Rituals and Worship

Sacred Time

According to Scientologists, the world began in the timeless past with the action of the first Cause. As noted in The Factors, L. Ron Hubbard's reflections on this primordial event, "Before the beginnings was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause was the creation of effect. In the beginning and forever is the decision, and the decision is TO BE. The first action of beingness is to assume a viewpoint."

Thus the universe, invisible and visible, began to emerge. As it emerged, matter, energy, space, and time (termed MEST by Scientologists) and life itself developed. Spiritual beings, the thetans, emerged quite early in the process and were essential to the creation of reality. But along the way, they forgot that they could create. "Thus comes about scarcity. And the dimension points can perish and so the viewpoints [thetans] assume that they, too, can perish. Thus comes about death."

Thetans, forgetful of who/what they really were and that they inhabited a universe of space-time, launched the pre-historical world. That world has lasted billions of years and has seen thetans participating in a cosmic journey that has further particularized their situation and eventually brought them to planet earth. Certain aspects of this cosmic history are critical both for understanding the present state of humans and envisioning a way forward if they are to actualize all of their potential and be able to operate as free spiritual beings in the years, centuries, and eons ahead. In the Operating Thetan (OT) Levels, the name given the advanced training courses for Scientology church members, the major details of that cosmic history are revealed and its essential implications explained. The revised self-understanding based upon the history then becomes the basis of the auditing and other exercises pursued by upper level Scientologists.

The cosmic history that forms such an important part of the OT Level instruction is considered sacred esoteric information and as such made available only to church members. As is common in esoteric groups, material released at any given level is to be discussed only with other members who have reached that same level. Most esoteric groups feel that if taken out of context, this material is easily misunderstood and distorted, and that particular elements wrenched from the whole can even appear weird and become the subject of ridicule.

To Scientologists, the cosmic history builds upon the esoteric perspective of the universe that is taught in the large body of material available to the public concerning the creation of the world, past human incarnations, the nature of the thetan, and the human predicament, and invites the student to a more sophisticated level of comprehension. That cosmic history also serves as a new introduction to human history.

According to Scientology, the era of human history opened 10,000 years ago with humans' initial attempts to understand themselves. As civilizations subsequently emerged, tidbits of truth appeared. For example, Egyptians saw themselves as spiritual beings, Hindus understood reincarnation and the continuous stream of life, Zoroastrians attempted to define good and evil, and Lao-tse understood humankind's basic goodness. The rise of civilizations also created what became established orders that easily ossified, thus setting the stage for the great philosophers and prophets -- Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad -- who would hold up the spiritual nature of humanity against those social orders that would reduce people to the merely material. The twin message of the spiritual nature of humans and the right to be free to believe became the issues that struggled to surface over the centuries since Rome.

In the modern world, efforts at self-understanding and the emergence of science brought a new challenge in the ideas of the likes of Charles Darwin, Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud, and I. P. Pavlov, whose evolutionary, materialistic, and animalistic views of humans led to contemporary psychology/psychiatry, which has banished from its discourse the idea that humans have a soul and that they are spiritual beings. In a society where materialistic philosophies dominate, humans are reduced to stimulus-response creatures and totalitarian states are free to arise. By the mid-20th century, with the emergence of the atomic age, humans had the potential for complete self-destruction.

This moment of history, when humanity gained the potential for annihilating itself, provided the environment in which L. Ron Hubbard appeared and offered a way out of the dilemma in which humans had placed themselves. Scientology offers a spiritual view of the individual in sharp contrast to modern psychotherapeutic self-understandings. Scientology sees itself as providing a bridge to a new world where humanity's spiritual nature is affirmed and nurtured and people are invited to live as free beings.

Study Questions:
     1.     Describe Scientology's understanding of the beginning of time. Where do thetans fit in?
     2.     Why is timing important to Scientology's teachings?
     3.     How has truth emerged over the course of human existence?

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