OT Abilities, continued…
Wow, that’s a hot topic! Over 500 comments.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed their opinions and viewpoints. And I mean that sincerely. And thanks even to those of you who have contributed your viewpoint over and over and over again! (LOL) Please, keep posting, either on the earlier thread or on this one.
People sometimes give me grief for allowing anyone to post any opinion here, including (gasp!) “entheta.” But as I believe and have said many times, you only learn from people who disagree with you. And I’ve personally learned a lot from this thread.
There are also those who believe that Scientologists, particularly those newly out of the Church, should be shielded from certain opinions, that they should have “safe” places to go where they won’t be subjected to the rough-and-tumble of open discourse. I guess I have more faith in people’s ability to reason and in their ability to tolerate those with different opinions, communicate with them, and hold their own.
The discussion has been amazingly civil. I may have let a few ad hominem posts through – with the volume of replies, I haven’t been able to check everything. So if you got your feathers ruffled, my apologies.
A couple of points:
1. Religion vs. Business: One of the most interesting comments was made not on the blog but in a private phone conversation with a friend. He pointed out that Scientology has to decide which model it is going to operate on, as a gnostic religion or as a business.
The word gnostic refers to inner spiritual knowledge. It’s a different kind of knowledge than, for instance, “I know there’s a Pizza Hut down on 82nd Street.” A Scientologist who exteriorizes, or, for that matter, a native American shaman who “sends his spirit over the plains,” or an Indian guru who “leaves his body and visits the spirit world” are all forms of inner spiritual knowledge, or gnosis. You can’t prove it happened, you can’t prove it didn’t happen. You can believe them, you can disbelieve them, you can say they are crazy, deluded, inspired or whatever.
I mentioned in my first post some of my own somewhat supernatural experiences. I couldn’t prove those things happened. But then I am not really trying to convince anyone of anything, so it really does not matter to me if people believe it or not – it is of no consequence to me. It’s simply something I experienced.
Now if you move into the world of business, that’s different. If the shaman says “pay me for this special training course or session and I will teach you how you can send your spirit soaring over the plains.” That’s a different thing entirely. In that case, caveat emptor applies. The prospective customer, before they plunk down their hard-earned cash, would be well within their rights to say “prove it.” “Fly over the prairie and tell me what’s there and I’ll go verify it, and if it’s accurate, or even close, I’ll take your course.”
So when I hear the individual gnostic spiritual experiences of individual Scientologists (or anyone else for that matter), I say “good for you.” (Or “far out, man” as we used to say in the ‘60s.)
When I read these things in Church literature or magazines or books or lectures, I say, “Where’s the beef.” Because they are selling something. They are selling a series of levels, with an “ability gained” at each level. Well then, whether or not they can actually observably produce these abilities becomes very, very pertinent.
2. Redefining OT Abilities: A few posters tried to redefine “OT Ability” as any ability. Composing a symphony is an “OT Ability.” Painting a work of art is an “OT Ability.” Someone even suggested that picking up a cup of coffee with your hand is an “OT Ability” – I guess because the thetan controls the brain which sends the signals to the hand and so on.
Sure, we can celebrate ability. We can marvel at what great artists or writers can produce. We can marvel at the miracle of everyday things – someone cooking a great dinner or telling a good story.
But as I said in my original post, when you start calling anything and everything an “OT Ability,” then any discussion of whether or not “OT Abilities” exist becomes muddied. If OT Ability is defined as “any human ability,” then it’s easy to prove that “OT Abilities” exist. Duh.
No, the question is specifically “do Scientology’s OT Levels produce superior spiritual abilities in those who do them?”
3. Flying Teapots and Parlor Tricks: A few other posters tried to pooh-pooh the idea that “OT Ability” implies any sort of promise of paranormal ability. “Flying teapots and parlor tricks? Ha, ha! That’s just silly!” “That’s just people’s strange hidden standards!” “I personally never thought that such crazy stuff was real! Ha, ha, ha.” No, this person insists, OT isn’t about parlor tricks, it’s about living life, building a business, raising a family, doing better in life, playing better baseball, helping the community…
Really? I thought that’s what people took Life Improvement Courses for. Or a Comm Course. I didn’t know that was what people paid up to $500,000 for, and spent decades of their time going up through the OT Levels. Frankly, I don’t think anyone ever heard the phrase “Cause over matter, energy, space, time, life and thought, subjective and objective,” and thought it meant “running my business better.”
Added Note: This isn’t a reaction, by the way, to Thoughtful’s long article of the same name at Scientology-cult.com, which I haven’t had a chance to read fully and appears to be a much more nuanced and “thoughtful” argument. But somehow this “flying teapot and parlor tricks” meme has become a shorthand way to trivialize the discussion of paranormal abilities.
4. “Poor Jeff…”: Some people had the gall to make statements like, “Poor Jeff, he spent all that time in Scientology and never made it. He never made it to OT like the rest of us did. How sad. Too bad he had such strange hidden standards. Too bad he only wanted to levitate teapots. Poor guy.”
You don’t often see me lose my temper. I’m usually pretty easy going, so this is a rarity. My reply to this is as follows: “You can take all your condescending, sanctimonious ‘pity’ and shove it.”
OK, I’m over it.
But really. Number one, I didn’t have any “hidden standards.” What I expected from Scientology was exactly what Scientology said, in its books, in its lectures, in its magazines. Like most people coming in to Scientology, I read, I listened, I studied, and I got an idea from Scientology what they were offering. There was nothing “hidden” about it. Like most Scientologists, I expected what I was told to expect, nothing more, and nothing less. I expected what they promoted.
Did I get what was promised? Some of it. As Marty mentioned, I was promised a full glass and got half a glass. I would say my experience in Scientology was pretty typical, even above average. My experience was very much like the experience of many Scientologists. Some gains I got, some I didn’t. I’m not going to PR or hype my own experience, I have no reason to. I’ll level with you: I got half a glass. So did a lot of people. Some people only got a quarter of a glass. Some just got a bit of condensation.
Well, some people say, “you should be happy with the water you got.” Maybe so. But if you’re running a business (see point #1), and promising people a full glass of water, and you deliver half a glass, you’re going to have horrible PR, dissatisfied customers, high turnover, bad word of mouth, few new customers and legal troubles. Sound familiar?
5. You have to believe before you can see OT Abilities. Some have made the statement that you can only perceive OT Abilities if you believe in them. Those who are too spiritually unaware or low toned or dead-in-the-head just can’t see them. Therefore, if you can’t perceive them, you must be low toned or unaware or dead-in-the-head.
The only comment I’ll make about that is it sounds like a certain Emperor’s new wardrobe.