Sunday, August 05, 2007

Xenu or not Xenu

One of the first curiosities a critical thinker will encounter when researching Scientology is the cloud of confusion that surrounds what is one of its most central beliefs, the infamous Incident II in which, 75 million years ago, evil galactic emperor Xenu incarcerated billions of people in volcanoes and blew them up with atomic bombs. According to information given over in Operating Thetan 3 he then incarcerated the resultant "body thetans" in holographic cinemas in order to confuse them as to their time, place and true nature. Many of the symbols of world religions formed part of the holographic show, and it is around these symbols that all other world religions are based. This belief that other religions are implants flies in the face of the other oftentold lie, that Scientology is compatible with all other religions. It offers up an explanation of other world religions, certainly, but it is not compatible with them, no more than psychological theories on the origins of religion are compatible with the religions they explain.

The body thetans or BTs then attached themselves to the nearest reasonably sentient life-forms, human beings, and it is the BTs discombobulated confusion that causes most of our day-to-day problems. Scientology's auditing procedures and OT courses offer a solution.

As religions go this is no different in any real sense to, say, Catholicism, where one is weighed down with one's own sin (and, I suppose, the sins of one's fathers) but can attone through the not dissimilar process of confession. That confession is free and auditing costs thousands need not concern us right now. What does concern us though, is this: the Xenu myth is at the core of what is being offered to members of the church whether they realise it or not. Incident II is not a creation myth in the traditional sense, but it operates in much the same way. It is the source of all our troubles. It is the thing we're trying to solve just as much as Christianity promises a solution to that first fall from grace. Where it becomes troublesome is when one considers that most Christians know Genesis. Heck, the Christian text starts at the beginning! The Scientology text effectively starts with a communication course. Scientology doesn't encounter its own serpent until it gets to the third level of Operating Thetan, before which much time and money has been spent.

Why is that?

Well one possibility is that if you pull someone in off the street after their complimentary stress test and tell them that the source of all their woe is a genocidal solution to overpopulation from 75 million years ago they will quite rightly be disinterested in the weighty paperback you're trying to sell them. Another possibility, one that Scientology ascribes to, is that learning about Xenu once you are clear but before you have completed OT1 & 2 will very likely kill you. This, despite the fact that the Xenu myth is by now well known. I dare say there have been several Scientologists who have attained clear in full knowledge of what secrets lie in the OT3 briefcase and yet have miraculously survived the ordeal. Here's how L Ron described the effects of the "research" that led to the creation of OT3:

The implant is calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc) anyone who attempts to solve it. This liability has been dispensed with by my tech development. One can freewheel through the implant and die unless it is approached as precisely outlined. The "freewheel" (auto-running on and on) lasts too long, denies sleep etc and one dies. So be careful to do only Incidents I and II as given and not plow around and fail to complete one thetan at a time.

In December 1967 1 know someone had to take the plunge. I did and emerged very knocked out, but alive. Probably the only one ever to do so in 75,000,000 years. I have all the data now, but only that given here is needful.
But this refers to running the procedures as written, not about sharing the information about Xenu, so it doesn't really account for why Scientologists of OT3 and above lie and lie again about what is a central belief of their religion.

Fortean Times, in their August 07 issue quotes Church spokeswoman Janet Kenyon Laveau: "there is nothing in the theology or philosophy of Scientology about belief in aliens." But if that were the case, then why would one of the Church's own websites list as its definition of Space Opera:
of or relating to time periods on the whole track millions of years ago which concerned activities in this and other galaxies. Space opera has space travel, spaceships, spacemen, intergalactic travel, wars, conflicts, other beings, civilizations and societies, and other planets and galaxies. It is not fiction and concerns actual incidents and things that occurred on the track.
The only explanation approaching legitimacy that this blogger has for the relentless lying about the space opera aspects of Scientology belief is in that very noun - "belief". The Beacon recently found itself in discussion with a Scientologist on the photo sharing site Flickr. During this discussion the Scientologist (M) stated that aliens are "not part of the religious practice of Scientology". M goes on to explain that Scientology does involve "the factual discovery by L. Ron Hubbard that almost any person, with very little effort, is able to access memories that stretch before this lifetime" and that people have recovered memories in which they encounter and belong to alien races1. So in the mind of the Scientologist the Xenu myth is not part of their "belief system" because they consider the "space opera stuff" to be cold hard fact2, just like their glossary states.

Suddenly Scientologists aren't lying about their belief in the myth, they are quibbling over the use of words. But get this - I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, and I believe that gravity is a universal force that causes matter to drift towards other matter. I believe that I am sitting in front of a keyboard typing these words. I believe them, and they are facts. The vocal denial that (OT3+) Scientologists believe in Xenu can only be misleading, whether or not the speaker is making a semantic point or out-and-out lying. When Sweeney interviewed Kirstie Alley, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Ann Archer and Tommy Davis he asked them if they believed in the Xenu myth and each one of them denied it - celebrity Scientologists lying about their beliefs in a media interview. Tommy himself, in challenging Sweeney's persistence in asking about Xenu, provides insight into why the church is so keen to deny it: "it's like loony. It's weird.. makes you look weird." You're not wrong, Tommy.

Allegedly permission to use the interview footage in the documentary was pulled at the last minute due to Sweeney using the dread c-word, but could it just as easily be true that it would be damaging to the Church if such vocal supporters of the church could be exposed as demonstrable liars?

1 This is laid out in the book Have You Lived Before This Life, a collection of 42 testimonials involving past life memories, some of which are of the space opera flavour. No attempts are made to verify these memories within the book so it offers little in the way of proof that these memories are genuine.

2 One of the grand ironies is that this "truth" stems from the use of the e-meter. Hubbard claimed that it was possible to discern real memories from false memories by interrogating them on the meter. When he and others were confronted with memories that were hugely improbable and quite probably disprovable (an endeavour Scientologists are discouraged from pursuing), instead of taking them as a disproof of the ability for auditing to verify memories, they assumed that these memories were proved and the auditing process remained valid.

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