ON THE THRESHOLD
was one demon who seemed to be a leader of demons. He was unlike many of the
others—more personal, more egocentric.
As we stood opposite each other I entered into conversation with
him, partly to satisfy my curiosity, partly to throw him off his guard.
“Who are you?” I asked. “You seem to be a ruler among your
He straightened himself with pride.
“I am indeed a ruler,” he said, “a ruler on earth and up here.”
“On earth also?” I queried.
“Yes, also on earth,” he answered, “for I am the deeper self of
a man who is great among men, a man who will follow my will as others follow
his will.” Then he made a claim which startled me, and I forbear to repeat
“If you are the evil self of a man still living,” I demanded,
“how do you stand as a separate entity up here? How are you apart from him?”
“You are somewhat ignorant,” he said to me.
“I am ignorant of many things,” I admitted. “Instruct me in any
way you can. I have a thirst for knowledge.”
“Know then,” he said pompously, “that I broke away from the
earthly form that had enchained me when he acknowledged my rulership and
worshipped me as his genius.”
“He set you free?” I asked.
“He set me free by acknowledging me as his Master. His knowledge
is even less than yours, and he called me by a name that I despise; but so
long as I rule I care not the name I rule by. Or I care little,” he
corrected himself. “But such things as these are too deep for you!”
“I am deeper than you think,” I asserted, “and I have met your
“My kind maybe, but not my equals. I am a King among spirits.”
“I had observed your crown,” I said, “it has a familiar look.”
During this colloquy the Teacher had stood
silently by, but now I turned to him with an unspoken question. He led me
aside a little way, and said:
“When a man exalts himself too much, he sets free the demon
within him. He often thinks that he rules the demon, and sends him on
errands through the Invisible; but it is really the demon who commands, and
the commands of the man are only echoes.”
“And it took this vision of hell to teach me that!” I exclaimed.
“What you would have learned in due time by reason or by
precept, you now learn by example,” the Teacher said. “You have truly beheld
the evil self of a great ruler.”
“It is very powerful,” I admitted.
“It will grow in power for a time,” the Teacher said, “and then
it will go to Gehenna*.”
“And when will it go to Gehenna?”
“When peace returns to the world, after the war is exhausted up
here. But the war will be exhausted up here before peace returns to the
“What war is about to be fought?” I asked.
“The greatest war of all time,” the Teacher said, “the greatest
war of all time up here, and also on the earth.”
“And when will it begin?”
“It is already begun here, as you have seen. Had you not been
far away you would have known it before.”
“I have indeed been far away,” I said. “An angel has shown me
many stars, and I have learned much.”
“The angel kept you away from the world until you should be
strong enough, and rested enough, to work as well as learn.”
“And where does my work lie?” I asked.
“In many fields,” he answered. “But first you must fight your
way through the astral world above Europe and save your friends who are in
Swimming the Hellespont was a minor feat compared to swimming
that sea of devils, but I got through. A year before I could not have done
it, perhaps, for the forces of good were overpowered. There is a tide in
good and evil, as well as a tide in the sea. Evil was at the flood.
I saved one friend in danger, and saw that another was safe.
Back in the sea of hate, when I was nearly
exhausted, the Beautiful Being, that angel who had been my guide so long,
came and whispered something in my ear. It was a spur to ambition.
“You may be the historian of this great struggle,” it said, “if
you do not fail in your tasks.”
Do not be startled by the word “ambition.” There are many kinds
of ambition, and a sincere wish to be personally of service may as well be
called by that name as by any other, if there is love behind it.