The Sabian Aspirant
The Sabian Assembly has its roots in the purely individual research of its founding chancellor. Its actual beginning was in private classwork a decade later. The Assembly dates the continuity of its existence from October 17, 1923.
Its subject of first interest was astrology, but its overall concern soon broadened to include every area of knowledge or experience that might lead to the Eternal Wisdom. Attention was directed to the Bible, to the world's philosophers with detailed studies of Plato and then of Aristotle and Plotinus for further development of Platonic insights, to New Thought with an adoption and continual refinement of the healing techniques of mental science, to the cabala as redeveloped for modern life on the basis of Ibn Gabirol's contribution, to symbolism in its ageless roots, to Theosophy and Spiritualism for their special impact on recent times, and to the occult traditions of the East and West in their ever-ramifying significance. Neither astrology nor any other one part of the whole has been permitted to dominate the vision.
To escape the limitations of prevailing educational conceptions the project was shaped to cut across all lines of intellectual distinction, since thereby it might hope to develop an understanding such as would have equal clarity for every mind from the least endowed to the most gifted.
To provide an impartial appreciation of all possible religious insights the approach has encouraged every creative participation in the various forms of faith, but without affirming a necessary primacy for anyone of them and without denying the right of any individual to set up such a primacy for his own particular experience of God.
To keep the project creatively fluid it has been developed as an organism with members who are accepted as adult and who therefore not only are presumed to know the right thing to do but are expected to do it of their own volition. Organization has been avoided as far as possible. Practical details are handled according to prevailing custom and as the need arises. All procedures are built on an uncompromising respect for personality, and on a demand that each aspirant mind his own business or seek the kingdom of heaven for himself before venturing to promote it too assiduously for his fellows.
All rituals and methods arose through extemporization at the times they first proved useful, and this spontaneity has become the very essence of the project.
The life of the Sabian vision is in the invisible fellowship of common effort toward common goals on the transcendental levels of the tradition it has built into its own being, and in the consequent communion with the great souls who created the real genius of occultism in the past. Membership in the Assembly begins with an expressed desire to participate in this fellowship.
The higher ends sought are seen as being cradled in the lesser goods in which the mass of humanity of the world can share. Therefore the token of continuing aspiration is taken to be the achievement of a bodily health, an economic stability, a psychological poise and a desire for effective understanding on the level of everyday validations. Faithfulness in maintaining the rhythms of the work in its down-to-earth orientations is found to be the most important qualification for the more exalted self-perfecting. The labor of the spirit in consciousness is the fundamental strength of the Sabian enterprise, and the five minutes of daily meditation required of the aspirant early in the work merely prepare him for his more serious spiritual responsibilities in the group.
Members of the Sabian Assembly are given almost complete liberty to express themselves in their respective ways as they learn how best to participate in the project. Thus they may enter or leave the work at will and change status whenever they please, providing only that they meet the basic and simple requirements. There are varieties of affiliation and emphasis, and of adjustment to the personal situation.
After two years as a neophyte the aspirant may become an acolyte, and in this stage he has the obligation of special study for five years, of more directed work in consciousness, of psychological drills to perform and of details of discipline for developing his more specific self-unfoldment. In similar fashion and as a next step he may undertake legate work with three years of specific obligations of a generally more subjective sort. After that period there can be an endlessly continuing self-fulfillment, contingent on an indomitable desire to serve the highest spiritual vision.