Conviction of the Mestre Turns 56

Thiago Beraldo*

| October 6th, 2023

Photo: Mestre Cícero Alexandre Lopes.

October 6th, 2023 marks 56 years since the União do Vegetal published an article in the Alto Madeira Newspaper of Porto Velho (RO), entitled “The Conviction of the Mestre,” which is read at the beginning of every monthly Escala (Scheduled) Session of the Center and at some Annual Escala Sessions. The text was a response to both the authorities and the society of the city regarding the imprisonment that José Gabriel da Costa (Mestre Gabriel, the creator of the UDV) had faced just prior for distributing the Hoasca tea to his disciples (also called Vegetal by the associates of the UDV).

At that time, Porto Velho was small and the news of the imprisonment spread quickly through the city. Additionally, there didn’t exist computers nor social media, and television was still a rare thing. The Alto Madeira Newspaper was the most used and most efficient means of communication in order to keep oneself informed. In this way, Mestre Gabriel saw a way to demonstrate what it is to defend oneself without offending: by means of a paid publication recounting the imprisonment without attacking or saying that the authorities were wrong.

In 1967, the military government tightened the regime by granting a new constitution and expanding censorship to the press. It was in that setting that the União do Vegetal was beginning its organization in Porto Velho.

After jail

After Mestre Gabriel was released, Mestre José Luiz de Oliveira recounts:

“We were all together in his house, the Headquarters, each one of us giving a monetary contribution to sue the arresting officer for invasion of a residence after 11pm, when he entered and said, ‘What is the UDV for? What have I been teaching? It’s to preach Light, Peace and Love. This is not the way that we fight evil. This is not the way we are going to respond that we have Light, Peace and Love, by trying to harm someone. Since you are already raising funds, let’s make use of this money and make a publication, in order to give a response to the authorities.’ And in this way this ‘The Conviction of the Mestre was born.”

Mestre Raimundo Carneiro Braga, Mestre Braga (in memoriam), summarized what happened well:

“This happened, truly, for us to be able to liberate the Vegetal. The authorities didn’t understand what the Vegetal was and the number of followers in the UDV was growing. And the authorities kept watch, mainly because it was something unknown. Until one day, they arrested Mestre Gabriel. And they saw that our reaction wasn’t the reaction of bad people, that have bad thoughts – principally the reaction of Mestre Gabriel. We conducted ourselves in a peaceful manner and, because of this, we returned to drinking the tea.”

Centennial, The Alto Madeira stopped circulation

The printed version of the Alto Madeira Newspaper reached 100 years of circulation last April, but on September 30th of this year it stopped its activities. The newspaper released its final edition, number 28,347 on October 1st of this year. The newspaper’s website is still online but it’s content is no longer updated ( Alto Madeira was the most important in Rondônia and became part of the vast newspaper network of Diários Associados (Associated Dailies), the largest and most influential communication group in Brazil for many years, especially in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s of the last century.

See Below the article published in the Alto Madeira Newspaper, in the October 6th 1967 edition:

“Conviction of the Mestre

When José Rodrigues Sobrinho was arrested in Jarú for preparing the vegetal, that they call by the name of Oasca, the Mestre of the União do Vegetal, José Gabriel da Costa was called by the District Chief of Police to provide some explanation about that liquid, “Mysterious TEA”. Not finding any legal infraction in the Brazilian Civil Code, the chief of police gave coverage to the União with the following words: I cannot prohibit your sessions, but neither can I give you permission.

It happened that, in the absence of the Chief of Police and the Director of the S.I.C., the Traffic Commissioner innocently made a raid on the residence of the Mestre, who, at the moment, was religiously doctrinating 38 disciples out of the 198 that come accompanying him. The disciples lost their head and became disoriented with the absence of their Mestre who had been arrested.

In jail, the Mestre examined himself and became happy, admiring the kindness of God. He said: “I used to be a great wrongdoer, I drank alcohol, walked in the red light district, walked armed and had bad intentions. I shed the blood of my brothers. I thought of disorder, wished for bad things and did not know my Great God. With all that, I did not go to jail. Today, I come working for perfection, seeking to take all my brothers from the illusion and the abyss in which I lived; I come calling everyone to ask God, as I come eternally asking.

Oh, God of the Universe, pour upon me all that I wish from my heart toward my enemies. And today, I find myself jailed, not having anyone to accuse me, being accused by my own conscience. What joy I feel for the kindness of God. While meditating, the Mestre was interrupted by a disciple, a police officer who shed tears. The Mestre entered in suffering, without demonstration, comforting him with the symbol of the União: Light, Peace and Love.

The Mestre, once set free, returned to his residence and found his disciples revolted, trying to harm the arresting officer through judiciary means, claiming invasion of a residence after 11:00p.m. At that moment, enters the voice of the Mestre: the União do Vegetal is to destroy evil with the teachings we receive from the Divine Master; the Mestre asks his disciples: How do we destroy evil? They responded: With Light, Peace and Love.

Then, says the Mestre: If we offend by any means, we will disobey the Divine Master. This is The Path. Pay attention those who want to accompany me in the mission. We might be censured by all, but we cannot censure anyone. We might have enemies, but we cannot be anyone’s enemy. We might be offended by all, but we cannot offend anyone. We might be judged by all, but we cannot judge anyone. We might be revolted by everyone, but we cannot revolt nor be revolted by anyone.

The disciples say to the Mestre: We want to understand these words. The Mestre answers: Stay with your memory fixed, studying, until arrive the teachings of Salomão in the next Degree Session. S.I.C.P.M.R. Remember, the symbol of the União is Light, Peace and Love.”

Thiago Beraldo*Thiago Beraldo is a member of the Cadre of Mestres at Nucleo Príncipe Teceu (Brasília, DF).

This article was developed through consultation with the Department of Memory and Communication of the União do Vegetal and interviews conducted by Mestre Yuggi Makiuchi, Conselheira Marisa Mendes Machado, Mestre Antônio Pedro Ferrão and Mestre Pachá.

Published on October 6, 2017.

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