Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

Scientology, in keeping with its esoteric roots, has a very optimistic understanding of humanity. Rather than being inherently sinful, humans are, in Scientology's view, basically good. Although they would in no way speak of humans as infested with sin or evil, evil has gained a place in human life and society due in large part to the reactive mind and the engrams that it has deposited in the unconscious. Upon attaining a state of Clear, the individual is freed from the effects of the reactive mind, and the essentially good person that he or she is, now becomes manifest.

The newly created Clear is somewhat like a newborn baby, ready to learn and explore life as a newly freed spiritual being. Over the eons, the thetan has forgotten what it really is, but having pushed aside the obstacles created by the reactive mind, it is able again to become aware of its inherent potential, which is described as existing in a state of complete spiritual freedom. In this state one has "knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time." Also, in the process of attaining the state of Clear, the thetan overcomes the anxiety of pushing into the unknown to be explored in the new free life.

To the outside observer, the work of a Scientologist prior to becoming Clear may appear as simply a lengthy preparation for the Operating Thetan (OT) Levels where the essential truths of the faith will be experienced. Comparatively speaking, the lower levels resemble secular self-help courses that serve as prologue to the real spiritual endeavors of the OT Levels, much as the exercises of hatha yoga serve as preparation to the breathing, concentration, and meditation levels that follow it. (Just as many people who take yoga are content to stop with hatha yoga, some Scientologists have never reached the state of Clear.)

The fact that people can attain the state of Clear is offered as proof of the goodness of human beings. It is believed that the Clear person manifests a very high degree of personal integrity and honesty, that the basic personality flourishes, and former fears, anxieties, and irrational thoughts that had proved dysfunctional disappear. Individuals are energized in that they no longer have to pay attention to the problems that formerly claimed their time and strength.

One way that the work of the OT Levels is described is that the individual now views the self in light of eternity. Thetans are entities that have lived many lifetimes and will live many more. The past has been lived in an encumbered and forgetful state, but the future may be lived as a free, knowledgeable spiritual being. It thus becomes important to spend the rest of one's earthly life after attaining the state of Clear in progressing as far as possible in learning about and experiencing the free life, and removing any further encumbrances that are encountered.

Scientology teaches that the learning process for the Operating Thetan should be done in an orderly and precise fashion. For this reason the program for Operating Thetans is laid out in a course in which each level methodically builds upon that which precedes it. As with the levels leading to Clear, progress is incremental and gradual. As the different levels are pursued, various abilities that had been suppressed by the effects of the reactive mind return.

The details of the OT remain a confidential matter for Scientologists, and those who have passed through the higher levels do not speak about them with those (even fellow Scientologists) who have not also experienced the same levels. And although some who have experienced these levels and later left the church have spoken about them, the church refuses to discuss the truth or falsity of the descriptions offered.

Part of the information about the OT levels that those in charge are willing to discuss is that auditing continues to form an important part of the process. It is also assumed that those who have attained the state of Clear have become more than familiar with basic auditing and have, as part of their work, already audited some people coming up the Bridge at lower levels. Thus, when church members begin the OT Levels, they are taught to audit themselves. This process, complete with an E-meter, is termed "solo auditing" and taught in a special Solo Auditor's Course. The solo auditor uses all the processes formerly utilized in sitting with an auditor. At least one of the OT Levels is totally consumed with solo auditing.

The person moving up the OT Levels is promised a variety of spiritual benefits, among them being aware of his or her immortal nature and gaining freedom from the cycle of birth and death. It is expected that as people attain the successive OT Levels they will catch a vision of the overall goal of Scientology, to bring everyone on the planet to a state of spiritual freedom, and to discover their role in freeing the planet.

Study Questions:
     1.     Why does Scientology have an optimistic understanding of humanity?
     2.     Describe the process of attaining a state of Clear.
     3.     What does the teaching about the state of Clear reveal about humanity?
     4.     What is meant by the Operating Thetan? Why are its details confidential?

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