The rules of life, and the very strict discipline which went with them, were not a constraint, but were freely accepted as ways to forge character and to develop in one's highest being.
Above all, their foundation in wisdom was recognized by everyone, using his own intelligence. No arbitrator reigned in the Brotherhood-School.
The Essenes received many teachings of the ancient universal wisdom, which they had to bring to life inside themselves as a sacred service to humanity. They were fully aware that the major part of this wisdom was for a future humanity; and they thought that the great Masters who would come in the future could make use of their work. They believed that, without them--the Masters--the benefactors would not be able to help human beings, and that people would, therefore, sink into the darkness of ignorance and depravity, and eventually destroy one another through wars and other unspeakable atrocities.
This enlivening of the Teaching of Light occurred in groups during ceremonies; through songs, dances and movements; or even during work in the fields or the vineyards, or some other manual work or construction. It was also accomplished through individual work, in the solitude of one's personal temple.
Each Essene was required to respect the privacy of others--their solitude, their intimate and private lives. Solitude was regarded as sacred, because, when one was alone with oneself, one was in the presence of God, the Sublime One, the Source.
The life of a couple was also regarded as sacred, as was community life. These were the three degrees--one's private life corresponded to the inside of the temple; the inner life, to the couple; and the external life, to the community. The student was to look closely at himself in these three lives, and remain honest, morally upright, pure and authentic in all three.
There was a rule forbidding them to reveal the Teaching to people who were not prepared to receive it. The law of silence and discernment was strictly imposed.
Thus, an Essene never tried to convert another person to any belief.
"Do not give pearls to pigs for fear that they will trample them underfoot and turn towards you to devour you." (The words of Christ)
The Essenes practiced hospitality regularly, and they had buildings set aside especially for that purpose. The way in which they healed the sick inside of these buildings--that is the origin for the existence of our modern hospitals.
Through them, hospitality became very far-reaching, because they learned very young to see the divine part of each person. And, thus, it was God who visited them in the guise of the individual, and they had to understand what He wanted to say to them or wanted from them. In this way, they were following the teaching of Toby and Abraham, who, in offering hospitality to men, had, in reality, been welcoming angels.
By taking care of the individual, they were taking care of the Being of beings who was behind him. That is the profound meaning of all true medicine and of every therapeutic process.
The body and the person were, for them, the outer shell of the Universal Spirit. Therefore, they were not disdainful of these things--but they did not ignore the Divine Spirit. Without the Divine Spirit, there is no true hospitality; and that is why, in our time, money has replaced the vision of the Supreme One.
The Brothers and Sisters in the white tunic, as they were called then, also practiced a great many humanitarian acts, helping the poor and the outcasts. A large number of Essenes in the external circles of the order reincarnated and became the source for all of the great modern humanitarian organizations. Of course, these often escaped their control and went astray, because the holy initiatic order was no longer there to support them.
Without initiation, no salvation is possible and no help is effective, because good is transformed into evil, and vice versa.
The Essenes recognized the equality of the sexes, and accorded to women, in the greatest secrecy, the place which was rightfully theirs. Thus, women were able to participate in all of the spiritual activities.
The Essenes studied an esoteric teaching on androgyny, which provided them with a perception of the soul beyond the dualistic conception of sex. The white-linen robe was a symbol of this vision of the soul's unity.
The School strongly condemned slavery and all forms of servility. No Essene could have a servant; that was a sin. So was working only to make money--which, in the end, translates into a certain kind of slavery.
Slavery and servility were, for them, things related to the existence of dark and demonic entities, and belonged to what they called the world of divine anger.
Any man (or woman) who was even merely affiliated with the community had to free his slaves and abstain from eating meat. For them, slavery was also tied to the fact of being carnivorous, because he who could not stop eating animal flesh and drinking blood could not control the passions of his animalistic nature--and, therefore, could not think in a clear manner. He was reduced to slavery by his nature.