was assumed to be in all things.
The stone was also referred to as the pelicanus noster.65 The pelican feeds its young with its own blood.
There are depictions of it piercing its breast with its beak in order to feed its young, in the same way as the Lord died for us and miraculously nourishes us with his blood.
Because he is the bread and the wine.66
Thus the lapis was also called the cibusimmortalis,67 medicina catholica,68 panacea, aurum potabile,69 or sanguis
One could assume that this particular development of the concept in hermetic philosophy clearly stems from the Church tradition. It was doubtless in.uenced by it.
At that time there were also well- known alchemists within the Church, such as Albertus Magnus,71 who took a close interest in these things.
Certain treatises have also been ascribed to others, but it is all rather doubtful.
But what is certain is that the language of the Church fathers plays a signi-cant role in the whole symbolism of hermetic philosophy.
That would all be well and good were it not for the fact that these alchemical ideas began at the same time as the origins of Christianity.
Many of these ideas are even found in pre-Christian times, particularly in China.
In this regard, there can be no possible doubt that the miraculous baptismal water in the Church is already anticipated in treatises from the first century AD. And they go back to pre-Christian sources.
Back then a rich body of lit er a ture was already available, of which only a few excerpts remain, popping up as quotations.
So we have here a case of ancient natural philosophy apparently exerting an in.uence on the beginnings of Christianity.
In the Mass, we find precisely these symbols of union, this unio, specifically in the Roman Catholic Mass with the act of breaking the Host: the bread is broken in half and the lower part of the left half is broken off again and mixed with the wine.
That is the breaking of the body of Christ. Part of this body is mixed with the blood, that is, the wine.
Wine is spiritus in both senses of the word, and thus body and spirit are reuniied.
The relevant part of the Mass goes (translated from the Latin), “May this commingling and consecrating of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ avail us who receive it until life everlasting.”73
It is therefore the cibus immortalis, the immortal food. Even medieval philosophers interpreted it like this: that the mixtio was a symbol of unity, of the restoration of the living Christ.
That, then, is the moment in the Mass when the Lord rises again, and moreover vere realiter substaniarum, that is, truly in
real ity and substance, which is construed as a resurrection.
It is referred to directly as such.
In the Byzantine Mass of the Greek Orthodox Church, the breaking is done in an even more in ter est ing way.
There is still the Host, or a round piece of bread. But very often there is no Host, but behind the altar and the iconostasis (picture wall), on the prothesis (a table or a kind of sideboard) lies a loaf of bread.
And there a priest carries out the supposed slaughter of Christ (mactatio Christi) by piercing the loaf with the silver
spear in the same way that Christ was stabbed in the side by the soldier.
In that way the priest makes sure that Christ is really dead. the actual transubstantiation takes place.74
The Host bread is then divided not into two, but into four parts.
These four parts are laid on the paten, a small silver plate. Arranged as follows [Fig.&2]: 73
That is the establishment of the quaternity. They are four individually existing pieces.
It corresponds exactly to the quartering into the four elements in alchemy.
Then they are put together again with the wine, as a result of which Christ is resurrected: the joining together of the separated.
These ritual activities in the Mass correspond precisely to the alchemical processes which, in their late medieval form, were naturally greatly in.uencedby the Mass.
Many objections were raised by Protestants about the validity of the Mass. According to the Gospels, it was not warranted.
But the ideas that were represented in the rituals of the Mass actually already appear in the Pauline epistles, which are known to be older than the Gospels.
Thus, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, we find a passage which contains notions that correspond exactly to our meditation series:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;/ Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience[.]75
That is the Gnostic notion of the lord of the world. It is presumably the actual Dêmiourgos76 of the Gnostic systems, who in his vanity imagined he had created a world, and one day, when he had had enough of admiring his work, looked up and discovered a light above him that he had not created.
And he traveled until he reached the light, which was always so far above him.
And then he came to another world, and it suddenly dawned on him that worlds and worlds existed and had existed alongside the one he had created.
This is a Gnostic myth and it is a psychological experience. He had to apprehend that he was only a lesser God.
The religious communities of the time interpreted it as the Jewish God and even then made antisemitic corrections to the Old Testament.
Then it continues,
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others./ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,/ Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)77
Then a part about the Jews, who at least had a promise of the covenant with God, while the heathens had been without God.78
It goes on,
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;/ Having abolished in his .esh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;/ And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby[.]79
The reconciliation of both parts in one body, with God through the cross.
These are ideas that were pre sent before any ritual was formed, and that certainly very much concerned the spirit of the early Christians, as such ideas were then incorporated into the Mass.
Another such idea:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the house hold of God;/ And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;/ In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:/ In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.80
These ideas of spiritual temple- building continued to have a huge effect later.
The last remains of it are the Freemasons, the final remnants of that philosophical secret sect of the Rosicrucians, who stemmed from the alchemists.
They, therefore, are the last of the alchemists.
Unfortunately, the Freemasons today no longer pay attention to their history, but focus instead on other things.
The development of the soul as a kind of temple-building is seen in the Eastern series of symbols in which the monastery (vihâra) is built81, the building of a real temple where the highest
Buddha is then enthroned.82
These are perfectly parallel notions, namely the idea of the union of the two: of the one who was held in a certain way in the spiritual life by the covenant of God (by the messianic promise) with the one who was dead; that is, the union of the spiritual and unspiritual, which was then accomplished later in the ritual act.
According to Paul’s view, Christ himself united the dead and the spiritual and is therefore the savior from the law of death, because he united the opposites, and precisely because of that, he himself is freed from the law of death.
I would also like to give you a small example of the way in which these meditations of Cisneros were formulated.83
It will serve as an example of these meditation texts which abounded in the Middle Ages.
So here is a text in which you can see how dif fer ent the people in the Middle Ages were (and we still are today) from their Eastern counter parts.
As an example of his form of meditation we will choose the observations of the first week on “sin.” Cisneros says,
And then, withdrawing within thine own spirit, look on thyself as a guilty man; and standing before thy God with great fear, as before a severe Judge about to condemn thee, thou must exactly recall to mind and deeply consider how much God is offended by every sin.
Thus, in order to pierce and rouse thyself to devotion [. . .] let thy heart at the beginning of thy prayer be wounded by the thought of thy sins; and thus, sharply reproaching thyself under the pricking of these thorns, say to thyself as follows, “O my soul, bethink thyself now most carefully, and strive with all thy might to feel how much even one sin is displeasing to God. See how pride cast down Lucifer from Heaven, disobedience drove Adam out of Paradise; Sodom and Gomorrah were burnt for luxury, and the whole world perished by the Flood.”
Think how the Son of God, thy redeemer, underwent for sin a most bitter death that sin might not be unpunished, and God’s justice might be duly satisfied. [. . .] Turn over likewise in thy mind the sins thou didst commit before thy conversion; how manifold they were [. . .] and indeed they were so many that thou canst not reckon up their number. [. . .] See how weighty they are, since thou hast offended God and cruci-ed Christ afresh by them [. . .]; how little thou hast done to make amends for thy sins; how little thou hast grieved for them [. . .]. Where therefore thou, being a sinner, and above all if thou art a beginner, dost feel the arrows of fear in thy heart, and thy soul -lled with grief, not through the fear of the Hell thou hast deserved, but because thou hast wronged thy most loving God, bow down thy soul, rest thy head on thy hands, thinking thyself unworthy to look up to Heaven, and, turning thy heart towards thy God, say, with bitter sorrow, “O most loving Father, I am the prodigal son who committed all these crimes against Thy boundless Majesty and I have been so thankless to Thee. [. . .]”
When, therefore, thy soul hath been after this manner tried in the first part of the way of purity, and is full of bitterness and grief at the painful thought of her sins, let her pass on to the second step, that is to say, to compunction [. . .].
And when thou hast after this manner humbled thyself with shame and compunction of heart, say this prayer:
“O Lord Jesus Christ, my God, I am that unhappy man, of all sinners the vilest and most wretched, who hath done so many and such great crimes against Thy boundless Majesty, that I am not able to number them; for they are even above the sands of the sea, the number whereof no man can tell.”
And when thou hast prayed thus, or in any other wise, as thy devotion or the sorrowing of thy heart shall move thee to do, try with all thy strength to bring forth sighs and groans from thy inmost heart [. . .].
Now when thou hast schooled thyself well in compunction of heart, despair not of God’s mercy, but rouse thyself to hope, which lifting up of thy heart is the next part of thy work. With great confi-dence, I say, lift up thy head, which hitherto thou hadst held on thy knees; and rest a little while, recall thy thoughts, and with sweetness of soul lift thyself up to praise the Lord, imploring His mercy, considering His greatness and nobleness, pronouncing at the same time these ive words, which will kindle great devotion within thee: “Good, beautiful, sweet, merciful Lord.”84
In addition, he gives detailed instructions that one should make the sign of the cross every eve ning while standing or kneeling, appeal to the Holy Ghost, and do meditation exercises on the sins of the day.
This examination of one’s conscience must be short and succinct. Much store is set by discipline here.
These guidelines give you an approximate image of the spirit in which the meditations were carried out.
If you now think back to the Eastern texts you have heard about, you will surely be struck by the enormous difference.
We may well say: yes, but that is the Middle Ages. It was another era.
But this spirit still exists, even if not in the same form.
How do you think we would react if we encountered a Sanskrit text with such things in it?
This pious fury at one’s own sinfulness, the abasement before God, this contrition.
We would think a lot more critically, we would say,
“Yes, these Indian people are terribly arrogant, incredibly proud, real barbarians who need to beat themselves up so that they can function.”
Of course, we do not say that about ourselves. But it is so. You cannot imagine how the European appears from outside.
I was interested in doing that once. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to travel.
After the world war, my first concern was to go somewhere where there were no White people, in order to properly see the European to a certain degree.
It is impossible to see it at home. In the oases of North Africa I caught a glimpse.85
Then later with the Pueblo Indians I saw how the Europeans actually appear to others.86
They are birds of prey, pirates, brigands; that’s why there are such difficulties. We always want to rob and steal.
We are seeing it again today.
Of course, the people who have already stolen enough are very satisfied.
The others, who have not yet stolen enough, they are the bad ones.
That is why we deserve such admonishments and moralizing discipline. It fits perfectly for the West. That’s how we are.
We cannot take credit for our morality at all. Heaven knows we need it!
Anyone who gets so worked up talking about morality is always suspected of needing it.
Ignatius had come across these meditations. He went to Montserrat, where Cisneros’s successor was already installed.
There at Montserrat, Ignatius did a general confession. I’ll give you his brief biography:87
His name was Don Íñigo López de Recalde, he lived from 1491 to 1556, died in Rome, and was a Spanish nobleman. He was an army officer, a real soldier who had defended the fortress of Pamplona in the campaign against the French in 1521.88
After being hit in the leg by a cannonball, the wound healed badly and he was bedridden for a time. Unable to wield the sword, he was given something to read.
The then soldier was generally not much of a reader, but he was interested in what he had been given—it was a life of Jesus,89 and a legend of the saints.90
He immersed himself in these books and the ideas took hold of him.
Because he could no longer fight with the sword, his warrior instinct turned itself against his sins, against the enemy within, against his own failings.
The first thing which caused him con.ict, therefore, was his worldliness. It concerned being a knight.
He had promised a lady he would wear her glove, in true knightly fashion.
It caused him a terrible con.ict. He had devoted his ser vices as a knight to her.
But here was God demanding his service. He then found the solution: constructing a spiritual knighthood.
He performed a general confession in the monastery at Montserrat.
Then he went to the Dominican cloister in Manresa, Catalonia, and subjected himself to strict exercises and acts of penance.
He had very in ter est ing visions while he was there.
It is extraordinarily in teresting, from a psychological point of view, to look in detail at such visions with a modern academic approach.
I did this once with our national holy figure Nicholas of Flüe.
The only reason he was not canonized was because it was not pos si ble to get enough money together.
Other wise he would have become a real saint.
You can read more about that in a piece I wrote for the Neue Schweizer Rundschau.91
I will quote these visions from Ignatius’s biography, which he dictated himself when he was very old to his pupil Gonçalves da Câmara:92
While he was in the alms house something happened to him, many times: in full daylight he would see clearly something in the air alongside him, which would give him much consolation, because it was very beautiful, enormously so.
He couldn’t properly make out what it was an image of, but somehow it seemed to him that it had the shape of a serpent, and it had many things which shone like eyes, though they weren’t eyes.
He used to take much delight in and be consoled by seeing this thing, and the more times he saw it, the more his consolation would increase.
And when that thing would disappear from his sight he would feel sad about it.93
Here there is not yet an interpretation, only a light attempt at interpretation.
He would actually have preferred this vision to have a different form.
He had expected some kind of human -gure such as Christ or Mary. But unfortunately it was a serpent.
The serpent as a vision figure is not supported at all in Christian dogma.
The only interpretation would be the serpent from paradise, but that is known to be the devil, the tempter, and is therefore ruled out.
The second serpent that could be considered is the serpent made by Moses in the desert, which he set upon a pole to get
rid of the plague of serpents.94
That corresponds with what Christ later said: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”95
That is the image of the serpent twined around the cross. This symbol also occurs in alchemy.
But apparently Ignatius did not know this fact, other wise he would have immediately interpreted it as being Christ.
But he was in the dark about that.
But regarding the serpent as Christ, nowhere does it say that it was made of eyes.
That is something distinctly new, something individual.
Now, in the Middle Ages it was generally the case that people, including the blessed Brother Klaus, who had a unique vision, very individual, would reframe it until it fitted into Christian dogma. It was no longer about the actual idea, but what could be valid in the Christian dogmatics.
We would say, “What did you see?” He would answer, “A snake with glowing eyes.”
And we would answer, “That is what you saw. You can never prove that it is Christian.
You only saw this image. It is something unique and individual.”
But eye-serpents like that are by no means rare. I have come across similar images quite often.
It is a basic symbol for the lower part of the nervous
It encompasses the whole of the spinal cord and represents the lower center of the brain.
It is the sphere of the instincts, the roots, from which the whole psychic life comes.
That’s why in Indian philosophy it is a healing serpent.96
When this serpent appears to us it means “I am re united with my instincts.”
That is why the God of physicians, Asclepius, has a serpent.97
Because it all depends on reuniting the sick person with their own roots. Life will always cut us off from our roots.
That is the danger of living solely in the conscious mind.
One of the aims of the art of medicine, therefore, is to restore man to his own constitution in order for him to function according to his original foundations; to react, to live, in accordance with his own rules of life.
Ignatius had been doing penance, his health had suffered, and then this healing serpent appeared to him.
In the ancient world, it might have been interpreted as the giant serpent that was brought from Epidaurus to Rome in order to rid Rome of an epidemic.
The serpent is the symbol both of venom and of healing. But Ignatius wasn’t able to make that interpretation.
He used to have great devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, and so used to pray each day to the three persons separately.
And as he was also praying to the Most Holy Trinity as such, a thought used to occur to him: how was he making four prayers to the Trinity?
But this thought troubled him little or not at all, as something of little importance[.]98
A faint doubt arises here: after all, it ought to have troubled him. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Page 21-33