Who Were the Essenes?

The Modern Living Essene Way is a general path that resonates with the historical life and core truths of the ancient Essenes. It connects to the particular spiritual life of the prophetic, kabbalistic mystics of the desert, known as the Essenes. It is a complete path and lineage of liberation that goes back 5,000 to 6,000 years, probably to the time of Adam, and more specifically was activated by Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam.

The teachings and way of life of the Essenes were most accurately described by Flavius Josephus, the Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, and Philo, the Alexandrian philosopher. Others in this 300-year period refer to them, including Epiphanius, Eusebius, Hippolytus, Porphry, Strabo, and Chaeremon. Their information is supported by a number of modern historians such as Robert Eisenman, author of many books about these times including The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (he was the one who forced the Dead Sea Scrolls to be released publicly and is professor of Middle East Religions and Archeology and Director of Judeo-Christian Origins at California State University) and Dr. Edmund Szekeley, who activated the Modern Essene Movement in the 1920s with his book The Essene Gospel of Peace. There seems to be a general agreement among these historians on the uniqueness of the Essenes and the basic information about them. Dr. Szekely summarizes: “Among all the beautiful teachings known to man, none has had a more profound influence for good than that of the Essenes.”

The Essene history documented by these historians covers approximately a 300-year span, from 186 BC to the destruction of the Great Temple and Qumran in 70 AD and the final Roman defeat of the Jewish people, including the remainder of the Essenes known as Zealots (those who would prefer to die rather than lose their sovereignty and be forced to live as slaves and prostitutes, denied their right to live in their spiritual ways by the Romans) at Masada three years later. This makes the point that there was a spectrum of Essenes. Some were married and others celibate; the typical Essene was a mystic of the desert, but others were called Zealots for their political translation of the scriptures into political action. Almost all were vegetarian, but some modern historians suggest that not all were. Some modern French archeologists have even hypothesized that Qumran was a spa at the Dead Sea. It is difficult to conclusively prove what actually was true 2,200 years ago, but the overwhelming evidence documented by ancient and modern historians supports these basic following statements. Some of the great Essenes leaders known in the Christian world include Jesus, James the Just, John the Baptist, and John the Divine.

Josephus, after a three-year apprenticeship with them, described their teachings:

The doctrine of the Essenes tends to teach all men that they confidently may trust their fate in the hands of God, and nothing happens without his will.

They say that the soul is immortal, and they aspire to lead a righteous and honest life.

They are the most honest people in the world, and always as good as their word.

They are very industrious and enterprising, and show great skill and concern in agriculture.

But most of all are those venerated, esteemed and admired who live in the wilderness.

On account of the sense of justice that they ever show and the courage and intrepidity that they manifest in ever defending truth and innocence, they never keep servants. They do not think it is right that one should be the slave or servant of the other, as well as all men are brethren and God is their Father.

They also perform the service of priest and provide for all the wants, such as food and clothing.

They all live the same simple, industrious, and frugal life.

The third class of philosophers among the Jews, and the class that is most esteemed for their just and moral life, is that of the Essenes.

They do not live in any particular town, but in every town the Order has its respective house . . . in every town is an Elder.

The Essenes’ worship of God is grand, sacred, and majestic.

They eat and drink only what is necessary for their wants.

In general do they not act without the knowledge and consent of their elders. . . . But it is always left to their own free will to exercise benevolence and compassion to all in want, of all classes of society . . . to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless . . . to comfort the sick, and visit, assist, and comfort the prisoner . . . to comfort, aid, and protect the widows and fatherless.

They study with perseverance and interest ancient writings . . . they have profound knowledge of the art of healing, and study it arduously . . . they examine and are acquainted with the medicinal herbs and plants; which they prepare as medicine for man and beasts.

Robert Eisenman repeatedly points out they were coldwater bathers on a daily basis, wearers of only linen, and in general were purists in their life habits.

According to Philo and other authors of that time they were vegetarians (also confirmed by modern historians such as Eisenman) and took no drink other than rainwater or the juice of fruits. It is said that their diet was fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.

Others suggest they enjoyed music, dance, and other forms of movement and exercise. The Essenes were not seen as just philosophers, but were considered people of intense moral and physical action reflecting their intense beliefs.

In accordance with their lifestyle, outside of healing, they were collectively involved primarily in different forms of agriculture. As an extension of this, they discouraged living in cities. The Essenes were located all over the Middle East including the areas known today as Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. They seemed to be most concentrated around Mount Carmel, Qumran, and Lake Mareotis near Alexandria, Egypt, where they were called the Therapeutae.

They are instructed in goodly books and the writings of the prophets and grow in wisdom and purity of heart.

Many of the Essenes have often stepped forth among the people as prophets . . . their presages often came true, and this increased their esteem with the people as holy men and prophets.

Rightly do they deserve to be called an example for the life of other people.

Indeed, they are the champions of faith, truth and honesty . . . as the servants and arbitrators of peace.

With this historical understanding, the Essene Way is a potential bridge of spiritual unification, particularly for brothers and sisters of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian background who have a common father in Avraham. This bridge is sorely needed if we are to jointly create the preconditions of readiness for the Messianic Age. The preconditions are to wake up to the perennial truth of all paths: the Divine Presence is the essence of who we are. When we are in this consciousness, known as
deveikut in the Living Essene Way, our essence is the truth of all religions. From that truth our natural state spontaneously emanates that noncausal love, peace, contentment, and joy we all seek.

The Modern Living Essene Way is not an attempt to go back to or mimic what we think the ancient Essenes were and did, but it is energetically aligned with these primordial energies. The Essene consciousness of deveikut, cleaving to God (Yah), implies constant communion with the Divine as an intense, overwhelming consciousness of the Ein Sof, or Divine Nothing—unmanifest as the sole reality. It is a comprehensive principle that relates to all that we are and do in this manifest world. It includes experiencing the Divine Presence in oneself and in all life. All life includes the four shamanic Essene kabbalistic categories of the living planet: domem, or rock people; tsme’ach, or sprouting people (plants or trees); chayah, or animated ones (animals, insects); and m’daber, or speaking ones (humans).

The Essene consciousness is that of the Awakened Ones. They are the ones who live in the Eternal Presence beyond the confines of the identification with the mind and body. Oral tradition says that Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, who “walked with Yah and became whole,” was the first Essene. Oral and written tradition also teaches that Enoch was taken up alive. Enoch then “walked with God and was no more” as he ascended as a fully God-merged being, and became Metatron, the chief archangel. Scriptures say that Noach also “walked with Yah and was whole.” Noach’s son, Shem, also known as Melchizadek, received the lineage from Noach and passed on the lineage to Avraham, who “walked before Yah and was whole.” By walking before God, Avraham became a living blessing to the world. All those in the lineage of Avraham are considered of the Order of Melchizadek—melchi (king) or tzadik (holy person).

Certain oral tradition suggests the Sufis and the Essenes, who both suggest their mystical tradition of liberation goes back to Adam, may indeed have been one and the same mystic group at one time. The Essenes, in their most evolved inner spiritual circle, became the plant-based-only live-food Jewish mystical expression. The Sufis became the Islamic mystical expression, both knowing their essential oneness. Another essential link is that Ishmael and Yitzchak were the children of Avraham. This became more significant when Ishmael and Yitzchak came to peace at the time of Avraham’s death; after Sarah’s death, Haggar, Ishmael’s mother, remarried Avraham after she changed her name and consciousness to Keturah. Their healing represents the potential and model of healing between the Jewish-Christian and the Islamic worlds. After the teachings of the lineage were transferred by Melchizadek (the son of Noach called Shem) to Avraham, they were then transferred to Yitzchak, to Yaakov, and to Yosef, and then reemerged with Moshe’s (Moses’) teachings of the first set of tablets brought down from Mount Sinai. In the Essene lore, according to scholar and Essene translator Dr. Edmond Bordeaux Szekely and kabbalistic oral tradition, these esoteric teachings, brought down by Moses, were given to those who were spiritually ready. But many of the people were not ready for these esoteric teachings of the tradition. The second set of tablets, containing what we call the Ten Commandments (Speakings), comprised the exoteric teachings given to guide the vast majority, who, in their spiritual immaturity, had created the golden calf. Until now, even the relatively concrete teachings of the magnificently simple and profound Ten Commandments have been too difficult for most of the world to follow.

The Essenes taught a way of being whole and peaceful that included following the laws of the Torah, but took one beyond rote performing of the laws. Their teachings were not meant to replace the Ten Commandments, but rather to offer a way to transform oneself into the living law of the Ten Commandments as the Ten Speakings. The teaching and lineage were given to King David, King Solomon, Samuel the Prophet, and to the prophets Elijah, Elisa, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. Many of these prophets lived on the Mount Carmel mountain range and guided the people who gathered around them, creating a subtle beginning of Essene communities as far back as 600 BC. The initiatory prophetic mantra, according to the kabbalistic literature, was and still is YHWH. Although Gabriel did not have this information at the time when the Divine directly initiated him into the consciousness of the Tetragrammaton, he now understands that this mantra of the prophets became enlivened or awakened in him so that he might share it with others as an expression of the Essene lineage. It is likely that the esoteric Essene teachings were carried through the prophets on Mount Carmel and finally through the secret societies of the Essenes, who lived in communities three to six centuries BC around Mount Carmel, at Lake Mareotis in Egypt, and around the Dead Sea starting around 186 BC. The Essenes sent forth teachers from their own communities to share these teachings with all nations, including Menachem the Essene in 20 BC, John the Baptist, and John the Beloved, as well as Jesus, who is said to have been raised and educated in the Essene communities. Although it is difficult to absolutely prove that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Essenes, there is substantial oral and some written history that supports this. The subtle essence of the Essene teachings can be found in the beautiful Seven Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Based on this information, and a document claimed to be found in the Vatican, the Romanian Jew, naturopath, scholar, and Renaissance man Dr. Szekely poetically translated the Essene Gospel of Peace in 1929. The power of his poetic and archetypical understanding launched the Modern Essene Way and inspired Gabriel. Through a 1995 revelation for the healing of self and the world, Gabriel was further inspired.

As the Essene tradition evolved, it touched many cultures. For example, in the sixth century BC, according to oral history of Pythagoras and oral Jewish history, he studied with the Essenes on Mount Carmel and came down both enlightened and as a proponent of live foods. The next mention of the Essenes is their evolvement from the Pious Ones. The Essene movement evolved from them into the Qumran community by the Dead Sea in 186 BCE. The Essenes were more complex and diversified than that portrayed in the Qumran community texts or by the Jewish historian, Josephus. Parallel to Qumran were the Mount Carmel Essenes and their communities, such as Nazareth in the foothills of Mount Carmel. This is where Joseph and Mary brought forth Jesus, or Yehoshua, who attained and taught the enlightened awareness of the Essenes. John the Baptist, also an Essene, was said to be the cousin of Jesus. The brother of Jesus, James, was Jesus’ appointed successor, and he maintained the teachings of Jesus, including the teaching of good works and grace as foundations on the path. James also ran the Jerusalem church. All these spiritual luminaries were Essenes. This connection is the obvious meeting place between the Jewish and Christian worlds. Jesus taught the enlightened Torah and Talmudic prophetic ways of the Essenes as a Jew.

The Modern Living Essene Way represents the authentic historical teaching and practices of Jesus as it comes from his spiritual and historical context as an enlightened Essene, who many of the Essenes felt was the messiah of that generation. The teachings were that the messiah comes in every generation. Before Jesus was Menachem the Essene in 20 BC, who was also killed by the Romans. In 70 AD the Essenes dispersed, because of the Romans and the destruction of the second temple. The final mention of the Essenes was their valiant stand against the Romans in 73 CE at Masada (near the Dead Sea), where they chose “never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than God . . . and where they believed life without sovereignty was not worth living,” according to Flavius Josephus. Except for a brief historical mention of Constantine—the Essene from Africa as a teacher in the Italian School of Medicine at Salerno, who taught Father Benedict, who saved Luigi Coronado’s life by teaching him moderate eating—the Essenes were forgotten to history.

No one knows exactly what happened to the Essenes. In 69 AD, fore- warned of the advancing Roman legions, they hid many of their manuscripts and sacred texts and seemed to disappear. Oral tradition suggests that they brought their teachings in small groups to the far corners of the earth. Some of them were said to have become Gnostics. Their knowledge has only resurfaced in this century through the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 at Qumran and a few manuscripts that had been preserved in monasteries. Some of these Essene manuscripts and fragments were actually found as early as 1897 by Rabbi Solomon Schachter at the Giza Temple in Cairo, where the author has visited. Some were also found in 1927 in the archives of the Vatican, at the castle of the Hapsburgs in Vienna, and in the British Museum by Dr. Szekely, who translated them into English. Many have called Dr. Szekely the first modern Essene. Through his wise understanding and efforts, the Essene teachings have again spread around the world. In 1929, before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, Dr. Szekely reactivated the Essene energetic archetype with the Essene Gospel of Peace, Book 1. It is from this inspirational work that the Living Essene Way has blossomed. It is as relevant today as in ancient times. The essential Essene message of deveikut (God-merging), or “Walk before Yah and be whole,” is an eternal spiritual message. To “walk before” means to be a blessing of God on this planet. Wake up and stay awake is the message and the blessing.

No historian can actually give us more than general information about what the different ancient Essene groups did on a day-to-day basis, but we do have significant knowledge of their historical and spiritual context (as described earlier), from which we can understand their fundamental spiritual path.

The general spiritual understandings given to Gabriel in a 1995 revelation were most likely followed by all of the Essenes regardless of their subgroup belief systems. To call oneself an Essene requires that one is aligned with the core-essence lineage of the Essene Way as it has been lived from the beginning of time, yet make it appropriate to our twenty-first- century lives. The Modern Living Essene Way revelation is about inspiration; it is not about judgment or living exactly as we imagined they lived in the past. It is about inspiring ourselves and others to live in the highest degree of peace and harmony with ourselves, others, animal and plant life, the planetary ecology, and the will of God in the twenty-first century.

Gabriel uses the phrase “Modern Living Essene Way” because our social-spiritual context and direction in these modern times is not identical to that of 3,000 or more years ago. Trying to adopt the rituals and lifestyle of those times is open to wide interpretation and potential self- righteous cultism. In the thirteenth century, the great Torah scholar, Nachmanides, in his introduction to the Sefer HaMizvot L’Ha Rambam (Book of the Commandments of Maimonides), spoke to this issue:

I will not be for them [spiritual predecessors] like a donkey, eternally hauling their books. I will explain their teachings and study their ways, but when my vision does not complement theirs, I will decide according to what my own eyes are seeing and with legal certainty. For God grants wisdom in every generation and every period and will not deny goodness to those who are sincere.

The next evolutionary step in the unfolding of the Essene Way for the author came during July 1995, when the author did a twenty-one-day water fast. On the twenty-first day, over a period of six to twelve hours while meditating and praying in the temple at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, he had a vision of the letters of the name of God, the Tetragrammaton in the form of Yod Hey Wah Hey, YHWH (That Which Was, Is, and Will Forever Be). The vision turned to flaming letters and burned themselves into his brain, third eye area, heart, and into every cell. They fully permeated every aspect of Gabriel’s consciousness. YHWH is the vibration of the eternal, compassionate Divine Presence as it begins to manifest out of the Ein Sof (infinite-unmanifest). It was after this that the author began to speak in the third person to express the enlightened Essene teaching that we are not the body-mind-I Am complex, but that which is prior to the body-mind-I Am complex. This third-person expression and teaching of consciousness has also been used by such great Hasidic rabbis as Rebbe Zusha of Annopol, a third-generation Hasid in the lineage of the Magid of Mezeritch from the Ba’al Shem Tov, and by Rebbe Meir Premishlaner, another mystical and famous Hasidic teacher who was in the inner circle of ten of the students of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the enlightened founder of the Hasidic movement.

Over a continuous period of about six hours, while Gabriel meditated, he disappeared into the supernal light of the unmanifest and reemerged back into the flaming letters. Then the flaming letters of God’s name began to symbolically talk to Gabriel. The four letters of the name gave different pieces of wisdom. It was not like channeling. The letters communicated directly into Gabriel’s consciousness and what transpired was beyond the actual message. It was a total cosmic initiation and empowerment into the mysteries of the Tetragrammaton and the Essene kabbalistic Jewish lineage. It became, and is, part of Gabriel’s soul essence in a way that cannot be explained, but can be transmuted energetically by touch, countenance, sound, or breath.

A portion of this divine communication has become a general template for the Modern Living Essene Way. The teaching is a modern expression of the historical Essenes, the shamanic, Jewish, kabbalistic, mystical prophets of the desert. The meaning and relevance of the Tetragrammaton that permeated the author’s consciousness in the temple at the Tree of Life in 1995—in light of Gregg Braden’s book, The God Code (2003)— takes on a more general message for creating world peace. The God Code articulates specifically how God’s name (YHWH) reverberates in the DNA of all life. This teaching is also mentioned in J. J. Hurtak’s earlier work, The Keys of Enoch: “The Name of YHWH is coded within every biochemical function in our body, especially within the life-giving DNA-RNA matrix.” According to Hurtak:
Every letter or combination of the divine code (YHWH) helps each individual to reprogram his or her own DNA through quantum coherence. Human consciousness infused into the golden ratios of DNA, microtubules, and clathrin molecules located as jewel-like geometries at the tips of microtubules, awakens and tunes the human body as a vibratory antenna, a virtual Tree of Life on a micro and macro scale!

This name of God is the activated energetic mantra in which Gabriel was initiated. As stated in Exodus(Shemot)20:24,“…in all places where I cause my name to be pronounced, I will come to thee and I will bless thee.” In other words, YHWH is the name of God placed in our minds and, thus, on our foreheads and in our hearts to draw grace. Further research strongly suggests it was also a mantra for meditation revealed to Moses, used by the prophets during their initiations to their students, and also most likely used by Jesus for his disciples. In this context, it is a unifying name of God reverberating in all creation as the name of God encoded in our human DNA, in the DNA of all living creatures and planet life, and in our hearts and minds.
The (Yod Hey) represents the balance of the inner female and male and the (Wah Hey) represents the balance of the outer male and female. In this context, it is a mantra of liberation of this lineage at least four thou- sand years old. This holy mantra (hagiya) can be used with the breath (Yod on the in-breath, and Hey on the out-breath):

Yod into the Heart, and Hey out through the heart. Wah from the perineum area up to the third eye, Hey out through the heart.

This breath mantra is excellent for meditating and for maintaining a peace, love, and compassion awareness throughout the day.

In 1996, the following four principles of the Living Essene Way were recognized, acknowledged, and approved by all the main Essene groups in the U.S. at the Breitenbush Essene Conference. The four basic Essene principles are:

I.    Sh’ma Israel Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad — God is One and many.

II.  Teshuva—to return to God by changing one’s ways to the ways of God; to know the self and live the way of God.

III. Tikkun ha-Olam—to actively participate in the healing and trans- formation of the world.

IV. Shalom—the peace on seven levels, leading to ultimate peace of self-realization; peace that comes when we have integrated and unified our inner and outer worlds, balanced the inner and outer male and female (equality and respect between sexes), and created harmony between heaven and earth.


From Rabbi Cousens’ book Creating Peace by Being Peace, titled “Who Were the Essenes?” :

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