A major reason why the School for Esoteric Studies conducts its esoteric discipleship training by correspondence is to meet the needs of students who, for geographical or time reasons, cannot attend a classroom. But this is not the only reason. Even if all SES members lived nearby, we would still operate as we do now. The reasons for this are:
- Each student is ideally handled individually according to his or her particular needs. While all receive the same lesson sets and meditation forms, the responses of individual students vary enormously. For example, there is the orientation of the scientist, the artist, the abstract thinker and the practical thinker. So each report and paper, after careful pondering, receives a response that will be most meaningful to that student. This could not be done in a classroom situation.
- By writing reports and papers, students learn to clarify their thinking and express themselves clearly. It helps them objectify their problems and stand detached from themselves. Written papers are not graded and there is no pass/fail system. The measure of a student’s work is governed by where he or she is on the path of spiritual evolution, and by what appears to be the rightful next step for him or her.
- The School does not seek to inculcate facts or knowledge but to develop understanding and to foster living the life of the Soul in the everyday world.
- We work by the Socratic method – the use of questions to develop latent ideas – in order to draw out (educere) the student’s potential or inherent spiritual qualities.
- The teacher-student relationship that prevails in a typical classroom is discouraged in the SES. Students are guided to “think through” and find their own answers.
- Personal devotion to individuals (such as staff members) is discouraged; this is another reason why all commentaries on a student’s work carry no individual’s signature by are signed simply “the staff.”
The staff of the School, however, includes far more than the people working in the headquarters office. Certain experienced School members serve in what we call the Commentating Group. Its members live all over the world and, including the staff in the office, number approximately 20 people. These senior students, who voluntarily contribute much time and effort, are not only a vital part of the structure of the School but constitute the “heart” of the School group.
The School for Esoteric Studies, therefore, is essentially a group project, in which people who are more experienced in the spiritual training are aiding those who are less experienced. Responsibility and self-reliance are fundamental, but we tread the Path together.
Because this work is founded upon efficient group functioning, it is important that communications flow freely between student and office staff as needed. The staff stands ready to answer any questions or discuss any problems, whether by email, phone or postal mail.
A final point: New students are a sign that the great enterprise of discipleship is flourishing. Referrals are always welcome.