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There is a nice view from that spot. Georgieva Did you know? Talk NOW with no obligation to a real person. Information and price guides subject to change. All properties shown are to the best of our knowledge genuinely for sale at the time of publication unless clearly marked "Under Offer" or "Sold". Although the properties have been visited by our staff and details are produced in good faith, no responsibility is taken by us for any discrepancies, inaccuracies or omissions.

All introductions and referrals to agents, lawyers and other services are made in good faith but no responsibility is taken by us for any problems or negligence which may arise. We do know nature. You do not know what a rose is, and you do not know what the earth is. Everything you see around you — forests, mountains, rivers and oceans — is no more than the outer wrappings of nature, the layers of physical matter that clothe the earth. You have to go beyond this outer aspect and learn to see and sense the vibrations and emanations of the etheric body of nature.

In fact, the etheric body, too, is a cloak; we have to see even beyond this. Only those who are capable of divesting nature of its outer garments can know truth. This was the whole purpose of the ancient initiations: to teach the disciples to draw aside the veil of Isis. In the religion of ancient Egypt the goddess Isis was the spouse of the god Osiris. She was the great feminine figure in whom the initiates saw a symbol of primordial nature, the matrix from which came all beings and all the elements of creation.

It is this mysterious nature, impenetrable by ordinary men and women, that is the principal object of study of the initiates. In order to penetrate its secrets they endeavour to understand all the forms of existence to which it has given rise and through which it manifests itself. But this has nothing to do with the reality. The initiates never touch a woman, for they know that what they are seeking is elsewhere.

Their ambition is to lift the veil of nature, and they can do so only through the greatest possible purity and absolute self-mastery. Only in these conditions will Isis consent to reveal herself to them in all her glory. For an initiate true knowledge is a lifting of the veil. What a pity that the understanding of nudity should be so obscured by all the prejudices and taboos that have grown up over the centuries, which always associate it with sexuality.

There are people who can never hear or read the word nudity without their imagination immediately running away with them. It is time now to look beyond the physical aspect and see that the notion of nudity can be transposed on to higher planes. Actually, even on the purely physical plane it can be understood differently. Instead of envisaging only the external, concrete fact of nudity, you have to learn to interpret it. Even without clothes her true self will still be hidden, mysterious, inaccessible, for the physical body is also a cloak.

Even our subtler bodies are cloaks. But, like the physical body, the astral body too is an encumbrance, a garment that prevents us from seeing reality. Even the mental body has to be cast aside. Only then can we be utterly naked and free, with no barrier between ourselves and truth. To think that there is any other way to know truth is like thinking you could know someone simply because you had passed them in the street.

No, in order to know someone you have to go beyond the barrier of not only their clothes but also their different bodies, until you reach the spirit. When we enter the region of the spirit we are entering a region of forces without form, an ocean of life and joy, in which we are free to breathe and to expand without limits. Only the spirit is naked and needs no clothes. If human beings knew how to interpret their everyday gestures they would realize that they constantly mirror this alternation between the descent into the realm of matter and the upward movement to the realm of the spirit.

When you dress in the morning you start with your underclothes and light garments, such as shirts and blouses, and end with a jacket or overcoat. In the same way, when we incarnate we put on our heavier, denser bodies over the lighter ones. And when we undress before going to bed, we reverse the process and take off our different layers of clothing. And all this is symbolic, for we are going to have to do the same thing when we leave this world. We have to dress in order to descend, and undress in order to rise.

To take off our clothes means, symbolically, to go beyond the opaque world of appearances and discover reality. The veil that conceals Isis is the mystery of living nature that we have not yet pierced. And when I speak of nature, I include human nature, for human nature too is hidden by veils. This is why it is so difficult for human beings to know themselves and each other. True knowledge requires us to rise to the sublime regions of the spirit. Only when we cease to see ourselves and others through the distorting lens of our opaque bodies will we be able to see the true immensity, light and splendour of human beings on the higher, sublime planes.

All the hierophants of the past taught their disciples the same truth: a human being is a reflection of nature. Both are veiled. Beneath the layers of matter dwells a spirit, a spark, an indescribable, omniscient, all-powerful being, God himself. To those who are able, through discipline, prayer, and self-denial, to fulfill the demands of the spirit, Isis will reveal herself. What does it mean to say that someone is naked?

One of two things: either that they are poor, destitute, bereft of all qualities and virtues or that they are not concealed by any external shell or wrappings, that they are free, perfect, true. Only divine beings are naked in this second sense, and this quality is sometimes expressed by saying that they are robed in light. It is very difficult to find words to express adequately the realities of the spiritual life. We have to resort to analogies, comparisons and symbols. This is why initiates say that in the divine world truth is naked, meaning that it is not hidden under layers of camouflage.

They might equally say that truth is pure light, for light exists on the borderline between the material and the spiritual worlds. In summer, for instance, when the sun shines and gives great light and heat, we wear fewer clothes. In winter, when there is less sunshine and consequently less light and heat, we wear more.

Heat and cold are symbols of the inner life. The greater the distance between ourselves and the divine world, the colder we are and the poorer in virtue. This is why we are obliged to wrap ourselves in layers of rags, because we are far from the source of heat and light. Whereas when we live a pure and luminous life that brings us closer to the source, we can discard all these useless layers. You must learn to interpret all these symbols of the psychic life.

You must understand that the nakedness I am talking about is the nakedness of the astral and mental bodies. Because of your selfish, malicious, spiteful thoughts and feelings you have made these bodies so opaque that you are no longer capable of making contact with the realities of the spiritual world and its inhabitants. You would like to meditate perhaps, but as you have never managed to free yourself from your prosaic interests and concerns, from your feelings of envy, irritation and resentment, or from burdensome memories of the past, you are incapable of rising to a higher plane.

In such a situation it is almost pointless even to try to meditate. You will get nowhere. Your inner instruments cannot function; they are too clogged with dirt. And this will always be the case until you learn to discard all your old, heavy, dirty, ragged clothes. Yes, symbolically speaking, you are wearing a great many old clothes that need to be discarded. The most important thing in life, therefore, is to work to divest yourself of all these heavy, opaque layers. This is a very difficult task, I know.

In fact, not only is it difficult to do, but many people find it difficult even to understand that these clothes actually exist or why they should get rid of them. Truth alone is naked. To be capable of rising to the level of truth we must work to free ourselves inwardly from all that is opaque, all that screens us from the divine world. Once we attain a state of nakedness, it is possible to rise to great heights and receive messages, advice, wisdom, love and help from God.

We have to be stripped naked in order to enter heaven. That is, we have to have divested ourselves of all covetousness, self-interest and false conceptions. The freer we are from all encumbrances, the higher we can rise. After our meditation, when we come back down — for, as long as we are on earth we always have to come down again and get on with our work on earth — we put on our clothes.

That is, we go back to our normal work, to our normal activities with our families and friends, neighbours, business colleagues and so on. For the world we have to be clothed, but not for heaven. Heaven welcomes us only if we are undressed.


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So this is the magnificent image that the initiates gave us when they spoke of contemplating the naked truth — Isis unveiled. I shall say no more about it today. It is up to you now to meditate so as to understand what the veil of Isis means and how to strip it away in order to know truth. Chapter Eight Garment of light.

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A garment is something material that envelops and hides us; it is also a protection from the outside world. If you wear a thick coat you will be protected not only from the cold but also from insect bites or from accidental knocks, whereas if you are naked you will be vulnerable to the slightest aggression. The more layers of clothing you take off, the more vulnerable or sensitive you will be. And if we apply this law to our inner life we see that sensitivity is a manifestation of spirituality, and that we have to strip away the layers of our ordinary concerns in order to become more sensitive to the divine world.

The Bible has stories about people who, as a reward for living in conformity with divine law, overcoming temptation and conquering evil, receive a garment. Sometimes the garment is white, sometimes coloured, but it is always described as a magnificent robe of precious cloth. As I have already explained, this robe symbolizes the aura. To earn it we have to shed all that makes us heavy and dark so as to be capable of being in contact with the divine world. The aura, this robe of light, is a sign that we have succeeded.

You will say that I started by talking about nudity, and now I am talking about clothes. Yes, because to speak of nudity is only one way of expressing things. As I have said, there are so few words with which to express the spiritual life that we have to use analogies that may sometimes seem to contradict each other. In reality, human beings are never entirely naked, for we are clothed not only in the physical body but also in our subtler bodies.

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The inner work we would have to accomplish in order to be completely naked is so immense as to be almost impossible. It consists in becoming pure spirit, or to put it more accurately, in investing the indwelling spirit with such power that it is as though the physical body were pulverized and transformed into light. This is what the disciples witnessed when Jesus was transfigured before them.

It is worth taking the time to talk about it. The physical body is the garment of the soul and spirit. Words are the garments of thought. Feelings, thoughts and forces all have garments. All creatures visible and invisible are clothed. A flower, for example, is a garment that conceals a living entity. This is why we should meditate on flowers, on their shape, colour and scent, so as to learn about the nature of the beings that wear such garments.

And not only on flowers, but on all that exists in the different kingdoms of nature: mineral, vegetable, animal and human. Crystals, diamonds, precious stones… these are all garments in which spiritual entities manifest themselves on the physical plane. It takes a great deal of knowledge to understand this question of garments, that is, to interpret the forms taken by all creatures, all entities. A garment is a condensation of subtle elements, and it is extremely difficult to decipher such a complexity of expressions and shades of meaning.

Mountains, lakes, rivers and trees… all these constitute the garments of the cosmic spirit. All things visible, from minerals to human beings, are garments, and these garments are of untold diversity. In the animal kingdom alone, for instance, look at the immense variety of birds and their plumage. Why do actors wear costumes, for example? They could very well act without them, but the costumes reveal their role. As soon as an actor comes on stage, before they even open their mouth, the audience has some idea of the kind of character they are portraying.

Shapes and colours are not the only things that constitute a garment. Movements, sounds, even scents, are garments. All means of expression can be classed as garments. And this is particularly true in respect to human beings. Perhaps you are wondering whether the spirit can express itself without the concealment of a garment. No, for how could we know anything about a force, an energy, if it did not manifest itself by means of an outer form? In order to express itself the spirit has to use intermediaries, which can be of all kinds, ranging from the most densely material to the most subtle.

Certain impulses express themselves through movement; others, which are subtler, express themselves by means of a look, a tone of voice, the colour or complexion of a face. A whole variety of expressions exists, therefore, from the most densely material to those that are so ethereal as to be extremely difficult to perceive and even more difficult to interpret.

As you see, this question of garments is so vast and profound that you could spend a lifetime exploring it. Chapter Nine The skin. As a matter of fact, if you think about it you will see that it is true: it is principally through the skin that a human being receives knowledge.

Nothing in the way of sensations, impressions or influences can enter a man or woman without the permission of the skin, for it is the skin that surrounds the body and its organs. Our skin is the inspector that examines and tests everything that attempts to enter us and lets in only what we need. Each organ is the result of a gradual differentiation of the skin.

In this sense the skin is like a mother who gives birth to numerous children, or like the roots of a tree, thanks to which the trunk can grow and mature and produce branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. Since the skin is the keeper of the gates, the one that allows or denies entrance or exit, it is important to make sure that it is equipped to admit only what is beneficial and to exclude all that is harmful. Washing ourselves, for instance, contributes to our physical health and wellbeing. But if we have the right mental attitude when washing we can also absorb other forces and currents that keep us in touch with the life of the cosmos.

The skin possesses an array of antennae and radar systems by means of which we both emit and absorb fluidic influences. From time immemorial magicians and sorcerers, who knew about these things, have performed their magic rites in the nude, for in this way they were more sensitive to the invisible influences of the spirits and better able to project forces in order to work their will on people or objects.

There are also magical practices which consist in smearing the body with certain ointments that affect the nervous system and cause a person to leave their physical body and travel through space. It is now known that many so-called witches who claimed to have been present at a sabbath had actually done no more than smear their body with certain substances which, when absorbed by the skin, caused them to leave their body. Their claim to have been present at the sabbath was true, therefore, but they were present and took part in the orgies not in their physical bodies but in their astral bodies.

Unfortunately, human beings are always ready to experiment with things that put them on the path to hell. They are far less inclined to learn how to communicate with divine forces in an effort to be uplifted. You must understand that when I speak of phenomena of this kind, therefore, it is simply in order to inform you of what exists. It is certainly not my intention to encourage you to take an interest in such practices or to try any dangerous experiments.

The fact that all other aspects of the body are the same, with the same forms and the same functions, is secondary. It is the skin that counts. But they would do far better to forget about the colour of the skin and pay more attention to keeping it in good condition so that it can fill its role as a protection and as an instrument of perception.

What an extraordinary thing the skin is — so delicate and flexible, and at the same time so strong. And when it has been torn or damaged it heals itself so quickly. The Egyptians, who embalmed the dead, have shown us how tough the skin can be, for in certain conditions it can last for hundreds and thousands of years. In giving us our skin, Cosmic Intelligence has given us a sense organ whose functions extend even to the spiritual plane. It is important to know that the skin produces subtle secretions which eventually endow it with certain properties, and if we do not want to destroy this etheric film, we have to observe certain rules of life, for everything is reflected in the skin.

And, of course, this varies according to circumstances. One day their skin might be alive and radiant, and the next drab and lifeless.

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The same can be said of hair, for it is made of the same elements as the skin. It too reflects both our physical health and the state of our inner life. A gross, materialistic life or a truly spiritual life is immediately reflected in the texture and colour of the skin. In some places it is smooth and finely textured; in others there may be wrinkles or blemishes. You even see people whose skin, although quite white, seems to have blue, mauve or yellow undertones. A very long time ago I met a woman in Zurich who was clairvoyant, and the thing that struck me most forcibly about her face, and which I have never forgotten, was her skin, the sanctity of her skin.

It was this that convinced me that she was a truly great clairvoyant. So try to understand in what way you should care for your skin. You can forget about the question of colour. Remember instead that the skin is the best garment that heaven has given us and that it can become a true organ of knowledge. But before this becomes possible we have to improve the way we live.

The reason why the skin is such a difficult subject to talk about is that it is directly related to nudity. And, as we have seen, many people still feel that it is indecent to talk about nudity, because it touches on the question of sexuality. There is nothing scandalous about these organs.

They are what they are. But it is the use men and women make of them that leaves a stain on them, and even though this stain is not physical but purely etheric, it is what we sense at the sight of a naked body. This is why it is better to keep these organs covered, for since most people lead lives of disorder and passion, the emanations of their sexual organs are neither beautiful, nor pure, nor poetic. I have sometimes been asked what I think of nudism, or of the fact that people on the beaches in summer wear less and less.

I remember talking to you one day about my visit to a nudist camp — I had accepted the invitation on the understanding that I could keep my own clothes on — and I must say that it was an interesting experience. Before going, I had wondered what my reactions would be, and to be frank, I must admit that they were quite unexpected.

The sight of all those naked bodies gave me a slight feeling of indigestion. Nudists have instinctively discovered the benefits of a natural way of life, but as they have no initiatic knowledge they do not actually get any great advantage from it. You might think that an initiatic teaching is not necessary in order to know how to expose your body to sunshine and fresh air. That is true, but if you know nothing about the influences you are exposing yourself to you will not benefit greatly from them.

Nudists should have at least a few methods at their disposal and know what state of mind they should be in when exposing their bodies to the sun. This is important, for what a person receives in this way depends on the nature of their thoughts and feelings. The skin itself is neutral; it absorbs anything, whether good or bad, but its work can be controlled and determined by your consciousness, your thoughts. Depending on what is going on in your mind, your skin will facilitate or obstruct the absorption of certain elements. If your thoughts are pure, luminous and godly, it is as though your skin had received orders from above to repulse all poisonous elements and attract only energies and particles that can enliven you.

When it is practised in the right conditions this communion with the forces of nature can indeed renew and regenerate you. But is this what people are really seeking when they go to a nudist camp or the beach? They eat anything, drink alcohol, smoke, take drugs and have no control over their thoughts and feelings. They are simply there, content to live a purely vegetative or biological life. In such conditions what can you expect their skin to emanate? Nothing but noxious fumes, and those fumes are immediately absorbed by all those around them.

Even from a distance you can sense this. In fact I have experienced this several times without even going onto the beach. Walking along the road above the beach I could sense the rank fumes that rose from all those bodies stretched out on the sand. And the astral fumes are often far worse than the physical.

You must not conclude that I say this because I do not love human beings. Long, long ago the first man and woman possessed this scent, particularly Eve, and it was because of her scent that plants knew and loved her. She was able to communicate with all the flowers in the garden of Eden, with the whole vegetable kingdom. No flower exhaled a more exquisite scent than that of Eve.

After she committed the original sin — which was a descent into the denser regions of matter — Eve lost her ability to distil this perfume, and the flowers no longer recognized her. For flowers are pure and chaste. They have no astral desires, and when they saw how Eve had sinned they stopped sharing their virtues with her. It is because women still have the subconscious memory of their original condition in paradise that they feel the need to use perfume. They should know that even now they could distil that perfume if they regained their original state of purity, and they can do this through the purity of their thoughts and feelings and of the food they eat.

Yes, the purity of our food is also very important. It is not enough to expose your body to the sun and fresh air. Nudism must be understood quite differently from how it is today. It should be an entirely new way of looking at things, accompanied by the relevant discipline, so that human beings may become beautiful and expressive on both the physical and the psychic planes. Otherwise, what is the point? It is better to be clothed. There is something nauseating about the sight of a naked body which is not particularly beautiful and from which emanate unhealthy fumes. A new culture is necessary if there is to be a new humanity.

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Mothers could if they decided to learn and to work with their thoughts and feelings so as to bring healthy children into the world, children who are psychically and physically well-balanced. In the meantime, clothes at least have the merit of concealing their imperfections. You may say that they also contribute to perpetuating those imperfections. Yes, in a way that is true. In any case, many people use clothes as a way of concealing their true selves. You sense that they rely on their clothes to create a specific impression of themselves and discourage others from looking any further.

But even if they succeed in deceiving others, how long will they be able to keep up the pretence for themselves? There is nothing wrong in the growing tendency among human beings to expose their bodies, but before this becomes a general practice a great many things still need to be improved. At the moment conditions are so far from perfect that it is better for people to be clothed and work on their inner nakedness, that is, on acquiring the mastery of their instincts, passions and desires. In this way they will become so pure and luminous, above all they will exhale such exquisite perfume, that when they the day comes for them to expose their nakedness before the world, the whole of creation will be struck with awe and wonder, sensing something divine emanating from them as in the far-off days of Eden.

The principles that govern the universe are like the numbers from 0 to 9, which constitute the basis for all numerical combinations. Principles, like the first ten numbers, are immutable, but no one can calculate the number and variety of combinations and permutations that can be drawn from them, for they are infinite. This is what we have to learn as time goes on: the new combinations and new forms engendered by the eternal, immutable principles. Movement is a law of life which applies in every area.

This is why it is such a mistake on the part of religion to try and make forms last for ever. Only principles are eternal; forms have to change. One of the most remarkable incidents related in the Gospels is that of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman who had come to draw water from the well. It was about noon. His disciples had gone to the city to buy food. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it? The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

What you have said is true! Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. And who can blame her, when you consider that for centuries many of the greatest theologians have also failed to understand their true significance. Instead of a place he mentions two of the most abstract words known to humanity: spirit and truth. The spirit as opposed to matter.

Truth as opposed to falsehood, error, illusion and superficial appearances. To worship God in spirit means to discard the material forms that shackle us and prevent us from moving freely; to worship in truth means to shed our attachment to illusion and external appearances. But I do not agree with this. For one thing Christianity has retained many traces of Judaism — and even of those pagan religions — in its beliefs, rites and shrines.

Also, all religions have a tendency to crystallize and to be attached to material forms and external practices. When Jesus said that God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, he was presenting this as an ideal for all religions. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. A spiritual Master has exactly the same objective as any other teacher: he has to help human beings to advance, just as a teacher helps his or her pupils.

He knows that many will be incapable of following him, for his ideas and recommendations will be too advanced for them, but does this mean he should neglect the few who are capable, and who want to advance? Should he leave them to stagnate? No, why should he take the lowest common denominator, the weakest and least capable as his norm?

A Master must keep urging human beings forward, but at the same time he must be very understanding and sympathetic with those who are not really capable of doing more for the moment. Jesus looked for a way of teaching that would touch both the simple folk, the crowds that gathered round him, and those who were more advanced spiritually. This is why he taught in parables. And from among his disciples he chose one in particular, St John, to whom he revealed the underlying meaning of his words.

And it is fortunate that he said this, for it would be virtually impossible to find a similar mention anywhere in the Gospels. I even wonder how it is that this particular passage has survived when so many others have been deleted or transformed. When you want a child to understand something, you have to use stories and pictures or objects. Where religion is concerned most human beings are still children. They need something concrete and tangible to hang on to. They would feel utterly lost, as though they had nothing to hold on to anymore. Only those who are exceptionally highly evolved are capable of finding within their own soul and spirit the sanctuary in which they can communicate with the Lord, in which they can touch and taste and breathe the splendours of heaven.

Of course, such an expansion of consciousness is highly desirable. Those who achieve it are free from all limitations, for the world of the soul and spirit is vaster and more beautiful than any other. In that world they are free to work without restrictions to build a future for themselves as sons and daughters of God. In the meantime, however, as we are still on earth, we are obliged to express our beliefs in concrete form.

Places of worship, liturgical objects, the religious feast days that punctuate the weeks and months of the year… all these are the concrete expression of our religion. But they are only an expression. They are not the religion itself. To claim that this is possible is to disparage God. Believe me, I have no desire to offend Christians, but I have to say that although the notion that all you have to do to communicate with Christ is swallow a host is a magnificent invention, it is still an invention.

How can anyone imagine that Christ, the Son of God, would allow any priest, however worthy or unworthy, to shut him up in a host? What do they take him for? And they call this the mystery of the Eucharist! But there is no mystery here, only a spiritual reality that is governed by certain laws. It is true that certain fluidic influences can be enclosed in an object, but not God. The body and blood of Christ are cosmic elements, which can be absorbed by eating and also by breathing and meditating, and they can also be condensed in an object.

But no one can lay hold of Christ himself, of the spirit of Christ. You cannot live a religion in spirit and in truth if you continue to cling to the things that are down here, close to hand, or to your mouth. You have to move to a higher plane, for Christ is to be found on a very, very high plane. If you want to drink the purest water you have to climb the mountain and drink at the source. If you are incapable of reaching the source you will have to drink the polluted water of the streams below, and then, of course, you will catch their germs.

I am not saying that you should not take part in the eucharist. I am simply saying that you must see things in the right perspective. It is inaccurate to say that a priest changes the bread and wine into Christ. Why try to depreciate God by locking him up in something material? Why mislead human beings with all these false beliefs? Think of all the millions of men and women who know nothing about the Christian communion: have they no hope of being in communion with the Lord just as well and as truly as Christians?

Do you think that in order to be in touch with God they must become Christians?

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God bless my soul! Why restrict yourselves and try to restrict others in this way? Human beings have always felt the need to force their own views on others and limit their freedom of action. And this tendency has often led to extremes. In some cultures, for instance, it has led to the deformation or mutilation of the physical body through the binding of feet or elongating of the skull. But in every country and in every area of life there are those who seek to impose physical or psychological constraints on others.

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Now I ask you, what do Christians say about the fate of the billions throughout history who have never heard of the mass or of communion? Will God reject them? When you think about this, is it not obvious that communion has to be understood in a much broader sense? Communion is an essential condition of life. The only question is: how do we communicate?

And the answer is that we communicate in any number of ways, beginning with the food we eat every day; for although food is material, the life of the Creator impregnates it, and through a conscious work of the mind we can learn to absorb non-material elements from it with which to nourish our soul and spirit. This is true communion: the nourishment of the soul and spirit. To take the bread and wine will do nothing for you if you have not learned to communicate with the Creator in a more profound and far-reaching way through all the ordinary acts of your daily life — eating, drinking, moving about, breathing, looking, listening, sleeping, loving and working.

Naturally, if you prefer to stick to the poorer and more limited conception of communion you are free to do so. But one day you will be forced to give it up. Even if you refuse to accept these truths from me, heaven will send others who will say the same thing. It is not a question of belonging to one religion rather than to another, of observing certain rites and practices rather than others. A rite, after all, is only a form, and a form is useful only insofar as we are capable of animating it, of giving it a content. There is a tale I heard when I was young, in Bulgaria.

It was about a bishop who was travelling with his retinue. Early one morning they hired a boat to take them across a lake, but before they got to their destination a storm got up and the boat was driven on to a lonely stretch of coast. While they were thanking God for saving them from great danger, the bishop saw a young boy coming towards them, driving his goats. The bishop and his staff could only look on in astonishment as the boy, his face shining with joy at being privileged to show such distinguished people how he prayed, jumped and jumped until he was out of breath.

But there is a better prayer than that. Would you like to learn it? Before leaving, the bishop blessed the young boy and told him to recite the prayer he had taught him every day. Pray as you like. The Lord has already heard your prayer. Well, even if it is not, whoever made it up understood that the essence of prayer is not in the form, the words or the physical attitude of the one praying but in the intensity of his or her inner life. The only thing that counts is you yourself, your own inner temple.

You can be praying in the most beautiful sanctuary in the world, but if your inner sanctuary is not pure God will not hear your prayer. If you purify and illuminate your inner sanctuary, on the other hand, no matter where you are your prayer will rise to the throne of God.

If you ask people what these words represent for them, most of them will just shrug their shoulders. Some will perhaps remember having heard talk of the three virtues in church when they were children, but all that seems so far away, it does not have much meaning for them any more. In actual fact, whoever they may be and whatever their degree of evolution or education, all human beings believe, hope and love. But if they are so often disappointed by their beliefs, hopes and loves, it is because they do not know where or in whom to place them.

In fact, they almost certainly do not know what it means to love God or to believe or hope in him. An example of these three virtues, faith hope and love, was given to us by Jesus in that episode in the Gospels in which the devil came to tempt him. I have already explained the underlying meaning of the three temptations,1 but there is still much more to be learned from them. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil.

He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. A careful study of the three suggestions the devil put before Jesus reveals that they concern the three planes of being: the physical, the astral feelings and desires , and the mental thought. Jesus was hungry and the devil suggested that he transform the desert stones into loaves of bread. Bread symbolizes food and, in a more general way, all that allows us to maintain our existence on the physical plane.

Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem, placed him on the highest point of the temple, and told him to throw himself down. And in order to convince him that he had nothing to fear, he even quoted Psalm He will command his angels concerning you, and on their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. The temple is the symbol of religion, that is, of the heart. And because the Father loves Jesus and Jesus loves his Father, the devil tried to convince him that, whatever he did, the son of God could always count on divine protection.

Finally, the devil took Jesus to the top of a high mountain and promised to give him all the kingdoms of the earth if he consented to bow down before him. The high mountain represents the head, the mental plane, the mind or intellect. But the intellect is the faculty that leads man to consider himself the lord of the world to the point where he defies God. It is that senseless pride that led some of the angels to defy God, and it is this that the devil hoped to awaken in Jesus.

It is very important to understand the meaning of the three temptations to which Jesus was exposed, because we too have to confront them in our everyday lives, and if we want to make progress in our inner life, we must begin by seeing all this very clearly. The importance of clear-sightedness becomes evident. Jesus had just been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan; he had not yet chosen his first disciples or begun to teach.

Those who want to put themselves at the service of God must begin by resolving the question of these three temptations. You will say that the Creator has given us a physical body, a heart and a mind, and that we must provide them with the nourishment they need. Yes, of course, this is indispensable. But there are different kinds of nourishment and different ways of procuring it. It is precisely here that we need faith, hope and love to guide us in our choice of food and of the means to obtain it, for hope relates to the physical body, faith to the astral body, and love to the intellect or mental body.

Bread, in the broadest sense of the word, is thus the symbol of whatever enables us to maintain our existence on the physical plane. And what is the fate of those who do not put their hope in God? They are fearful for their physical security and have only one idea in mind: to look after their business, pile up reserve stocks, increase their profits. Not only do they allow themselves to be completely absorbed by the most prosaic cares, but they are led to be unjust and dishonest toward others.