The subject of philosophy is very ancient. The word means “the love, study or pursuit of wisdom, or of knowledge of things and their causes, whether theoretical or practical.”
All we know of science or of religion comes from philosophy. It lies behind and above all other knowledge we have or use.
For long regarded as a subject reserved for halls of learning and the intellectual, the subject to a remarkable degree has been denied the man in the street.
Surrounded by protective coatings of impenetrable scholarliness, philosophy has been reserved to the privileged few.
The first principle of my own philosophy is that wisdom is meant for anyone who wishes to reach for it. It is the servant of the commoner and king alike and should never be regarded with awe.
Selfish scholars seldom forgive anyone who seeks to break down the walls of mystery and let the people in. Will Durant, the modern American philosopher, was relegated to the scrapheap by his fellow scholars when he wrote a popular book on the subject, The Story of Philosophy. Thus brickbats come the way of any who seek to bring wisdom to the people over the objections of the “inner circle.”
The second principle of my own philosophy is that it must be capable of being applied.
Learning locked in mildewed books is of little use to anyone and therefore of no value unless it can be used.
The third principle is that any philosophic knowledge is only valuable if it is true or if it works.
These three principles are so strange to the field of philosophy that I have given my philosophy a name: Scientology. This means only “knowing how to know.”
A philosophy can only be a route to knowledge. It cannot be knowledge crammed down one’s throat. If one has a route, he can then find what is true for him. And that is Scientology.
Know thyself—and the truth shall set you free.
Therefore, in Scientology we are not concerned with individual actions and differences. We are only concerned with how to show Man how he can set himself or herself free.
This, of course, is not very popular with those who depend upon the slavery of others for their living or power. But it happens to be the only way I have found that really improves an individual’s life.
Suppression and oppression are the basic causes of depression. If you relieve those, a person can lift his head, become well, become happy with life.
And though it may be unpopular with the slave master, it is very popular with the people. Common Man likes to be happy and well. He likes to be able to understand things. And he knows his route to freedom lies through knowledge.
Therefore, since 1950 I have had Mankind knocking on my door. It has not mattered where I have lived or how remote. Since I first published a book* on the subject, my life has no longer been my own.
I like to help others and count it as my greatest pleasure in life to see a person free himself of the shadows which darken his days.
These shadows look so thick to him and weigh him down so that when he finds they are shadows and that he can see through them, walk through them and be again in the sun, he is enormously delighted. And I am afraid I am just as delighted as he is.
I have seen much human misery. As a very young man I wandered through Asia and saw the agony and misery of overpopulated and undereducated lands. I have seen people uncaring and stepping over dying men in the streets. I have seen children less than rags and bones. And amongst this poverty and degradation I found holy places where wisdom was great but where it was carefully hidden and given out only as superstition. Later, in Western universities, I saw Man obsessed with materiality and with all his cunning, I saw him hide what little wisdom he really had in forbidding halls and make it inaccessible to the common and less favored man. I have been through a terrible war and saw its terror and pain uneased by a single word of decency or humanity. I have lived no cloistered life and hold in contempt the wise man who has not lived and the scholar who will not share.
There have been many wiser men than I, but few have traveled as much road.
I have seen life from the top down and the bottom up. I know how it looks both ways. And I know there is wisdom and that there is hope.
Blinded with injured optic nerves and lame with physical injuries to hip and back at the end of World War II, I faced an almost nonexistent future. My service record states, “This officer has no neurotic or psychotic tendencies of any kind whatsoever,” but it also states, “permanently disabled physically.” And so there came a further blow—I was abandoned by family and friends as a supposedly hopeless cripple and a probable burden upon them for the rest of my days. I yet worked my way back to fitness and strength in less than two years using only what I knew and could determine about Man and his relationship to the universe. I had no one to help me; what I had to know I had to find out. And it’s quite a trick studying when you cannot see. I became used to being told it was all impossible, that there was no way, no hope. Yet I came to see again and walk again and I built an entirely new life. It is a happy life, a busy one and I hope a useful one. My only moments of sadness are those which come when bigoted men tell others all is bad and there is no route anywhere, no hope anywhere, nothing but sadness and sameness and desolation and that every effort to help others is false. I know it is not true.
So my own philosophy is that one should share what wisdom he has, one should help others to help themselves and one should keep going despite heavy weather, for there is always a calm ahead. One should also ignore catcalls from the selfish intellectual who cries, “Don’t expose the mystery. Keep it all for ourselves. The people cannot understand.”
But as I have never seen wisdom do any good kept to oneself, and as I like to see others happy, and as I find the vast majority of the people can and do understand, I will keep on writing and working and teaching so long as I exist.
For I know no man who has any monopoly upon the wisdom of this universe. It belongs to those who can use it to help themselves and others.
If things were a little better known and understood, we would all lead happier lives.
And there is a way to know them and there is a way to freedom.
The old must give way to the new, falsehood must become exposed by truth, and truth, though fought, always in the end prevails.
* Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, published in May 1950