The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
There are three paths leading to Truth. The first is the path of the consciousness, the second that of nature, and the third is the accumulated experience of past generations, which we receive in the shape of the great masterpieces of all ages. From time immemorial, man and humanity have followed all three paths.
The first path to Truth, the path of the consciousness, is that followed by the great mystics. They consider that the consciousness is the most immediate reality for us and is the key to the universe. it is something which is in us, which is us. And throughout the ages the mystics have made the discovery that the laws of human consciousness contain an aspect not found in the laws governing the material universe.
A certain dynamic unity exists in our consciousness, where one is at the same time many. it is possible for us to have simultaneously different thoughts, ideas, associations, images, memories and intuitions occupying our consciousness within fragments of a minute or a second, yet all this multiplicity will still constitute only a single dynamic unity. Therefore the laws of mathematics, which are valid for the material universe and are a key to its understanding, will not be valid in the field of consciousness, a realm where two and two do not necessarily make four. The mystics also found that measurements of space, time and weight, universally valid in nature and throughout the material universe, are not applicable to the consciousness, where sometimes a few seconds seem like hours, or hours like a minute.
Our consciousness does not exist in space and therefore cannot be measured in spatial terms. It has its own time, which is very often timelessness, so temporal measurements cannot be applied to Truth reached by this path. The great mystics discovered that the human consciousness, besides being the most immediate and the inmost reality for us, is at the same time our closest source of energy, harmony and knowledge. The path to Truth leading to and through the consciousness produced the great teachings of humanity, the great intuitions and the great masterpieces throughout the ages. Such then is the first path to or source of Truth, as the Essene traditions understand and interpret it.
Unfortunately, the magnificent original intuitions of the great masters often lose their vitality as they pass down the generations. They are very often modified, distorted and turned into dogmas, and all too frequently their values become petrified in institutions and organized hierarchies. The pure intuitions are choked by the sands of time, and eventually have to be dug out by seekers of Truth able to penetrate into their essence.
Another danger is that persons following this path to Truth, the path of the consciousness-may fall into exaggerations. They come to think that this is the only path to Truth and disregard all others. Very often, too, they apply the specific laws of the human consciousness to the material universe where they lack validity, and ignore the laws proper to the latter sphere. The mystic often creates for himself an artificial universe, farther and farther removed from reality, till he ends by living in an ivory tower, having lost all contact with reality and life.
The second of the three paths is the path of nature. While the first path of the consciousness starts from within and penetrates thence into the totality of things, the second path takes the opposite way. Its starting point is the external world. it is the path of the scientist, and has been followed in all ages through experience and through experiment, through the use of inductive and deductive methods.
The scientist, working with exact quantitative measurements, measures everything in space and time, and makes all possible correlations.
With his telescope he penetrates into far-distant cosmic space, into the various solar and galactic systems; through spectrum analysis he measures the constituents of the different planets in cosmic space; and by mathematical calculation he establishes in advance the movements of celestial bodies. Applying the law of cause and effect, the scientist establishes a long chain of causes and effects which help him to explain and measure the universe, as well as life.
But the scientist, like the mystic, sometimes falls into exaggerations. While science has transformed the life of mankind and has created great values, for man in all ages, it has failed to give entire satisfaction in the solution of the final problems of existence, life and the universe. The scientist has the long chain of causes and effects secure in all its particles, but he has no idea what to do with the end of the chain. He has no solid point to which he may attach the end of the chain, and so by the path to Truth through nature and the material universe he is unable to answer the great and eternal questions concerning the beginning and end of all things.
The greatest scientists recognize that in the metaphysical field beyond the scientific chain there is something else - continuing from the end of that chain. However, there are also the dogmatic scientists who deny any other approach to Truth than their own, who refuse to attribute reality to the facts and phenomena which they cannot fit neatly into their own categories and classifications.
The path to Truth through nature is not that of the dogmatic scientist, just as the first path is not that of the one-sided mystic. Nature is a great open book in which everything can be found, if we learn to draw from it the inspiration which it has given to the great thinkers of all ages. if we learn her language, nature will reveal to us all the laws of life and the universe.
It is for this reason that all the great masters of humanity from time to time withdrew into nature: Zarathustra and Moses into the mountains, Buddha to the forest, Jesus and the Essenes to the desert-and thus followed this second path as well as that of the consciousness. The two paths do not contradict one another, but harmoniously complete one another in full knowledge of the laws of both. It was thus that the great teachers reached wonderful and deeply profound truths which have given inspiration to millions through thousands of years.
The third path to Truth, is the wisdom, knowledge and experience acquired by the great thinkers of all ages and transmitted to us in the form of great teachings, the great sacred books or scriptures, and the great masterpieces of universal literature which together form what today we would call universal culture.
In brief, therefore, our approach to Truth is a threefold one: through consciousness, nature and culture.
There are different ways of studying these great writings. One way-the way of all theologians and of the organized Churches-is to consider each text literally. This is the dogmatic way resulting from a long process of petrification, by which truths are inevitably transformed into dogmas.
When the theologian follows this most easy but one-sided path, he runs into endless contradictions and complications, and he reaches a conclusion as far removed from the truth as that of the scientific interpreter of these texts who rejects them as entirely valueless and without validity. The approaches of the dogmatic theologian and the exclusivist scientist represent two extremes.
A third error is to believe, as do certain symbolists, that these books have no more than a symbolic content and are nothing more than parables. With their own particular way of exaggeration these symbolists make thousands of different and quite contradictory interpretations of these great texts.
The spirit of the Essene traditions is opposed to all three of these ways of interpreting these ageless writings and follows an entirely different approach.
The Essene method of interpretation is, on the one hand, to place them in harmonious correlation with the laws of the human consciousness and of nature, and, on the other, to consider the facts and circumstances of the age and environment in which they were written. This approach also takes into account the degree of evolution and understanding of the people to whom the particular master was addressing his message.
Since all the great masters had to adapt their teaching to the level of their audience, they found it necessary to formulate both an exoteric and esoteric teaching. The exoteric message was one comprehensible to the people at large and was expressed in terms of various rules, forms and rituals corresponding to the basic needs of the people and the age concerned. Parallel with this, the esoteric teachings have survived through the ages partly as written and partly as unwritten living traditions, free from forms, rituals, rules and dogmas, and in all periods have been kept alive and practiced by a small minority.
Compiled from The Essene Gospel of Peace Book Two
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The Three Paths of Truth