Scientology, as a religious cult, upholds specific religious beliefs that are somewhat comparable to those practiced by other major religions. While Scientology owes much of its religious beliefs from Eastern religions, there are differences in how these beliefs are treated and taught.
Hubbard was largely influenced by the teachings of various holy men from Asia which he allegedly came in contact with during his journey in the region when he was young. When he was 19, according to his biography, he went as far as China, Tibet and India from 1927 to 1929 and came back to the United States with the teachings from the major religions from the East. He further claimed that while on a journey in these countries, he was taught by the holy men of Tibet in the remote, India, and China and was therefore introduced to the religious teachings of the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks, and Hindu pundits or priests. The last line of royal magicians to Kublai Khan further oriented him into their practices.
Having experienced all this, Hubbard came up with the following religious teachings:
– That man is a spiritual being that undergoes a lifetime after lifetime to attain a state called spiritual enlightenment. This enlightenment is the only path to understanding one’s Creator. This is very similar to the concept of reincarnation and nirvana of Hinduism. The idea of spiritual enlightenment is akin to that of the Bhodi of Buddhism.
Scientology treats reincarnation and past lives as definite systems not exclusive to Scientology. In fact, these are parts of the Scientology system but the religion itself does not fully ascribe to these teachings. For Scientologists, reincarnation is being born again in another body of different flesh and thus they believe that humans have lived many different lives. For them, the spirit is an immortal being that derives its perfection from living several different lives. However, these past lives are not called within the religion as reincarnations, these are merely called as past lives.
– That man is inherently good and that his salvation depends on himself alone as well as his relationship with others and the universe. Again this is predominant teaching in the East. Scientology claims that it is the religion that embodies the fullest sense of these teachings. According to scientology, in order to attain salvation, man has to fully rehabilitate his innate spiritual self – or the thetan in him, the individual life force inherent to each Scientologist that is – before he can rise to higher levels of spiritual awareness. The main goal of Scientology in this regard is to seek complete spiritual transformation – from a being trapped in a physical body to a spiritual being or thetan that has all the qualities of a godlike being.
– The concept of God in Scientology is somewhat different from the concepts observed by major religions such as Christianity and Islam. Being thetans with godlike qualities, Scientology teaches that each member can and will become gods with sufficient spiritual enlightenment and growth.