: Passing Through Thresholds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.