The Basics of Scientology Belief

scientology belief

Scientology belief is rooted in the ideas found in the writings and lectures of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of what eventually became the Church of Scientology.

At the heart of the religion's worldview is the idea that human beings are more that simply a mind and a body, which is the traditional stance of much contemporary psychiatry and psychology. Instead, humans are immortal spiritual beings who possess minds and bodies and who, as spiritual beings, can organize and control their material and mental realities.

Here are the basic tenets and terminologies used for Scientology belief:

1. Theta or Thetan- meaning "life force, spirit" - used here as "a spiritual being"

This concept in Scientology is similar to the immortal soul in other philosophies and religions, but Hubbard felt that the word "soul" had come to mean many different and contradictory things to people over time. So, he coined a new word: "thetan". All people are thetans who have lived many lives over millions of years, who possess a body and a mind. Here we have a generic reincarnational system of sorts - as in Hinduism and Buddhism - but without the concept of karma rigidly applied.

Thetan life in this universe happens within 8 primary "dynamics" or contexts: the individual, the family and sexuality, groups, humankind, the animal kingdom, the physical universe, the spiritual being, and infinite reality (or God). Thetans (people) live and have the urge to survive within these 8 basic domains or realms of life.

2. Auditing - a form of listening, which is the central practice of Scientology

The religion acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being that could be called "God" but does not focus on the worship of this God as a fundamental practice. Instead, Scientology belief focuses on auditing, focused on helping individuals improve and free themselves from destructive mental patterns and ways of thinking.

Auditing is done by auditors who are trained in the "technology" developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the religion's founder. The auditing process is thoroughly codified and has exact procedures. Perhaps a most famous aspect of the auditing process is the electro-psychometer - or emeter. The emeter is a device very similar in concept to a polygraph machine and other such devices that are designed to measure changes in the electrical resistance of the people's skin as they answer questions, in this case questions asked by the auditor in the counseling session.

3. Preclear & Clear - key terms related to auditing which refer to a person before and after auditing.

A "preclear" person comes for auditing with the goal of recovering awareness and control of all the material stored in what is called "the reactive mind" or "the bank." This mind stores exact images - called engrams - of past events that occurred while the person was unconscious or "unaware". These images can be reactivated when the current situation closely resembles the engram, thus triggering irrational responses or psychosomatic illnesses. The "bank" includes impressions of physical and spiritual trauma, which pushed us to make cause/effect connections, make decisions about reality, make conclusions about people, family, life, etc. - all of which create the "world" within our minds. These images or entities function as a kind of mind control about which we are mostly unaware until auditing.

The "analytic mind" is the part of the mind that is, or can be, aware of itself. It is blocked by "the bank" mind. Through auditing, the analytic mind is unblocked and becomes the mechanism for the person becoming Clear. As clear, as person is freed from the influences of the reactive mind and the determinism of its engrams.

4. Education in Principles - another important part of Scientology belief and practice. This is basic training in not only how things have happened in one's individual life (which is learned through auditing), but also why they happened within a larger context. This education gets into the "laws of life" realm and makes larger claims about reality and how the world works. This knowledge is necessary, according to Scientology belief, in order to maintain the freedom gained through auditing.

5. "the Tech" - a term used by Scientologists to refer to the "advanced technology" that Hubbard himself developed. It is an enormous body of instructions, rules and regulations for properly applying Scientology. Hubbard is called "the Source" of the Tech.

The Tech is viewed as 100% effective when used as Hubbard prescribed. Therefore, whenever a person or auditor experiences trouble in applying the Tech, the trouble lies with the student or practitioner, not with the Tech.

The Church of Scientology safeguards the applications of the Tech through its authorized channels so that it is not altered from its original form from Source via personal interpretations or opinions about application. This contributes to a secrecy motif in Scientology belief, in that adherents will not answer questions about the religion with anything but a quote from Hubbard. This is a clear policy in the religion. To speak about the Tech in any other way than with a direct quote from Hubbard is called "verbal Tech" and is seen as a violation of the purity of the technology. The Church's prohibition of verbal Tech is it's effort to keep its teaching pure and unaltered by students who may pass on their misunderstandings of Hubbard's teaching to others.

The Church has a term - "squirrels" or "squirreling" - for those who distribute or represent the Tech in unauthorized ways. The Church actively pursues those who attempt to do this. In this view - and in practice legally through intellectual property law - there is no practice of Scientology outside the official Church of Scientology.

6. the "Bridge" - the metaphor used for the quest to reach the highest stages of "awareness" or the "state of Clear" - one moves "up the bridge" through auditing and education in the principles of Scientology belief.

In the State of Clear, the person is totally free and able to use all of her mind to engage in what appear to others as superhuman feats of mental skill. This impacts everything - relationships, professional success, health and wellbeing, even physical appearance.

The highest level up the bridge is a state past clear called "operating thetan." It is sort of like graduate work. The Church claims that instruction at this level borders on the mystical and would be misunderstood - and could perhaps even be harmful - to those unprepared to receive it. Therefore, these teachings are kept secret even from those within the Church who have not reached the highest levels. Many of these teachings, however, have been leaked to the public through Wikileaks.


So, these 6 key ideas and terms provide a sense of the basics of Scientology belief and practice. As mentioned above, the religion contains a strong secrecy motif designed to protect the purity of its teachings. This means that much (although not all) information about the religion comes from those who had some sort of negative experience with the faith and left it. Gradually, however, more accurate and purely factual information about Scientology belief and practice is emerging in the scholarly community, which I have tried to include in these webpages.

Go to Basics page from this Scientology Belief page
Who is L. Ron Hubbard?
Scientology Controversy