Lecture 10 26 January 1940
began with Przywara’s meditations, and we, initially at least, looked at how he deals with the word “man,” homo, in the meditation.
As we were examining this we came across the term Geist, and I told you my doubt about whether consciousness can rightly be called spirit.
Consciousness is a representation, an imaging, and one can scarcely refer to consciousness as spirit.
Neither can one say that the intellect is spirit—intellect is merely the capacity for thinking.
And so we come to the question if what spirit actually is; or of which psychological experience is identified or expressed by this term.
As a result, I initially tried to give you a definition through the etymology of those words that are used to express
the experience of the spirit.
We looked especially at the Greek word pneuma and the Latin words spiritus and animus.
Today, we will look at the German word.
The German word Geist corresponds to the English ghost. It is related to the Norse word geisa: that is, “to rage.”
Here we see a new term that is not exactly identical with the soft breath of the spiritus or the pneuma.
“Rage” indicates passion, fire or the like.
It is also connected to the Gothic word usfigaisjan: that is, to agitate someone, get them into an emotional state, make them blow their top.
We have a similar word in Swiss German:
“ ’s isch zum Ufgeischte,” as one says when a situation or a person is unbearable, when one gets into an intolerable emotional state. It corresponds to the En glish words aghast or ghastly.
These par tic u lar origins of the word Geist are also seen in the general usage of the word and the associated meta phors.
We say, for example, “geistsprühend” [sparkling wit], “Geistesblitze” [flashes of inspiration], or we talk about the fire or
4ames of the spirit.
So you see immediately that Geist is associated with enthusiasm or strong emotion; that is, with something 3ery, flashing, even with light in general— the light of the spirit, for example.
These vari ous images meet in the symbolism of the Pentecost miracle, as you will recall:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it 3lled all the house where they were sitting./ And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them./ And they were all 3lled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.411
The people who saw them said,
“These men are full of new wine,”412 as if they were drunk: in other words, they were in a state comparable to the
effects of alcohol. That’s why alcohol is also called “spirit,” in all languages, the spirit of wine. That is also a spirit, of a par tic u lar kind.
The volatile, hot, igniting feeling that surges through the blood when one drinks alcohol, that is spirit.
That’s why in Church symbolism the wine is called spiritualis sanguis, spiritual blood.
The wine is the symbol of the blood and also of the spirit.
These qualities of the term “spirit” also meet in this image.
So to sum up, we discovered from the Latin and Greek usages as well as from the Semitic languages— I mentioned the Arabic ruch which is associated with wind, corresponding to the Hebrew ruach— that these words always mean an animated or lively breeze, moving air or breath.
Pneuma is not just air, but moving air. The Greek word for air is aer, while moving air or breath is called pneuma, and psyche also means a breath that is moving.
The atum, the spiritus sanctus, the Holy Ghost, is therefore not aer, but pneuma. That’s why it is also said that the Holy
Ghost breathes between Father and Son.413
It is a principle of life, just like the breath. And spiritus is also a sign of life.
Thus in primitive imagery, the soul is the living breath. The last breath to leave the mouth of a dying person is the soul.
This sense of movement, of wind, also goes along with the word “rage.”
In German, we talk poetically about a “wütenden Windsbraut” [raging bride of the wind] or we say the “storm rages.”
That is the Greek mainomai: the passion, the ecstasy of an enthusiast who races like the wind, as if possessed by a wind demon which is propelling him forward.
So this raging, this racing ahead, is actually directly connected with the other image of the moving breath, except it is much stronger, expressed with much greater emotion.
German is a strangely devalued414 language, isn’t it?
It is terribly hackneyed, which is why in my estimation it is much more advantageous to speak simply and unpretentiously in German, because the strong words are all well- worn and trite, and yet fraught with undomesticated barbaric life.
The word Geist is thus actually a word of anger, in the same way that Wotan is an angry 3gure.415
That is characteristic of the German mentality, which still gives expression to this barbaric condition of the psyche with considerable intellectual aptitude.
German is a language that is still evolving in this regard, that has not completely freed itself from its primitive roots, in contrast to Latin, which has very 3xed meanings.
That’s why German is the language most unsuited to philosophy, even though the Germans are the best phi los o phers.
On the other hand, German is the best language for psy chol ogy, even though the Germans are, curiously, the very worst psychologists.
But that is often the way, that unto him that hath shall not be given.416
Looking now at this word Geist, spirit, we see that it is a condition, a typical condition of mankind.
If someone is lost in reverie, moved by something, carried away by the wind, compelled to move, animated, we talk of the spirit.
So it is an augmentation of life and has nothing at all to do with the intellect or the like.
A book such as Klages’s Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele is relevant here.417
Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with the intellect, but is an augmentation of life, a wonderfully elevated life even, as a consequence of which the phenomenon of the spirit in this sense always also meant possession by the spirit— because the primitive person cannot imagine this growth of life in any other way than that another soul, a spirit, has entered his soul, and is sitting on him, there on
the back of his neck. That’s why they wear those amulets: because the unconscious is there, and I cannot see it.
This spirit comes to me there and speaks through me, from behind, or from above through the fontanel, which according to Tibetan lore is where the soul also departs.
That’s why a person with an open fontanel always seems a bit odd, because the old channel of the soul is open and the soul can enter or leave.
Or when someone dies, at the end of the death prayer the Lama makes a high-pitched sound that causes the skull to open and the soul exits through the air hole like a miraculum and separates from the body.
So the original idea of a spiritual state was that of possession by a spirit, by a breath- like creature.
That is the original phenomenon.
So if a primitive speaks unexpectedly in an elevated or strange way using uncommon words, he is immediately deemed mana,418 or taboo, uncanny.
that he is a sorcerer, or is possessed, and make a big detour around him.
For example, if someone speaks paradoxically or strangely, when someone insists that the fldanced, or a four legged beast flew throughthe air, that proves that he is possessed.
Because a sorcerer is always haunted by spirits.
These primordial ideas now clearly show us that the phenomenon of the spirit in the psyche causes an elevated state, or at least an unusual one.
Or, to formulate it very cautiously, a change in the personality.
This notion of spirit is, as you see, something quite dif fer ent from the meaning one tends to associate with the term Geist in modern usage.
But I am convinced that this is the original and actual meaning of Geist, that the pneuma zoés of the Old Testament, the spirit of life, is the true spirit.
That is what people have always called spirit. And it is a condition in human beings.
But what it actually is, in and of itself— that we have to be content leave to the realm of the unknown.
This question is unanswerable. We only know that it is experienced in this way.
If we now apply the same critique that we have used for the term “spirit” to the term “ matter,” or “body,” as would be fair, then we would also have to say, in this case, that body has nothing to do with matter.
Matter or substance is an abstraction, in the past a philosophical term and now a scienti3c one, while body is a direct psychological experience of the soma. However, we cannot afford to get confused here.
If you ask people toiday what the body is, they will give you a description of the anatomy or physiology which can be physically observed.f
But that is a scientic experience of the body, not a psychological one.
The psychological experience of the body is how the so ma is imaged in the psyche.
That is quite another question: how I experience the body from within as a direct real ity.
After all, I am in my body. How does my body, which I myself am in, appear to me from the inside? If I examine this question in detail, I will discover very strange notions that have given rise to a series of the most curious symbols.
If you wanted to get an idea of how the body is experienced in the psyche, you would need to ask the yogis in India, or our medieval philosophers;419 they know a thing or two about it.
If you consider the body from the point of view of the psyche, you will be able to ascertain a sphere of consciousness up here,420 with all kinds of strange sensations around it.
Another center is in the heart area; before that there is one in the throat, and another one further down, in the belly.421
These observations have not only been made by the yogis in India, but also by our medieval philosophers.
In India the yogis meditated on them extensively.
You too will realize that your anatomical knowledge tells you nothing about how you yourself fill your body.
Indeed, you pervade your body as if with inner currents and thus you can flow into your limbs, which is how it is formulated in the prâna teachings of India.422
If you follow these primordial images, if, for example, you say to yourself, “Let’s assume there is something like a prâna,” then you can achieve the oddest effects, innervate muscles that your consciousness would not have been able to reach any other way.
For example you can warm up parts of your body that were cold, and such like.
Feats like this, such as yogis can achieve, are nothing mystical at all; they are simply the application of the psychological prâna teachings.
In this way you get an image of the human body that is toto caelo different from the anatomical image.
That’s why Eu ro pean physicians don’t understand what Eastern doctors are talking about at all.
They have this prâna concept, a system of channels that extend throughout the body.
Modern doctors know, of course, that this is not anatomically true, but there is nothing mystical about the navel center: it is a functional center in the psyche, exactly as the heart area or the breath area is a psychological fleld. Certain things make us catch our breath.
Some thoughts cause one to feel a pressure in the chest.
In other cases, something presses on our stomach, gives us belly ache.
This expresses the condition of the stomach, the activity of this particular center in the psyche.
So when we say “body,” we are actually talking about how we experience the body. That has nothing to do with matter.
Its relation to actual anatomy and physiology is very distant indeed. It cannot be identified.
You can never prove there is a prâna channel that goes from the crown of the head all the way down to the big toe, and so in the West we say such teachings are complete nonsense.
But we are the stupid ones, because we do not understand it. Pure and simple.
So the body is a condition, a psychological state, a peculiar kind of awareness.
For example, if you think in your head— for now we’ll say “think,” but we could just as well talk about “psychic functioning”—it is quite different from when you do it with your heart.
These two things are so different that for many people it is an incredible discovery to hear that one can also understand with the heart.
Most people only function with this box up here423 and have no idea that one can also comprehend things
with the heart.
I don’t want to name names, but a very well known and famous man discovered that religion is not only a matter of the head, but also of the heart.
We could go even further, couldn’t we?
If I say to a Negro424 that one can understand the world through the gut alone, I’m not telling him anything new.
For them, something is only a thought if it is felt in the belly.
That’s where their thoughts are and they also think down there— a Pueblo once said to me, “The Americans are all crazy because they think in their heads.”
But thinking is done in the heart.
The Homeric Greeks thought it was in the diaphragm: that’s why intellect was called phren, that is, the diaphragm.
We still use it today in “schizophrenia,”425 to mean a mental splitting of the personality—we consider the personality
to be located in the head, but it actually means diaphragm- split.426
Perhaps we should quickly investigate why Negroes, for example, think with their bellies.
Now, we can assume that the abdomen or the stomach was the very first center to demand conscious attention, because food didn’t just 4y into people’s mouths.
That is prob ably also the reason why the stomach is still an organ of the psyche.
The slightest psychological reactions cause all kinds of stomach complaints.
A little higher than the belly is the breathing function, and here we see symptoms such as heart complaints or breathing difficulties.
Nearly all neurotic people have breathing problems, irregular or too- shallow breathing which they have to interrupt with deep intakes of breath and big sighs.
Their breathing is inhibited because their soul is in this region around the heart.
It causes enormous tension around the chest. The next center would then be around the mouth.
It is not very clear, but in India they make this distinction. Thought connected with speech is located here, and you
know how people can develop stutters and similar dif3culties.
And the next center is here in the head.
So, “body” and “spirit” are psychological states, conditions of psychic functioning.
“Body” tells us just as little about what “ matter” is as “spirit” tells us about what ever it is that is behind the word “spirit”, behind the condition.
It in no way tells us whether “spirit” is a spirit or, I don’t know, a divine being.
We only have this experience, which we express in this way.
We have bodily conceptions and bodily experiences, and we also have conceptions of the spirit and conditions of the spirit, and these we perceive with consciousness.
Thus Przywara’s meditation is actually incomplete, in that it gets stuck in certain predicated terms: that is, the term “spirit” and the term “ matter.”
In real ity, this contradiction certainly does not exist to such a great degree in the soul itself. In a way, we tear this contradiction apart when we
say, “ Here is spirit, down there matter, and a tremendous tension in between.”
That’s not how it is in us eo ipso; rather, within us is a body that can be experienced psychologically, a prâna body, a subtle body, and there are states of sublimity, of ecstasy, of animation, of super natural animation, and that is spirit.
So in the same way that spirit is not spirit, then body is also not matter, but both are actually modalities of the psyche.
Przywara then goes on to say that the person is actually a “medium formale et materiale”— a medium of formal and material nature— and here we can agree with him again.
The formal is the spirit, the material is the body.
Man is a strange psychological unit of body- experience and spirit- experience.
It is an undivided oneness, which is only torn into two parts when the intellect is at work.
In other words, we think that the nature of our spirit- experience is wholly different from that of our bodyexperience,
and as a result this splitting occurs.
I don’t mean to say that this split did not occur, or that it is nonsense that it occurred.
If we were to say that, we would deny the entire spiritual development of mankind.
This contradiction had to come about, the chasm had to be ripped open, or else nothing would ever have been recognized, because it is only through differentiation that we understand.427
If things are together, if white and black are one and the same, we cannot recognize anything.
And now Przywara says that man, as a “medium formale et materiale,” through his unified nature portends the one who is the unity of every thing that was ripped apart in the Creation, and that is of course God.
Przywara now says literally about man, If, then, [man] as the center is objectively the analogy of God and subjectively there to proclaim God as the absolute center, then his activity is possible only insofar as he, incapable of clinging to himself,
hangs completely in God (adhaerere, inhaerere, cohaerere Deo).428
This word “hanging” he gets from Ignatius’s annotations. It is the “adhaerere, inhaerere, cohaerere Deo”: “adhere to God, hang in him, cleave to him.”
He says, “He is man, insofar as he is in God.”429
This unity, this coincidentia oppositorum, this coming together of the opposites in the human soul, this psychic essence of man, is a metaphor, an allegory so to speak, or an analogy of God, because in God the opposites are eliminated.
From this the purpose of man also emerges: through his own unity, to proclaim and represent the unity of God.
And in what condition, then, is man? Well, in fact, as an analogy of God he has a likeness to God, a likeness to the unity.
But man is creatus, created. As a created being, man is not of himself, but is dependent on God. God is not only our causa exemplaris, our prototype, but also our causa ef!ciens, the efficient cause, on which we are completely dependent.
Man is contained entirely in God, as it were, and this state is described by Przywara as a “hanging.”
And this hanging also refers— I’m getting ahead of myself here—to the hanging on the cross. It is a state of lack of freedom, a condition that is not determined by oneself, but by the producer, by the cause, namely by God himself. Because God is “in His essence the respective absolute center.”430
And he continues, “Body and spirit ‘rightly’ belong together, insofar as man is ‘rightly’ in God.”431
So if the person is correctly suspended in God, then he is also right in himself: then body and spirit, that is, the conceptual
poles, are rightly joined with each other.
This unity is ensured by the unum432 that is God— because God is the only way of being- in- oneself, says Przywara.433
This being- in- oneself [In- sich- Selbst- Sein] is of course the epitome of “being oneself” or “existence of self” [Selbst- Sein]. God is the “existence of self.”
God is the self. He is the actual self, and insofar as man is congruent with God, then man is also an image of this self. Here
you have the âtman lore in purest Catholic terms.
God is thus causa efficiens: that is, the efficient cause, the “is” of all things. “Quod dat esse rei.”
That which gives the thing its existence.
He is the actual being, the actual reason for being, the thing that guarantees existence at all.
No existence outside of the divine.
There is a direct correlation here with the Indian teaching, “I am the âtman, I am the world.”
The concept of God as the causa exemplaris, the prototype, with man as the copy is a Platonic idea that every yogi could accept easily: because the personal âtman is after all the miniature âtman, the tiny creature living in my heart, no bigger
than a thumb, but which at the same time is also the âtman that covers the whole world and contains every thing in it.
So up to this point we find complete concordance, except for Przywara’s notion that man “hangs” in God.
Instead of man being the free, uncomplicated, plant- like emanation434 of God, there is a condition of compulsion, a state of suffering, because the hanging is a state of suspensio in Deo, a state of being suspended— and that is agony, a veritable torture. It is indeed a copy, but an agonizing suspended copy.
Curiously, there was an ancient mystery cult in which this notion became reality, with an annual festival celebrating it.
It was the cult of Attis.
Attis’s mother Cybele loved him and suddenly made him go crazy, whereupon he castrated himself under a spruce into which his spirit transferred. 435
So every year at the time of the festival, a spruce was cut down and carried to Cybele’s cave.
A picture of the god was pasted on this spruce: the tree, that is, represented the god. The tree is a child of Cybele.
Cybele is nature. If we think in Eastern terms, Attis is the spruce and stands in the womb of nature; he is the whole of nature itself.
He is the purest expression, the purest image of Mother Nature. If, on the other hand, this image of a son of god436— that is, of Attis—is fixed to the tree, it is an expression of the suspensio, the state of being suspended, and of the agonizing
death of Attis, whose corpse, so to speak, is then returned to his mother, namely for the resurrection. The cave of course symbolizes a grave.
Life is buried like a grain of wheat in the earth’s womb, whence it grows again.
That was the mystical437 idea in the Eleusinian mysteries, in the Attis cult, and suchlike.
But Przywara makes it even clearer. He says that the person as a unification of the active opposites, spirit and matter for example, is a crossing:438 he uses the word Kreuzung.
That is, two dif fer ent tendencies, the somatic and pneumatic, cross each other in him like two express trains passing on
the railway tracks.
That is of course also a state of tension, of being suspended between two poles. Isn’t that the same as the ancient depiction that we find in the Mithras cult, of the tragic death of the god Mithras, which takes place between the opposites?439 Have you ever seen an altarpiece from the Mithras cult showing the tauroktonos?440
The bull collapses as Mithras the matador plunges the sword into its throat. I remember one picture showing this scene. In the middle is the scene of the slaughter,
Flanked by dadophoroi, torchbearers: on one side, a torchbearer holds the torch up high, a kind of Eros in Phrygian garb; on the other side is another dadophoros, with the torch down low.
The ascent and descent, like in the Heddernheimer Museum.441
Up there is the sunrise, Helios driving up into the sky with his panting stallions, while on the other side, Luna descends. Day and night.
It demonstrates that this sacri3ce takes place at high noon: that is, between the opposites.
It is the same as the image of the cruci3xion: Christ on the cross between the two thieves.
One will be with him in paradise, the other in hell— one goes up, the other down.
These are the opposites between which Christ is crucified.
These opposites are in a way played out within the person, and that’s why Przywara calls it a crossing.
The suspension between the poles he describes as a split or rift, and that is none other than a con4ict between the opposites.
You don’t 3nd anything like this in India. Con4ict is not part of Buddhism.
Conflict is illusion. It consists of the opposites from which you are supposed to free yourself. Nirdvandva is freedom from the opposites.
They are only concupiscentia.442
I desire the world, all is illusion, and if I stop desiring, if I know with absolute knowledge that it is illusion, this whole
Nidana chain, this chain of causality that leads ultimately to death and the entire sum of suffering, ceases.
Buddhists in a way refuse to take part in the conflict.
For Przywara, the con4ict is central. Here we see again an expression of this Western attitude of ours that is quite different.
Our attitude to the world is extraverted.
The world is desirable and beautiful; one can do and achieve something. The world is not a vale of sorrow.
Yes, of course we complain about things— and in the very next moment say, “Then we’ll improve it.”
We are hopeful, convinced that tomorrow every thing will be better. Reculer pour mieux sauter.443
While in India they say, “What nonsense! Nothing will ever change.” And they don’t have this split.
We have this rift inside of us. For Indian people, it is external and was written off long ago. But we have given up having anything to do with this inner split.
That’s why we always have to locate it outside of ourselves. If we hear or read about a criminal who has been judged for his crime, we are happy to hear that someone else did something wrong and was caught— thank God it wasn’t us. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Page 163-174