COGNITION OF THE
HIGHER WORLDS. INITIATION.
After the student of the spiritual has encountered the guardian of the threshold, further experiences await him as he ascends into supersensible worlds. First he will notice that an inner relationship exists between this guardian of the threshold and the soul-power that, in the above description, has resulted as the seventh, and has shaped itself into an independent principle. Indeed, this seventh principle is in a certain regard nothing else but the Doppelganger, the guardian of the threshold himself, and this principle sets the student of the spiritual a special task. He has to direct and lead with his newborn self what he is in his ordinary self and which appears to him in an image. A sort of battle against the Doppelganger will result. The latter will constantly strive for supremacy. To establish the right relationship to this Doppelganger and not permit him to do anything that is not under the influence of the newborn ego strengthens and fortifies man's powers. In the higher world, self-knowledge is different, in a certain respect, from self-knowledge in the physical-sensory world. Whereas in the physical-sensory world self-knowledge appears only as an inner experience, the newborn self presents itself at once as an outer soul phenomenon. Man beholds his newborn self as another being standing before him, but he cannot perceive it completely. For whatever stage he may have reached upon the way into the supersensible worlds, there are always still higher stages. At these stages he will perceive ever more and more of his higher self. This higher self can thus only partially reveal itself to the student of the spiritual at any of these stages. The temptation is extremely great which overtakes the human being when he first becomes aware of some aspect of his higher self, to observe this higher self, so to speak, from the standpoint he has gained in the physical-sensory world. This temptation is even good and it must appear, if development is to proceed in the right way. We must observe what appears in the Doppelganger, the guardian of the threshold, and place it before the higher self in order to note the contrast between what we are and what we are to become. Through this observation the guardian of the threshold begins to take on quite a different form. He presents himself as an image of all the hindrances that the development of the higher self must encounter. The student will perceive what a load he must drag in the form of his ordinary self, and if he is not strong enough through his preparations to say, I will not remain stationary here, but unceasingly strive to reach my higher self, he will slacken his efforts and shrink back before what is in store for him. He has plunged into the world of soul and spirit, but now gives up his efforts. He becomes a prisoner of the form that, through the guardian of the threshold, now stands before the soul. What is important here is the fact that in this experience he does not have the feeling of being a prisoner. On the contrary, he believes he experiences something quite different. The form that the guardian of the threshold calls forth can be of such a nature that it causes the impression in the soul of the observer of having before him, in the pictures that appear at this evolutionary stage, the entire compass of all imaginable worlds, of having attained the pinnacle of knowledge, with no need of striving further. Instead of feeling to be a prisoner he may feel himself as the immeasurably rich possessor of all the world mysteries. The fact that one can have such an experience that depicts the very opposite of the actual facts will, however, not astonish a person who keeps in mind the fact that, when he experiences this, he stands already in the world of soul and spirit and that it is a peculiarity of this world that events may present themselves in reverse order. This fact was pointed out earlier in this book when life after death was discussed.
The figure that one perceives at this stage of development shows the student of the spiritual something in addition to what appeared to him in the first instance as the guardian of the threshold. In this Doppelganger all the peculiarities were perceived that the ordinary self of man has in consequence of the influence of the forces of Lucifer. Now, however, in the course of human evolution another power has entered the human soul through the influence of Lucifer. This is the power that was designated in an earlier section of this book as the power of Ahriman. It is the power that prevents the human being during physical sense-existence from perceiving the soul-spirit beings of the outer world lying behind the veil of the sensory. The form the human soul has assumed under the influence of this power is shown in a picture by the shape that emerges in the experience described. The person who is adequately prepared for this experience will be able to interpret it correctly; very soon thereafter another form will appear that we may call the greater guardian of the threshold in contrast to the already described lesser guardian. This greater guardian tells the student of the spiritual that he must not remain stationary at this stage but must energetically work on. He calls forth in the observer the consciousness that the world that is conquered becomes truth, and is not transformed into illusion, only if the work is continued in an adequate manner. If, because of incorrect spiritual training, a person were to enter upon this experience unprepared, then, in the encounter with the greater guardian of the threshold, something would pour into his soul that only can be compared to the feeling of immeasurable horror, of boundless fear.
Just as the student of the spiritual in his encounter with the lesser guardian of the threshold is afforded the possibility of testing whether or not he is protected against delusions arising from the intermingling of his own being with the supersensible world, so can he also test himself by the experiences that finally lead to the greater guardian of the threshold whether he is capable of mastering the delusions described above as coming from the second source. If he is able to withstand the gigantic illusion that has been conjured up before him that the picture world he has gained is a rich possession, while in reality he is only a prisoner if he is able to resist this delusion, he is then, during the progressing course of his development, guarded from mistaking illusion for reality.
The guardian of the threshold will assume, to a certain degree, an individual shape for each human being. The encounter with him corresponds indeed to the experience by which the personal character of the supersensible observations is overcome and through which the possibility is given of entering a region of experience that is free from personal coloring and applies to every human being.