When L. Ron Hubbard wrote the book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, setting out an abreaction therapy, he did not think, as far as I know, that a church or faith would be the result of it. His only aim at that time was the question of how to help people by means of processes addressing the mind. In other words, he doubted the treatment of psychoanalysts.9 So he searched for another possible system that would help people and make them more able, which he set forth in the basic textbook Dianetics, first published in 1950.
As he conducted further research, Hubbard discovered that a person is more than just a body or a mind. He is actually an immortal spiritual being, which he called a “thetan.” The thetan is the individual himself, not his body or mind or anything else. It is not something he has, but what he is. This thetan has lived through countless past lifetimes and will survive the death of the current body. This concept of past lives in Scientology can be compared to the karmic formations (samskara) in Buddhism.10
Scientology addresses these past traumas through the practice of auditing in which the thetan can be unburdened of these past experiences and become more aware of himself as a spiritual being.
According to Scientology doctrine the thetan has been burdened by traumatic experiences in the current and prior lives which are stored in a reactive mind. These experiences can continue to cause him to feel pain or act irrationally and bar him from full spiritual awareness and abilities. Scientology addresses these past traumas through the practice of auditing in which the thetan can be unburdened of these past experiences and become more aware of himself as a spiritual being. He finds answers to questions such as: Who am I? or Why am I? As one attains greater spiritual awareness through auditing he also learns to live a more complete and ethical life on all planes of existence, which in Scientology are called the Eight Dynamics. Each person is seen to exist and seek survival on eight dynamics, described as follows:
1st Dynamic: the dynamic urge to survive as an individual.
2nd Dynamic: the urge to survive through sex and family.
3rd Dynamic: survival as a group. This includes all groups such as one’s job, school, a club, etc.
4th Dynamic: the urge to survive for all Mankind.
5th Dynamic: the urge to survive for all life forms, both plant and animal.
6th Dynamic: the urge toward survival of the physical universe, including all matter, energy, space and time.
7th Dynamic: the urge to survive as spirits—the spiritual dimension.
8th Dynamic: the urge to survive as infinity or the Supreme Being.
These dynamics can be conceived as concentric circles with each higher dynamic encompassing those below it. Auditing (the one-on-one spiritual counseling which is the central practice of Scientology) addresses all the dynamics and raises a person’s awareness and responsibility on all of them, including his relationship with the spiritual dimension and God.
The concept of the Supreme Being or God dynamic runs throughout Scientology doctrine. While Scientology has no specific dogma as to the form the Supreme Being takes, it is found in the religious doctrine to be a creator-God at the apex of all existence. The existence and role of God is seen, for example, in the Creed of the Church of Scientology:
We of the Church believe
That all men of whatever race, color or creed were created with equal rights.
That all men have inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance.
That all men have inalienable rights to their own lives.
That all men have inalienable rights to their sanity.
That all men have inalienable rights to their own defense.
That all men have inalienable rights to conceive, choose, assist or support their own organizations, churches and governments.
That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others.
That all men have inalienable rights to the creation of their own kind.
That the souls of men have the rights of men.
That the study of the mind and the healing of mentally caused ills should not be alienated from religion or condoned in nonreligious fields.
And that no agency less than God has the power to suspend or set aside these rights, overtly or covertly.
And we of the Church believe
That man is basically good.
That he is seeking to survive.
That his survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.
And we of the Church believe that the laws of God forbid man
To destroy his own kind.
To destroy the sanity of another.
To destroy or enslave another’s soul.
To destroy or reduce the survival of one’s companions or one’s group.
And we of the Church believe
That the spirit can be saved and
That the spirit alone may save or heal the body.
In addition to auditing, Scientologists also seek enlightenment through the study of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings or by listening to his recorded lectures, which are voluminous. This study, called training, is the other principal religious practice in Scientology in addition to auditing.
Scientology also has a Purification Program which uses a combination of physical exercise, vitamins and sauna to rid the body of drugs, chemicals and other impurities which impede spiritual progress. This is part of living a “balanced life” (also a keynote within the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons) which helps a person in reaching to the 8th and highest dynamic which is the “God dynamic.”11
Scientology ministers also perform marriages, funerals, baptisms and pastoral counseling using ceremonies and symbolism unique to Scientology.
Scientology holds about the same view on dogma as most other religions. It presents them as matters of objective fact12 but does not use the word, as does the Roman Catholic Church in which dogmas are fixed for eternity (Vatican Council, 1870).
Hubbard declared that the first principle is that wisdom is meant for anyone. The second is that wisdom should be capable of being applied, and the third principle is that it is valuable only if it is true or if it works. L. Ron Hubbard said: “Scientology will go as far as it works.”13