The Sabian Procedures
The Nature of Sabian Authority
Since anything is to be said to be what it does, in the terms of an Aristotelian axiom employed continually in the Sabian project, any authority is to be seen as constituted out of the exercise of itself. It is in this sense that Jesus, in the New Testament account of his life, is reported as speaking with authority. In the exposition of the principles built on the Ibn Gabirol magic squares, and made fundamental in Sabian understanding, authority is identified most characteristically by the pleasure it gives to obedience. In complementation with the ultimate necessity that man must mind his own business and thus serve his fellows only as he is successful in making (1) their concerns his own and (2) his outreaching an expression of their potentials as well as his own, authority becomes a phenomenon of that multiformity of interweaving divisions of labor through which the conscious individual becomes a social or in essence a spiritual creature.
Authority under the Solar Mysteries always flows into channels and personalities where its exercise is a maximum convenience to those concerned. This is the essence of democracy, at least in theory. Through the whole of man's history the recognition of the elders as the council of final resort in all dispute has been a simple acceptance of the fact that an individual learns to epitomize fruits of the experience of his fellows in his own character, and so with maturity to reveal the developing wisdom through the universality of understanding he is able to share more and more with others. Equity or chancery law is the legal recognition of the two-way nature of right and privilege at root, and such a pioneer in the modern science of jurisprudence as John Austin found he had to stress the importance of enforceability in legislation if it was to be effective at all. The use of compulsion under a dictatorship is high dramatization of the ultimate weakness of a rule when a popular sanction for its edicts is lacking. In consequence the mode of approach to man's welfare through acts or decisions imposed on him for his own good is identified in the occult tradition as Lunar, and seen as of transitory value if not almost immediately destructive in its results.
In order that they may be framed properly in the Solar vision, all activities in connection with the Sabian project must be autonomous. They are given every liberty of modification and nonconformity to demonstrate that there is no authority imposed from above but rather only that which rises out of present and entirely individual participation in the Eternal Wisdom. Group leadership is by a convenience of initiative and endowment, or of all that follows in train as in teaching and administrative experience or prestige and skills that can be adapted effectively from other activities and opportunities. It does not remain fixed but continues as by an acclamation that is implicit if not explicit. Thus the continuance of the author as Chancellor rests on no more than the general recognition of his role, and of his effectiveness in its performance. As far as possible all details of operation in the group are worked out through the discussion of other or prior experiences with higher reality, to the end that the procedure thus given form may in turn become part of a continuing great tradition.
Authority of a secular or religious nature can be of very real value to the person achieving administrative or pedagogical responsibility under the Solar Mysteries, but it is by no means a necessity. Thus ordination by some established religious body or graduation from advanced study along scientific or intellectual lines in some commonly recognized institution, or both, certainly will facilitate the Sabian contribution of the seeker who has the temperament as well as the time and the means for this collateral accomplishment. Any desire for achievement of this sort is encouraged, and any actual effort is helped in all ways possible.
There is a species of symbolical ordination or hieratic succession in the arcane tradition, but while actual enough it is more a dramatization of the continuity of effort toward some transcendental goal for the welfare of the race than a description of any fact meaningful in itself. Some major historical service in the preservation of the esoteric insights as a living organism of realization may require that the given worker in each incarnation make a new contribution, as in the production of what it is convenient to identify as an occult master thesis. A heightened facility for accomplishing this may involve the re-creation of former and well-tested loyalties, or in a sense a preservation of a succession in a particular authority through a laying on of hands by an initiate server about to decease. In the usual case, as encountered or experienced by the average aspirant, the establishment of a chain of conscious continuities is a less exceptional and more ritualistic strengthening of the ageless heritage. There is a covert reference to this in connection with the fifth step of the opening evocation in the healing ceremony. Specific details of this sort of course are not any part or parcel of the Sabian project, unless they happen to provide a consideration proper to the legate level. It is merely important to realize that the chancellorship of the Sabian Assembly is not determined in any way by considerations restricted to a particular student. Under the Solar Mysteries the office cannot exist in the line of personal successorship characteristic of a Lunar dispensation.