The Sabian Procedures
The essence of occult procedure is an ordered experience with all the higher potentialities of human nature. In the Sabian Assembly the rituals and meditative practices employed to this end are little different from ceremonies and functions found commonly in everyday life, but the method of discipline or illumination of the mind is wholly esoteric. The work in consciousness and the individual aspirant's faithfulness to the rhythm and substance of his dedication are the strength of the project, but the study of the materials is the foundation of any achievement whether this happens to be a personal contribution or a collective advancement. Attention already has been given to the nature of arcane instruction, and now consideration must turn to the group rehearsals that in a sense create and preserve the Eternal Wisdom. The approach to reality in any such rehearsal has the sanction of untold centuries, and indeed has been illustrated in the riverside discussions of the young Memphite priests of the oral tradition now first brought to written account. And since 1947 there has been the new-found contemporary evidence of the practice in the Qumran community near the Dead Sea some two millenniums ago, in connection with the Hebrew Torah. The details can be deduced with every logical certainty from the manual of discipline discovered in the nearby caves, as well as from the parallel Zadokite Document turning up at Old Cairo in 1896-7 but not then appreciated in its import.
It was the practice of these presumably Essene monastics to divide their members into three shifts, for a study of the law twenty-four hours around the clock every day of the year including the Sabbath. The Qumran brotherhood was an interesting fruitage of the Hasidic movement that had its most objective survival in the Pharisees, but that probably developed its greater inner power and enduring influence in the more secret or esoteric groups such as the one now brought to prominence through the Dead Sea Scrolls. By study of the law was meant not an intellectual acquisition of its content, but rather a repeated experience of its significance through what in modern times would be termed an open discussion. It was a continual exchange of views and insights as those taking part grew in comprehension, and so gave the ideas their transcendental character by sharing them under these special circumstances. In quite literal fact each of these ancient seekers was becoming a conscious participant in the Eternal Wisdom, as the goal of initiation is expressed in the Sabian neophyte pledge. Thus it can be understood why the new member of the monastic company, according to their manual of discipline, was required to contribute not only his worldly means but also his wisdom. He was expected to dedicate his capacity to share his spiritual realizations. The sharing from Sabian perspective can be seen not only facilitating a personal immortality but also helping maintain the invisible fellowship through which the great Lodge had come into existence.
Since the rehearsal of this sort is never primarily of the words or the particularity of statement in which the ancient record is to be found preserved in any given age or culture, but rather always is a matter of a higher experience continually revivified through a fresh and individual adventure into its potentialities for each participant in the process, the Sabian project cannot be said to be intellectual in any over-all sense. There ever will be those among the aspirants who will choose to perfect themselves in areas the world would consider erudite, but this is merely one of many options available for the particular temperament. The rehearsal is of the reality that survives time and space in the form of ideas, and so is of the mind truly enough, but it need not be of the least complexity for that seeker who does not have the opportunity or perhaps the desire to develop the exacting skills of erudition. His service should be as great, and his rewards are merely different. In any immortal perspective there can be neither a more nor a less. And what possibly could be a basis of comparison among seekers in any dimension of eternal orientation?
The Sabian Lessons
It has been explained that the Sabian materials are cabalistic in the ordering of content, in the use of words and in the structure of each sentence and paragraph. They are not to be approached primarily as a source of information but rather as a basis for the particular type of experience needed for participation in the Eternal Wisdom. As a means for providing the necessary spread of this in a time-and-space reality, nearly all the lessons have been prepared in the guise of commentary on the best known and most available contributions of philosophy and religion to man's understanding in the Western world where the Sabian project has its present and convenient roots. There are some strictly occult expositions, as in the astrological presentation and the refinement of the magic squares of idea. Much attention is given to the universal symbolism to be found in such nontechnical and nonspiritual literature as the household tales of the Grimm brothers, to which reference has been made. Each lesson runs to about twelve hundred words. The titles of the various series, with the letter imprimatur and starting dates of issue and reissue, are listed in the appendix.
All active members of the Sabian Assembly receive two basic lessons each week. One is on the Bible, and the other is on philosophy for the first half of the Sabian year and on some phase of symbolism or less technical material for the other half. There are enough lessons in each of these principal categories to constitute a cycle of somewhat less and of somewhat more than twenty years respectively, and no beginning or end is involved in either case. The continuous issue in regular order brings different considerations together in each repetition of the cycles. The convergence of these particular expositions, as well as of accompanying other materials either in parallel relationship or else prepared in the contemporary context, is responsible for a screen of prophecy that is indispensable to the aspirant in his legate discipline. At that time the whole schematism becomes truly esoteric. It creates a white magic for the cultivation and sustainment of a higher dimension or a prophetic potentiality of mind.
A third weekly lesson is provided for the aspirants who at their option select astrology as an added area of investigation, and the materials of this category are sent out in an order suitable for each of them individually. There are weekly letters from the founding Chancellor to the regular students, that is, members of the Assembly of all classifications collectively, and they are known familiarly as the Blue Letters since thus far in the Sabian project they have been reproduced on paper of that color. They too are in a cycle of approximately twenty years. Reports on current world affairs from a prophetic perspective, and currently known as the white letters, are issued every other week. They are for the legates primarily, but are shared with everyone. Special messages for the acolytes and the regular monitors, that is, those who do assigned work in consciousness for the Assembly, are sent out monthly on yellow paper. There are special agencies for the exchange through the mail of current experience and information, such as the Fortnightly Field Notes distributed to all regular students. There are also the tape recordings of conferences or discussions available together with the typescripts made from them and supplied to students upon request.
The acolyte lessons are arranged for fortnightly attention over the five-year period. For the first acolyte year the Arcane Sacraments seek to lead the aspirant into the way by which he may orient himself to his own experience in the terms of his own highest potential. In a second year the orientation suggested to him through the Racial Cycles is in terms of the rhythms of human history, to the end that he may begin to establish his own immortal succession in a significance that will remain ever worth while to himself and his fellows. The Divine Mantras in his third year offer him a discipline in the corresponding spatial orientation, or point him to an enduring social competence through a control of meanings by a proper use of language and so give him a start in mastering the occult semantics. For the fourth year the Sabian Tarot presents a technique for the immediate evaluation of experience in any particular convergence of potentialities and consequences, that is, for the recognition of laya centers and the realization of what may be needed at any special moment for their development and maintenance. Pythagorean Number in a fifth year sustains an initial appreciation of the initiate's capacity to bring all relationships to pattern according to his own choosing rather than leaving this to capricious circumstances he is unable or unwilling to bring under conscious direction.
There are no special legate lessons. The aspirant of that grade is expected to bring major attention back again to the regular issues with at least some grasp of the screen of prophecy they establish, and so with some sense of the prophetic potentials of his own consciousness. If he wishes he may have, for supplementary weekly consideration, the twelve series that deal in order with the magic squares of idea or the Sabian Absolutes, Occult Dichotomy, Magic Squares, Corner Patterns, Cabalistic Depth, Dimensional Reality, Patterns of Circumstance, Patterns of Function, Patterns of Activity, Patterns of Experience, Geometrical Symbolism and Dimensional Symbolism. These expositions of pure cabalistic concepts have a special continuity, and so should be taken in regular sequence. They are issued in normal course to students of the astrology discipline, following the twelve sets dealing with the stellar art in its usual terms. It is presumed that by then the cabala, as here developed out of Ibn Gabirol, will reveal the larger implication of the horoscopic principles and hence in a way constitute a transcendental astrology quite independent of the planets and heavenly mechanisms.
It is most important that the Sabian method of study be understood by the neophyte from the very beginning. First of all he must remember that, through the whole of his immortal ongoing, any point of origin is within himself. Hence source for him can never be identified in a physical or even divine locus conceived as lying outside his own ultimate self-pointing. The Sabian lessons and materials to which he now has turned to instrument his inspiration will with but few exceptions come endlessly in cycle, and he starts his work with them as they happen to be in issue at the time of his affiliation with the group. There is nothing more unusual in this than in the fact that a baby is born into human history in its current course, but the apparent accident of particular moment for an aspirant's entry into Sabian consciousness will become increasingly significant as he persists on this particular path under the Solar Mysteries. What is required of him at the start is an attitude of mind, amounting to an open receptivity to every potential of his own experience. He is to accept no authority as established by anything other than the fact of his own dependence on it, that is, he is to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. This means a respect for parents as long as he remains in the home of his childhood, and a full acceptance of the social rights of the community in which he finds it convenient or necessary to function. But in general and above all else he is to learn to become the sole author or sponsor of his own responsibility.
The initial step for him is to cultivate the flame of his own inspiration or creative comprehension. To that end he is asked never to try to remember the content of Sabian lessons or other materials for the reason it might seem to be a duty or a privilege to do so, but rather to enter into them quite at random and as far as possible at the stirring of a rapport deep enough within himself to suggest at least a measure of initiative seated in his own laya center. Under the discipline as a neophyte he should give some attention to the various books and papers at least once a week, whether these be the current issues or anything coming into his life then or previously as a direct or indirect result of his self-dedication through the Assembly, and this if possible should be at a regular time and under some consistency of circumstances. However, he must realize that to strain to meet the ritualistic ideal is to develop the very sort of crystallization he may be seeking to escape. Meanwhile, and in a simple way of putting the matter that has grown up in Sabian practice, he is asked to window-shop in the materials primarily or at least to pursue no point except as a particular interest is quickened. And then and by the same token he is to continue the pursuit only as this interest remains alive, or seems to justify the attention he is giving it. Indeed, if he is successful each week in finding a single challenging idea he has more than met the minimum requirement of his obligation. He may go as far as he likes, of course, and in whatever manner he chooses. But the activating impetus in all he does, in connection with his progress on the Solar path, must spring from the very real depths of himself.