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III. The Holy Quaternity in Practice


1.1. I call a woman.

- Happy New Year!

- What?

- Happy New Year!

Our relationship has been strained lately.

- I want to apologize, she says. By half.

I understand the »by half«. Half of her wants to continue quarreling. That feels good enough, as long as I know that one half is with me.

We have a long, good talk on the phone. She tells me she has felt uptight. As I listen, I realize it is angry she is. Not with me, now. She talks of irritation. Adjustments, creating irritation.

- Probably you have two or three real angers, which you've got to feel, I tell her. When you don't, the anger turns into an irritation blanket, which covers your days, morning to night.

- What am I to do, then? she asks.

A good time for a HQ trial, I think.

- There is one thing you might try. You can be the Devil, or the Holy Ghost, or Christ.

- Then I'll be the Devil!

I knew that. But in any sales situation, it is good to present alternatives.

- That's right, I think, for you seem to be in NO-. (Conveniently, she knows the 4-Room Apartment.) So, you are to be the Devil. Move in your life as the Devil, feeling like the Devil.

- How does the Devil feel?

- Well, that's for you to discover. Why don't you call me this time tomorrow and tell me how it felt? Then we can go on from there.

- But I can't be the Devil for 24 hours!

Oh, baby, I think, with a surge of tenderness, you'll be the Devil for much longer than that, off and on, if this works.

We talk back and forth about the Devil. Suddenly, I feel tense. How does one do this, really? I feel as when one looks, nervously, for the instruction book - but of course, there isn't any. Just to make certain, I remind her that the Devil never tells anyone that he is the Devil. I am tempted to theorize, but do not. I ask if she feels any uncertainty. It turns out that she has got one thing wrong. She thinks she is to act »devilishly«, which is right, in a sense - but she confuses this with losing her temper.

- But I'm going to a New Year's party! You know, I'm to drink champagne and be nice...

- Perfect! I say, and point out that the Devil is the perfect gentleman, always poised, never losing his self-control.

Now she gets it: She is to be her usual calm, sympathetic self, only feel like the Devil.

- Adjust, as you usually do. Just don't put your head under your arm, when you do it! I say, realizing, when I say it, that this, exactly, is the essence of the Devil's stance. One continues to act within the present Denial frame, whatever it is, but no longer censors the perceptions, feelings, or desires, which question it. She probably loses touch with herself, inwardly, when she adjusts. That is why it irritates her so.

- Well, this is going to be fun! she says. Beginning the new year as the Devil.

I ask myself: Why is it that it gave her no trouble that the Devil is a male character? I did suggest the Witch, as an alternative, but no. The Witch was out, it seemed.

Reflecting upon the essence of the Devil's stance, I associate to something Henry Miller writes, in passing, in Sexus: »I thought the ability to participate in a situation and simultaneously observe that one was participating was something which belonged to everyone's normal equipment. I wasn't aware that I enjoyed things more intensely than others.«

This ability is strictly a Renewal characteristic, just as the free communicating of one's observations characterizes relationships in Renewal - it does, indeed, make one enjoy things more intensely.

In fact, even to eat one's breakfast egg self-awarely, observing that one is eating it, takes an act of concentration. When there is a participant/observer conflict in the situation - when one is not free to communicate one's observations, since they conflict with the participation - it is much harder. In Denial, one participates, but does not observe, as if one felt, erroneously, that it is easier to play the role if one identifies with it, like a bad actor. In Confusion, one quits playing, that is, one observes, but no longer participates, since it is so hard to do both. This is the dilemma.

"No comments!« might summarize the NO-sayers' characteristic stance in personal matters. There is to them, for example, no sense in bringing up disagreements, if one has no suggestions for an agreement. There is no sense in telling one's old mother what one feels, for example, just to be honest, or real, with her.

To equate honesty with being real is probably a characteristic of the YES- sayers. If one does, then the dilemma equals Hamlet's: »To be or not to be, that is the question ...« With the YES-sayers, not to feel free to comment upon a situation seems to give rise to feelings of unreality. Feeling that they might lose their observations, if they participate in a situation on such »No Comments!« conditions, they probably equate this with losing touch with themselves. The NO-sayers undoubtedly lose their observations, too, when in Denial - they just do not seem to mind as much. They prefer the participation, such as it is, while the YES-sayers (particularly when young) frequently make the comments, »blurt out« their observations, their disturbing and/or disturbed truths, even at the risk of destroying their participation.

The advantage with the YES-sayers' stance is, of course, that if one first makes the comments, and lives with the consequences of this, one can then, later, judiciously choose not to make them, when that seems appropriate. For all one has to do then is to shut up, whereas it is much harder to learn to make the comments, when appropriate, late in life.

Taking the stance of the Devil is the creative compromise. For the Devil always both participates and observes, always knows what he thinks, feels, perceives - without talking about it.

The Devil, as a character, is unquestionably both an Outsider and a Self-Censor. He personifies, one might say, »the magnificent both/and«.

1.2 She calls on New Year's Day, as agreed.

Her experiences as the Devil have been interesting, she says, but not dramatic. She was different with her daughter.

- With her I'm used to be in my feelings. I wasn't now. I was calmer. And I saw that this made things easier for her.

At the party, she »forgot« to be the Devil, »but I was in a good mood. I had no desire to overturn tables«.

- But you never do?

- No, but I usually want to!

So, what she experienced was a distance from her feelings. She was not sure she liked it, though.

- The coldness I did not like.

I realized that I had forgotten to tell her to create her own Devil.

- How would you describe the Devil? I asked.

- Cunning. Cold, insensitive. Indifferent.

- Strong, how is that?

- Yes.

- Wears a mask, plays a role, but knows it? In contrast to identifying with the role, like a bad actor, instead of just playing it?

- Yes.

- Has perfect self-control?

- Yes, yes.

- Well adjusted? Has social poise?

- Yes.

I asked myself: Why is she so afraid of her indifference?

It is necessary to get deeper into NO- before one can get out. To see that one feels like »a prisoner of necessity«, and why.

When we, ourselves, are both the captors and the captives in Denial - it is not always so, but it is always wise to look at this possibility first - the »necessity« is self-defined, in principle nothing but a bad habit, although one that is hard to break.

As long as she feels and feels and feels, but not thinks about her feelings, they seem to her to be simply »reality«, and she is trapped.

It seems that feeling is her primary function, or »general« (to understand her now with C.G. Jungs typology). Feeling is her strength, but she makes overdrafts on it, when she tries to feel herself through a problem situation. Then it turns into a weakness.

The thinker, when in Denial, thinks and thinks. The introvert intuitive fantasizes (which has a characteristic effect Ingmar Bergman has described perfectly: »Do not irritate the animal. It irritates itself!«) An extravert intuitive gets another, brilliant idea, instead of considering why the last one did not work. The sensing type »keeps moving« (as one of Ross McDonald's characters describes his philosophy of life). If he is an introvert, he »hangs on like a dog to his bone«.

In other words, they all (that is, we) act as usual, only more.

Same procedure as last year?

Same procedure as every year, James!

But if the »general« had known how to get us out of the problem situation, we would probably never have been there in the first place.

1.3 On the third day, she quite likes the observer's distance.

- I haven't moved anywhere, she says. I have always felt like this! I just didn't know it.

- Perfect! You felt like the Devil, but unconsciously. You felt bad. Probably you did bad things, too, now and then - things you were ashamed of, afterwards, and rightly. Now, when you connect with the Devil, consciously, you are in control. You can still be »bad«, whatever that is to you - but not unconsciously.

I now explain the rest of the HQ.

It is hard to make the Holy Ghost alive to her. He is unknown. He is the man without a character, and just that, I tell her, is his Homeric attribute: characterless. You are (as) the Holy Ghost, when you think, feel, act like anyone, instead of like »yourself« - when you break one or another of the (bad) habits you think of as your character.

I talk of experiencing one's experience. In the neither/nor swings between Denial and Confusion one struggles, quite frantically, not to experience one's experience, or a particular aspect of it.

With Jung's theory, it is simply a matter of giving the »aide« the power. This is one's secondary function. The »aide« is never as obstinate as the »general« - not as one-sidedly extraverted or introverted, not as identified with one's persona. The »aide« is comparatively on speaking terms with one's relatively undeveloped, or unconscious, functions, and all in all has a much better sense of what Jung called »the magnificent both/and«.

Her »aide« is intuition. So, she is to brake her feelings (particularly to quit the equating of them with »reality«) and listen to her intuition.

- I understand that, she says.

Moving on to Christ, it is simple again. She describes Him:




has healing power


a leader

in touch with both God and men



- It seems that you are much more in touch with Christ than I was, I say. I suggest some additions:




able to suffer cheerfully

She protests, laughing, that it is impossible to suffer cheerfully.

- Exactly! I say.

She says she has felt that I was »imperturbable«. I was always at ease - as if the 4-Room Apartment, or whatever it was, was an armor.

- Well, when I am with you I am at ease, I say. I love you, everything feels simple. So, thanks for the compliment, but I don't think I deserve it. The idea of the Holy Quaternity, though, is to create this ease, this imperturbability. And I'm certain that if one managed to always be in touch with the Devil, the Holy Ghost, and/or Christ, one would be at ease, always.



Since then, I have communicated my idea of the Devil a number of times to friends, when I have seen them to be in Denial. I always ask them to describe the Devil in key words, then consider which of his characteristics might be a strength, if they had him with them in the problem situation.

This takes no more than five minutes or so.

A young man, one of my London friends, characterized the Devil as »sexual, violent, exciting, dangerous, a teacher« and »fun to be with«. His problem was that he was not in touch with his anger. Some months later, he wrote to tell me a dream about »a massive black goat with gleaming soft blackish eyes full of knowledge«, which »either was or had something to do with the Devil«, and had »an awesome power«. One recognizes the archetypal energy. His letter also describes »angry outbursts... with a total absence of guilt«, »interesting fucks«, and an openness to change; he has »stopped swimming against the current«.

So far, I have been wary of bringing the Devil into psychotherapy, for as a therapist, I prefer to be conservative - but if I consider the message in this perspective, I think it has perhaps more immediate, integrative power, when the circumstances are right, than any interpretation I have ever made.

This is another example:

»I was to see my mother. I felt so heavy. I just wanted out of it. Then you suggested I consider how I might feel, if I was a Devil. You said I was not to be a Devil to my mother, just feel the cold clarity a Devil might feel, and use this to protect myself. I thought a Devil might not feel so considerate, and not so guilty.

Still, I was tempted to call her and say I had got migraine, whatever.

I felt all this, when we were riding in the tram. Then, when you had left, I said to myself, whatever happens, she cannot really do me any harm. When I saw her, she was trembling. I felt that she can't get to me. She described her anxiety, how difficult everything was for her, just as she always has ... and every time she has talked about this I have gone defensive, and felt that she says this to give me a bad conscience. I am to make everything right for her. Now I just listened. »I see it must be hard for you...« I made no comments. I did not explain, defend, tell why I did not come to rescue her from her loneliness. I just listened, was sympathetic.

When I realized that this was OK, it was quite a kick for me. I felt I could listen to her for hours. She talked to her heart's content, and I did not feel guilty. It was terrific.

Then she asked me

- How do you feel nowadays?

- Mother, I've got lots to tell you, I said.

Then she took two tranquilizers.

- Well, she said, I can't directly do that, raise my arms to heaven like that...

I felt again that she was trying to hook me, make me feel something I didn't want to feel. But I said nothing, just quietly observed her.

Then I felt it would be stuffy to sit there all day, so I suggested we go to out for dinner. It cheered her up just to walk on the streets, it was something she hadn't done for years. We went to the Chinese restaurant, you know. We drank a bottle of wine. She was quite content, she hadn't those sad eyes now. She thanked me, said it had been terrific ... and then she, herself, said:

- I understand that you must want to get way from me now. The way she said it, I felt it really was OK. So I drove her home, and she said one thing:

- I hope you come this summer and help me clean up in the cellar.

- No, I said, not then, for I'll go sailing.

- But surely you must give priority to your own mother! she said.

- No, I'm not sure I want to do that, I said - and then we both laughed!

This morning, when I woke up, I felt something special. I've never felt so free of her. I felt so light. I thought of knight Kato (of Astrid Lindgren's novel Mio min Mio) and that iron claw he has. That's how I have felt with mother. Knight Kato who has all the power and reigns with that claw... I am happy now. It is not a happiness which depends on, you know. It is ... I 'm just feeling good with myself, alone. And when one hasn't hurt her, but the contrary! I feel content, strong. Now, I am me!

One comment by CJ, to summarize:

- When one has taken the Devil by the hand, one can exist alone.

- Yes, and take the responsibility for oneself, feel that it is I who decide, it is my values that matter.

I see the Devil, the Holy Ghost, and Christ, as energy centers. Like magnets, they each draw a complex of ideas, attitudes, feelings, experi ences, and crystallize them into a powerful whole, which can be lived. One might say that the Devil is the simplest, most practical way to effectively communicate the right attitude, when one is in Denial, that Christ is the simplest, most practical way to communicate the right attitude, when in Renewal. However, at the same time, I do not want to strip them of their meanings in a Christian context. The attempt would be absurd, and furthermore, it is that context which gives them their extraordinary power: they represent thousands of years of crystallized, human experience. I just want to make the point that the evil, the so-called evil, is defined, always have been defined, always will be defined, from the perspective of status quo and by the powers which defend status quo.

Copernicus, I am convinced, felt like the Devil when he wrote that the Earth moved.



»To psychology«, I explain to the fifteen clergymen, all vicars in the Swedish Church, »there are no evil thoughts. This is perhaps the decisive difference between psychology's moral perspective and the Christian, religious one. 'I have sinned in thought, word and deed ...' reads the Confession. As I see things, one is perfectly free to think any selfish, envious, lusty, vengeful thoughts. To the psychotherapist, only actions, and the use of words, in so far as it constitutes an action, can be sinful, or 'neurotic', to use the psychological equivalent. The effect seems to be that one thinks those envious, lusty, vengeful thoughts - and then they fade. I suspect that when evil thoughts, so called evil thoughts, are forbidden, it becomes on the contrary harder not to think them.«

This is as far as I think it is wise to go in defense of the Devil, in this situation - which is a leadership seminar I do together with two clergymen. It is titled, somewhat pretentiously, Spiritual Leadership. I do my usual number, presenting the 4-Room Apartment - without, alas, the HQ aspect.

As the Devil I cannot help feeling that I am in the enemy's camp. This is energizing. As the Holy Ghost, I laugh inwardly at the twists of fate, which make life such a good joke, at times. As Christ I feel sad, for I know I have got the perfect tool for vitalizing the Swedish Church, could I but use it.

On the third day, we have left the participants, not in Renewal, perhaps, but at least at the door of that room, with commitment to go on. The Swedish Church being so deep in Denial, it has been, necessarily, a hard time for them. We have ended with a hymn, expressing Christ's presence in the darkest night, and thus, with hope.

Afterwards, I tell one of the clergymen, who is my friend, my idea of the Holy Quaternity. In a sense I have already done so. I have drawn the matrix, with the Devil in NO-, the Holy Ghost in YES-, Christ in YES+, God in NO+ - but with no comments. This made excellent sense to him. But he still equates the Devil with evil. I decide, feeling like a Counselor of the Defense with a princely Client, that now is the right time for the »next installment« - the plea.

It was easier than I thought, but in retrospect, I can see why. As a theologian, my friend has to concede the point that the Devil once did belong to the Quaternity, as Lucifer, the Angel of Light. Also, he is psychologically sophisticated. He understands immediately the difference between the unconscious identification with the Devil and the conscious taking the Devil's stance, which I advocate. I think I was right in my comment on forbidden thoughts; if so, he knows, for he has experienced the hypocrisy within the Church, which I only suspect.

Agreeing with me, he still feels uncomfortable, which is hardly surprising. Particularly, he cannot accept the name, the Holy Quaternity. The Devil is an earthly power, therefore by definition not holy, he argues, perhaps rightly - but I will make no concessions, since for the dialectics to work, the Devil must stand equal to Christ.

I consider that it might, in principle, be possible to communicate my idea of the Quaternity within the Church. I thought it was not, and it therefore seemed obvious that an ironical, heretic style was preferable, so as to reach those who are as suspicious of »God and his gang« as I was, originally.

I have written without all unction and thereby, I hope, characterized my message as a psychological, not a religious one.

When I talked to my friend the clergyman, I emphasized, on the contrary, that the Devil brought one to Christ, and thus that the message was religious. I am an idea salesman. My task is to convince. I know that the HQ is good psychology; that is enough for me. I will confess one thing, however. Although I have suggested that you, Reader, feel free to see God and the rest of the HQ as simply »scaffolding«, I am not altogether certain that this can be taken down afterwards. An archetype cannot be comprehended intellectually, but must be lived, experienced, and Christ, of course, cannot be experienced but religiously. If you practice Christ's stance, which I suggest you do, so as not to lose your experiences of Renewal, you might be trapped. My purpose is to deepen your Contentment. If, in this Contentment, you also come to feel God's presence - I hope you will consider it a not unpleasant side effect.



When I searched for an »Open, Sesame!« of change, and my thoughts crystallized into the idea of the Holy Quaternity, I did not know that Jung had suggested that very idea, of re-inviting the Devil. I might have read it and then forgotten. It hardly matters, for the dialectical thinking, without which I could not have conceived the idea, was taken from Jung, and if one thinks dialectically of these archetypes, one can hardly fail to see that the Devil is the antithesis to both God and Christ. The rest is probably just a matter of intellectual courage.

Of course, the connection with the 4-Room Apartment is my own, as is my interpretation of the Devil.

Already in Symbols of Transformation Jung writes that the snake, »an excellent symbol for the unconscious /.../is equally a symbol of the good and bad daemon, /.../ of Christ and the devil«. Christ, »as a hero and god-man, signifies psychologically the self. /.../ The archetype of the self has, functionally, the significance of a ruler of the inner world, i.e. of the collective unconscious. The self, as a symbol of wholeness, is a coincidentia oppositorum and therefore contains light and darkness simultaneously. In the Christ-figure the opposites /.../ are polarized into the »light« son of God /.../ and the devil.«

Thus the Devil stands as the dialectical antithesis to Christ.

It is hardly surprising that Jung should have had these ideas as early as then, for they follow inescapably from his dialectical thinking, from the principle of the coincidentia oppositorum, which he saw as a law of the psyche.

In a later work, Aion, he takes up this theme again, launching, in his usual obscure way, an immense apparatus of quotations from alchemy, astrology, and the early church fathers.

The psychological concept of the self /.../ as an archetypal quaternity bound together by inner antinomies, cannot omit the shadow /.../ In the empirical self, light and shadow form a paradoxical unity. In the Christian concept, on the other hand, the archetype is hopelessly split into two irreconcilable halves /.../

/.../ the devil attains his true stature as the adversary of Christ, and hence of God, only after the rise of Christianity, while as late as (in) the Book of Job he was still one of God's sons /.../ Psychologically /.../ the figure of Christ is so sublime /.../ so one-sidedly perfect that it demands a psychic complement to restore the balance.

Jung comments upon »the remarkable fact that in the hermeneutic writings of the church fathers /.../ Christ has a number of symbols or 'allegories' in common with the devil«, among them the snake and the fish, and »Lucifer, the Morning Star, means Christ as well as the devil«. We are told that »in early Jewish-Christian circles Satan /.../ was regarded as Christ's elder brother«.

One of the church fathers is quoted as stating that »God rules this world as much through the devil as through the Son, for both are in his hands.«

Jung expressed his ideas much more straightforwardly in interviews, when he seems to have felt free to forget the old church fathers. One was done by Alberto Moravia, in 1948, and was titled »The Psychoanalyst Jung Teaches How to Tame the Devil«.

The conversation centers on Jung's latest book, Symbolik des Geistes, where he has said openly, at last, that he »would like to add to the Trinity a fourth figure so as to transform the whole into, so to speak, a Quaternity«. This figure is the devil, an antithesis to the three.

The ancient religions, Jung says, encouraged the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. »This relationship was highly beneficial; the conscious nourished with its light the shadows of the unconscious; with its positivity the negativity of the unconscious; with is rationality the irrationality of the unconscious.« However, beginning with Christianity and particularly the Reformation, the unconscious, »that is to say the devil«, became increasingly thwarted, forgotten. Acquiring strength in direct proportion to that repression, it breaks through catastrophically in destructive ways. Jung explains that this is how one must understand »the clearly demonic and suicidal tendency of European civilization« both on the outbreak of the First World War and, later, in the monstrous cruelties of the Nazis during the Second World War.

In an interview by Mircea Eliade, for Combat, 1952, Jung makes an elegant summary of another book, Psychology and Alchemy. The fact that he speaks so well, when his writing is so laboured and tortuous, makes one wonder if Humphry Osmond was perhaps right, when he suggested that Jung was really an extravert, even though he, himself, thought he was an introvert.

He speaks of »the integration of Satan«, saying that this is »a very complicated symbolic process that is more or less identical with the psychological process of individuation«. Alchemy describes this process, he says.

Alchemy represents the projection of a drama both cosmic and spiritual in laboratory terms. The opus magnum had two aims: the rescue of the human soul and the salvation of the cosmos. What the alchemists called 'matter' was in reality the (unconscious) self. The 'soul of the world', the anima mundi /.../ was imprisoned in matter. It is for this reason that the alchemists believed in the truth of 'matter', because 'matter' was actually their own psychic life. But it was a question of freeing this 'matter', of saving it - in a word, of finding the philosophers' stone, the corpus glorificationis.

This work is difficult and strewn with obstacles; the alchemical opus is dangerous. Right at the beginning, you meet the 'dragon', the chtonic spirit, the 'devil' or, as the alchemists called it, the'blackness', the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering. /.../ In psychological terms, the soul finds itself in the throes of melancholy, locked in a struggle with the 'shadow'. The mystery of the coniunctio, the central mystery of alchemy, aims precisely at the synthesis of opposites, the assimilation of the blackness, the integration of the devil. For the 'awakened' Christian, this is a very serious psychic experience. /.../

In interpreting the Christian's confrontation with his shadow in psychological terms, one discovers the hidden fear that the devil may be stronger, that Christ did not completely succeed in conquering him.

/.../ On the psychological level /.../ it is always a question of struggling with evil, with Satan, and conquering it, that is to say assimilating it, integrating it into consciousness. In the language of the alchemists, matter suffers until the nigredo disappears, when the 'dawn' (aurora) will be announced by the 'peacock's tail' and a new day will break, the /.../ albedo. But in this state of 'whiteness' one does not live in the true sense of the word, it is a sort of abstract, ideal state. In order to make it come alive, it must have 'blood', it must have what the alchemists call the rubedo, the 'redness' of life. Only the total experience of being can transform this ideal state of albedo into a fully human mode of existence. Blood alone can reanimate a glorious state of consciousness in which the last trace of blackness is dissolved, in which the devil no longer has an autonomous existence but rejoins the profound unity of the psyche. Then the opus magnum is finished: the human soul is completely integrated.

To one who has lived through some of this, and seen that peacock's tail, the alchemichal metaphors shimmer. Practically, we might equate the albedo with (ecstatic) Renewal and the rubedo with Contentment.



Jung seems, still, to equate the Devil with evil, unequivocally, which I do not. However, when he states that in the end, the Devil »no longer has an autonomous existence«, this seems to parallel my idea that when the Devil is taken back into the Holy Quaternity, he will simply quit being evil, seeing that is it boring.

Jung's father was a parson, so Jung continued the work of his father. He solved the conflict his father struggled with in vain, making the Christian message alive, psychologically. Jung's religious background makes him understand the Christian's conflicts in a way I do not; I have never experienced them. I was an agnostic, who just happened to meet the Holy Ghost. Up to then, the Christian message had no reality for me whatsoever; I had not heard it at all. It was all blah to me.

I have never felt any fear that »the devil may be stronger«. I have faith in the dialectics. It is far more probable that the Devil, when experienced consciously, will bring people to God, and to the experience of Christ. That is the enantiodromia; it is as natural as breathing. The fear is understandable, however. It is the fear of all unconscious experiences, of all feelings we have never felt in depth - the fear of letting go. Those who have never let go into anger, are afraid of their anger, those who have never let go into madness (that is, whatever degree of it they have within themselves) are afraid of that. Perhaps my »Christ resistance« can be interpreted analogously, as a fear that Christ might be stronger, and I might »turn religious« - which I felt was ridiculous.

Well, with the Devil back in the HQ, it is not ridiculous.

The Devil has his considerable, psychological power as the antithesis to the conventional, Christian message. Therefore, we can understand what is wrong, psychologically, with this message through observing the effects of the »Devil's connection«.

It is, obviously, an antithesis to guilt feelings. This comes through beautifully in the mother/daughter example. Daughter changes. Mother feels daughter is withdrawing out of reach. Mother blames daughter. Daughter feels guilty and withdraws more, so mother escalates her guilt fabricating maneuvers, her voice on the phone (as heard by daughter) turning into a wail of misery - and so on, in a vicious circle. The Devil, being (as) the Devil, obviously cut through this Gordian knot in one simple, swift stroke. The woman's remark at the end, about determining her own values, what is right for her, is beautiful: As the Devil, one creates one's own conscience.

As the Devil, one is alone, and it seems this is an existential experience most people have been »tricked out of«, as R.D. Laing has expressed it.

... having been tricked and having tricked ourselves out of our minds, that is to say, out of our own personal world of experience, out of that unique meaning with which potentially we may endow the external world ...

I think Christianity has screwed up the whole matter of human relationships, of how we are connected to each other. For example, the rich experience of giving has been construed as an ought, when it is a natural pleasure.

I did not become a psychotherapist out of a desire to help people, primarily. I became a psychotherapist out of curiosity, out of a desire to know people, know alternative life experiences (without the source of error that love is). But when helping people, I discovered that this is one act that can never be experienced as meaningless. In the deepest nadirs of my life, when I've felt meaning flaking off from everything, like old paint, when all pleasures have felt futile, all truths false, all books boring, when even love and/or making love have seemed empty, the practice of psychotherapy has felt as meaningful as ever - although naturally somewhat harder. But not that much harder, curiously enough. Conversely, I think the feeling that one has nothing to give is a requisite, perhaps both necessary and sufficient, for killing oneself. The suicide discards himself as a sample of no value.

Barring the Devil, Christianity has screwed up our understanding of giving, love, connectedness, as it has screwed up our understanding of selfishness, which is the condition for experiencing them as pleasures, not oughts. Without the Devil, Christ, as I have said, turns into a masochistic caricature of »self-sacrifice«, instead of being a powerful figure of inspiration. In the end, pleasure itself has to be twisted into an evil, and then one has really and definitely »tricked oneself out of one's mind«. Thereby, one will lose all Contentment (since it is reached through pleasures) and consequently all sense of connectedness with God, which was, presumably, the original point of it all. That is the »conspiracy against life« Nietzsche spoke of. Grace is lost, and guilt, a cold star, is now the single source of one's life orientation.

But all this is intellectual stuff. When one has the key to open the door, it is not necessary to describe the prison.

Jung, to return to him, had obviously integrated the Devil. For in the interview with Mircea Eliade, he goes on to say that for him

the state of grace exists: it is the perfect serenity of the soul, a creative equilibrium, the source of spiritual energy. Speak ing always as a psychologist, I affirm that the presence of God is manifest, in the profound experience of the psyche, as a coincidentia oppositorum.



6.1. The practical aspect, making people connect with the Devil, turned out to be astonishingly simple. Now, obviously, the experience of being (as) the Devil for two or three hours or days can hardly be seen as the equivalent of a lasting »integration of Satan«, of the evil; that is undoubtedly a complex matter. Nevertheless, when the circumstances are right, the connection with the Devil gets people out of Denial, and fast. A year later, that woman's relationship to her mother continues to be good; now and then, they laugh together. Of course, I have used 'parade examples', as we psychologists always seem to do.

The problem is, I do not know when the circumstances are right. I do not have a good enough knowledge of the conditions, personal and situational, for when the message is effective and when it is not.

My London friend - he for whom the Devil's connection triggered the outbursts of anger, free of guilt, and the »interesting fucks« - later told me: »When I described the Devil, I thought of you«. I felt flattered - honoured is perhaps the right word. It seems one will take on this projection, quite frequently, when defending the Devil. For a friend (or a lover) to do so, in passing, creates no complications. Friendship has, one might say, a natural »shadow tolerance«. It is a sign of friendship that both talk freely of »forbidden« matters. For a psychotherapist to take on the projection of the Devil might have negative consequences. For the message of the Devil to be effective in psychotherapy, I doubt that it will be enough to ask for a description of the Devil in key words, then see what happens, as it is with friends.

6.2. I now give what I call Life Idea Seminars. They are to me a framework where I am free to present the 4-Room Apartment in more depth, and to show its connection with the Holy Quaternity. So far, I have sprinkled the list of participants with a good number of friends, to be certain to make the circumstances right.

This is how the participants in one Life Idea Seminar collectively characterized the Devil. To the right are the changes, when He was seen as taken back into the Holy Quaternity and thus in an open dialogue with Christ - the »corrected Devil«.

immoral no longer immoral
Lucifer - the lightbringer  
sinful »sinful«
evil no longer evil
chaos-bringer not necessarily
cruel can be cruel, when necessary
vindictive no longer vindictive
power mad has power, is not mad with it
scornful no longer scornful
sad, because not permitted to be with Jesus no longer
calculating tactical, can lie
very aware  
without boundaries sees boudaries but feels free to transgress them
elegant, sophisticated  

Misunderstood the Devil certainly is. But, as this shows, it is fairly easy to correct those misunderstandings. When one person alone describes the Devil, he might be seen altogether negatively, although as soon as I ask, if he is not also intelligent, strong, aware, etc, they will immediately agree.

One woman's original key-words, describing the Devil, contained no negatives whatsoever. That is rare. I saw her as strongly anchored in Contentment. Perhaps the Devil's connection is easiest to make for the NO+ persons - if in fact they have not already made it, in practice, and this is just the source of their Contentment. If so, this makes perfect sense to me.

This is how the participants characterized Jesus. To the right are the changes, when he was seen as living in an open dialogue with the Devil - the »corrected Jesus Christ«.

forgiving not always, not compulsively
loving unselfish
marker of boundaries  
ascetic no longer as ascetic
a coward, phony no longer cowardly
a son, obedient not as unquestioningly
challenges the Establishment  
an outsider  
in touch with God  
a healer  
invisible (to me)  
good at suffering  
unswerving in his faith  
a martyr no longer a martyr
a »salvation freak« no longer
forsaken no longer
dead and reborn  

Although in theory this dialectical correction is equally easy with both, the »corrected Jesus« seems to be much harder to reach in practice, as a personal experience. Obviously, many have an intense »Christ-resistance«. Men shrug him off, I think, as a figure one prefers not to be seen with, for one is afraid to be considered ridiculous and/or »weak«. Women know only too well how dangerous it is to »sacrifice oneself«. Old, ambivalent feelings towards the »real« Jesus of the Bible seem to make a »corrected Jesus Christ« unconvincing.

- If at least he had had a woman! was one comment.

These are some experiences of an improvised Devil/Christ dialogue:

Man: I've seen myself as vulnerable. In many situations, I feel afraid. I have no strong presence. If I take strength from the Devil, I sense it will be easier for me to say no, to take a stand.

Man: I felt very clearly how I had the Devil to my left, Jesus to my right. They had an argument, it turned wilder and wilder. Jesus I felt was stiff, lacking energy. He talked quietly, using very polished language. The Devil swore and ranted, always moving, gesticulating. He told me to be more questioning, and to take the responsibility for myself for once, instead of taking responsibility for others, as I always do. Jesus got more and more moralistic, full of oughts and musts. He was conserving, defended status quo. They were in a terrible fight over me, I felt torn apart. God, what is the matter? I asked, but He didn't answer.

Woman: With me, it was more a dance than a dialogue. I clearly felt the energies. Christ's energy moved upwards, the Devil's downwards. In touch with the Devil I was more energetic. Christ didn't do anything; it was enough that he was there to see that nothing bad happened. Connected with Christ, I felt loving, connected with the Devil, I felt hot, glowing. I'm troubled by cold feet, but they are quite warm now! In touch with them both, I felt free.

6.3. Jung quotes a dream, which eloquently summarizes what I see as the natural or desirable Christ/Devil dialectics. The dreamer was a theology student, wrestling with difficulties of belief.

In his dream he was the pupil of the 'white magician', who, however, was dressed in black. After having instructed him up to a certain point, the white magician told him that they now needed a 'black magician'. The black magician appeared but clad in a white robe. He declared that he had found the keys of paradise, but needed the wisdom of the white magician in order to understand how to use them.

As the »black magician«, the Devil has the keys, not to »paradise«, perhaps, but to an equanimity in conflict situations - but he needs the wisdom of Christ, the »white magician«, to know how to use them.



7.1 To summarize: The Holy Quaternity is a fourth dialectical matrix, an »Open, Sesame!« of change. A conscious connection with the Devil takes one out of Denial. A conscious connection with the Holy Ghost makes the passage through Confusion easier. A conscious connection with Jesus Christ anchors one's Renewal.

I said that when you are in Renewal, you are there with a truth. That is so when you are in Denial, too. In the first stage of Denial, this truth is hidden to you, as it threatens a present status quo. The Devil frees your perceptions in the situation, by confirming that you have the right to experience, here and now, whatever it is you experience - a right that no animal ever questions. The Devil gives you the power to feel, think, and desire freely, without talking about it - to stand alone. The Devil frees you to want. As the Devil, you might be in conflict, still, but the conflict is now external, not the internal conflict when you condemn yourself for wanting what you want, or not wanting what you do not want. You are out of Denial in so far as you now act censoredly, but practice no inward self-censorship.

Experiencing the conflict, you move to the next stage, to Confusion - still with this truth, which conflicts with your status quo. In the deepest experiences of Confusion, you identify with this truth, feeling that if you do not act in consequence of it, you will not be real. But you do not feel free to act in consequence of it. Therefore, you feel like a ghost.

- In principle, I am nothing but a ghost«, said Virginie, a girl in Kingsley Hall, Laing's »schizophrenic community«.

And then, as if by magic, the man who said he was the Holy Ghost entered the scene, showing what to do, what stance to take.

Virginie had felt like a ghost, but not holy. So had I, for I was deep in Confusion that memorable summer in Kingsley Hall. I could not have been shown the Holy Ghost's message more effectively, if God had staged it all, as a happening.

What you do not see, when feeling like a ghost, but not holy, is that the truth you are in touch with forces you to change, to make an »identity switch«. You are, in a sense, too used to yourself, to being the person you were - but this was before you discovered this truth (or, if the change is triggered by a loss, before whatever has happened, happened).

Undoubtedly, schizophrenia is the deepest experience of Confusion; the schizophrenic's conflict is felt as a matter of life versus death. As psychotherapy with schizophrenics shows, they hardly feel free to make themselves real at all with another person, to approach, to touch. But the character of the conflict is no different with the rest of us (as the man who said he was the Holy Ghost made me see). The death-in-life, if we lose the truth we are in touch with, the life, if we bring it to Contentment, is a reality; it is just for us more relative, less all-encompassing.

Quite possibly, some suicides are rooted in this conflict; if so, that tells us that strangely enough, some people, in some situations, prefer death to the alternative of »becoming someone else«. This shows how hard this alternative is to perceive, to see as a real possibility.

In everyday, non-suicidal situations, it is easier to see that our characteristic attitude in this matter is simply ridiculous. This is shown eloquently by the example of the man who never ate oysters. »I never eat oysters, for if I ate them, I might like them, and I hate the damned things«.

We cannot change, until we can imagine the alternative future, picture ourselves acting differently, feeling differently. It is hard, when one feels one thing strongly, to imagine feeling differently. Therefore, the change in Confusion will by necessity be slow, step by step, permitting you to glimpse the different stance, lose it, then glimpse the possibility again, to get used to it, until it slowly feels real.

You are in Confusion with this truth, whatever it is. But you will probably see the truth »as in a glass, darkly«. It will be fragmented, doubted, experienced, perhaps, as a sense of unreality. Possibly, all you can identify with in Confusion is the search, the idea of the search (or, the idea that it is always good to move into the sense of unreality, to enter the experience) and your identity as a seeker, Nevertheless, being (as) the Holy Ghost, you honor that search, and/or the truth you have glimpsed, confusedly, even though you cannot bring it into Contentment, live by it: you put it above you.

You see the light at the end of the tunnel, and acknowledge that it is, as far as you can make out, the light.

A key message of the Holy Ghost is the old renaissance motto: »Nothing human is alien to me.« The Holy Ghost stands for all the alternative interpretations of the situation, for all the alternative experiences, which are possible for you, if/when you give up your old »identity requisites«. You are an example of a man, a woman, in a particular situation, at this time on earth. As an integrated, conflict-free experience, this sense of being an example characterizes Contentment. So the Holy Ghost makes you glimpse Contentment in Confusion (which equals seeing the situation as a joke: very liberating).

Now, the suffering. Confusion shades into Renewal. The Holy Ghost is inspiration, pneuma, the breath of life - the potential of change. But you have not reached a strong foot-hold in Renewal, until you have taken up the suffering. Christ's ability to »suffer cheerfully« I see as a key factor in Renewal. It so happens that life is not just. Jesus was crucified, unjustly. They let Barrabbas go, instead, and Pilate mumbled, like the bureaucrat he was: What is truth?

Statistically, you can reasonably hope not to be crucified by your society. In the rich societies with a strong enough Contentment (the »good« societies - but they are probably simply rich enough) you can reasonably hope not to be tortured, nor even, perhaps, unjustly imprisoned (although Wilhelm Reich, for example, was). If you are reading this book, you are one of the fortunates on earth: you are not starving, you are not illiterate, and you have time to read for pleasure. Nevertheless, you cannot reasonably hope that life will be just to you. You cannot reasonably hope for a life without suffering.

The correlation between how good you are as a person and what happens to you, your good or bad fortune, is not zero, I think, but it is certainly not perfect. Misfortunes will befall you. You will be lied to, swindled, slandered; gossip will blow into you face. You will be misunderstood, unjustly accused. Men/women you love will be unfaithful to you; you will know jealousy. You will know false friendship. You will know failure. Bankruptcy will threaten, and/or the loss of your sight on one eye (as I am threatened right now). Accidents will happen. You will suffer loss, aging, death of loved one's.

You might work on yourself, on what you see as your own contributions in the failures and misfortunes, your inexperience, clumsiness, gullibility, lack of foresight, accident-proneness, whatever; this will not prevent them. While you are guarding, most conscientiously, against three possible misfortunes you foresee, a fourth one you did not foresee will befall you.

And so much of it all is simply not just. Circumstances will make you suffer, and there is nothing you can do about it - except quit sulking.

But that you can do, and it makes a tremendous difference.

Some other of Christ's traits which you might have good use for are, for example, his good leadership, his forgivingness, his unselfishness (when corrected: no unnecessary self-sacrifice!), his giving, his indefatigability, his self-forgetfulness. They are all connected. Searching for one word to describe Christ's attitude, I come up with one that feels good, for it lacks all softness: He was task-oriented. He gave and forgave, was unselfish, indefatigable, and self-forgetful, all in the interest of his task, of what he had to do. And he was a just therefore a good leader. As was Churchill, to give another example of a task-oriented man. »Tonight there will be sugar on the pancakes«, he said after the battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the war, glimpsing Contentment.

Jesus took up his cross. To some, that is a simple symbol of the task-orientation - taking up the difficulties, connected with your fate, whatever they turn out to be.

Commitment is another aspect of the task-orientation.

It is one of the tough facts of life that you can only have one fate. You have to make choices. One task forces you to give up another. One pleasure, one love forces you to give up another. A condition for Renewal, for example, is that it must be shared. Inspirations must be shared, truths discovered must be communicated, or else you will lose them.


  © Copyright Claes F Janssen, 1996-2011. All rights reserved.