My main philosophical realization in life is that I am ultimately responsible for all my experiences.
It is one thing to realize this and another to live it. I got to live that realization after I completed the spiritual level called OT 8 in Scientology.
I will relate here how I came to that conclusion in life by first taking you through a quick overview of the levels of Scientology as taught by L. Ron Hubbard. Then I will give my own understanding of these spiritual levels and why they gave me great personal gains. My understanding of why they work is quite different from reasons given in Scientology.
The spiritual levels of Scientology are lined up one after the other on what is termed “The Bridge to Total Freedom”.
The lowest part of the Bridge comprises some fundamental introductory levels that starts with cleaning up the body through a vitamin and sauna regimen called the Purification Rundown. Then you start the mental and spiritual counseling through levels that seek to help you get more focused in present time, get rid of the mental after-effects of drugs, and improving your memory through exercises in recalling past moments.
Then you start the Grades; Grade 0 releases a person to become free on the subject of communication. Grade 1 releases a person on the subject of problems. Grade 2 cleans up bad conscience. Grade 3 tackles your past losses while Grade 4 rids you of fixed ideas that hampers your life.
When I had done the Grades, I felt really alive – light and unhindered in life.
After the grades, you get to tackle the Reactive Mind as delineated by Hubbard in the book that started it all – Dianetics. Past trauma are inspected to the point where such dramatic experiences no longer have power over you – leaving you at a state called “Clear”.
From the bottom of the Bridge up through Clear, you receive counseling (called “auditing” in Scientology) by a trained counselor (auditor). After the state of Clear, you embark upon a set of three levels where you do the auditing by yourself – solo auditing. You get prepared and trained to start on the first of the OT levels. OT stands for “Operating Thetan” – it is where the Thetan (the spirit, the individual, the core of self) learns how to operate as a spiritual being. The goal as laid out by LRH is a being that can operate freely, independent of a body and with full spiritual powers.
On OT 1 you learn that you are able to positively affect others at a distance by cleaning up issues others have with you.
On OT 2 you run out “mental charge” (issues, tension) that you have on a large set of dichotomies such as “I should create – I shouldn’t create” or “I do remember – I don’t remember”. You run out any charge on these until any such mental tension is flat or gone.
Then you start on the (in)famous OT 3. Each of the OT levels 1-3 have two parts – one theory part where you learn the background and procedures, and the other part where you do the procedures as solo auditing. The OT 3 theory is the most ridiculed part of the Scientology teachings. This is where LRH tells the story of 75 million years ago when the galactic overlord “Xenu” gathered billions of people from overpopulated planets, shipping them to earth and blowing them up with nuclear bombs in volcanoes. Then the spirits of these poor people were “implanted” (brainwashed) with images and dichotomies and mental issues. Most became so degraded that they could no longer operate a body and instead sticking to other beings that were capable of running bodies. These degraded beings, called “body thetans” by Hubbard thusly infest every person on earth today. That includes you – until you have completed OT 7 where you rid yourself of the last infesting body thetan. It is not a new concept that people are possessed by lesser spirits, and are in need of exorcism techniques in order to become clean.
Originally LRH thought that completing OT 3 would leave a person free of lesser entities (body thetans). Before the early 80′s those who had completed OT 3 would go on to the old OT levels 4-7 where they would start practicing spiritual abilities such as telepathy and exteriorization (the spirit going outside the body). But Hubbard got the realization that OT 3 was not the end-all of infesting entities. Many were so dormant and hard to contact that they needed other techniques in order to wake them up and make them free to fly off and take on a body of their own (if they so wish). The old OT levels simply vanished from the Bridge without any explanation.
On OT 4 you wake up and run out/off body thetans that are dormant and buried under old effects of drugs.
On OT 5 you get to learn a whole new technique where you contact the most dormant of beings, wake them up, ask “What are you?” until they give you the answer to “what” they are being (can be anything from “an arm” or “an idea” to “the Sun” or “a shy being”). Then you ask them “Who are you?” until they get the epiphany that they are themselves (answering “me” to the question).
OT 4 and 5 are not run solo. You are given these two levels in a session with an auditor running the processes on you and you run them on each being that you contact.
On OT 6 you learn how to do the OT 5 techniques solo so you can run out the remaining body thetans yourself in solo sessions. Hubbard teaches that a Clear can still get mental issues – but these issues are served him by body thetans that themselves are not Clear.
Most people spend a few years with 4-6 solo auditing sessions every day to exorcise the remaining spirits attached to them. When there are no more to be found, you are given a thorough check to verify that you are indeed complete, and you are allowed to attest as an OT 7 completion. Then you are off to the Caribbean to do OT 8 on board the Scientology ship Freewinds.
OT 8 is the highest spiritual level delivered in the Church of Scientology. There are rumored to be more OT levels above, but that remains speculation.
OT 8 is a short level, usually taking about a week to complete. In the theory part you learn that many of your memories of past lives that has come up in earlier auditing sessions are in fact not your memories. Most are memories served to you by body thetans having had those experiences. On OT 8 you do an auditing procedure that let you sift out which past life memories are yours and which are from other beings. The end result is that you learn who you have not been and that you are ready to learn who you have been (presumably on the next level or so).
There you have it – a quick introduction to the Scientology Bridge to Total Freedom as taught by L. Ron Hubbard.
My own view is this:
The lower Bridge up to Clear runs nicely and for the reasons Hubbard gives. When one is Clear, one stops creating, in present time, past trauma. By not continually creating such mental issues, you are no longer the adverse effect of those dramatic experiences.
OT 1 runs as taught and for the reasons given in the theory. OT 2 resolves a person’s hang-ups on dichotomies in life. I do not care if the theory behind it about past life implants are correct or not. What I know is that I became very relaxed about contending thoughts and ideas in life.
I do not believe the OT 3 theory to be correct, or that one is in fact running out separate beings (body thetans) on OT 3-7. I believe what you run out is your own past viewpoints that you no longer take responsibility for. I believe that everyone have old viewpoints or roles that one is in present time distancing oneself from. By continually creating those viewpoints and separating them from oneself, one becomes less whole as a being. The solution is to take full responsibility for all one’s viewpoints and roles and retain those which serves one well in present time. When one asks the question “Who are you?” to such a viewpoint on OT 5-7, one is seeking to realize that the viewpoint is in fact oneself – hence one answers “me” to the question. It is not a “me” from another person that answers the question, it is one’s own realization that the viewpoint is “me”. One’s old viewpoints comes under one’s own control and responsibility.
That one is not running out and blowing off thousands of separate beings solves the conundrum that there are no verified records of any body thetans having shown up later in a body and continuing his spiritual journey in Scientology.
What puzzled me for a while was how OT 8 could fit into the picture. Running OT 3-7 gave me huge personal gains. OT 8 gave me the biggest gains of all, so what was one actually doing on that level if there were no separate beings being run on the previous levels?
That mystery was solved with a bang one day when I sat in a restaurant with Anette discussing the death of her father. I suddenly realized what happened on OT 8; I was detaching myself from my past. I was no longer creating my past in present time. It wasn’t that most of my past was someone else’s – it was that none of my past memories are me here and now. I am no longer defined by my past. I am me and only me, taking full responsibility for my creations and my experiences. No blame, shame or regret.
In closing I would like to add that I believe all of this is placebo at a fundamental level, and that Alan Watts was right when he said that you should simply “get off it”. I believe any path that a person could trust to help him become fully responsible, is a valid one – be it Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Islam, atheism, quantum physics, Christianity or worshiping your old cheese. I further believe that the best placebo is the one that most people would trust as effective – and I believe that to be a simple procedure that asks the person to inspect what he is creating here in present time – to spot it and to take full responsibility for that creation.