Scientology: From Engrams to Axioms

Scientology: From Engrams to Axioms

A few years ago, Tom Cruise was hopping on couches professing his love for actress Katie Holmes; this stunt, however, was not the only gossip generator for the famous actor. In 2008, Cruise took part in an interview pertaining his religious beliefs and convictions. The public announcement of affiliation with the religion generated quite a bit of hype in the tabloids and media alike. However, hullaballoo over this religion certainly has existed far before such hysterical celebrities. In 1952, the former science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard declared Dianetics, “the discovery of the self” a religion. Claiming a growth rate of 4.4 million annually,[1] this religion has been referred to as “the most vital movement on Earth today.”[2] Unlike other religions, this “study of truth,”[3] prides itself on its scientific foundations, its extensive social theory and its therapeutic nature. This “religious philosophy,” intends on creating, “a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war,” a dianetically based world “where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.”[4] Its followers desire to pursue truth, to scientifically understand the mind and human anatomy, and to make, “the individual capable of living a better life in his own estimation and with his fellows.”[5] This religion is Scientology. Throughout this religious philosophy, there are several key concepts in Scientology that any researcher of the religion should know, the first of which being the Dynamic Principle of Existence.

            At the very heart and soul of Scientology lie the axioms, the very rules that dictate our existence; these axioms, or guiding truths, are built on the most fundamental of all the axioms, said by Hubbard to be the “lowest common denominator of the finite universe.” Otherwise known as the Dynamic Principle of Existence, the first axiom states the purpose of all organism simply – “Survive!”[6] Scientology claims that within both animals and humans resides an impulsive instinct to survive. This primary axiom is broken down into 4 sub-dynamics, the first being the Personal Dynamic. This dynamic pertains to everything an organism does to preserve the self, such as eating or sleeping. The second is the Sexual Dynamic, the assurance of an organism’s survival through procreation. The third is the Group Dynamic, the larger community or body the organism is a part of. It is the organism’s obligation to pursue “coexistence, efficiency, and survival in a group setting.”[7] The fourth and final dynamic is the Mankind Dynamic, the dynamic which “embraces the survival of the species.” As humans grow, however, their complexity grows with them, meaning this Dynamic Principle also increase in complexity.[8] An example of the complexity is the necessity of Conflict and Affinity. Both conflict and affinity can serve as means of ensuring survival of a race of organisms. L. Ron Hubbard states that, “Conflict among species and individuals within the species is…a survival factor.”[9] At a glance, conflict of organisms potentially results in death, suggesting that conflicts correlation to survival is bogus; on the contrary, conflict serves as a way of addressing what is “immoral,” or what is “illogical,” and purging it, ensuring the prolonged existence of what is “moral,” and what is “logical,” – ultimate survival. Cohesion and coexistence, pursuit of effective Group Dynamic, are certainly valued over conflict; in fact, the Scientologist believes that, “affinity of individuals for groups, races and the whole of its species, and for other species, is additionally a survival factor, as strong as or stronger than conflict.”[10] Such tranquility and affinity in life is ranked high in the books of Hubbard, as well as on the Tonal Scale.

The innate value of choices organisms make are determined – scored – according to the axioms. The Tonal Scale is a chart used to rank “the general condition of an individual,” and the choices he or she makes. [11] In Hubbard’s earlier works, the tonal scale was a 0-4 rating system, where 0 was death, 0-1 was apathy and despair, 1-2 was anger, 2-3 was ambivalence, and 4 was affinity. All facets of an organism’s thoughts and actions can be ranked on the tonal scale, including an organism’s logic and morality. In obedience to the third axiom, human logic and intuition are to be utilized for the purpose of survival.[12] Logic, in the scientological world, is certainly not subjectively defined; rather the “logic” of an organism’s rationality is determined by its contribution to survival. True “logic” would not only better the individual’s personal dynamic, but it also would enrich the other three dynamics in their life as well. Thus, a logical individual would score towards in the upper echelons of the scale, whereas the illogical would score in the lower. In the same sense, morality and ethics fall under the same definition. What is seen as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ in life depends on their obedience to survival. What is good and what is pleasurable usually correlate with obedience to the pursuit of the Dynamic Principle, the individual’s basic dynamic.  What is ‘good’ “may be defined as constructive,” a higher tone, enabling the dynamic thrust of the individual; what is ‘evil’ hinders the individual’s progress, a lower tone, otherwise “defined as destructive.”[13] Thus, the high tonal pursuits in life are considered to be moral, while actions impinging on the survival of others and the self are of a lower tonal score – immoral. In Hubbard’s later works, there are tones lower than 0. An organism with a negative tonal score implies the organism may be insane, not only incapable of surviving in the current environment but a contingent threat to the organisms around them. Such low scores on the tonal scale imply that the organism is being acted on by inner turbulence in the brain: engrams.

Engrams are painful memories or thoughts that keep the individual from being in the ideal state, endowing the afflicted with a lower tonal score. Embedded in the subconscious, Engrams have the ability to hinder analytic scanning of the brain, not only leaving an individual helpless to them but potentially useless in an environment. Not only that, but engrams can sequentially compile to form engram chains, rooted even deeper in the recesses of the mind. On their own, such chains may be impossible to uproot. Hubbard states that engram chains can be “severely painful or severely threatening to the survival of the organism,” and could potentially lead to the formation of an aberration, a bad deviance from the Dynamic Principle.[14] When an individual is suffering from an aberration, he is no longer capable of functioning in his current environment. These aberrations, according to Hubbard, deteriorate the analytic mind and can cause negative responses upon perceiving a stimuli related to a particular engram; an organism, seeing a man walking with a cane, may be instilled with fear from a time being beaten with a cane.[15] Needless to say, Hubbard claims there is a dire need for engrams to be dealt with, necessitating a service known as “clearing.”

With the potential danger of the analytical mind being distorted, the organism needs to be regularly cleared of engrams and aberrations in order to maintain a healthy dynamic. When an organism is either consciously or subconsciously presented with an engram, there are four possible responses: attack it, avoid it, neglect it, or succumb to it.[16] If the organism does not confront the engram, the organism may find it hard to effectively cope with it. The remedy for this dilemma is called the “clearing.” The preclear, an individual struggling with an aberration, seeks a session with an auditor, a sort of therapist. The auditor is one who assists in the removal of engrams, a process known as auditing.[17] As one responsible for the cleansing of an individual’s mind, the Auditor has a strict code to follow, one that “is nearly Christlike.” This code demands several ‘good’ characteristics, such as confidence, kindness, cleanliness, and patience. In addition to an overall high tonal demeanor, the Auditor himself must be cleared of potentially influential engrams and aberrations. The Auditor must also, when clearing someone of the opposite gender, be cautious of any potential attraction, as this would be a violation of the Auditor’s code. Failure to abide by this code will “cause trouble to the auditor, will considerably lengthen and disturb his work and may endanger the preclear.”[18] The preclear, through a series of questions and provoking reflection – like a counseling session – is led into the recesses of the mind to find the engram or engram chain behind the aberration. Upon encountering the engram, the preclear may react irrationally, as often times engrams may manifest in aggressive attitudes of the preclear, lashing out at the Auditor.[19]Once the engram has been therapeutically removed, the preclear is able to continue living a life in dynamic pursuit unhindered by that engram. In the case of the engram chain, however, the Auditor applies a threefold approach. Firstly, the Auditor must target the “basic of the chain.” This basic engram, however, cannot be lifted until the origin of the engram can be recollected by the preclear. Finally, if all else fails, recounting is applied, where the preclear retells the story of their discomfort repeatedly. The auditor, throughout the retelling of the story, listens for new nuances and details that were not included in the first story, allowing the auditor to better target the basic engram of the chain. Once the engram chain has been uprooted, the now enlightened post clear can carry on his life in obedience to the axioms.

Scientology, the greatest self-help religion, capitalizes on science to the highest degree, turning a philosophy into a world-wide religion. From engrams to axioms, Scientology bombards the fledgling believer with a slew of literature filled with high-brow vocabulary – a deceptive trait implying a “legitimate” claim. Throughout Hubbard’s work, there certainly are apparently astute observations that would certainly catch a newcomer’s eye; however, with scandals, conspiracies and scam accusations, it is a miracle the numbers of new “believers” is as high as it is.[20] Either way, Scientology has proven it does not need an ardent follower to jump on a couch to keep it in the spotlight. For now, Scientology is here to stay.




[1] What is Scientology?

[2] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 3

[3] What is Scientology?

[4] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 3

[5] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals, 103

[6] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 25

[7] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 17

[8] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 17

[9] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 17

[10] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 17

[11] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 254

[12] According to Hubbard, “The purpose of the mind is to solve problems relating to survival.” L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 9

[13] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 13

[14] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 43

[15] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 54

[16] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Original Thesis, 67

[17] L. Ron Hubbard, The Dynamics of Life, 59

[18] L. Ron Hubbard, The Dynamics of Life, 55

[19] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8: The Book of Basics, 71

[20] David S. Touretzky, The Secrets of Scientology

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