What is the Scientology Thetan?
|A man is composed of three parts: A body, a mind and the individual himself—the spiritual being or thetan.|
For all that Dianetics resolved, the actual nature of the spiritual being was still unknown, even though it was apparent from the beginning that this was a question which would one day need resolution. The breakthrough from Dianetics to Scientology came in the autumn of 1951, after L. Ron Hubbard observed many people practicing Dianetics and found a commonality of experience and phenomena which were of a profoundly spiritual nature—contact with past-life experiences. After carefully reviewing all relevant research data, Mr. Hubbard isolated the answer: Man had been misled by the idea that he had a soul. In fact, man is a spiritual being, who has a mind and a body. The spirit is the source of all that is good, decent and creative in the world: it is the individual being himself. With this discovery, Mr. Hubbard founded the religion of Scientology, for he had moved firmly into the field traditionally belonging to religion—the realm of the human spirit.
Awareness of the human spirit has existed as a universal ingredient of almost every religion in every culture. However, each defined the spiritual essence of man differently. Terms such as “spirit” and “soul” were encumbered by centuries of various meanings. A new word was needed. Mr. Hubbard adopted the Greek letter theta ( * ), which he had assigned in 1950 to represent the transcendent “life force.” By adding an “n,” the word “thetan” thus described the individual unit of “life force”—the spiritual being—which is the person.
THETA AND MEST
|In the Scientology view, as expressed in the Axioms and the Factors, if there was a “spark” that brought a first primeval brew of chemicals to life, that spark was not the mest energy of electricity, mindlessly contributing some “lucky” voltage, but the volitional, spiritual element of theta taking an elemental step in the creation and conquest of mest.|
In more general terms, the term theta describes the life force which animates all living things. This life force is separate from, but acts upon, the physical universe, which consists of matter, energy, space and time (called “MEST” in Scientology). Scientology is built on a series of fundamental truths called the Axioms, which define theta and MEST and describe how the two interrelate to form life as we know it. The Axioms comprise the fundamental elements of the beliefs of the Scientology religion. (See Appendix 1.)
First published in 1954, the Axioms of Scientology present this doctrinal foundation with a definition of theta as a “life static” which has no mass, no wavelength, no location in space or in time. It has the ability to influence and change its environment and achieve total knowingness.
Scientology holds that it is the action of this non-material life static, playing upon the kinetic of the physical universe, which results in the manifestation of life. All living organisms are composed of matter and energy existing in space and time, animated by theta.
To a Scientologist, life is thus neither accidental nor purposeless, and the answers to questions of creation and evolution are found in Scientology. Materialists have sought to explain life as a spontaneous accident and evolution as a haphazard process of “natural selection.” But these theories never ruled out that additional factors may be merely using such processes as evolution.
Most of the world’s religions express some view of the creation of the world. Some religious traditions, such as Hindu and Buddhist, see the universe as essentially eternal, without beginning or end in the stream of time as we perceive it. The first books of the Bible contain an account of the creation of the universe which some Christian faiths hold to be allegorical and some hold to be an expression of literal fact. Other religious traditions have other views, but each attempts to explain this ultimate question of where we came from and how it occurred. In Scientology, this view flows from the theory of theta creating MEST; in fact, it could be said that the creation of the universe is an inseparable part of that theory. The origins of theta and the creation of the physical universe set forth in Scientology are described in The Factors, written by Mr. Hubbard in 1954.
In the Scientology view, as expressed in the Axioms and the Factors, if there was a “spark” that brought a first primeval brew of chemicals to life, that spark was not the MEST energy of electricity, mindlessly contributing some “lucky” voltage, but the volitional, spiritual element of theta taking an elemental step in the creation and conquest of MEST.
Just as the combination of theta and MEST produces life, their separation is synonymous with death of the organism. The human body, like all life forms, follows a cycle of birth, growth and survival, and ultimately death. The thetan, however—the individualized “unit” of life energy which is the person—is not of the universe of matter, energy, space and time and thus does not cease to exist when the body dies. It is immortal.
As Mr. Hubbard observed, “A Scientologist, before he has gone very far, begins to realize the nature of the universe. He realizes this didn’t all just occur spontaneously one fine day out of some scientific formula, and he realizes there must have been an Author to all of these things. And he also realizes, oddly enough, in his own participation.”
The creation and animation of life forms is part of the process by which theta accomplishes its goal in the physical universe, which is the conquest of MEST—expressed in some religions as a conflict between order and chaos. This goal is made necessary by the fact that the physical universe—MEST—tends to encumber the thetan and cause it to act contrary to its true spiritual nature.
Although Scientologists hold that the immortal thetan is intrinsically good, Scientology posits that he has lost his spiritual identity and operates at a small fraction of his natural ability. It is this loss of spiritual identity that causes man to be unhappy or to act irrationally and with evil intent, even though he is inherently good and highly ethical.
This “fall from perfection” is not due to Satan’s intervention or man’s natural evil impulses, as Judeo-Christian-Muslim religious theology maintains. Rather, Scientology postulates that it is caused by the thetan’s own experiences, whether in current or prior lives. As these experiences accumulate over time, they cause the thetan to become enmeshed with the material universe.
It is through Scientology’s central religious practices, that the thetan is able to extricate himself from this entrapment. This is analogous to the concept of salvation found in other religions.
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