Prof. Lonnie D. Kliever – The Religiosity and Confidentiality of Upper Level Auditing and Training Materials in The Church of Scientology


1. I received a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in Psychology from Hardin-Simmons University in 1955. I completed a Master of Divinity cum laude at Union Theological Seminary of New York in 1959. I received a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Philosophy from Duke University in 1963.

2. I have previously held full-time faculty appointments in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso from 1962-65 rising to the rank of Associate Professor, in the Department of Religion at Trinity University of San Antonio from 1965-69, in the department of Religious Studies at the University of Windsor of Ontario, Canada, from 1969-75 rising to the rank of Full Professor. Since 1973, I have held an appointment of Full Professor Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, serving as Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies from 1975-86 and from 1993 to present.

3. I am a long-time member in good standing of The American Association of University Professors, The American Academy of Religion, The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, The American Theological Society, The Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, The Canadian Theological Society, The Council on the Study of Religion and I have held national office, chaired professional committees or served on editorial boards in most of these professional societies.

4. I am a philosopher of religion and culture with special competence in the religions in the modern era. As such, I am primarily concerned with the changing forms of religious belief and practice in both mainline and newer religious movements as these older and newer religions respond to the challenges and changes of modern life. I regularly teach a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the comparative, philosophical and social scientific study of religion at Southern Methodist University. I also carry on a sustained program of scholarly research and publication in my area of specialization, having published five books dealing with modern religious thought entitled: Radical Christianity (1968), H. Richard Niebuhr (1977), The Shattered Spectrum (1981), The Terrible Meek: Essays on Religion and Revolution (1987), and Dax’s Case: Essays in Medical Ethics and Human Meaning (1989) as well as numerous articles in such leading scholarly journal as The Harvard Theological Review, The Journal of Religion, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Studies in Religion, Religion in Life, The Religious Studies Review, and The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

5. As a specialist in modern religions, I have conducted an extensive scholarly study of the Church of Scientology. I have read most of the major theoretical texts written and published by L. Ron Hubbard, reviewed many of the technical and administrative bulletins prepared by Mr. Hubbard and the administrative and ecclesiastical officers of the Church, and examined representative examples of the training manuals used by teachers and students in various courses offered by the Church. I have also read a number of journalistic and scholarly studies of the Church of Scientology. In addition, I have interviewed numerous practicing Scientologists, and visited their 46th Street Church and 82nd Street Celebrity Centre in New York City, their Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida, and their Celebrity Centre in Dallas.


6. Scholars of religion regularly mark a distinction between esoteric and exoteric elements of a religious tradition. Exoteric elements are those beliefs and practices which are readily known to insiders and outsiders alike. By contrast, the esoteric elements of a religious tradition are composed of knowledge and techniques which are restricted to an elite group of insiders. Often these distinctions between exoteric and esoteric correspond to a literal and symbolic interpretation or to a conventional and a mystical understanding of a given tradition’s scripture and rituals. Many religions embrace exoteric and esoteric elements, including the religion of Scientology.

The Dynamics of Human Existence:

7. Scientologists see human life bent on survival across eight “Dynamics” or purposes. They represent these eight interactive Dynamics as concentric circles, wherein the first Dynamic of individual existence is successively surrounded and sustained by more encompassing Dynamics of communal and spiritual existence. Thus, existence across each Dynamic participates in and points toward life’s ultimate spiritual origin and destiny. The First Dynamic is the urge toward survival through individual existence. The Second Dymanic toward survival through family life. The Third Dynamic toward survival through groups. The Fourth Dynamic toward survival through the human race. The Fifth Dynamic toward survival through all life forms. The Sixth Dynamic toward survival through the physical universe. The Seventh Dynamic toward survival through the spiritual universe. And the Eight Dynamic toward survival through a Supreme Being or as Infinity. Thus, while the first six Dynamics are primarily concerned with spiritual well-being in the everyday world, the Seventh and Eighth Dynamics tie these planes of everyday existence to spiritual dimensions of reality which radically transcend the everyday physical and social world.

8. Scientology’s Seventh Dynamic affirms a spiritual dimension of existence that radically transcends the physical body and the material world. As such, this view of man as a spiritual being has affinities with Hinduism’s imperishable Atman and Christianity’s immortal soul. For Scientology, the real person is not the body, much less the things used to adorn and extend bodily life. The real person is an inherently good spiritual being who uses the physical body and the material world. Scientologists call this immortal spiritual being the thetan. Ideally, when fully operating, the thetan has unlimited capacities of knowledge and power. However, the thetan cannot fully and freely operate “at cause” in this way until it has been liberated from the mental blocks and their harmful physical and psychological side-effects which have accrued over many past lifetimes of embodied existence. These mental blocks, which are called “engrams” by Scientologists, must be erased before the thetan can regain its creative power and wisdom. This process of erasing engrams, which is called “clearing” in Scientology, has been discovered and perfected by Mr. Hubbard in the spiritual healing technology of “Dianetics” and the applied religious philosophy of “Scientology.”

The Means of Ultimate Transformation:

9. Like other religions, Scientology promises a means of ultimate tranformation that will free the individual from all life’s limiting conditions and contradictions. A standard definition of Scientology, appearing in the flyleaf of most of its publications, directly addresses these ultimate threats to well-being: “Scientology is an applied religious philosophy and technology resolving problems of the spirit, life, and thought.” For Scientologists, these problems besetting the human race are ultimately spiritual rather than merely physical or mental. There is an underlying flaw of the spirit or, more properly, of the thetan, that weakens the body and darkens the mind. But Scientology promises a way to release the thetan from the subconscious memories of those catastrophies it has suffered in past lifetimes and those debilities it has suffered in this lifetime which dim its awareness and cripple its abilities. Thus, Scientology pursues the personal goal of clearing the human mind, body and spirit of all aberrations.

10. Scientology’s means of ultimate tranformation centers in the spiritual practices called “auditing” and “training.” Auditing and training make up the two sides of Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” Scientology auditing, which bears some resemblance to Christian confession and Buddhist meditation, is not simply another version of psychological counseling or treatment. Auditing is that spiritual discipline whereby thetans are “cleared” of their “engrams” — are freed from those spiritual entrapments which darken the mind and weaken the body. This process of clearing occurs in sequential steps. Each stage of auditing achieves ever higher levels of spiritual awareness and ability. Indeed, when enough individuals have been cleared, the entire planet has a chance of also being cleared. In accordance with these individual and collective goals of auditing, Scientologists are also involved in the sacred mission of spreading the message of Scientology and of providing auditing for others. Like such other missionary religions as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, Scientology seeks to spread its message and means of salvation to the whole world and eventually throughout the universe. Scientology training is absolutely essential for the fulfillment of the worldwide mission, in addition to being essential for the adherent’s own spiritual enlightenment. Training involves intensive and supervised study of the writings, lectures, and films of L. Ron Hubbard. Like auditing, training courses occur in sequential steps which are designed to deepen spiritual enlightenment and develop auditing technique. Finally, only an audited and trained Scientologist possesses the spiritual knowledge and technology to guide others across the Bridge of Total Freedom.

The Confidentiality of Upper Levels:

11. Scientology auditing and training both cleanses and centers the inner life of the thetan. The first stages deal primarily with the spiritual dynamics of individual, family, social and historical life and are designed to produce healthy and happy human beings. The succeeding steps of auditing and training deepen the individual’s spiritual awareness and ability, finally empowering the thetan to operate free from all dependence upon the physical body and the material universe. These upper levels, which are called the “OT Levels,” empower the “Operating Thetan” to regain supernatural power and control over life, mind, energy, space, and time.

While descriptions of the spiritual worldview of Scientology are readily available to insiders and outsiders alike in a vast number of publications, the means and meaning of achieving the higher levels of auditing and training are reserved for advanced students of Scientology. The Church of Scientology takes every precaution to preserve the confidentiality of the sacred scriptures and practices which govern these upper levels of auditing and training. Those Scientologists who are allowed access to the upper levels must make use of these materials only on Church premises and are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Indeed, only seven Churches of Scientology in the world are authorized to provide auditing and training at the upper levels of “The Bridge to Total Freedom.”

12. In summary, Scientology draws a clear distinction between the exoteric lower and esoteric upper levels of auditing and training. While the beliefs and practices at the lower levels are available to all, the upper levels are held in strictest confidence for the protection of those who are not yet prepared for these levels of spiritual attainment. Premature exposure to these materials would cause adverse spiritual effects for unprepared insiders and invite malicious criticism from ill-informed outsiders. For these reasons, the Church of Scientology restricts all access to upper level auditing and training materials to those who have achieved the requisite spiritual awareness and abilities required for these levels.


13. The distinction between exoteric and esoteric elements in religious tradition is deeply rooted in primal religious belief and practice. In primitive societies where being “religious” is virtually coterminous with being a member of society, children were not initiated into the sacred lore of the group until they reached maturity. This rite of passage was surrounded with great mystery as the child was initiated into the knowledge and skills of adult life. Typically, the novice was separated from family and tribal life for an extended period of instruction and initiation into the ways of the people by the elders. This period was often accompanied by physical and spiritual austerities and ended with symbolic renaming and maiming. Only when these test have been passed was the child equipped to fulfill the rules and roles of adult life. Echoes of these ancient rites of passage can be seen in biblical religion.

Separations in Ancient Judaism:

14. While the ancient Israelites included the new-born within the covenant community, they did draw clear lines of separation between different religious offices and statuses. These differences are clearly reflected in the layout of the Jerusalem Temple where the high moments of worship were celebrated. The Holy of Holies was an inner sanctum where the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year to perform rituals for the atonement of the people. Surrounding this inner sanctum with its secret ceremonies was The Holy Place where priests performed daily rituals. Surrounding these highly restricted areas in receding proximity were the Court of Priests, the Men’s Court, the Women’s Court, and finally the Gentile’s Court. These physical and ritual separations were made to guard against profaning sacred mysteries and to protect against violating sacred taboos.

Restrictions in Early Christianity:

15. As Christianity fell under persecution, much of its worship was conducted in private for purposes of security. But further restrictions were observed in the celebration of the sacraments. Catechumens were required to go through a rigorous period of study and preparation before they were admitted to Baptism. The restrictions surrounding the Eucharist were even more stringent. This weekly ceremonial meal was preceded by scripture lessons and a sermon, which were open to any person whether a member of the church or not. But, before the prayer of institution whereby the bread and wine were transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, all non-Christians and unbaptized catechumens were required to leave. The rest of the rite was observed by the faithful alone behind guarded doors to avoid profanation of the sacred mystery. These early restrictions were carried over into classical Christianity in the sacraments of confirmation and penance, thereby ensuring that communicants take the body and blood of Christ “to their salvation” rather than “to their damnation.”


16. The presence of exoteric and esoteric elements is even more prevalent in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and that for several reasons. The folk religions of the East have remained stubbornly polytheistic although the higher traditions have long since “demythologized” the beliefs and practices of their ancient past. For the adepts of Hinduism and Buddhism, the gods and goddesses are manifestations of the One Energy or Reality beyond the many. This one Absolute can only be approached and experienced through one or another mystical paths. Thus, the myths and rituals of Eastern religions are understood and practiced exoterically by the masses and esoterically by the enlightened, both of which are adequate to their respective religious needs.

The Mantra in Tantric Hinduism:

17. One example of the power of esoteric beliefs and practices can be seen in Tantric Hinduism. Tantra is an elusive term to define because it embraces a variety of yogic disciplines, each of which is intended to realize one’s identity with the Absolute. Underlying this variety of meditative techniques is the belief that man is a microcosm of the universe, containing within himself the full range of cosmic realities. Of course, the ordinary person is not aware of his true nature. Only by tuning his mind and body to these cosmic realities within can he be freed from his ignorance and realize his identity with the Absolute. The chief instrument of this tuning are the mantras — finely honed verbal instuments for exercising power which are designed for particular tasks to achieve particular ends when used in a particular manner. Mantras can only be given and used under the direction of a skilled spiritual teacher. These “gurus” are masters of the words that can release inner powers and can bring enligh tenment. Spiritual initiation and training under the direction of a guru is indispensable for gaining that precise control over the mind and body which is required to become one with the Absolute.

Gradual Enlightenment in Zen Buddhism:

18. Broadly speaking, there are two schools of Japanese Zen Buddhism, both of which broke away from classical forms of Buddhism by rejecting all use of scriptures and images to achieve enlightenment, thereby clearly falling outside the established teachings and practice of Buddhism. Indeed, breaking the barriers of reason and even language itself is the very instrument of enlightenment. Both the Rinzai and the Soto schools practice zazen, which literally means “sitting meditation.” Novices sit hour after hour, day after day, year after year seeking to waken the Buddha Nature in themselves. In this process, they make use of a strange teaching devise called a koan, an enigmatic riddle given by a spiritual master to a young disciple. The Zen practitioner directs the full force of his mind on this puzzle. By forcing the mind to wrestle with these absurdities that excite, exasperate, and finally exhaust the mind, the rational mind is brought to an impasse which prepares the way for a sudden moment of pure illumination. During this long struggle, the novice is not alone. Twice a day, on the average, the novice confronts the master in private zazen — a “consultation on meditation” in which he states his koan and his answer to date. The master either rejects the inadequate answer or validates the correct answer, in the meantime encouraging the student to stay with his training. Once enlightened, the Zen monk sees the Infininte everywhere in the finite — whether in sand painting, flower arrangements or tea ceremonies. Both forms of Zen Buddhism share in common the conviction that enlightenment is attainable only through esoteric disciplines under the guidance of a spiritual master.


19. The more mystical and meditative traditions of the East have their counterpart in the West in a variety of ancient and modern gnostic religious movements. Gnosticism centers in knowledge of the divine mysteries which are obtained either by direct experience of revelation or by initation into a secret tradition. Basic to all gnostic religions is a sharply dualistic worldview that sees human beings as sparks of the divine substance entrapped in matter. Moreover, human spirits can be liberated for their journey back to God only through mastering an arcane wisdom that is embedded but unrecognized in the myths and rituals of conventional religion. With the help of a spiritual master or a spiritual illumination, the individual is able to regain true knowledge of his own spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of the universe. While this gnostic interpretation of biblical religion was condemned as heretical by the mainline biblical traditions, it flourished as a marginal movement among medieval Jews and Christians and endures within certain modern sects as well.

Gnosticism and Jewish Qabbalah:

20. Quabbalah is the term for those esoteric forms of Jewish mysticism which combines a theosophical understanding of God and a theurgical conception of religious life. Like other forms of mysticism, Jewish Qabbalah posits a spiritual kinship between God and man, but this kinship is understood in a theosophical way. The inner mysteries of the Being of God and of man can only be revealed through an esoteric tradition of wisdom that is hidden from the eyes of the simple believers and rational skeptics alike. It is the qabbalist’s task both to recover this special knowledge and to protect it from falling in the hands of those who would misunderstand or misapply its supernatural powers. Those who do not achieve wisdom in this lifetime are destined to be reincarnated until they do learn the spiritual lessons of life. Those who have fully achieved the reunification of the divine and human wills are given near magical powers over all the forces of darkness in this realm and the higher realms that stand in the way of the soul’s journey back to God.

Gnosticism and Christian Mysticism:

21. Although Qabbalah was originally an esoteric lore that unlocked the secret meanings of the Torah, it found its way into medieval Christian thought through Jewish converts to Christianity. The Christian counterpart to Jews Qabbalah can be found in such medieval dualistic sects as the Cathari and Paulucians and such early modern philosophers as Jakob Boehme, Friedrich Schelling and Georg Hegel as well as such literary giants as William Blake and Johann Goethe. These later gnosticisms differ from ancient gnosticism in that they drive both the light and the darkness, both good and evil from the ground of being. But they all share in common the claim that the proper application of knowledge, which is hidden from the eyes of the uninitiated, liberates the soul from ignorance and mortality.

Modern “Gnostic” Sects:

22. The gnostic tradition has finally gained a strong and popular foothold in the modern world in various Ancient Wisdom (e.g., Rosicrucianism, Theosophy), New Thought (e.g., Christian Science, Unity), and New Age (e.g., Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism) religious movements. Like their gnostic forerunners, these modern religious movements lay claim to a lost esoteric tradition which teaches the essential unity between man and God and which provides the initiated with spiritual techniques that give them power over the limitations of life and death. The growing following for these non-conforming, non-traditional religions is clear evidence of a hunger for miracle and mystery in an age of secularized and democratized religious traditions.


23. Although highly selective and greatly abbreviated, the forgoing survey of esoterism clearly demonstrates that something other than secrecy for secrecy’s sake is at work here. Although lines are drawn between insiders and outsiders, as well as between novices and adepts, there is no explicit desire for secrecy in most cases. What sacerdotal communities regulate, what contemplative traditions protect, and what initiation societies conceal are the mysteries of religion — the ultimate nature of reality and the ultimate means of transformation — which do not lend themselves to immediate comprehension or didactic explanation. Rather, they must be the object of a progressive mastery at different and deepening levels of spiritual experience and understanding. More particularly, what is held in reserve is not so much a secret doctrine but an empowering ritual. Those religions which draw a line between exoteric and esoteric elements are primarily concerned to shelter their sacred rituals from careless desecration and to protect the uninitiated from harmful consequences.

24. As shown above, these same motives for confidentiality are operative in Scientology. For Scientologists, the time track of the thetan stretches back and reaches forward for millions of years. The lower levels of auditing and training deal primarily with the spiritual dynamics of individual, family, social and historical life and are intended to produce healthy and happy human beings. The succeeding steps of auditing and training deepen the individual’s spiritual awareness and ability by dealing with the whole time track — that is, with the eternity that lies ahead rather than behind. The journey up the “Bridge to Total Freedom” can be properly and safely handled only by those who have been cleared of the debilitating limitations of the reactive mind through the lower levels of auditing and training. For these reasons, The Church of Scientology is fully entitled to maintain the strict confidentiality of its upper levels of auditing and training materials as a matter of religious duty and legal right.

Professor Lonnie D. Kliever

Department of Religious Studies

Southern Methodist University

Dallas, TX 75275

November 27, 1994, in Dallas, Texas.