The Circle for the Study of Discipleship
A Tool for Those Who Want to
Improve the Learning of the Soul
Independent Lodge of Theosophists
After organizing short online correspondence
courses on the search for discipleship, the Independent
Lodge opens a permanent virtual place to study the topic.
The door for students of theosophy to become formal disciples of the Masters of Wisdom has been closed since the 1890s.
However, it is well-known that lay discipleship or the informal learning which occurs by affinity on the realm of the soul is always possible in any time or circumstance, since at least the time of Buddha, Pythagoras, Confucius and Laotse.
It is based on this fact that a Circle of Research and Study in Discipleship, CRSD, exists in the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, of which every active associate of the Lodge may take part if he wishes.
The stable practice of selfless work with theosophical tasks gives the interested student the right to participate in the CRSD. The good karma of solidary action is a shield that protects the student from the inevitable tests of the Path.
On the other hand, we know that an interest in discipleship does not always arise after someone joins the ILT. In many cases it starts before that. For some, the more meditative practice of getting in tune with the anonymous substance of lay discipleship deserves attention from the first moment of contact with the Lodge. As a result, we have organized in recent years a few open courses on the search for discipleship, lasting 10 weeks.
In 2020, the Lodge’s research and investigation into the process of seeking lay discipleship reached the point when such short courses should be replaced by a stable process of study, a Circle in which the seekers of novelty can stay for a few weeks, until they see that nothing spectacular happens, and in which – on the other hand – students who have a real affinity with the teaching can actually prepare themselves for an effective informal learning regarding the work of the Masters.
Taking these points into consideration, in November 2020 the Lodge decided to create a new tool for the theosophical work, a group dedicated to the study of discipleship that is open to anyone of our readers. Its name is CSD, or Circle for the Study of Discipleship.
What is the difference between the CSD and the other fronts of the public work developed by the Lodge?
The priority of the CSD is harmoniously building the inner condition of the soul by which the student – besides knowing the original proposal of the theosophical movement – also comes into personal harmony with it.
Such a direct affinity is built through self-purification, self-knowledge, self-control and the practice of silence.
These elements are already present in the different work fronts of the ILT. The Lodge has as its central reference the teachings of Blavatsky and the Letters of the Masters, and this gives us a broad horizon. Everything human interacts with us. Ethical and good-willing thinkers of all times and of every nation, who follow different religions or philosophies, are seen as friends by theosophists who have good sense.
We are brothers of the ancients and the moderns.
From Confucius to O.S. Marden, from Erich Fromm, Karen Horney or Sigmund Freud to Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Musonius Rufus, many are the great thinkers who have something of fundamental importance to tell us. Wen-tzu is our contemporary. Plato belongs to modern times. Cicero has a lot to teach in the 21st century. Pitirim Sorokin is our brother. Ivan A. Il’lin is a significant author in esoteric philosophy, as are Paul Carton and Visconde de Figanière.
Only the master key is given by the Letters from the Mahatmas and the writings of HPB.
The Circle for the Study of Discipleship is part of the wider tradition of the esoteric schools and the internal studies of the theosophical movement. The daily life of each student is seen as the place for him to correctly understand his own existence and the practical lessons that must be taken from the esoteric literature of all time. The CSD believes that no speech can be stronger than the daily practice from which it emerges.
The Letters from the Masters and Mahatmas and the esoteric school created by Blavatsky in 1888 are the central and main reference to the Circle.
An unfortunate distortion of the esoteric school began a year or two after Blavatsky’s death. The process of the school is worth studying. One must learn from its original proposal, from its experience, without falling into any bureaucratic or authoritarian scheme, but centering the process on an independent, self-taught and self-responsible effort. Each student has to act as his own master, while being a humble disciple of his own conscience.
The work of the CSD is public and open. No formal requirement of secrecy is made. The great secret of the search for discipleship is not verbal: it is experiential. It is revealed in the soul of each student, as long as he silently understands the teaching – and begins to live in greater harmony with it.
The most important things in life do not always attract attention externally. In the CSD no one can find spectacular facts or great novelties that are much different from what is given in E-Theosophy and other fronts of our public work. Yet the topic of discipleship and the experiential process of self-preparation for the learning of that which is eternal will be more directly focused.
In his initial message, the student should tell us something about his or her journey so far, saying why he is interested in lay discipleship and what he knows already about the work of the Independent Lodge.
Born in Brazil in 1952, the coordinator of the Circle for the Study of Discipleship is a member of the theosophical movement since 1980 and lives in Portugal with his wife.
A formal aspirant to discipleship since October 1986, he was the text-editor of the Portuguese language edition of “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”, series one and two (Brasília, 1996). He is the responsible for the editorial work of the two-volume 2001 Brazilian edition of “The Mahatma Letters” (“Cartas dos Mahatmas”, Ed. Teosófica, Brasília).
Author of several books, he translated from English to Portuguese and edited classic works such as “Wen-tzu”, “Tao Teh Ching”, “Dhammapada”, and “The Voice of Silence”. The main founder of the CSD is also the general editor of the associated websites. His 2013 work “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature” examines the struggle between common sense and ignorance in the history of theosophical literature, from the 19th century to the 21st century.
The above article was published in the associated websites on 10 November 2020. An initial version of it is part of the November 2020 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pages 14-16.