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Firstly, In Ancient Egypt the Temples did serve the initiates but also the masses. Unlike western churches, temple and mosques the Ancient Egyptian temple interiors were reserved for those of higher erudition and achievement while the priests and priestesses came out to serve the masses with public ritual but also with healing places (hospitals) and courts and other facilities to help secular life build to the non-secular.
Lower knowledge is the knowledge of time and space and is considered the lower mysteries. So everything people do to learn a trade or a career today and studies about the nature of physical Creation is lower mysteries. What the priests and priestesses were doing in the temple was higher mysteries, the mysteries of learning and discovering the nature of the universe beyond time and space, which includes discovering one’s higher self, immortality and the nature of the Divine Self. Hence the knowledge of the lower self and the higher. Ones lower self is already known as it is plain to see and connected to the physical reality that is Creation. However, the problem with ordinary human life is that the higher self has been lost in the intensity of worldly involvements. The Temple serves as a institution to attain a balance (Maat) wherein both areas of experience are fulfilled instead of just the lower.
Yoga or Sema are the disciplines to attain a unity, a balance of the lower and higher self. Meditation is one of the disciplines of yoga or sema. Prayer is one of the disciplines of yoga but it is not practiced in the same way as the western conception. More will be elucidated on these as you continue your studies.