Communion Principles and Psychology
The Essenes expressed an exceptional knowledge of psychology in their practice of the Communions with the natural and cosmic forces. They knew that man has both a conscious and subconscious mind and were well aware of the powers of each.
In making one group of their Communions the first activity of the morning, they consciously set in motion forces that became the keynote of their whole day. They knew that a thought held strongly enough in the consciousness at the beginning of the day influences the individual throughout his waking hours. The morning Communions consequently opened the mind to harmonious currents which enabled them to absorb specific forms of energy into the physical body.
The evening Communions, performed as the last act in the evening before sleep, applied the same principle. The Essenes knew that these last thoughts influenced the subconscious mind throughout the night, and that the evening Communions therefore put the subconscious into contact with the storehouse of superior cosmic forces. They knew that sleep can thus become a source of deepest knowledge.
The average man experiences this at times, finding a problem solved during sleep and quite often in a way apart from his ordinary trend of thinking. Many scientists, writers and other creative workers have also found that their inventions and ideas have come to them during the night or in the early morning hours.
The knowledge received during sleep is a working of natural law. Although for the majority sleep is little more than a period of detoxication, a means of physiological reparation, for the small minority it represents the psychological perfecting of the individual. The Essenes knew that the higher forces set into action before going to sleep, when the earthly forces of the myriad activities of the day are stilled, would result in the progressive attainment of the lofty objectives of their evening Communions.
They also knew that any negative or inharmonious thought held in their consciousness when they retired would lower their resistance to the negative forces in the outside world.
They had a profound knowledge of the body as well as of the mind. They knew the two could not be separated as they form a dynamic organic unit, and what affects one affects the other. Essenes antidated psychosomatic medicine by several thousand years.
They knew bodily health had a great deal to do with the receiving of the higher forces, and that a detoxicated organism is more capable of establishing contact with them than is one in which the forces are partially paralyzed by the burden of eliminating bodily poisons during the hours of sleep. The superior revelations which have been brought down to us from antiquity by the great thinkers and teachers were given by those who invariably led very simple and harmonious lives. Their bodies consequently were extremely healthy. It was not merely chance that great revelations of truth were received by the great Masters; their organisms had developed capacities lacked by individuals whose lives have been devoted to more worldly pursuits. The Essene teachings and way of life brought about the development of these capacities.
They paid great attention to the food they ate, that it might harmonize with natural law, but they were equally careful of their diet in thought and emotions. They were fully cognizant that man's subconscious mind is like a sensitized plate registering everything the individual sees or hears, and that it is therefore necessary to prevent all inferior thoughts, such as fear, anxiety, insecurity, hatred, ignorance, egotism and intolerance from entering the gate of the subconscious mind.
The natural law that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time was clear to them and they knew a person cannot think of two things simultaneously. Therefore if the mind is filled with positive, harmonious thoughts those that are negative and inharmonious cannot lodge in it. Positive, harmonious thoughts must be introduced into the subconscious to replace all inferior ones, just as the cells of the body must constantly be replaced by food, air and water as the old cells are broken down. This was a part of the task accomplished by the Essene Communions, introducing morning, noon and night superior currents of thought and feeling into the thinking and feeling bodies.
The subconscious can be regenerated by a diet of good and harmonious thoughts and feelings administered all during the day, but especially at those moments of borderland consciousness whcn its receptivity is at its best. When it is thus regenerated it will become a source of energy and harmony to mind and body. It will be a friend sending constructive harmonious messages to every part of the body, causing them to function efficiently.
Certain facts known to the Essenes about introducing a thought or thoughts into the subconscious have been rediscovered by modern psychologists. It is known that when a person is fully conscious, his subconscious mind does not easily accept a purposeful suggestion. And when he is in a subconscious state he cannot of course influence his subconscious consciously. But there are moments when the consciousness is only half submerged in the subconscious, moments such as occur just before going to sleep, just after awaking from sleep, and sometimes when in a state of reverie such as is occasioned by beautiful music or poetry. At such moments the subconscious mind is most receptive to what is given to it.
Many teachings of great religions and practices of ancient and modern philosophical systems, both those of the East and of the West, as well as those of the Essenes, utilize this all-important psychological fact.
The subconscious is dynamic, ever changing, even as are the cells of the body, and it is constantly being fed by the experiences and impressions it receives from the conscious mind. These experiences include all the thoughts and feelings held forcefully enough to create an impression upon it. The traumatic experiences of childhood are those which have been felt with great intensity and fed into the subconscious mind, but never replaced by new and more constructive impressions and experiences.
The subconscious has been defined as the totality of an individual's experiences from birth to the current moment. Every dynamic new experience changes it; and it can be consciously changed according to the degree of the intensity of the impression put into it. The more intense the impression, the more lasting will it be in the subconscious.
Certain other factors were known by the Essenes to govern the acceptance by the subconscious mind of a thought or a feeling. One was that if the conscious mind does not accept the thought as a reality and a possibility, the subconscious will also reject it.
Another was the necessity of projecting the thought to the subconscious without effort, spontaneously. If an effort is made, the fully conscious state is evoked and the subconscious cannot be reached. To act spontaneously and without effort requires complete relaxation of mind and body. This was part of Essene practice.
They accomplished the first step in relaxation by releasing the tensions or contractions of one group of muscles after another over various parts of the body. The second step was shallow breathing. This lessens the oxygen transport in the lungs and thus decreases the activities of the nerves and other parts of the organism since activity and relaxation cannot occur at the same time. The third step was to avoid thought. For man today this is generally not easy. One way of accomplishing it is by imagining, in total darkness and silence, the darkness of black velvet, and thinking of nothing else. Through these three steps the Essenes brought a kind of semiconsciousness into which a new thought or feeling could be readily introduced into the subconscious.
The thought introduced in this way should be rhythmic enough to maintain the state of relaxation and semi-consciousness. And it should have sufficient power to penetrate into the subconscious and be completely accepted as reality. These preconditions of consciously placing thoughts and feelings in the subconscious mind were perfectly met in the practice of the Essene Communions.
It was shown to be entirely up to each individual what is added to the content of his subconscious mind, what kind of new cells he will build into it. He can deviate from the law and be a slavc to his subconscious, or he can take an active part in its regeneration.
The Essene's knowledge of the conscious mind was as profound as their understanding of the subconscious. Their concept of psychology was so all-sided they knew the ob'ectives of their Communions could not be attained through intellectual processes alone, but that the force of feelings is also necessary. Knowledge must arouse an emotion before action is produced.
Feeling is not merely an involuntary process, as many people believe. It is a part of the activity of will. The Essenes considered will contains, or is the mechanism of, three factors: thought, feeling and action. This concept can be illustrated in modern terms by comparison to the parts of an automobile. Thought is the steering wheel; feeling is the motor or force; action corresponds to the wheels. To arrive at a particular destination determined upon by will, all three parts must woi-k in collaboration. An objective is thought of, a desire or feeling is aroused, action takes place.
Will can be used to arouse feeling; it frequently must be used if a desired feeling is to be aroused. It can be developed to do this by training. A technique known to the Essenes enabled an individual to us-. the will in whatever way he might choose.
Few know this; few know their feelings can be mastered. This is because they do not know how to connect their thoughts and their feelings so the desired action results. They may have right knowledge but act inways contrary to the knowledge; they may have right knowledge of health, for instance, but continue to eat foods that are harmful. But an emotion, such as the fear of pain or death, will cause them to act rightly.
Of the three forces, thought, feeling and action, thought is the youngest, and consequently the weakest influence in man's consciousness. But man is evolving; his power of thought is increasing steadily. Thought is man's title to nobility. It is a faculty under his individual control; he can think about any subject he wishes. He can control his feelings by thought.
Feelings have a history of hundreds of thousands of years and consequently have built up a much stronger momentum than thought. Consequently they, not thought, govern most of man's actions. Instincts control animals. But man, if he wishes to cease representing the forces of retrogression, must learn to control both instinct and feeling. This he can do through will.
The Essenes believed man should analyze his thoughts and feelings and determine which give him power to carry out a desired action and which paralyze it.
If he does a good deed and analyzes it he can find out what thoughts and feelings prompted his action. He will then understand what kind of thoughts and feelings he should foster.
He will find the deed was not prompted by an abstract thought or a cold intellectual concept. Deeds are prompted by thoughts that have vitality and color, that evoke feeling. Only then do they have enough force to result in action.
Color and vitality are given to thought by creative imagination. Thoughts must create images that are alive. Eastern people have long practiced the art of making thoughts living, full of imagery and pictures. But it is an art that has been much neglected and well nigh forgotten in the West.
Scattered, incoherent thoughts drifting from one thing to another, are only pale wraiths, without life. They are sterile, arousing no feeling, no action. They are valueless.
There is always a feeling behind every action. A right feeling is necessary to produce a right action. Right feelings are sources of energy, harmony and happiness. If they are not sourccs of these qualities, they are not only valueless; they are dangerous.
Feelings can be placed into one of two categories: those that create energy and those that exhaust it. Through this analysis man can begin to develop will.By strengthening all the feelings that create energy and avoiding all those that lead to its exhaustion, the Essenes found that will is acquired. The exercise of will means persevering and patient cffort. Through it an individual's superior feelings will gradually create a vast storehouse of energy and harmony; and the inferior feelings, leading to weakness and lack of balance, will eventually be eliminated.
The feeling that creates the greatest energy is love, in all its manifestations, for love is the primordial source of all existence, of all sources of energy, harmony and knowledge. Manifested in terrestrial nature it gives all that is necessary for health. Manifested in the human organism it gives dynamic harmony to all the cells, organs and senses of the organism. Manifested in the consciousness it makes it possible for man to understand cosmic and natural law, including social and cultural laws, and to employ them as sources of harmony and knowledge. Will is the key to the manifestation of this greatest source of energy.
The three enemies of will are dispersion of energy, laziness and sensuality. These three can lead to another formidable enemy of will: disease. Good health is the will's great friend. A dynamic healthy individual commands, and the will obeys; whereas muscular pain or nervous weakness paralyzes the wi;-!. This was one of the reasons the Essenes laid such stress on good health and the way of living and thinking that produces health.
The practice of the Communions required continual exercise and use of will. They considered every great value in human culture owes its creation to the exercise of the will, and that true values were only produced by those who use the will. They thoroughly realized the necessity of educating it and considered the key to its education is the direction of the feelings by a powerful creative imagination.
Through their profound understanding of psychological forces the Essene Communions taught man the Way to freedom, the way of liberation from blind acceptance of negative conditions either in the physical body or the mind. They showed the way of optimal evolution of both mind and body.
"He assigned to man two spirits with which he should walk.
They are the spirits of truth and of falsehood, truth born out of the spring of Light, falsehood from the well Of darkness.
The dominion of all the children of truth is in the hands of the Angels of Light so that they walk in the ways of Light. The spirits of truth and falsehood struggle within the heart of man, behaving with wisdom and folly.
And according as a man inherits truth so will he avoid darkness.
"Blessings on all that have cast their lot with the Law,
that walk truthfully in all their ways.
May the Law bless them with all good
And keep them from all evil
And illumine their hearts
with insight into the things of life
and grace them with knowledge of things eternal."
From "The Manual of Discipline" of the Dead Sea Scrolls