The structure of the spiritual message develops from a complex of themes. The message is directed personally to each individual, and at each formally marked stage of the path—the Bridge—the themes of the message find a new depth and completeness.
The practice of the members of religious orders assumes intensified contemplation over individual themes of special messages. Some Christian orders practice an intensified meditation over key events from the life of Jesus Christ. The purpose of meditation on separate themes and episodes of the Passions of Christ is internal transformation and purifying of the meditator and laying oneself into the hands of Christ. A parallel personal practice exists in some Sufi orders. It is possible to give similar examples from many religious cultures. A common condition which makes a path of internal purification and transformation possible is a special theme structure of the spiritual message.
We shall single out two topical units which are characteristic of the spiritual message of Scientology.
III.I. The Fall of Man, Awareness of the Fall (Catastrophe), Self-Transformation: A Hero’s Personal Journey
The fall of man is regarded as a universal catastrophe which made the person forget his true powerful and infinite self. The infinitely strong and powerful self who had created space and time sank into dependence upon his own creations. The central theme which varies diversely in the Scientology spiritual message is: “The creator who has been enslaved by his own creations and has lost his freedom”. Awareness of this loss is simultaneously the first step to liberation. From here comes the necessity of awareness of all catastrophes, experienced during millions of years of existence. The requirement to comprehend millions of years as one’s personal existence is typical.
The second feature of the theme of fall-awareness-liberation is its heroic image in the Scientology message. The heroic theme means that the search for the new powerful and eternal self is first of all a result of personal efforts of the one following the path—crossing the Bridge. Originally and fundamentally, man is basically good—this is one of the basic tenets of the Scientology creed. It should be emphasised for the sake of comparison that this clearly expressed position is directly opposite to the Christian message which insists on damage and sinfulness in the nature of man from the beginning and on the impossibility of correction by human efforts. (We recall the formula: As it is impossible for the leopard to change its spots, and it is impossible for a bent tree to become straight, then it is impossible through any personal efforts to get rid of original sin and perverted nature.) Looking at man as a hero—the belief that man is originally good and can with the help of his own efforts and human help from teachers and special practice return to his original condition of power—was, in Christianity, always considered to be paganism. Without entering into a detailed discussion of the differences between the Christian message and that of Scientology, attention should, however, be given to this specific divergence as one of the sources of difficulties of dissemination of the Scientology message in cultures where Christianity already prevails.
For our analysis, however, the comparison is important in order to emphasise the following: the fall, awareness of the fall, and liberation are regarded as a personal journey of the hero crossing the Bridge to full personal liberation. Long practice which leads to the awareness of long duration of personal existence (and recall of one’s self) for millions of years and the personal path (journey) of the hero are contrary to the personal journey and personal self-consciousness offered in the Christian message. The themes of the Scientology message are realised during the religious service which also has a theme structure.
III.II. Confession, Self-understanding, Salvation:
The Path of Religious Service
For Scientology, as for any strong religious culture and as for any religious order, the sermon is an important element of the religious service. However, we do not find in Scientology the proselytism which is characteristic of many traditional religions. On the contrary, Scientology is one of the few religions which permits followers to practice another religion. Scientology is, however, a complete religion and its members practice Scientology to the exclusion of any other faith. Some retain membership in another religion primarily for familial, social or cultural reasons. This is the reason confession—testimony of one’s personal experience—is characteristic of a Scientology service when it addresses the external world, coupled with constant emphasis on the rational aspects on the personal experience.
Scientology is one of the few religions which permits followers to practice another religion. Scientology is, however, a complete religion and its members practice Scientology to the exclusion of any other faith.
The rationality of the confession suggests a technique of self-comprehension which has been developed in detail and, more importantly, which is practiced: Understanding oneself as an individual having personal experience of one’s destiny as something continuing for millions of years; and understanding oneself as an eternal and omnipotent self.
Confession and understanding one’s self bring about salvation. Salvation is understood as a stable awareness of one’s true nature and removal of all internal spiritual barriers (engrams) which block the correct awareness of the omnipotent and eternal self, i.e., salvation is becoming aware and finding one’s spiritual identity.
The structure of the spiritual message of any religious culture meets to correct understanding only in the context of understanding the Absolute. This brings us to the issue of reviving the notion of the Absolute which is characteristic of Scientology.