The actions of individual people and groups derive from different motivations. At the lowest end of the spectrum is biological urges such as the desire for food, water, sleep, rest and sex. Nobody really needs to "decide" to want to eat or sleep. These motivations are not based upon decisions or beliefs about anything. At the other end of the spectrum are actions based upon beliefs, ideas, values or ideals. In one sense this is a version of the traditional body-mind dichotomy. You get up and make a sandwich because you are hungry. You get up, make a sign, paint on a slogan, take an early-morning bus to a location forty miles away, and march in protest against something or another. See that difference? The second action is because of the person's beliefs, ideals, values or ideas. When trying to examine actions and behavior, of anybody, it is a good idea to keep that in mind.
When it comes to understanding WHY people do things, it is often necessary to examine their beliefs. The motivation lies within the set of ideas they have about something. For example, here are some basic beliefs of a Muslim terrorist fanatic:
1) Allah is the ruler of the world and the Universe; his instructions are Eternal Truth and must be followed exactly.
2) Allah states that all Muslims must fight a Holy War against Satan; the entire western civilization is ruled and controlled by Satan.
3) Satan is evil, against all of Allah's Good, and must be destroyed in all of His manifestations.
4) A Soldier of Allah is guaranteed to go to Heaven, a place of amazing lushness and beauty, where he can eat, drink and have sex with beautiful women for all eternity, IF the Soldier of Allah dies while fighting the Holy War against Satan..
These ideas, which in this case, are not based on ANYTHING ever observed or experienced, are believed completely, without restrictions or qualifications. The ideas derive from and exist ONLY in a person's mind. They are not based on ANYTHING except what he has read, studied or others have told him. In other words, even though these ideas can NEVER be verified or proven in any form whatsoever, they are accepted and asserted absolutely. The above ideas, when put together in a very fundamentalist, rigid sort of way are what enable a sixteen-year old, wide-eyed Al Q'aeda recruit to tie ten pounds of plastic explosives around his waist and blow up a bus full of Israeli students. It is impossible to understand the boy's behavior UNLESS you understand the ideas and beliefs that underlie his decisions.
Beliefs must be analyzed for many types of behaviors to be understood. The key aspect of fanatics though is that they accept and assert their ideas completely, without qualification, without tempering, absolutely, and they place their IDEAS on a pedestal, forever failing to question or examine the legitimacy of these ideas. In fact, when actual facts come along and confront them, that are contradictory to or dispute with any of their beliefs, they cannot even see them. Their ideas are accepted and asserted so rigidly and severely, with such force, that they actually perceive the world differently than others. They see a different reality. They truly live in a different world. THAT is why they do what they do. Interestingly, Hubbard explains this quite well in his talks and writings on the subject of the "Fixed Idea". But also, unbeknownst to most Scientologists, Hubbard was busily INSTILLING fresh (Scientologically-based) fixed ideas into your little heads.
Scientologists exhibit extreme behavior at times, and these behaviors can only be understood by a close examination of 1) their firmly held beliefs, and 2) how these beliefs connect up together and are used to justify certain actions. Simply, the die-hard Scientologist (Sea org member) also lives in a very different world - because they often perceive and experience it differently than most other people. These beliefs are delineated and discusssed in this thread.
Introduction to Scientology Beliefs
There are a few basic beliefs held by most Scientologists. But more importantly, these basic beliefs are always firmly held by senior organization staff members. Without understanding these basic beliefs it is impossible to truly grasp the context within which the staff members and public of the Church of Scientology operate. To get a firm hold on just how the Church leaders view reality and subsequently why they do what they do the reader must arrive at a clear understanding of these basic Scientology beliefs. These are the bricks that form the foundation of the entire Scientology edifice.
Interestingly, these beliefs might even be valid. That is not the point. The point is how they use these ideas to justify some of their more questionable actions. The point is how these ideas open the door to an absolutism and fanaticism of a type not known to most other people.
Note: It is possible that certain high placed leaders do not actually believe these things, but simply use these beliefs to control those under them. I have no evidence about this one way or another. If this is the case though, then some of their actions are even worse because they are knowingly using the sincere religious beliefs of others to manipulate their behavior. Regardless of what the top leaders believe the staff and public are controlled via these beliefs whether it is intentional manipulation or not. Without firmly holding and asserting these beliefs Scientologists couldn't and wouldn't do some of the things they do such as pay so much money, work such long hours, attack critics so viciously, lie, spread disinformation, and run such a tightly rigid thought-control operation within the Church.
You can only understand how any group of people behaves when you get to know what makes them tick. What makes them tick is solely determined by their belief system, and especially by their basic beliefs about reality and themselves in relation to this reality. Read an essay on belief systems and how a person's belief system affects his or her perception and experience of reality.
It should be noted that there is actually nothing "wrong" with many of these Scientology beliefs, though they are a bit severe by many people's standards. The problem with Scientology, and with any group that pushes the envelope of rational behavior, is what they DO WITH THEIR BELIEFS. How do they USE their beliefs to justify behavior that harms others? How are these these beliefs USED to justify suppressing free speech? How are these beliefs USED to justify blatant lying and misrepresentations of facts?
As an example, many millions of people have believed and practiced Christian beliefs throughout the ages, and most of them never harmed a fly in the name of their religion. But there was that small segment, having exactly the same beliefs, who tortured and murdered because of the severity with which they interpreted their beliefs. The friendly Christian neighbors down the street who are the nicest people one can meet have pretty much the same beliefs as those more rigid Christians who burned witches and tortured heretics. What is it that determines how one or the other ACTS upon their beliefs? How does the fanatic torturer stress the ideas differently, connect them up and give certain ideas exaggerated importance? It is this difference, how the fanatic transforms the same ideas into destructive actions, that must be taken into consideration. The ideas and beliefs are usually not harmful in themselves - it is what the fanatic does with them that makes them harmful.
A fanatic tends to interpret ideas absolutely and usually is unwilling to mitigate the fundamentalist meanings that permit him to walk the path of severity, harm and destruction of others. Simply, the fanatic justifies his severe ACTIONS through his unwillingness to compromise his rigid ideas. Scientology has a similar fanatical side to it. There is a ruthlessly persistent and dedicatedly determined aspect to Scientology that is utterly unwilling to and incapable of compromise. Part of the problem with Scientology though is that the fanaticism is largely built right into the dogma of Scientology. It is difficult to separate the two. It might be impossible for an "exact and accurate rendition" of Scientology, as the subject materials of L. Ron Hubbard currently exist, to lead to anything other than fanaticism.
In Scientology, most public and staff members do not harm anybody. Most of them would consider the idea abhorrent. But, as with Christianity, there is the small, secretive, elite section within the Sea Organization that does viciously instigate harm to others as a routine behavior. These activities are successfully kept hidden from or misrepresented to the majority of the not-so-fanatical Scientologists, though granted, most people would consider almost any Scientologist's behavior at least somewhat tinged with some fanaticism after reading through this section and understanding their beliefs. But also, severe restrictions on free speech and free access to information occur throughout the entire Scientology organization as a matter of routine and this is nothing but due to the fanatical side.
Certain actions of the Church of Scientology are highly questionable. These are described in detail elsewhere. The best way to understand any person's or group's actions is to understand what they believe. It is their ideas, their strictly held opinions, their beliefs held with conviction, that determine their responses to situations and decisions to act. You will better understand WHY they do what they do once you understand what makes them tick - their belief structure.
In Scientology all beliefs, assertions, agreements AND actions stem from the writings and taped audio lectures of L. Ron Hubbard. An examination of what L. Ron Hubbard instructs along certain lines proves very enlightening. Hubbard left very specific instructions on what to think and believe in all sorts of situations. Hubbard's instructions form the foundation of all beliefs and actions in Scientology. If it's believed, Hubbard said to believe it. If it's studied, Hubbard said to study it. If it's done, Hubbard said to do it. If it's not done, Hubbard said not to do it. Nothing is accidental in Scientology. Everything stems from Hubbard's very exact instructions. That is the FIRST thing the reader needs to understand. Severe control is taken to unimagined new heights by Hubbard in micromanaging every aspect of Scientology reality.
While Hubbard's information and instructions can often be very helpful for an individual person learning about life, trying to improve life's conditions or becoming more successful, this same information can be used quite destructively and harmfully when used by the organized Church in it's attempt to "win", "expand", "clear the planet", and defeat its real or imagined "enemies". Also, there are specific bodies of information for the self-help aspect of Scientology and separately unique bodies of information, often hidden and confidential from regular members, for dealing with critics, enemies, belief manipulation and opinion molding. The Office of Special Affairs (OSA) is an extremely secretive "intelligence-type" outfit, and it has secretive policies and often conducts very nasty activities, which are very much hidden from the rest of the staff and public.
The beliefs mentioned throughout the posts here form the basis of the Scientology belief edifice. This examination has no "slant". These are the beliefs most Scientologists accept and assert. Hubbard wrote them clearly. If anyone tells you any different, they are lying (probably for some PR reason). That is what they do. If they deny this or argue that people shouldn't examine their beliefs, then they are trying to skirt around the issue. The official Church of Scientology is notorious for not tolerating any examination or investigation of their policies or actions that they don't fully control or approve. In fact, it is impossible to get any critical view about Scientology from any Scientologist because of the following policy by Hubbard:
"10. This group refuses to speak ill of Scientology or criticize it to outsiders.
11. This group will not talk about Scientology to members of the press."
(HCO PL 20 October 1961RB NON-SCIENTOLOGY STAFF)
The only way anybody can ever gain factual objective information about the Church is by contacting and communicating with people "outside" of the Church. The Church of Scientology will never discuss itself with anyone, by strict Church policy. The Church of Scientology will never allow any of its members to discuss Scientology with anyone, by strict Church policy. As seen in the past posts of this thread, the Church of Scientology takes its policies very seriously.