Lecture 14 23 February 1940
In the last session, we looked at the idea of sin as it appears in the Ignatian exercises. In the 6rst week’s meditations, sin plays a key role, sin and the dreadful punishment thereof.
The exercises of the 6rst week are intended to give the participant an absolutely unforgettable grasp of sin and its consequences.
As I told you, many people who do these exercises 6nd the experience almost unbearable and often suffer real damage.
It is no won der that such meditations— especially when done with such intensity— can have extremely deep, long- lasting, and potentially damaging effects on those with more sensitive temperaments.
But these side effects are not our concern here; our focus is on the content of the ideas.
Seeing the intensity with which the idea of sin and the punishment resulting from sin is emphasized, one 6nds oneself asking why they go to such incredible lengths.
If we approach it from the dogmatic standpoint, from the concept of original sin that says we are already corrupted in embryo, so to speak, such an exercise is understandable, a logical step.
But if we examine the psychological question, namely, to what end such a strong emphasis on sin should serve, we encounter a different prolem.
And that is the following: if sinfulness has to be impressed on us to such a great extent, the other side of the coin is that the human tendency to sin must be just as great; that is, that men have a certain diabolical hubris that is inimical to God, a certain likeness to God that continually makes them want to do the things that are forbidden.
And we cannot say that men have a certain tendency to merely unintentionally break rules somehow; it is more that they have an almost organic tendency to arrogance, to hubris. 513
But what happens when awareness of one’s sinfulness is inculcated in this way?
individual is crushed, personhood suppressed, one’s existence or dignity is invalidated.
One becomes deeply convinced that one is corrupted and lost from the start, that one is constantly tempted to stray
from the righ teous path into meaninglessness and absurdity, and that one is only capable of achieving a state worthy of grace if one makes the greatest of efforts.
This quashing or de9ation of the human spirit is counterpoised with an equally strong tendency to in9ation.
Now, we are not talking about conscious resolutions here, such as “I want to sin,” “I choose to sin,” “I want to be like God,” or “I am like God.” It is not about such convictions—rather, it is a psychological phenomenon.
Namely, if people are not humbled to their core, then they will slip into divine likeness without realizing it.
That comes from men’s lack of domestication, with a primordial barbarism that tends them toward one extreme or the other: deprecation or overestimation of themselves.514
Not that they want that; it simply happens— they slip into hubris or into the most extreme and undigni6ed self- deprecation.
These exercises, this whole historical stage of development of Christian ity in fact, are speci6c to their time, inextricably linked to a particular epoch.
One could say that these exercises particularly describe an epoch in which humanity’s self- conceit, intellectual hauteur, and godlike qualities began to become dangerous.
It is like that other phase in the history of ideas, a bit before this time, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when there was the persecution of heretics, witch hunts, people being burned alive en masse, and so on.
That was a time during which doubt crept in, in which hubris took the form of all sorts of challenges to religion.
The expansion of knowledge about the world led to all kinds of speculations.
It was a time of great voyages of discovery, and with the enlargement of the known world came the idea that the world might not actually be as flat as was thought, that the earth might revolve around the sun and not the other way around.
These early beginnings of the natural sciences awakened certain religious doubts, and then began the burning of heretics and suchlike, long before the Reformation.
The Reformation was then a heretical movement that brought this epoch to an end, as it were, and caused a schism, a split in the Church, that has endured to this day.
So it is a weakening of Christian ity in the true sense.
This tendency, this high- handedness of human reason, was the trigger for the intense suppression that took place.
The Ignatian exercises, therefore, and indeed the Jesuit order in general, are simply a further consequence of the schismatic disintegration of the Church.
The Jesuits are the milites Christi, the soldiers of Christ, whose vocation is to destroy or overcome the enemies of Christ.
The purpose of the exercises was also to instill greater discipline in the ranks of the Church’s members— a real retaliation
against the schism of the Reformation.
The Reformation itself was an uprising against the absolute authority of the Church, an intense promotion of human reason in the face of pure authority.
And along with it, a bit of that hubris, that arrogance of men, revealed itself, and was also quickly followed by a revolutionary mood that deeply permeated the population.
Think of the terrible peasants’ revolt515 at the time of Luther, which was then suppressed with dreadful ferocity.
These are simply some of the other effects.
So long as human beings are insuf6ciently domesticated—they suffer, that is, from a barbaric lack of self- control, they without fail fall prey to pairs of opposites.
If they are believers, they lose themselves completely to their faith. They are called the virtuous ones.
But they might also lose themselves in complete self- denial: completely cease to exist as individuals.
Or they will push the whole problem aside and abandon themselves to their infantile drives, like Thomas Müntzer516 and other such people, the Anabaptists causing riots, and so on.
The fact is that a dark force, a driving force so to speak, always takes possession of people, and then they simply get swept up in it and everything becomes crazy.
When they are in the barbaric state, people are unable to maintain a sensible idea; instead they 9og it to death.
Then every time it leads to a catastrophe, and then one thinks that when that is suppressed, the situation will improve.
But of course the same old story repeats itself, just in a dif fer ent guise.
One may even doubt whether it is even pos si ble for men ever to be governed by reason— whether people will ever actually completely come to their senses.
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that it will simply go on like this for ever.
But if we want to be more optimistic, we might hope that after something particularly idiotic things would improve.
What we see historically, however, is the opposite.
We flip from white to black and from black to white, and when the cycle is completed it starts over again from the beginning.
That we know from history, and we also know that human consciousness has signi6cantly increased in breadth and scope.
But have we thereby become morally better? There’s no doubt about it: morally, things have not improved.
The best inventions, methods, and ideas are harnessed for destruction in the most diabolical ways, which doesn’t exactly bode well for the future.
But I am convinced that this kind of thinking is actually incorrect. We should learn to think differently.
We should deal more with our own prob lems and less with the problem of the eleven thousand virgins who actually have nothing to do with us.517
It’s no use asking, statistically, what things will be like in twenty years.
Then there’ll be a whole load of other people. We are alive today, and it is about us.
This way of looking at things, that deals with hundreds of thousands and millions, is no better than a neurosis, in that one simply escapes one’s own problems.
But if you deal with your own problems, you’ll have enough to keep you going for a lifetime and you won’t need to worry about how things will be for other people in twenty or fifty years.
So these enormous con9icts, this to and fro between hubris and depreciation, are actually symptoms of a lack of domestication.
Such extremes are actually unnecessary, as we’ll see later. I’ll read you something from India about that later.
Sin, as it is historically described, is in the 6rst instance a deviation from a law, from a divine command.
That concords more or less with the Old Testament standpoint. Before that, there was no sin as such.
In antiquity, for example, the concept of sin was unknown; instead they spoke of clumsiness and foolishness, or of great hubris which led one to perhaps offend this or that god— imprudence in dealings with powerful beings.
But that was not perceived as a sin. In ancient Egypt, the concept of sin as we understand it did not exist either. Instead they had a rite called the negative
confession, which dying people had to recite: “I have not stolen the widow’s belongings, have not lied or deceived. I have not stolen the cow.” So only, “I have not. . . .”
Of course, the thinking behind it is to reinforce that I haven’t done anything stupid that could offend this or that god or community. But there is no mention of a moral con9ict.
The concept of sin is essentially a product of the Old Testament, and means the transgression of a command.
In Christianity itself it is thus no longer about the law: that is, that one has broken laws— that was only reintroduced more recently, in Protestantism— but about whether or not one has acted against the love of God and against other people.
And as you heard, our Spanish source Izquierdo gave a good de6nition of sin: namely, there is only one sin, and that is the mortal sin, “ because this always puts the goal in the creatural and not in God.”518
So those who put their goal, the !nis that we know about from Ignatius, in what is created—either created by man or by God, so in things that can be perceived with the senses, natu ral things, and so forth— are committing mortal sin.
Because the unique and sole justi6cation for man’s existence is that he has his goal in God; in other words, that his whole life must be conceived in such a way as to be directed toward God, and not to anything creatural.
Thus according to this view, sin is a deviation from God, and not the transgression of a commandment— for example, the commandment of love.
Sin is rather the act of withdrawing from the Godhead. What is the Godhead, according to the Jesuit conception?
We saw it with Przywara and talked about it at length: namely, the Godhead is a union of the opposites, the uniting of the split.
The split, when developed, is a con9ict, which is why the union takes place in the cross.
That’s why Przywara says that God appears on the cross. He manifests himself through the Christ 6gure hanging on the cross.
Those who wish to become one with God can only do it through the imitatio Christi, the imitation of Christ,519 by taking on the cross, taking on the con9ict of the universal opposites, and putting themselves in the middle as it were, in front of the cross.
Or, if we think from the perspective of Christ, as Przywara does, we say that we are on the cross with Christ.520
That is a literal translation of the original Spanish text of Ignatius.521
Thus God empirically appears, in a manner of speaking. He has shown himself to the world as the cross,
as the instrument of martyrdom, as an af9iction, and insofar as Christ takes on his suffering, he manifests God, makes God visible.
So you see that the suffering between opposites, the collision of opposites, is actually the manifestation of God, according to this view.
Of course, the cross, as well as the Godhead, is now not only an af9iction, the Passion of Christ or that to which the imitatio Christi submits; the cross also symbolizes the redemption— because the blood of Christ that is spilled for us is an elixir, the medicina catholica, the universal cure.
It is the water of ablution, the water of purification in which we are cleansed of the blackness of our sins and healed of our af9iction of being far from God.
In the cross is thus also salvation, in that the person who is placed on this cross or who bears the con9ict stands in the middle between the two great universal opposites, and is therefore also saved.
Thus the separation from God is a separation from the cross, and the separation from the cross is a deviation from God.
In other words, if one manages to some extent to yet out of this con9ict, no longer to suffer it, one is cut off from God and
is in the state of peccatum mortale.
Now it is quite clear that the suffering God who appears in Christ is a re9ection of the human being. In the imitatio Christi, I try to make myself one with the Passion of Christ.
If I succeed, I am the suffering Christ, so to speak, but in the sense that I surrender myself so fully to Christ that I completely disregard myself, completely cast aside this unworthy I and give it to Christ, in order that my I enters into his body through the stigmata of Christ. I am completely absorbed by his body, such that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.522
Thus I am transferred, through my own abnegation, into Christ. It is not I who am Christ, but there was once an I, my I, that entered Christ and what now lives is Christ.
That is what Christ actually means.
And as he is the second figure in the Godhead, he is actually the innermost core, the innermost experience of mankind.
Where he is in a state of complete surrender, where he can no longer have illusions about anything, he is in this conflict, and there he is God.
There was once a mystic who said quite rightly about Christ’s words on the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”523 that Christ was at that point the true God, because if God had left him then there was no more God outside of him.
You see, it is the same idea.
Curiously, shortly after Ignatius, living almost at the same time, there was a German mystic who expressed these ideas in a rather wonderful way— Angelus Silesius.524
I’m going to read out a few of his verses that relate directly to this problem: 1.5.
I know not what I am, what I know I am not,
A thing and not a thing, a circle and a dot.
Here he uses the Augustine symbol of the Godhead.525
God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose periphery is nowhere.
So Angelus Silesius, in his childlike modesty and humbleness, has become God himself, as he is a dot and a circle.
And in another verse, 1.10. I am as big as God, God is so small, like me. God cannot be above me, I cannot below God be.
1.6. Should I my 6nal goal and primal source discover, I must myself in God and God in me recover
Becoming what He is: a shine within His shine, A word within His Word, by God be made divine.
1.204. No thing seems high to me, I am the highest thing, Because God without me, remains Himself lacking.
3.135. Quite without mea sure is the Highest, as we know, And yet a human heart can wholly Him enclose.
And last of all he says,
5.354. Flee not oh Christ the cross, you must endure the pain, That the kingdom of heaven you might thereby attain.526
In these verses, Angelus Silesius expresses in a perfectly simple way every thing we have said about Przywara and about the meditations of Ignatius.
You see clearly in these words that Christ is none other than the projected self of the human being, the “something greater” in the person, the part that contains this I, the part in which this I can dissolve.
The purpose of the exercises is after all to dissolve the I in this greater 6gure.
In other words, and here we see the other side of the cross symbolism, the I thereby enters the state of resolution or redemption, that is, that state in which the opposites merge into one.
Now, as I have mentioned several times already, it is totally characteristic of the West that this development has to take place through an intense life pro cess, while in the East that is not the case at all.
There, in contrast, the development pro cess unfolds in quite a dif fer ent way— through renunciation of suffering, avoidance of misery; so, quite the opposite, you might say.
But the under lying thoughts are actually the same, and in that regard I’d like to read you a passage from the Dhamma- kakka- ppavattana Sutta, eleventh volume of the Sacred Books of the East:527
Reverence to the Blessed One, the Holy One, the Fully- Enlightened One.
- Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once staying at Benares, at the hermitage called Migadâya. And there the Blessed One addressed the com pany of the 6ve Bhikkhus,528 and said,
“ There are two extremes, O Bhikkhus, which the man who has given up the world529 ought not to follow— the habitual practice, on the one hand of those things whose attraction depends upon the passions, and especially of sensuality— a low and pagan530 way (of seeking satisfaction), unworthy, unpro6table, and fit only for the worldly- minded— and the habitual practice, on the other hand, of asceticism (or self- morti6cation), which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.
“ There is a middle path, O Bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathâgata531— a path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvâna!
“What is that middle path, O Bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathâgata— that path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvâna? Verily! it is this noble eightfold path, that is to say,
and Right contemplation.
“This, O Bhikkhus, is that middle path, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathâgata— that path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvâna!
- “Now this, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering. “Birth is attended with pain, decay is painful, disease is painful, death is painful. Union with the unpleasant is painful, painful is separation from the pleasant; and any craving that is unsatis6ed, that too is painful. In brief, the 6ve aggregates which spring from attachment (the conditions of individuality and their cause) are painful.“
This then, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering. 6. “Now this, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of suffering. “Verily, it is that thirst (or craving), causing the renewal of existence, accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now here, now there— that is to say, the craving for the grati6cation of the passions, or the craving for (a future) life, or the craving for success (in this present life).
“This then, O Bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of suffering. [. . .].”
- Thus spake the Blessed One. The com pany of the 6ve Bhikkhus, glad at heart, exalted the words of the Blessed One. And when the discourse had been uttered, there arose within the venerable Kondañña the eye of truth, spotless, and without a stain, (and he saw that) whatsoever has an origin, in that is also inherent the necessity of coming to an end.
And when the royal chariot wheel of the truth had thus been set rolling onwards by the Blessed One, the gods of the earth gave forth a shout, saying,
“In Benâres, at the hermitage of the Migadâya, the supreme wheel of the empire of Truth has been set rolling by the Blessed One—that wheel which not by any Samana or Brâhman, not by any god, not by any Brahma or Mâra, not by any one in the universe, can ever be turned back!”
- And when they heard the shout of the gods of the earth, the attendant gods of the four great kings (the guardian angels of the four quarters of the globe) gave forth a shout, saying, “In Benâres, at the hermitage of the Migadâya, the supreme wheel of the empire of Truth has been set rolling by the Blessed One—that wheel which not by any Samana or Brâhman, not by any god, not by any Brahma or Mâra, not by any one in the universe, can ever be turned back!”532
I wanted to mention that again so that you can see how the idea of the quaternity also comes up here, but in the reverse order.
The cross is characterized by the four points. It is the Christian form of the ancient quaternitas.
Western people enter the unity of God from outside, via the quaternity, while Eastern people descend from the unity of the divine being into the quaternity.
The truth of the Bud dha is uncovered from the unity, and is then taken up by the gods of the earth, the lower psychic centers, and finally placed above the lower quaternity which represents the earth.
And thus the realm of truth descends into the world of illusion and suffering, while Western people emerge from the world of illusion and suffering and ascend to the cross, to the quaternity, and to the unity.
The East has a completely opposite perspective.
The Eastern path is different from the Western one, in that while we move from the outer world up into the inner world, Eastern knowledge533 moves from the unity of the Holy Spirit down, as it were, into the world.
Because the wheel that is set in motion, which you can see on all Buddhist temples, the wheel of dhar ma, represents
the Buddha’s teaching that is set rolling across the world and that brings redemption from a world of illusion and suffering.
But the underlying ideas and symbols are essentially the same. So these clearly must be general human ideas.
With these considerations and in concordance with this meaning of Christ as the bridge, the mediator to the Godhead, the second week of exercises then begins with a meditation on the kingdom of Christ.
This is primarily concerned with the fate of Christ, and the purpose of the exercise is to bring the 6gure of Christ close to the meditator, exactly like with the sin and damnation and eternal hellfire: namely,
Christ as the savior, the redeemer, who through his cruci6xion provides a model for the union of the opposites. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, 208~Page -218