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Scientology is a religion established by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953. The collection of beliefs and practices that make up Scientology are based on Dianetics, a self-help system that began as a mental health program.

Previously, Hubbard had been a prolific author of fantasy and science fiction stories, but he was also an amateur magician, hypnotist, and explorer. He was forty years old in 1950 when he wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which launched the mental health program that later reinvented itself as a religion.

In his book, Hubbard sought to discard everything that was ambiguous in religion and to remove all that was callous or without passion in science. Scientology is the religion, while Dianetics is a set of ideas and practices relating to the metaphysical relationships between mind and body.

It does not appear that Hubbard had intended to create a religion. Dianetics was designed to be an alternative to psychotherapy. The book sold very well, and the mental health program had several satisfied patients. As a business, however, it was less than successful, and Hubbard was facing bankruptcy within a year.

Hubbard started over, repackaging Dianetics as the spiritual science that he called Scientology. While preserving the terminology and practices of his mental health program, he began the process of having Scientology recognized as a religion. This occurred in 1993. Hubbard had died in January of 1986, but Scientology continued as a religion, largely through the Church of Scientology, but also in the form of several breakaway or spin-off groups that began as early as 1950, before Scientology was officially formed.

Although the Church of Scientology strongly objects to the splinter groups that have adopted Dianetics to their own purposes, Scientology doesn't require exclusivity from its members. Scientologists can study the courses offered by Scientology, and still be affiliated with another religious organization, such as Catholicism or Buddhism. Not all of the independent Scientology groups are religious in nature.

The study of Scientology is to be completed in sequence, with training materials made available to Scientologists according to their level of study. Higher level materials are not accessible to Scientologists until they reach that particular level.

Generally, Hubbard's view of Scientology was that man is a spirit that has a mind and occupies a body. As spirits, people have the ability to control their own mind and body.

God is the Supreme Being or the Eighth Dynamic. As the Eighth Dynamic, God is at the middle of man's universal survival. However, Hubbard did not impose his view of God on Scientologists. Many Scientologists avoid the use of words like "belief" or "faith" to describe the impact of Scientology on their lives. Rather, they believe that Scientology is based on verifiable science.

Scientologists believe that God helps those who help themselves, and that man has the answers to the mysteries of life. Scientology helps people to acquire the awareness of the answers. Hubbard taught that it is important for a man to think for himself, and that the truth is what one has observed for himself. Once the awareness of truth is lost, then everything is lost.

The goal of Dianetics is the state of Clear, which is a new state for the practitioner. A Scientologist is Clear when he loses his reactive mind and the ill effects that come from it. A Clear has strong individuality and creativity and can experience life without inhibitions.

The structure of practice in Scientology is known as the Bridge to Freedom. The levels are Pre-clear, Clear, and Operating Thetan. The entry stage is Pre-clear, where participants undergo auditing. After completing the auditing sessions, a practitioner becomes Clear or free of unwanted emotions. The final level of Practitioning Thetan is a spiritual state where the Scientologist is in control of his life, thought, matter, energy, space, and time.

While the goal of Dianetics is to achieve Clear, the goal of life is survival. There are eight divisions in the quest for survival, viewed as concentric circles with self in the middle. The others are family and sex, groups, mankind, all life forms, the physical universe, spirituality, and God.

Scientologists believe in reincarnation. They also believe that souls have lived on other planets before living on earth.

Scientologists believe that social problems are caused by imperfect thoughts, but that there are absolutely evil people who should be avoided. Such evil people are referred to as suppressive persons.

They believe that the practice of psychiatry is destructive, and should be abolished.

Rituals and ceremonies are secondary considerations for Scientologists.

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