Alternative Religions (Scientology, Falun Gong)

Jennifer Jones WI Rel. 112, Amanda Hayden Extra Credit “Alternative Paths” (Chapter 11) Scientology The alternative religion I chose to reflect on is Scientology. This is a religion I’ve always wanted to know more about, it has its roots in Indian spirituality. I didn’t know that it was a fairly new religion founded in 1954 by a man named Ron L. Hubbard. He created this religion to help people understand the human process of knowing. The meaning of the name Scientology was interesting to me, scientia (meaning knowledge), and logos (meaning reason, understanding).

I like how this religion is dedicated to helping people see reality more clearly to respond to the world more rationally. Reading about the Church of Scientology I see that they believe everyone has a spiritual purpose in life. The thing that caught my eye as well is that they believe the core (soul) of the human being is in a state of imprisonment in the material world and that the core (soul) of each human being longs to be free. They believe in rebirth and living previous lives, which is similar to Indian teachings of karma and reincarnation.

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Scientology has a chart called the Bridge of Total Freedom that they use which are steps upward toward increased understanding, stages the individual can aspire . The person at the beginning is called pre-clear, and the person who has reached mental liberation, clear or operating thetan. I also like how they have auditors or (spiritual counselors) to help you on your path to mental liberation. They use a exercise of a series of questions and mental images to learn new ways of mental focusing. The auditors also use a e-meter, which is an electronic device that reads the skin response of an individual.

The responses of the e-meter help detect blockages that can then be resolved. I really like this idea I think everyone should have this done. There is a fee for this service and for advancing through the stages of the process. But they also accept service to the organization as a substitute for payment. What I like about the Church of Scientology is that it doesn’t discourage against other religions and that there religion can be practiced along with other religions. Falun Gong This religion, Falun Gong, is a very new religious movement. It was founded y Li Hongzhi in 1951, but was not publicly initiated in China until 1992. The movement grew out of Li’s interest in Qigong and meditative practices. Qigong (meaning energy force) is a system of exercises based on Chinese martial arts thought to bring health and strength. Falun Gong means, law-wheel energy. It is believed to be a spiritual wheel in the lower abdomen activated by a master. Once the wheel begins to turn it draws energy from the universe, then when it turns the opposite direction it sends that energy out in purified form bringing benefits to practitioner and to others.

The exercises closely relate to Daoist exercises and is associated with Chinese Buddhist monasticism. What got my attention about this religion is the exercises, because a lot of religions do not involve exercises. In the textbook pg. 506 2nd paragraph it says “People who perform the Falun Gong exercises believe that they gain not only health and strength but also paranormal powers, such as physical invulnerability and the power to see and hear things at a great distance. ” I haven’t heard of a religion where you exercise and get benefits quite like that.

I learn something new everyday. Falun Gong at the moment is banned in China but not in Hong Kong. Some see a fear of repeating history, there are several examples of religious groups that have destabilized governments. I don’t know much about the history of it, but it sounds like a religion that definitely benefits the body, but as far as governments I don’t know. If there has been a history of religious groups like this one destabilizing the government in China then I could see why they may be apprehensive about it. This was very informative.

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