What’s the Doctrine of the Scientology Religion?
While Scientology owes a spiritual debt to the Eastern faiths, it was born in the West and its beliefs are expressed in the technological language of the mid-Twentieth Century. Scientology adds to these spiritual concepts, a precise and workable technology for applying those concepts to life.
Scientology religious doctrine includes certain fundamental truths. Prime among them are that man is a spiritual being whose existence spans more than one life and who is endowed with abilities well beyond those which he normally considers he possesses. He is not only able to solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also to achieve new states of spiritual awareness he may never have dreamed possible.
Scientology holds that man is basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself, his relationships with his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe. In that regard, Scientology is a religious philosophy in the most profound sense of the word, for it is concerned with no less than the full rehabilitation of man’s innate spiritual self—his capabilities, his awareness, and his certainty of his own immortality.
And, in the wider arena, through the spiritual salvation of the individual, Scientology seeks the ultimate transformation—”a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights.”
In one form or another, all great religions have held the hope of spiritual freedom—a condition free of material limitations and suffering. Scientology offers a very practical approach to attaining this spiritual aim. Of this, L. Ron Hubbard wrote: “For countless ages a goal of religion has been the salvage of the human spirit. Man has tried by many practices to find the pathway to salvation. He has held the imperishable hope that someday in some way he would be free.” Mr. Hubbard continued, “And here, after these ages of grief and suffering, through terrible wars and catastrophe, the hope still lives—and with that hope, accomplishment.”
Thus, while the hope for such freedom is ancient, what Scientology is doing to bring about that freedom is new. And the technologies with which it can bring about a new state of being in man are likewise new. An understanding of these beliefs will illustrate how Scientology fits within the religious and spiritual traditions of the world.
L. Ron Hubbard’s path to the founding of the Scientology religion began with certain discoveries he made in his research into the nature of man. He announced his findings in 1948 as “Dianetics,” a word which means “through the soul” or what the spirit is doing to the body.
With Dianetics, Mr. Hubbard discovered a previously unknown and harmful part of the mind which contains recordings of past experiences of loss, pain and unconsciousness in the form of mental image pictures. These incidents of spiritual trauma are recorded along with all other experiences of one’s life in sequential order on what Scientologists call the time track. The painful incidents recorded on this time track exist below a person’s level of awareness and collectively accumulate to make up what is called the reactive mind, the source of all travail, unwanted fears, emotions, pains, and psychosomatic illnesses—as distinct from the analytical mind, that portion of the mind which thinks, observes data, remembers it and resolves problems.
Dianetics provided a method to address the reactive mind by uncovering this previously unknown spiritual trauma and erasing its harmful effects on an individual. When this occurs, one has achieved a new state of spiritual awareness called Clear. One’s basic and fundamental spirituality, personality, his artistry, personal force and individual character, his inherent goodness and decency, are all restored.
While the Clear is analogous to the state of awareness in Buddhism call the Bodhi, or enlightened one, the Clear is a permanent level of spiritual awareness never attainable prior to Dianetics and Scientology.
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 Mr. 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 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.
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.”
SPIRITUAL ENTRAPMENT BY MEST
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.
Scientology’s path to spiritual salvation differs from that taken by religions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In part, this is due to Mr. Hubbard’s discovery of the thetan’s immortality and its separateness from the mind and the body. This fact aligns Scientology much more to Eastern traditions of religious thought in many ways, including their concepts of salvation.
Jews and Christians believe the soul lives only once, and Christians believe that upon death the soul is resurrected as a spiritual body in heaven or hell. Like the Buddhist, the Hindu, and even some early Christians, Scientologists believe that the thetan assumes many bodies through its repeated contacts with the physical universe.
Scientologists also believe that the thetan, and therefore man, is basically good. In contrast, Jews and Christians follow the Old Testament teaching that man has two intrinsic impulses—one good and the other evil—that are constantly competing, just as the perceived cosmic struggle between God and Satan.
According to this Judeo-Christian framework, man’s plight is to overcome his evil side. Jewish theology states he can do this by observing the finely crafted rules of the Torah. Christian theology teaches he must, at minimum, accept Christ’s resurrection as a matter of faith. In either case, the promise of salvation is not realized until death.
Salvation in the Scientology religion is much different and much more immediate. In the tradition of certain Eastern religions, Scientology teaches that salvation is attained through increasing one’s spiritual awareness. The complete salvation of the thetan, called “Total Freedom” in Scientology, is attainable through the practice of Scientology religious services.
As one’s spiritual awareness grows through practicing Scientology, so does his ability to determine his own answers and solutions about life, the spirit and eternity, and to know them with absolute certainty. Ultimately, the individual is aware of himself as a spirit, independent of the flesh, and that he will survive with memory and identity intact.
THE EIGHT DYNAMICS
One fundamental and unifying factor that runs throughout Scientology’s view of the universe is that the primary goal of all life forms – including the thetan—is towards infinite survival. The urge is so powerful and so universal that it is known as the “dynamic principle of existence.” This dynamic principle of existence is itself divided into eight distinct parts, called the “eight dynamics,” each representing one aspect of the survival dynamic. Viewed as concentric circles expanding outward from a common center, the eight dynamics represent an increasing awareness of and participation in all of life’s elements. These dynamics represent Scientology’s view of the cosmos.
The first dynamic is SELF. This is the urge toward existence and survival as an individual, to be an individual, and to attain the highest level of survival for the longest possible time for self. Here we have individuality expressed fully.
The second dynamic is FAMILY. This is the urge toward existence and survival through sex and the rearing of children. It stands for creativity, for making things for the future, and it includes the family unit.
The third dynamic is GROUPS. This is the urge toward existence and survival through a group of individuals, with the group tending to take on a life and existence of its own. A group can be a club, friends, a community, a company, a social lodge, a state, a nation, or even a race.
The fourth dynamic is SPECIES. This is the urge toward existence and survival through all mankind and as all mankind.
The fifth dynamic is LIFE FORMS. This is the urge toward existence and survival as life forms and with the help of life forms such as all animals, birds, insects, fish and vegetation, or anything motivated by life. It is, in short, the effort to survive for any and every form of life. It is the interest in life as such.
The sixth dynamic is PHYSICAL UNIVERSE. This is the urge toward existence and survival of the physical universe, by the physical universe itself and with the help of the physical universe and each one of its component parts—matter, energy, space and time.
The seventh dynamic is SPIRITS. This is the urge toward existence and survival as spiritual beings or the urge for life itself to survive. Anything spiritual, with or without identity, would come under the heading of the seventh dynamic. The seventh dynamic is the life source, or theta. This is separate from the physical universe and is the source of life itself. Thus, there is an effort for the survival of theta as theta.
The eighth dynamic is the urge toward existence and survival as INFINITY. The eighth dynamic also is commonly called God, the Supreme Being or Creator, but it is correctly defined as infinity. It actually embraces the “All-ness” of All.
Mr. Hubbard wrote about the interrelationship of the sixth, seventh and eighth dynamics:
“The theta universe is a postulated reality for which there exists much evidence. If one were going to draw a diagram of this, it would be a triangle with the Supreme Being at one corner, the MEST universe at another and the theta universe at the third. Too much evidence is forthcoming in research to permit us to overlook this reality. Indeed, the assumption of this reality is solving some of the major problems of the humanities….”
Because the fundamentals upon which Scientology rests embrace all aspects of life, certain key principles which permeate the religion can also be broadly employed to better any aspect of life. Moreover, the principles greatly clarify what is so often confusing and bewildering. And, through Scientology, a person realizes that his life and influence extend far beyond himself. He becomes aware also of the necessity to participate in a much broader spectrum. By understanding each of these dynamics and their relationship, one to the other, he is able to do so, and thus increase survival on and participation in all these dynamics.
Thus, as a Scientologist expands his awareness, participation and responsibility outward along the dynamics, he will ultimately arrive at the eighth dynamic, survival through Infinity, or the Supreme Being. That is why, according to Mr. Hubbard, “When the seventh dynamic is reached in its entirety, one will only then discover the true eighth dynamic.”
There are probably at least as many concepts of the Supreme Being or ultimate reality as there are religions. Christianity is monotheistic. Hinduism is a polytheistic faith. Branches of Buddhism do not believe in a Supreme Being in any form whatsoever. As many religious scholars note, Scientology in this respect is more like Western religions and shares their view that places the Supreme Being at the pinnacle of the cosmos.
According to Mr. Hubbard, a man who does not share a belief in a Supreme Being is not really a man. Mr. Hubbard wrote:
“No culture in the history of the world, save the thoroughly depraved and expiring ones, has failed to affirm the existence of a Supreme Being. It is an empirical observation that men without a strong and lasting faith in a Supreme Being are less capable, less ethical and less valuable to themselves and society. … A man without an abiding faith is, by observation alone, more a thing than a man.”
Many religions characterize the Supreme Being (whether called Yahweh, God, Allah, or something else) in such terms as omnipotent, omniscient, beneficent, judgmental, demanding, or attribute to the Supreme Being other generally anthropomorphic qualities.
Scientology differs from these other religions in that it makes no effort to describe the exact nature or character of God. In Scientology, each individual is expected to reach his own personal conclusions regarding all eight dynamics, including God, through the practice of the religion. Thus, an individual’s understanding as to his relationship with the Supreme Being is developed over time as he comes to understand and participate more fully in each of the preceding seven dynamics.
This is a necessary approach, for in Scientology no one is asked to accept anything on faith. Instead, everyone is expected to test beliefs for themselves, on a purely personal level. A belief—or knowledge—will be true for someone only when that person actually observes it and determines that it is true according to his own observation. Thus, by following the Scientology religious path, one comes to a relationship with the Supreme Being that is truly personal and individual. In this regard, Scientology is in some respects similar to those religions such as Unitarianism and other faiths which are wary of providing dogmatic definitions or descriptions of God.
Scientology shares the view of many religions that no person can be spiritually free—or even successful in everyday life—if he is only interested in himself, his first dynamic. From a Scientology perspective, such a person would be considered to have lost his native spiritual awareness of and responsibility for the other seven dynamics.
As a person becomes more spiritually aware through Scientology, he inevitably experiences a reawakening of his own interests and responsibilities in these other areas of life. Thus, as one progresses in Scientology, one normally develops a stronger sense of the importance of the family, and the need to contribute to one’s community and take part in activities that assist mankind as a whole. Rather than accepting such duties as a burden, the Scientologist sees responsibility on the eight dynamics as a natural and necessary progression of his own spiritual growth.
Scientology teaches that one must always take these dynamics into account in deciding any course of action, even in seemingly mundane, day-to-day matters. Indeed, one of the cardinal pillars of Scientology thought and the standard by which it encourages individuals to guide their conduct is that the “optimum solution” for any problem is the one that does the “greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.”
It is this interrelationship of the eight dynamics which provides the foundation of Scientology’s system of ethics. Indeed, in Scientology, ethical conduct is defined as conduct which maximizes one’s growth and participation along each of the dynamics, the most ethical action being that action which enhances the survival and growth of all dynamics, and the least ethical action being that which causes the most destruction along the dynamics, with infinite gradations in between. Good and evil are thus defined, and from them a system of right conduct which enables an individual to maximize the survival of himself, his family, community and society as a whole.
Ethics plays a large role in the life of a Scientologist, as these beliefs govern conduct. Having embraced a yardstick by which to gauge their conduct, Scientologists strive to live honest, ethical lives, to better conditions not only as far as their own lives are concerned, but for their family, community, nation, and all of society. A Scientologist is not following his religion if he is seeking only his own spiritual enhancement. Thus, Scientology doctrine repeatedly emphasizes the need for individuals to apply its religious wisdom to better the conditions of their family, neighbors, their friends and society at large.
Scientology encourages its members to take the principles they have learned through the practice of the religion and apply them to help others to have a better life. Moreover, according to Scientology doctrine, the individual bears a responsibility for bettering the community as surely as he is responsible for taking care of himself, for the Scientologist knows his spiritual salvation depends on it.
Because the ultimate goal of an immortal spiritual being—infinite survival—can be attained only by maximizing one’s participation along all eight dynamics, the question arises as to how, then, an individual accomplishes this.
Scientology teaches that by increasing understanding along all eight dynamics, the thetan can increase his participation and survival potential. Scientology defines understanding as being composed of three elements: affinity, reality and communication. These three interdependent factors may be expressed as a triangle and are examined at great length in Scientology Scripture. Each element occupies a corner of the triangle, known as the ARC triangle.
The first element is affinity, which is the degree of liking or affection. It is the emotional state of the individual, the feeling of love or liking for something or someone. The second element is called reality, which could be defined as “that which appears to be.” At bottom, reality is actually a form of agreement. What we agree to be real is real. The third element is communication, the interchange of ideas. These three concepts—affinity, reality and communication—are the component parts of understanding. They are interdependent one upon the other, and when one drops, the other two drop; when one rises, the other two also rise.
Of the three elements, communication is by far the most important, and a substantial portion of the Scientology Scriptures are devoted to the understanding and application of communication.
An individual’s communication level is a primary index of his spiritual state. To the degree that a person is withdrawn, introverted or uncommunicative he may have many problems in life. Experience shows that many of these problems can be alleviated simply by knowing the various components of communication, thus raising one’s ability to communicate.
In Scientology, as a person’s spiritual awareness increases, his level of affinity, reality and communication—and thus his understanding—expands. Indeed, Scientology teaches that when a thetan has total affinity, reality and communication across all eight dynamics, complete understanding of the entirety of life and full spiritual awareness follow.
Thus it can be seen that the doctrines of Scientology address ultimate concerns—the relationship of man as a spiritual being to all aspects of life and the universe, and finally his salvation through a route to higher states of spiritual existence.
Entry filed under: What's the Doctrine of the Scientology Religion?. Tags: , Affinity, Christians, Communication, Dianetics, Doctrine, Dynamics, Ethics, Faith, Family, Freedom, God, Jews, L. Ron Hubbard, Life, Old Testament, Reality, Religion, Salvation, Satan, Scientology, Spirit, Spiritual, Thetan.