The History of the White Brotherhood on Earth and Its Teachings
It was during the first few centuries before the birth of Jesus that the work of the Brotherhood became so divided in distant lands that various names were adopted for these branches in order to conform to the language and customs of the people.
Thus we find that the work carried on by the Brotherhood in Alexandria assumed the name of the Essene Brotherhood. The word Essene is derived from both the Greek and Egyptian words meaning secret and sacred, and not from a word meaning physician, as commonly presupposed.
On the other hand, healing was such a principle part of their work that another branch born by the Greeks was called the Theraputi, which means the brotherhood of healers and physicians.
Here we find the origin of the Essene Brotherhood, which eventually established its main headquarters in the Holy Land.
Midway between Cairo and Heliopolis is the place where Mary and Joseph stayed for a while during their flight from Palestine to Egypt. At this place, there is a very old tree known as the "virgin tree." Under this tree there is a great rock and nearby a spring. According to the ancient records, it was under the shade of this tree and near this spring that Mary and Joseph occasionally stopped to rest.
At night they would sleep in a nearby hut made of mud in the ancient style. This site is worshipped also as the place where the infant Jesus made his first visit to Egypt. It is highly significant that after Jesus had passed his twelfth year and entered upon his journey to other lands to study, he eventually returned to Heliopolis where he entered the monastery of the White Brotherhood.
At the monastery in Heliopolis, the Brotherhood maintained its great laboratory, and scribes there prepared the teachings in manuscript form for distribution to their branches in various lands.
Philosophers who went to take up the mystical teachings of the Brotherhood, came here from various lands, and after perfecting themselves in the studies, went forth as members of the Brotherhood to spread openly philosophy of a general nature which would be helpful to the public. At the same time they were to conduct the work of the inner circle of the Brotherhood in privacy, and with those who were qualified to study in this way.
The White Brotherhood was rapidly becoming a large and powerful organization laying the foundation that would serve civilization through many centuries.
Just when the Essene Brotherhood established itself in Palestine is difficult to tell, but it was well established there long before the Christian era. Elijah, a descendant of the mystery schools of Egypt, had gone on to Palestine and established himself in the ruins of an old monastery on the top of Mount Carmel. Under Elijah's guidance the monastery was rebuilt and other buildings were constructed.
We find that the Bible accounts of Elijah are very similar to the accounts in the Brotherhood records.
The important fact to note is that the monastery of Mount Carmel was under the supervision of Elijah when the early Essenes entered Palestine. They first had a temporary settlement around the shores of the Jordan, then they moved to Galilee where they established a more permanent community near the sea of Galilee.
This community remained throughout the several centuries preceding the Christian era and was at its height during the time of the ministry of Jesus.
Flavius Josephus speaks of the Essenes at length and so does Philo, Pliny and others. The Essenes formed a true religious community and were already in existence about the second half of the second century BC in various places throughout Palestine, but their most important center was the oasis of En-gaddi on the western shore of the Dead Sea. There were about four thousand of them in all.
The principle rules governing this society, which was very much like the monastic orders of Christianity, are as follows: Anyone seeking admission had to undergo a one year novitiate period, at the end of which he was baptized. There followed two more years of probation and then he took the solemn oaths which made him finally and definitely a full member in the society.
There was a great difference in degree of dignity and legal purity between the professed members and the novices, so that if a novice accidentally touched a member, the latter contracted a certain impurity from which he had to be cleansed.
Material possessions were held entirely in common and were managed by especially appointed stewards. All the Essenes worked, especially at farming, and their earnings went into the common treasury. Trade, the manufacture of weapons, and slavery were forbidden. Normally the Essenes were celibates.
Flavius Josephus mentions a particular group among them who married under special conditions, but this he did not elaborate upon. In any case, they could have been only a limited exception to the general rule. According to Pliny, the Essenes are a people into which none were born.
Because there were none born to the community, children were also admitted as subjects for proselytism and as probable candidates for the society.
The Essenes' day was divided between work and prayer. The first thing in the morning was a community prayer directed toward the sun. Their meals, taken in common, had something of a liturgical character about them, for they were held in an especially appointed place after the members had performed certain ablutions and donned sacred garments. Specific prayers were said before and after meals. Even their foods, which were of the simplest variety, were prepared by priests according to particular rules. Throughout the day they observed a habitual silence.
Their observance of the Sabbath was singularly strict, so much that on that day they refrained from any bodily functions whatever, and this represented for them an increased respect for legal purity as well. They had the utmost veneration for Moses and whoever blasphemed his name was punished by death.
On the Sabbath there was community reading and explanation of his Law, but besides the books of Moses the society used other secret books which were also studied on the Sabbath. On the other hand, they did not fulfill all the precepts of Moses because they sent offerings of various kinds to the Temple in Jerusalem but never blood sacrifices of animals. Except for the oath of admission to the society, all oaths were strictly forbidden. It was said in fact, "Whatever they say is firmer than an oath; but they avoid swearing, for they consider that it is worse than perjury; for they say that he who cannot be believed without (swearing by) God is already condemned."
The customs and teachings of the Essenes were without doubt derived principally from their Hebrew heritage, but it is probable that foreign elements had filtered in as, for example, the belief in the pre-existence of the soul, which is attributed to them but is unknown in Hebraism, and also the practice of celibacy which was never held in esteem by the Jews. But the exact source of these non-Hebrew elements is uncertain despite many conjectures offered in their regard.
It seems that the Essenes had very little influence on the rest of contemporary Judaism, from which they were segregated even physically by the numerous regulations governing their daily lives. They must have seemed like an enclosed garden which one was quick to admire, but only from the outside. Besides those who permanently joined the society, however, there were others who, moved by some vague ascetic longing, followed their way of life for a time, as Josephus tells us he did in his early life.
Ordinarily, the Essenes took no interest in political questions and were obedient to the lawful authorities. In the great insurrection against Rome, however, some were carried away by their enthusiasm and did take up arms and a John Essenus is mentioned as a commander among the rebel Jews. They suffered the most excruciating torture at the hands of the Roman conquerors but they refused nonetheless to violate the vows of their society.
After this period they completely disappeared from history.
The community of Galilee was a peculiar one in many ways, yet typical of the Essene ideals. In the first place, before the Christian Era, Galilee had become a land for heretics of all kinds. While it was really a part of Palestine and under Roman rule, it was nevertheless a province or section of the country more or less isolated, and to which a great many of the Jews who could not accept the Jewish faith in all of its orthodoxy had fled.
Pagans and a great hoard of Greeks with the Greek mythology and ritualism also had come into Galilee. This combination made the section of Galilee a typical non-Jewish part of Palestine. For that reason the Essenes went there also.
We find in ancient historical records that at some time during the growth and development of Galilee as a non-Jewish country, one of the great Jewish leaders ordered all of the Jews to leave Galilee and return to Judea, leaving Galilee a section of the country entirely free from Jews of any kind.
This move left the Essenes in a section where they had to deal only with Greeks, Pagans, Arabs and others who were pliable and easy-going with their religious and political views and not particularly antagonistic toward any denomination or any school of thought.
The Essenes in Palestine followed the regulations of the White Brotherhood in Egypt. They also adopted the use of white raiment for their attire. So thus, the Essenes were referred to as the "brethren in white clothing" in many of the secret writings dealing with this sect of Palestine. Nearly all of them were engaged in constructive trades such as carpentry, building and weaving.
It is not true that the Essenes were not allowed to marry. As a matter of fact, they had a very beautiful marriage ceremony which finds its reflected modification in the Christian marriage ceremonies of today. However, they did insist that only those could marry who were well mated and whose mating was approved by the Brotherhood.
There were a great many leaders among the Essenes who did not marry, this is a fact. The only reason for this, which is recorded in the Essene records, is that these men had devoted their lives to the Brotherhood and intended to become inmates of the great monastery where no women lived, and where married men with families to support were not eligible.
Those members of the Brotherhood who were married had homes for their wives and children.
Women were not allowed to enter into all of the initiatory grades of the Essene Brotherhood because the particular branch of the White Brotherhood in Palestine was organized exclusively as a masculine organization. For this reason, it was not recorded that women were accepted into the Brotherhood only as associate members. Unmarried women in the community often adopted orphan children in order to assist in some humanitarian activities.
Jerusalem had become a well-built city and almost exclusively a Jewish place, walled in and reserved for those who adhered to the Jewish customs.
Outside the walls of Jerusalem and in all of the smaller communities of Palestine there was great poverty, disease and suffering. For this reason, the Essenes did not devote themselves exclusively to conducting schools and classes for the teaching of their principles, but undertook to help the poor and needy by the practical application of the mystical principles.
Just a few years before the birth of Jesus, the Essenes had established in Jerusalem a great many grottos, retreats, and houses or secluded places for the sick and needy where a stranger could find relief and help. It was in this form of work that later in history we find the origin of the Hospitallers, or the body of men devoted to the establishment of hospices, which became a knighthood and a separate organization.
Thus, just before the birth of Jesus a very interesting condition existed in Palestine. We find the Jewish people of strictly orthodox faith organized as one definite sect, but those of heretical beliefs divided into a number of sects, each attempting to outdo and gain control over the others. Of course, there were the so-called heathens or pagans and the Greeks and the Arabs, and those who had no religious beliefs at all.
Over all of this combination the Roman Empire had control. All were to pledge their allegiance to the Roman emperor. The Jews felt keenly the Roman yoke and the Roman taxation, but especially the Roman regulations which to some extent interfered with their religious customs.
Viewing the situation, however, the Romans were very fair to the Jewish people inasmuch as the Jews were exempt from doing many of the things that the other citizens of Palestine had to do.
The Jews were allowed to observe their sabbath day on Saturday and to close shops and, in general, forbid business dealing on their sabbath. The Jewish rulers were also permitted to set up certain regulations governing the people of their faith without interference on the part of the Romans.
In all of their singular liturgies, and in all of the Jewish prayers, they always expressed the fervent hope that the day was not far distant when the Jews would be ruled by a great Jewish lord or king, as in the past. Then they would no longer have to obey the rules of the Roman empire.
During the several centuries preceding the birth of Jesus, a hundred or more movements were started and the gullible or unlearned would gather around the self-appointed leaders and support them.
Each attempt on the part of some leader to foist a false messiah or ruler upon the Jewish people resulted in rebellion and rioting among the people of Palestine, with violent attempts to dethrone the local Roman officials.
Many of these false prophets and false messiahs had been persecuted officially by the Romans as traitors and as originators of riots and rebellions. Even the Jews themselves occasionally had stoned to death some false prophets who had caused unrest and dissatisfaction among their own people.
Among the Essenes also existed the belief in the coming of a messiah, for they knew that at very important cycles in the process of the evolution of civilization, a great avatar or a messenger of God had come to the people with new lessons, new ideas, and new rules. Also, they knew from their study of natural and spiritual laws that the time was not far distant when a great saviour would appear to the rising generations.
The Essenes knew as well that such a great messenger would not necessarily be of the house of David or the Jewish faith, or even of the Jewish race.
They realized that such an avatar would have to be unlimited by any creed or sect, and of a world civilization rather than of the civilization of any particular land.
We see in this reality on the part of the Essenes a great lesson for man of today. In this, the twentieth century, we hear the proclamation made that a great world saviour has been born and has been prepared in various schools, and is about ready to present himself as the new messiah in the new cycle.
Yet we learn that this new saviour is of a certain sect and devoted to a certain school of religion. His disciples and apostles have been selected for him from among the devotees of one definite movement and he will show himself to be a messenger of those certain beliefs, and to them only.
How such ideas can be accepted in these modern days is beyond understanding. Those who can look into the future realize that the next great avatar, the next Christ among men and Son of God, will be born free from relationships with any organization, sect, religion, dogma or movement from his cradle; will be unlimited and not confined to certain persons or beliefs. That is, he will not work under any dogma. It might be organized but not dominated.
The Essenes believed that the new messiah would come with a message, new ideals and an offering to all peoples, of all faiths, in all lands. This was just opposite to the view held by the Jewish leaders.
It was into such conditions as these that Jesus was born in Palestine. Just prior to his birth, the Magi of the White Brotherhood from various lands came to Palestine and announced to the Essene Brotherhood that a decree, or pronouncement, issued by the White Brotherhood in Egypt had stated that the hour had come for the birth of the new Son of God.
Through astrology and through other methods of receiving divine revelations of a cosmic event about to take place, the Essenes and the White Brotherhood knew when and where to expect the messiah, now that the hour of his birth had come.
The Magi were in Palestine at the time of the birth of Jesus, and appeared early on the scene to pay homage to the infant, the mother and father of Jesus, for they had lived at the Essene community.
Joseph was a member in the high degree of the Brotherhood, while Mary was a young girl acting as a vestal virgin in one of the temples of the Brotherhood.
Let us quote an encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII:
Thus, Jesus was born in the Essene Brotherhood, but the Essene Brotherhood did not constitute a religion or a church or a sect. While all of them were of the Aryan race, they did not constitute a race of people that was composed of only one nationality.
If a messenger of God were to be born who would represent all nations, peoples, tongues and all religious beliefs, he would have to be born among the Essenes to fulfill all of these requirements.
The Essenes had never antagonized the Jewish faith or condemned it in any way, and yet none of them was a Jew either by religion or by blood.
The Essenes had not criticized the beliefs of the pagans, Arabs or the heathens. Yet they were not of these people either. The Essenes saw that which was good in all of the religious rites and teachings given among the pagan and the most ignorant of the heathens. Therefore, it was logical for the great Messiah and Son of God to have been born of such a broad-minded, cosmopolitan people as the Essenes.
As we are at this point in history which covers the Essene group in Galilee, we will take some of their documents of teaching and disciplines which show the old code of teaching and method which was used under the Mosaic law in contra-distinction to the new way we now use under our Lord Jesus Christ as He taught it.
Under the Mosaic law, the key to training and teaching people is taught out of the expression, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," which had nothing to do with vengeance in any way, shape or form, but it was the expression of salvation through the law, which meant that by works you attain, and that all transgressions had to be worked out through the fruits of one's own labors.
Throughout this document, as is basic of all the teachings under the Mosaic rule, there is pointed out the sins of the people coming upon them.
The first part of this document covers the partial history of the tribes of Israel once they entered into the Holy Land, which also makes the distinction between the Essene community which is referred to as righteous, or the Sons of God who follow the precepts of law day and night -- those who were not of the society but were of the Jewish faith, which points out "their abominations of desolations," being a direct result of their following the way of the world and not the precepts of the law.
In the ancient times spiritual attainment was hard to come by and for one to attain; it required strict discipline and any infractions of their disciplines were severely dealt with. So thus, in the ancient way of teaching they attained through rigid discipline and long hours of meditation. Through their strict discipline and their duties throughout the day they worked out their sins.
Taking a view of the conditions of the world in that day and this form of teaching, we can clearly see why it took a number of years for a person to attain.
Today there is better than 500% more energy in the Earth's atmosphere. So thus, the conditions in those days with the energy level (and when I say energy level, I am referring to the amount of Christ force that enters the atmosphere of Earth), it was a sizable task for one to raise the vibration of his body and to regenerate it.
Another factor which made the task no easier, to say the least, was that each had to work out the sins not only of his present incarnation, but of the previous ones also.
When our Lord Jesus Christ came to Earth, it has been stated several times, he brought man the atonement and forgiveness of sins. So thus, under Jesus' lordship of the Earth one today has not the sins to work off as those in the ancient schools had. For our Lord brought to each man and to the Earth the atonement of errors since.
So thus today, the path is much different, although the law of cause and effect was not rescinded by the bringing of the forgiveness by our Lord Jesus Christ.
One will still live under the effects of his own actions, but today one can bring himself, body, mind, soul and being to our Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby receive the forgiveness of his errors and go forth in the joy of life and living; whereas under the Mosaic rules, one could give his life, his mind, soul, body and being in dedication to one of the ancient orders, but he would have to work out his errors.