It turns out Mr. Hubbard had the idea right, but his public relations was off.
In order to appreciate and understand the values and beliefs Scientology poses as “all divine truth,” let us all be in complete agreement that to some varying degree many religions have some version of a story too beyond belief to pass off as credible fact. Also, we can agree that money and religion seem to go hand in hand, so let’s just keep that out in the open. Beyond that, we are left with principals and teachings on how someone ought to live their life, or to what degree they should allow guidance to enter their life. I found Scientology to be no different, but with a much more modern sensibility and homeopathic approach.
When you say the very word “Scientology” in conversation, it’s going to stir up negative feedback from anybody within earshot. There will be the rolling of the eyes, shying away from the conversation, or just flat out exclaiming the incontestable insanity of those who participate in the principles and activities of Scientology. But does anyone truly know what goes on at their community centers?
In order to understand the idea of Scientology, we must without question, introduce L. Ron Hubbard and his expansively productive life. His adventures throughout the world helped shape his view of people and human interaction around him and caused him to be infinitely curious about the human mind. His interests spanning from civil engineering, aviation, sci-fi, and asian healing properties all were interests that influenced his work and his writing. Later in his life, he would go on to write the most influential books on the human mind called Dianetics. Scientology aside, I could write a whole essay on L. Ron’s life alone, but without straying from the topic, let’s just say we can only hope to be a fraction as productive in our lives as L. Ron was in his.
The subject matter of Dianetics in a nutshell, is the relationship of the metaphysical world and your mental state of being as influenced by your environment. As these new and foreign concepts were introduced to a never before captured audience, there seemed to be a ripple effect in positive response. It turns out these new ways of thinking actually resonated with people and its ideas helped make it an incredible success. Nowadays, it seems to be the norm around here. Especially if you live in southern California, there is no shortage of places to detox, yoga communities, meditation centers, and of course, self-help “gurus”. So, where does the stigma about Scientology actually stem from?
Well, as the story goes, L. Ron was a famed sci-fiction writer and Hollywood screenwriter. So it goes without saying, the guy had a vivid imagination. At some point, Mr. Hubbard writes a sci-fiction book that becomes the basis for what would ultimately be Scientology, and becomes the fuel used against the organization to protest its credibility. That seems silly. If a god’s son can rise from the dead and walk on water, then I guess aliens can deposit bubbles of positive energy in our volcanos. Whatever. I’m sure both stories would make awesome comic books. If the latter was in fact what Scientology was, L. Ron would have ended up in the insane asylum and the book Dianetics would have been called the work of a heathen wizard. So, let’s throw out the unusual fact that Scientology was first a comic book (since it really has nothing to do with the practices anyway).
What Scientology is, is a means to relieve stress and think positively. It’s really that simple. Hard to believe, but it’s true. When Mr. Hubbard spent several years of his life in the Asia Americas, he encountered people whose lineage of practicing medicine was deeply rooted in meditation and the Earth’s natural properties. Lots of those same practices can be found in Scientology. Of course, if you’re bleeding from the head, I would advise to go see a hospital as fast as humanly possible, but these practices are more like exercises of the brain. By focusing on the human mind as the primary source of where all our energy, emotions, and motor skills stem from, Scientology is already light years ahead of any religion currently out there, and I promise that you will 100% agree.
Since the majority of religion calls upward to a higher and greater, celestial entity far beyond a common mortal’s comprehension, there is already an immediate disconnection from where human and religion is. By creating a god outside the realm of our understanding, people devote to religion are automatically less inferior and become lesser beings as a result. These gods of the world’s respective religions become the ruler of your mind. If your motivations and reason for doing the things you do are to please a higher being, or to satisfy certain criteria for your belief, then your mind is never truly free. Enter Scientology. It is here that the higher power that we look to is….our own mind. This is the most important and monumental difference between organized religion and Scientology. The belief that the life you lead stems from something completely real and literally within you.
This way of thinking should immediately draw references to Buddhism. Not exactly a religion, but not far from one either. Buddhism teaches heavily on the mind, body, and spirit. It has been around for thousands of years, and just like Scientology, stemmed from the beliefs and teachings of a man who was believed to be “enlightened”. However, with Buddhism being a non-self way of being…or not being, and Scientology with the belief that it all starts with you, it is quite ironic how entirely opposite they are. A small step of deviation, but one worth noting.
“But all those Scientologists want is your money”. Yeah, no shit. Have you seen the centers off Franklin St. and the one off Sunset Blvd? How much you think it costs to run a place like that? It’s not cheap. How many people you know that spend money on “10 Steps to a Smaller Butt” or “Take Control of Your Life” seminars? You have to admit, it’s a lucrative business. And like any business it’s all about making money. Now, Mr. Hubbard sure had an imagination, but when it comes to services provided by the Church of Scientology, he made sure to spend the extra dollar. Being so candid about his acknowledgement of religion being profitable, he did what any red blooded American with a chance to make money would have done. He created his own.
So, now that you have the truth facing you square in the face, let’s talk products and services. Scientology’s hierarchy of self-sponsored members is that of any public trading company. If you are the principal shareholder and you own most of the stock, you obviously have more of a vested interest in the success of the company, and moreover, believe wholeheartedly in the products offered. By allowing members to choose how much each level of higher learning means to them in monetary terms, people are now responsible for their own involvement. I mean, you wouldn’t keep buying the same piece of exercise equipment if you saw that it didn’t make you lose weight, would you? From detoxification to mental relaxation, brain strengthening, and reinforcement of positive mental attitudes, the only thing missing from the Church of Scientology is a hookah room with video installations of Stan Brakhage.
As they say the mind is a terrible thing to waste, and with the Church of Scientology their belief is real simple. Your mind is the most powerful thing you may ever know in this world, and such is life, it all starts with you. What do you want to achieve? What do you want out of life? This “religion” truly is about You and not some divine power than could level you to dust if it so chose to. Who wants to be a part of that anyway? Then, again who wants to be a part of a cult-like following of people who seem to be harming no one, and enriching their own lives? Not so much as a hypothetical decision as it is a thoughtful moment. Either way, we hope that whatever you’re into, you’ll follow in the following fashion:
“Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around. And please don’t go shoving it down [our] children’s throats.” – Unknown.