In the previous post, I have discussed what is needed to embrace a new phase of life. An individual must be willing to give up old habits, patterns and conditioning in order to make space for new life. Not to be overlooked also is the importance of coming to define our personal rites of passage – a dedicated course of action subjecting us to the training of our mental, spiritual and emotional faculties – that would carry us on a journey of transfiguration.
The Crossing of a Threshold
What comes after? There is another concept that is equally fascinating, that is the crossing of a threshold, which successfully carries the individual from the realm of the ordinary world into a new zone of experience and magnified power.
Having travelled to the boundaries of ordinary limits, one comes face to face with the threshold guardian and is posed an inevitable test.
The test is dangerous, fear is magnified, one feels the threat of death. Likely, we have already failed this test many times – without recognising what it was. Having committed to our rites of passage where we have been training in the metaphorical gym of our lives for some time, the test of the threshold guardian threatens to break the established limits and boundaries of our personal experience, with the promise of liberation on the other side. In other words, if we manage to cross over, we do not default back to our ordinary lives, but receive a psychological rewiring and renewal. It marks a death and rebirth, a completion of a cycle, where an old you has passed and a new version has been manifest.
What does the individual need for the crossing of such a threshold? Joseph Campbell, in his book ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’, mentions that when old concepts, ideals and emotional patterns no longer fit, the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand.
The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.
Courage is a sword that readily battles fear, but often we do not feel ready enough to confront the challenge. We feel like we are lacking; we do not possess the internal weaponry. Campbell writes that:
though the terrors will recede before a genuine psychological readiness, the overbold adventurer beyond his depth may be shamelessly undone.
In other words, we are psychologically incompetent. What do we do then?
The twisted humor of life subjects us to its cruelty, and as a result we often might find ourselves somewhere else, in a different place, stage or situation that we did not ask for. What else could we do, when to advance forth is to face needless death? It appears that the powers that guard our space are not only fatherly and dangerous – urging us to do battle with the unknown – but also motherly and protective, ensuring that our passage is walkable, shielding us from demons which would ruthlessly rip us apart.
Hence, we ask ourselves a question: Are we psychologically equipped and physically capable to thrive in the experience that we are calling forth? If not, life forces us to make detours.
As a result, we might get a poorer substitute to what we truly want. We find ourselves in relationships that end bitterly, in places foreign in every way, in projects that fail and with people who break us down. We might feel punished, deprived, worthless.
The naked eye – severed from perspective – views this as punishment; what meaning could one possibly fathom in the depths of despair? Our souls are distraught.
We need to know this: Love is not only tender and forgiving, but acts upon us in a very fierce manner when we do not relinquish the intensity of that which we are asking for. Often, we are too blind to recognise that we are merely on a detour. The point of a detour is to break us down further, make us question, and impart digestible seeds of knowledge so that we would be psychologically ready for the crossing of the threshold.
Thus, would we choose to perceive the lessons contained within those darker episodes and phases of our lives? What do your past experiences have to teach you?
We desire to advance, surpass our limits and be liberated from our fears, so much that we might be caught up with the chase and the fantasy of crossing over to another zone of experience. Yet, what truly matters is the process behind it, the multiple detours we had to make, the experiences we have accumulated within them, and the countless times we have failed. They make us embrace our humanness, and the crossing of the threshold is not achieved by one who is gifted, but by one who is determined enough to develop competence and a courage that comes with it and shines forth.