Auditing helps the practitioner remove the "implants" that prevent one from being happy and fulfilled.
In accordance with its systematic maps of human consciousness, the Church of Scientology and its social organization are hierarchical and rigid. Members pass through stages of development during which they improve their self-awareness and overall intelligence. Human progress and personal growth is described as a series of dynamic impulses. When Hubbard first codified his beliefs in the Dianetics literature he outlined four of these dynamic impulses, referred to simply as "dynamics." The dynamics have been described as basic human instincts for survival (Robinson & Buttnor 2006). Basic survival instinct is the First Dynamic, focused on the individual ego and its needs. The Church of Scientology describes the First Dynamic as "the effort to attain the highest level of survival for the longest possible time for self," ("Dynamics of Life"). The First Dynamic also includes the instinct to protect one's own physical possessions.
The Second Dynamic refers at its most basic to the drive to procreate but also encompasses the breadth of the human impulse to create that which outlasts the individual. Protection and security of the family and home are classified as Second Dynamic needs, and sex is also a Second Dynamic activity. The Third Dynamic is the social need: the group impulse. Surviving and thriving in group environments is the domain of the Third Dynamic, which can entail anything from a small study group to a whole nation. Finally, human beings identify collectively with the human race. Their collective survival needs are embraced by the Fourth Dynamic of species survival. Overarching concerns about the obliteration of the planet or the human race would be considered Fourth Dynamic issues.
After Hubbard codified the Scientology doctrine he proposed four more dynamics. These later four help illustrate the human being's place within the cosmos. For instance, the Fifth and Sixth Dynamics refer to non-human life forms and the principles of physics, respectively. The human relationship with the environment including plants and animals falls under the domain of the Fifth Dynamic and interest in the totality of space and time would fall under the Sixth. The Seventh and Eighth Dynamics are transcendent. The spiritual drive, the instinct to know the ground of all being or the source of consciousness is a Seventh Dynamic urge. Eighth Dynamic follows from the Seventh and is simply called "Infinity."
Another core belief of Scientology demonstrates the essentially social nature of the religion. The three principles of affinity, reality, and communication, referred to as the ARC Triangle, underlie human communication dynamics. Scientology remains immanently concerned with healthy interpersonal relationships. One of the benefits the Church of Scientology holds out for its members is improved relationships and the ARC triangle is a central principle guiding the practitioner toward balanced communication. Like the Eight Dynamics, the ARC Triangle are inherently practical theories that are not nearly as objectionable as the Xenu story which has earned the Church of Scientology considerable scorn.
Scientologists propose a tripartite division of the human being into body, mind and "thetan." The thetan is partly defined as "the source of all creation and life itself," ("What is Scientology?"). One of the Scientology practices that liken it to most other New Age religions is "exteriorization." An out-of-body experience, exteriorization is deliberately induced as a means to enhance spiritual awareness.
Based on its intricate, extensive, and clearly outlined code of beliefs and practices, the Church of Scientology offers a systematic program of personal, social, and spiritual development. The Church of Scientology is commonly criticized as a cult. Detractors and former members who denounce the religion are called "Suppressive Persons" or in Scientology terminology "SPs." Tory Christman manages one of the most high profile anti-Scientology Web sites on the Internet called Operation Clambake. In an Operation Clambake article, the author claims that members "have been lied to, betrayed, abused, deceived," their stories made public in the mass media and online (Christman nd). An article in Time magazine exposed the dark side of the Church of Scientology. Entitled "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power," the article focuses on a litany of scams and scandals reportedly perpetrated by the Church of Scientology. Included in the article is a claim that the group "buys massive quantities of its own books from retail stores to propel the titles onto best-seller lists," which would explain the Guinness Book of World Records accolades. Members also funnel large chunks of money into the Church, leading Behar (1991) to declare the Church of Scientology to be "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."
One means by which the Church of Scientology recruits potential members (and reaps financial rewards) is through its many offshoot organizations like Narconon. A "non-profit drug rehab program dedicated to eliminating drug abuse and drug addiction through drug prevention, education and rehabilitation," Narconon uses Hubbard's "Drug Rehabilitation Technology" to achieve the desired results (Narconon International). According to Operation Clambake, participation in Narconon's 12-week rehabilitation program cost $15,000 in 1992 and may run as high as $30,000 (Christman; wiki). While the name Narconon resembles those used in the 12-Step programs, the two share little in common. For instance, Narconon rehab participants "graduate" and do not attend any regular meetings (Narconon). The materials used in the Narconon rehabilitation program are directly derived from the Church of Scientology but are specially designed with the theme of addiction. Concepts like the Eight Survival Dynamics and the Purification program are integral to Narconon recovery. In addition to Narconon, the Church of Scientology operates several other seemingly disconnected organizations including the World Literacy Crusade.
The organization lures potential recruits through a free personality test: another means of making Scientology seem more scientific. A personality test also makes the Church of Scientology seem more like a self-help group than a religion. However, the personality test comes with strings attached. The test is obviously used as a marketing and recruitment technique, much like a coupon or a mail-in rebate is used in the commercial world. Because to receive my test results I had to appear in person at my local Church of Scientology center, I used this as an opportunity to find out more about the Church of Scientology first hand. The Church of Scientology Mission of New Jersey in Teaneck called me about a week after I completed the personality test. They invited me to a welcome session at the missionary center, which was also free. On the phone, the woman told me that I would have the opportunity to learn more about Scientology from people with years of experience.
Joining a Church of Scientology appears relatively simple and straightforward. Church of Scientology materials are available in public libraries, on official Scientology Web sites, and on eBay too. Taking a personal interest in Scientology one step further by visiting a Scientology center is also relatively simple for anyone living in the United States. If a Scientology church is not located nearby, a Scientology mission will be. I entered the Teaneck missionary armed with some background knowledge about the religion and with an open mind too.
Concurrent with all the controversy surrounding it, the Church of Scientology Mission has a cult-like atmosphere. A sterile building inside and out, the missionary's walls are neatly stacked with Scientology books and DVDs. Instrumental New Age music plays softly over the PA system in the waiting room. I was one of about ten people waiting for the introduction seminar to begin. When I approached the reception counter, a woman there gave me a clipboard with forms to fill out, as if I were in a doctor's office. A few of the fellow prospects smiled at me as I sat down in one of the clean and comfortable chairs. After a few moments a man and a woman walked out of a door, just as the doctors do when they are ready to see the patients. Immaculately dressed in business attire and groomed to boot, the pair assumed an air of casual authority. Both held clipboards in their arms, looked around the room and said, "Welcome to our mission! If you are here for the introductory seminar please follow us." Their tone was calm and professional, and as they turned, all of the people in the waiting room stood up and followed.
We were ushered into a conference room down the hallway just a few doors down from the reception area. Seating ourselves around the long table, we each had a name tag waiting for us. It took some shuffling around before we dutifully sat in our assigned seats. Also at our seats and by our name tags was a thin portfolio with the Scientology symbol: a gold letter "S" with two triangles. The more familiar Scientology logo, with a cross for the letter "I" was found on the letterhead inside the folder. The folder's contents included simple but inspirational information sheets telling me -- and the other newcomers…