The paper presented herewith was originally written as a chapter of the book Religion, Ethics and Survival of Mankind in the XXI Century, published by Izvestia Publishing House in Moscow in 2019.
This text explores the ethics system of Scientology, drawing some parallels with other religions. The author has studied Scientologists in Russia. The study has shown that the principles of Scientology ethics, as set forth in the works of its founder, are seen by Scientologists as universal in nature and are intended to be applied uniformly, in accordance with Scientology standard technology, in any country.
Key words: Ethics, L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology, Survival, The Way to Happiness
The word Scientology comes from two words, one Latin and one Greek. These are the Latin scio, which means “knowing in the fullest sense of the word,” and the Greek logos, which means “study of.” Thus, Scientology means “knowing how to know” or “the study of wisdom.”
Scientology is a new religion that emerged in the mid-twentieth century, and is based on the belief that man is an immortal spiritual being. It asserts that the spirit of man can heal the body and that the experience and knowledge of man is not limited to one human life.
The Scientology religion was founded by American writer and thinker Lafayette Ron Hubbard (March 13, 1911–January 24, 1986). The aims of Scientology, as given by its Founder, are “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.” Scientology does not seek “revolution,” but only seeks “evolution leading to higher states of being for the individual and for society” (Hubbard 1965a).
Scientology is not a continuation or offshoot of any earlier religion, but Scientology could be and has been considered a “cousin” to Buddhism. Like Buddhism, Scientology aims at the spiritual awakening of Man; both religions offer a step-by-step path of self-knowledge and discipline toward spiritual perfection; the teachings of both religions are not divine revelation and one is recommended to accept only what is true according to one’s own experience; both preach tolerance of other religions, without rejecting different ideas about the Supreme Being; the founder of both religions is regarded as a Teacher and a model to emulate, not as a deity. Some researchers have described Scientology as “technological Buddhism,” stressing that it has many elements of modern culture and science, and even its main practice is referred to as “technology” (Flinn 1983). We are not going into the details of the main Scientology practice; this subject is covered separately, such as in the book What Scientologists are Silent About (Ivanenko 2016). Here we will only elaborate on Scientology’s views on ethics.
In Scientology, ethics is viewed as a necessary adjunct to and support for its core practice of spiritual self-improvement; spiritual perfection is considered unattainable to an unethical or immoral being. Accordingly, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard devoted considerable attention to setting out the basics of ethics based on Scientology’s answer to the existential questions of human life.
A fundamental tenet of Scientology is that the dynamic principle of existence is “Survive!” Survival is understood to be the impulse to continue to exist in time and space as matter and energy. “It is as though, at some remarkably distant time, the Supreme Being gave forth a command to all life ‘Survive!’ It was not said how to survive nor yet how long. All that was said was ‘Survive!,’” notes the Founder of Scientology (Hubbard 2007a, 11).
The overall urge (motive, impulse) to survive is divided into eight basic parts, each corresponding to a different sphere of life.
These parts are called dynamics. A dynamic is an impulse of life energy within a being to keep on surviving.
The First dynamic is the effort to attain the highest level of survival for the longest possible time for self. This dynamic urge has to do with avoiding pain and seeking pleasure for oneself, and includes the individual plus his immediate possessions such as his food, clothing and shelter.
The Second dynamic is the urge to survive through the family and the rearing of children. It also includes sex as a mechanism to compel future survival. In a broader sense, it includes creativity as making things for the future. It is most commonly considered in the context of family survival.
The Third dynamic is group survival. A group can be a circle of friends, people living in the same area, a club, a business, a community association, a state, a nation, a race—in a word, any group. It doesn’t matter what size this group is, it is seeking to survive as a group. The Third dynamic is characterized by an individual’s urge and activity toward maintaining the survival of the group or groups he is a part of.
The Fourth dynamic is the survival of the species. It is the urge toward survival through all Mankind and as all Mankind. For example, if the Earth were to be attacked by aliens, all humans would likely unite in an attempt to repel them, and this would be a manifestation of this dynamic.
The Fifth dynamic is life forms. This is the urge to survive as life forms and with the help of life forms such as animals, birds, insects, fish and vegetation. When people protect endangered species, surround themselves with plants, or spend time outdoors, this is seen as a manifestation of the Fifth dynamic.
The Sixth dynamic is the physical universe (matter, energy, space and time), and includes the urge to survive of the physical universe, by the physical universe itself and with the help of the physical universe and each one of its component parts. A person who builds a house or sets up his living or working place to be comfortable acts not only on the First, but also on the Sixth dynamic.
The Seventh dynamic is the spiritual dynamic, the urge to survive as spiritual beings. The spirit is separate from the physical universe and is the source of life itself. Thus here is an effort for the survival of Life source. A subdivision of this dynamic is ideas and the urge to survive through them.
The Eighth dynamic is the urge toward existence as infinity. The Eighth dynamic usually refers to the Supreme Being or the Creator (Hubbard 2007a, 12–13). A basic characteristic of the individual is his ability to “expand” out from the First dynamic, as if the subsequent dynamics were successively larger concentric circles reaching into life. According to the founder of Scientology, “when the Seventh Dynamic is reached in its entirety, one will only then discover the true Eighth Dynamic.” In Scientology, there is no dogma about the personality of the Supreme Being, so neither Christianity nor Islam nor other views of God can be categorically denied: everyone is able to discover the “true Eighth dynamic” for oneself (Hubbard 2007a, 12–14).
Scientology ethics is based on the idea that every being has an infinite ability to survive on all dynamics and survives as successfully as it uses ethics on its dynamics (Hubbard 2007a, 18).
Mr. Hubbard wrote: “Ethics actually consists of rationality toward the highest level of survival for the individual, the future race, the group, mankind and the other dynamics taken up collectively. [...] The highest ethic level would be long-term survival concepts with minimal destruction, along all of the dynamics. An optimum solution to any problem would be that solution which brought the greatest benefits to the greatest number of dynamics. The poorest solution would be that solution which brought the greatest harm to the most number of dynamics” (Hubbard 2007a, 18).
According to L. Ron Hubbard, “Our survival is assured only by our knowledge and application of ethics to our dynamics. [...] Through ethics we can achieve survival and happiness for ourselves and for planet Earth” (Hubbard 2007a, 32).
It is sometimes assumed (outside of Scientology) that survival is accomplished primarily by a flexible adaptation to the environment and excludes the pursuit of high moral ideals such as honesty, love, valor, duty, conscience. Perhaps this derives from the ideas of Charles Darwin on the struggle of life, particularly the famous aphorism attributed to him: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
It can be argued that Charles Darwin appreciated the importance of moral ideals and, in particular, asserted that “of all the differences between man and the lower animals, the moral sense or conscience is by far the most important” (Darwin 1874, 97). Nevertheless, popular opinion holds that survival is sought without regard to moral ideals. While it is beyond our task to do a detailed analysis of Charles Darwin’s ideas, it seems appropriate to suppose that strength and intelligence do not hinder survival. To the contrary, they help beings to adapt to changes and survive.
L. Ron Hubbard assumed that morals, ideals, love do not go above “mere survival.” He stated clearly that being true to one’s ideals was the most essential condition for survival (Hubbard 2007a, 23–24). Here is how he explained this:
“As for ideals, as for honesty, as for one’s love of one’s fellow man, one cannot find good survival for one or for many where these things are absent.
“The criminal does not survive well. The average criminal spends the majority of his adult years caged like some wild beast and guarded from escape by the guns of good marksmen.
“A man who is known to be honest is awarded survival—good jobs, good friends. And the man who has his ideals, no matter how thoroughly he may be persuaded to desert them, survives well only so long as he is true to those ideals.
“Have you ever seen a doctor who, for the sake of gain, begins to secretly attend criminals or peddle dope? That doctor does not survive long after his ideals are laid aside.”
“Good can be considered to be any constructive survival action,” says L. Ron Hubbard. “It happens that no construction can take place without some small destruction, just as the tenement must be torn down to make room for the new apartment building. To be good, something must contribute to the individual, to his family, his children, his group, Mankind or life. To be good, a thing must contain construction which outweighs the destruction it contains” (Hubbard 2007a, 21).
Evil is the opposite of good. “When an act is more destructive than constructive, it is evil. It is out-ethics. When an act assists succumbing more than it assists survival, it is an evil act in the proportion that it destroys” (Hubbard 2007a, 21).
The founder of Scientology gives similar definitions to the concepts of “right” and “wrong.” According to Mr. Hubbard, “An act or conclusion is as right as it promotes the survival of the individual, future race, group, Mankind or life making the conclusion. To be entirely right would be to survive to infinity. An act or conclusion is wrong to the degree that it is non-survival to the individual, future race, group, species or life responsible for doing the act or making the conclusion. [...] The individual or group which is, on the average, more right than wrong (since these terms are not absolutes, by far) should survive. An individual who, on the average, is more wrong than right will succumb. While there could be no absolute right or absolute wrong, a right action would depend upon its assisting the survival of the dynamics immediately concerned, a wrong action would impede the survival of the dynamics concerned” (Hubbard 2007a, 22).
Thus the Scientology concept of survival could be likened to following the “Middle Way” as outlined by the Buddha. This means to keep the right balance, not to go to extremes or, in Scientology parlance, to seek “the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics,” without neglecting one for another or pursuing momentary expediency.
L. Ron Hubbard considered that ethics and morals are related but different concepts and subjects, in fact. Ethics would be one’s personal choices and actions, made and taken voluntarily and on one’s own. Morals are not exclusively a matter of personal choice but are the agreements and sort of moral laws that are formed and used within a society to evaluate the behavior of individuals or groups.
There are no inherent contradictions, however, between ethics and morals. “Ethical conduct includes the adherence to the moral codes of the society in which we live,” noted L. Ron Hubbard. Moreover, the concepts of “ethics” and “morals” could be considered identical under certain conditions: “If a moral code were thoroughly reasonable, it could, at the same time, be considered thoroughly ethical. [...] At this highest level could the two be called the same” (Hubbard 2007a, 25).
The five sacred precepts of Buddhism (“Pancha Shila”), accepted by Buddhist laymen, include abstaining from: 1) killing, 2) stealing, 3) sexual misconduct, 4) falsehood and deception, 5) taking of intoxicants. In Scientology, abstaining from the extremes of these behaviors is dictated by the concept of “the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.” Each of these attitudes, and many other universal values, exist throughout Scientology texts; it was not for some years, however, until the founder of Scientology formulated an overall code of behaviour.
But when L. Ron Hubbard had completed his research and the formulation of all stages of the core spiritual path of Scientology, and when Scientology churches operated in the majority of developed countries without requiring his immediate care, he turned his attention to how to stop the moral degradation of the world’s population—not just those who have accepted or are willing to accept Scientology as their faith. The answer was The Way to Happiness, a non-religious moral code based on reason and common sense, not only for Scientologists but for all peoples of the world.
Describing Western society in the early 1980’s, Mr. Hubbard sadly observed that respect for others had been lost and the authority of elders had been overthrown, resulting in bloody youth gang confrontations on the streets of American cities.
Modern Western civilization desperately needed sensible and relevant moral and ethics guidelines as much as any civilization of the past. At the same time, there was a so-called “values vacuum,” where traditional values had been rejected and no coherent new system had yet taken their place—without which Man was swiftly tumbling into an abyss of moral degradation.
Society badly needed wise philosophers and thinkers who could formulate “the rules for happy living,” such rules that a person who followed them would be able to free his life of lies, aggression, violence and soullessness and gain an understanding of what he really needs for a fulfilling and happy living. It was into this situation, and with a philosophical comprehension of the problems an individual faces in modern society and how to overcome them, that Mr. Hubbard authored The Way to Happiness.
The content of this booklet is not a part of any religious doctrine, and specifically is not part of the teachings of the Church of Scientology. The purpose of this common-sense-based moral code was to stop the decline of morals in society, to restore human dignity and restore trust between people.
Since its first publication in 1981, more than 100 million copies of the booklet have been published and distributed. Distribution has notably accelerated since 2003 when The Way to Happiness International Foundation was established (its main offices are located in Glendale, CA). The Way to Happiness Foundation website shows testimonials from people around the world who have been helped by the booklet to improve their lives.
In 2010, The Way to Happiness was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most translated (70 languages) non-religious book. The Foundation currently publishes The Way to Happiness in 114 languages according to its website (accessed on 5 July 2019).
The booklet consists of twenty-one precepts, each based on the principle that an individual’s survival and happiness depends on the survival and happiness of others, without which one cannot find survival or happiness in one’s own life.
Individual Public Service Announcements illustrating the moral precepts were widely distributed and have been viewed by over a billion people worldwide. A video version of The Way to Happiness was released in 2008 with the same text as the booklet.
The Way to Happiness includes teachings on universal moral values, such as:
“Learn. [...] Those who get along in life never really stop studying and learning”;
“Respect the religious beliefs of others”;
“Try not to do things to others that you would not like them to do to you”; and
“Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you.”
Some of precepts can help instill respect for the law, for example:
“Do not murder”;
“Do not do anything illegal”;
“Do not take harmful drugs or abuse alcohol”;
“Support a government designed and run for all the people.”
Each precept explains how a person can help others follow the precept, thus setting a good example, such as:
“Discourage people from taking drugs. When they are doing so, encourage them to seek help in getting off of them”;
“See that children and people become informed of what is ‘legal’ and what is ‘illegal’ and make it known, if by as little as a frown, that you do not approve of ‘illegal acts’”;
“Encourage people around you to look good by complimenting them when they do or even gently helping them with their problems when they don’t. It could improve their self-regard and their morale as well”;
“One can help others study and learn if only by putting in their reach the data they should have. One can help simply by acknowledging what they have learned. One can assist if only by appreciating any demonstrated increase in competence”;
“Don’t discount the effect you can achieve on others simply by mentioning these things and setting a good example in your own right” (Hubbard 2007c).
Whereas the authority of traditional moral guidelines was attributed to God (as in the case of the Ten Commandments, for example) or issued as part of a dominant ideology (e.g., the Code of the Builder of Communism), The Way to Happiness precepts are based on common sense:
“Your own happiness can be turned to tragedy and sorrow by the dishonesty and misconduct of others. I am sure you can think of instances of this actually happening. Such wrongs reduce one’s survival and impair one’s happiness. You are important to other people. You are listened to. You can influence others. [...] While no one can guarantee that anyone else can be happy, their chances of survival and happiness can be improved. And with theirs, yours will be.”
The popularization of the book in a number of socially disadvantaged communities and regions with high crime rates (some cities in the United States, several countries in Africa and Latin America) has led to a decrease in episodes of violence and crime in these territories.
The Colombian police have been distributing The Way to Happiness booklet to their citizens since 2009, which has led to a significant decrease in crime in the country that some journalists dubbed the “Colombian Miracle.” It was said that, as a result of distribution of about 9 million copies of The Way to Happiness, as well as workshops on this booklet for students, prisoners and other socially vulnerable groups, the crime rate in Colombia decreased by 60 percent between 2009 and 2012 (Bedarev 2012 and The Way to Happiness Foundation 2015).
In recognition of the significant contributions made by Mr. Hubbard’s ideas and the distribution of The Way to Happiness toward reducing violence and drug abuse, senior Colombian government officials honored Mr. David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, with one of the most prestigious police awards in Colombia, The Brigadier General Jaime Ramirez Gomez Inspector General Transparency Medal, named after Jaime Ramirez Gomez (1940–1986) who fought against drug trafficking in Colombia and was killed by drug dealers. The medal is an acknowledgement for “saving humanity from violence, evil, terrorism, drug dealings and all the negative factors that threaten it” (Korchagin 2018a and Meyer 2018).
The success in Colombia had an impact on and set an example for the Philippines, where the police decided to apply the moral principles from The Way to Happiness to reduce criminality. More than 6.1 million Filipinos learned about The Way to Happiness through a media-supported campaign that resulted in a 38% reduction in crime in the country (Korchagin 2018b).
The booklet has also had a positive impact on the lives of inmates in prisons around the world, where The Way to Happiness is used as a means of rehabilitating convicts as a part of the Criminon program. Originally founded in 1972, the program is used in more than 2,100 correctional facilities in 38 countries, as reported on Scientology website in 2019 (https://www.scientology.org/how-we-help/criminon/criminon-around-the-world.html).
Criminon program also includes anti-drug education, which helps prisoners to understand and overcome drug addiction.
As an example of how universal values are addressed in Scientology texts, let us compare the Buddhist principle of “abstaining from stealing,” defined as refusing to appropriate that which does not belong to you, and the treatment of this concept in Scientology.
The Way to Happiness common-sense moral code includes a precept “Do not steal.” The religious texts of Scientology cover this subject in more detail.
L. Ron Hubbard identified four types or conditions of exchange ” (Hubbard 2009, 109). First, and lowest, there is criminal exchange, which is simply a “rip-off.” The second condition is partial exchange, for example, goods are not delivered fully or are of worse quality than what was ordered. The third condition is known as fair exchange or the normal and expected interaction in a business, for example, which takes money for an order and delivers what has been ordered.
The fourth condition is not so common and could be called exchange in abundance. In this condition one provides something more valuable than what is expected. Here is an example given by L. Ron Hubbard:
“The group has diamonds for sale; an average diamond is ordered; the group delivers a blue-white diamond above average. Also it delivers it promptly and with courtesy.”
L. Ron Hubbard suggests the highest ethics level is this fourth condition, exchange in abundance. He says:
“Produce in abundance and try to give better than expected quality. [...] Deliver better than was ordered and more. Always try to write a better story than was expected; always try to deliver a better job than was ordered. Always try to produce—and deliver—a better result than what was hoped for. [...] It is the key to howling success and expansion” (Hubbard 2009, 110).
Honesty and fairness in exchange is a key ethical and moral element of success for an individual and a whole society. “When exchange is out the whole social balance goes out,” Mr. Hubbard warns. “It does not go same out as comes in. Equal amounts are no factor. Who can measure goodwill or friendship? Who can actually calculate the value of saving a being from death in each lifetime? Who can measure the reward of pride in doing a job well or praise? For all these things are of different values to different people” (Hubbard 1972a).
He also points out that one’s dynamics should be “in exchange” with each other, that is, each dynamic has to give something of value to each of the other dynamics, and receive something of value back, and these flows should be balanced.
In practical terms, it follows that Scientologists consider activities that contribute most to the benefit or survival of the dynamics are good and acceptable, and that activities which contribute the least or do the most harm to the dynamics are bad and unacceptable. In this way, receiving money without making a commensurate personal contribution (e.g., living on unemployment benefits when a person could be employed) and destructive activities (drug dealing, designing weapons, etc.) would be bad or an unacceptable level of ethics.
Scientologists with whom I spoke noted that one prerequisite for successful spiritual progress in Scientology is that money donated to the church must be earned in an honest way. A philologist Nadezhda gave me an example of a situation in which money obtained through “partial exchange” did not bring the desired result to the person. Therefore, Scientology categorically condemns theft, tax evasion and any criminal activity, and those who have committed such acts are required to fully resolve the situation, including compensation for damages, before their donations can be accepted and before they are allowed to proceed with steps of spiritual improvement.
L. Ron Hubbard not only stated that actions may be unethical but also sought to identify and analyze their causes, so that such actions could be prevented. For this purpose he defined several terms, described below.
A harmful act or a transgression against the moral code of a group is called an “overt act.” “When a person does something that is contrary to the moral code he has agreed to, or when he omits to do something that he should have done per that moral code, he has committed an overt act. An overt act violates what was agreed upon. [...] It can be intentional or unintentional. [...] An overt act is not just injuring someone or something. An overt act is an act of omission or commission which does the least good for the least number of dynamics or the most harm to the greatest number of dynamics” (Hubbard 2007a, 35).
The reason for overts is irresponsibility. “When responsibility declines, overt acts can occur. When responsibility declines to zero, then a person doing overt acts no longer conceives them to be overt acts” (Hubbard 2007a, 37).
A withhold is “an unspoken, unannounced transgression against a moral code by which the person is bound. [...] A withhold is an overt act that a person committed that he or she is not talking about. It is something that a person believes that if revealed will endanger his self-preservation. Any withhold comes after an overt” (Hubbard 2007a, 37).
A justification is “a social mechanism a person uses when he has committed an overt act and withheld it. It is a means by which a person can relieve himself of consciousness of having done an overt act by trying to lessen the overt. This is done by finding fault or displacing blame. It is explaining away the most flagrant wrongnesses. The reasons overts are not overts to people are justifications” (Hubbard 2007a, 38).
Unethical acts, i.e. overts and withholds, are “entirely the cause of continued evil” in a person’s life. “Writing up one’s overts and withholds offers a road out. By confronting the truth an individual can experience relief and a return of responsibility” (Hubbard 2007a, 63).
Mr. Hubbard describes in detail how to write up overts and withholds. This is a simple procedure a person can do at any time, though preferably under the supervision of a professional. The essence of the action is to thoroughly view the specific details of an overt act or omission, including its time, place, form and event. One Scientology axiom states: “Anything which is unwanted and yet persists must be thoroughly viewed, at which time it will vanish; If only partially viewed, its intensity, at least, will decrease” (Hubbard 2008, 61).
Accordingly, in writing up overts, one should view the details of the overt act so that it “vanishes,” i.e., the fact of having done the overt act no longer disturbs the person, or “pressures” him from within, or causes pangs of conscience. (Making up damage caused, if any, is a separate action discussed below in the section on “conditions formulas.”) This procedure can provide a considerable relief, permitting a person to restore communication with those individuals and groups against whom he had committed overts, and ultimately to becoming happier (Hubbard 2007a, 61–64).
Scientologists the world over often share “success stories” on their application of a particular Scientology technology, including writing up overts and withholds. Here is a typical example of such a success story.
“I used to be interested only in myself, what I wanted to do or have. Sometimes I would pay some attention to my family or friends, but only where there was some benefit in it for me. Looking back on it, I wasn’t the kind of person I’d want for a friend!
“This is changed now. My interest in others close to me has come up to a point of real and honest concern. I don’t even have to ‘force’ this. It is just there, naturally. And I can see how I can be valuable to them.
“Just one interesting result of this is that I now feel far more valuable to myself and my own life is much happier. I guess that isn’t really surprising, but I never would have thought of it before.
“All these big changes happened because someone took me aside and showed me what L. Ron Hubbard had written about overts and withholds and how they affect your life; and then she had me write mine up. That’s what made the difference” (in Hubbard 2001, 32).
The Scientology system of ethics can also be used to strengthen family relationships.
A serious problem that can destroy families and marriages is adultery. Marital fidelity can even seem an unattainable ideal, infinitely far from the real world. “Adultery does more harm than marriage creates good,” said a famous French writer Honore de Balzac (1799–1850). “I don’t think there is a single man in the world that is faithful to his wife,” said, for example, John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), the 35th President of the United States (1961–1963).
One of the ways to repair a family rift is to get the husband and wife to write up their overts and withholds against each other. Each of the spouses writes up their overts and withholds, indicating the specific time and place of the overt/withhold, as well as what was done and/or withheld. When this procedure is fully completed, both spouses will experience relief and take renewed responsibility for the family unit.
Sometimes it may happen that writing up overts and withholds does not completely overcome the disagreements between husband and wife. In this case, they can apply for marriage counseling, which is usually delivered by Chaplain. During this counseling, the Chaplain helps the couple to view their overts and withholds more fully than may have been possible by writing them up. (In the Church of Scientology, a chaplain is an official post. The chaplain conducts Sunday services and participates in official ceremonies, as well as helps parishioners solve personal problems.)
An example of this is Elena, from a Scientology religious group in Moscow, she told me that in 2004 she received marriage counseling and it helped her resolve her family problems. (Elena has been a Minister of the religious group since 2011. The interview took place on 30 July 2018.)
Elena had been studying at the university in 1988 when she married her classmate. Her husband later went to Moscow to start a business and she was left with their children in the Vladimir region. For five years the couple lived apart each other, and the marriage began to “crack at the seams.” The husband and wife remained faithful to each other and wanted to save the marriage, but they quarreled and there were mutual misunderstandings.
They decided to get marriage counseling from the Chaplain. Each of them revealed the overts and withholds against the spouse. It was hard to confess to having done unethical actions, and to having lied.
But after the counseling, they felt as if they had met each other newly. The resentment and irritation were gone, and they became willing and able to solve their problems intelligently and to create strong agreements. The marriage became much stronger and the problems were successfully resolved.
Elena and other Scientologists testify that the use of data on overts and withholds has helped to save thousands of marriages.
Almost all religions include one or another form of admitting one’s wrongdoing and then repenting, which implies the desire to change one’s life for the better.
In Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) a confession is one’s admission to sins before God. Confession implies repentance and the decision to do one’s best to avoid sins in the future. The Bible gives no specific rules about how a confession is to be ministered, in either the Old or New Testament.
The Catholic Church and Orthodox Church have established detailed rules for ministering confessions. A confession is considered to be one of the most important Church Sacraments, the Sacrament of Penance. In the Russian Orthodox Church the rite of Confession was first presented in the XVII century as part of a liturgical book containing the ordinances of the Sacraments and other sacred acts performed by the Orthodox Church in special cases rather than as a part of the temple (public) divine service.
After the reforms of Emperor Peter the Great (1672–1725), who was tending toward European practices, the Russian Orthodox Church introduced a prayer of absolution. This prayer, Catholic in origin, is a prayer that the priest utters at the end of a confession. He places his stole (a long ribbon that wraps around the neck and both ends descend to the chest; a part of the liturgical vestments of an Orthodox priest and bishop) on the head of the penitent and says in the Church Slavonic language:
“May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive thee, the child (name). And I, as unworthy priest, through His authority given unto me, do forgive and absolve thee from all your sins, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
With these words, the sacrament is formally considered valid (committed).
(For a better understanding of the meaning of this prayer of absolution, let us clarify that the authority to forgive sins given by Jesus Christ refers to the authority given by Jesus Christ to His disciples (apostles), as He says to the apostles, in particular, in the Gospel of Matthew: “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”)
A problem mentioned by both believers and Christian ministers is that people often confess their sins, receive communion and repeat the same sins. As one Orthodox priest admitted, “It is quite a normal situation when a person regularly comes to confession and is sad that every time, from confession to confession, he tells the same sins” (Golovko, 2016).
A peculiar form of confession is practiced in Buddhism. The followers of the Buddha believe they have lived many lives in the past. Therefore, they repent the sins they committed in previous incarnations, as well. For example, the popular Vajrasattva mantra (Vajrasattva is one of the names of the Buddha) has been known since ancient times and been used by Tibetan monks to purify themselves from sin. The Vajrasattva mantra effectively cleanses the human soul from “dirt” on the spiritual level, and it is believed this mantra also absolves one of sins committed in previous lives.
The 35 Confessional Buddhas practice is very well known. Here a Buddhist repents of all the sins committed not only in the present life but also in the earlier lives. An integral part of this practice is the “Prayer of Repentance.” In this prayer a Buddhist admits that “since beginningless time, in all my places of rebirth, while wandering in samsara, I have done negative actions, have ordered them to be done, and have rejoiced in their being done.” He or she repents all evil deeds without concealing or hiding anything, and swears that from now on will never commit these sinful actions (Kalmyk Buddhist Monastery 2013).
In Scientology, a confession is given the most serious attention. As Mr. Hubbard wrote: “No man who is not himself honest can be free—he is his own trap. When his own deeds cannot be disclosed then he is a prisoner; he must withhold himself from his fellows and is a slave to his own conscience” (Hubbard 2007a, 50). The Church of Scientology has a thoroughly developed confessional procedure (Hubbard 1978b). This is an important part of the Scientology ethics system, and there is a specific circle of Scientology ministers who have the authority to minister confessions (Hubbard 1978a). In Scientology, its ministers are called auditors. The word auditor comes from Latin audire, which means “hear or listen,” and refers to a minister or a minister-in-training trained and qualified to deliver Scientology processes and procedures to other people.
In Scientology, a confession is a far more complex procedure than writing up overts and withholds, although it is based on the same basic principles about overts and withholds. As part of the confession, a specially trained Scientology minister helps a parishioner remember and fully view his overts and withholds, continuing their viewing until the area of parishioner’s life to which the confession is addressed is resolved. Normally a Scientology confession requires not just one meeting with a minister but a series of meetings until the area is fully viewed.
A Scientology confession has some common features with and some differences from confession in other religions. As L. Ron Hubbard noted, “confessing one’s overt acts is the first step toward taking responsibility for them and seeking to make things right again” (Hubbard 1978a). The acknowledgment that follows each confession in Scientology procedure is an assurance to the person that his confession has been heard. This assurance helps them to end the cycle of the bad things they have done and become free from a preoccupation with guilt over them, so they can then put their attention on constructive activities. That is the purpose of any confession.
There is another element that further helps the individual to accomplish this, and that is forgiveness. Thus, at the end of a confession, when it has been fully completed, the Scientology auditor who administered the confession must inform the person that he is forgiven for the sins he has just confessed and that he is released from these sins and free of them. He says the following (Hubbard 1978a):
“By the power invested in me, any overts and withholds you have fully and truthfully told me are forgiven by Scientologists.”
Confession helps a person to recognize personal responsibility for their own mistakes and malicious actions, to face the truth. A parishioner can, during or after confession and on their own decision, apply further ethics technology to deal with the overts and withholds viewed. Many people do just that. Often after confession, seeing that some of the consequences of their non-optimum actions also need to be settled directly with others, they follow the formulas of the ethics conditions for this purpose.
In the Church of Scientology, it is considered wrong if, after a confession, the parishioner continues to commit the same overts and withholds. It is assumed that this can only happen as a result of a violation of Scientology technology, and the situation must be corrected.
Here are some cases that will help demonstrate how Scientology confession can help resolve problems.
In July 2018 I interviewed Olga, an Ethics Officer at a Scientology Religious group in Moscow. Olga has a higher education, became a Scientologist ten years ago and completed the Scientology Ethics Specialist course in 2012. She has been an Ethics Officer for more than five years.
With Olga’s help and assistance, I have been able to learn the success stories of some parishioners (their names have been changed). Here are four stories about people who have benefited from confession:
The first story concerns a young man named Yuri. He was permanently in financial trouble and, despite his best efforts, could not earn enough money. At some point Yuri asked for help.
During the confession, a Scientology minister helped Yuri remember: a long time ago, when he was a child, Yuri committed an overt—he took a relatively small amount of money from his parents without asking them.
After the confession, Yuri settled this unethical act. He confessed to his mother this old sin, made amends for the small damage and restored his self-respect.
Soon Yuri was able to find a good high-paid job. Then he started his own business and began to receive high income, and was able to give decent support to his wife and four children.
The second story concerns a woman named Julia. She was in the process of divorcing her husband and they had a child. Both parents could not communicate normally and they fought all the time.
The Ethics Officer who Julia asked for help recommended that she study Scientology data on communication and gain an understanding of how to build a relationship with her husband. (It bears mention that one of the Scientology Life Improvement Courses is the Success Through Communication Course, based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, who believed that communication was the “solvent” for any human problem.) After a confession and study of the works of the Scientology Founder, Julia realized that she was harming her family through her own actions, and she was able to correct this situation. She restored communication with her husband, there were no more fights in the family, and they take care of their child and solve their problems together.
The third story concerns a middle-aged man named Anton. He was not able to earn enough money to provide for his family and this resulted in frequent conflicts. Confession helped Anton remember a similar situation in the past when he was inactive and was not earning enough money, which resulted in the breakup of his earlier marriage. Anton studied the data regarding finances as well as applied the conditions formulas, and was then able to find a job with a stable salary. Most importantly, he began to behave much more ethically, which brought calm and understanding into his family, including for their two children.
The hero of the fourth story is Stanislav, who was about to divorce his wife because “she did not understand and did not share his interests” (this was, as Scientologists call it, a motivator [a justification for an overt act], rather than the real reason). The Ethics Officer told Stanislav that he would benefit from a confession. As the result of this, Stanislav realized that he had committed a number of overts against his wife and his family. He took responsibility for this, was able to remedy the situation and restore good relations with his wife, and they now continue to live together and raise their daughter. Both are happy in their marriage.
To conclude this section, I will give the competent opinion of an Ethics Officer of a Scientology religious group Natalia: “After confession, a person feels much better, he changes before your eyes.”
The Scientology ethics system includes what are called the “Ethics Conditions Formulas.” This is an algorithm of actions that enables a person to no longer repeat their sins (overts and withholds).
However, the conditions formulas are used by Scientologists not only after confession (or after writing up overts and withholds), but are also used to handle a wide range of situations in life.
The conditions are states of operation (Hubbard 2007a, 71). They are arranged as an upward scale, where each successive level (when moving from bottom to top) marks a higher level of success and survival. The “code of conduct” to follow in order to continue to prosper in these conditions is the “conditions formulas,” i.e. the steps or actions to be taken to move from one’s current condition to a more optimum one, or to maintain an already optimum condition (Hubbard 2007a, 72).
In the Scientology ethics system it is assumed that all organizations, their constituent parts, and all individuals are in one condition or another at any given moment. And if one does not follow the steps of the conditions formulas (which some people do intuitively, but it is considered more reliable to use the formulas as written by L. Ron Hubbard), conditions will tend toward shrinkage and misery and worry and ultimately death. If ethics conditions and their formulas are handled properly, they will bring about stability, expansion and prosperity (Hubbard 2007a, 71–73).
L. Ron Hubbard stated that “the ethics conditions formulas flow, one to the next, with the first step of one formula directly following the final step of the previous formula” (Hubbard 2007a, 129). In other words, the ethics conditions formulas make up a sort of ladder by which one can climb from any current condition in any area of life to higher conditions and greater success.
These conditions, arranged from highest to lowest, are: Power, Power Change, Affluence, Normal Operation, Emergency, Danger, Non-Existence, Liability, Doubt, Enemy, Treason, Confusion.
Let us use an example given by L. Ron Hubbard (Hubbard 1972b) to illustrate application of the Danger condition formula after an unethical act:
“Let us say a fellow was accepting money from his uncle and saying he was buying a house with it and he wasn’t. He was spending it on a blonde. Now he is in continuous danger. His uncle might find it out at any moment and he expects to inherit his uncle’s fortune someday. So he’s in a sort of quasipanic; even though he isn’t thinking about it, it’s still sitting there.
Step1: “He’d have to quit doing that—bypass the habits or normal routines of the thing. In other words, quit accepting that money.”
Step 2: “But he’d also have to handle the situation and any danger in it… He’d have to figure out how to handle that so that there wasn’t any danger in it. And it might take quite a bit of thinking. If he just jumped up and said to his uncle, ‘Well, I’ve been lying to you, Uncle George. I’ve been wasting all of your dough,’ the possibility is that this would come as such a shock to Uncle George that he’d disinherit him, shoot him and so forth. He would really be in danger. So he’d have to figure out how to handle it. It might be as simple as, ‘Dear Uncle George: I have been getting processed lately with Scientology, and it’s making a more honest man out of me. And there are many dishonest things which I have done in my life and one of them is this. Now, you will probably shoot me for having done this, and it is not fair to you but actually I have been using this money to live off of and…’ ”
Step 3: “ ‘Assign self a Danger condition’ is only there because people forget to assign it.”
Step 4: “And then you ‘get in your own personal ethics by finding what you are doing that is outethics and use self-discipline to correct it and get honest and straight.’ Now, there might be some other ‘Uncle Georges’ (and we’ve still got to handle this blonde). Even though one might have handled the uncle there might be some more. And you could get a sort of Christian resurgence… In other words, they’re able now to face the world and get back into communication.”
Step 5: “Then ‘reorganize your life so that the dangerous situation is not continually happening to you’—well, that’s easy, in this hypothetical case of Uncle George. Simply knock it off as far as this blonde is concerned and instead of being up all night every night and so forth, actually get some sleep and do your job and amount to something. That’s a reorganization of it.”
Step 6: “And then, ‘formulate and adopt firm policy that will hereafter detect and prevent the same situation from continuing to occur.’ In other words, ‘I’m not going to tell lies so that I can get money,’ or something like that, is all the guy would have to decide. It’s like a New Year’s resolution. But people don’t keep them because they didn’t get in the first five steps. That’s why New Year’s resolutions aren’t kept. You are actually asking the guy at this point to reform.”
Every Scientologist I’ve met takes the conditions of existence very seriously and usually uses the conditions formulas to handle the problems they face. For example, Irina, who has been a Scientologist for 25 years, told me her story as an illustration of L. Ron Hubbard’s statement that ethics conditions exist in the physical universe as a universal law and influence the way things go. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand in time what ethics condition you are in, and take the necessary steps to handle the situation. One day, shortly after becoming a member of a Scientology staff, Irina determined for herself that her ethics condition as a staff member in her position was Treason; however, at that time, she did not apply the formula of this condition. Irina was responsible for the finances and property of a Scientology organization. This was in the legendary 1990’s, when the crime rate in Russia was very high.
Shortly after Irina became aware of an existing condition of Treason, yet did not apply the Treason condition formula, there was a robbery of the organization for which she was responsible. Significant damage was caused.
It is worth noting that Irina’s senior had asked her to take additional safety precautions, and had this been done in time there would have been much less damage. Irina realized that this theft was a manifestation in the physical universe of her condition of Treason, which in Scientology is defined as: “a person who accepts a post or position and then doesn’t function as it” (Hubbard 2007a, 99).
As she then took the necessary steps in accordance with the formula of the condition, she realized she must take responsibility for and fully perform the duties of the post, and she immediately did everything possible to minimize the damage caused by the robbers. As she climbed the ladder of conditions, she ceased feeling guilty in front of her seniors and colleagues whom she had previously let down by failing to secure the property, and her seniors, seeing the changes, began to trust her again. Through her actions combined with that of her colleagues, the organization became more productive and started getting much more money; the money newly received exceeded what had been stolen.
Another story told by Olga, an Ethics Officer at a Scientology organization in Moscow, illustrates application of the conditions. A young sportsman named Venedikt became addicted to alcohol and sometimes took illegal drugs. Olga recommended that Venedikt study the data on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, as well as apply the formulas of ethics conditions with regard to his body and harm to it with these poisons. (It bears mention that Scientologists are against illegal drugs. Hubbard had written quite a lot on the negative physical and spiritual effects of drug use. The drug rehabilitation and prevention program Narconon, meaning “no drugs,” was founded in 1966 based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard. The present-day Scientologists sponsor a secular Truth About Drugs campaign, https://www.drugfreeworld.org, to advocate a drug-free life.) Venedikt became aware of the harm caused by drugs and alcohol. He stopped using them and achieved significant results in sports. Currently, Venedikt works as a coach and actively promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Note: Another particular case of applying the ethics conditions formulas in business is part of the appendix of the book from which this article is drawn. That case is not translated or included here.
There are many definitions of human personality. Some of them are precise and witty. Such as, the great German philosopher Georg Hegel (1770–1831) correctly noted that man is a mammal with a soft lobe of an ear. However, this observation will not help us distinguish a good man from a bad man. Both the hero and the greatest villain have roughly the same ear shape. Yet, people have an acute need to learn how to distinguish between good, friendly people and bad ones who cause misfortune in their lives.
Some people advise to “look into the eyes”: the eyes of a bad man are supposed to have a subtle spark of falseness. I am afraid that such advice is of little help in practice. It is known that cheaters very often and with extreme conviction pose as honest people.
Scientologists believe that the main problems and difficulties faced by a person are, in most cases, caused by his/her own irresponsibility (Hubbard 2007d, 127–28). At the same time, one cannot fail to take into account the influence of other people, some of whom may, intentionally or unintentionally, create trouble for a person, while others on the contrary may help him overcome obstacles.
Scientology provides a way for a person to analyze the influence of other people on him. L. Ron Hubbard proposed to distinguish between two different types of people, calling them social and anti-social personalities.
The social personality acts for the greatest good; it wants to survive and wants others to survive (Hubbard 2007a, 187). Social personalities make up 80 percent of humanity (Hubbard 2007a, 188).
One of the most important attributes of a social personality, as L. Ron Hubbard writes, is that “the friends and associates of a Social Personality tend to be well, happy and of good morale. A truly Social Personality quite often produces betterment in health or fortune by his mere presence on the scene. At the very least he does not reduce the existing levels of health or morale in his associates.” Another attribute is: “Destructive actions are protested by the Social Personality. He assists constructive or helpful actions” (Hubbard 2007a, 185–86).
Antisocial personalities only comprise 20 percent of the population and only 2½ percent of this 20 percent are truly dangerous, in the opinion of L. Ron Hubbard. Examples of such personalities were Hitler, Napoleon, serial killers. Anti-social personalities oppose violently any betterment activity or group (Hubbard 2007a, 177).
“The basic reason the Anti-Social Personality behaves as he or she does lies in a hidden terror of others.
“To such a person, every other being is an enemy, an enemy to be covertly or overtly destroyed.
“The fixation is that survival itself depends on ‘keeping others down’ or ‘keeping people ignorant.’
“If anyone were to promise to make others stronger or brighter, the Anti-Social Personality suffers the utmost agony of personal danger” (Hubbard 2007a, 181).
As L. Ron Hubbard writes, surrounding an anti-social personality “we find cowed or ill associates or friends who, when not driven actually insane, are yet behaving in a crippled manner in life, failing, not succeeding” (Hubbard 2007a, 178–180).
It is important to note that the founder of Scientology warned against “witch hunts” in connection with the problem of anti-social personalities. According to L. Ron Hubbard, “as the society runs, prospers and lives solely through the efforts of social personalities, one must know them as they, not the anti-social, are the worthwhile people. [...] Attention is given to the anti-social solely to protect and assist the Social Personalities in the society” (Hubbard 2007a, 183).
One may reasonably ask: Where do anti-social personalities come from? The fundamental premise of Scientology is that every individual is basically good and seeks to do good and achieve long-term survival in all areas of his life—not only survival for self, but also for the family, group, mankind, all life forms and non-living physical universe forms, spirituality itself and God. L. Ron Hubbard has been stating this and giving numerous examples of this principle through many of his basic publications since early 1950s (Hubbard 2007a, 20–21, 28–30, 44–45, 53, 63; Hubbard 2007b, 20; Hubbard 2008, 176, 410, etc.). Yet in a later article (the original text is dated 2 April 1964) Hubbard noted: “One sees that some are successful and some aren’t, some are good to know and some aren’t. [...] Probably, at this minute, you could think of some examples of good people and bad people.” And he concludes: “There may not be evil people, but there are people currently devoted to doing evil actions” (Hubbard 2007a, 173–74).
How does this observation relate to the premise that each man is basically good? To answer that one must remember that in Scientology man is considered a spiritual being that lives more than one life. With this in mind, the roots of what makes man “currently devoted to doing evil actions” turn out to lie beyond this life, says L. Ron Hubbard. And even a transition to a new life does not eliminate them. (Incidentally, it follows that the death penalty, as well as murder, does not solve anything from the Scientology perspective; a being carries his/her unhandled overts and withholds and unresolved conditions, his “karma,” into a new life.)
But even such deep-rooted negative influences on a being, per L. Ron Hubbard, can be overcome by applying Scientology methods of spiritual improvement and freeing the basic personality, who nonetheless and always seeks to do good. Thus, an anti-social personality, in the view of Scientologists, is a “sick” being who potentially can also be helped. (Hubbard 2007a, 175–76, 221).
L. Ron Hubbard also refers to an anti-social personality as a “suppressive person” (abbreviated SP) because anti-social personalities tend to suppress others in their environment. And those who are somehow associated with a suppressive person can cause a great deal of hardship for themselves and others; they tend to get sick, get into accidents, make mistakes and generally bring trouble to themselves and others. L. Ron Hubbard described people who are experiencing a suppressive influence as potential trouble sources (abbreviated PTS). (Hubbard 2007a, 171–72).
A suppressive person prevents a potential trouble source from living a normal life. The potential trouble source may do well in life or at work, but then, when he is influenced by a suppressive person, he gets worse. Thus, the potential trouble source experiences a “roller coaster” in life. The term “roller coaster,” as used by L. Ron Hubbard, means someone or something gets better and then gets worse. As long as a connection with the suppressive person is maintained or continued, this pattern can repeat over and over again for the potential trouble source. The term “roller coaster” comes from the name of an amusement park ride with steep ascents and descents. (Hubbard 2007a, 189).
According to L. Ron Hubbard, about 20 percent of the population are potential trouble sources who cause trouble for themselves and others, but only 2.5 percent of them are malicious suppressive persons and are the most dangerous (Hubbard 2007a, 177, 226).
This is not about creating an “image of the enemy” as represented by suppressive persons and/or potential trouble sources. L. Ron Hubbard considers the main task of ethics the spiritual assistance to people in such states of being (Hubbard 2007a, 200, 204, 211, 215, 226, etc.).
Twelve attributes of the social personality as well as the anti-social personality are presented in the works of L. Ron Hubbard so that one can clearly distinguish one from the other and take measures to protect against the negative influence of a suppressive person.
Scientology includes methods of spiritual help to potential trouble sources (PTS). Often people who are PTS are the least likely to suspect this fact (Hubbard 2007a, 211). Therefore, the first step is to provide them with information so they can understand the situation.
Significant relief can be achieved through what is called a “PTS interview” delivered by a specially trained Scientologist. This interview allows a person to become aware who exactly is being suppressive toward him (Hubbard 2007a, 212).
When the source of suppression has been identified—that is, the person because of whom the PTS made mistakes or was sick or gloomy, etc., is found and known—there is a “handling” to be done, with the purpose to move the PTS person from effect in the relationship with the suppressive person over to slight, gentle cause. Handling is most often aimed at restoring normal, smooth communication with the source of suppression. Amongst other things this may be achieved by the PTS person spotting and viewing his misdeeds (overts and withholds) against the person from whom he feels suppression. In rare cases only, it may be necessary to disconnect from the suppressive person, that is, to severe communication with them (Hubbard 2007a, 212–215).
Let me give you an example of a PTS handling. This is a real story given to me by Natalia, the Chief Ethics Officer of a Scientology religious group in Moscow. (Natalia has been the Ethics Officer since 2013. Our interview took place on 29 July 2018.)
In early 2017 a young man named Vasily, a student at a law school, began to take Scientology courses. He got the idea to leave law school and concentrate on the study of Scientology.
His mother dreamed of her son becoming a qualified lawyer and was paying for his education. When she found out that he wanted to leave school, she became upset and called the Scientology religious group, demanding that her son be left alone and all contacts with him be stopped, or she would contact law enforcement agencies.
On the advice of an Ethics Officer, Vasily began to handle his relationships with his mother. He promised her that he would not leave the law school, and indeed he graduated with a “red” diploma [excellent grades]. Vasily invited his mother for a tour in the religious group, and she came and gained a favorable impression.
The conflict was handled successfully. Vasily continues to do various courses in Scientology. With his diploma on hand, he found a position as a lawyer. His boss values his work and ability to learn, ability to quickly master new fields and areas. The relationship with his mother is very good, without major disagreements or conflicts.
A PTS condition is different from and should not be confused with a small number of people who are referred to in Scientology ethics as “sources of trouble.” These are people who are not invited to participate in the steps of Scientology spiritual improvement and from whom Scientologists do not accept donations, because it is not expected they would be helped. These include, for example, such people who, as covered under the heading “Exchange as an Ethics Concept,” must first make restitution for the harm caused by their criminal acts and resolve their attendant relationships with the society (Hubbard 2007a, 217–21).
A PTS condition is viewed in Scientology as an obstacle on the route to spiritual improvement, but in most cases, its handling takes little time with the help of a competent Ethics Officer, after which the individual can continue his or her journey.
Most religions (religious organizations) have their own internal regulations that provide for certain penalties for violators of morality and piety (sinners).
In the Russian Orthodox Church, for example, there is a practice of the imposition of penance, which is a church punishment for laymen, a moral and correctional measure.
Penance usually consists in either a certain prayer rule or a feasible feat such as bowing, fasting, or temporary excommunication from the Holy Communion (Eucharist).
(Holy Communion, or Eucharist, is a Sacrament in which the true Body and true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is given to the believer under the guise of bread and wine. The celebration of the Eucharist forms the basis of the main Christian Church service, the Divine Liturgy. The thanksgiving of God is the main content of the prayers of this service. The Eucharist is the main Sacrament of the Church. It fulfills what a Christian is called to do, which is unity with the Lord.)
Temporary excommunication from the Holy Communion is one of the strictest penances, since the Holy Communion is the main Christian Sacrament. According to the Orthodox faith, it is vital for the salvation of the soul.
The degree and duration of penance is determined by the severity of sinful crimes, but depends on the discretion of the Confessor. Penance should help the Christian who has sinned to realize the extent of his sin and feel its seriousness, give him the strength to stand up again, give him hope for the mercy of Lord, and give him the opportunity to show determination in his repentance.
Of course, no knowledgeable person would consider even the strictest penance, including temporary excommunication from the Eucharist, a violation of article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which states:
“Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other any religion or to not profess any religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them.”
Similarly, the most serious disciplinary action against violators of Scientology ethics supposes that these people are no longer invited to the Church of Scientology, since they will not be able to receive spiritual gains until they restore their ethics.
In Scientology, excommunication is called “Suppressive Person (SP) Declare”; its procedure is established by a number of internal regulations and includes the issuance of an “ethics order.” There are strict requirements for writing such an order. Hubbard laid down a set of clear rules for the Ethics section. In particular, the form and content of an “ethics order” has been established, and there is a procedure for issuing it and appealing one.
Scientologists believe that declaring someone a “suppressive person” helps the suppressive person understand their situation correctly with regard to the Church of Scientology and opens up the prospect and the path to returning to the Church at some point in the future. “Never be afraid to issue orders that label somebody an SP if you have the real evidence,” said L. Ron Hubbard. “If you label them, you get them back in some day. If you don’t label them, they are far more likely to vanish forever. Labeling them is a kind action” (Hubbard 1965b).
Cases where an “ethics order” declares an individual to be a suppressive person, that is, gets them excommunicated from the Church of Scientology, are very rare. This is used only for the most serious moral violations that have not been resolved by any and all less severe conventional ethics measures.
When a person has committed a moral violation, they are expected to apply, on their own initiative, the appropriate ethics conditions formulas to become ethical again, to regain trust and to make up damage caused. If one does not do so of one’s own accord, they may be advised to do so orally or in writing. An “ethics order” may then be issued, ordering them to make up the damage or otherwise correct a non-optimum situation. Only if a number of such measures have failed and the person is in no way ready to cooperate, may excommunication be considered.
Thus, Scientology ethics does not imply humiliation of human dignity of those people who are considered antisocial or suppressive persons. It implies application of ethics technologies toward handling the situation and forming social personality traits in these people.
Excommunication from the Church of Scientology (that is, a Suppressive Person Declare) remains in effect until the person recovers his or her personal integrity and willing agreement with the Church. This practice has been used by religious communities for hundreds of years and is recognized as a fundamental right of these organizations.
At the same time, L. Ron Hubbard emphasized that those people who were declared suppressive persons should not have the door totally closed on them. In L. Ron Hubbard’s book Introduction to Scientology Ethics there is a special section “Steps to Handle the Suppressive Person” (Hubbard 2007a, 316–319). In particular, the founder of Scientology gives examples of evidence of genuine ethics change of the former suppressive person: “The person has obtained an honest job; has paid off all debts owed to others; valid contributions have been made to the community; the person has totally ceased those actions for which he was declared, etc.” (Hubbard 2007a, 317).
It is extremely important to keep in mind that, as stated in L. Ron Hubbard’s book Introduction to Scientology Ethics, nothing in the policy regarding how to counter the suppression of Scientology and Scientologists “shall ever or under any circumstances justify any violation of the laws of the land or intentional legal wrongs. Any such offense shall subject the offender to penalties prescribed by law as well as to [Scientology] ethics and justice actions” (Hubbard 2007a, 324).
There are some important features of Scientology and its ethics principles that can help the survival of humanity.
First of all, it is easy to notice a significant number of “celebrities” who are members of the Church of Scientology. Among them are famous actors, musicians and cultural figures. This fact reflects the culture-making creative role of Scientology and its ethics in the modern world. It attracts creative, talented people who are able to cause significant cultural phenomena, and it helps them personally to be more creative and in harmony with the world in which they live.
In the end, the role which a religion plays in the world, in historical perspective, is determined by whether a particular religion has a culture-making role (and if so, to what extent). No matter how people judge the truth of the teachings and the nobility of the moral principles of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, it is clear that each of these religions have played a key role in the formation of powerful and distinctive cultures—and they continue to have a significant impact on the culture and morality of many peoples.
In addition, many Scientologists are successful in business, using the management technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard, which is based on the priority of applied ethics principles in business activities.
One cannot contest the fact that high labor productivity and production efficiency are factors that determine the stability of economies and social structures in society. To a large extent, the survival of mankind is determined by the ability to develop viable economies without creating unsustainable natural and social conflicts. Scientology ethics can help solve these problems, and thereby presents significant opportunities for strengthening the potential of human society in the face of today’s global challenges.
In general, Scientology and its ethics attracts people who are focused not on dreaming of miracles and an afterlife of reward or retribution, but who are focused on practical activities within a clear framework of rational guidelines and technologies that are designed to give Scientologists, and anyone who would honestly wish to avail himself, an opportunity to achieve spiritual progress in this life, and actually solve problems that disturb humanity and threaten its existence.
In addition to their religious activities per se, Scientologists support social programs aimed at overcoming drug and alcohol abuse, rehabilitation of people who have violated the law and strengthening secular ethics as a part of The Way to Happiness program.
The commitment of Scientologists to the principles of religious freedom and tolerance is extremely important in the modern world, as it helps to avoid the growth of religious intolerance, which is fraught with the threat of inter-religious conflicts.
Bedarev, Denis. 2012. “‘Colombian Miracle,’ or how Colombian police cares for people.” Good News Blog, February 27. http://bestpr2010.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html
Darwin, Charles Robert. 1874. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. London:John Murray, 2nd Ed. http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F944&viewtype=text&pageseq=97
Flinn, Frank K. 1983. “Scientology as Technological Buddhism.” In Alternatives to American Mainline Churches, edited by Joseph H. Fichter, 89–110. New York: Paragon House.
Golovko, Oxana. 2016. Orthodox life website, June 15. https://pravlife.org/ru/content/esli-na-ispoved-kazhdyy-raz-so-starym-spiskom-grehov
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1965a. “The Aims of Scientology.”http://www.scientologyreligion.ru/background-and-beliefs/the-aims-of-scientology.html
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1965b. “Writing of an Ethics Order.” Hubbard Communications Office, Policy Letter of 2 June 1965 Issue I. In Ethics and Justice Course, Glostrup, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS, 2014, 232–234.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1972a. “Ethics.” Hubbard Communications Office, Policy Letter of 4 April 1972 Issue I. In Ethics Specialist Course, Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS, 1998, 243–249.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1972b. “Further Data on Correct Danger Condition Handling.” Hubbard Communications Office, Policy Letter of 11 April 1972. In Ethics Specialist Course, Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS, 1998, 173–177.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1978a. “Proclamation, Power to Forgive.” Hubbard Communications Office, Bulletin of 10 November 1978RC (Revised 13 March 2013). In Academy Level II, Glostrup, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS, 2013, 128–129.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 1978b. “Confessional Procedure.” Hubbard Communications Office, Bulletin of 30 November 1978RC (Revised 13 March 2013). In Academy Level II, Glostrup, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS, 2013, 101–107.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2001. Integrity and Honesty. Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2007a. Introduction to Scientology Ethics. Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2007b. The Science of Survival. Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2007c. The Way to Happiness: A Common Sense Guide to Better Living. Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2007d. Advanced Procedure and Axioms. Copenhagen, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2008. Scientology 0–8 The Book of Basics. Glostrup, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Hubbard, L. Ron. 2009. Scientology Principles of Prosperity. Glostrup, Denmark: New Era Publications International ApS.
Ivanenko, Sergey Igorevich. 2016. What Scientologists are Silent About. Saint Petersburg, Russia: DrevoZhizni.
Kalmyk Central Buddhist Monastery Geden Shaddup Choi Korling. 2013. “35 Confessional Buddhas practice.” August 3. http://khurul.ru/2013/08/praktika-ispovedi-pered-35-buddami-pokayaniya/
Korchagin, Pavel. 2018a. “Scientology Leader Awarded Medal from Colombian Police.” Mangazeya News Agency, July 9. https://www.mngz.ru/vse-obo-vsem/4074878-lider-saentologii-nagrazhden-medalyu-policii-kolumbii.html.
Korchagin, Pavel. 2018b. “Philippines National Police Apply The Way to Happiness.” Mangazeya News Agency, October 31. https://www.mngz.ru/vse-obo-vsem/4077048-nacionalnaya-policiya-filippin-primenyaet-dorogu-k-schastyu.html.
Meyer, Elisa. 2018. “Scientology Leader David Miscavige Awarded Medal from Colombian Police.” World Religion News, July 10. https://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/scientology-leader-david-miscavige-awarded-medal-colombian-police
The Way to Happiness Foundation International, 2015. “Making an Impact in Colombia.” Summer 2015 Newsletter. https://www.thewaytohappiness.org/newsletter/2015-summer-the-way-to-happiness-news.html