Carl Jung: “One of the main functions of organised religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.”
What do I know about anything? Not a whole lot depending on your definition, but then nobody else does either and for several very important reasons.
As far as Scientology goes, let’s look first at what some people think they know or, at least what you might find out from mass media or the internet:
You find a group that believes in space aliens and past lives and lots of other utter nonsense and likes to dress in strange uniforms. Their founder was a bad Science Fiction writer turned messianic charlatan who apparently announced one day that the way to get rich is to start one’s own religion, which then he did. These people are xenophobic, are extraordinarily litigious, they break up families and friends and businesses over matters of faith or practice. They demand huge amounts of money from their followers in the form of donations or in exchange for the bizarre and obscure services laid out as something called The Bridge and this money seems to flow into buying up an ever increasing portfolio of real estate. Their seriously underpaid employees must sign a billion year contract and, if you try to leave, you will be under a cloud for all eternity. And when you do leave, because of old age or illness, then you’re turfed out to defend for yourself without a job or a resumé, health insurance or a pension.
Sum it up? Got it in a nutshell? Okay, quite a bundle of fact, fiction and slander.
It’s a pretty good overview though; it’s simple, it’s really dark and, most importantly, it’s controversial as all get out. To know that even if your life is hard, dysfunctional and meaningless, it’s not nearly as dysfunctional and sad as those people! A very comforting thought.
Okay, now let’s check the headlines: Wow, things are surely in a mess and those Republicans/Democrats (your pick), what a bunch of losers and that guy that shot up that school and the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and the earthquake that vaporised 200,000 people, and Trump! And Trump! whew! Again, at least my life isn’t that bad! Or, maybe it explains why my life is as bad as it is.
Then you might check other stuff out, on the internet, TV or The New York Times, what do you find usually? The planet has never been more violent or dangerous, the environment is circling the drain, women, gays, transgenders, in fact all minorities have never been more repressed. If you’re black the chances the cops will mow you down is a near certainty and just a matter of time. Immigration will destroy democracy, slave labour is on the rise, education is getting ever worse, China is poised to take over the world if A.I. doesn’t get us first and Kim Jong-un wants to start WWIII. Then you think, well, what do you think? Now you know why your life is so hard, all this chaos explains everything! Maybe. If you go to that well on a daily basis you should at least think that you’ve got a strong stomach.
It’s all one sided and simplistic as hell. What is all this stuff? It’s… it’s, well it’s entertainment!
To go on.
Most importantly, I think, is what you can find out about religion:
“Religion, my oh my, don’t get started! it’s insane that sooo many people believe in God, that Moses parted the Red Sea, Jesus raised people from the dead, that Mohammed flew around on flying horses and on and on and on. What complete balderdash! In this rational, sensible time how is it possible there can be so many idiots out there?!” And, as the pundits sanctimoniously pile it on, they, as a card carrying realists, are the only reasonable and balanced arbiters of world view unlike all these other nut-jobs.
From this Materialistic world-view all religion, all cults, all of anything that is not an object you can hold in your hands or a formula on a chalk board is pure idiotic superstition. If you can’t touch, taste, hear, smell or see it (measure) it isn’t true.
Actual truth is much more interesting because it is at it’s core non-dualistic, that is to say, not black and white. Things, life, politics, economics have gotten so confused and mixed up in these modern times that any narrative, so long as it’s simplistic, straight forward, especially “us versus them” or some tribalistic variation can be quite a relief. Like a warm bath, as Tom Wolf put it, we can sink luxuriously in, relax and go into a comfortable and comforting trance.
The problem here is: Life is way, way more multi-faceted. I read somewhere once that the West, specifically America, is philosophically impoverished and I think that’s true; you go to school and learn algebra and the Periodic Scale but nobody is teaching us how to think. You see, an object is an object but however you measure or categorise it it won’t tell you what the meaning of it is. Meaning is another dimension, Meaning is all about how to act. The job of Science is to strip all the meaning away in order to get an accurate measurement. These things, the objective (science) and the subjective (religion) have gotten all tangled up and confused and we don’t seem to have the tools to untie this Gordian Knot. (Alexander was supposed to untie the Knot but being a warrior he just cut it with his sword – possibly to Aristotle’s shame. Materialists and Physicalists are our modern day Alexanders.)*
Back now to what is easily found out about Scientology. I am not specifically building a narrative to refute what you can find out about Scientology, nor am I arguing in favour of religious belief systems particularly, what I really want to get at is: The current, easily accessed story, all the stories really, are way, way too two-dimensional, too simplistic and, to be perfectly honest, childish.
See, this is the thing: what we must all really try to do is try not to adhere to any ideology that makes the world too simple (dualistic). That’s the strategy of the mass media and all most easily accessible info/entertainment, sites**. Their reality is simple: it’s all bad, dangerous and hopeless so stay safe at home, watch all our ads and get yourself further into debt by buying lots of stuff you don’t need and whatever else you do, DON’T THINK!
What worries me about the pop-media story of Scientology is its two-dimensionality. Same thing worries me about most everything in the world of infotainment: it’s designed to distract people who are tired, maybe a little discouraged and just want some mindlessness thus it needs to be punchy, simple and, above all, controversial. I’m not against entertainment but if it’s parading as information then I think that’s a real problem for our society.
I’m also trying to say, let us try to construct a philosophy that’s not too complicated but is mostly, and most importantly, useful. That’s not an easy thing to do, nearly impossible maybe, but it’s vital that everyone eventually learn how to try to do that. And that, right there, is the actual and true origin of Scientology. Scientology version 1.0.0. that is.
So maybe some of the stuff about Scientology is true. Was L. Ron Hubbard a bad Science Fiction writer (depends on your taste in reading material, up to you). Was he a charlatan (time will tell but maybe it’s a little too early to pass that judgement). Did he say that thing about creating his own religion (no).
On the other hand, is the institution litigious (yes). Do they wear uniforms (yes), etc., etc. But why?
It’s my intention to lay out a little of what I know about these things here on this site but I’m going to do it in little sections over time because I am not a writer but a painter and I spend most of my time on that so if and when I progress I hope to show how fascinating this subject actually is and why, in it’s original form, it could be so useful. I will not try to convert anyone or simply argue my own, obvious, biases but instead just set a few things out on the table if I can, things you may already know but perhaps may not have considered in this particular light. Or maybe things you didn’t know, we shall see. Rather, what I hope to argue for is that Scientology is not some anomaly in the world but an intrinsic part of a world that is mind-bogglingly complicated and wonderfully weird.
At the beginning I said I don’t know a lot. I said that because when one ever thinks seriously about what there is to know you quickly realise that there is an awful lot and you’ll never know even a fraction of it but, if you try, you can get hold of the Wonder. Such is the real story of Scientology and, as I said, the world. A story which is much more interesting, much more complicated and much, much older than is generally known and contains fundamental elements so wild and dangerous that the whole pop version, becomes utterly boring (unless gossip is your thing).
And by dangerous I refer to what Jung said, “”One of the main functions of organised religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.”
Why the hell would he say that?! Because, if you’re not careful, such an experience could happen to you and then, as they say, God help you.
*All Materialists and Physicalists claim to be scientific but science is not materialistic.
**A good book on this is, The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton