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PRABUDDHA BHARATAPrabuddha Bharata | July 2013  

 

 

 

     

 

     Editorial : Passing Through Thresholds

 


     There are times when we come to a new stage of life. Some unknown force pushes us forwards, while a gut feeling signals major or minor changes in the offing. A part of this force is but the result of what we have worked for, consciously and subconsciously. Another part comprises of social forces, or other minds that have similarly worked like ours. Threshold means "opening", "edge", "entrance", "gate", "inception", "starting point", and so on. Just as we pass through thresholds in individual life, the same is true of collective life when society progresses forwards. Things come to a point and break into or shift to a new paradigm, a new avenue.

 

 

     Passing through thresholds is the history not only of the human race but also of the mighty processes of evolution going on for billions of years. A species reaches a critical point and then transforms into something different. Thresholds are also passed through in the evolution of the universe. The inflation, clumping, and formation of the universe has gone through many stages in its 13.7 billion years, as visible matter undergo changes on mind-boggling scales. The concept of threshold is now used in every possible field of human endeavour and understanding because this concept is a law embedded in nature.

 

 

     Threshold ordinarily means "a strip of wood or stone forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed in entering a house or room", or "the start of a new state or experience". It is also a metaphor to explain internal travel from one level of life to another, or from one point of time and space to another. Everything and everyone has a different level of threshold, say of pain or of perceiving sensations. Till the threshold is reached there is no reaction, but once the threshold is passed through, then comes the reaction.

 

 

     The travel from one threshold to another depends on the effort one puts into particular areas one is in. It may be studies, research, material progress, and even spirituality. Every small effort contributes to the sum total of progress and growth. Often, and in many fields, the process is a long-drawn one, but as the Yoga Sutra says: Mridu-madhyadi matra-tvat-tatohpi visheshah; success of yogis differs according to the means they adopt - mild, medium, or intense? It also teaches: Tivra-samveganam-asanah; success is quick for the extremely energetic? Thus the more dynamic one is, the more one keeps moving forwards and onwards.

 

 

     Everything is impelled by nature and hence nothing is static in life. Moreover, we are born with strong desires, which are translated into achieving, accomplishing, and being something. It does not only mean that we pass through thresholds that are good; there are many who pass through thresholds that are bad, and once the engine starts, it is difficult to stop, as one keeps becoming more and more evil. At this point we can be helped, provided we keep in mind Swami Vivekananda?s words: ?The goal of mankind is knowledge. Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for. After a time man finds that it is not happiness, but knowledge, towards which he is going, and that pleasure and pain are great teachers, and that he learns as much from evil as from good?

 

 

     The real reason we are interested in thresholds is because as we keep passing through one after another, we also pass through various thresholds of consciousness. We get a wrong picture, even from many modern studies, that consciousness has only one level. Consequently, we unnecessarily labour under this illusion. Vedanta and Yoga philosophies say there are various levels of consciousness. Every generation builds on the work of the previous one, and thus humankind moves forwards. Nobody can deny that we are not moving to higher cognitive levels. This is the sign of real human progress. In this we are impelled also by the collective consciousness.

 

 

     No one can, however, move forwards unless one has finished one's karma at a particular level. Swamiji says: "Our Karma determines what we deserve and what we can assimilate. We are responsible for what we are; and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions." This is true in every aspect of social life too. In the spiritual endeavour, which is the struggle for moksha, liberation, we travel from lower levels of consciousness to higher ones. Some of these states of consciousness are technically called in the Yoga Sutra as savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara, sananda, and sasmita. These savikalpa samadhis rise progressively from the subtle, beyond time and space, and right into the heart of existence. One then passes through the last threshold to plunge into nirvikalpa samadhi, the highest possible absolute experience that a human being is capable of.

 

 

     At times the world experiences a great wave of spiritual power that carries us forwards with little effort. At the head of this wave comes the avatara, who embodies this power. The present age is experiencing such a power, pushing humankind to higher levels of cognition, human concepts, and spirituality, which is cutting across all castes, creeds, races, and nations. The power had to be great because humankind was unable to pass through an important threshold in order to undertake a new task of rebuilding itself. That is the reason why Sri Ramakrishna, the avatara of this age, brought his Shakti, the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, along with Swami Vivekananda and other mighty direct disciples.

 

 

     Just as humans journey to pass through higher thresholds of consciousness, Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother do the opposite and descend to the lowest levels of manifest consciousness in order to lift and push everyone up! Not just humankind but also animals, birds, plants, everything. We find the Holy Mother saying: "I am the mother of the wicked, as I am the mother of the virtuous. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself "I have a mother" Once a disciple asked: "Are you the Mother of all" "Yes," replied the Mother. "Even of these lowest creatures?" pressed the enquirer. "Yes," answered the Mother. This great power that has descended to this world has the form of an infinite loving mother who denies no one and who is lifting each soul to the highest level of spiritual and material evolution. This power of the avatara, which literally means "to descend", is lifting and carrying humanity to the threshold of rightly understanding God, ourselves, and the world.

 

 

     Read more:

 

     Prabuddha Bharata

 

     Vedanta Kesari

 

 


   

 

       
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015


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