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 blows, 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, having lived in conformity with divine law, having overcome temptation and conquered evil, received a garment as a reward. Sometimes the garment was white, sometimes colored, but it was always described as a magnificent robe of precious cloth. As I have already explained, this robe symbolizes the aura. The aura is our true garment. 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 the only 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, a human being is never entirely naked, for we are clothed not only in the physical body, but also in our subtler bodies. 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.
This question of a garment is very interesting. 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, color, and scent, so as to learn about the nature of the beings who 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.
As I have said, clothes serve to conceal the beings that wear them, but they also provide a clue as to the nature of those beings. 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 he even opens his mouth, the audience has some idea of the kind of character he is portraying.
Shapes and colors 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 is obliged 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 color 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 one could spend a lifetime exploring it.
Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
Le Bonfin, 19 August, 1971
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