Scientology Scripture is taken from the written and recorded spoken words of
L. Ron Hubbard on the subjects of Dianetics and Scientology. At more than 76 million words, including nearly 2,500 recorded lectures and more than 100 films, these materials comprise the largest body of information ever assembled on the mind, spirit and life, rigorously refined and codified by L. Ron Hubbard through five decades of research, investigation and development.
The core beliefs of the Scientology religion are publicly available to anyone. These are contained in any one of the 18 Basics Books and accompanying 280 lectures by
L. Ron Hubbard available in every Church and mission of Scientology worldwide as well as public libraries internationally. In these references, Mr. Hubbard writes and speaks about such subjects as the origins of the universe, Man’s relation to the Supreme Being and the Creation Theory of the Scientology religion (The Factors).
An extremely small portion (less than one percent) of the Scripture of Scientology is unpublished. These religious materials comprise the most advanced levels of Scientology spiritual counseling. One must be fully prepared spiritually and ethically to receive and truly comprehend these materials.
There is a rich tradition of religions that have confidential scriptures, teachings or practices. Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, this exists in such religions as Judaism, Mormonism and Catholicism. In Catholicism, the Vatican Secret Archives in the Holy See contain documents and religious secrets not accessible to the public. In Mormonism, the temple ceremony is regarded as highly confidential; practitioners are pledged to secrecy.
Less than one percent of the Scripture of Scientology is unpublished. These religious materials comprise the most advanced levels of Scientology spiritual counseling. One must be fully prepared spiritually and ethically to receive and truly comprehend these materials.
Outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition, a number of religious groups have confidential practices or maintain confidential religious materials. In the Hindu tradition, for example, the guru can function as a teacher, imparting to pupils spiritual techniques and mystic reality as their spiritual growth and level of spiritual understanding permits. Similar traditions exist in Buddhism. Scientology follows these religious traditions.
This small portion of the Scientology materials that make up the most advanced levels of Scientology religious Scripture are restricted to those Scientologists who have attained specific levels in their spiritual progression. These levels consist of advanced spiritual concepts and counseling procedures.
It is a central belief in the Scientology faith that those who wish to avail themselves of the knowledge and practices of the religion progress in the religion on a gradient scale—one level of spiritual insight to the next, the latter building on the former. Each level gives the participant more knowledge and more spiritual advancement. It is this gradient progression that gives one the spiritual preparation and maturity to understand and benefit from the upper levels of the Scientology religion.
It is also a paramount belief of faith in the Scientology religion that premature exposure to the upper-level Scientology Scripture can cause spiritual travail and impede one’s spiritual growth. It is for this reason that the upper-level Scripture of Scientology is confidential and treated as such.
Access to the upper levels of the religion is by invitation only. That invitation is extended to parishioners who have demonstrated a high level of ethical responsibility as well as successful completion of all prior steps of spiritual attainment. Once the required spiritual progression is achieved and verified, the person is permitted to participate in upper-level Scientology religious services.
This is not a matter of Church policy. It represents a sacred matter of religious belief. Apostates and critics are well aware of this belief. They well know that Scientologists truly do believe in the necessity to retain confidentiality of the highest levels of the religion until they have attained the spiritual progress necessary to partake of these higher levels. They similarly know that as a matter of belief, Church members refuse to discuss such matters.
No religion should be taken to task about their beliefs and the media should not put Church members or officials in a position of committing sacrilege. It would be just as offensive to ask a Jewish scholar or rabbi to speak about the sacred texts of Kabbalah, or to insist that a Muslim allow an infidel into their mosque, or to show an image of Muhammad on a news broadcast or on a web page, or to insist a Catholic priest give the sacrament to a non-Catholic.
Asking the Church to defend and interpret its sacred confidential materials, when to do so is contrary to our most deeply held beliefs, is no different.
The belief and practice of preserving the confidentiality of the advanced Scripture is no different than the practices of many other religions dating back thousands of years, as noted by some of the world’s most respected religious scholars.
In 1994, the Church of Scientology International asked a group of prominent religious scholars to analyze the Scientology use of confidential materials and to identify historical comparisons between the Church’s practice of reserving a small portion of its teachings for advanced members and the religious practices of other world faiths. These scholars have extensive credentials in religious studies, research, teaching and interfaith activities. Some of these scholars were ordained as clergy in their own religious traditions.
According to this body of scholars, the practice of maintaining certain portions of religious teachings and rituals as confidential or secret has a historical tradition dating back to the very roots of human history. Commonly known teachings of religions are referred to by religious scholars as “exoteric” and secret or confidential teachings are known as “esoteric.” (Statement of Prof. Bryan R. Wilson; Statement of Prof. M. Darrol Bryant; Statement of Prof. Lonnie D. Kliever)
The origins of those terms show the concepts to which they are tied. Exoteric comes from the Greek word exoterikos, which means outside, while esoteric comes from the Greek word esoterikos, which means inside. (Statement of Prof. Dario Sabbatucci [English translation]) “[E]soteric knowledge exists, in varying degrees, in all human groups and functions to create and sustain cohesiveness and social solidarity.” (Statement of Prof. Jeffrey K. Hadden)
Ancient religions permitted access to sacred knowledge only after detailed rites of passage, which included extensive instruction and initiation into the group’s religious practice before sacred knowledge was revealed. (Declaration of Prof. Kliever) The practice of segregating portions of their teachings carried over into ancient Israel, where the temples had inner and outer courts. Only qualified individuals were admitted to the inner courts.
The Hellenic religions dating back to the golden age of Greece had similar practices where only the initiated were permitted access to certain of the religious rituals and knowledge. (Statement of Prof. Hadden; Statement of Prof. Sabbatucci) In some ancient religions, even the name of the god was secret and was not revealed. One of the ancient religions in Athens was known as “Mysteria,” which comes from the Greek word myein, meaning closed. Even well-known philosophers of the time, such as Pythagoras and Aristotle, had secret information within their philosophies which only the initiated and the advanced could access. These ancient Greek religions formed the basis of more modern religions which have confidential beliefs or materials. In such religions, parishioners are only given access to certain religious teachings or rituals through progressive stages. (Statement of Prof. Sabbatucci)
The core of secret knowledge held in such religions served, in part, to protect the internal integrity of the group and to define and identify its members. (Statement of Prof. Hadden) In ancient Sparta, religious secrecy was part of the very fabric of the city. To become a citizen of Sparta and gain access to the ultimate religious secrets required an individual to progress through various religious stages. (Statement of Prof. Sabbatucci)
Maintaining the secrecy of religious texts or rituals also served two additional functions: (1) to preserve sacred doctrines or practices from profanation, distortion or ridicule by unbelieving outsiders, and (2) to keep advanced spiritual knowledge from adherents who are not deemed advanced enough to use or understand it. (Statement of Rev. Kelley; Statement of Prof. David G. Bromley) Both of these distinctions were a part of early Christianity. Jesus is said to have withheld sacred truths even from his disciples because they were not yet advanced enough spiritually to understand them. Jesus himself told his disciples, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (Statement of Prof. Wilson, quoting John 16:12) Paul quotes Jesus as insisting that only the spiritually advanced could be addressed with his complete texts: “But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.” (Statement of Rev. Kelley, quoting 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Revised Standard Version)
In the earliest centuries, Christian worship consisted of Bible reading, singing, the sermon and prayers for the public, but only those who were baptized were admitted to the second, true Christian service, which included Christianity’s most sacred practices, such as the Eucharist. (Statement of Rev. Kelley; Statement of Prof. Kliever)
Indeed, there are Christian beliefs from ancient times to the present which have precluded persons who are not of a certain level of learning from being exposed to certain mysteries of the religion. Christian religions have believed that there is a mystery to the kingdom of God, and Saint Peter taught that the mystery is revealed only in God, or after death. (Statement of Prof. Sabbatucci) In the third through fifth centuries, the Christian custom known as “disciplina arcane” forbade clergy and faithful members from speaking to nonbelievers or new members regarding such Christian mysteries and matters of faith as rites of initiation, the Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. Professor Petro Bilaniuk explains that such practices stem from beliefs that “experience must accompany knowledge of the Christian mysteries step by step” and that “intimate relations with God” must be kept from “profane eyes.” (Statement of Prof. Bilaniuk)
The early Gnostic traditions in Christianity claimed secret traditions of special knowledge deriving from secret teachings of Jesus and from the Apostles. (Statement of Prof. Wilson) And Gnostic traditions persist in contemporary Christianity. Offshoots of these traditions, such as the Freemasons and Rosicrucians, also maintain esoteric practices and teachings. In “ancient wisdom” traditions, such as Rosicrucianism and Theosophy, spiritual leaders are viewed as bearers of long-hidden wisdom that has been rediscovered. This secret knowledge is passed from teacher to pupil, but only after the teacher has determined that the pupil has progressed to the point where he is ready to accept and understand the teachings. (Statement of Prof. Bromley) Similar traditions are found today in various elements of the highly diverse New Age movement.
Various contemporary Christian religions also have secret teachings or beliefs. For example, within the Christian Science religion, there is a movement which maintains confidential instruction to augment the general teachings, only given to advanced students or those who wish to become Christian Science practitioners. (Statement of Prof. Wilson) Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only individuals meeting certain qualifications are admitted to special religious ritual ceremonies or may have access to certain sacred writings. Some Pentecostal groups only disclose the full significance of their teaching and practice of “the gifts of the Spirit” at special services, and not at those attended by non-Pentecostals. Within Judaism, there is also a teaching known as the Kabbalah, which arises from the tradition of Jewish mysticism. The mystical content of traditional Kabbalah (as contrasted with the popular movement arising from similar teachings) is only revealed to this day to individuals who have undergone rigorous religious studies. (Statement of Prof. Wilson)
Certain Buddhist schools also maintain separate teachings. The Tantric Buddhists distinguish between those who are initiated and those who are uninitiated and their teachings are divided into esoteric and exoteric matters. Ritual initiation is required to be permitted participation in the esoteric parts of the religion, such as spiritual training, sacred mantras, dance gestures and occult rituals necessary for salvation. (Statement of Prof. Wilson; Statement of Prof. Bryant) And one Japanese Buddhist sect considers exoteric rituals inferior because only the secret teachings reveal the ultimate truths of the cosmos. (Statement of Prof. Kliever)
Similarly, Hindus have regarded much of the sacred Vedic literature as secret. Historically, specific punishments were stipulated under Hindu law for those who recited the sacred texts to those who were not eligible to hear them. The texts were reserved for those of sufficient spiritual maturity. (Statement of Prof. David Kinsley)
The Scientology religion is similar to these other world religions in its use and treatment of scripture and teachings. The confidentiality of these higher levels of the Scientology religion defines the religious group, protects the religious knowledge and rituals from profanation by outsiders, and is reserved for those who have advanced in the study of Scientology enough to understand, use and benefit from the sacred knowledge. (Statement of Prof. Kliever; Statement of Prof. Wilson) Confidential teachings and scripture firmly have their place in religious tradition. As noted by Prof. Bryan Wilson:
The concept of the esoteric in religion may, in a democratic age, evoke unwarranted assumptions concerning the content of undisclosed teachings. In practice, religious systems which maintain a distinction between freely published and reserved doctrines conform to a broad educational principle of not exposing to advanced ideas those who have not yet demonstrated their mastery of elementary principles. The distinction seeks to avoid the circumstance in which those new in faith acquire ill-digested ideas before they have mastered the necessary groundwork to perceive them properly and to accord them appropriate respect.
As Rev. Kelley articulated in his statement, Scientology is certainly not alone in requiring that its parishioners master earlier, exoteric religious knowledge before they proceed to study the confidential upper-level materials, nor is it inconsistent with the religious content of the materials that the students are charged for their studies:
[A]s students pay tuition for advanced degrees, and universities depend upon those payments to support their faculty, so religions may arrange a sequence of spiritual advancement by gradations from one level of insight to the next. As one cannot comprehend the calculus without a foundation of arithmetic, geometry and algebra, so there are prerequisites in the realm of religion as well. I could not become a full-time professional pastor in the Methodist Church until I had been ordained an elder. I could not be ordained an elder until I had been ordained a deacon. I could not be ordained a deacon until I had completed two years of seminary, nor an elder until I had completed three. There are apprenticeships and progressions in all fields of serious human endeavor, and religion is no exception. It is not irreligious to require their sequential attainment and to protect against their being divulged without the necessary preparation.
The fact is that many religions engage in the belief and practice of maintaining certain parts of their liturgy, beliefs, mysteries, rituals and practices as confidential or secret. Such practices are an important part of the paramount rights of religions, recognized in the constitutions of civilized countries around the world and in international human rights instruments, to maintain their own beliefs as they see fit, free from government interference.
The European Court of Human Rights emphasized the right of religions to be free from arbitrary government interference. In its April 2007 decision in Church of Scientology Moscow v. Russia, the Human Rights Court determined that:
[T]he right of believers to freedom of religion, which includes the right to manifest one’s religion in community with others, encompasses the expectation that believers will be allowed to associate freely, without arbitrary State intervention. Indeed, the autonomous existence of religious communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society and is thus an issue at the very heart of the protection which Article 9 affords. The State’s duty of neutrality and impartiality, as defined in the Court’s case law, is incompatible with any power on the State’s part to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs.
The path to spiritual salvation in Scientology is described in the written and recorded words of Mr. Hubbard and is delineated in a series of steps to be taken known as “The Bridge to Total Freedom.” The vast majority of these rich and complex religious materials that comprise the Scientology religion are accessible to everyone. These materials are readily available in Churches and missions of Scientology, on the Church of Scientology website, in public libraries and in bookstores.
As with many other religious traditions, a small portion of the Scientology Scripture constitutes the advanced materials accessible only to parishioners who have spiritually progressed through prior stages of Scientology religious teachings and practices and who have achieved mastery over these stages, thereby becoming eligible for initiation into the higher religious levels.
As detailed above, some of the foremost religious scholars have examined Scientology beliefs regarding its confidential teachings and Scripture and have unanimously concurred that the maintenance of confidential Scripture by the Church of Scientology derives from, and conforms to, historical religious traditions. “While descriptions of the spiritual worldview of Scientology are readily available to insiders and outsiders alike in a vast number of publications, the means and meaning of achieving the higher levels of auditing and training are reserved for advanced students of Scientology.” (Statement of Prof. Kliever)
Although Scientology follows in the tradition of religions predating Christianity by 2,000 years, Scientology is a truly unique contemporary religion—the only major religion to emerge in the 20th century and flourish in the 21st.