Scientology. Everything You Need to Know

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Everything You Need to Know

What¿s common to Hollywood stars Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta? Answer: The Church of Scientology, the controversial organisation that terms itself ¿the only major worldwide religious movement to emerge in the twentieth century¿.

In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard, an American pulp fiction writer published Dianetics: The Original Thesis, a new science of the human mind that promised to resolve a host of illnesses with far greater efficacy than conventional psychoanalysis. Dianetics attracted a burst of attention but died out, with scientists rubbishing its theories. Some years later, Hubbard re-emerged into the limelight, presenting his philosophy under the name Scientology (Hubbard¿s earlier claims, that his ¿science¿ could cure people, had attracted the eagle eye of the US Food and Drug Administration; hence the relaunch of his enterprise as a religion.).

Defining Scientology

At its simplest, Scientology is a system of self-help, claiming to provide seekers with knowledge and the means to self-actualisation. Some basic Scientology principles:

  • Man¿s spirit, ¿thetan¿ in Scientology parlance, is all-powerful and eternal.
  • The human psyche is scarred by ¿engrams,¿ traumatic experiences from previous lives that stretch back to millennia.
  • By undergoing counselling known as auditing sessions, an individual can liberate his spirit of these traumas.
  • Swept clean of pain, the mind achieves ¿Clear¿, a state in which an individual becomes disease-free and capable of realising his limitless potential.
  • Higher levels of spiritual advancement are termed Operating Thetan.
  • The entire process is called ¿The Bridge to Total Freedom¿.

In keeping with its stated intent of benefiting society are Scientology¿s outreach programs, counselling for drug abusers and prisoners, disaster relief and education aids, to name a few.
Fascinating? Equally so are the scandals and controversies that have raged around Scientology.

Scientology counselling isn¿t cheap; on the contrary, church members, as they move up The Bridge to Total Freedom, have to fork out progressively heftier fees. As a ¿religion¿, however, the Church enjoys tax-exempt status! Ex-Scientology members have levelled allegations of extortion, intimidation, humiliation and human rights abuse, reports that have repeatedly attracted FBI scrutiny. The Church¿s vast, global real estate acquisitions only add to the mystery shrouding its labyrinthine structure and secretive operating style. Even as Scientology claims to attract ever more believers, many governments worldwide are questioning its status as a religion.

Hubbard died in 1986. Church numbers have dwindled, but to followers, he remains the prophet of a new dawn.  In New Mexico (California) and Wyoming, titanium capsules containing Hubbard¿s writings, lectures and films are stored in vaults designed to withstand nuclear attacks.

Is Scientology¿s disarmingly attractive philosophy for real or a huge fraud perpetrated on gullible seekers of spiritual solace? The story¿s still not over.

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