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Bernice Benjelloun

Presentation at BreadMatters I, Lublin, Poland


Bread as a Symbol of World Health and the Human Kingdom

Bread as a Symbol

Bread is a basic food common to all men, and on this basis is a universal symbol.

What is a symbol? - A representation of a complex idea which is encapsulated into a single image. This image can then be interpreted by those that come across it, see it and contemplate it. The interpretation has the potential of taking them into a whole realm of deeper thought.

Certain universal symbols carry a wide range of different ideas which have been added to them over vast expanses of time, and therefore they speak to us of the whole history of man's philosophy and thought. These symbols gain a "numinous" quality, and can be used as gateways through which we can enter and touch on a higher consciousness.

Impressions and energies from higher sources can be formed into symbols to expand the mind of man beyond the ordinary everyday life, and also beyond the intellect, so as to access the inner, higher intuitive side of the mind, in short, the Soul. Bread is such a symbol, one which encompasses both the idea of the ordinary earthly life, and the spiritual side of life.


Bread as a Symbol of the Earth

The sign or symbol for the planet Earth is a cross contained within a circle.

Bread is often baked in a circular shape, and sometimes marked with a cross, in the ritual of the Christian sacrament. This is a very ancient custom and predates Christianity by a long way. So we break the bread into four segments, and symbolically eat the Earth, our Mother. The four elements which make up the material of life on Earth are thus represented here: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. So we take the basic constituents of life into our beings and transform them into the energy of consciousness. What are we humans but transformers? Energy = Life = Spirit. Also the Human kingdom is the fourth kingdom in nature, and the fourth ray of life is "harmony through conflict"

Bread and the Human Kingdom

Bread is a complex man-made food of quite a sophisticated nature. Going back to prehistoric times bread could be said to be the first complex food that was made by mankind. Imagine the complex thought processes that prehistoric man would have had to learn to make bread. He moved from mere survival to intelligence in this process, an example of Active Intelligence at work.

So the evolution from hunter, to gatherer, to farmer takes place, and so mankind, separated from the animal kingdom, became self conscious beings. It is this dawning of the Human Kingdom that bread represents. And what did he make this food from? The most simple plant Mother Earth produced, the most plenteous, growing all over the Earth. Grass gave rise to all the cultivated grains which we have today. Humankind is united in the utilisation of this gift, and the making of bread takes place all over the world. No wonder that it was thought of as a part of a magic ritual, a special ceremonial task passed down through the generations. For it holds the ancient wisdom principle of unity.

There are many grains included in a loaf of bread and therefore it is a symbol of coming together, of sharing, and of the Brotherhood of Man.

Bread as a Symbol of Health

The Christian prayer says: "Our Father which art in Heaven, Give us this day our daily bread."

Here we ask God, as our parent, to give us all that a Father should give to his children, the opportunity and the right to live on this Earth, and be nourished.

Bread here symbolises the nourishment available to us in life, on all levels of our being, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It is manna from Heaven. We are given a chance to live here on Earth, to be part of it, and experience all it has to offer us.

We are part of the Solar System as well, and all the influences that come to us from the planets and constellations are part of this nourishment as well. If we can get the right kind of nourishment on all the different levels of our being, then our lives will be fulfilled and health will result.

We ask God for all this, but really we are asking ourselves to be wise enough to receive the riches that are here for us. The treasure and gift is the opportunity to EXPERIENCE life on earth, with all its ups and downs, its crises and joys, this is the true meaning of "Daily Bread".

We ask for a healthy body, a healthy mind, healthy family, healthy society, an a healthy world, but we need to work on achieving these ourselves, so there is a lot of work to do. The work involves opening and expanding our minds so we can receive willingly the lessons of everyday life, which nourish the Soul, and teach us to be better Human beings.

This is the true meaning of "Daily Bread".

Another way of wording this part of the prayer could be:

"We accept willingly the gift of daily life."

Bread and the Kingdom of Spirit

Bread is symbolic of the Earth, and this is the same as the body of Christ, that which dies and rises again, which is life or spirit itself. The true meaning of HUMAN: Hu = God, and Man = Manifest, or made with the hand of God.

God made manifest

In the Christ story he breaks bread with his brothers, and says "this is my body." In this act, he gives of himself to them, and shows us what a true human being he is. Sharing is about working in the group, and working together as one. This is the task that the Human Kingdom is working at but there is much struggle in the process. Harmony through conflict is the key.

In the story of the loaves and fishes, we have the story of life itself, the magic of multiplication which we are all involved in. It tells us too that there is enough in the world for all to be nourished on all levels. Bread represents the ordinary material of life in this story, and the fishes represent the spiritual life. Both are available to us in abundance, there is enough food for all, there is enough money for all (bread is often used as a nickname for money), if we can learn to share and give of ourselves to the greater group.

So the symbol of BREAD encompasses the story of Man - his past, his present, and his future. Lets bake our bread, break it with our hands, and offer it to our Brothers to symbolise our working together as one as we share this gift of life on Earth.

© Bernice Benjelloun - June 2000.


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