Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, if you live in Western civilization you’re influenced by the teachings of Jesus. We listen to music celebrating his birth, we collectively hold values imparted from his teachings and even ‘non-believers’ draw inspiration and guidance from his words and actions.
He has, perhaps, influenced our lives more than any other person, yet very few people have really studied the history of Jesus or the sect that he joined called the Essenes. The story of how Jesus enlightened is fascinating, and gives us insight into his teachings. So let me take a moment to share with you a part of the story not often told or even known by most people.
You’ve all heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were discovered during World War II. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest Bible ever discovered … by far, dating just prior to Jesus birth. The Dead Sea Scrolls were written by a sect of Jews called the Essenes who lived in Qumran, near the north end of the Dead Sea in Israel and the deep end of the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized.
Whereas most Jews would wash themselves before entering the temple, only the Essene sect of Jews make a ritual baptism in water as a rite of initiation. John was an Essene, and Jesus taking baptism with John indicates Jesus’s affiliation with this Essene sect of Jews.
The Essenes believed we were spirit entrapped in a body and that we needed to discover or realize this Divine nature within. That’s why they lived away from the cities in the quiet of the desert; they spent their time in contemplation, meditation and prayer.
The Essene was seeking God-realization.
Moreover, there were many other gospels written and read in Israel in the first and second centuries that were not included in the New Testament. During the Council of Nicaea that took place in 325 AD, the Bishops of the Eastern churches decided not to include the writing being used by the Semitic Christians, since they had differing theologies. But those other gospels were the ones being used by the Apostles themselves and those who followed them.
If you read those other gospels, such as, Thomas, Mary, Philip and James, they all teach a similar message: to look within. In each of these forgotten gospels and in the Dead Sea Scrolls lies a message of looking within to find God.
Jesus was a Yogi. In Thomas, Jesus advises “come to know yourselves” and “the Kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.” In the Book of Thomas, Jesus advises Thomas, “examine yourself and learn who you are, and in what way you exist.” In James, Jesus tells his Apostles, “I tell you this that you may know yourselves” and that those that listen will “be enlightened through me.”
In the Gospel of Philip Jesus says, “those who come to know themselves will enjoy their possessions (life)”, “know thy Self” and “we shall find the fruits of the truth within us.” In the Gospel of Mary Jesus says, “the Son of Man is within you. Follow after him! Those who seek him will find him.”
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Semitic Gospels and in the letters between the first churches that have been preserved we see, or hear, Jesus advising his followers to go within and realize the truth, the light or presence of God. As we launch out into 2012, let’s embark on an inner journey and discover this ‘spark of Divinity’ within ourselves. Then we can celebrate enlightenment together.
~ Steven Sadlier SelfAwareness.com