Scientology Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4857 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Scientology may be one of the most controversial modern religions, its late founder L. Ron Hubbard one of modern history's most contentious writers and spiritual leaders. The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 but the origins of its doctrine can be traced back to Hubbard's 1950 publication Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Dianetics became an unexpected best seller, and its success propelled its author to sudden fame. The Dianetics book does not squarely address the topic of religion but reads more like a self-help book that addresses issues like insecurity and self-doubt. The official Dianetics Web site copy illustrates the tone and content of Hubbard's seminal work: "there is a single source of all your problems, stress, unhappiness and self-doubt. it's called the reactive mind - the hidden part of your mind that stores all painful experiences and then uses them against you." The book was the product of years of Hubbard's studies as he traveled with his father throughout China and India, learned psychoanalytic theory from one of Freud's own pupils, and was offered honorary status in a Blackfoot Indian tribe near his home in Helena, Montana ("History of Scientology"). In addition to his exposure to various world religions and burgeoning theories of mind, Hubbard also attended mainstream universities. At George Washington University, Hubbard studied both math, science and engineering and reportedly participated in the first class on atomic and molecular physics taught in America ("About L. Ron Hubbard"). The combined exposure to science and mysticism invariably prompted Hubbard to develop a keen curiosity about the interface between the two.

Term Paper on Scientology May Be One of the Most Assignment

That interface is explored in the dozens of official Church of Scientology texts, audio lectures, and DVDs. While it is doubtful that "L. Ron Hubbard became the first to bring a scientific methodology to age-old questions of existence," Church of Scientology literature does address issues related to human consciousness ("About L. Ron Hubbard"). Emphasis is on the experiential aspect of inner world exploration rather than on classical scientific methodology. Nevertheless, Scientology's pragmatic approach to spiritual exploration distinguishes it from other religions. "Scientology is therefore something one does, not merely something one believes in," ("Scientology: Its Background and Origins").

Scientology seems the epitome of New Age faith with its declarations of universalism and human potential. Official Church of Scientology Web sites refer to "the wisdom of some 50,000 years," in typical New Age idealism of ancient civilizations ("Scientology: Its Background and Origins"). Similarly, terminology used in Church of Scientology writings is also New Age, such as: "to codify an exact and standard route along which individuals may ascend to higher states of awareness," ("About L. Ron Hubbard"). The Church of Scientology also embraces pseudo-scientific technologies that ostensibly measure intangibles like thought or the soul or are simply referred to as "an array of social betterment technologies," ("About L. Ron Hubbard").

If the Church of Scientology is quintessentially New Age in its tone and theoretical foundation, it is also so in its sociological manifestations. For instance, the Church of Scientology has attracted a cadre of elite celebrities including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Celebrity attention has been both blessing and curse for the religion, which has also garnered a reputation for being as flakey as celebrities themselves. The Church of Scientology takes its celebrity members seriously, though, offering them VIP treatment at its official Celebrity Centers located around the world. According to the official Web site, "Church of Scientology Celebrity Centres...provide special services which help artists apply Scientology principles to their chosen fields." As a celebrity himself until he died in 1986, Hubbard undoubtedly understood the nature of fame.

A dilettante who lived an admirably full life, Hubbard flew planes, wrote screenplays, and even -- started his own religion. Whether he is looked on as a cult leader or as a genius, his legacy with the Church of Scientology is palpable. Churches are located on all the inhabited continents. L. Ron Hubbard has twice entered the Guinness Book of World Records, in 2005 for being the most translated author, and in 2006 for being the most published author (Robinson & Buttnor 2006). An estimated ten million people have at least visited Scientology churches, although numbers for active membership are disputed. However, with 3150 churches and over 4000 missions and groups in 163 countries, the numbers of people participating in the Church of Scientology must be high. The third party American Religious Identity Survey (ARIS) 2001 survey revealed that about 77,000 Americans declare themselves members of the Church of Scientology. According to some estimates, about 500,000 individuals worldwide would declare themselves to be Scientologists, a number falling far short of official Church of Scientology estimates of about 10 million followers (Adherents.com).

The first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles. It sprouted up in response to a growing demand for Dianetics teaching outlets: 750 Dianetics groups and six larger foundations had thrived nationwide. Photographs of early Dianetics and Church of Scientology meetings frequently depict one of Hubbard's many technologies, which are central to the religion. According to the Church of Scientology Web site, "Ron indeed contacted, measured and provided a means to experience the human soul," ("About L. Ron Hubbard"). Adherents continue to be fascinated by this feature of Scientology, which is also one of the many issues critics of the religion disparage. The most well-known of the Church of Scientology technologies is the Electro-psychometer or E-meter. Described as "mixing a little fact with a lot of fiction," the E-meter is an actual ohm meter with a relatively straightforward circuit board (Touretsky nd).

E-meters are employed during the central Scientology practice of "auditing," in which a Church of Scientology counselor works one-on-one with individual members. Auditing is "intended to help an individual look at his own existence and improve his ability," and is officially described as a "unique form of personal spiritual counseling which helps people look at their own existence and improves their ability to confront what they are and where they are," (Robinson & Buttnor 2006; "What is Scientology Auditing?"). The E-meter supposedly detects changes in the individual's mental state while he or she is being audited.

One of the Church of Scientology's strong points is its dedication to global humanitarian aid, as well as its work with drug and criminal rehabilitation. The Church of Scientology is outspokenly anti-drug. A special section of the official Scientology Web site addresses the negative effects of drugs and chemicals including environmental pollutants. Part of the Church of Scientology core training includes a "Purification Rundown," which is basically a set of spa-like activities like sauna, heavy exercise, and ingestion of vitamins and minerals. The Church of Scientology Volunteer Minister program, which does require some Scientology training, conducts social service programs worldwide in admirable fields like disaster relief. Supposedly their assistance in the aftermath of September 11 earned a group of Volunteer Ministers the New York Fire Department's Medal of Valor ("Disaster Response: Answering the Call").

The Church of Scientology basically claims to offer the solution to all of life's problems: from confusion to physical pain to thwarted relationship and career success. Ostensibly, the religion answers the premier existential questions: "Who are we? What do we consist of? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we doing?" ("The Scientology Religion"). With such far-reaching promises, the Church of Scientology's success is understandable. Members and practitioners hope to gain inner peace and spiritual awareness, an understanding of life's meaning and one's place in the universe. The Church of Scientology is in this way not much different from any other religion. In fact, the Church of Scientology is not deistic. Although the church of Scientology teachings do refer to a Supreme Being, that Being is not anthropomorphic and is conveyed as more of a state of mind than as a God. Scientology theology therefore shares more in common with Buddhism than with the Biblical traditions.

Scientology cosmology and mythology is wholly unique, based on Hubbard's writings. One of Scientology's central creation legends is of Xenu, a "galactic ruler." According to the story, Xenu peopled the Earth with human beings, "stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs," (ReligionFacts). This story is known as Incident II in the Church of Scientology literature and is one of the many negative memories imprinted, or "implanted" on human consciousness.

According to Scientology doctrine, human nature is inherently good, but has been tainted by the residual memory of traumatic events known as "implants." The Xenu event (Incident II) left what is called the R6 implant on human consciousness. Some of the traumatic events are collective, shared by all of humanity like Incident II. Others occur at the individual level: traumas in childhood or in past lives.

Scientology has a strong belief in reincarnation and a systematic outline of the transmigration of souls. One of the goals of Scientology is to heal the wounds of past trauma and to achieve a state called "Clear." Achieving the Clear state requires adherence to Church of Scientology… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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