'Two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization' - they were the Essenes.
For me, the magic of the Interfaith path means that by being open to the spiritual wisdom from a vast range of traditions, one is always encountering the most beautiful, inspiring and insightful texts which we would otherwise remain ignorant to.
I came across the deeply beautiful Essene Gospel of Peace some months back and it really resonated with me, so much so that now I frequently include it in my spiritual practise. I have done many prayers during my time as a spiritual practitioner and I can honestly say that none has moved me as much as this beautiful gospel.
The impact of the prayer was physical. I automatically began reciting it out loud and very slowly as well - which I have continued to do. It was as though I inherently perceived it to be an almost mantric meditation and certainly halfway through the first recitation, the impact of it’s power was felt right through my physical being.
It started off as a tingling sensation on the top of my head, moved through my body leaving a feeling of great awe. It raised the hairs on my arms, caused my eyes to well with tears as the beauty and meaning of the words, the visual display they conjured in my mind, stirred within me what felt like a primordial or ancient recognition and understanding. An old remembering, an inner knowing.
I have had a few extraordinary ‘spiritual moments’ and experiences in my time, but the physical impact of this gospel, the depth of beauty that it contains for me personally, I have never experienced before - that to me says much about the Interfaith path and approach also.
I don’t take the term God to mean what it does in the Christian sense. I perceive God as the Divine - an animating force, universal consciousness, well beyond our man-made constructs, our bias and ideas, well beyond all limitation - exceeding even all thought.
Having this view - even though I come from a Buddhist background, allows me to come to a diverse range of sacred texts with open, all embracing acceptance. It allows me to see through to the heart of what is written or spoken of, what is perceived and experienced by the author and so share in that, shape it into my own personal insight, interpretation, experience.
This beautiful gospel informs us that right from the moment we enter the world, God is with us - in our first breath, our first word, our first thought, song, love. Not only that, God is everywhere, infusing and animating every aspect of our existence - physical and otherwise. God in fact, speaks to us every second of every moment. All we have to do, to hear, to know is…‘be still’.
‘I speak to you through the trees and forest. Be still , Know I am God…I speak to you through the valleys and the hills. Be still, Know I am God…I speak to you through the peace of the evening. Be still, Know I am God...I will speak to you when you are alone. Be still, Know I an God...’
To pause and ‘be still’, to pause and ‘Be’ is never more needed in today’s chaos driven world. To pause and ‘see’ is just as important.
This ancient gospel is possibly more relevant and meaningful in todays modern world than when it was written 2,000 years ago. The Essenes had an intimate spiritual affinity with the natural world as is clearly evident in this prayer. They moved lightly on their sacred earth - their laws and doctrines were structured as such.
For me reading and reciting this gospel is a reminder of that. It provides me the opportunity to pause, to be still, to see with renewed clarity, with deeper respect.
My interpretation of the Divine, of God, is echoed in this gospel. God is here. God is everywhere. The Divine has always been. Always will be. The Divine is what Is. Us and Other. One.
To read the Essene Gospel of Peace, see Prayers for Peace in the Pages section.