L. Ron Hubbard observed many, many people using Dianetics and found a commonality of experience and phenomena. After carefully reviewing all relevant research data, he isolated the answer: Man was neither his body nor his mind, but a spiritual being. This was the source of all that is good, decent and creative in the world: the individual being himself. With this discovery, L. Ron Hubbard founded the religion of Scientology, for he had moved firmly into the field traditionally belonging to religion—the realm of the human soul.
The term soul, however, had developed so many other meanings from use in other religions and practices that a new term was needed to connote precisely what had been discovered. The term LRH chose was thetan, from the Greek letter theta () the traditional symbol for thought or life.
A thetan is the person himself, not his body or his name or the physical universe, his mind or anything else. It is that which is aware of being aware; the identity which IS the individual. One does not have a thetan, something one keeps somewhere apart from oneself; he is a thetan.Very pertinent to L. Ron Hubbard’s research at this juncture was his examination into the phenomena known as exteriorization. Although various religious texts make mention of it, no one had ever considered the matter with such careful scrutiny. From this research, he concluded that the thetan is able to leave the body and exist independent of the flesh. Exteriorized, the person can see without the body’s eyes, hear without the body’s ears and feel without the body’s hands. Man previously had very little understanding of this detachment from his mind and body. With the act of exteriorization attainable in Scientology a person gains the certainty he is himself and not his body.