Mind Over Matter
How Scientology's founder science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, created a religion of individualism and personal power.
BY: Interview with Prof. Hugh B. Urban, by Alice Chasan
As Scientology developed, Hubbard introduced increasingly complicated levels of cosmology. Initially, in Dianetics, there were four levels leading up to the state of "clear." And then in Scientology, he introduced 15 higher levels that he called `Operating Thetan,' and they become increasingly complicated and also esoteric. So not that much is known about what is contained in these higher levels, but there have been some documents leaked. In them, you get pretty elaborate and, some might say, kind of odd cosmology about the pre-history of the universe and the earth and so forth.
Does Scientology have a code of morality or behavioral rules?
Hubbard wrote a book called "Introduction to Scientology Ethics." By my reading of it, it's more about loyalty to the Church of Scientology itself. From Hubbard's writings, I'd say there really isn't a kind of morality comparable to Judaism or Christianity. But since Hubbard's death, the church does emphasize the ethical virtues of Scientology--that Scientology makes you a better family member, a better citizen, a better employee, more successful.
So in Scientology goodness, or grace, is manifested through your material success, a kind of Calvinistic idea?
Hubbard never put it quite that way, but there's no contradiction between being materially successful and being spiritually developed in Scientology. In fact, your material prosperity, Hubbard would say, is sort of the logical outcome because if you're more spiritually developed, you're going to more successful in life. In fact, in several of his works, he describes life as a kind of game and Scientology makes you better at the game of life in all respects.
Is secrecy a part of the Scientology belief system and an inherent part of being a Scientologist?
I'd say it's both in the belief system and also in the way that the church operates. Hubbard modeled Scientology's structure on corporate structure, which is quite hierarchical, leading all the way up-in fact, it's been pointed out that he modeled it on Coca-Cola and AT&T.
The operating Thetan levels, as I said, are quite esoteric and [knowledge about them] is meant only for those who have gone through the proper training.
Is there secret knowledge that the higher-level operating Thetans have that other people can't attain?
Yes, that's right.
What is the initiation or learning process, and is it true that it is extremely costly?
Scientology does have open classes. Often, Sunday morning services [are held] at Scientology centers, and anyone can attend them. But auditing, the central practice of Scientology, does come with a price, and it becomes increasingly expensive as you go up in levels. [Operating Thetan] grades become increasingly expensive.
Do Scientologists regard Hubbard as a deity?
The way I've heard him described is as "friend;" that is, he's not a deity, not a divine incarnation but a being who figured out how the mind works and thereby understood how the universe itself works and gave us the tools to get to the same place that he did. So because he had a deep understanding of how the human mind works, he was able to achieve knowledge of basically how the universe itself works and then to pass that on.
Are there sacred beings in Scientology?
The closest thing is the concept of the Infinite, usually represented with the infinity loop. And Hubbard laid out what he called, "Eight Dynamics," which are [the] instinct to survive and continue existing, ranging from the level of our individual existence, progressively expanding outward to survival as a community, as a species, as all life, the cosmos, and the highest one-the eighth dynamic. Our urge to survive is the Infinite, which is ultimately the realization that our Thetan, our spiritual self is one with this Infinite. And that would be the highest state of operating Thetan, when you're completely free of the limitations of the material world and realize your unity with the Infinite.