The Sabian Orientation
The broad orientation of the Sabian project is in the tradition known as occult, arcane or esoteric. This is an area of human understanding that embraces the supernatural and all speculative approach to the unknown, and of special importance are the ways of self-dedication and discipline known as initiation. The goal is to develop the unsuspected powers of man, and to help him direct them to the improvement of himself and his world.
Modern occultism had its American beginnings with the new birth of Spiritualism in 1848, the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875 and the rise of New Thought at the turn of the century. The events of parallel importance in Europe were the emergence of speculative Freemasonry in the seventeenth century, the redevelopment of hypnotism by Mesmer in the eighteenth and the creation of psychoanalysis by Freud late in the nineteenth.
The esoteric arts and practices given a primary significance are astrology, the cabala and the Tarot. Healing is even more important, but only certain of the therapeutic techniques can be identified as essentially esoteric. Eastern ideas and methods are significant and effective but not always practical in a Western milieu.
Out of an occult literature that is voluminous beyond belief, and as supplementary to the Sabian books and materials, the Secret Doctrine of Blavatsky, the Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception by Heindel, the Outline of Occult Science by Steiner and the Enneads of Plotinus present the mathematical ordering of reality that is a fundamental characteristic of esoteric thinking. The novel Zanoni by Bulwer-Lytton, the Comte de Gabalis by de Villars and the Hidden Way Across the Threshold by Street offer valuable dramatization of initiation, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Eddy and In Tune with the Infinite by Trine give the original flavor of mental healing in the New World.
The invisible fellowship is the designation for a group type of knowing or realization of experience where ordinary language does not transmit meanings adequately, and it is represented by a supernatural lore that usually has been communicated in secret from teacher to pupil and that otherwise is conveyed psychically and in consequence distorted easily and at times rendered quite unreliable. Out of this occult lore comes the account of a number of young priests who became interested in the problems of human immortality some six millenniums ago, and who perhaps first laid a foundation for the Great White Lodge.
There are four types of immortality. Impersonal immortality is represented by the conception of emanations, with reality in each or any of its phases emerging from a transcendent perfection and then returning to its source after the sojourn in time and space. This is a primary concept in Eastern philosophy and is important in the Sabian project because it affirms the essential integrity of everything-that-is and so dramatizes the necessity of myob or a minding of one's own business by every component of the universal whole.
Biological immortality is represented by the ancient Hebrew stress on the importance of male heirs, or of a continuity of man preserved in a succession of offspring. Primitive religion gained much of its power through the veneration of ancestors. Nature worship developed an appreciation for a divine principle of endless bounty, and this insight has been the basis of modern New Thought. This type of immortal continuance is to be seen in the successorship of initiates.
Social immortality is the enduring of human achievements as men take the torch from each other and continue in the race forward to a better opportunity in a better world. It is with this emphasis on a significant being-in-doing that the invisible fellowship becomes an actuality, and that the occult conceptions of dharma and karma have their proper instrumentation.
With personal immortality comes real appreciation of the doctrine of reincarnation, and of the necessity to preserve man's consciousness from life to life in order to avoid an almost complete waste of his self-perfecting during each incarnate span. The realization of a possible substitute embodiment makes it possible to conceive of a vicarious atonement as a basis for a higher religious development in the present race, and of a vicarious attainment as a mode of a practical and more personal accomplishment without any surrender to the limitations of time and space.
The Eternal Wisdom is not so much a knowing as a continual participation in the immortal potentials of all things, and Sabian procedures are shaped to make this clear in all possible ramification of detail. Everything is ordered on a cabalistic pattern to facilitate the realization, and what this means most fundamentally is a bringing of poetry into balance with reason. As an aid to higher understanding the great religious scriptures and secular classics of the world are given special interpretation, introducing the seeker to the progressive levels of meaning to be found, and fresh materials of greater deviation from the conventional are made available or actually created to help him in his recognition of the arcane patterning.
The laya center as the zero point of potentiality to be found lying at the foundation of any and all experience, and located deeply enough and ramifying broadly enough to vivify illimitable possibilities in any conceivable case, is seen to be the fact of source for that consciousness of which all things are taken to be the ultimate manifestation. The aspirant is shown how he may instrument his dedication in terms of laya center. The Master is revealed as an individual who has developed to the point where his continuity of lives has identified itself with a laya center of importance to the persons and objectives he must serve as a condition of his initiation, and the Sabian project gains its organic structure through particularities of its potentials that can be associated in each specific instance with the Masters who constitute its council. Thus these Great Ones can be identified most effectively for each seeker by the twelve plans in and through some one or more of which he will be able to understand his part in the Sabian vision.
The work in consciousness is the heart of the Sabian project, and the healing ministry its strength. Meditation in essence is the conscious direction and maintenance of attention until some selected and creative phase of interest becomes an underlay in all other concern, and there are innumerable and perhaps equally acceptable ways for achieving the desired morale or strengthened integrity of self and others. Healing is the use of widely varying techniques for strengthening the regenerative powers of the individual organism, or revivifying the point of creative poise in some area of experience. At root the process is a conscious return to God.