28 July 2010

Scientific Ologies‏
"A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be."
-- Albert Einstein, scientist

They told me that L. Ron Hubbard was an engineer, and I believed it.  They told me he traveled extensively in the Far East, soaking up Eastern religion and philosophy like a Sham-Wow, and I believed it.  They told me that he took his Western, scientific training and applied it to Eastern philosophical thought and from this marriage of the Oriental and Occidental, Scientology was born.  And I believed it.  You gotta admit, that's a pretty compelling narrative.  It sounds right out of The Matrix or some such.  Unplugging from a computer download, Neo knows kung-fu.

(To my family:  This is going to be difficult for you to read.  I apologize wholeheartedly, but I am pretty much done with dishonesty in matters of the spirit.)

In college, I discovered the Tao Teh Ching and Buddhism.  My Old Testament professor (I went to a Presbyterian university) calmly and eloquently explained that the Books of Esther and Daniel are fictionalized history.  I read about the Gnostic gospels, and how the current New Testament line-up was crafted by men, not God.  I became a "Preterist" after studying the Book of Revelations and history.  I decided that Plotinus was probably right, best case scenario our consciousness emanates from the source of everything, and that's about all there is to God.  I stopped believing in a literal Hell.  I flirted briefly with atheism, and settled on something between agnosticism and deism; I assume there is a God.

Leaving college, trying to sort myself out vis a vis religion and matters of the spirit, it occurred to me that an honest attempt at sussing out the truth would involve a survey of world religions.  Perhaps applying scientific principles to the truths offered by Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, etc. figuring out what works, and going with that.

Enter L. Ron Hubbard, an American engineer and nuclear physicist whose extensive travels through the Far East led to a scientific approach to the spirit.  Or so they said.  As it turns out, he was neither an engineer nor a physicist, and his travels through the East were not nearly as extensive as he (and the Church) led us to believe.  One may say that, to borrow a phrase from Tom Cruise, Hubbard was glib.

So there you have, in a nutshell (emphasis on "nut"), what appealed to me so much about Dianetics and Scientology that I was willing to join the parade of fools.  There were other things:  I was attracted by the potential for losing psychological baggage (not that I have much) and increasing my potential as an artist.  (Laugh if you want, I really dig Travolta.  Been a fan my whole life, even through the dark days of "Look Who's Talking."  Back in 1997, when the wife and I first bought a copy of Dianetics, Travolta was in the middle of a career resurgence.)  Regardless, it was the science angle that really engaged me.

But is it science or faith?

From Geir Isene, an OT VIII, former member of the Church of Scientology: "It seems fanaticism feeds on hope and faith rather than experience and personal certainty. Maybe fanaticism is a substitute for real personal certainty."


A long quote from Haydn James, aka "T. Paine" from Scientology-Cult.com, an Independent Scientologist:
I have not one shred of doubt that Scientology is a religion, never have had. To me the evidence is clear and unequivocal. Though we may not talk about it often, faith is a very important element in Scientology.

In the lecture SELF-DETERMINISM ON THE DYNAMICS, dated 23 October 1951 LRH points out that the 8th Dynamic is actually faith, when he says:
“… Because the eighth dynamic is faith. It is not even knowledge, and it is certainly not ARC or understanding. It is faith; it is a static, and in a complete static there is no understanding. The individual is taught ‘You have to understand things in life,’ so he goes ahead and tries to understand the eighth dynamic. But you can’t understand the eighth—that is faith! You accept it. You don’t try to wonder about it.”
People may gain faith from life experiences, visiting with holy men and in other ways I am sure, but other than Scientology, I know of no actual technology that is capable or restoring, repairing or creating a resurgence of faith in an individual -- which provides incredible certainty that nothing can strike them down or a feeling that everything is absolutely going to be alright or any other way one may wish to describe it.
Uhhh ... faith is inconsistent with science. You don't have "faith" that a hypothesis or theory will hold out. You may suppose, based on experience, that such a thing may happen, but you don't take it on "faith" that a+b=c. You set up and conduct the experiment, and see what happens. If it turns out that a+b=d, well then. That's that. Reconfirm the results by duplicating the experiment, etc. "Faith" in the area of science leads to prejudice. It is inconsistent with certainty. (Perhaps this is semantic hair-splitting.)

I have had the "incredible certainty" James describes restored, repaired and created by everything from prayer to sex to socializing to going to the Getty Museum to reading a good book to playing with the dogs to holding my wife's hand. Experiencing life fully in the moment, in my experience, is what gives you that "incredible certainty." Even when my neck has been on the chopping block, I've found incredible courage and certainty in confronting the circumstances fully.

If that's all that Scientology has to offer, what's the point of paying $4,000 an intensive for something you can get for free with a library card or in the halls of the Getty? In the end, is the church a "Cargo Cult" with the trappings of science and a few neat parlor tricks that do little to actually clear someone? Is the most it can offer is a way to key you out and give you that "incredible certainty?" If so, that's fine. That's enough, actually. I could be a part of that church.

What I need from ANY church or religion is honesty, transparency, and a "true" commitment to being right -- not a false sense of "rightness" pasted over wrongness. What I find interesting is how the older I get the less I need religion. It seems extraneous and arbitrary. If THIS is what life is, and it's as awesome and wonderful and scary and exciting and horrible and glorious as THIS, why would I need anything else? It would take a lifetime to master life itself, without taking on ridiculous side-projects that, in the end, have no real bearing on my life. In short, why do I need international events, Friday night graduations, TMs and checksheets when an hour or two of burlesque does the job?

Because "An artist never cleared anyone," or so David Petit, the Commanding Officer of Celebrity Centre International once told me. Well, maybe that's just because no one ever went clear.

If I sound bitter, it's only because I get a bit grumpy when I wake up.