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    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    Scientology is a controversial system of beliefs and teachings, begun in 1952 by author L. Ron Hubbard, and presented as a religion. Scientology is recognized as a tax-exempt religious organization in the United States, but not in most other countries.

    Scientology evolved from Dianetics, a system of self-improvement techniques published in the 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (DMSMH). This was followed by the more organized Science of Survival in 1951, and finally Dianetics 55! in 1955, by which time Hubbard had characterized Dianetics as a minor sub-study of Scientology. Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science (1983) is Hubbard's account of his development of dianetics and its eventual evolution into Scientology. By the time he died in 1986, Hubbard had published hundreds of books on Scientology, and only a few on Dianetics.

    Beliefs and Practices
    The central beliefs of Scientology are that a person is an immortal spiritual being (referred to as a thetan) who has a mind and a body, but is neither of these, that he is basically good, and that he is seeking to survive.

    For more detailed information on Scientology beliefs and practices, see that article.

    The Church of Scientology
    The Church of Scientology was first incorporated in the United States as a nonprofit organization in 1954, and currently is considered to be a tax-exempt religious nonprofit organization under the tax code administered by the Internal Revenue Service. By contrast, the governments of Germany, France and Belgium officially regard the Church of Scientology as a dangerous cult.

    For more detailed information on the Church of Scientology and the controversy surrounding its activities, see those articles.

    Independent Scientology Groups
    Beside the official Church of Scientology, a number of groups are practicing Scientology and Dianetics on their own. Claiming that the mother organization has become corrupt, domineering, and controlling, a number of groups have broken away from Scientology and founded their own practices. Avoiding the name "Scientology" so as to keep from being sued, these groups are known as the Free Zone. Scientology has made efforts to suppress the Free Zone and keep it from expanding; however, aided by the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, the Free Zone has gained in popularity over the past decade.

    Controversy and Criticism
    Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 19th and 20th centuries, Scientology is unquestionably one of the most controversial and disputed. It has battled numerous criticisms and been at the center of controversy since its inception. Scientology has come into conflict with the governments of several countries (including the United States and Germany) numerous times over the years. Critical arguments against Scientology, as well as accusations of cult behavior, can be found in the Wikipedia article Scientology: Controversial Issues. This section includes examinations of:

    Claims of "brainwashing" and mind control
    Scientology's disconnection policy
    Accusations of L. Ron Hubbard starting a religion to make money
    Scientology-related deaths
    Scientology's actions against critics and enemies

    Scientology beliefs and practices
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    This section examines the beliefs and practices of Scientology. For a further examination of Scientology, see the main Wikipedia article on Scientology.

    Basic principles
    The central tenets of Scientology are based on the belief that a person is an immortal spiritual being (referred to as a thetan) who has a mind and a body, but is neither of these, that he is basically good, and that he is seeking to survive.

    Scientology holds that man's survival depends upon himself, and upon his fellows, and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.

    Dianetics taught that a person's upsets, limitations and harmful acts can be attributed in part to a portion of his mind of which he is normally unaware, called the reactive mind (the bank in Scientology.) This portion of the mind is believed to store exact impressions (engrams) of past events which occurred while the person was unconscious or otherwise not completely aware. These engrams can be restimulated when the current situation closely matches the contents of the engram, causing irrational emotional responses or psychosomatic illnesses. The aware portion of a person's mind is referred to as the analytical mind.

    Scientology takes a much broader view, and considers engrams (incidents involving physical trauma) to be one of the less important forms of entheta (enturbulated spirit) that make up the reactive bank. Others include Goal-Problem Masses (GPMs), Entities (disembodied spirits that are trying to get one's attention) and implants (mental pictures that have been forcibly planted in one's mind as a means of mind control).

    The central practice of Scientology, and Dianetics before it, is an activity known as auditing (listening) which Scientologists claim seeks to elevate an adherent to a State of Clear, that being one of freedom from the influences of the reactive mind. The practice is one wherein a counselor called an auditor addresses a series of questions to a preclear, observes and records his responses, and acknowledges them.

    In Dianetics, Hubbard laid out the process of Dianetic reverie as a way of "clearing" the mind of harmful engrams. The earliest forms of Dianetics processing, still practiced today, involved a process reminiscent of Freudian psychoanalysis, with the preclear reclining on a couch in a reflective state called Dianetic reverie while the auditor guided the focus of the reverie from a chair nearby and took notes, predicating his questions and responses on utterances by the preclear and a number of physiological indications. This process was meant to find engrams, and once found, to repeat them over and over in the preclear's mind, thus getting it out of his system. Original Dianetics auditing techniques dealt exclusively with the preclear's current life and focused mainly on physical injuries sustained by him.

    Scientology takes the auditing process further, focusing more on mental trauma than on physical injuries and routinely dealing with the preclear's past lives, some "hundreds of millions of years" in the past. (In such Scientology publications as Have You Lived Before This Life, Hubbard himself wrote about past life experiences dating back billions and even trillions of years--even though the estimated age of the universe is believed to be about 13.5 billion years. This is only an apparent contradiction, as Scientology--like many other faiths which accept reincarnation--teaches that most Thetans have existed in previous universes before the current one.)

    Most later forms of auditing employ a device called the Hubbard Electropsychometer (or E-Meter). This is a device which measures changes in the electrical resistance of the preclear's skin by passing approximately 1/2 volt through a pair of tin-plated tubes much like empty soup cans, attached to the meter by wires and held by the preclear during auditing. These low-potential changes in electrical resistance, known as the galvanic skin response, caused by additional moisture, are similar to those measured by polygraphs and related machines, and are believed by Scientologists to be a reliable and precise indication of mental tension in the preclear.

    Critics of Scientology point to a lack of scientific basis for the E-meter and other practices. In an interesting, if somewhat contradictory response, the church has claimed on the one hand that Scientology is a religion and not science and therefore does not seek scientific support -- and on the other, that just as a polygraph may use electrical conductivity of the skin to indicate whether one is comfortable with questions and answers, so may any instrument which measures galvanic response. E-Meters cost over $4000, even though they only take 80 minutes to assemble and contain no particularly expensive components. [1]

    The aim of auditing, according to the Church of Scientology, is to enable the preclear to recover awareness and volitional control of the material previously stored in his reactive mind. Critics of Scientology have claimed that an audit is, among other things, a gathering of material for blackmail in the case that a Clear should leave the religion. The Church of Scientology publicly denies this theory. However, it acknowledges that it keeps extensive archives of auditing records for every auditing session managed by the Church. These personal records of all Scientologists are called PC folders ("Preclear folders"), and the Church of Scientology states that these records are kept absolutely confidential. Critics and former members contest this claim. Numerous accounts are given by former members of Scientology, who claim that information from their PC folders are routinely used for purposes of blackmail and personal ruin.

    Scientology language and terms (Scientologese)
    In the years of developing and promoting Scientology, Hubbard developed the Technical Dictionary (ISBN 0686308034, ISBN 0884040372), an immense lexicon of literally hundreds of words, terms, and definitions that are used by Scientologists on a regular basis. He redefined many terms of regular English to have entirely different meanings within Scientology. This is one reason why Scientology and Dianetics place a heavy emphasis on "understanding" words. Hubbard even wrote a book entitled How To Use A Dictionary, in which he defined the methods of correcting "misunderstoods" (a Scientology term referring to a "misunderstood word," or a word whose proper, Scientology-approved definition is required). The exclusivity of these terms can make it difficult for readers unfamiliar with Scientology to understand many of Hubbard's statements, such as: The ability of an individual to assume the beingness, doingness and havingness of each Dynamic is an index to his ability to live. (L. Ron Hubbard, The Conditions of Existence) Critics of Scientology have accused Hubbard of "loading the language" and using Scientology terms to keep Scientologists from interacting with information sources outside of Scientology (see cult for additional information). Hubbard explained his use of language as follows:

    Given enough repetition of the redefinition public opinion can be altered by altering the meaning of a word... The way to redefine a word is to get the new definition repeated as often as possible. Thus it is necessary to redefine medicine, psychiatry and psychology downward and define Dianetics and Scientology upwards. -- L. Ron Hubbard, Propaganda by Redefinition of Words (Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, October 5, 1971)
    Common Scientology terms include:

    Theta (Θ)--life force; spirit
    entheta--enturbulated theta
    Thetan (Θn)--a spiritual being; similar to the immortal soul in Christianity or Jiva in Hinduism
    Static--a Thetan in its natural state, prior to having immersed itself in a universe by assuming a point of view; cf. the Hindu concept of Atman
    S.P. (Suppressive Person)--the definition of which includes anyone who actively opposes Scientology
    P.T.S. (Potential Trouble Source)--a person who is under the influence of an S.P.
    (reactive) bank--the sum of entheta phenomena that influence a Thetan's thinking and behavior
    Clear--(after the clear key on adding machines) a person whose bank does not get in the way of analytical thinking
    See also: Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

    The Bridge
    The ultimate goal of Scientology teaching is to reach the highest level of "awareness," or the state of Clear. Hubbard originally claimed that a person who obtained the "state of Clear" would find himself able to use "100%" of his mind, and engage in superhuman feats of mental skill; though these claims have been debunked over the years. Scientology still promotes the State of Clear as a goal to be reached, though in a spiritual sense rather than a physical or mental one. Scientology courses are intended to provide a path to the state of Clear. Scientology promotes this as the Bridge to Total Freedom, and it encourages all Scientologists to "move up the Bridge" towards this level of awareness. Moving to higher levels on the Bridge takes precedence over all other duties in Scientology, and all tasks performed by Scientologists are seen as a step towards "moving up the Bridge."

    Critics of Scientology note that the cost of "moving up the Bridge" becomes increasingly greater as one proceeds further into Scientology initiation. This cost is the source of enormous tension between Scientology, its critics, and Scientologists who eventually leave the organization before obtaining the state of Clear, or after it. (See Church of Scientology for additional details of its costs.)

    Upon reaching the state of Clear, a Scientologist's goals are then set to the next level. After becoming Clear, Scientology encourages its adherents to move towards the level of Operating Thetan (OT). It is at this point that the controversy over the "secret" teachings of Scientology becomes prominent to anyone attempting to study its beliefs, whether inside or outside the organization.

    Secret writings
    The church acknowledges that at the higher levels of initiation (OT levels), teachings are imparted which may be considered "mystical", and potentially harmful to unprepared readers. These teachings are kept secret from members who have not reached these levels.

    One of the premises of the church of Scientology is that the OT levels are meant to be an empirical subject, something one "discovers for oneself," through processing (auditing). If a person reads "distorted" versions of the higher level teachings, the church claims, one is likely to question one's own experience when "in session" -- thereby sabotaging the process. According to the church, it opposes the distribution of the "secret" levels in order to protect them (and Scientologists attaining them) from contamination by outside sources.

    In the Church of Scientology vs. Fishman and Geertz case, former Scientologist Steven Fishman introduced as evidence what appeared to be Hubbard's OT I through OT VIII documents, of which a small portion known as the Xenu story has received much media attention. Xenu, according to the documents, was an evil galactic overlord who oppressed free spirits with science fiction-like tactics in the Earth's distant past (at which time planet Earth was known as Teegeeack.) The Fishman affidavit became public domain as a court document, and contains confidential course materials sold at a high cost. The church subsequently dropped the case against Fishman and petitioned the court to seal the documents, without formally acknowledging their authenticity.

    The Church has also used copyright law to sue others who have published portions of these and other documents. Nevertheless, these documents are today widely available on the Net -- publicized by critics, scholars of religion, and interested observers.

    Similarity to Gnosticism
    The likeness of Scientology and the ancient beliefs of Gnosticism is quite striking, and has been noticed by many scholars of religion. The three-part mind partitioning (body, soul, spirit) is identical to that of the Gnostics. The low regard for matter (by Hubbard called MEST, Matter-Energy-Space-Time, with reference to the modern physics concepts of matter) in contrast to spirit is also mirrored in Gnosticism. The Gnostics learned that every human had a unique spiritual core, called pneuma (Greek for "spirit" or "ghost"). This is very similar to the thetan concept of Scientology. The esotericism of Scientology is also a distinct feature of Gnostic belief systems.

    Scientology and Psychiatry
    Scientology rejects the claim that mental diseases can have biological bases and holds that such diseases are caused exclusively by disturbed thought processes which can be corrected by Scientology counseling. On the other hand, the Church of Scientology has policies which forbid the counseling of mentally ill people or those who have received psychiatric treatment.

    Scientology regards psychiatry not only as largely ineffective at providing true improvements in mental health, disastrously misguided in its emphasis on the mind as a purely biological machine, and contributing to a heavy emphasis on drugs for treating an ever-increasing roster of mental health issues, but as the root of many political and social evils. Psychiatrists, non-Scientological psychologists and counselors, and supporters of psychiatry are derogatorily termed "psychs" in Scientology internal literature. Psychs are generally regarded as suppressive persons and have the same non-person status as critics of the Church.

    A sister organization, the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has been formed to promote this viewpoint. The CCHR's Web site lists various publications put out by the organization that attack the field of psychiatry, including Psychiatric Rape - Betraying Women, Psychiatry: Education's Ruin, Psychiatry: Victimizing the Elderly, and Psychiatry's Betrayal - Creating Racism. The CCHR does not publicize its connection to the Church of Scientology, leading both psychiatrists and critics of the Church to label it a front group.

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