Operating Thetan

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In Scientology, Operating Thetan (OT) is a spiritual state above Clear. It is defined as "knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time (MEST)."[1] According to religious scholar J. Gordon Melton, "[i]t's basically a variation of the Gnostic myth about souls falling into matter and the encumbrances that come with that".[2]


Scientology doctrine defines OT as the "highest state there is." The OT is able to "control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space, and time" whether he or she has a body and mind or not.[3][4] The state of Operating Thetan is represented by a symbol consisting of the letters OT with the T inside the O and each of the points of the T ending at the O's circumference, evoking not only the level's initials but also the medieval O-T map representing the known world and, metaphorically, the entirety of the observable universe, over which a fully developed OT is believed to have immediate control. Operating Thetan is a state of godliness in Scientology teaching, a state "in which one is ‘at cause’ over the confines of matter, energy, space and time (MEST)."[5] Hubbard also claimed that an Operating Thetan would be considered "beyond God." Scholar Hugh B. Urban writes that according to Hubbard, "the thetan has been deceived into worshiping such a god by mainstream religion and so forgotten its own godlike power to create and destroy universes."[6]

After having removed one's own reactive mind and thus attaining the state of Clear, Scientologists may then go on to the OT levels.[7] According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Church claims that the OT is not dependent on the universe around him. Scientologists that are Operating Thetan claim that they have control over their lives and can "go exterior" from their bodies. The Church of Scientology claims that an OT is able to operate independently of his or her body. While there are 15 levels listed in Scientology teaching, the Church only offers eight.[8]

According to L. Ron Hubbard, as scholar Donald A. Westbrook writes, the universe is in existence because of the "continual co-creation of omnipotent thetans" who work with each other in unison. Therefore, becoming an Operating Thetan as Scientology teaches "is to rediscover this true nature and recover unlimited spiritual potential, despite the encumbrances of the physical universe that were unwittingly created by thetans in the first place."[5]


OT I[edit]

"This Solo-audited level is the first step a Clear takes toward full OT abilities, and that first step is a fresh causative OT viewpoint of the MEST universe and other beings."[9] The cost to move to level OT I is $2,750.[10]

OT II[edit]

"By confronting hidden areas of one's existence on the whole track [that is, by confronting past incarnations], vast amounts of energy and attention are released. Those on this Solo-audited level experience a resurgence of self-determinism and native ability. OT II unlocks the aberrative factors on the whole track that have allowed the thetan to lose his innate freedom and ability and one achieves the ability to confront the whole track."[9] The cost to move from OT I to OT II is $5,225.[10]

OT III: The Wall of Fire[edit]

Hubbard announced discovering an important breakthrough within less than a month of founding the Sea Org, the religious order of the church that consists of its most dedicated members. He described it as a "means of erasing those mental factors that stand in the way of peace and toleration of mankind." The new material made up the new Operating Thetan III.[11]

"This Solo-audited level goes through what is called the 'Wall of Fire' that surrounds a previously impenetrable whole track mystery. What prevents a being from being himself? This level answers that question. Once complete, a being is free of the whole track overwhelm that has trapped him. Here he confronts and eradicates the fourth dynamic engram that has plagued this universe for millennia."[9] The cost to move from OT II to OT III is $8,910.[10]

Church dogma regards OT III as a dangerous process which can lead to pneumonia, to lack of sleep or even to death if not run correctly. In Church of Scientology of California v. Kaufman, it was noted that the defendant had been required to sign a waiver to the effect that "the Scientology Organization, its branches and members, and L. Ron Hubbard are not responsible for anything that might happen to my body or mind on OT III".[12]

Within OT III is the secret doctrine of the church. Members must be invited to "do it", and they sign a contract of secrecy.[13]

OT IV: OT Drug Rundown[edit]

"This level handles the hidden problems and stops in a being's universe caused by the effects of drugs and poisons on the whole track. This is the final polish that rids one of any last vestige of the effects of drugs on the spirit. Ministered at Advanced Organizations or Flag. Approximately 12½ to 25 hours."[9]

OT V: New Era Dianetics for OTs[edit]

"The Second Wall of Fire consists of 26 separate rundowns and has been described as dealing with 'living lightning, the very stuff of life itself.' This level addresses the last aspects of one's case that can prevent him from achieving total freedom on all dynamics. An audited level ministered at Advanced Organizations or Flag. Approximately 50 hours."[9]

OT VI: Hubbard Solo New Era Dianetics for OTs (Solo NOTs) Auditing Course[edit]

"The training one receives before starting to solo audit on New OT VII is so powerful that it actually constitutes an entire OT level. On Solo NOTs one is dealing with complexities intended to crush one's true power and abilities as a thetan. Solo NOTs auditors acquire a wide range of auditing skills to handle the vast phenomena that can occur on OT VIII. Approximately 3–4 weeks with the new Solo Auditor Course done."[9]

OT VII: Hubbard Solo New Era Dianetics for OTs Auditing[edit]

"On New OT VII one solo audits at home daily. This is a lengthy level, requiring a considerable amount of time to complete. It is the final pre-OT level, and culminates in attainment of the state of CAUSE OVER LIFE."[9]

OT VIII: Truth Revealed[edit]

OT VIII, the highest level in Scientology is offered only aboard the Freewinds.[14] "This Solo-audited level addresses the primary cause of amnesia on the whole track and lets one see the truth of his own existence. This is the first actual OT level and brings about a resurgence of power and native abilities for the being himself. This may be done at the Flag Ship Service Organization."

Beyond Operating Thetan[edit]

Beyond the attainment of the state of Operating Thetan is that of Cleared Theta Clear, which Hubbard describes as such:

A thetan who is completely rehabilitated and can do everything a thetan should do, such as move MEST and control others from a distance, or create his own universe; a person who is able to create his own universe or, living in the MEST universe is able to create illusions perceivable by others at will, to handle MEST universe objects without mechanical means and to have and feel no need of bodies or even the MEST universe to keep himself and his friends interested in existence.

— L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008, p. 114 (1st ed), p. 151 (1990 ed.)


A growing number of former Scientologists have made public allegations that the church encourages its members to complete very expensive courses and expect wonderful results; when the improvements fail to be realized, further courses are then promoted to facilitate the anticipated changes. Criticism stems from a pattern of cycles wherein members continue to pay increasing amounts for these courses, while some even put their families into debt chasing the elusive life-changing results under the stewardship of the church.[15]

Legal issues and copyright[edit]

In March 2008 WikiLeaks leaked the Church of Scientology's Operating Thetan documents.[16] The Church of Scientology portrayed hosting the documentation as a copyright violation implying that the collection is Church doctrine. A court found that it was legal to download, use, read, and practice these teachings outside the Church.[17]

In 1997 Zenon Panoussis, a resident of Sweden, sent copies of NOTs documents to various government authorities, thereby making the documents public according to the Swedish principle of public access to official records. The Church of Scientology responded by ordering members to continuously borrow the available copies in order to prevent non-members from reading them. The Church of Scientology also sued Panoussis for copyright infringement, since he had made the documents available online without permission.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The State of Operating Thetan (Church of Scientology)
  2. ^ Verini, James (2005-06-28). "Missionary Man: Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology". Salon.com. Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  3. ^ Technical Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology; L. Ron Hubbard; Bridge Publications; ISBN 0-88404-037-2
  4. ^ The Official Scientology and Dianetics Glossary definition of pre-OT levels; accessed 2008-02-03 (mirror Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.)
  5. ^ a b Westbrook, Donald A. (2017). "Researching Scientology and Scientologists in the United States: Methods and Conclusions". In Lewis, James R.; Hellesoy, Kjersti. Handbook of Scientology. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion. Brill. ISBN 9789004330542.
  6. ^ Urban, Hugh B. (2011). The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691146089.
  7. ^ www.whatisscientology.org, Grade chart of Scientology courses, training and processing
  8. ^ "Climbing The Bridge: A journey to 'Operating Thetan'". tampabay.com. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g What is Scientology compiled by the staff of Church of Scientology International. c1998 published Bridge Publications Inc. ISBN 1-57318-078-5 pg. 840-841
  10. ^ a b c "Chapter 7 OT -- Through the Wall of Fire and Beyond". The OT Levels. Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  11. ^ Lewis, James R. (2009). Scientology. Oxford University Press. p. 2009. ISBN 0-19-533149-4.
  12. ^ Church of Scientology of California v. Kaufman, [1972] F.S.R. 591 per Goff J - in the Chancery Division of the High Court
  13. ^ Lewis, James R.; Petersen, Jesper (2014). Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199315321. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  14. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2018). "A Contemporary Ordered Religious Community: The Sea Org Organization". The Journal of CESNUR. 2 (2). ISSN 2532-2990. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  15. ^ Atack, Jon [1990] A Piece of Blue Sky, Carol Pub. Group, Chap 3, ISBN 0-8184-0499-X http://www.xenu.net/archive/books/apobs/bs1-3.htm[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ wikinews:Church of Scientology's 'Operating Thetan' documents leaked online
  17. ^ Metz, Cade (8 April 2008). "Scientology threatens Wikileaks with injunction". The Register. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  18. ^ Macavinta, Courtney (30 March 1999). "Scientologists settle legal battle". CNet News. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2015.

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