Happy Boxing Day from Jolly Ole England. Look it up!
As an aside to yesterday’s blog, I want to discuss a question asked frequently by seekers. Is it necessary to affiliate with an esoteric school for efficacious progress toward stream-entry or full illumination? This is a legitimate question which can be objectively answered using actual data gathered by observing the spiritual progress of thousands of students versus that seen in loners and New Age aficionados.
The answer is a resounding YES! You doubt such finding? Consider the following:
 History relates that the founders of new esoteric schools attended and studied in existing esoteric schools prior to moving out on their own. Jesus studied with the Esseni in the Levant and with unknown schools located in India (likely Buddhist and Vedanta). Gautama affiliated and studied in two well-known philosophical schools prior to being enlightened under the Bodhi Tree. Both are considered Avatars by many.
 Prior to Enlightenment, the Buddha spent six years as an ascetic; eventually, renouncing such efforts as nonproductive.
 The early 20th century founder of the worldwide Self-Realization Fellowship, Paramahansa Yogananda, studied under a line of Indian gurus before being sent to America.
 Indian metaphysics are transferred one generation to another based upon stable and productive teacher-student study relationships.
 Occidental mystical systems, including, the early Rosicrucian, taught that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
 Many modern esoteric schools eschew the guru-student relationship (so to minimize personality) for the Dhamma-seeker relationship. The Teachings of the school are the central point (Buddhism, Taoism, Rosicrucianism, and the Institute).
 G. Gurdjieff taught that all of us are locked within a great prison called life. A prison existing upon delusion, mechanicalness, and riddled with unnecessary suffering. Moreover, nearly everyone is oblivious to the terror of his or her situation. Why, because we are not conscious creatures, we are mechanical creatures living a fully conditioned life in a state of waking-sleep and delusion.
But, once in awhile, a creature awakens sufficiently to recognize that he or she is imprisoned and seeks the help of a prior escapee and his group so to awaken fully (a theme copied in the movie, The Matrix). Without such help, there can be no escape.
 Personally, I have never met, even one person worthy of being given the title, Initiate, who has not studied in at least one esoteric or near-esoteric school sometime in his or her life. Many claim the status, but, do not live the status. Those who live the status, downplay titles.
However, a most serious problem remains for the student who awakens to the gravity of his or her life situation and seeks relief. How does he or she find a legitimate escapee and a legitimate esoteric school? Modern times have aptly demonstrated how easy it is for sleeping persons to be drawn into a sham school and hypnotized into submission. Take a moment to study the New Age movement and its sham schools arising and falling over the past 50+ years. This is a good exercise for each of you–I am not going to do your homework!
So my advice is student Beware. Do your homework. Does the school exist for the welfare and happiness of its associates? Do the school’s methods actually work? Does the school teach that mankind is transformed one initiate at a time? Does the school claim immediate results sans personal efforts? Are the founders ‘rolling in financial wealth’ at the expense of their students? Does the school utilize aggression to make its students conform? Is the school theological or pragmatic? I could continue for hours, but, I think you have the point.
True esoteric schools need money to do Good Works. Some are donation-based, some ask for monthly dues, others base payment upon your salary (so to be fair to all), some sell media, and many utilize one or more of these methods. It is easy to discover such information for it must be advertized to be followed. Moreover, ask where the monies go. Real schools are transparent.
So, dear readers, heed the above and choose wisely. Wisdom is conducive to everlasting happiness and foolishness to more unnecessary suffering.