Monday, July 25, 2011

Scientology and Xenu the Alien

Julia and I presented our Minority Religions Project today. We did our religion on UFO religions, but just focused on the group of Scientology. I had always thought that Scientology was a religion for scientists about science…makes sense right? Well I learned a lot about what it truly is and how crazy it is. No offense directed to the followers, of course. This is all based off of various sources off the internet, not just one biased site.  You can believe whatever you want to believe.

I had first heard of Scientology through the South Park episode which surprisingly accurately portrayed Scientology. The religion was created by science-fiction write L. Ron Hubbard. He wrote a self help book called Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health which was designed to help alleve unwanted emotions, fears, and psychosomatic illnesses. It is the best selling self-help book of all time and has sold over 21 million copies. This book became so popular, and he had so many fans, that over time he created an entire faith. Soon, the Church of Scientology was created. Their scripture is Hubbard’s book.

This is the real story. This is what they believe. An audio is available online of Hubbard actually telling the story of Xenu: “the-history-of-xenu-as-explained-by-l-ron-hubbard-himself-in-8-minutes”. 

This information is not disclosed to the church's members, though, until they reach a certain rank in the religion. Okay so the most interesting part of the whole religion is the mythos. This is their actual serious belief: that 75,000,000 years ago, there was a galactic federation made up of 76 planets. The planets were severely overpopulated. An alien named Xenu was a leader of the federation and his idea to solve the population problem was to kidnap billions of people and put them on the planet Earth, which was then called Teegeeack. He used the excuse of income tax inspections to gather the people, then poisoned them to paralyze them and put them into aircrafts which resembled modern day airplanes, but with rocket motors. He then flew the people to Teegeeack and dropped them off near a volcano, and detonated bombs to kill the people. But each person contains a spirit called a theta, which can live outside the body. In order to keep the spirits on Earth, Xenu brainwashed the spirits and confused them. The spirits then wandered the planet until they found humans (probably the cavemen years later?). Xenu was banished to a desert planet where he lives to this day.

Scientologists believe in God, though there are no doctrines or scriptures of Him. God is the Eighth Dynamic, which is infinity. He is revealed personally through an individual by becoming steadily more and more spiritually aware. They believe that the only true essence of a human being is the soul, theta, and can leave the body but still control the body when a scientologist reaches the position of Operating Thetan. They can then control life, though, matter, energy, space and time, because they have become one with God, who is infinity. They believe that every being has a theta from a past life. Through auditing, a people can recollect past experiences to help identify past disturbances that are obstacles current and future happiness and spiritual enlightenment.
The Church of Scientology is greatly persecuted against. A group called Anonymous is a main critic group of Scientology. They protest in front of Scientologist churches and research facilities while wearing masks like those worn in the movie “V for Vendetta”, in order to protect their identity. The controversies around the church include: free speech violations—like trying to control the media when the audio of Hubbard on Xenu was released—and the infamous Tom Cruise video on Youtube; human rights violations, including suspicious deaths, torture, human trafficking, and deliberate separation of families; being a brainwashing cult; illegal actions such as harassment, slander, libel, and extortion of those who challenge, defy, or leave the Church of Scientology; and questionable tax exemptions and bogus educational and charitable organizations. Scientology courses are also known to be extremely costly, and many courses are needed to advance. These are all accusations made by critics of Scientology. Hubbard was actually investigated by the IRS, and found guilty of tax evasion, and was part of an investigation of stealing donations for the church, lying about putting it into Central American charities, and actually put the money in Swiss banks.

This is honestly the strangest religions I have ever heard of, and but I am glad that I had the chance to find out more about it, and share it with the class with the help of my partner, Julia.

Although Scientology is a strange religion, no religion makes my mind twist and turn more than Buddhism. I thought that Hinduism was a mind trip, but Buddhism is five times more intense. The most interesting idea of Buddhism is that you don’t exist and nothing around you exists. You and what you see is all an illusion by your spirit that is deluded into thinking it’s something it’s not. There is no you, no essence of you, and there is no self, because you are always constantly changing every moment. Therefore, the only true thing is the spirit. We also got into dreams and the subconscious which just freaked me out. If I believed in Buddhism and just suddenly realized that everything is a lie and an illusion and nothing, not even me, exists, I would be pretty depressed. But Buddhists find it liberating because it frees them from attachments, emotions, and passions.
Our activity tonight was supposed to be attending a local Tennessee baseball game at the Vandy baseball field, but the game location was switched to a faraway place. So my friend Kristen taught Julia and I and a few others how to knit, while we watched the cute movie: "The Iron Giant". Knitting is so much harder than it looks. My original plan was to knit a scarf, but the only knitting needles left at VSA are small ones, so a scarf is a bit over ambitious for the size of my needle. Because of the size and amount of difficulty there is in knitting, I changed from making a scarf to a versatile square that could possibly turn into a coaster? I am determined to get this knitting thing down, even though I had to start over 14 times, and am about to start over again when I am done typing this post.

We have to wake up early tomorrow for a field trip. Talk more about it in tomorrow’s post. Adios for now!

Oh, Holey Night!

This morning I was up relatively early preparing for our Minority Religions Project presentation. After refreshing my brain with the core beliefs and practices of Scientology, I met up with Aiyana and headed down to the Commons for a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs.

After displaying our poster and discussing the UFO religion with the class, we hurriedly moved on to a lecture about Buddhism, the last of the five major world religions we are studying.

I learned a handful of interesting aspects about this religion: the Eightfold Path, which is essentially the eight ethical principles one must follow in order to become enlightened, and the Middle Way, which is the Eightfold Path (the “direction” that requires man to neither torture himself nor overindulge—it is the balance between the two). I also learned an interesting Buddhist concept that “everything in the world is emptiness”, therefore, nothing exists; we are simply reflections of the people around us. It is a mind-boggling concept, but something very interesting to look into as well.

Another outing—a baseball game—was scheduled for our evening activity today. Unfortunately, the game was moved to a different venue that was not walking distance from our location (in another city), therefore we were given a couple of hours of free time instead to suffice for the cancellation.

A group of friends and I decided to take up knitting, so we spent those plentiful minutes learning how to master the art. We could not have made it through the tedious (only at the beginning) process without our friend Kristen. She is such a kind and patient person; she was more than happy to aid us through our frustration with unruly knots and confusing loops. Although my to-be scarf is a bit “holy” (props to Kristen, once again, for this pun!), I really enjoy knitting and now have something to occupy myself with on the long plane ride home in a few days.
I must rise bright and early tomorrow morning—we have a field trip scheduled to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, and we must arrive early to sit in on some morning prayers.

A Day in the Middle of Music City

Hard work and determination inspired me today showing two of its many faces in music and during breakfast. We had enjoyed breakfast at Fido’s (an former pet store) this morning with Ms. Bulls and our honored guest Mr. John Nesbitt. We discussed a lot about admissions and what it takes to get into a school like Vanderbilt; it’s not easy at all. We also discussed Vanderbilt’s financial aid policies like how Vandy is need blind, a no loan school, and promises to meet 15 of your need meaning one can go to Vanderbilt, after being accepted, virtually free. They also offer scholarships, yet they are extremely competitive according to Mr. Nesbitt. He also announced that our area was receiving a new counselor from Vanderbilt that we would be able to meet on Monday.
For our Recreational activity we ventured to the Country Music Hall of Fame where the work of many great musicians lay on display. Aside from learning about Country Music I asked myself what it would take to have a bronze sculpture, or an exhibit about my music. All the years, blood, sweat, and tears put into just one show multiplied by 100 at least.
And as we moved into our exploration of the city, Ret and I had found a Hard Rock CafĂ© bus carrying some of the greatest memorabilia ever seen. From Jimi Hendrix’s Guitar to the actual Michael Jackson “Beat it” jacket (with 11 zippers) to John Lennon’s jacket. I began to think of how far these individuals had come starting from the same point of every human being Birth, to having their clothing enshrined forever.
I don’t fully understand the qualities of gifted hard workers, but I do know that they love what they do. That lesson can be taken from anyone and everyone, to love what you do and make the best out of your situation.