Scientology and the Search for Significance
What do Scientologists believe? How can we learn from them?
Scientology claims eight million members worldwide, and says it is the fastest-growing religion in the world, welcoming 4.4 million new members every year. Actually, only 30,000 people are members of the International Association of Scientologists, and only 25,000 Americans call themselves Scientologists.
Despite its miniscule numbers, the organizations holds more than $1 billion in liquid assets, a figure that eclipses most of the world's religions. It owns 12 million square feet of property around the world; it holds 26 properties in Hollywood, valued at $400 million.
What do Scientologists believe? What can we learn from them?
The claims of Scientology
"Scientology" means "the study of truth." The movement was founded in 1952 by L. Ron Hubbard, an American fiction writer. He had earlier authored a self-help system called Dianetics. Hubbard later called Scientology an "applied religious philosophy" and the basis for a new religion. Hubbard produced more than 500,000 pages of writings in support of his movement, working from 1952 until his death in January of 1986.
As a young man, Hubbard was highly influenced by Freudian analysis. He later befriended writers who were influenced by the Hindu concept of karma and the theories of Carl Jung. He credited the Tao Te Ching, the Dharma, and Gautama Buddha as forerunners of his movement.
There is no single book which forms the basis for Scientology. Fifteen books, 15,000 pages of writing, and over 3,000 lectures compose the "canon" of the religion. Followers study these books and lectures in chronological order. Dianetics is the founding document of the religion. Its publication in 1950 marks "year one" of Scientology. In their nomenclature, we would be in the year A.D. 63.
The goal of Scientology is "a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights." Hubbard claimed that "the whole agonized future of this planet, every Man, Woman and Child on it, and your own destiny for the next end-less trillions of years depend on what you do here and now with and in Scientology."
There are three levels of membership: