Expansion and Diversification

International Expansion and Denominational Diversification


Rose (Photo Credit: Lou Gold)

The death of Mestre Irineu in 1971 resulted in a diversification within the Santo Daime community. This is a natural process; for in the history of human development, all great traditions begin with a seed – the life and teachings of a great Master. After the growth of a movement and the passing of a Master (and sometimes even during her or his lifetime), it is to be expected that the trunk of the tree that grows from the seed will branch out. For example, 2500 years ago the seed planted by the life of the Buddha became a great many-branched tree: Buddhism. 2000 years ago the seed planted by the life of Jesus of Nazarus became a great tree: Christianity, also with many denominational branches. As spiritual practices spread, communities make the faith tradition uniquely their own, by incorporating elements of traditional art, cultural practices and symbolism, and architecture. The new teachings are often grafted onto or woven into pre-existing beliefs, rites and rituals.

The seed planted by the life and teachings of Mestre Irineu has continued to grow. In Brazil there are many Daimista centres in the line of the Santo Daime, some are affiliated, and some are independent. Centres can have diverse studies regarding the spiritual practice that are unique to the individual centre, with each study having its own merit. In addition, individual centres usually have a specific doctrinal “flavour” and charitable mission. It is considered part of the tradition that the leader of each centre, with the congregation, will bring a sense of personal mission based on shared vision, spiritual knowledge, experience, karma, cultural aspects, or other factors. The structure of the Brazilian GMT/CONAD (Multi-Disciplinary Working Group and the National Anti-Drug Council) committee reflects that by its members. The committee is comprised of government officials, members of the scientific community, and representatives of the various Ayahuasca religious lines.

There is a natural evolutionary process to all aspects of life, including people, cultures and beliefs. Many factors contribute to the developmental aspect of a religious movement; cultural, social, and legal influences, personal interpretations, scientific advances, and visionary revelations. It is possible to stay in alignment with the ‘perennial philosophy’ within the essential teachings of the Doctrine, while noting that with the passage of time, aspects of the great teacher’s teachings that were culturally and/or politically relevant for the era and location of the Master’s life, may not be pertinent in different cultures and in the emerging consciousness of today’s world. Considerable discernment and integrity, as well as a direct inner experience of spiritual truths, is required to preserve the essence of the wisdom teachings of the Doctrine while supporting evolutionary eclecticism.

One can see throughout the history of religious traditions and movements, and continuing until the present day, that it is possible for the branches of a religion or organization to live in harmony with each other, by acknowledging that they are from the same roots and part of the same tree. Respect and harmony can be maintained when individuals, groups, and organizations choose to consciously live the spirit and truth of consciousness teachings – ‘the formless essence’ while recognizing the need for ‘the form’ – the ritual or practice – to adapt to an ever expanding and transforming global human experience.

(Excerpts from The Seed, The Tree and The Branches, copyright 2007 Madrinha Jessica Rochester)