“I have reached the inner vision and through thy spirit in me I have heard thy wondrous secret; through thy mystic insight thou has caused a spring of knowledge to well up within me; a fountain of power pouring forth living waters…” From the Essene Book of Hymns (Dead Sea Scrolls)
Picture this: Vegetarians who wear all white and believe that thoughts are energy, who rise before sunrise each day to bathe in cold water, to pray, and to meditate. Is this a Kundalini yoga class? Ancient Egypt? India?
No! This is Israel, 2000 years ago. These peace-loving people were members of an esoteric Jewish sect known as the Essenes.
The Essenes are believed to have originated during the time of Enoch (the 7th generation after Adam according to the Old Testament) but experienced a rebirth under Moses. Many of their teachings were quite similar to those of the Egyptian mystery schools, leading some scholars to suspect that there may have been some cross pollination between Moses and the mystic Pharaoh, Akhenaten.
Although the Essenes are mentioned in history by first century scholars, the Dead Sea scrolls are the main source of knowledge about them. Discovered in caves not far from Avayasana, the Dead Sea scrolls consist of 981 different texts that provide an astonishing record of life in one Essene community known as Qumran.
The Essenes appear to have been quite careful with their diet, eating only vegetarian foods that were believed to help them stay in harmony with nature and natural law. But they were even more careful with the diet of their minds. For the Essenes, thoughts were energy and each thought affected the lives of everyone on the planet through vibrations sent into the collective consciousness. Controlling the mind (or yoking it, as a good yogi might say) was a spiritual imperative. Like the Native American myth of Good Wolf/Bad Wolf, the Essenes taught that humans must learn to choose which thoughts to feed, and which ones to starve.
In Essene communities, each day began with prayer and meditation to set the focus for the day, and ended with the same, to clear and prepare the mind for sleep. These group communions were dedicated to a different focus each day. In 1991, author Danaan Perry wrote The Essene Book of Meditations and Blessings, based on a translation of these practices. Here is the morning mediation for Thursdays (during the fall season), which just happens to be today!
As I enter the sacred temple of inner knowing,
I purify my being
To prepare myself for the initiation
That I have longed to find.
I cleanse my mind and heart
As I strip away
Whatever stands between
My spirit and the source of All.
I make myself ready.
And I wait.
And it will come to me.
Enjoy your meditation time today (and use it to feed the good wolf!)