Does your family practice alone as Scientologists or within one of the churches?
We definitely take advantage of Scientology services in our local Church of Scientology. There is a lot one can learn about Scientology on one’s own, seeing as a large percentage of people who got involved with Scientology started just by reading books, and applying what they read to their own lives. L. Ron Hubbard’s first book on the subject, Dianetics, was made primarily for people to pick up, read for themselves, and then find someone else to apply it to.
To you, what does “reaching your full potential” mean in Scientology?
That’s one of the deeper questions that someone has asked me, actually. There are a few sides to “potential,” I think. What are the properties and qualities and capabilities that I feel I should have, or that I could have at some future time, or assuming some ideal set of circumstances?
To me, it’s best quantified by first trying to look at life in its component parts. What is my potential as myself? For my relationship with my wife? For my kids? My work? My group and my church? Mankind as a whole?
For any of those things, what are they like now, and what would their ideal state be? For that last bit, sometimes one doesn’t even know how good something can be. Someone who has never been athletic in their life likely wouldn’t know the elation an elite gymnast feels at nailing a perfect floor routine. Someone who’s grown up in a broken, dysfunctional household likely might set the bar pretty low at what would be a “perfect relationship”. Someone who’s never had kids might not know how to accurately define what being an “ideal parent” might look like.
For me, personally, it’s something I iterate on. There are some things in my life that are going swimmingly, others that I know I’m simply not doing as well as I could. But I’ve got goals I want to achieve for myself, my family, and my group, and to the degree that I’m not able to hit them, well, I’d say I’m not living up to my potential.
But that’s what Scientology has always solved for me. It’s been a path by which I can take my life as it is, in my own estimation, and improve those things that need to be improved. In some cases it’s been my productivity, in other cases it’s been my honesty and integrity to my goals and to my friends that needed address. In other cases it’s been a matter of being able to let go of past upsets, and bad decisions that I was still using illogically to curb what I was doing in the here and now.
In any case though, all that really matters is that one is living up to one’s own standards of “full potential” so that one can achieve their own goals. I hope that answers things.
With all the accusations against the religion did that make you and your family second guess Scientology at all?
Not in the least bit.
Scientology is a really personal thing. One sits and studies it and decides what makes sense, decides what works for you, and what you can use. If I do something in Scientology that makes me genuinely happier, makes me a more honest person, improves my relationship with my family, and brings my extended family closer together, there is no TV show that can suddenly change that and make me realize, “oh, perhaps I’m not so happy after all.”
I’ve been involved in Scientology most of my life. I have worked as church staff, and have been around countless members of church management. I’ve personally studies the entirety of the 18 books and 200+ recorded lectures that comprise the entire foundation of the Scientology religion. I’ve got a few family members and quite a few close friends that are presently staff at local, regional and international managment levels in the church. There’s honestly no “accusation” that someone can make that I can’t turn around and see the actual state of affairs firsthand. Scientologists, specifically the staff, are the most wonderful, caring, good-intentioned and big-hearted people I know. Anyone who’d think otherwise from media they’ve seen or read should just go and spend some time in a Church talking to people, and then make up their own mind.
What makes Scientology different than any other religion?
The part which, to me, makes it different is the focus on techniques for application. Most faiths have a moral code, and this (I think) is one of their most important aspects, and is something that’s no different in Scientology in that we have a moral code and a code of ethics, things that are right and wrong and define really what it’s like to “live as a Scientologist”. The core of that, you can read online as it’s encapsulated in The Way to Happiness.
However, the fact of Scientology’s tenets and techniques being expected to be applied, each of them having exact and repeatable results – this is what I feel sets Scientology apart from more traditional faiths.
And it’s because of the fact that there are repeatable results that can be attained by anyone, that I love being involved in Scientology so much. I know that whatever I have going on in my life, whatever part of it that I feel I’m not excelling at or feel needs to be better, I know has a workable, usable solution in Scientology. Most of my site here is filled with specifics on that, as it pertains to parenting, but obviously there’s so much else to life. Whether it’s personal happiness (or depression), personal honesty (or lack of it), being able to effectively communicate in a business setting, or simply being able to organize life so that one can achieve one’s goals, I know that there are workable ways I can improve these things to my satisfaction in Scientology.
Do you really have to spend a lot of money to be a part of Scientology?
You do not. There is no tithe system in Scientology, and being a member or calling oneself a Scientologist doesn’t mean you need to support the church financially.
Yes, there are services one does in a church, where there are numerous church staff who are there to extremely well-educated in the subject, who are there to do things like Marriage Counseling, course supervision, and the supervision of your individual counseling progress. Yes, the church asks a donation when you’re taking services that require people’s time. It would be amazing if we lived in a world where the staff of a church could live without money, could be housed for free, and where a church building was free. But we don’t live in that world, so the church has to be there somehow.
But apart from that, there are many ways that one can learn & apply Scientology on your own. Scientologists, over the past few years, have participated in massive donation programs to ensure that every public library in the USA has a full set of Scientology books in them. So, you can go down to your local library and read everything we’ve got. Several of those texts, including Dianetics, Self Analysis and Handbook for Preclears are written to be used by an individual by themselves or with another person, and do not require an organization nor professional help to do.
There are also free online courses the church maintains.
Being a Scientologist really adds up to being someone who studies Scientology, finds parts of it that work for them, and then apply it do their lives – and that’s something anyone with the will, can go ahead and do.
Also if it’s not too much to ask do you think you could tell me what you believe in as a Scientologist and how that might differ from another Scientologist?
Sure, I can do that. Let me see if I can sum up what I believe a succinctly as possible. I’ve written longer articles about what Scientology is to me, but let me see if I can sum up in a few bullet points, along with some reference material as appropriate that you may find enlightening.
I believe that I’m a spiritual individual, and am not “my body”. I believe I have a body, but that concepts like love, fear, honor, friendship, and one’s own goals and purposes in life are positively not a part of the body or brain, but are something we create as individuals. This video on the parts of man illustrates this further.
I believe that it is possible to know about the mind, the spirit, and life. Meaning, I do think that solutions to one’s problems as an individual, a family or group member, are not out of one’s hands, or can only be understood by the infinite, or “transcend the boundaries of human understanding” like old-time philosophers thought. I believe that no matter how hard one’s problems are in life, that something can be done about them, and Scientology contains intensely workable solutions for such.
I believe that religious choice is an intensely personal thing, and that anyone, studying Scientology, should do so for themselves, should read actual Scientology books for themselves, and should make up their own mind about it. I think that Scientology (or any religious philosophy) cannot be forced on someone, because there is nothing at all more individual and personal than how one feels about himself. Nobody can tell you how you feel about yourself, because nobody else is you. Therefore, a personal, spiritual philosophy can never, ever be jammed down your throat. There is no replacement for quality time, by yourself, in front of a book.
Now, in terms of what I believe and how that might differ from another Scientologist: one thing that is part & parcel to Scientology that bears a similarity to other religions, is that we’ve all got a central agreement on “what Scientology is”. The source materials on Scientology are what L. Ron Hubbard wrote in his books, policies and recorded lectures. So, regardless of what we all think, use and feel personally about ourselves and our relationship to the church, at least we agree on what Scientology is.