Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The history of Scientology

An interesting article on Helium on Scientology and Dianetics:

by Charles Ray

Scientology, which means the "study of knowledge and truth," is a religion founded in the 1950s by the noted science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard, born March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska, traveled widely as a youth, including several trips to Asia. His observation of misery and poverty, especially during his Asia visits, caused him to question the very nature of man.

During the 30s and 40s, he wrote extensively on the subject, but it wasn't until May 1950 that he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which formed the basis for Scientology. Hubbard defined Dianetics as "what the soul is doing to the body." He promoted it as a methodology to help alleviated unwanted emotions, irrational fears, and psychosomatic illness.

Although the initial press run of Dianetics was only 6,000 copies, it became an instant sensation and, to date, has sold over 21 million copies.

Scientology has gained many converts in just over half a century (estimates range from 100 thousand to 10 million adherents worldwide), but it remains one of the most controversial of the 'new' religions. Some of the controversy has been fueled by public actions and statements by high-profile celebrities like Tom Cruise, who are Scientologists.

Scientology holds that man is basically good, but it's their experiences that cause people to do evil. People who think only of their own interests, and ignore how their acts affect others, create interpersonal strife. Individuals achieve enlightenment, according to the basic tenets of the religion, by preserving their spiritual integrity and values, and remaining honest and decent.

While many religions try to solve people's problems for them, Scientology believes in elevating the individual to improve his or her own life. In doing so, the Scientologist naturally reaches out to others.

According to Hubbard's philosophy, the individual is not a body but a spirit. Hubbard called this spirit or soul 'thetan,' from the Greek letter theta, a traditional symbol for thought and life. The thetan, Hubbard maintained, was the person himself, not his name or title - that which is aware of being aware.

The main religious practice of Scientology is a form of spiritual counseling called 'auditing.' It is a precisely codified set of questions used to help the individual become more self aware and thus improve his own condition. The goal of Scientology is to make the individual more spiritually aware and in touch with his thetan, and less dependent on the material universe.

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