The Sabian Path

Part Two: "The Work"

A brief condensation of a chapter, "The Work," from "The Sabian Way" compiled from various primary sources by Jonas R. Mather.

Take charge of your life and destiny. In essence this is the message of Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, founding chancellor of the Sabian Assembly, a fellowship of mutually enjoyed tasks and interests that stimulates individual spiritual and social development and significant contribution to the real world about it. The Assembly functions with an absolute minimum of operating structure: An unpaid volunteer administrator and a part-time secretary located in Washington state, where its legal entity, The Sabian Publishing Society, a non-profit educational corporation, is headquartered. Voluntarism is a guiding principle. Officers and trustees are self-nominated and approved by vote of the society's members.

The Sabian Assembly, which Jones envisioned as a modern equivalent of Plato's Academy, may be described as a fellowship of aspirants who share a common consciousness — but not necessarily common immediate goals — guests at a vast smorgasbord, selecting at the buffet what meets particular need, choosing different means to what may well be a common goal. The group is small with an enrollment of less than 200 but international with members in Europe, Africa and South America.

The Sabian student practices a self-imposed, solar, discipline on a take-it-as-it-is basis, doing everything in as normal and conventional pattern as possible.Solarity as a self-chosen and administered pattern of growth, is the mode of student development. No knuckling under to external pressures or acceptance of externally administered disciplines, the frequent practice of occult groups in the lunar, or other-directed tradition. The Sabian Assembly's graded discipline, neophyte, acolyte, legate is self-chosen and self-administered. Voluntary, non-monetary pledges mark entrance to each level of the work and there are lesson sets, again self-chosen and self-administered, for the five-year acolyte discipline that leads to legate status.

Dynamic idealism, the more formal classification of Sabian Philosophy, is derivative in nature, a literal "standing on the shoulders of giants." Contemporaneously its giants are John Dewey and his mentor, George Sylvester Morris, the subject of Jones' Ph.D. thesis, still in print. Nominalism is the covering school of thought. In nominalism, words and phrases are considered tools with their meaning purely an individual matter and whatever exists is defined by what it does, not by how it is described or identified. In dynamic idealism "Man is dynamic, central, real, " said Jones.

The Sabian foundational work is the "Fons Vitae" (Fountain of Life) of Solomon ben Judah ibn Gabirol (Avicebron) whose particular exposition of Aristotlean thinking places the core of reality in the now, a dominant concept in Sabian thinking. Aristotle, Plato, the Greek school in general and the Judeo-Christian religious tradition undergird the western philosophical contribution. Eastern influences include the Bhagavad-Gita, the Vedas, the philosophy of Shankara.

Poet and philosopher ibn Gabirol, an 11th century Spanish Jew, wrote the Fons Vitae as a traditional, student-master dialogue. The Arabic original was translated into Latin in the 12th century. The "all-important" work, said Jones, exemplifies the cabala as a marriage of poetry and philosophy. "His centralization of reality at the core of experience, making it ever a construct of the process of being, is the key to the whole shaping and refinement of Sabian realizations."

Copyright © 1993 by Jonas R. Mather
All Rights Reserved

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