II.I. Esoteric Knowledge and Scientology Technology
Esoteric knowledge in religious systems is possible in two forms. The first form assumes special methods and script of concealment, coding. It is supposed that the disclosure of hidden knowledge, accessibility of it to all who so wish, transforms hidden knowledge into profane, or secular, knowledge which loses its holy power and power to transform.
The second form of esoteric knowledge assumes the principle of openness and availability. However, the unique structure of knowledge is such that if the pupil has not mastered the previous stages, he cannot understand the next level. In other words, esoteric knowledge arises from a situation where it is necessary first to pass all levels of a detailed chain of personal achievement. Each step contains in itself miniature versions of all the others. Thus, esoteric knowledge develops not from a desire to code and hide knowledge, but from the simple circumstance that one possessing the highest level of knowledge cannot, even if he wishes to do so, relay this knowledge to a person who has not yet passed all the requisite stages of internal transformations and changes of consciousness. The only thing that the owner of the highest knowledge can do is to get the pupil through all the prerequisite stages.
Esoteric knowledge of Scientology is of the latter type. When we see the mark “confidential” on some stages of the Scientology knowledge, it means that this concerns knowledge which can only be relayed to a person who has passed all the preceding levels.
Scientology is an open religious system in essence. Each person who has felt the internal necessity to accept the path and spiritual message of Scientology can count on attention and support. And the work with truth seekers will be conducted as the reply to his own searches of spiritual identity. However, it is necessary to remember that at the center of spirituality of Scientology lies, first and foremost, one’s own personal experience of realisation of a spiritual identity, a new spiritual infinite self. Therefore, the “story”, the “narration” about this experience is possible only to a very small extent, not because the spiritual instructors hide this experience, but because the essence of this experience is such that it cannot be verbalised or conveyed. Certainly in Scientology there is a genre of “testimonies” about one’s personal path and the transformation experienced by an individual when he reaches, for example, a higher level of awareness of the eternal self. However, it is exactly what it is called—a “testimony” (a very important and necessary genre), and not the holy knowledge. When you read and listen to these testimonies, you realise with particular clarity that the witness is trying very hard indeed to describe his experience, to share his knowledge, but is not able to do so.
Hence, the requirement of accurate preservation and precise reproduction of the technology of Scientology and the constantly heard requirement not to go on to the next stage of learning until the preceding material is mastered down to the last detail. In this, great attention is given to the procedure of clarifying the meaning of individual words. This level of attention to the procedures of clarifying the meaning of words also relates Scientology to the great religious traditions and allows Scientology knowledge to be considered holy knowledge.
It can be considered that the procedure of clarifying the meaning of words and obtaining holy knowledge is part of the main objective of Scientology: bringing clarity into and accepting and understanding the true spiritual nature of the infinite self.
II.II. Procedures for Initiation into Knowledge as a Technology of Achievement of the Highest Levels of Consciousness. Levels of Self-Identification: From Preclear to the Highest Level of Spiritual Being
The requirement for constant clarity of consciousness and self-consciousness (shaking off the dream of daily routine), and formal rationality, which is organised in such a manner that without completing and gaining a clear understanding of the lower stages one cannot go on to the higher stages of awareness of one’s true self, results first in a hierarchical structure of knowledge and second in procedures of initiation into knowledge. In the culture of religious education where a change of consciousness and self-consciousness for the student is expected, but where the transmission of this new self-consciousness is impossible, the initiation procedure becomes absolutely essential in the culture of religious education. From this stems yet another important feature of Scientology as a holy culture: Hubbard’s texts—the Scientological scriptures of the church—are the means of transformation of the student’s consciousness and self-consciousness. It is this particular aspect that characterises the axiomatic element of Hubbard’s texts. These are classical short texts, which are intended for long reflection during which a change of understanding of the student’s inner self occurs—that is, through repeated attempts to comprehend the scriptures (Hubbard’s texts) to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s true self. Scientology offers the opportunity for group, twin and single (solo) practice of contemplation. This practice also relates Scientology with other religious and, more specifically, orderly structures where the experience of reflection over holy texts is not an experience of receiving new information, but an experience of changing oneself (for the parishioner), or an experience of purifying oneself (for the instructor), which should restore clarity of consciousness and self-consciousness after hard work.
Thus, when we say that knowledge and self-consciousness cannot be transmitted, we speak about the necessity of a procedure which helps the student reach this knowledge (that of discovering oneself).
Thus, when we say that knowledge and self-consciousness cannot be transmitted, we speak about the necessity of a procedure which helps the student reach this knowledge (that of discovering oneself). It means that a formally developed system of transitions from one level of holy knowledge to another is necessary.
With the help of the teacher (or independently at some stages), the student passes all stages from pre-Clear (a person who, through Scientology processing, or spiritual counseling, is finding out more about himself and life) up to the highest level, Operating Thetan.
Taking into account the above features of esoteric knowledge inherent in Scientology (in particular, hierarchy, strictness and the impossibility of skipping a stage) Scientology then has developed a rather impressive system of a spiritual path which is also an indicator of a stable and promising spiritual culture.
II.III. “The Bridge to Total Freedom” as a Center and Basis of the Scientology Theological System
A religious movement, even when it reaches the stage of an organised church, does not always possess an extensive system of doctrine. The existence of a system of doctrine is an indicator of the maturity of a religious movement and consequently, it takes form over a rather long time. Nevertheless, Scientology, as it was already observed in the history of religious movements, quite rapidly formed a creed and a system of spiritual training. The reason for this fast achievement of spiritual and organisational maturity is in the well-developed, formalised and detailed system of levels of spiritual transformation and spiritual identity. This system can be remotely compared to systems of spiritual enlightenment and purification that were the central concern of many orders which purified and saved certain traditional churches.
Theological systems can be subdivided into two types: cataphatic and apophatic.
Cataphatic is a system that assumes the possibility (or ability) of expressing the highest religious experience in words. Apophatic considers the highest knowledge and highest values to be inexpressible. Therefore the cataphatic system creates detailed and extensive descriptions of a godly being and a godly structure of the visible and invisible world. The apophatic system does not give any descriptions of the Supreme Being because it is impossible from the point of view of this system. However, apophatic theology gives a system of rising to the highest knowledge which is achieved at the fulfillment of the formal instructions from the teacher.
Certainly Scientology includes both kinds of theological systems, but the apophatic theology dominates. Therefore, Scientology is characterised not so much by the description of the new states of self as by the description of the strategy for reaching higher states.
The Bridge to Total Freedom is a metaphor for the path of spiritual transformation. This path exists in the majority of religious cultures and theological systems. However, it is primarily orders that put at the center of the theological system the path of spiritual purification viewed as a formal sequence of states of self-consciousness organised as a hierarchy.
Strictly speaking, this hierarchical system—the Bridge to Total Freedom—is the message with which the Church of Scientology addresses the world and followers.
Inside this message are fundamental themes which form the structure of the Bridge. All the main theological concepts (about the Absolute, status of man, concept of salvation), the mission of the clergy and the organisational structure of the Church of Scientology follow from the structure of the Bridge, which is understood as a path of personal transformation and personal understanding of one’s universal role.