The Sabian Path

Part Five: "The Lessons"

Extracts of a chapter, "The Lessons," expanded with other material "The Sabian Way" by Jonas R. Mather. Much of the text is pure Marc Edmund Jones, compiled from various primary sources.

In a primary sense the Sabian lessons represent the core of group activity. They provide a framework for interaction and set the tone of weekly group or individual studies. Briefly, there are 60 sets, 3,000 individual lessons, each averaging about 1,200 words. Students receive a weekly Bible lesson, a philosophy lesson, and a Blue Letter (because it's on blue paper) for instruction in "occult elements of self-enlightenment."

The materials Jones described as the Sabian 3Ps, and these are psychology, philosophy and personality. "Our psychology is behavioral or environmental, dealing with the mastery of facts, the techniques for handling problems, problems of thinking and the like. Our philosophy is idealistic for accomplishing the mastery of ideas. By personality we mean effective personality or mastery of conscious experience."

Jones wrote the Bible and philosophy lessons in two phases: 1922 to 1933 and 1934 to 1945. The first lesson was dated July 2, 1924, and the last December 10, 1945. Don't look for these dates on current lessons. The lessons are in a constant, about 20-year, cycle of editorial change and bear the date of reissue in a continuous rotation of materials that serves special purpose, a particular pertinency to individual or environmental circumstance known as the screen of prophecy, or what has been described as a screening out of parallel and relevant references to the real world in personal association.

Although the scholarship is impeccable, the lessons are not intentionally didactic. Essentially, they are an experience. "The work," said Jones, "is to sharpen, elevate, discipline the understanding, not to pack minds with information. . . . The essence of the whole enterprise is a dynamic and living reality, not an objective or static something which can be put under the psychological microscope, to be criticized with pedantic preciseness. "The deeper they plumb the more difficult it is to read them, or to understand the meaning in the first perusal. Every student must explore for himself the spirit of the original material and then direct his interest toward some use of it in his own affairs or in some ramification of his own interest.

"The Sabian lessons are a guide to the greater depth in any analysis of the heritage of the western world (1) spiritually in the Bible, (2) intellectually in the great philosophers springing out of the all-important Socratic group, and (3) emotionally or in the area of the heart and the non-rationalized aspiration and loyalty to the high insights found in various of the most beloved or most generally known or available presentations of symbolism and the poetic or oblique or titillating touch through to ultimate reality. In the lessons there is always the more or less canonized experience of the race as a whole as this can be a springboard for an individual realization.

"The purpose of the lesson material is to make available what a person needs. What he must keep in mind always . . . is that there is not primarily any communication of fact such as remains valid in isolation or abstraction, but instead what is provided fundamentally is an experience in thinking. . . . Life as a whole is a continuous reconstruction of experience, and the lessons are a reconstruction of the total experience of the race as this has been caught and generalized in what a nice custom has come to identify as spiritual writings."

Copyright © 1993 by Jonas R. Mather
All Rights Reserved

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