“Nothing in Dianetics and Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation.” –LRH [From “Personal Integrity”]
I find it interesting that most Scientologists seem to feel compelled to quote LRH, just as I have above, whenever they want to make a point. It reminds me of how Christians treat the Word of God, or how Muslims often say “it is written.” It’s a way to add credence to one’s statement by drawing on the power of great men or divinity. It’s also a way to gain agreement to one’s ideas by utilizing a previously accepted reality. But, I think that it can be taken too far – especially when quotes get taken out of context and start to get interpreted too literally. This is something that is especially relevant in Scientology.
Judgment or the ability to evaluate data for one’s self and come up with correct estimations is potentially the greatest ability that someone can develop. I would argue that this is the most important ingredient to truly understanding Scientology and being able to apply it. For me, it was the greatest lesson that I learned from the Study Tapes, and it is the secret to why I’m such a fast student.
There are at least a dozen LRH quotes other than the above that I could come up with that would support this viewpoint. But, that is not the point. I think that it is dangerous when a philosophy starts to be taken too literally. When that happens, it evolves into a totalitarian regime that dictates robotic followership instead of a benign movement that promotes freedom. This is the situation that I believe we are confronted with in the Church today.
A big part of this can probably be traced back to the enforcement of the “Verbal Tech Penalties” policy. This policy makes it a crime to interpret LRH for another person. In my opinion, its intention is to force people to study things for themselves and come to their own conclusions instead of relying on the opinions of others. It also standardizes the technology by providing an unalterable point of agreement.
However, this can be taken too far. Instead of encouraging personal judgment, it can be used to enforce dogmatism. Any bright ideas or opinions which aren’t covered in writing by LRH are squashed. And any disagreement is handled by telling a person to “go back and find your misunderstood word,” which is repeated as often as necessary until the disagreement has been suppressed.
“If it isn’t written it isn’t true” is the catch-phrase that is supposed to be used by Scientologists to defeat verbal tech and encourage the application of Standard Tech. However, the corollary “if it’s written, it’s true” is often used instead to enforce any random LRH quote that is taken out of context in order to support whatever whimsical idea the person decides is important at the time. This creates confusion and causes an impediment to judgment. It makes every quote equal every other quote and makes it impossible for people to be able to sort out senior data and make sense of the vast body of knowledge that comprises Scientology.
I suggest that this is not Scientology as I know it. I can’t imagine LRH ever discouraging critical thought or the discussion of Scientology as long as the purpose was to create understanding. Indeed, you can listen to numerous “question and answer” sessions on the Briefing Course where LRH did just that.
Some of the questions that this raises for me are: Should we you use Scientology scripture at all when discussing our ideas, or should we just state our opinions and label them as such? Should we take LRH literally word-for-word, or should we instead seek to form our own opinions and try to understand him in the full context of everything he ever said or wrote? How confident can we even be that what we think is LRH is actually authentic?
In closing, I offer the following quote:
“Even if you are in a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” –Mahatma Gandhi