All are familiar with Bulwer-Lytton's graphic story of The Dweller on the Threshold of Initiation. It visualizes the grim sentinel of retribution who guards the entrance to a higher state of being for the adventurous soul who would test his worthiness to advance. In the story of Glyndon's ambitious quest this Dweller is represented as a gruesome spectre, terrible in aspect to the rash and unprepared candidate, it being in reality the picture or simulacrum of his own lower nature built up heedlessly by himself, the progeny of idle thoughts and acts woven thus into character, daily and hourly. It makes a thrilling high-light in the story, this hideous Dweller on the Threshold, but also symbolizes a great truth.
But while we ponder over the grim picture of the Dweller, do we study with equal care the very real Threshold upon the brink of which we stand at every moment of our lives? Let us ask ourselves: what do we bring within us to face new experiences? In what habitual attitude do we approach this living Threshold? This instant of choice and determination is verily an initiation, and the presiding spirit in which we enter it is silently moulding our character as surely as the plastic clay on the revolving wheel is modelled after the image in the potter's mind. Is that image positive, firm and clear-cut, or negative, blurred and shapeless? Does it stand erect, active, facing the light, or is it harrassed by doubt and uncertainty drifting with the shadows of mood and temperament — the frettings and inconstancies which mark the disease of our modern life. For it is the positive attitude that always sounds the tone of Affirmation of Being — the divine Resonance of the Eternal. But doubt, hesitation, indifference are all the dark progeny of denial of the Highest.
"The idle Word — condemned by Jesus is inactivity of Being. It is the cessation of the homogeneous resonance, the Logos or Word.
The Word in its highest activity is pure spirit; in stagnation it is hell. To each man it is given in trust for all men . . . Through misuse he may learn its use. If he denies it he is lost; for by it alone he lives." (1)
Always we are creating some bright or dark guardian-angel to question or encourage our progress on the path of life; and the bright angel who guards the Threshold also guards the pilgrim on his path.
Thought is cumulative; thoughts become habits; habits entertained become character, destiny. Here is a clue: from W. Q. Judge, speaking of prevalent habits — of irritability — he says "sit down on it always, it is a terrible and cowardly foe and should never be allowed to dwell inside." And here are some wise words by K. T. "Electing difficult things while they are easy, and managing great things in their beginnings — transact your business before it takes form — this is the way, as the sages of antiquity have taught."
Some vibrant words, again from the pen of W. Q. Judge, may aptly be quoted here. They are from his article, signed Hadji Erinn, in an early number of The Path magazine: "What is the daily Initiation" he asks and answers. After referring to certain greater, solemn, and set initiatory ceremonies, he says:
"This, the daily one, without success in which no aspirant will ever have the chance to try for those that are higher, comes to the disciple with almost each moment. It is met in our relations with our fellows, and in the effects upon us of all the circumstances of life. And if we fail in these we never get to the point where greater ones are offered.
"If we cannot bear momentary defeat, or if a chance word that strikes our self-love finds us unprepared, or if we give way to the desire to harshly judge others, or if we remain in ignorance of some of our most apparent faults, we do not build up that knowledge and strength imperatively demanded from whoever is to be master of nature.
"It is in the life of everyone to have a moment of choice but that moment is not set for any particular day. It is the sum total of all days; and it may be put off until the day of death, and then it is beyond our power, for the choice has been fixed by all the acts and thoughts of the lifetime. We are self-doomed at that hour to just the sort of life, body, environment and tendencies which will best carry out our Karma."
This is a thing solemn enough, and one that makes the "daily initiation" of the very greatest importance to each earnest student. . . . But all this has been said before and it is a pity that students persist in ignoring the good advice they receive.
Do you think that if a Master accepted you He would put you to some strange test? No, He would not, but simply permitting the small events of your life to have their course, the result would determine your standing. "It may be a child's school, but it takes a man to go through it."
1. From "Reflections" by W. Q. Judge, The Path, Vol. III, February, 1889. (return to text)
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