The Eight Dynamics, a map of the self.

Scientology 1.0.0 (1952) continued – part 4

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

In scientology* there are a lot of descriptions of the metaphysical, like the couple of things already mentioned. One of the hellishly difficult problems with discussing metaphysics though is the limitations 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 ’power’.

That’s fine, except that two of the dynamics (7 and 8) aren’t. Dynamic that is, at least not in that sense. 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‡. With metaphysics it’s often easier to say what something isn’t rather than to say what it is.

In my opinion much of the current squabbles about scientology and, more importantly – and basically – religion and philosophy, stems to some degree from this very problem, this very complex problem, of language.

Possibly the best known example of this is the Holy Bible. 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, 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, people who tend not to be terribly bright. No wonder there was such resistance by the Catholic Church to the creation of such translations §. (They still use the Vulgate (St. Jerome) version of the bible – it’s in a form of Latin which sounds like song but the lyrics are in code, for most people who didn’t and don’t speak it, that is.)

Well, that ship certainly sailed. In one case of 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-socialist apocalyptic nightmare.

Anyhow, moving on. The only level at which one can discuss any of this stuff without much confusion is above 3.0 (conservatism – as laid out previously in part 3). Even so you’d still need a pretty damn good grasp of the language, quite a bit more than is afforded by most of today’s public schooling. You’d need to be very literate and you’d have to be pretty positive (3.5 at least) in your general outlook. As an individual goes down the emotional scale more and more information gets filtered out of the picture so that one can focus on emergencies or dangerous situations. However, if one gets stuck in these levels then you can’t properly evaluate the world because now you’re without most of the data you’d need to do that kind of problem solving properly.

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 Truth, not quite anyway. What one needs instead is intuition and inspiration.

So what is the Truth? Nobody knows and no-one will ever know, not in the objective, intellectual dimension at least, because Truth is an experience. So in Scientology 1.0.0 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 fun but you’ll never get hold of it like you can 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 which is different from person to person. The truth, little “t” on the other hand, is utilitarian. That is to say, truth is or are those things that bring about physical survival like technology 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. (yahoo!)

Back to the Eight Dynamics. The discussion of Truth must start with breaking up the whole into some sort of studiable constituent parts (reductionism). In this case the whole is Life. Or, You (same thing). This step is done in Scientology 1.0.0, in part, by these eight Dynamics.

They are:

1 – The self (as individual). This would be the “you” you describe as you, “George, “Hannah”, etc.
2 – The family (and the sex act). This is the special genetic-specific pool out of which all the “yous” emerge, “Smith, Jones”, etc.
3 – The group (and/or society). This is the larger collections of people that make it possible for families to endure. This is cooperation with non-family others.
4 – Man as Species. This one is a tiny sub-section of the next one, Living organisms.
5 – Organic life. All living things. Those things as distinguished from inorganic matter.
6 – Inorganic matter, energy, space and time. This is all the stuff out of which organic life is made somehow.
7 – Life or spirit. Whatever that is, up to you, but you could call this the probability dynamic, maybe, or the ethics dynamic but it covers “no wavelength thought” such as aesthetics and meaning. It is First Consciousness. (Kind of.)
8 – Infinity. Again, up to you but you could 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 “the all” or things like that (neti neti). It is Before First Consciousness. (Sort of.)

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 to get at a particular concept which I’ll get to.

So. That’s the way they are laid out for purposes of therapy, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. The map, though, looks like concentric circles, 1 being in the centre and then the sequence goes:

8 – Infinity: all things possible, one of which is…
7 – Spirit: things are probable as expressed by…
6 – The physical,
5 – The Living,
4 – Man,
3 – Special groups,
2 – Family and
1 – you as individual.

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

Because the therapy in Scientology 1.0.0 runs 1 through 8 this can cause some confusion discussing the subject. A typical misconception, or rather not a misconception but a misnomer more like (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”, etc. This sort of shorts the conversation because it actually only describes the 1st dynamic, the individual self. This sort of view, while maybe a little bit useful, can also get in the way because the 8 dynamics aren’t actually separate things, it’s mainly a way to get at the problem of who and what you really are really.

The thing is often further confused by the term “thetan”. Thetan was coined out of the word “theta” which is the eighth (8) letter of the greek alphabet. This term has often been thought to be synonymous with spirit or soul but what it means is all these eight dynamics. Somehow, due to the limitations of language, the individual got called a “thetan” which immediately brings to mind some sort of separateness. This unfortunately leads to discussing the whole topic as if it were all material alone as you can divide the material world up any way you like but “0”, the 7th dynamic and infinity, the 8th dynamic are not divisible.

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 where you want to go. So it is 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 – eventually.

You don’t exist without all these parts including spirit and infinity, this is true even for all those people who think that there should only be 6 dynamics because dynamic 7 includes things like penultimate consciousness, meaning and inspiration and art and 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 8 dynamics.

When people get upset you may quickly discover that they might be insisting on some sort of separateness of one kind or another, such as placing them as essentially sequential (the 7th dynamic comes before the 6th such as with the New Age) or assigning priority to one or more as opposed to others (the 7th and 8th dynamics are senior to the 6th such as with fundamentalists). Other examples of this are authoritarianism (the group is senior to the individual) or totalitarianism (the individual is owned by the group). Although there is separateness it’s an idea only as useful as that net, to try and get hold of what’s coming in the next article: pan-determinism (uh oh). The dynamics are set out in the way that they are only in order to get at that nutty problem.

Just to further emphasise, these dynamics are not sequential except for the purposes of study. No dynamic is actually emergent or is “bringing forth” any other dynamic as in “first there was this and then came that”. Nor are they in some order of priority. No dynamic is senior to any other dynamic.

As mentioned before, Truth, capital T Truth, is an experience, one of love, and this experience of love is seeing the inter-connectedness of all things. Connecting with this “all” 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 where this experience is called pan-determinism.


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

† Verse 1 of the Tao Te Ching, translation by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo.

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

§ There were many reasons for this resistance but this danger was one of them.

Published by aconwayhubbard

Painter living in Los Angeles.

3 thoughts on “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.


    1. 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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