Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why the Rumors?

I have been traveling since August 8 and in spite of this could keep up with the news and this blog until August 13. After that, however, I had to let it go and now have a backlog of about 10 days. I still hope to catch it up before it becomes completely pointless.

If I receive an interesting e-mail, however, I try to answer straight away. I thought this particular answer could be interesting for others so I share it here as today's entry. Of course I stripped out any personal information.

The email:
Dear Bernie,

I was reading your website on Scientology and got a few questions. Just to provide some brief background, I am a student who is interested in Scientology but hope to understanding the depth n width of it. For many religions, I have lots of doubt and just want to find some experienced persons to answer me.

Back to the point, I am wondering why it will be so expensive to enroll the courses comparing with other religions. Why there are numerous claims that people who left Scientology got mental disturbances or illnesses, etc. Is it really an evil religion? I deem that those courses will be useful but why there are so many rumors.

You might definitely think that my opinions and questions are so naive but I really hope to understand more about Scientology.

Thanks a lot!

Best wishes,
The Answer:
Hi R,

" Back to the point, I am wondering why it will be so expensive to enroll the courses comparing with other religions. "

Scientology is expensive compared to other religions because it claims to have a technology that other religions don't have. It claims that in Scientology it is not a matter of believing but a matter of actual, scientific, experience. It values its technology so much that it makes it expensive. It claims that the price is nothing compared to what you get. It also claims that people need to "exchange" something for something and that if they would get it for free they would not value it and would have no benefit from it.

Note that this is Scientology viewpoint, not mine. Critics claim of course that the purpose of all this is to make money and nothing else.

My personal belief is this. I personally believe that when spirituality is concerned, money should not be involved. I also believe that no amount of technology or other mechanical means can bring true spiritual benefits. Therefore, I do not personally believe in Scientology claims regarding spiritual achievements. Now this is just my personal belief, others may view this differently.

On a psychological level, however, I think that there may be some benefit from a mechanical approach, Scientology or otherwise, and some people, even ex-members, have claimed they have been truly helped. It is important to make a distinction, however, between this level and the spiritual level. The reason I believe Scientology is a cult is because they extend the possibly valid technology they have at the psychological level to the spiritual level, where they just cannot "deliver" what they promise, almost by definition.

"Why there are numerous claims that people who left Scientology got mental disturbances or illnesses, etc. "

People who left Scientology did so because obviously they were not happy with it. What they report of their experience may be true or not. The reasons why it may not be true are many, but the main ones is that they need to justify why they left, they are pressured in making exaggerated claims by their new environment (critical environment), and they want to convince other people about the evilness of Scientology.

This does not mean that everything they say is a lie, but you need to be extremely critical when reading ex-members accounts and take these possible distortions into account.

I personally do not believe that Scientology in general really creates mental disturbances and illness. On the whole, when correctly applied, the technology is quite sound and many ex-members who left the official Church of Scientology (CoS) continue to have an interest in the technology and even continue to practice it outside from the CoS. If anything, I just believe that it is ineffective at the spiritual level, but I do not believe it is harmful and, at the psychological level, could even be beneficial. I personally have no interest in practicing Scientology anymore, in our out of the CoS, because my sole interest is spiritual, not psychological. I also believe that the benefit at a psychological level brought about by Scientology can be achieved by other means, that are not expensive or controversial. The best of course, in my opinion, is to follow a genuine spiritual path, which through increased awareness would resolve other issues which I view as only consequences or our spiritual unconsciousness.

"Is it really an evil religion? "

Scientology is very demanding, whether financially or through working on staff. It makes spiritual claims that it cannot deliver. In making these spiritual claims, it plays on hope, fear and guilt. Because people believe in the absolute truth and necessity of Scientology, they will indulge in all kinds of cultic behavior as reported by critics. Many of the critics' claims are exaggerated and are themselves exploitations of fear and guilt from the other side. Nevertheless, they do have a basis in truth.

Whether it is an "evil" religion would be a subjective appreciation of the above. One may claim that offering things you cannot deliver at a very expensive price and indulging in cultic behavior to defend it would be evil. The point is, however, that those people do not realize they cannot deliver these promises. They actually believe in this stuff. They do not intent to harm anybody and quite on the contrary they have the best of intentions. In this sense, I would not call Scientology "evil", just misguided. By the way, this applies to other religions as well. The horrors religions such as Christianity down in history, and Islam even in actual times, have been responsible for far outweigh anything Scientology ever did in its own right. All religions are at the same time a reflection of a higher truth, and a source of great evil when fanatically applied.

"I deem that those courses will be useful but why there are so many rumors. "

The secret of Scientology is that there really are two Scientology.

One, let's call it "Scientology P" for positive, is a wonderful and original systemic approach of the mind and spirit based on an actual technology. This the Scientology Scientologists see. They do not see the cultic aspect of Scientology and if they see it will dismiss it. They are in owe regarding Scientology presentation of the universe and have great wins applying its technology.

The other Scientology, let's call it "Scientology C" for cultic, is the many crazy and cultic statements injected in that system by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard (LRH). This is the source of many of the fanaticism and cultic behavior Scientology has been involved into. This is the Scientology critics see. They do not see the positive aspect of Scientology and if they see it will dismiss it.

This is the secret of Scientology. The fact that the two aspects, P and C, are intimately mixed. If LRH would have taken a wiser approach, taking criticism into account and including in his system mechanism to avoid fanaticism, such as free speech and inclusive statements towards other religions and technologies, it would not be so controversial and would be much more successful. This is not what he did. On the contrary, he included mechanism that encourages fanaticism and exclusions, such as putting the blame on critics and making statements that are offensive to many strata of society.

Because it is virtually impossible to dissociate the Scientology P from the Scientology C, because Scientology C is built into the system by the founder itself, I believe the situation is pretty hopeless and one should give a miss to Scientology as a whole.

To more directly answer your question, many of the rumors are myth and exaggerations and abuses as exposed on my web site, but they do have a basis in truth. They are a reflection of Scientology C within Scientology P.

Still, at the spiritual level, there really are no absolute certainties. Who knows who is right eventually? I have given you my personal opinion. Ultimately, what you choose to do is your decision. There really are no wrong choices, only choices that bring us faster or slower to our ultimate destination.

Best regards,