The word, Scientology means the study of truth and stems from two words: The Latin word, “scio” which means “knowing the fullest sense of the word” and the Greek word, “logos” which translates to “study of.”
This relatively new religion studies the spirit (or Thetan as Scientologists call it) and its relationship with all other life forms surrounding it. The main benefit from converting to Scientology is a state of “Clear”, which will lead to complete harmony with all things around you. There are a number of truths cited in the study of Scientology, in particular the following two:
1. Man is an immortal and spiritual being whose existence extends beyond a single lifetime. Man’s capabilities are unlimited (although greatly unrealised). Through the study of Scientology, he can realise these capabilities, solve his own problems, achieve lasting happiness and achieve a new, higher state of awareness and ability.
2. Whilst studying Scientology, no one is asked to accept anything on belief or faith alone. “That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true.” Individuals learn that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and thus experiencing results.
According to Scientology, there are also three parts to man; Mind, Thetan and Body. Thetan (from the Greek letter “Theta” which means “thought”) is also known as the spirit which is the individual himself. The mind is the vessel that Thetan uses to communicate with the environment around him whilst the body bares little importance. It is merely a vehicle in which Thetan lies.
The religion was founded by American Science Fiction writer, L Ron Hubbard in the late 1950’s. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard published a book called Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in which he claimed to have isolated the “dynamic principle of existence.” The book is so important and central to the theory of Scientology that believers not only dubbed it “Book One”, but they created their own calendar based on the book’s publication date. 2008, for example, is seen as 58AD; 58 years After Dianetics.
The word, Dianetics, apparently translates to “through mind.” Hubbard wrote: “mental and psychometric physical problems are caused by traumatic recordings that are stored in the reactive mind.” The goal of Dianetics is to eradicate these traumatic recordings and reach a state of “Clear.” Reaching “Clear” also allows the individual to realise their full potential and, in effect, control MEST (Matter, Energy, Space and Time).
Unsurprisingly, Dianetics, its thoughts and practices have come under much scrutiny from the scientific community and has been dubbed “pseudoscience”. Pseudoscience lacks plausibility and does not adhere to scientific method. Martin Gardner refers to the religion in his second book, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science as does German writer, Robert Kaufman in his works, Inside Scientology.
Kaufman writes in his Message From the Author, that the Church of Scientology is “a powerful, hydra-headed international organisation that extracts money and services from its members through its control of their minds and pocketbooks.” He then continues to state that it [Scientology] “uses Dianetics to lure raw meat (non-Scientologists) into its thought control machine.”
Kaufman has a certain amount of clout when discussing the religion, being that he was once a member. When speaking out against Scientology, he has (like so many others) encountered the full wrath of Scientology’s power. His live shows were cancelled at a moment’s notice and his publisher was destroyed by a hate campaign of theft, forgery and pen letters.
The most extreme action against a critic involved an eight month law suit and various attempts to see the lady put in a mental institution. Scientologists claimed that the alleged made bomb threats against the Church of Scientology, a claim which resulted in her having to pay out 19,000 USD.
Scientology, as a religion, has been helped out by the endorsement of major Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Cruise, a roll model for so many, has been awarded the Freedom Medal of Valor from the International Association of Scientologists, a feat that not many others have managed to accomplish. What does this mean for supporters? Cruise has a massive following and is a roll model to thousands of people around the world. By enlisting one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Scientologists have successfully managed to pull on the “raw meat” of the general public. Does Cruise receive any royalties? This remains inevitably unanswered.
One fact remains: Scientology is more science fiction than fact. The ideas outlined in Hubbard’s book certainly present interesting views on how we should live our lives, but they barely have any more validity or integrity than other self help books, such as M Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled or James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy.