The Eight Dynamics: A Map of the Self

Scientology 1.0.0 – part 4

“I have an existential map. It has ‘You are here’ written all over it.” – Steven Wright

In scientology, there is a lot of metaphysics. One of the most thorny problems with discussing metaphysics, though, is the limitation of language.

Take the Eight Dynamics for instance. The definition of dynamic is, of course, (of a process or system) characterised by constant change, activity, or progress. Which comes from the Greek dunamikos, from dunamis, meaning “power”.

That’s fine, except that two of the dynamics, the 7th and the 8th, aren’t. Dynamic, that is, at least not in the above sense. Thus, it makes it very difficult to talk about the really big issues when there’s so little language, or no language at all, to cover them appropriately. It’s why the Tao Te Ching begins, “Tao called Tao is not Tao.” Or, probably, why it is said, “neti neti” (neither this nor that) in the Upanishads.1 With metaphysics, it’s often easier to say what something isn’t rather than what it is.

In my opinion, much of the current squabbles about scientology2 and, more importantly, and basically, religion and philosophy, stem to some degree from this very problem, this very complex problem, of language and its use in discussing the biggest ideas.

Take the Bible, for instance. The 1611 King James version, which was translated from various earlier versions, is probably the most important book in the English language. In reading it, I not only started to understand scientology better, but I began to understand what the main problem with religion might be in these modern times. I mean, this is not a book you’d want read by those inclined to turn things into weapons. It is no wonder there was such resistance by the Catholic Church to the creation of such translations. I suppose there were many reasons for this resistance, but this danger was definitely one of them.

Well, that ship certainly sailed. In one case, among many, the cat was really out of the bag when John of Leiden, a literalist fanatic, got hold of one of Martin Luther’s translations and turned the German town of Münster into a proto-communist apocalyptic nightmare. Similar things happened with a guy named Girolamo Savonarola, of the “bonfire of the vanities” fame (shudder). And don’t get me started on Torquemada!

You also ought to have a pretty good sense of humour because the metaphysical is a pretty crazy dance. Truth, capitol “T,” has always been and always will be the intellectual Wild West because it isn’t. Intellectual, that is. Because in this Wild West, no rope (intellect) exists that can be used to lasso any little dogies (motherless calves) of absolute truth, not quite anyway. But there are some pretty good tools in Scientology 1.0.0 that can help one towards the Truth, which is, after all, an experience, not a talking point.


So, what is the absolute truth? Nobody knows and no one will ever know, at least not objectively or intellectually, because Truth is an experience. Scientology 1.0.0 recognises this, so the Truth is always deeply personal and always sacred, as it should be. One can discuss it, and one can speculate about it, and consider it, and on and on, which one should because it’s interesting and fun, but you’ll never get hold of it like you can with scientific fact because it doesn’t lend itself to any measurement other than increased well-being. And well-being, for the most part, is subjective. In Scientology 1.0.0, well-being starts with the basics of survival, of course, but continues with an enhanced subjective world view that is different from person to person.

The truth, little “t,” on the other hand, is utilitarian. That is to say, the truth is or are those things that bring about physical survival, like engineering and science. These different levels of truth overlap, of course, but they ought never be confused. Not unless what you are aiming for is a socialist apocalyptic nightmare such as the one Mr. John of Leiden came up with (yahoo!).

The Eight Dynamics

Back to the Eight Dynamics: The discussion of Truth must start with breaking up the whole into some sort of constituent parts (reductionism) so that they might be studied better. In this case, the whole is “Life.” Or, “you” (same thing). This step is accomplished in Scientology 1.0.0, in part, by means of the Eight Dynamics.

They are:

Dynamic 1 – The Self (you as the individual). This would be the “you” you describe as “George,” “Hannah,” etc.

Dynamic 2 – The family (and the sex act). This is the special genetic-specific pool out of which all the “yous” emerge, “Smith, Jones”, etc.

Dynamic 3 – The group (and/or society). This is the larger group of people that make it possible for families to endure. This is cooperation with non-family others.

Dynamic 4 – Man as Species. This one is a tiny sub-section of the next one, living organisms, but it is the one capable of reason. The species that is conscious of being conscious.

Dynamic 5 – Organic Life. All living things, those things as distinguished from inorganic matter.

Dynamic 6 – Inorganic matter, energy, space, and time. This is all the stuff out of which organic life is made (nobody knows how).

Dynamic 7 – Life (or spirit, or soul, it’s up to you, but you could also call this the probability dynamic, maybe). It covers “no wavelength thought,” such as aesthetics and meaning.

Dynamic 8 – Infinity or God. Again, it’s up to you, but you could also call this the possibility dynamic, maybe. Or “the ground of all being”. It covers whatever there ever is before there is ever anything, and underlies literally anything that is or could ever be (phew!). It is not “forever” or anything like that (neti neti). It is before First Consciousness and any viewpoint.

(I’m sure there are going to be all sorts of other ways to break down existence for purposes of study, but in Scientology 1.0.0 it was done this way in order to get at a particular concept, which I’ll come to.)

So. That’s the way they are laid out for purposes of therapy. You start by concentrating on 1, and then you move onto 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. The map, though, is concentric circles, with 1 being in the centre and then, starting with the outermost circle, the sequence goes:

8 – Infinity: all things possible, one of which is…
7 – Spirit: things are probable as expressed by…
6 – The physical,
5 – Life,
4 – Man,
3 – Groups,
2 – Family and
1 – You as the individual self.

They represent one way to discuss “emergence” and expression. Actually, only expression. More on that later.

नेति नेति – neti neti

Scientology therapy runs from 1 to 8. That is, one begins by concentrating on oneself first, and then takes on the other dynamics as they progress through therapy. People new to the subject might be a little confused by this.

A typical misconception (possibly the result of the language problem previously referred to) is someone discussing the dynamics thusly: “Me as self, that’s the 1st dynamic; then my family is my 2nd dynamic; the company I work for, my sports team, and my country are my groups; I am a member of Mankind, and my dog and my garden are my 5th dynamic; my house is my 6th dynamic.” This way of thinking leads to: “The 7th dynamic is me as a spiritual bei… wait… what? Me? Again? I thought that was covered as the 1st dynamic.” This way of approaching the dynamics sort of shorts the conversation because it actually only describes the 1st dynamic, the individual self, the whole time. This view, while maybe a little bit useful in the beginning, can also get in the way because the eight dynamics aren’t actually separate things; it’s a way, a system, to get at the problem of who and what you really are, really.

The subject is often further confused by the term “thetan.” The word thetan was coined from the word theta, which is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. This term is thought to be synonymous with spirit or soul, but what it actually means is the energy peculiar to life that acts upon the material in the physical universe and animates it, mobilises it, and changes it. Somehow, due to the limitations of language, the individual gets called a “thetan,” which immediately conjures up some sort of division, a fracturing, of theta. In other words, the individual, the 1st dynamic, the self, is a fraction of the whole, which it indeed is. But theta is the whole; it is not a thing and is not divisible. This “thetan” idea can unfortunately lead to discussing the whole topic as if it were a fraction of something, which it most definitely is not. नेति नेति.

You see, you can divide the material world up any way you like. But the 8th dynamic and the 7th dynamic are not divisible; they represent the beginning and the whole. I mean, oof, words just get in the way sometimes!


To try to understand things as they really are then, especially these big things, you’ve got to have a net, some sort of way to give boundaries so that you don’t lose the plot, such as with a map. Maps have grids so that they can be more useful in getting you where you want to go. It’s the same with these dynamics; they are a way to point out all of the parts that make up a whole so that they can be studied, discussed, thought about, because thinking about them a certain way is going to prove very, very useful.

You don’t exist without all these parts, including spirit and infinity. This is true even for all those people who might think that there should only be six dynamics (materialists), because dynamic 7 includes things like ultimate consciousness, meaning, inspiration, art, and all things that are probable, whilst dynamic 8, infinity, is the idea that all things are possible (which makes life even more interesting).

So there it is: the actual self is all this, all eight dynamics.

When people get upset, you may quickly discover that they might be insisting on some sort of separateness from the dynamics in one way or another. The 7th dynamic is “better” than the 6th, such as with the New Age. Or assigning priority to one or more as opposed to others: the 8th dynamic (God) is the only true reality; all else is profanity (such as religious fundamentalists do). Other examples of this are authoritarianism (the group is always senior to the individual) or totalitarianism (the individual is owned by the group). No dynamic has priority over another dynamic.

Although there is this separating out of these dynamics, it’s an idea only as useful as that net, to try and get hold of what constitutes ideal being. Ideal being for all dynamics, not just the individual. Because each of these dynamics also represents themselves, being-wise.

As mentioned above, Truth, capital “T” Truth, is an experience. It is seeing the interconnectedness of all these dynamics.

Connecting with all the dynamics is sometimes misconstrued as a sort of ecstatic collapse of the self into some bigger whole, or something like that, which is why this experience is mostly impossible to convey with words. But it is a key goal of Scientology 1.0.0 to achieve an experience that is definitely not a collapse but an expansion into a condition called pan-determinism.

So there it is, one way to study life. Life is 8 things: 8 dynamics. A simple but very useful method for studying and conveying two deeply complex subjects: Life and Truth.

1 Actually, there are many more words in various Indian dialects that cover difficult metaphysical concepts than there are in English. No surprise there.

2 No, not a typo. I’m switching back and forth from small “s” to capital “S” depending on context.

6 responses to “The Eight Dynamics: A Map of the Self”

  1. Really thought provoking post, Arch. For some reason we were not able to connect earlier but I’m available now. By the way, we will be coming to LA in early March to visit Mariette’s son and his family.


  2. The crux of your writing whilst appearing reasonable at first, did not really settle properly with me after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you managed to make me a believer but just for a while. I still have got a problem with your jumps in logic and you would do well to help fill in all those breaks. If you can accomplish that, I will certainly end up being impressed.


    • Thank you for your input. I’ve no intention of making anyone a believer in anything, the goal I’m aiming for is to lay out some information that, although it may be somewhere on the internet, I haven’t seen it. These articles are my attempt at laying down what I think is a little necessary groundwork before going into that data by commenting on ideas that are far, far better dealt with in their original forms.


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