What Do Scientologists Believe in a Nutshell


What do Scientologists believe? American novelist L. Ron Hubbard established the Scientology religion in the 1950s. Understanding the true principles of Scientology may assist foster courteous debate, even if Scientology is occasionally ridiculed and misrepresented. Here, in brief, are the essential principles and beliefs that Scientologists hold to, as taught by Hubbard.

The Basics: Life, the Universe, and Happiness

Fundamental to Scientology is the belief that each person is an eternal spiritual entity, a “thetan,” with more intelligence and power than is generally believed. According to Scientology, we’ve lived forever but have become clouded over by traumatic experiences, forgetting our innate spiritual abilities. The end objective of Scientology is for people to “go clear” and regain their whole spiritual power and consciousness, which leads to a condition of Total Freedom.

Life, according to Scientologists, is a path toward enlightenment and personal growth, with much room for improvement for all of mankind. According to Scientology, Xenu, an extraterrestrial monarch, docked with Earth 75 million years ago, sent billions of people here in spacecraft, piled them around volcanoes, and then used hydrogen bombs to wipe them off. Scientology scripture asserts that these creatures’ essences persist inside humans as “parasitic entities” or “body thetans” and create various mental health issues, including anxiety and illogical conduct. Some advanced Scientology practices aim to identify and rid oneself of these unwanted spiritual influences through a procedure called “auditing.”

For Scientologists, happiness and freedom are seen as natural states that humanity has drifted from but can regain. People are believed to possess inherent spiritual capabilities far beyond those commonly recognized, allowing them to overcome challenges, help others, achieve incredible goals, and flourish creatively when operating from these higher states of awareness. Scientology frames this as the “native condition” and views unhappiness, conflict, and suffering as distortions largely resulting from spiritual neglect and trauma that can be overcome.

The Scientology Bible: Dianetics and Thetan Abilities

What do Scientologists believe? The principal text of Scientology is the 1950 publication Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In it, L. Ron Hubbard lays out his theories of the reactive mind and engram. According to Dianetics, humans possess two minds – the conscious analytical mind and a subconscious reactive mind. The reactive mind reflexively records painful and emotionally charged experiences (termed “engrams”) which are relived unconsciously and cause psychosomatic ills and irrational behaviour.

Through Dianetics auditing, an auditor helps the person methodically erase these engrams from the reactive mind by locating past emotional traumas and having the individual fully experience and release the associated charge. This is believed to restore cause-effect reasoning, lift psychosomatic afflictions, and cure neuroses. Scientology considers someone “Clear” when they have no more engrams blocking their potential, and they operate instead from their full conscious awareness.

Beyond clearing the reactive mind through Dianetics, Scientology also explores what it considers humanity’s innate spiritual abilities as immortal beings or thetans. Scientology scripture details past-life memories and cosmic origins like the traumatic events on distant planets. It’s believed that gaining awareness and mastery of these forgotten abilities allows one to enhance all aspects of life, including better comprehension, creativity, interpersonal skills, physical health, and more. Several Scientology practices aim to restore abilities like total recall of past events, extrasensory perception, controlled out-of-body experiences, and spiritual healing. These expanded abilities are framed as evidence of the innate potential and divinity within all people.

The Bridge to Total Freedom

What do Scientologists believe? The main progression of Scientology teachings, practices, and spiritual states is mapped out in “The Bridge to Total Freedom.” This sets out a path believed to help individuals fully recover their innate spiritual abilities and total freedom from the influences holding them back. The Bridge consists of several “grades” of study and auditing, getting more advanced at each step.

The first major level is the Grades, involving auditing to erase mental image pictures, attitudes toward situations, pains, sensations, and behaviours from one’s reactive mind through Dianetics. The next level is the OT Levels (Operating Thetan), a series of steps exploring spiritual abilities and confronting uncomfortable body thetans or alien influences. Auditing on these levels aims to isolate each entity and enhance one’s control over them and MEST (Matter, Energy, Space, and Time).

As one progresses up the Bridge through auditing, reading, and courses, they are said to expand their awareness, and abilities, and fulfil their potential as spiritual beings. The highest published level is OT VIII, where one is considered “fully able” as an Operating Thetan no longer subjected to body thetans or reactive mind enforcement. The ultimate state is considered Total Freedom as an immortal spiritual being in control of their universe without limitation. Scientology frames “The Bridge” as a proven route to restore one’s innate spiritualism, personal freedom, and highest potential through its technologies.

The Practice: Auditing and Life Improvement

What do Scientologists believe? At the core of Scientology practice is auditing – one-on-one sessions between an auditor and “preclear” aimed at spiritual betterment through applying Dianetics and Scientology principles and technologies. Scientology considers auditing an “applied religious service.” While some sessions involve communicating with auditors, many Scientology practices are done solo with an electronic device called an E-meter that measures skin galvanic responses believed to indicate spiritual blockages. Auditing typically occurs in half-hour intervals several times a week or more depending on progress up The Bridge.

In addition to the heavily scripted auditing processes on specific Scientology levels and practices, another core part of the religion involves personal betterment routines and studies. These include the Study Tech method of learning championed by Hubbard, and training to enhance communication, organization, and leadership skills. Scientologists are encouraged to set goals for self-improvement through lifestyle practices like exercise, nutrition, meditation, and other steps toward “greater ability, stability, and high integrity.” Volunteer social programs run by the Church of Scientology focus on issues like literacy, human rights, drug prevention, and more.

Church Organization and Membership

While Scientology believes its technologies can help anyone, committed Scientologists pledge themselves to the religion through ceremonies and remain actively involved in their local Church. The central organizational body is the Church of Scientology International, which oversees thousands of congregations known as Churches, Missions, and groups globally. Scientologists see this ecclesiastical management as helping ensure Scientology remains standardized in doctrine and practice. It also oversees the dissemination of materials and construction/renovation of Churches worldwide.

Membership levels within the Church of Scientology denote degrees of commitment, qualifications, and privileges. The lowest rank is “Preclear,” an independent person not part of the official membership. Next are classifications like “Parishioner” granted to regular congregants, then “Group Member” involving coursework or auditing commitments. “Public Members” commit to the Scientology morality code and complete an Introductory Package. Certifications denote upper levels one earns indicating expertise in auditing, course supervision, management, and more. The highest published level is Operating Thetan VIII, considered by some to denote full spiritual mastery.

Controversies and Criticisms: What Do Scientologists Believe

While Scientology has millions of adherents worldwide, it also faces significant controversies and criticisms. Some perspectives point to accounts from former members or practices that some feel cross ethical lines. There are allegations of financial exploitation, aggressive retaliation against critics and former members, and administrative abuse within the Church structure. Scientology institutions have also faced accusations of legal harassment against dissenters through copyright or trademark claims.

Two highly publicized reports from the 1950s alleging mental instability and other issues damaged Scientology’s reputation in some nations like the UK and Australia. Scientology rejects such findings as politically or commercially motivated. Some governments restrict the religion’s legal status, operations, or immigration privileges due to perceived threats. However, Scientology has prevailed legally in many court decisions affirming its religious protections in places like the United States.

Scientology maintains it operates in full compliance with local laws and denies claims of coercion, corruption or criminality. It views outside controversies largely as religious bigotry and the influence of anti-cult misinformation. Defenders counter criticism by emphasizing religious freedom and pointing to positive social programs spearheaded by Scientologists. The Church asserts its practices are sincerely aimed at uplifting individuals and society when properly delivered, though it acknowledges some past administrative issues which it claims to have addressed.

Scientology in Society and Culture

Despite controversies, Scientology has won recognition as a non-taxable religious organization in many nations and maintains an influential international presence. It operates over 10,000 organizations and missions with large congregations in dozens of countries. Famous Scientologist celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta attract public awareness to the faith, though some view their influence as more marketing than proselytizing of religious doctrine per se.

Scientology maintains publishing houses and a media production studio that have helped spread its doctrines in books, documentaries, magazines, and religious services aired in Scientology churches worldwide. In recent decades, the religion has increasingly engaged in interfaith outreach and multi-faith collaboration. Some scholars analyze the evolution of Scientology’s administrative structures, canon, and place within new religious movements compared to alternative spiritual paths.

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