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Lecture 8 12 January 1940
I told you that we would today start discussing the “Fundamentum” of the Exercitia spiritualia.
The meditation on the “Fundamentum” is usually done in the first week of the exercises.
It is generally left up to the exercise leader whether to give it as a meditation task or to lead the meditation either at the beginning or in the course of the week.
We read the text briefly in the last session.
Because we need to get into the text in more depth, the same as we did with the “Anima Christi,”
I(want to read the text out again. So, in translation it goes,
The human person is created to praise, reverence and serve God Our Lord, and by so doing to save his or her soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.
It follows from this that one must use other created things in so far as they help towards one’s end, and free oneself from them in so far as they are obstacles to one’s end.
To do this we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and
there is no prohibition.
Thus as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.351
The “Fundamentum” begins with an assertion that pre sents an important principle.
A whole attitude is pre sent in one short sentence: namely, “Creatus est homo,” “The human person is created.”
This is an anthropological statement of great psychological352 significance.
We should therefore reflect here for a moment on how we might react to such a statement.
In the discussion of the “Anima Christi,” I deliberately did not use the “Annotationes” and “Explicationes,” the annotations and explanations of Saint Ignatius, because these are drafted in medieval Latin. Instead I took the work of a modern commentator,
Przywara, who fully follows the intention of his master in his exercise meditations and therefore gives us a shining example of how the meditation of the exercises is actually done.
I will continue to follow Przywara’s explanations here for the meditation on the “Fundamentum.”
But before we look at his work in more detail, I(would like to mention a few considerations that may make us aware of
how these old ideas relate to us.
You were able to see from Przywara’s meditation how vividly alive these things are.
They are alive. Many people still do these exercises today. They hold great importance in the Catholic church.
Even if we are not Catholic, it is still useful and advisable to take some interest in these things, because there are many good reasons for them.
But I don’t want to go into the reasons in more detail today. “Creatus est homo” means that man was created.
Naturally one thinks here of the creation story in the Bible and turns one’s back on such a claim with a smile.
But it is foolish to dismiss it so easily.
This “Creatus est homo” is actually a psychological expression, namely about whether people feel that they were created or not.
You know that the natural sciences tell us that humans evolved.
Not that humans did so actively353—it would be nonsensical to understand it like that— but that evolution is a natural
After a long line of animal ancestors the human finally came into being. How it happened we do not know, at least not yet, and we probably still won’t know in the future.354
How we ourselves actually feel in this regard is extraordinarily important, however.
Do we have the feeling that we created ourselves? Or do we not feel that way?
In general, one doesn’t have this feeling, but rather one feels that one discovered oneself.
Now, how did we discover ourselves? One day we became conscious of ourselves.
We say, “This is my name, here I am”; we use the word “I.” Did we just come about or were we made?
Deciding that is quite another question, and a very fione at that.
Our feelings give us no information about this at all.
We do not feel that we were made as we are, but that we only discovered ourselves like that, with all our characteristics, talents, and imperfections.
But we don’t have the feeling that these things were in some way made part of or given to us on purpose, that some kind of intelligence is behind it and chose, selected, or intentionally put together this particular conglomerate, this mix.
We might just as well feel that we became how we are by chance, a pro cess of nature that led to us becoming a certain way.
Our natural scientists do not give us any certainty there either.
This question seems to be largely determined by what ever worldview we happen to have.
We initially find no indication in our own psychological feelings that there is any kind of intention behind our existence.
What is behind it is something quite different.
First we need to step back a bit and look for individual cases of people who have a great deal of life experience.
If you ask them, “Do you have the feeling that every thing that you are now simply came about by chance, or do you have the feeling that something in you was at work over a long period of time and made you what you are now?” you will find very many people, a surprisingly large number, who are convinced that something is at work that has guided them.
They have the feeling of an inner purpose, inner guidance, that in a curious way made them they way they are now. Is this assertion simply a subjective fantasy, or is there any scienti4c evidence for it?
The answer to that has to be: what comes first is the unconscious.
The unconscious psyche is older than consciousness.
The child is at first unconscious, and gradually enters a state of consciousness.
First there is an unconscious psyche, an animal psyche if you like. So consciousness comes out of an unconscious state.
Things that we will know tomorrow that we cannot yet know today are perhaps already present in the unconscious.
One can even find evidence of this in dreams: if you follow them for several months, you will find ideas coming up at a very early stage which cannot yet become conscious, and not until later do they suddenly break through into consciousness.
Then one is quite justified in saying, “If the unconscious knows anything, it has already known it for a long time.”
Does the unconscious have awareness?
We certainly don’t know anything about that. It is a very difficult prob lem that I don’t want to go into today.
But at any rate, we know that these ideas have been pre sent for a long time.
They have expressed themselves in dreams, symbols, actions, and relationships with others, have appeared covertly such that one often wants to say to people, “Do you realize what you are saying, what you are doing?”
But no, they don’t know. They just do it. The awareness doesn’t come until much later.
This is a fact that we can easily prove in various forms: namely, that an unconscious state precedes the conscious one, and
that remains true throughout one’s life, not only at the start.
Contents, parts of the personality, opinions that will perhaps at some point play a very big role in a person’s life, have been pre sent for a long time before they come up, and can be objectively observed— just not by the person concerned, unless it is pointed out to them.
So if this fact is true, and according to every thing we know empirically it really is true, we can say that consciousness is anticipated, is created.
It comes out of an unconscious state: that is, from a very specific unconscious state that pre4gures consciousness, that anticipates what the conscious mind will later finally come to clearly understand and recognize.
It has already been thought before.
Thus it is quite understandable if a great number of people who have lived a long and full life assure us that they have the feeling that they were anticipated, pre-understood, or guided by a higher intelligence.
Whether there is in fact someone there who knows, that we don’t know. It is possible that certain ideas355 are inherently present, but no one knows them.
But as I said, it is still debatable whether such a thing356 is even possible.
Of course, I personally do not approach such things with philosophical suppositions, but take a purely empirical approach.
So if I were to discover such a case of a higher intelligence, it would be forever etched on my mind. You can bet your life on that, as the saying goes.
But I have never come across such a case with absolute certainty, although I’ve occasionally had my suspicions.
This fact— that the unconscious anticipates us, prepares us, that it today contains the psychic contents of tomorrow, in a manner of speaking, and then kind of pushes them up so that tomorrow one says, “It has just occurred to me all of a sudden!
I suddenly see what it means!”— that is the moment at which the unconscious manages to lift the pre-prepared material
into consciousness, as it were.
And this happens not only with individual incidents, but with the totality of the person, with the whole of a person’s psyche.
Our whole being, our whole character, is a discovery. We discover it. It has already been there.
Maybe our parents have long been aware of it, but we were not. And then one day it suddenly becomes clear
We have finally understood it, although it was there for such a long time beforehand. This psychological fact may not prove the [truth of the] 355 LSM
feeling of having been created, but at any rate it makes it a signi4cant possibility.
This is of course an unpop u lar point of view, and an old- fashioned one.
But it is valid. If we understand the words “Creatus est homo” in this way, then of course our outlook changes considerably; because if we assume that everything that we are comes from our own consciousness, then we are entirely justified in feeling a diabolical hubris.
Then we make claims such as “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” and the like, and think we are the gods of this world.
But unfortunately there is a multitude of dif fer ent gods, not just one, and each tries as hard as they can to be the only god, which leads to all kinds of conflicts, as we well know. “
There is not room for two suns in my heaven, I am the only one.”357
If on the other hand we understand this “Creatus est homo” correctly, then we tell ourselves that we are something that has come about, a product, that we are anticipated.
We were there and did not know it. It was “known,” only we do not know who knew it. This question must remain open.
If we hold this view, we are no longer so far removed from the old formulation that man was created, that the existence of the human psyche—I(am not talking about our anatomy— was anticipated, that we were identified or imagined before we knew it.
That is a psychological fact. I can fully subscribe to that and provide the necessary empirical evidence.
why the declaration “Creatus est homo” seems very signi4cant to me.358
However, as I have already said, it must not be mixed up with the scientific viewpoint, as it is about mental and not physical existence.
Now, if there really is some intent, a par tic u lar purpose behind the existence of the psyche, then of course the question is, “What is it?”
That’s why Ignatius continues with “ut laudet Deum Dominum nostrum”: claiming man was created in order “to praise God Our Lord”.
But we will put that aside for now and ask ourselves: psychologically, does the feeling that we were anticipated also lead to a feeling that we have a purpose?
In other words, do we feel that life has meaning?
From a psychological point of view, I must note here that the discovery or realization that we have been anticipated or preconceived is always accompanied by a feeling of meaning or purpose; we cannot precisely determine the meaning of life at that moment, but we feel it as something that is alive.
If I discover that I have been anticipated, it makes an enormous impression on me. The feeling of meaning or purposiveness is part of that, even if, as I said, we cannot precisely pinpoint what that meaning, the speciic purpose, is.
We might express it something like this: “It must mean something. What strange meaning can this have?”
It seems extremely odd.
Then in a series of dreams I see certain ideas gradually unfolding. I have been anticipated. I am like a plagiarism of myself, a copy of my unconscious anticipation.
Immediately one has a feeling of meaningfulness, a sense of purpose, as if one’s fate were mysteriously arranged.
You don’t keep asking for long what the meaning actually is, or what it is all for; you are just filled with the feeling of this meaning.
You know, the essentialdecisions359 are not made with clear formulations, but through emotional experiences that go much further and have a much greater inluence on human life than our intellectual considerations.
At the end of the day, it is much more important in life that a person is happy and content than that they have a particular intellectual standpoint.
One who is not an intellectual would not even care at all about this. One single live experience means much more.
Psychology must be based on this fact and not on intellectual formulations, or it could be nothing but hot air.
Anyway, Ignatius continues by trying to formulate the purpose of human existence: namely, “laudare Dominum.”
You might recall that I already spoke about the laudare in a previous lecture.360
It is an ancient notion of the royal court, the court of the oriental prince, in which the courtiers and flunkeys are careful to keep praising and glorifying their lord, to curry favor with the prince— because high- ranking folk like these, the monarchs with absolute power, are usually in a bad mood, as they are so isolated.
Thus one has to be really careful what one says to them.
They cannot be criticized; every thing that is said must praise and glorify them. That’s why we talk about Byzantinism.361
It served to put the dangerous monarch in a good mood.
This notion was passed on from Egyptian cults to all the Near- Eastern cults and thus over into Christianity.
That’s where the laudare comes from.
The same thing we saw in the “Anima Christi” meditation now makes a reappearance: namely, that absolute submissiveness and surrender to an absolute superior.
We find in this attitude, that is, the assumption that man was created by an absolutely superior being with no higher judge, as Job says,362 who must therefore be propitiated.
One cannot do anything other than mollify this superior being, and Ignatius now formulates this in three different ways: laudare, praise; revereri, revere; servire, serve, like a slave, a servant who serves his lord.
If you translate this into psychological terms, it means that the attitude proposed by Ignatius entails absolute surrender and submission to the unconscious— that is, to that authority which we in general completely disregard.
We dismiss things as just unconscious ideas; every one forgets that they would be unable to speak another word if the unconscious wasn’t telling them what to say. Here Ignatius tells us to take this attitude toward this anticipating unconscious, namely for a very specific purpose: “salvatio animae suae,” to save one’s soul.
If one does not absolutely honor and submit to this source from which consciousness originates, from which consciousness is created, one loses one’s soul.
Then the connection with the soul is lost: that is, the connection with the unconscious is lost.
Now, imagine if a psychotherapist today were to tell a patient, “You must submit to your own soul,363 to the objective contents of the psyche that spontaneously appear in dreams.”
We would have to pack him off to Burghölzli364. That’s what most reasonable people would think.
You can’t just surrender yourself to random notions; that is boundless subjectivism.
But if we say, “God who created us,” then it is something different, then the formulation fits into our traditional schema.
Then you can simply express yourself in traditional terms and you can’t go wrong, although there have been plenty of
people for whom it did go wrong.
There have been a lot of very eccentric folk.
You see that throughout history: most founders of sects were very odd fellows, though they were undoubtably pious people.
They came up with such bizarre and dangerous ideas that the Catholic church has rightly prohibited people from having individual revelations.
The Church decides in the last instance what is truth and what is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Other wise it would be like during the Reformation.
At that time, there were all kinds of Schwärmer:365 Anabaptists and sectarians, each proclaiming their own truth until there was a complete Babel of competing voices.
Just think of the Peasants’ War.366
And the Brethren of the Free Spirit:367 pre- reformatory, cynical quasi- philosophers who took the view that the world is only mundane and transitory and therefore every thing must be destroyed.
They were like communists living at the expense of others.
They beat up a harmless traveler, took his bag and told him, “We have to send your money into eternity, destroy it, because it is only worldly and means nothing.”
In such ways the basest of instincts are spiritually justified. So there is great danger in submissiveness.
When we invoke God, we think this danger is exorcised, because we, insofar as we are Christians,
have completely forgotten our fear of God. We have forgotten that God is extremely dangerous.
The old Church knew that. It was expressed in its symbols, which could be terribly shocking.
For example, the rhinoceros is a symbol of God. Why? Because it is a very angry, bad-tempered, and dangerous animal.
That’s what the Old Testament God was like: a wrathful, violent God, who threw the world into disorder and through the love of a pure virgin was forced to come to peace in her womb and was thus transformed into a God of love.
That’s what one of the Church fathers said.368 So they were certainly aware of it.
Nowadays we speak only of the loving God, but the Church knew other wise and probably still knows it, although
they make sure the sermons are a lot more soothing today.
It’s not exactly popular to talk about God’s misdeeds, or, like Luther, of Deus absconditus, of a hidden God.369
Then one cannot talk about who is the God of this or that country, and which one is better— rather the deity was
always and is still a great danger for all religious people.
There is a dark side to God that is also an enormous prob lem for religious people.
Why does God allow the devil to exist, for example? Ah yes, we no longer speak of him.
We no longer like to mention the devil, but speak rather of “dear God,” and how he created the world so beautifully. “Omne bonum a Deo, omne malum ab homine.”370
Then it is us, we become the devil.
That is also a diabolical arrogance—if we believe we are responsible for the other half of the world.
According to the old Church doctrine, the devil is the counterpart of Christ. He is autonomous and worldly.
That is, the principle of evil is just as eternal, just as autonomous as the princi ple of good.
The Church doctrine doesn’t quite say that God intentionally created the devil, but it admits that the devil exists, and that he is the counterpart of Christ.
By the way, even old Zarathustra had such an idea.
There it is said that Ahura Mazda had a dubious thought, and that created Vohu Manah, the good word, the good disposition, the right attitude— that is, log os, and Angra Mainyu, the devil— that is, the doubt of God.371
There is also an alchemist who had the same idea.
He says that on the second day of creation God created the binarius— the dyad— when he separated the upper and the lower waters.372
The binarius is the devil, because it thrusts something in between that separates. Binarius separates, it destroys.
That’s why the second day of creation is the only day on which God did not say, “It is good.”
Really, if you go and re- read Genesis you will 4nd that God did not say it was good on that day.373
This split between a good one and an evil one is actually resolved in the concept of God as he is the coincidentia oppositorum, the coming together of the opposites, the resolution of all opposites and the release from them.
But insofar as he is that being in which the two are contained (in potentia), they can also in actu emerge from him.374
This Christian notion is therefore a response to the old Persian idea.
The idea of God’s dangerousness could be formulated thus: where the danger is greatest, God is closest by.375
You find a similar formulation in a non- canonical dominical saying, in which Christ says, “He that is near me is near the 4re. He that is far from me is far from the kingdom.”376
A very profound idea that also contains this darkness;377 because fire is the epitome of the devouring and the destructive.
It is also the devil, who is the lord of fire, who lives in fire, walks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,378 exactly like fire.
There was much speculation about that in the Middle Ages. The lion in alchemy comes from that, for example.
It is therefore a burning prob lem: is a surrender such as Ignatius demands, a surrender to the foundation of the psyche’s existence, even possible in practice?
It is certainly pos si ble in theory, as substantiated by the existence of all of Chris tian ity. One can surrender to God.
One has surrendered to God or to Christ. But it is a particular notion of God to which one has surrendered.
You have not surrendered to Deus creator, God the Creator, but to an already evolved formulation of God, and one can only hope that despite this condition your prayer does indeed reach God.
We could say a lot more on this point, but for now we will continue with the “Fundamentum.”
If the purpose of my existence is that I surrender completely to God in ser vice to him, and that this is necessary in order to save my soul, then this also gives rise to a particular attitude toward my fellow living creatures, toward the world in which I live.
That is to say, if my purpose lies in this world, then this ser vice to the Lord makes no sense at all.
Because if my purpose is in this world, then I need to fulfill this earthly purpose.
And that has become the modern view: we are here in order to function according to this or that purpose, to be a good citizen, to have a career, start a family, pay taxes, to serve the state wholeheartedly, with life and limb.
The question is of course, “What is better?” Do we dedicate ourselves to the state or to God? You can’t say, “That’s no concern of mine.”379 It is my concern.
The state’s demand for totality is simply a derivative of the deity’s demand for totality. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Page 138-149