Throughouthistory, religion and the field of science have been butting heads as bothgroups are concerned with uncovering and presenting the truths of life inefforts to improve how we live. Both Buddhism and Scientology use different practicesas a way to achieve a higher state of being.
They both delve into the complexhuman mind and try to clear it of all blockages that hold one back fromrealization. While Buddhism focuses on meditative practices to achieveenlightenment, Scientology uses a technique called auditing to go clear into ahigher state of being. We have focused on three different units thatinvestigate the relationships between religion and science, and in this essay,I will focus on how the followers of Buddhism and Scientology use these religionsto become fully human. Though there are many differentforms of Buddhism, I will be focusing on the general and original form ofBuddhism that began around the fifth century B.C.E. Before I continue, it isimportant for me to inform you that along with this course I am also taking aclass on Buddhism which is where I am also getting my information from. As thecommon myth or narrative of Buddhism goes, it began with the birth ofSiddhartha Gautama who realized when he was a young man that he was unsatisfiedwith his luxurious but sheltered life so he set off to discover what the worldhad to offer.
He then saw what we call the Four Sights (old age, illness,death, and a religious hermit) and discovered that the nature of humanexistence consists of mostly suffering, so he renounced himself and one day satunder the Bodhi tree and meditated for many days until he became the AwakenedGautama Buddha and was able to reach Nirvana. This is a grossly simplifiedversion of how the Buddha came to be, but it gives us the necessary backgroundinformation to understand how Buddhism is practiced and helps one become fullyhuman.Core beliefs of Buddhism are the principles of karmaand reincarnation with the understanding that intentional acts of good or badwill produce an equivalent karmic effect that determine the conditions of one’sfuture and rebirth. The main goal of Buddhism is to get out of the constantcycle of life and death, also known as samsara, which karma determines whereone’s destination will be each time they are reborn. In order to escape samsaraone must realize the Four Noble Truths, those being the dissatisfactory natureof the human condition, what causes it, how it can be ended, and the path oneneeds to take to be released. The path to end suffering, or dukkha, which iscaused by the dissatisfactory human condition, is the Eightfold Path, which iswhere we see Buddhism being put into practice.
The Eightfold Path is divided into three parts beingthe proper view, proper conduct, and proper practice. Within proper view arethe two steps right understanding and right thought which basically state onemust have clarity in understanding the aspects that create the dissatisfactoryhuman condition and the truth about life, as well as taking those truths andcreating a pure thought process that frees the mind of unwholesomeness. Thesecond part, proper conduct, includes the three steps of right speech, rightaction, and right livelihood. These state that one should not partake in wrongspeech (like telling lies) but instead should cultivate truthful and gentlewords and on top of that, should engage in virtuous actions (do not lie orkill) and use them to live a life that does not cause harm to others. The lastpart is comprised of right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.These steps are where we see Buddhism being applied or practiced and state thatone must make the right effort to prevent poisonous thoughts and mental states byproducing wholesome ones. Also, one needs to become fully and clearly aware oftheir mental and physical states so they are able to better their life and theworld around them, and with right concentration, one can use deep focus to realizethe true nature of all things. The steps of the Eightfold Path are implementedthrough meditative practices and it is through these that we see one become fullyhuman.
Tranquility meditation is concerned with clearing the mind of unrulythoughts and emotions to help one gain deeper insight into reality. Insight meditationfocuses on calming the mind and concentrating on the factors that end suffering.These meditative practices help one become fully human by clearing the mind of unwholesomeand false thoughts which allows one to fully realize the truths of themselves andthe world around them, leading them to Enlightenment and Nirvana.Unlike Buddhism, Scientology is a newer religion andone that incorporates more science into its practices and ideas. It all startedwith a man by the name of Ron L. Hubbard, a Science fiction writer, and creatorof Dianetics, the doctrine ofScientology. The narrative or myth of Scientology is definitely more out-therethan that of Buddhism and it starts with the galactic overlord Xenu.
The storygoes like this, millions and millions of years ago Xenu brought billions of hispeople to earth, placed volcanoes around them and then killed every last one ofthem by dropping hydrogen bombs on them. This caused immortal spirits of thesealiens called thetans to attach themselves to humans which cause spiritualharm. Scientology’s basic goal is to clear one’s reactivemind of painful thoughts, called engrams, that hold back one’s analytical mindfrom functioning properly. The analytical mind is the problem-solving mind andis always aware, but the reactive mind takes over when the analytical mind issuspended by engrams which are stored away and can keep the analytical mindfrom doing its job. This is where auditing comes in as Scientology’s main”religious” practice (to me it is more of a therapeutic practice). Anindividual meets with an auditor and partakes in multiple sessions of auditingin order to erase engrams. This is necessary because these engrams can generatepainful feelings as the memories attached to these engrams surface and hold oneback from living a productive life. Auditors use a mechanism called an E-readerto measure one’s emotional output as they recount past events.
When one freestheir mind of these engrams they have progressed on the path of going clear andare no longer held back by these traumatic and painful emotions. Going clearrefers to the state of having cleared all engrams from ones reactive mind andtherefore is no longer held back by them. Things go deeper as one is addressedwith the need to get rid of engrams from previous lives and even uncoverneonatal engrams. Once these engrams are taken care of and one has gone clearthey are then faced with the issue of body-thetans that have latched on tohumans years ago, and require more past-life auditing to get rid of. Finally,when this is done, one has officially gone clear and will not be faced with theproblem of engrams affecting their lives. The application of Scientology isdone through auditing which helps one become fully human by clearing the mindof painful memories and thoughts called engrams, and after these are removedone is fully free from hindrances and can reach a new level of self-realization.
Throughout this course we have discussed manydifferent religious traditions and how they contradict or affirm the beliefsand claims in the field of science. Every religion has some sort of myth ornarrative which they base their doctrines on, which then decides how thereligion will be applied in one’s life. Buddhism is applied by using theEightfold Path to help one achieve Awakening and Enlightenment and does thisthrough meditation. Meditation helps one become fully human by honing in onone’s mental and physical states and cleanses the mind of tainted thoughts soone is able to cultivate and attain a wholesome mindset that will lead them toEnlightenment where they realize the true nature of being and are able to reachNirvana. Scientology is applied through a process called auditing where anindividual answers questions given to them by an auditor in order to eraseengrams that hold them back from a productive life.
Auditing helps one becomefully human by freeing one’s minds of trauma and distressing thoughts that holdthem back from going clear and gaining a deeper level of self-realization. BothBuddhism and Scientology, though for different reasons, are aimed at improvingone’s life through clearing one’s mind by replacing unproductive andtroublesome thoughts with productive and wholesome ones so they can achieve ahigher state of being.