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    It is interesting to learn something about the Essenes, their culture, beliefs, and early history.  Their thought system was before the earliest Christian church, but gave rise to it.
     Some may be surprised to know that Jesus was not a Christian, but he, his brother James and his mother Mary as well as John the Baptist and other notable mystics of the time were all members of the Essene culture.
     Their thinking was well in advance of the Roman and pagan cultures surrounding them.  Often referred to as “The Sect of the Scrolls,” they were responsible for writing down their laws, beliefs and history which have recently been uncovered in caves in the cliffs surrounding The Dead Sea between their cities of Qumran in the north and Masada in the south, bordering the Judean Desert.  They developed
    which were:-
    1. Their distinctive clothing was a single white garment gathered about the body with the end sometimes over one arm.
    2. Their economy was communal, possibly the first truly socialistic society.  They practiced its openness and non-possessiveness and shared each other’s abundance and accommodation.
    3. Their religious leaders, or priesthood, practiced celibacy.  They were messianic by structure.  After Moses’ teaching they looked forward to the coming of a Prophet, a “Teacher of Righteousness” who would dwell among them and instruct them in the truth of the way to eternal life.  They believed that through him the word of God would be made plain to all who were ready to receive it.  They built houses of meditation, prayer, and study.  They developed a hierarchy of priests and scribes for these purposes.  They built watchtower to be ever vigilant for the arrival of “The One.”  They became gifted prophets and astrologers as they studied the heavens for signs and portends.
    4. They opposed slavery, which was common in that part of the world at that time.
    5. They were the only religious sect in their country and the entire Roman world who opposed the custom of animal sacrifice.  This was of paramount importance to them and later was to play such a pivotal role in Jesus’ life and teachings.
    6. They opposed the slaughter of animals for food and hence were vegetarian.
    7. They were the only people of Palestine and the outside Roman world who were opposed to war, the soldiers calling, and violence.
    From these beliefs, it is easy to see how the eventual conflict had to be with the Romans.
     After Jerusalem fell to the armed might of the Romans in 37 B.C., Herod was made king of the Jews.  Cruel Herod plundered the temples, and killed the priests and his enemies without mercy.  Hatred built up against his tyranny and the Jews were ready for a savior.
     With the birth of Jesus in 4 B.C., his life until his crucifixion in 29 A.D., most of his life and teachings were witness to astrological occurrences as well as persecution by Herod the Great and the invading Roman armies.  Toward the end of this period the Essene fortress at Qumran was decimated and the Dead Sea Scrolls secreted in their caves, not to be discovered for 2000 years.
     It is interesting to consider the story of Jesus casting out the moneychangers at the temple.  The moneychangers were not there as early bankers or loan sharks, but were there as a convenience for those worshippers wanting to buy animals for sacrifice.  It was not the money aspect that Jesus objected to, but the intention to kill and sacrifice the animals in accordance with the sixth Devout Practice of the Essenes.  As animal sacrifice was so important to the Romans, Jesus knew his action would be one of the greatest slights against Rome; one they could not ignore and would set the stage for his eventual conflict with them and his crucifixion.  He knew what he was doing.  All the events of his life had been planned long before and were unfolding as directed.
     The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes make interesting reading and study and make more clear to us the life of those times which were to give rise to the early Christian community with its beliefs, rituals, dogmas, and history.  In it later would be found the love that Jesus attempted to live and teach, “Love one another,” as well as the fear of its early leaders as they developed their own rules to try to compensate for their own shortcomings.
     One informative book available on this material is, “The Prophet of the Dead Sea Scrolls” by Upton C. Ewing and available from Tree of Life Publications, P.O. Box 126, Joshua Tree, California, USA, 92252-0126, phone 760-366-3695.


     Basically, meditation is listening.  What we are really listening TO when we meditate is the Higher Power within us.  It does not come from outside us or from another person.
     Sometimes it is helpful to make use of quiet music or peaceful surroundings to help us set the mood for ourself.  But once having reached that “quiet place” in our mind, we must let go of even those preparatory inducements and be very, very quiet.  It is only in the quiet we will hear our Guidance.
     Meditation need not be lengthy; from 5 to 20 minutes is often best.  Anytime the mind can be stilled, even a minute or less will be sufficient to “get in touch.”  As with most processes, it is a practice and takes practice to achieve.  Initially our mind will be “noisy” with a jumble of thoughts passing through.  Give them no heed.  It is simply the ego mind not wanting us to get in touch with our Higher Self.  Ego doesn’t care if we busy ourself with pleasure, sadness, or thought, as long as we DON’T GET STILL!
     So we must be firm with ourself, but also patient.  Let the ego thoughts run out one-by-one until quiet is experienced.  It is a learned process so like anything else, we don’t get good at it until we practice.
     We must remember that the Love of God flows to us constantly.  The way we hear it is whatever way we can accept it.  Therefore, our Guidance will use whatever means will get our attention.  It appears sometimes as an inspiration, a thought, a word, or a “suggestion.”  It usually appears as a thought or idea, which we recognize is “outside” our normal thinking.  We may say, “Now where did that come from,” as we “hear” the new idea.
     In any case, I invariably get as quiet as possible in a comfortable sitting position.  I try to let my ego thoughts go.  The last conscious thought I will have is to ask a simple question for what I need to know.  Then I just let it all go and be very still.  I am now in meditation, just listening with my sub-conscious mind.  After some period of quiet as I come back from my meditation, I pass through a space of lucid dreaming, a twilight zone where I am neither in meditation nor conscious.  If I am to receive an answer, it is then it will come.  It may be one or two words, never many, an idea or a thought.  I recognize it as being from outside myself and it will be the perfect answer to my question, although I may not understand it fully at the time.  As I dwell on the answer over time it becomes clear, and I make a commitment to follow the advice.  Sometimes these advices in meditation will be additive, as I require them, to make a  complete or more detailed instruction.
     We all have an inner Guide.  It was provided to us in our creation.  We did not make it.  So It is there for us to access just as soon as we have the desire and make the commitment.  Of this you may be assured!
     We should address our Guidance and ask It everything.  Nothing is too large or too small.  We can give our Guidance whatever name we like, It does not mind.  Some call It God, or Jesus, or Holy Spirit, or White Father, or The Power, or any other symbol of ultimate authority we choose.
     So this Guidance, this Inner Voice will direct us when we are WILLING to give It the chance.  It is most often beseeched in times of crisis, stress, or need.  But It need not be.  It is there all the time and nothing is too small or insignificant for a serious reply.
     The three essential steps in hearing are:-
    1. Recognize we can’t solve it ourself.
    2. Know that Guidance is within us, waiting to be asked.
    3. Train ourself to do the asking and listening.
    To begin, we have to let any judgment go, know that whatever the problem is, we have “asked” for it, that we really can’t “fix” it ourself, and be willing to be still, listen and then follow the advice.
     Remember, “I need do nothing.”  This does not mean we will not do anything, but that we will not be the one deciding.  The letting go is very difficult for us and often found to be personally insulting to our ego mind.  But we are not our ego; we are something much, much more.  And that part of us, our spirit, is constantly in touch with our Guidance.  Our ego speaks first, and loudest.  Our Guidance is very sure and secure so does not have to be noisy and insistent.  It’s Voice is very quiet and calm, so must be listened for very carefully.  Also, Guidance often “speaks” in code or at a time we do not expect, so we must always remain aware, vigilant and open.  So our choice is always to listen to two voices, ego or spirit; two guides, ego or spirit.  Too often we listen to ego and end up in a mess.  But don’t despair, it’s supposed to be that way as there are many lessons for us to be aware of as we selectively learn our way back to Spirit.  As we look about us, it is fairly easy to see who is listening to spirit, and who to ego.  We must not put a judgment on others, however, as they are all doing what they need to do to learn the lesson assigned to them.  It is inappropriate for us to interfere, but MOST appropriate to send all the love we can in any situation.  Send only love, for that is what you are.
     As we practice our meditation, our inner listening, it becomes easier to access each time we enter into it.  The resistance from our ego lessons and the awareness of our spirit strengthens.
     Some steps in the process may be summarized as:-
    1. Be still.  Quiet the raucous shrieking of your ego and make a quiet place for your Guidance to answer.
    2. Let go of all judgments of what anything is, or what it is for.  You don’t know.
    3. Know in perfect surety you will be answered.
    4. Willingness to hear is all that is required.  Guidance may answer in many forms, so always be aware.
    5. Accept the answer when it comes.  You may not understand or agree with it – but do it anyway.  How you know which voice you heard will be proven by whether you remain in perfect peace or not.  Ego can sometimes give a temporary happiness, but it will not last.
    6. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying.  It simply means you are still retaining a portion of ego, which sets up a block to “hearing” Spirit’s message, which is being sent to you.
    7. It all requires the willingness of practice, patience, and peacefulness. It IS a process and must be given the time and openness each one needs.
    8. You must always be willing to accept the changes indicated.  This manifests as a willingness to give up judgment of everything you ever thought you knew and being open to seeing the new purpose.
    9. These are the lessons, and this is the journey.  You ARE on the way back Home.  It has already been decided by your Creator, and so you are perfectly assured of reaching the Destination chosen before time was.


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