The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola: Lecture 4 [24 November 1939 ]
Lecture 4 24 November 1939
Last time we began studying the “Anima Christi” meditation, and I want to continue with that today.
We got as far as discussing the third line, “Sanguis Christi, inebria me”— “blood of Christ, inebriate me”— and we come
now to the fourth line:
- “Aqua lateris Christi, la va me.” ( Water from the side of Christ, wash me.)
This invoking of Christ refers to the fact that, according to the Gospel text, it was not just blood, but also water that 2owed from the wound in Christ’s side.218
It is also a reference to the purification219 of the wine with the water in the Eucharist.
The blood and the water are meditated on separately, as having dif fer ent meanings.
The blood, which corresponds to the wine, causes the inebriation, the ecstasy, the delirium, this feeling of being
swept into the 3gure of Christ, while the water signifies the opposite.
That is what Przywara says in his meditation: that the water here actually counteracts the drunkenness that is caused by the blood and the wine, and thus represents a clarity.220
He is of course referring to the purifying effect of the miraculous water from the wellspring of Christ.
Such ideas played a significant role in the Middle Ages, as you perhaps already know from art history.
The blood symbolizes the grace, and the water the ablutio or the dissolution of the blackness of sin.
This idea also comes up in hermetic philosophy, where this ablutio with the miraculous water also plays a signi3cant role.
This miraculous water is very often directly described as sanguis, blood.
One of the basic concepts of hermetic philosophy is that one can extract this water from matter; because the savior is also hidden or slumbering in the matter.
That is, he comes not just from heaven above, but also from the depths of matter.
Przywara here, after this invocation, has a section in which he divides these invocations into three parts.
But we don’t need to go further into his notion of the three parts.
It would go too far and doesn’t add much to the meaning.
Now we are coming to the further invocation of the second part [of the “Anima Christi”]:
- “Passio Christi, conforta me.” (Passion of Christ, strengthen me.)
Przywara now says here that the Passion, or suffering, is the actual mystery of Christ.221
The suffering of God who now manifests himself.
This is actually a central idea, which is also of psychological significance, that is unique to the West.
In none of the major religions does one find this relationship to suffering that is found in Christianity, namely this willingness to suffer, in some cases a real desire to suffer.
Think of the martyrs.
A purpose is seen in suffering which we simply do not find in other religions find other cultures.
The idea is that this mystery is a kind of sacred mystery.
Rather than a human suffering, it is primarily the suffering of God that is meant.
And the thinking goes that God debases himself to the level of men and through this debasing also experiences suffering, as if suffering were a characteristic of mankind.
His incarnation is painful.
In the earlier lectures we saw often enough that the Western equivalent of the Eastern âtman, of the self, is Christ.
The figure of Christ is a very precise equivalent. In the West as in the East, this “self” is sought, but through quite different paths.
We have already talked about the Eastern path.
The Western path is, however, totally different from the Eastern one.
Namely, here one par tic u lar aspect is emphasized, which in the East is apparently completely overlooked: the aspect of suffering.
Selfactualization, individuation, is a more intense process of suffering in the West; the Westerner, that is, experiences the psychological process in this way, and formulates it as the incarnation of a God.
Such a formulation is not found in the East at all. In the East, the self grows out of the man, man grows into this self.
Man takes on the form of this self, emerging from his222 own substance.
That is why the conviction exists that the âtman is both a cosmic being and at the same time my own inner being,
hence the expression, “Smaller than small, greater than great.”223 Or,
The person (purusha), not larger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling in the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the thought, the mind; they who know it become immortal.
The person (purusha) with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, having compassed the earth on every side, extends beyond it by ten fingers’ breadth.224
In the East, man’s innermost conscious being is expressed in this paradox.
It is the thinker of thinking, the listener of listening, the seer of seeing, and so on. In the West, on the other hand, it is not an inner experience.
It is not an individual psychological experience, but the experience of something external.
This same self, this same âtman, approaches Western experience as an external power ful 3gure. It is not just a purely spiritual creation, but is also a historical occurrence, as it were.
In the historical figure of Jesus, the self appears on the world scene.
You know, the otherworldly Christ or even the mystical Christ is not very popu lar in Protestantism.
Protestants like to speak of the historical Jesus, namely that figure who lived and existed, whom we know from tradition, from the Gospels, and who still acts, to a certain extent, as a role model for us.
Only sectarian mysticism uses this idea of the inner Christ or the cosmic Christ.
Those expressions have become almost obsolete within Protestantism, but they live on in Catholicism.
There, the cosmic Christ is still upheld in all his glory.225
He really acts as a god, so to speak. As such, Ecce Deus,226 he approaches mankind, equipped with power, divine force, even excessive divine force over them, so that one can never say whether Christ has grown out of the person, or whether the person has grown up into Christ.
Christ is there, and was always there, already there before all the world, and we can only jump out of ourselves and over into Christ, so to speak.
We can only obliterate ourselves in order to transfer ourselves across into this Christ, not to become Christ.
These meditations serve this very purpose: to release people from their mere humanity, so that they pass over into
the divine form of grace, into which they are accepted and even merged, but in the way an atom merges with an in3nitely greater mass:
He is the body, we are his limbs.227 He is the vine, we are the branches.228 He is the whole, we are the parts.229 In contrast, in the East it goes, I am the whole. I am the âtman. I am this world. Every thing comes to me, every thing wants to
enter me. I am every thing. Tat tvam asi.230
To our Christian sensibilities, such ideas seem completely incomprehensible and strange.
But it is simply a total reversal of our Western Christian perception.
Religions are after all formulations, expressions of a very specific mental attitude, of a psychological temperament.
Our Western temperament is appropriately expressed by the Christian myth.
Regardless of what some might say, the consensus gentium231 shows that Christian ity has been the appropriate formulation for us over the last 3fteen centuries.
Since the time of the Reformation, its effectiveness as an expression of our psychological condition has waned signi3cantly.
From that we must conclude that our psychological condition has altered in a peculiar way since around the sixteenth century, or perhaps even earlier, and that we therefore have a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Now, it is hard to demonstrate psychologically what this dissatisfaction is based on and where it stems from.
After all, we cannot simply accept the puerile statements of those who say: it is simply not true or impossible that a virgin can have a son.
There are even some intellectuals who spout such banalities.
That is not what it is about at all; it’s about symbolic truths. The dogma is a symbolic truth.
We ought not to think that our fathers, grand fathers, and great- grandfathers were fools and idiots; other wise we would be so, too.
We cannot let ourselves admit that. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
So we must accept that our forefathers meant something by these things and that we are perhaps the idiots, as we no longer understand what they actually meant, because for one reason or another we no longer have the language at our command.
People who demand such stupid evidence of truth raise no real objection against the dogma. It has never been about that.
Our task should actually be to understand why people came up with claims like the virgin birth, the Trinity, and so on.
There is the additional factor that such claims by no means occur only in Chris tian ity.
There are also virgin cults and births in other places which have nothing to do with Christ.232
The idea of Trinities, that is, of triads of gods, goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians, and can also be found amongst the primitives. It is about the nature of humanity.
The question is not why Christianity has established such absurd claims that cannot be proven by science, but rather why it is that mankind knows such things and that they are so valuable to us.
What are these thoughts based on, and what do they mean in our psychological make-up?
You can be certain that they mean something.
There are religious people, thousands, millions, who will con3rm to you that these things have great meaning for them.
Men are not so crazy that something that is incredibly meaningful for one person means nothing at all to another.
Well, it is actually like that nowadays, but that explains the tremendous decline of civilized humanity, because some people have beliefs, ideals, and goals that other people know nothing about and do not understand at all.
We find ourselves in a veritable Tower of Babel, and I fear that the causes are the same as they have been since time immemorial.
This confusion stems from the hubris, the arrogance of man: of human consciousness, that is, which now suddenly thinks it can divest itself of the task of reflecting on such things.
If we no longer re2ect on such things, we no longer think about our own reasons for existence, in other words about our inner experience.
Then we think only about what is external, rational, which is certainly also impor tant: bank balances or public appointments, for example.
But what is the use of a healthy bank balance if you feel ill at ease in yourself?
You would happily give away your hundreds and thousands just to feel comfortable in your skin for an hour.
If you feel as if your psyche is somehow falling apart, then you go to the doctor, and you would gladly hand over
your entire fortune if he could free you from an abominable neurosis.
We have forgotten what these ideas mean for the well- being of the human soul.
We have completely forgotten what they meant for people in the Middle Ages. When we talk about the Middle Ages, we always think of the poor hygiene and the lack of international connections (as if ours were good), of miserable carriages with which one could not even travel as far s Belgrade.
But— can we do that today? We cannot even travel from Holland to London with any degree of security. We think of diseases: leprosy, plague, and so on; of the “dark” Middle Ages, the Inquisition burning people alive.
But shall I read you some statistics from the last twenty years?
Our times are overall much worse than the Middle Ages, make no mistake.
The Middle Ages were harmless in comparison to what is going on today.
We read in horror about the poisonings in the courts of the Borgias.233
But that is child’s play compared to the things we are experiencing today.
We have no grounds to hold forth about the consciousness of people in the Middle Ages.
This consciousness has simply been lost from our field of vision, and we no longer know about the preoccupations of medieval man.
But you just have to flick through medieval books to see immediately how people thought about these things, the effect they had on their lives.
Then we suddenly see the psychological healing signi3cance of such ideas.
These beliefs actually have the effect of calming and pacifying the whole person. Man and his existence thus gain a meaning that goes far beyond the sacred bank balance, so far that it even extends beyond suffering.
Suffering for us no longer has any meaning and has to be cured straight away, because it is wrong.
One should not accept suffering, it should be rejected, healed, avoided. We don’t even want to hear about it, because it
These medieval people knew, however, firstly that suffering is unavoidable, and secondly that it is a blessing because it is full of meaning.
It has a meaning and a purpose. It sets something in motion.
Imagine, for example, a sick person who can accept that his neurosis has a meaning; he may not understand it, but God has sent him this trouble for a specific purpose, namely to remind him that he has to suffer for a specific meaningful reason, and it is thus significant. In his own suffering, he even identi3es with the suffering of God.
Then you see immediately what 233 The House of Borgia was an Italian- Spanish noble family that rose to fame during
the Italian a wealth of meaning is gained from his belief in a suffering God.
He knows that this suffering is the image of God himself becoming man.
He knows that suffering is part of the path toward his own self.
He knows that without this suffering his self can never come into being. Then he can accept it.
If he can accept that, the sting is taken out of it. People can bear anything if they can see the meaning in it.234
But we have completely lost the meaning.
In this regard we are less, not more, advanced than the Middle Ages. So we have no grounds at all to put ourselves on a particularly high pedestal.
Our Western model is Christian ity and it says, God—that is, the self— can only come into being through suffering.
The self emerges from suffering, so accept your suffering, then you are on the way to Christ, to the self.235
The East, as I already said, has a quite different attitude in this regard.
It seeks only the liberation from plea sure and suffering. Plea sure and suffering are deemed equal.
In the East, the only aim is to free oneself from these opposites.
They do not have that militant attitude of Western people who want to conquer desire, to win, who do all they can to avoid suffering, to achieve plea sure, who want to battle with and overcome suffering.
For people in the East, because they live close to nature, close to the earth,236 plea sure and suffering are so interwoven that they know these two things balance each other.
Plea sure cannot be avoided, suffering cannot be avoided.
The Easterner knows that redemption lies only in freeing oneself from both.
One frees oneself not only from the bad, but also from the good. One frees oneself from these two, becomes nirdvandva: that is, free of opposites.
This unique way of experiencing things is based on a different psychological temperament.
Its starting point is completely dif fer ent from the Western one. In the West, a largely masculine, combative attitude prevails.
We strive for plea sure and get it too, in direct or indirect ways. Suffering is avoided or overcome.
In the East, they cannot defend themselves against either pole. The East has a feminine attitude toward the world.
The world is an awesome drama, in which one is helplessly swept up, powerless to do anything about it.
Every thing is a matter of course, is at one with the gods. Every accomplishment in daily life is a piece of the divine, awesome life, and that is how people live.
Every banal part of the daily routine is a ritual and is accompanied with ritual beliefs.
I once told you237 how the cart drivers in Ceylon238 ritually solve the prob lem when two carts crash into one another.
Here we would hear terrible cursing and swearing, but in the East one driver says a man tra to the other: “All disturbance is temporary, no soul.”
That is: problems pass, it is only temporary. It is not real. One has no soul. There is nothing there that reacts.
You are illusion. Your cart, your donkey, your soul; none of that happened at all. In other words, it means nothing, it is just the world.
With that the most ordinary of mere mortals free themselves from any kind of difficulty by quickly saying, “Every thing is temporary, there is no disturbance, there is no soul, there is no I.”
That is the Eastern attitude.
We can now assume, or even know, for very speci3c psychological reasons, that when the outer attitude to the world is a feminine, suffering, passive one, then the inner attitude is totally masculine.
And vice versa: where the outer attitude is combative, the inner one is feminine, namely a peculiar receptivity, willingness, submissiveness, an acceptance, surrendering.
Now, you’ll find that expressed very clearly in medieval Christianity in the idea of surrendering to the overarching figure of Christ, of âtman, in relation to whom I am like a vessel or something which actually does not have its own existence, but only finds a purpose when filled by him.
In the East, on the other hand— one finds this in every person in the East— there is an inner strength, a masculinity, that pushes itself up toward the cosmic mountain and carries the crown of the universe above: I am the world, and that is illusion.
That is an inner masculine attitude which explains a lot about Eastern people: specifically their deep, unyielding nature.
Their eyes have the quality of a dark gemstone which one cannot see into.
It’s always a puzzle for us, while our eyes are as telltale as a woman’s glance.
One sees right in, one feels accepted, one feels somehow drawn in.
That’s why the world sinks into the Western soul and poisons it at the roots.
That’s why we lap up every thing to do with the East.
We have Buddhist temples and study the teachings zealously, while the Easterner, at best, says, “Well then, your Christ was a very nice man, said very good things, very useful. We have no objections there. He’s probably an incarnation of Vishnu.”
They accord him his place.
“The Gospels are a very good book. There are even things in there that are really similar to the Upanishads.239 Of course we’ve known all that for ages.”
They don’t absorb it in the same way that we do. It doesn’t take hold of them in the same way as it does us.
For example, the cult of Mary is very popular there, especially in south India.
Right down in the south there’s a temple of the virgin mother goddesses.
At the southernmost tip of India, the Jesuits wanted to found a mission, in a place where there was a temple of
Then they discovered that this goddess is a virgin mother goddess. So they said, “It is the Virgin Mary.”
Then all was well, plain sailing. You may say that it was a piece of holy deceit.
But it didn’t hurt the local people, because they deceived and allowed themselves to be deceived.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, because I am also the gods.
You can’t cause any nonsense with the gods, because I am them.
Next time, I’ll show you an Indian text where you can hear all of that from the source, so to speak.
From that you can see how different our attitude is from the Eastern one. For us, the central figure is endowed with a penetrative power.
You have to invoke this figure and then it reveals its powerful effect.
We wait and hope for the power ful effect of the figure. It is already charged, a priori, with masculine power to which our inner being relates in a feminine way, submissively.
This also explains why the West is particularly prone to psychological epidemics.
The East has never had follies like the children’s crusade.241
They deceive and let themselves be deceived, the holy men too.
If someone tells you a fib, that’s perfectly all right. I am only an illusion, and the other is too.
There is no category for lying or being swindled.
Of course it is convention among decent people not to be coarse about it, but to do it in a re3ned way.
But if you go to the East with ideas of categories of truth, you’ll be very disappointed. Europeans have found themselves sorely disappointed in this regard.
Then they say, “ These holy men are mere con men.”
Take the great Gandhi.242 In India he is called Mahatma, the great soul. He is a saint, a holy man.
And he fasts for weeks on end to push some demand through with the government.
The famous Secret Service, which you are hearing about yet again, discovered that the Mahatma eats dextrose tablets.
He lives on them.
He calls that fasting, and keeps himself going with them, saying they are not real food, but medicine. 243
We say, “What an impostor!”
But in the East, it’s as broad as it is long. It is taken for granted. They accept it because the world is an illusion.
If someone came along and said, “I am the God of Europe!” they would say, “Okay then. There are so many crazy people and so many holy ones, why not this one?”
Thus Easterners are singularly well protected against psychological epidemics.
They stand on a solid foundation of the self. We have the self outside.
Woe betide us when the convincing powerful 3gure comes from outside, or stands somewhere outside of us.
They only need to have one success, a good bank balance is enough for us to think, “He must be right, because he is successful.”
Then we believe it and are crushed—in a really feminine way.
When the big strong man comes along, showing off— yes, then! Then he is convincing. Pay attention to that word.
I have experienced this myself and it really knocked me sideways.
When I was a very young lecturer at the university and lectured on primitive psychology,244 as I was going down the stairs afterwards I heard one student say to another, “I didn’t understand a word.”
And her friend answered, “Neither did I, but he must be right, he’s so forceful.”
That really is a Western attitude, even though it was a woman who said it, who ought to have had a certain inner masculinity.
But it applies to every one. In the East, that would be far from the truth.
Because for an Eastern woman it goes without saying: if someone is powerful, he is a man, and he is convincing. Überzeugend [convincing]. Listen to that word!245
That is accepted in the East, and not with us, but here it is hidden behind a curtain. Easterners accept what it is to be human.
Their a priori conviction is that we are all deluded, are weak, that we are tangled up in the world and its events in a
There is nothing one can do about it, unless one gets off the spinning wheel of the samsâra, the wheel of rebirth;246 unless one says, “I know. I recognize it. I know that I am âtman, that I am the world.”
That releases the Easterner.
Because for people from the East, suffering is not meaningful, but is simply the opposite of plea sure.
And pleasure is as bad as pain.
Suffering is the end of the Nidâna chain, about which the “Nidâna-Samyutta” says,
Thus I have heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sâvatthî in Jeta’s Grove, Anâthapindika’s Park.
There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”— “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this: “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”— “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied.
The Blessed One said this: “And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination?
With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name- and- form; with name- and- form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging- and- death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of
suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called dependent origination.”247
And we release ourselves from this condition of suffering through the knowledge: I am the self, the âtman and the world. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Page 86-97