One who begins to do esoteric exercises shouldn't expect visions to rise before him right away. It may happen, but it's not the usual or desired thing. The normal thing is that the esoteric's world of thoughts and feelings should be harmonized with the spiritual world; after the esoteric feels in harmony with the spiritual world's sea he sees luminescent things rising that form themselves into particular shapes.
But an esoteric may also experience visions right away. This may be the result of a previous life when he may have been an esoteric, or he may have been influenced by a religion's ceremony and cultus. Then his visions are atavistic and very dangerous, since they appear violently and overpower the esoteric, because they arose without his help, as it were. So it's better if they don't appear. Instead the esoteric should pay attention to the changes that take place in his soul life. As we mentioned last time, one of these changes is that the exercises make thoughts so much more powerful and could work on other people so much more that if they're not quite right and pure they're taken away from us by the Guardian of the Threshold and we lose consciousness so that we don't harm others and ourselves with them.
We'll now describe the effects that the exercises have in a somewhat different way. The first thing is that thoughts get looser, that is, whereas previously a particular thought followed a particular percept, and this thought was followed by other thoughts as if by itself — this no longer happens. An esoteric doesn't feel we as sure of himself or as certain of his judgments and thought connections anymore. What made judgments certain was what comes from education, social conditions and one's surroundings, that is, from the angels, archangels and spirits of personality who work in all cultural conditions. A man gradually becomes separate from them; his guiding angel no longer gives him thoughts and judgments as directly and as if unconsciously as before. But if this loosening of thought goes too far in someone, it could get dangerous for him. And so the Guardian of the Threshold intervenes and stops things. A way to prevent this is to acquire an absolute love of truth, so that one doesn't even permit oneself to think what might not be true.
The second thing concerns our feelings and will impulses. An esoteric sees that they change; he sees that he has less control over them than before. Whereas he may have been more careful before, he now senses that will impulses react immediately to things that concern him. This mustn't go too far; otherwise the Guardian of the Threshold will keep us from getting into the spiritual world for our own sakes.
The third thing is that the false sentiments that an esoteric can develop can not only take hold of this soul — they can work into his physical body. When wrong things continue to work unconsciously at the ground of the soul they become much more harmful than when they become manifest in a disease that then cured by physical means. In such a case, the Guardian of the Threshold lets us get a minor disease that we should look upon as a warning about what's working our soul. In a well directed esoteric development this mustn't become a major disease , for otherwise the esoteric would be attacked too much. In ancient times when souls were more robust and only people with a lot of inner strength and courage were accepted as esoteric pupils, these dangers were greater and often became extreme, that is, the loosening of thoughts led to insanity, the non-control of feelings and will impulses led to mad destruction, and the diseases led to death. This is what's described in the story from the Hebraic mysteries that was told to every esoteric as a warning. It's about the four rabbis who tried to get into the Garden of Maturity; the first one went mad, the second destroyed everything in a frenzy, the third died, and only the fourth was let through and went into the spiritual world.