The Three Levels of Association
One’s Horizon Gets Slowly Wider in
The Independent Lodge of Theosophists
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Founded in September 2016, the Independent Lodge of Theosophists works according to the benchmark of affinity. The act of being an associate of the ILT is a dynamic process which unfolds in a gradual way on various levels, and must renew itself every day.
The first form of association takes place by the process of inner communion and is therefore invisible. It is also the most important one.
An individual becomes associated to the ILT into the extent that he builds by study and research a soul-level connection with esoteric philosophy and the theosophical view of life.
Careful reading is the main tool of this first degree of interaction, which corresponds to the level of the ‘akousmatikoi’, or the ‘hearers’ of the Pythagorean School in ancient Greece.
There are inner reasons why the neophytes, in the original Pythagorean community, observed the practice of being silent for a period of five years.  Hearing is always a noble function. When the lower self does not talk, the Voice of the Silence flows, and teaches the pilgrim about universal wisdom.
To read is to hear. Through reading a syntony is established.
The Internet makes it possible with no need of physical plane meetings. The Facebook is important for the theosophical work, and through it the Independent Lodge interacts with thousands of persons around the world. On the other hand, the central Study Rooms of the Lodge are the E-Theosophy e-group, in English, and the SerAtento e-group, in Portuguese. The online library sustaining the study-rooms consists of our associated websites. The physical library is in the homes of their co-editors. Every voluntary worker is considered a co-editor.
The collective presence shared by each and everyone is internal. The observation of the ways through which the inner presence works strengthens the bridge to the higher self, Antahkarana. At some point the student who is associated to the ILT by the informal bonds of inner affinity feels the need to take a new step ahead. It is correct then to deepen the connection, taking it to the level of practical action.
A Brotherly Effort
The second level of association takes place when the student decides to take part in the practical work of the Independent Lodge.
The project of the ILT unfolds in a number of dimensions. Each student is the “center of Pascal’s Circle”. He must create his own structures of action according to the principles of self-responsibility and mutual help.
On the second level, the horizon widens according to the intensity of the effort made and the altruism of one’s motives.
The study becomes more serious, better focused, and it starts to be made from that point of view that produces the highest theosophical lucidity: the perspective of he who aims at helping mankind by reducing the causes of its suffering. A deeper study combined with action now constitutes an existential question for the student and corresponds in general terms to the level of the matematikoi of the Pythagorean School. 
Planning the Next Step
Once a process of cooperation with the co-workers is established, one can say there is a magnetic basis that will sustain the formal association and give life to it.
And when the student feels that he is ready for the third level, the time has come for him to get in touch with the Independent Lodge through the email firstname.lastname@example.org and calmly evaluate the possibility of formal association.
The student is then invited to read and comment texts of his choice about the theosophical movement and the ILT.
On the basis of the circumstances around him, and taking into consideration his talents, his limitations and higher potentialities, as well as the present moment of the theosophical effort, the student gradually builds the practical tools of the second and third level of his association to the Lodge.
The third level of association results from the two previous ones and needs them as its foundations. It emerges from the moment the student decides to formally join the Independent Lodge.
One then sends by air mail his request for admission to one of the more experienced members of the ILT, who will serve as a Witness, and his diploma or Certificate of Association is sent to him.
The application to join the ILT will contain a statement on the part of the student that he or she is consciously self-responsible before the universal Law. The process of association takes place through a simple and humble procedure in its formal aspects, which is however sacred on the inner plane. 
There are no fees.
The Future Horizons
The Independent Lodge has no formal directors. There is a leadership, there is a mutual distribution of tasks, functions and responsibilities, and yet there are no chiefs in the conventional sense of the word. The founders of the ILT aim at keeping it relatively free from mechanisms of bureaucratic power.
The Lodge takes place on the various planes of life, as an unfoldment of one’s affinity with the Ideal. Real progress along the Path to Wisdom includes tests and challenges. It involves a number of factors, some of which may be named here:
* The decision to live the teachings and to express them in one’s actions; accepting the probationary aspect of the learning;
* The practice of study and cooperation with one’s colleagues while facing the obstacles that are inevitable in a noble effort;
* The constant re-examination and strengthening of the decision to help mankind as a higher form of helping oneself, and of the decision to expand the process of self-respect and self-improvement as a way to be better able to help mankind.
Once someone becomes an active associate, a new field of potentialities becomes visible. The widened perspective shows him the possibility of participating in a circle of research and study in discipleship. The circle is restricted to the active associates of the ILT who feel ready for this level of the path.
The three degrees of association occur at the same time. Regardless of the amount of experience which a friend of the Lodge may have, he is invited to regularly think of the means through which he can become himself a centre of theosophical action in the different dimensions of life, and a centre that is constantly improving in effectiveness.
The price to pay for seeking truth is being a pioneer and opening a new path.
Helena Blavatsky wrote in 1888 to the North-American Theosophists:
“…Each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus will be formed, round which other people will gather, forming a centre from which information and spiritual influence radiate, and towards which higher influences are directed.” 
The words by HPB are of fundamental importance, because they reveal that a group of students who share a correct view of the work and cooperate in harmony will be helped from above.
And the help will not come in obvious ways. 
It will flow on the higher levels of consciousness, getting down to facts and to the average perception of students like the dew of early morning, whose process of materialization nobody can see.
 “Pythagoras, His Life and Teachings”, by Thomas Stanley, a photographic facsimile of the ninth section of the 1687 edition of “History of Philosophy”. The work was published by “The Philosophical Research Society”, Los Angeles, copyright 1970, see the upper half of p. 521.
 See in our associated websites the article “The Center of Pascal’s Sphere”.
 “Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library”, Compiled and Translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, Phanes Press, 1987, Michigan, USA, see pp. 63 and 76. See also “Pythagoras, His Life and Teachings”, by Thomas Stanley, The Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles, 1970, pp. 516 through 521.
 The entrance is in fact invisibly solemn. See the article “Letter from a Master: How to Build a Theosophical Lodge”, on pp. 6-7 of the October 2016 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”.
 Regarding the process of leadership in the ILT, one can see in our associated websites “The Seven Principles of the Movement”, “Envy and Friendship” and “One for All and All for One”. In Portuguese language, “Quatro Ideias Para Um Poder Solidário”.
 “Five Messages”, by Helena P. Blavatsky, The First Message 1888, p. 4. The pamphlets is available at our associated websites.
 On the help from above, see in our websites the article “Learning From Each and Every Event”, by Helena P. Blavatsky. In the text “The 1900 Letter”, also available in our associated websites, a Masters of the Wisdom says: “At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action.”
See also in our associated websites the articles “The Independent Lodge of Theosophists”, “The Independent Lodge and the Movement”, “The Vitality of the Effort”, “Examining Seven Questions”, “The Seven Principles of the Movement”, and “The Theosophical Movement, 1875-2075”.
E-Theosophy e-group offers a regular study of the classic, intercultural theosophy taught by Helena P. Blavatsky (photo).
The Three Levels of Association