(Hi Friends, This is a long post because it is a very important subject. It explains a lot about our journey of inner development and the thresholds that we must reach, cross and surrender to. No way to do it short and sweet. Read on. Lynn)
Threshold … the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested
Threshold … the lower boundary of a doorway or gateway that must be crossed over to move from one space (reality) to another.
Threshold … a dramatic shift in the sense of self and the dawning of a strange new imagination of what you mean when you say I.
A threshold experience is a self-changing reality, an experience of “you can’t go home again,” key elements of your familiar sense of self fade, collapse, or explode. In a small or great way some part of you ceases to have meaning and then you wait to see what new, often radically different meaning appears.
Scary, yes, but ultimately, necessary, liberating, and full of extraordinary reward. Each threshold you cross, each magnitude of self that is achieved offers a new and evolving testament to your worth, your freedom and your power.
Recently, I’ve recognized four types of self-changing thresholds: epiphanies, temptations, trials and initiations.
I’ve learned that when you name a beast, you can usually tame it. Naming the four types of inner thresholds has been a threshold experience for me. I can go back through my life and see them, understand them, and celebrate them. I can see them coming in my future and meet them with a new confidence and sensitivity. Oh, for sure, I will still be blindsided, but the recovery of my sight will be quick. No surprise, I will fall off balance, but return to my new center more gracefully. And in consulting with my clients, I now can understand, support, and guide them through their thresholds with more love and wisdom.
Let’s look at the four thresholds of inner development…
Epiphanies: An epiphany is a threshold of a new recognition. You cognize or think about something, even yourself, from an entirely different and surprising perspective or gesture. Epiphanies flood your soul with innocence, wisdom, individuality, or power. You lose the sense of being ordinarily you, and become extraordinary. You move from the sense of me to the reality of I in some area of your consciousness. Epiphanies, more often then not, transform parts of self, not the whole.
An epiphany establishes a new sense of self, but then we must learn to remain humble and balanced in the mood of the epiphany and not allow ourselves to be swayed or tempted to see the epiphany as magic.
Temptations: A temptation appears as a seduction to draw us away from our humility by having us claim magical powers for selfish benefit. We are seduced into thinking we are more god than human. A tempter can look and act like a fairy godmother or a wise guru or a powerful teacher. They always require something in return. If we fail to vanquish a temptation and the tempter, we become enslaved and suffer and do harm. The epiphany becomes a curse. I find the biggest temptations in my life are my addictions where I am convinced that a stone will nourish me like bread, my fantasies that somehow I can command angels to protect me from the gravity of reality, and my prejudices that what I see and how I see it have everlasting control over all I see.
Learning how and why to vanquish is so important …each of us needs to find a right relationship to our gifts, our challenges, and our possibilities.
If we vanquish temptations and cast aside our tempters, we then must face trials to the steadfastness of our sense of self.
Trials: We are not looking at courtrooms and judges here, but we are looking at facing persecution, harassment and great difficulties. We must run the gauntlet when the only way to move is forward and from both sides of the way come attacks of doubts, exhaustion, confusion, overwhelm, grief, anxiety, profound loneliness, denials and much more. These attacks will always appear as we seek to travel the path toward our true selfhood and remain steadfast. (Steadfast is such a wonderful word and wonderful feeling.)
With success over our trials, we feel strength and courage awakening in our souls. We no longer want to turn our backs on trials…we find ourselves saying “bring it on!” Somehow our thoughts have more clarity, our feelings have more equanimity and our behaviors and actions have a kindness we can not describe.
Through our epiphanies, our vanquished temptations and our passed trials we can all have support from the sidelines. With my clients, I am now finding that just naming the threshold type is enormously helpful. It makes the tough stuff of our lives, the inner stuff and the outer stuff, less tough, more understandable and more valuable. We can embrace, persevere, endure, and celebrate with more enthusiasm.
Our journeys through life are full of thresholds. All detours that promise happiness and peace should be questioned. The joy that comes at the end of a well-travelled journey of inner development is morally invaluable and brings a sublime peace that cannot be described. A price above rubies!
The fourth threshold … Initiation
Initiation comes after many epiphanies, temptations and trials.
An initiation is the experience of death and resurrection or as Goethe, the great German poet, said it, “Die and become!” You experience an abyss…no beginning, no end, no anything. You become nothing and everything. You become a point and a plane. You know bitterness beyond all bitterness, sorrow beyond all sorrow, joy beyond all joy and so forth. Then after an eternity, you return to where you began but you are profoundly different, yet the same. You have become your distant future self and brought her back to the present.
In earlier times, initiation was an exquisitely designed process led by a hierophant with a circle of other initiates who guided every preparatory step of the neophyte. An initiation was ordered, accompanied and protected. The neophyte was often taken into the mystery center as a toddler, so that all aspects of her biography were controlled and archetypal in great detail. Epiphanies, temptations and trials were orchestrated and timed. Nothing depended on personality or individuality, there was no personal biography, no ordinary self.
But the evolution of consciousness rolls forward up to light-filled peaks and down to dark cold valleys leading the human soul to greater and greater individuality and freedom. Now in the 21st Century, those of us destined to go through initiations find them chaotic, terrifying and isolated. No wonder we seek out the “new” mystery centers that promise old style initiations. The truth is each of us is our own mystery center on some lonely island of selfhood…we are on our own. But surely, we have been prepared by the thresholds already living in our biographies.
A spiritual mentor/consultant/friend can listen, understand, encourage and witness initiation from a great psychic distance. It is your free fall, no tandem sky-jumping here. Hopefully, your epiphanies have not left you vain, your temptations have not left you arrogant, and your trials have not left you foolishly certain.
Your epiphanies, temptations, and trials are testaments to your growing self-imaginations. Even if they appear more mundane than spiritual and take place in your biography around the challenges of money, sex, work or appearances, each one gives you a deeper sense of self-knowledge, self-compassion and inner freedom and teaches you a little more about the experience of inner truth, inner beauty, and deeds of goodness.
For many of us, our thresholds have to do with chronic traumas to our bodies and our souls. We long to feel safe, to be calm, to trust, to know confidence, to understand. We need the warmth of a listening heart and the light of a wise intelligence to kindly accompany us to the necessary thresholds and greet us on the other side.
I want to add that it is important to realize that a period of rest and integration is necessary between all the thresholds. I work with individuals who have faced major epiphanies, temptations and trials and then feel guilty that it is not life as usual failing to understand they need to wander in green pastures for a while before taking the up the next part of their journey. Please, embrace the need to rest and integrate, to let wisdom germinate.
Some suggestions for recognizing your thresholds…
Read books, watch television, and go to the movies. Look for the epiphanies, temptations and trials in the protagonist’s story. Rudolf Steiner, the great seer of the last century, wrote that all the great hierophants of the ancient past had returned as the shapers of our entertainments.
When in a crisis ask yourself is this the storm before the epiphany? Am I being tempted? Is this a trial? (When you are going through an initiation there usually isn’t time to reflect but if you have understood your epiphanies, temptations, and trials, you will surrender gracefully to the spiritual abyss where you come to know dying and becoming.)
Commit to sacred conversations with a spiritual mentor. If you would like to work with me, if you have been thinking about working with me… right now I have five openings in my schedule. Let’s talk and discuss what you are seeking and how I might help.
I have created Imagine Self courses on these threshold experiences using the great thresholds of Jesus Christ as the model for your own inner development. I offer insights, encouragement and exercises for you to find your own understanding of your epiphanies, temptations and trials. These courses can be taken at anytime and are delivered through downloadable audios and support materials. Because they are self-directed you can take as long as you need to work with the content and review it as many times as you need to. The technical requirements are very simple.
To learn about Inner Epiphany, click here.
To learn about Inner Lent and the Three Modern Temptations, click here.
To discuss working one-to-one with me, schedule a 20 minute introductory consultation here or email me directly by replying to this email.
Please share your thoughts or questions on the four thresholds here.