The Essenes: An Ancient Permaculture People

Who were the Essenes?

From the remote ages of antiquity, remarkable teaching has existed which is universal in its application and ageless in its wisdom.  Traces of the teaching have appeared in almost every country and religion as far back as ten thousand years.

The Sevenfold Path of Peace, derived from the ancient Essene teachings, offers a strong foundation in essential lifestyle philosophies and practices in the art of conscious living.  A consciousness based on the core vision of the unity of all life and a passionate commitment to the noblest aspirations of humankind this lifestyle model supports and empowers the individual in a balanced, happy life in accordance with the laws of Nature.

The teaching appears in the Zend Avesta of Zoroaster, who translated it into a way of life that was followed for thousands of years. It contains the fundamental concepts of Brahmanism, the Vedas and the Upanishads; and the Yoga systems of India sprang from the same source. Buddha later gave forth essentially the same basic ideas and his sacred Bodhi tree is correlated with the Essene Tree of Life. In Tibet, the teaching once more found expression in the Tibetan Wheel of Life.

The Essenes lived on the shores of lakes and rivers, away from cities and towns, and practiced a communal way of life, sharing equally in everything. They were mainly agriculturists and arboriculturists, having a vast knowledge of crops, soil and climatic conditions which enabled them to grow a great variety of fruits and vegetables in comparatively desert areas and with a minimum of labour.

They had no servants or slaves and were said to have been the first people to condemn slavery both in theory and practice. There were no rich and no poor amongst them, both conditions being considered by them as deviations from the Law. They established their own economic system, based wholly on the Law, and showed that all man’s food and material needs can be attained without a struggle, through knowledge of the Law.

They were great scholars who studied man’s relation to the universe. They considered that we had three roles: one of individual evolution; second, a function in regard to the planet on which we live; and the third, a divine purpose as a unit of the evolving and expanding universe. All three of these acting bodies are related to each other and affect each other. Bodily health and well-being are consequently of the utmost importance both to the individual and to all other beings on Earth. The Essenes were taught how to adapt to the rhythms and cycles of nature and the changing fields of energy that surround each person.

Through study and keen observation, they mastered the art of knowing how the elemental forces of wind, sun, rain, and nutrients in the soil affect different foods and how these foods will affect the individual – body, mind and emotions. They did daily morning and evening practices using the Elements to purify their bodies such as cold water baths and exposing the skin each day to the rays of the sun. Much of what they learned was through experience by being in their organic herb and vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.

The word Essene means healer or ‘therapeutie’, which they were well known for; they healed many people. They knew that disease is created when one deviates from the law of nature. By living in harmony with the Elemental forces and the cycles of nature, health and happiness return. Weekly, monthly and quarterly fasting and cleansing practices were used to regenerate and rejuvenate the body, and to develop the will to increase and move the energy to a higher spiritual level. They sent out healers and teachers from the brotherhoods, amongst whom were Elijah, John the Baptist, John the Beloved and the great Essene Master, Jesus.

The Essenes are described as charitable, devout, totally honest, and trustworthy. They based their decisions on majority consent, pooled their wealth and possessions together, made no wars, were peace-loving and were frugal. The results of this approach to life were extraordinary. In contrast to the short lifespan of the surrounding peoples, historians of the time have recorded that it was common for the Essenes to live to an average age of 120. They walked gently upon the Earth learning from nature and observing the natural cycles. They planted trees, tended to their gardens, vineyards and orchards, and lived a peaceful community life. It is known that the Essenes, with their pacifist tendencies, ate no animal flesh, honouring all life as sacred. There is much evidence, in the recently found Dead Sea Scrolls, that indicates Jesus was raised and educated in the Essene community.

“From its antiquity, its persistence through the ages, it is evident the teaching could not have been the concept of any individual or any people, but is the interpretation, by a succession of great Teachers, of the Law of the Universe, the Basic Law, eternal and unchanging as the stars in their courses, the same now as two or ten thousand years ago, and as applicable today as then.” Edmond Bordeaux Szekely

Gabriel Cousens M.D., says this about the Essenes, in his book The Sevenfold Peace: “There were no rich or poor among them because of the alignment of their economics, lifestyle, and society with Divine Law. The Essenes considered Divine Law to be the sum total of all the laws governing all manifestations of the forces of nature and the cosmos. This Divine Law is perhaps best summarized as the Living Law of Love and Harmony With All Creation. Although the Essenes lived in the harsh conditions of the desert, each person’s material needs, food, and shelter were easily and abundantly met because of that person’s alignment with the essential harmony of the universe. The Essenes were vegetarians; they avoided any form of alcohol except ceremonial wine; and they daily fed their bodies, minds, and souls with the contemplation of the earthly and cosmic forces that they poetically called angels. In the morning they contemplated the forces (angels) of Nature. In the evening they contemplated the cosmic forces. At noontime each day they contemplated one aspect of the Sevenfold Peace. Through this weekly cycle, the balance and practice of peace would be reviewed continuously.”

Modern Essenes

There still is a modern Essene movement in motion. This modern Essene thought still holds fast to a Natural Conscious Living Lifestyle, replete with a vegan live-food diet and regular fasting. The story of the Essenes offers us inspiration and insight into how to live balanced, harmonious lives. The Wisdom of the Essenes is re-emerging in our time to teach the basic oneness of all life and reawaken people to the Ageless Wisdom tradition that the Essene Kinship guarded for all humanity.