To my mind, there is no such objective thing as essence, at least in the sense of a soul, genius, augoeides, higher self, or other non-corporeal form of self-being. In relation to this, I also do not recognize different spiritual states. By that, I mean that any experience of a “spiritual state” is a purely psychological phenomenon. This is not a bad thing at all; in fact, I am a big proponent of seeking such experiences. But they are purely subjective—no one is “more spiritual” than another person in any essential, objective sense.
There is a reason I put these two things together, spiritual states and essence. Religious transformations have not been shown to change the fundamental nature of people—such experiences can often change things like attitudes, aims, and beliefs, but not personal capabilities, bio-psycho functioning (with a caveat given below), or personality (a la the Big Five). Rather, such transformations often are aimed not at the biopsychosocial self but at one’s essential self, frequently in terms of being “born again,” “initiated,” or “attained.” The idea of attaining to objective spiritual states is an ancient one, although it takes a good number of forms, depending on the model one is working within. It’s useful to remember that those models are all manmade.