The Oxford English Dictionary offers two definitions of the word threshold, firstly: ‘a strip of wood or stone forming the bottom of a doorway’, and secondly: ‘a level or point at which something would begin or come into effect’. Looking back at my own life and reflecting on the challenges experienced and choices made at the different stages of growing, developing and maturing, both these definitions seem to apply.
From the first in-breath of the newborn taking possession of its registering apparatus to the last sigh of release, the human being has been undertaking a long explorative journey on planet earth. From the moment we began to walk upright, we and our forefathers have struggled to survive extreme circumstances and learnt to improve our lives and livelihoods. Since the first spark of fire brought comforting warmth to our forefathers, this relentless striving has with increasing intensity and skill enabled humanity to probe ever further into and take dominion of new territories.
Throughout the centuries, countless battles have taken place and much blood been spilled on the strip of wood or stone at the doorway to humanity’s earthly habitat. And although cultures, faiths and traditions have been setting boundaries within which members of a community could grow, develop and function as a whole, these too would eventually be felt as restrictions by the thinking, evolving human being—rebellion being the natural impulse of the restless adolescent in search of what may lie just beyond the horizon.
Looking at the state of affairs in the world today, it is difficult not to feel fearful for the future of the human species and the survival of all other life within the earth environment. The young, willful and free-spirited visionary may momentarily lapse into self-pity, posturing cynicism and resentful bouts of destructive behaviour. Nevertheless, the weary but stalwart traveller will eventually rise again and face the challenge ahead and summon the energy to embark upon the next step of the long journey. Another level of something new is beckoning, and the time has arrived when we, individually and collectively, are challenged to show our readiness and courage of heart to become humanity. But before we can proceed into this new state of wholeness, we shall have to face the dragon protecting the doorway and earn the right of passage.
In cultures of the past, swords and other weaponry would traditionally be surrendered before entering a sacred place. Likewise it was and still remains common practice to leave dusty footwear at the doorstep of a dwelling. Today, as we approach the entry into fuller and freer relationships, we shall, free-willingly, have to surrender the restrictive and outdated mindset which is dividing the human family into warring factions and empowering forces of separateness, fear and greed in world affairs.
In its darkest moments humanity has consistently been overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. These victories have not depended on brute force alone but also the awakening of an ‘inner knowing’: a conscious awareness and a deepening sense of purpose and direction; the faith in something not seen but felt.
Faith has been described as ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’. Today scientists believe they have discovered the ‘footprint’ of a subatomic particle they have for so long been searching for; a particle which is giving ‘all matter in the universe size and shape’. Let us take inspiration from these forerunners and their dedicated efforts to link the seen and unseen worlds; let us have faith that, together and as one, we can and will give substance, quality and form to the new humanity, the new civilisation, and to the new culture - the culture of Heart.
Gita Brooke, born in Denmark in 1931, lived her first years in Vriddhachalam, India, before her parents returned to Denmark prior to the outbreak of WWII. As part of the Danish resistance movement the family, during the German occupation, helped Jews and others needing a place to hide while waiting for an opportunity to escape to Sweden. Gita writes: “I was challenged at a very young age to either close or open my mind and heart and chose – consciously – the latter. This became my enduring commitment and learning experience, as I searched for meaning and purpose – and to see and serve the Good in all. My journey has taken me to many places and experiences; some very dark, challenging me to open my heart ever wider to see the hidden light and helping me to know and understand better the suffering, heartaches, anger and doubts that we all, women as well as men of all ages, go through, often in isolation.”
In 1971 Gita met her future husband, Anthony Brooke (former Raja Muda of Sarawak), and in 1975 Peace through Unity was formed (Sweden). After years of extensive travels, Anthony and Gita settled in New Zealand (1987) where the Operation Peace Through Unity (OPTU) Charitable Trust is now based (Wanganui). OPTU is affiliated with the UN. The co-founders believe that: “life is imbued with meaning and purpose” and that “humanity and all other forms of life live and move and have their being within a greater evolving whole”.
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