Aaron Smith-Levin: Scientology | Lex Fridman Podcast #361 | Summary and Q&A

February 25, 2023
Lex Fridman Podcast
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Aaron Smith-Levin: Scientology | Lex Fridman Podcast #361


Scientology is a belief system that views individuals as immortal spiritual beings known as thetans and aims to restore their God-like potential through auditing therapy; the Church of Scientology restricts information access and controls the flow of negative information.

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Key Insights

  • 🔍 Key insights from the provided content:
  • Scientology is a controlling organization that demands everything from its members, including controlling their relationships and cutting off contact with certain individuals.
  • Scientology is a belief system that revolves around the belief that humans are immortal spiritual beings called thetans who have fallen from their native God-like power and only Scientology can restore them.
  • Thetans are believed to be trapped in bodies in a prison-like physical universe, and only Scientology can free them.
  • Scientology auditing is a form of talk therapy that uses the E-meter device to direct the progress of the session and determine its success.
  • Auditing sessions focus on uncovering engrams (recordings of moments of pain and unconsciousness) and resolving them through recall and repetition.
  • Scientologists believe that auditing can lead to spiritual improvement and personal growth.
  • The Sea Organization (Sea Org) is a dedicated group of Scientologists who make a life commitment to the organization and live a communist lifestyle within it.
  • Auditing can involve exploring past lives and experiences, and Scientologists may believe they have committed significant deeds in various past lives.
  • Scientology promotes the idea that it is a scientific and effective method for self-improvement and spiritual enlightenment, but critics argue that it relies on control, manipulation, and unfalsifiable claims.


  • If Scientology was just getting auditing when you wanted about the subjects you wanted and you could take it or leave it, that would be fine. It's the fact that it's part and parcel to this entire organization and this entire experience that has, as a part of that experience, taking everything from you, demanding everything from you, controlling ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How is auditing in Scientology different from traditional psychotherapy?

While auditing in Scientology resembles psychotherapy in its one-on-one talk therapy format, it differs in its focus on past lives, the use of an E-meter device, and its underlying belief in thetans and their native God-like potential.

Q: What role does the E-meter device play in auditing?

The E-meter is a device that measures electrical flow and aids in directing the progress of an auditing session; Scientologists believe that the mental pictures and memories have electrical charge and influence the needle's movement on the E-meter.

Q: What is the Sea Organization and how does it function within Scientology?

The Sea Organization (Sea Org) is a dedicated group of Scientologists who have signed billion-year contracts; they live communally, receive a nominal weekly pay, and are responsible for various functions within the church. The Sea Org is considered the most dedicated brand of Scientologists and forms the core management structure.

Q: How does the Church of Scientology control information access?

The church restricts access to critical information and maintains confidentiality within the organization; Scientologists are discouraged from reading or accessing information critical of Scientology and are encouraged to seek information exclusively from the church itself.

Q: What are some aspects of control experienced by individuals within Scientology?

Within Scientology, there are controls on information access, restricted internet use, and limited exposure to critical information. The church also controls the flow of negative information and discourages interactions with individuals critical of the organization. Those who leave Scientology may face restrictions on their relationships and communication with current members.


In this video, former Scientologist Aaron Smith-Levin discusses the beliefs and practices of Scientology with Lex Friedman. They explore topics such as the nature of thetans (immortal spiritual beings), the use of auditing therapy, the concept of survival within Scientology, the role of the Sea Organization, and the use of the E-meter device in auditing sessions.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is Scientology?

Scientology is a belief system created by L. Ron Hubbard that teaches the existence of immortal spiritual beings called thetans, thetans' fallen state in a physical universe, and the need for Scientology to restore thetans to their native power.

Q: Are thetans multiple beings or just one per body?

Each person has one primary thetan animating their body, but there can also be other unconscious thetans attached to an individual, causing additional problems.

Q: How does the idea of breaking through limitations in Scientology compare to other philosophies?

The idea of humans having the potential to achieve greatness is found in various religions and philosophies. Scientology suggests that limitations can be overcome through the process of Scientology, though this belief changes as one progresses further into the organization.

Q: What is the reactive mind in Scientology?

The reactive mind is similar to the subconscious mind and contains mental recordings of past moments of pain or unconsciousness. These recordings, called engrams, influence a person's behavior and can be addressed through Dianetics auditing therapy.

Q: How does Scientology reconcile the concept of a supreme being?

Scientology recognizes the idea of a supreme being as the eighth dynamic but does not define it. However, the teachings of Scientology are inconsistent with the traditional concept of a supreme being, as all creative power is attributed to individual thetans.

Q: What is the Sea Organization in Scientology?

The Sea Organization (Sea Org) is a highly dedicated group within Scientology. Members sign billion-year contracts, live in provided housing, and work full-time for Scientology. They receive a minimal weekly payment of $50.

Q: How does auditing work in Scientology?

Auditing in Scientology is a form of one-on-one talk therapy. The use of an E-meter device, which measures electrical resistance, helps guide the auditing session and determine progress. The goal is to address past traumas and reach satisfactory conclusions in each session.

Q: What is the purpose of the E-meter in Scientology auditing?

The E-meter measures subtle changes in electrical resistance and is used to guide the progress of auditing sessions. Scientologists believe it indicates emotional reactions and unresolved issues that need addressing.

Q: How does the Sea Organization relate to communism?

The Sea Organization resembles a communist system within Scientology. The members receive a minimal wage and live communally, with all their needs provided for by the organization. They also follow principles of collective responsibility and prioritize the organization's goals.

Q: Is there a hierarchy within the Sea Organization?

Yes, there is a hierarchy within the Sea Organization, similar to any other business organization. Members are assigned various tasks based on their skills and the needs of the organization.

Q: What are some of the main products of Scientology?

The main products of Scientology are auditing therapy and Scientology courses. Auditing aims to address past traumas and resolve individual issues. Scientology courses cover various subjects related to Scientology beliefs and practices.


Scientology incorporates appealing ideas about human potential and spiritual growth, which are not exclusive to the religion. However, problems arise when Scientology's secretive nature, control, and unethical practices are considered. There is a lack of transparency in the organization, and individuals are discouraged from discussing certain beliefs openly. The Sea Organization operates as a highly controlled collective, resembling a communist system. The use of the E-meter in auditing sessions provides a semblance of scientific legitimacy, but its effectiveness in achieving therapeutic outcomes is questionable. Despite its claims, Scientology often fails to adhere to ethical standards and suppresses freedom of thought and expression. It is important to critically examine the ideas behind Scientology and understand the potential dangers that arise when those ideas are exploited.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Scientology is a belief system created by L. Ron Hubbard that views individuals as thetans, immortal spiritual beings with native God-like potential, trapped in bodies on Earth.

  • Auditing is a one-on-one counseling process aimed at restoring thetans to their native state; it involves using an E-meter device to measure electrical flow and identify areas of improvement.

  • The Church of Scientology controls information access, restricts access to critical information, and maintains a strict hierarchy within the Sea Organization.

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