Who were the original Essenes?
There is documented evidence of their existence at least two hundred years before the birth of Christ. We know they numbered approximately 4000 and they lived communally, sharing property and the food they grew. They did not believe in the sacrifice of animals, a common practise of their day. They demanded complete cleanliness of the body and dressed always in white. Since they did not believe in harming any of God’s creatures, they were strict vegetarians.
When Jesus spoke of meat, he was referring to food of a vegetarian nature. The Greek words we loosely translate as “meat” merely mean food or nourishment. Thus, when Jesus is quoted as asking, “Have you any meat?” he was asking, “Have you anything to eat?” There is no documented evidence that he ate anything other than live, vegetarian food, even when visiting the homes of the rich, where he was often a guest.
So what were these principles of which Jesus spoke and Székely brought to light in the modern world? The following is a brief summary of my understanding gleaned from the Székely writings.
It is implied that we are each responsible for our own state of health. No person or pill can make me healthy without me making the appropriate long-term changes to physical and mental inputs.
I say mental inputs, because the Essenes advocated a positive philosophy that every disease was curable but not every person; only those with the strength to persevere with the changes in diet and lifestyle they’d made despite old symptoms of past illnesses arising.
Dr. Yeshi Dhonden had described health as being in a state of balance. Székely described health as a state of harmony. The term seemed almost musical. Disease implied disharmony with natural forces and the cosmos. I could see that part of my job in reclaiming optimal health was to spend as much conscious time in nature as was possible. I needed to re-establish my connectedness with nature and I needed to learn to live in harmony with her rhythms—her daily, weekly and monthly cycles and the natural turning of the seasons.
Our often sedentary way of living allows waste matter to collect in different pockets in the body. To thoroughly clean my physical organism I used exercise through working in the garden and yoga. Yoga is specifically designed to help eliminate waste matter from the nooks and crannies of joints, tissues and organs in which it hides.
I saw that diet is largely an acquired taste. I had already made significant changes and I was prepared to make more. I remember as a teenager my mother changing from 2% to skim milk. At first skim milk tasted like water, but in no time it became the preferred taste and 2% milk tasted fatty. Likewise when Mom began to cook potatoes and vegetables with less salt, there had been an adjustment period. I had already lost my taste for meat, fish and poultry. I couldn’t see any reason why I couldn’t continue to make positive changes to my dietary inputs.
I had already experienced that when there is a change in diet, one always craves the substances and foods that were used to build the existing cells in the body. Hence, one needed to persevere with dietary changes in spite of cravings for the old foods.
I found that gradual, sustainable changes were best. I’d seen my friend, Geoff, in Wellington years before making a whole raft of changes to his diet and lifestyle at once. He’d been able to sustain these changes for the three months I was there to support him. But almost the moment I left he returned to his previous habits.
Székely confirmed a feeling I’d had all along. Optimal health wasn’t a goal in its own right. It was something to be achieved so that one could do one’s work with true vitality and enthusiasm, unsupported by caffeine, sugar or other artificial stimulants.
Likewise, one didn’t embark on this path to achieve outward beauty, although physical attractiveness was a natural outcome of changing to a purer diet. Székely always believed that beauty came from within. I found it difficult to argue with that.
What did Jesus advocate in The Essene Gospel of Peace? He stated that one would retain good health and live a long life if one sustained oneself on living, raw food and young, vibrant, life-giving greens. Even the bread he instructed his followers to make was formed from sprouted grains that were then crushed and formed into patties that were ‘cooked’ in the sun on hot rocks.
In Search of Simplicity is a startlingly poignant real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life. John Haines hosts a popular weekly interview program, Voices from the North, from his place in paradise in New Zealand’s subtropical far north, and leads what he calls ‘playshops’ in voice, sound and communication. Visit his website at: