Mikhaël gave his first talk five months after arriving in Paris in 1937. Following its success, he continued to give weekly talks in a rented hall. Before long, his audience grew in numbers until they overflowed onto the podium, and a more spacious meeting place had to be found.
His talks were spontaneous, addressing the questions in the minds of his audience
Rather than composing a lecture in advance, he prepared himself by spending some time in meditation. On entering the hall, he greeted his audience, his right hand raised in the salutation that had become customary in the Bulgarian brotherhood. The gesture had real significance for him. He saw the salute as an instrument, a means by which to communicate energy, colours, and life-giving vibrations.
He often said: ‘When you salute each other, the gesture should be a true communion; it should be powerful, harmonious, and alive.’ After the salutation, he remained in silence for a few moments, sensing the state of mind of his audience. And when he spoke, whatever his theme, he always seemed to address the problems of each one and to offer the lucid, practical solutions they needed.
Talks interspersed with humour, anecdotes and laughter
A period of meditation invariably followed his talk, but the pattern of the gatherings never became routine; they were full of life, exuberance and surprise, for Brother Mikhaël maintained that routine ‘leads to sluggishness and death’. To relax his audience or stimulate their attention, he frequently interspersed his talks with jokes and anecdotes, and his laughter was contagious.
The depth behind his everyday language
In contrast to so many fashionable speakers, Mikhaël always spoke simply, using ordinary, everyday expressions, illuminating the meaning of life in a unique way, and suggesting practical methods of self-transformation that anyone might use. His unpretentious imagery evoked an immediate response in many of his listeners, but the everyday language he used in speaking about elevated subjects often disconcerted those who were more intellectually sophisticated. A few were offended when he remarked that ‘even a child could understand’ what he was saying, but those that persevered gradually discovered the depth and complexity of the ideas that lay behind his words.
His readiness to explain
Once his talk was over, so many people crowded around him that it was sometimes an hour before he could reach the car waiting to take him home. But even after a long and tiring evening, he never tried to avoid them: on the contrary, he answered all their questions patiently.
His intelligence was too vast to be contained, limited and subject to concepts which belonged partially to one particular period and which inevitably bore the mark of one particular mind. Instinctively, through meditation and contemplation, he drew upon the true source of all knowledge.