The pupil of the Spirit having now undergone the meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold, further experiences await him as he ascends into supersensible worlds. In the first place, he will notice that there is an inner connection between this Guardian of the Threshold and what was described above as a seventh power in the soul, which took on the form of an independent being. In truth, this seventh being is, from a certain point of view, none other than the Double, than the Guardian himself, whose presence sets the pupil a specific task. He has to place what he is in his ordinary self — which he has now before him in picture — under the leadership and guidance of his new-born Self. A kind of struggle will ensue, the Double striving continually to gain the upper hand. If the pupil can succeed in establishing a right relation to the Double, not allowing him to do anything that is not inspired by the new-born I, he will find that his true human powers gain in strength and in stability.
In the matter of self-knowledge the situation is somewhat different in the higher world from what it is in the physical. In the physical world self-knowledge is a purely inward experience, whereas in the higher world from the very outset the new-born Self manifests as an external phenomenon of Soul. The pupil sees it there before him as a distinct being. He is not however able to have a complete perception of this new-born Self. For no matter how many stages he may have reached on the path into supersensible worlds, there are always higher stages ahead; and at every one of them the pupil will perceive more of his Higher Self. At any particular stage, it can be only partially revealed to him. When the pupil first begins to be aware of the Higher Self, he is strongly tempted, as it were, to regard it from the vantage-point he has gained in the physical world. Indeed it is good that he should feel thus tempted; it is even necessary if his development is to proceed in the right way. For he has to contemplate what appears to him as his Double, the “Guardian of the Threshold,” he has to see all this in face of the Higher Self, and so perceive the vast disparity between what he is now and what he is meant to become. Once the pupil enters upon this comparison, the Guardian of the Threshold begins to assume another form, presenting himself as a picture of all the hindrances that stand in the way of the development of the Higher Self. The pupil now sees what a burden he is dragging about with him all the time in the ordinary self. And should the preparation he has undergone have failed to give him the strength to say at this point: I am not going to stand still, but shall make ceaseless effort to carry my development ever on and on in the direction of the Higher Self — should he not be strong enough to say this, he will falter and shrink from what is yet in store for him. He will indeed have entered into the world of soul and spirit, but as one who has relinquished all idea of making further efforts for his development. He then becomes a prisoner of the form that stands before him in the Guardian of the Threshold. The significant thing, however, is that he does not eel himself a prisoner; he imagines he is passing through an entirely different experience. The form that is evoked by the Guardian of the Threshold may even give rise in his soul to the impression that in the pictures he beholds at this stage of his development he already has a complete survey of the possible Worlds; that he has arrived at the very summit of knowledge and has no need to exert himself any further. Far indeed from seeing himself as a prisoner, he feels he is now the possessor of inexhaustible riches, even of all the secrets of the Universe. That such an experience — the complete reversal of the true state of affairs — should be possible will not astonish us, when we remember that the man undergoing it is in the world of soul and spirit, a world where thing are apt to show themselves in their opposites. Attention was called to this characteristic of the soul-and-spirit world in an earlier chapter, when studying the life after death.
In the figure that the pupil is perceiving at this stage of this development, there is more than in the form in which the Guardian of the Threshold first presented himself to him. At that time he could perceive in the Double all the qualities that the ordinary self possesses in consequence of the influence of the Luciferic powers. In the course of evolution, however, owing to the influence of Lucifer, another power has found its way into the human soul; we called it in earlier sections of this book the power of Ahriman. This s the power that hinders man, so long as he is living in physical existence, from having sight of the soul-and-spirit Being who underlie what the senses perceive at the surface of the outer world. What the soul has become under the influence of this power, the pupil now beholds — as in a picture — in the figure that confronts him in the experience we are now describing. If he is duly prepared for this experience, he will assign to it its true meaning; and then, quite soon, yet another figure will be revealed to him. It is the “Greater Guardian of the Threshold,” so called to distinguish Him from the “Lesser Guardian,” hitherto described. The Greater Guardian tells the pupil that he must not remain at this stage but must press forward with untiring energy. He calls upon him to realized that the world into which he has won his way can only become truth for him if he perseveres in his efforts. Otherwise it will change for him into illusion. Were a pupil to submit himself to a wrong kind of training and come to this experience unprepared, he would, on approaching the “Greater Guardian of the Threshold,” find himself completely overwhelmed — overwhelmed with a feeling that can only be compared with boundless fear and terror.
The meeting with the Lesser Guardian of the Threshold afforded the pupil the opportunity of testing whether he is proof against the delusions that may arise through carrying his own being into the supersensible world; and the experiences that lead him at long last to the Greater Guardian of the Threshold will now enable him to discover whether he can stand up to the delusions that spring from the second source above mentioned. If he is proof against the captivating delusion which makes the picture-world he has attained seem to him like a rich possession — when all the time he is but a prisoner thereof — he will be protected from taking appearance for reality in the further course of his spiritual evolution.
The “Guardian of the Threshold” will to some extent assume an individual and different form for every single person. For the meeting with him is the very experience by means of which the personal character of supersensible perceptions is eventually overcome and the way opened into a region of experience that is free from all personal coloring — a region universally valid, to which every human being has equal access.