The purpose of this essay is to explore the religion of scientology and to further understand the main aspects of the religion in better detail. The religion of scientology intrigued me because I have never known anything about it, and it sounds like it might be something that is quite interesting to learn more about. There will be many areas covered, including the founder of the religion, the different aspects of it, and facts about Scientology.
Scientology as a religion began in 1954 and was based on the thoughts and teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. (Nation) He came to be respected and known with his book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”, which contains a therapy for enhancing life, as well as curing emotional and psychosomatic illnesses. (Nation) This was the basis for the beginning of the religion, along with the book “Science of Survival.” That book speaks about the religion philosophy of scientology, and this is when his ideas first took on a religious angle. (Nation) Hubbard, being a genius, is someone who’s writings will get recognition and be respected by some sector of the community, and that aided Scientology. (Garrison, 21)
In order to understand the Scientology in a better way, we have to get a grasp on what Dianetics is, especially since it is the forerunner and foundation upon which Scientology rests. (Garrison, 19) Dianetics is described as the basic science of human thought, and is related to the exploration into the human mind. (Garrison, 20) Hubbard
began this whole Dianetics idea by looking for the a dynamic principle that would be the lowest common denominator of existence. He came up with the idea that all life is energy of some sort, and he asked: what is the energy doing? (Garrison 23) The answer that Hubbard drew from that question was that the dynamic principle of existence was the primary urge of all organisms, from the simplest to the most complex, to survive. In his studies, Hubbard also found that the basic nature of human beings to be sincere, intelligent, and good, the conclusion being drawn from studies of hypnosis. (Garrison, 24) This conclusion is key in uncovering one of Dianetic most valuable discoveries, that is the idea that all men are basically good and that their wrongdoing stemmed from mental aberration, which means that the ideas are straying from the normal. The idea that the mankind could be redeemed if they can stop the mental aberrations, which was the source of the problems. Further investigation into this area of study found the source of trouble lay in a previously unknown sub-mind, which, together with its own memory, underlies the conscious mind. The subliminal mind (which is different from conscious mind) is also known as the reactive mind in this theory, is the only mind that is always conscious. This mind then records what is done to the individual, not by him, during periods of unconsciousness, which can be from drugs, shock, illness or injury, and these recorded thoughts are what contains the pain or problems, which lead to the mental aberration, and then to eventual wrongdoing (Garrison, 26) Then, armed with this knowledge, one can conclude that a primary goal of Dianetics to restore the human back to its full potential and to clear the mind of all the things that essentially pull it down. Dianetic believes in going back and basically re-living these mental aberrations (not literally, in the mind) and this will cause the brain to eventually file the memory away as non-aberrative. (Garrison, 29) This is the basic idea of Dianetics, which again laid the groundwork for the Scientology religion.
Scientology is an organization or movement that is right on the boundary between psychology and religion. The idea is that if you correctly apply the knowledge that is there for the taking, which will fully release the individuals full potential. The proper application of the ideas is supposed to lead to the freeing of the individuals superhuman powerful human nature. Scientology believes that in the climb to a desirable state, there are current human limitations, including lack of confidence or competence, psychological and physical disabilities, and psychosomatic illness. These limitations, if they are eliminated (the idea of scientology), this will enable man to handle his environment more successfully. (Wallis, 4)
Scientology also looks at the human beings will to exist, which is summed up in 8 dynamics or drives as they are called. L. Ron Hubbard composed these 8 dynamics or drives, and they are as follows: 1) The urge to survive as a self-aware individual; 2) through his progeny; 3) as a member of a family group or race; 4) through mankind as all mankind; 5) the urge toward survival through all living things, whether animal or vegetable; 6)the urge towards survival in the physical universe; 7) the urge towards survival as or of spirits; and 8)the urge towards survival as Infinity, or through a Supreme Being. (Garrison, 24,43,44) The religion of Scientology strives to teach the people to reach their maximum potential and to make the person exist and satisfy all of the dynamics.
Scientology, as you may expect, has had its people that do not agree or believe in the ideas or principles and do not consider it a religion. J. Gordon Melton did a study on the religion, and he is a reputable writer of the Encyclopedia of American Religions. He says the he finds Scientology “to be a religion in the fullest sense of the word”. (Melton,2) His studies show Scientology to have a strong, well thought-out doctrine, that includes belief in a Supreme Being, a belief in the freedom of the spirit, belief in the immortality of the spirit, a detailed system of worship, as well as pastoral counseling program, as well as community efforts. This is a very full plate and is a rarity among religions that are as young as this one. (Melton, 1)
This is a religion and it should not be debated too much according to the facts. The worship of a supreme being, and belief in spiritual growth, and the fact that as any “religion”, Scientology answers the basic religious questions of where did we come from, why are we put here, and where are we going. (Melton, 2) The evidence points to this definitely being a religion and there is little debate with the facts in hand.
The religion of Scientology’s major doctrinal emphasis can be hard to grasp. This can be summarized to best aid in understanding of it. The subjects or followers were trained by therapists called “auditors”, and they train one to increase the power of the conscious mind and resist the influence of “engrams”. Engrams are painful long lasting impressions of past experiences that essentially confuse the reactive or unconscious mind. The whole idea is to remove the engrams from the equation. Scientology also preached that humans are immortal spirits that are known as Thetans. (means life) The belief is that most humans have lost their Thetan ability, but through the practice of Scientology, they can become “operating Thetans”. This means that, basically, Scientology is the practice of subduing the engrams and bringing out the potential in human beings to become “operating Thetans”. (Nation, 1)
This insight into Scientology has brought me to believe that there are many different beliefs in the world, and they may look weird from the outside looking in, but that does not mean that these are not legitimate or real religions. The idea of Scientology is not like that of anything that I have heard about before, and that is why it is, in my opinion, an amazing accomplishment that it has survived and flourished. With a worldwide membership of 8 million people, it does not appear that Scientology will be dying out anytime soon , which is admirable. (Nation, 1) Scientology is unique and different, and that a big part of the reason that it is so interesting.