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Lecture 11 2 February 1940
The last time we looked at Przywara’s meditation on the first part of Saint Ignatius’s “Fundamentum,” and talked specifically about Przywara’s understanding of mankind: his metaphysical position, as it were.
As you heard, he considers man to be a medium formale et materiale, a medium between the formale, which refers to spirit, and the materiale, matter.
Thus, according to Przywara, man is a likeness of God, who himself is a union of the great cosmic opposites.
So you see that in his meditation Przywara views God as a uniting symbol. I have dealt with the concept of the uniting
symbol in another context.
If you are interested in learning more I(recommend the 1fth chapter of my book Psychological Types.445
There I write about the symbol that is a medium formale et materiale.
So according to Przywara, man, as a union of opposites, is a likeness of God. Man is analogous to God and as such is actually in a certain sense the same as God.
However, this par tic u lar identity relationship, if one may say so, is very problematic, because the state depicted by Przywara is far from being a state of identity,446 rather it is a state of suspension in God, an adhaerere, inhaerere, cohaerere Deo, and an agonizing suspension at that.
Because man is at the same time a conflict. Przywara calls it a rift, or split, as I mentioned last time.
Man is actually not so much a union of opposites as a conflict of opposites.
The contact of the opposites that takes place in man is not harmonious—it is something discordant.
And yet man is completely encapsulated in God, hangs in God as it were, and represents God.
The person is an image or copy of God.
As a result, one would have to say that if man is a copy of God, the human condition is also a copy of God.
But Przywara doesn’t give any more information about that. This prob lem only comes up once more, a bit later on. We’ll talk about it then.
In any case, the copy that is at that same moment suspended in God is actually also substantially and essentially the same as the Godhead. Man only exists because he is dependent on God.
God is the causa ef!ciens and the causa exemplaris.447
Without God, men would not exist, and their form is dependent on the form of God; because God is man’s causa exemplaris.
Thus even the essence of man is in a way divine in nature.
That is of course a very impor tant point. Because here we have a concordance with the Eastern teaching, “I am the âtman, I am the world.”
But this teaching is not included in the Christian tradition— instead it is obfuscated, it is extraordinarily problematic, as I said.
Nevertheless, we have proof in the Holy Scripture of the inner relatedness of man to the Godhead.
Remember that part in the Gospel of John where it says, Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;/ Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sancti1ed, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?/ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not./ But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.448
So quite without a doubt he calls humans gods.
This point refers to the Psalm 82: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”449
This psalm begins with the words, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.”450
I turned to the Vulgate for this verse, as I can’t read Hebrew.
It follows the Septuagint, the Greek- Jewish translation of the Old Testament.
There it says, “Deus stetit in synagoga deorum in medio autem Deus deiudicat”:451
“God stands in the congress of the Gods, but in the middle he judges the Gods.”
So, to judge or make a judgment about someone.
God is apparently here thought of as one who stands in the middle of the congress of Gods and judges his colleagues, his co- gods, as it were.
So we clearly see that this statement “Ye are gods” actually refers to the idea of gods and not to what is usually said, that it was the judges.
That is the usual explanation: that the judges in Israel were referred to as gods.
That is also true of course. It says that clearly in Exodus,452 but Christ is not using the word in this sense.
That’s why he is also able to say of himself that he is the Son of God.
When he says, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,”453 he clearly means he is of the same essence as the Godhead.
When he says to the disciples, “Ye are gods,” he means it. It is quite beyond doubt that in Christian teaching the divine nature of men is completely valid.454
However, as I have said, it is curiously obfuscated, in that Przywara says that this suspension in God could cause men to
abuse their position in quite a diabolical way: namely, by claiming to be like God.455
He evidently means that this suspension in God is also an identi1cation with God that a person might also misuse in order to claim God- like qualities.
Now, if a copy says, “I am similar,” of course it can do that, but naturally it can also misuse it in the psychological sense: for example, if a drop of water in the ocean says, “I am the ocean.”
The water drop is part of the ocean, not the ocean itself, but nevertheless the nature of this part is essentially and substantially the same as the ocean.
This idea also corresponds to a point from Augustine that is often used in medieval texts: “Deus est circulus cuius centrum est ubique, circumferentia vera nusquam”:456
“God is a circle whose center is everywhere but whose circumference is nowhere.”
And this center that is everywhere is of course in every person, and the circumference that is nowhere is the in1nite
Now, if there is an identi1cation of this kind, then of course the possibility of diabolical misuse also arises: namely, that the droplet assumes it is the ocean, or the grain of sand in the Sahara believes it is the whole Sahara desert.
That is what those who utter such things are always accused of. Because the devil is the simia Dei, the ape of God, an imitator of God.
Apparently the most imperfect, agonizing, con2icted human condition is undoubtedly the particular condition of mankind.
If someone has no con2ict, they simply don’t know it yet, but think their gut or their stomach in general is causing these symptoms.
Of course they think they have nothing of the sort, but that’s just self- deception.
In real ity one is never quite right if one doesn’t have any doubt about oneself.
Such a person would be mistaken, that’s for sure. Doubt is generally a higher state than certainty.
Because it is in doubt that the opposites meet, whereas in certainty the other leg is missing, there’s always a limping one- sidedness.
Man, as a creature of conflict and doubt, needs a savior.
That’s why Przywara says that God repairs the rift through Christ’s crucifixion.457
What is noteworthy here is how this word “crucifixion” 1ts with the intersection of the opposites within people.
This will be con1rmed, as we shall see. The cruci!xio Christi is known to signify redemption.
I must admit that, despite my Christian upbringing, I have never understood why the crucifi!xio should mean redemption.
I thought I must be particularly stupid, but in my almost sixty-1ve years of life I have met quite a number of other people who didn’t understand it either.
One says it without thinking and hears it often, but one never really understands why the act of someone else being nailed to a cross should heal the conflict.
Because that’s how it is supposed to be: because of our imperfection, Christ was nailed to the cross.
Przywara says clearly, “Man is the cruci1xion of God.”
The human is the hanging on the cross, and is thus to an extent identical with it, with this suffering of God’s son, the suffering of God.
This expresses quite clearly that this human suffering is not just our own imperfection, our own suffering, but that this suffering is also pre sent in God.
It is the suffering of God that is revealed in the 1gure of Christ. Where does the suffering come from? From the conflict.
So the con2ict is in the Godhead. That is a thought that should not be spoken.
When the suffering is so great that the atonement required is the crucifi!xio, one naturally asks what caused it.
What is the crime for which the son of God had to suffer this punishment?
Evidently the sinfulness458 of men, which through the death of the son becomes conscious and atoned for. Our debt is paid.
We are then released from this debt through the crucifixion of the son of God. Now, it is said that Christ was innocent.
Only the guilty party should suffer the punishment, but here the innocent one takes the punishment on behalf of the others.
If we consider Christ from the human perspective, not the dogmatic one, the question arises: what is the psychological
debt of Christ that caused him to be punished?
What was missing in his life? Where did he incur debt? We can say it in one word: he was no animal.
That was his failure: that he did not live the animal side of human nature. What is men’s crime?
It is precisely that they are animals, that they are carnal, that they live as animals, which keeps them unconscious.
That is the debt of men that has to be and is discharged by the atoning death of Christ.
Because the conflict within man is after all this conflict between materiale and formale.
The materiale is the flesh, the formale is the spirit.
These are the opposites that rage inside men: namely, the principled, form-giving nature of the spirit, as opposed to the formlessness and intemperance of simply blindly drifting along.
This opposition is not answered by remaining at the level of the usual instinctual man, who exists as instinctively as an animal that experiences no conflict.
Or the conflict is pushed aside, and as a result all spirituality or intellectual thinking is also foregone.
Those who pride themselves on living instinctively and having no conflict are simply ignoring their inner humanity.
But those who make the opposite mistake— living only in the mind— are punished from the other side.
Przywara calls these opposites that meet in man the timbers of the cross that join in the middle from right, left, above, and below.
That for him is the symbol of the opposites that agonizingly combine in the human being in the form of conflict and in the image of Christ.
That’s why one often says “the cross” instead of “Christ”— “the cross redeemed us.”
It is the expression of a symbol.
Przywara says that the crossing, the intersection of the opposites, is the redemption.
In other words, those who are unaware of the con2ict, who are only spiritual or only material, are not redeemed.
Only when people are in this state of uncomfortable doubt or conflict are they redeemed.
Of course, we do not think we are redeemed when we are in this state of doubt or conflict.
We think, “This is all wrong,”— and that’s when it is exactly right.
Because there’s no other way to reach a higher consciousness than by experiencing some pain or suffering.
No one ever undertook anything459 when they were feeling fine.
One has to get into a wretched state before one will do something.
That is the great psychological meaning of the glori1cation of suffering in Christian ity, and that is what we have
to criticize in Buddhism— that they leave out the conflict.460
Nirdvandva means, “I am free of the opposites, neither right nor left, neither up nor down.”
The yogi thus grows up into a higher unconsciousness which is called bodhi, meaning “enlightenment” or “consciousness.”
In the West, we assume the yogis are all engrossed in a realm of higher consciousness, but they have simply entered a trance- like state and return with a feeling of bliss, as if after a deep sleep.
That is not consciousness, but unconsciousness.
And it is certainly true that if you can get yourself into an unconscious state you feel revitalized, like when Antaeus touches the earth.461
I am reminded here of the parallels in the myth of Antaeus, who was a giant and the son of Poseidon and Gaia. He forced all strangers to wrestle him, and in every case won and killed them.
time he touched his mother, the earth, he gained renewed strength.
Fi nally Heracles managed to overcome him by holding him up in the air until he suffocated.
It is not that a state of conflict is always the most desirable thing—sometimes this state can be so destructive that one wishes one could free oneself from these opposites and sink back down into an unconscious state where nothing matters in the least.
That is the great thing about Indian people, that they have learned that so thoroughly.
But they should use words we understand and say that the state they attain is unconsciousness, not consciousness.
Buddhism is a bit dif fer ent in this regard, as Buddha is also conscious of something that transcends consciousness,
and that cannot be anything other than “no consciousness.”
It is different from consciousness.
So as you see, Przywara regards man himself, his psychological existence which is essentially confictual, as the cross.
Man is not just crucified, he is the actual cross— like in the old Christian depictions where Christ is not nailed to the cross, but stands in front of the cross with arms outstretched because he himself is the cross.462
I have seen one of these crosses.
It’s from around the eleventh century and shows Christ pulling the nails out of the cross and walking away from it. It is very unusual.
It’s held in the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg.
Przywara says, By God as savior descending into man, His countenance appears in the real man in- between, the soul as the midpoint between pure body and pure spirit.
But by Him as savior descending into man as the rift, His countenance appears in the soul, insofar as it is to be saved
from being lost (salvar)— i.e., God appears in the guise of the “rift as cross.”463
This means that the soul is a cross. That is true in the fullest sense of the word. The human soul is a cross.
Also in the 1gurative sense if we say it is a cross with this psychology.
Because crux also means “torment.” This becoming conscious, this recognition of the conflicted nature of man, is a cross to bear. That’s why we’d rather ignore it.
We don’t want to recognize our faults, lest we discover something unpleasant that causes a conflict, and that would be a cross.
And we completely forget that the opposite that we carry inside ourselves— that that is also me.
The other in me is also part of me, and if I recognize that, then it is a cross, a crucified state, because I am suspended between the opposites.
Then I am thrown into doubt, I no longer know what to do.
That’s precisely how it is: you feel doubtful, and when you do something you can only hope that it happens from both sides.
Not only spirit, not only matter, but something alive.
And that which is alive is never absolutely sterile and pure, but is somewhat murky.
Przywara says ultimately that God himself appears on the cross.
So God himself is also this cross. God himself is a torment. God is a cross for us, a cross imposed on us.
And if we realize the conflict within us, if, that is, we consciously accept the conflict, then we accept the cross, and
this cross is God himself.
As Nietz sche says, “You sought the heaviest burden and you found yourself.”464 He might just as well have said, “You
This encounter with oneself is the encounter with God. This other is me and at the same time it is God.
People in India understand that without any problem. What ever I encounter is me, it is âtman, it is my essence.
But what the Indian person doesn’t say is that this encounter is the most painful thing, that we are our own most painful experience.
We don’t want to understand that here either, and in India it is rejected in order that one can be free of this torment.
Of course, there are good reasons for that in Indian psychology. You can’t resent the Indians for wanting to escape these opposites.
But with us it is not like that.
We are supposed to become aware of our own inner opposites, but we must also doubt ourselves.
If, according to Przywara’s meditations, we have to call the experience of conflict an experience of God, it is understandable that he proclaims, using the words of Holy Saturday no less, “O happy fault, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”465
It’s not just a façon de parler466 when one says that suffering is a cross to bear.
It is a manner of speaking, but in saying it one is also saying that suffering is actually God himself. It is like in the legend of Saint Christopher:467
Christopher wants to carry a child over the stream, but when he is in the water, the child gets heavier and heavier and he can hardly reach the other side.
Then he realizes that he was carry ing the Lord himself. This Lord, this child, is also Christopher himself.
So Przywara now sees the fact that man is crucified with Christ between heaven and hell as being the actual meaning of human existence.
Man is in real ity only in the cross, created by Christ.
Christ makes it so that the person is only real in the cross. Przywara refers here to the Epistle to the Ephesians:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”468
Namely, we are his product. We are the product of Christ: that is, in other words, the symbol of Christ teaches people that they themselves are a cross, that they themselves are sufferers, that they are in a state of con2ict and that that which they are afraid of, namely the conflict, is themselves.
Those who avoid the conflict, avoid themselves.469
Now we are actually finished with Przywara’s meditations on the “Fundamentum.”
Of course, there is lots more one could say about his meditations, but that would take us too far. I just wanted to touch on the main points.
Now we just have to look briefly at the third section of the “Fundamentum”:
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.470
With that, a thought is again expressed that was already intimated at the start with the “Creatus est homo.”
That is, that men are in this state of suffering, in this state of cofl2ict, for a very specific purpose and goal, so that a very particular ethical stance also seems logical to them; in fact is even enjoined of them: namely, only to use that which is necessary to reach their purpose, and to let go of that which may prevent them reaching that purpose.
And now the “Fundamentum” continues,
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.471
The main accent is put on the end for which we are created. And what is this goal?
You know what the goal is in the Christian symbolism or Christian faith.
Psychologically, based on what we have just discussed, it is initially the awareness of the con2ict.
From that, from the conviction that the con2ict is our truth, it should follow that we also want this conflict, that
we can say yes to it.
When we can say yes, the goal also emerges: through the con2ict alone we reach a higher level of consciousness—in that we know not just one of us, but also the other.
This increase in the state of consciousness is always the secret of all cultures. All culture is increased consciousness.
All barbaric culture, everything primitive, is characterized by a lower state of consciousness: namely, by a consciousness that is still completely caught up in the life of the drives, in which nothing becomes conscious unless it is shoved under
one’s nose by a drive: that is, in which we are still completely caught up and trapped in the emotions of our drives.
A higher state of consciousness, however, always means reining in the drives, control, mastery of the emotions.
Not complete suppression, but control, specifically a control that allows people to exist as lively creatures despite their world of drives and despite their emotionality.
Culture that is only a prison is not culture. Discipline for discipline’s sake is not culture. Culture means a possible
expression of drives and emotionality within the limits of what is reasonable, for individuals and for humanity.
Culture is not disciplinarianism, asceticism, suppression; culture is giving nature freedom within a certain measure, within human bounds.
Those people who are merely in thrall to their emotions, their illusions, their drives, and are dragged along by them,
might just as well be a carriage in a train or a sheep in a flock.
That is not culture.
Culture is much more a consciousness that has a certain power, namely a power that is equal to the blindly emotional and libidinal impulses, and that, like a benevolent father, tolerates them to an extent, so long as they do not overstep certain limits.
But if the drives exceed those limits, that paves the way to unconsciousness: so into a lower state of culture, a destructive state, and that is the devil— because the devil destroys all works of the Godhead, and the Godhead is, as you just heard, the suffering, the conflict, the cross. And so Christianity was, for example, a moment in the history of mankind at which a higher level of consciousness was reached.
If you compare the other religions that were contemporaneous with Chris tian ity, you’ll see the difference quite clearly.
The Dionysian ele ment in the ancient world was a glori1cation of the emotional, the libidinal, the uninhibited. It was a kind of lowering, a letting- oneself-go into the most unbridled unconsciousness.
We see this in par tic u lar in the cult and legends of Dionysus with those frenzied females tearing apart live animals with their teeth.
These are things that actually happened, not just fables.
These cults have been maintained until this day in Morocco, under the guise of Islam: the whirling dervishes are
remnants of the old cult of Dionysus.
That’s why Dionysus’s retinue consists of satyrs, creatures with cloven feet or horse- like hooves, who represent
simply the idea of the half- man, half- animal— which is how people in antiquity were. That’s why they were so beautiful.
Well, in real ity they weren’t so nice, but nevertheless they created immortal works and an ideal of beauty that we can only envy.
But you know the best cabbage always grows on the dung heap.
In Pompeii, for example, there was only one single water closet, and the rest you can imagine.
I’ll leave you to picture the result yourselves.472
The ancient world was built on social conditions that were truly without equal.
The awful state of those times was worse than anything seen since— until today.
Three- 1fths of the population were slaves, a dreadful situation which the old Romans were very well aware of and tried to ameliorate with all kinds of people- friendly legislation, enfranchisement, and so on.
But it didn’t help. Even the 1rst Christian bishops still had house slaves.
It wasn’t until the advent of Christianity that things changed, but the transformation came from within, not through external laws or social mea sures. Each person received the center of God— not just emperors, kings, or aristocrats.
With Chris tian ity, each person had the divine soul inside them, and each person was granted dignity.
That’s what finally led to the downfall of the ancient world. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyol, Page 175-185