The central tenets of the religion are based on the belief that a person is an immortal spiritual being who has a mind and a body, but is neither of these, that he is basically good, and that he is seeking to survive. It is taught that a person's upsets, limitations and bad acts can be attributed in part to a portion of his mind of which he is normally unaware, called variously the "reactive mind" or the "bank." This portion of the mind is believed to store impressions of past emotional and physical trauma, which can be re-activated in times of stress. The aware portion of a person's mind is referred to as the "analytical mind."
The central practice of ScientologY, and DianeticS before it, is an activity known as "auditing" (listening) which seeks to elevate an adherent to a state of "clear," that state being one of freedom from the influences of the reactive mind. The practice is one wherein a counselor called an "auditor" addresses a series of questions to a "preclear'" or one who is not yet "clear," observes and records his responses, and acknowledges them. The aim is to enable the preclear to recover awareness and volitional control of the material previously stored in his reactive mind. The earliest forms of Dianetic processing, still practiced today, involved a scenario reminiscent of Freudian psychoanalysis, with the preclear reclining on a couch in a reflective state called "Dianetic reverie" while the auditor observed from a chair nearby and took notes, predicating his questions and responses on utterances by the preclear and a number of clearly defined physiological indica. Some later forms of auditing employ a device called the Hubbard Electropsychometer ("E-Meter"). This is a device which measures changes in the electrical resistance of the preclear's skin by passing approximately 1/2 volt through a pair of zinc-plated tubes much like empty soup cans, atached to the meter by wires and held by the preclear during auditing. These low-potential changes in electrical resistance, known as galvanic response, are similar to those measured by polygraphs and related machines, and are thought to be more reliable and sensitive to the preclear's state of mind than the physiological indica of early DianeticS.
Other activites of a Scientology church include Sunday services, formal classes, naming, marriage and funeral ceremonies. Scientology has long held that its beliefs and practices are compatible with those of other churches. Scientology enjoyed good relations with and recognition by a number of Christian, Buddhist and other sects for a number of decades before being formally recognized as a tax exempt religious and charitable organization by the United States government in 1993. And it was not until 1994 that a joint council of Shinto Buddhist sects in Japan not only extended official recognition of Scientology, but also undertook to train a number of their monks in its beliefs and practices as an adjunct to their own meditations and worship. This continues a long tradition of Eastern faiths of assimilating or adopting elements of others faiths which they find harmonious with their own. This may be a reflection of the fact that LRonHubbard? acknowledged a strong Eastern, and specifically Buddhist influence in forming his own personal philosphy.
As with all new religions, Scientology has faced skepticism and occasional attacks from the religious and secular establishments of its day. Early responses to these attacks have been characterized as intemperate and ill-conceived and have, in themselves, brought further censure on the young church. As acceptance of the church has grown, so, too, have the methods of the church in responding to its critics matured. The result has been a steady lessening of friction between Scientology and the surrounding society in recent years. There remain European governments whose official censure of Scientology is quite strong. Adherents in those nations face an uphill battle in gaining acceptance.