OPERATING THETAN (in Scientology)

Hubbard defines “Operating Thetan” as “an individual who could operate totally independently of his body whether he had one or didn’t have one. He’s now himself, he’s not dependent on the universe around him.”

I have no idea how a person can operate without a body, unless he has just withdrawn into some imaginary make-believe world. He still has a body, but it seems that he is NOT-IS-ING it (denying it completely).

All “OTs” I have met around Scientology organizations had bodies. But they seemed to believe that they could cause phenomena across the world just by thinking, so they didn’t have to go there with their bodies. This is fascinating. It sounds like magic. It can best be compared to the belief like “accepting Jesus equals eternal life”. It is all in the mind.



The idea of Operating Thetan (OT) probably started with Hubbard noticing the phenomenon of exteriorization. He described it as, the state of the thetan, the individual himself, being outside his body. When this is done, the person achieves a certainty that he is himself and not his body.

According to Hubbard, thetan does not have a location, but he can postulate a location for himself.  This is consistent with looking at thetan as an approximation of the viewpoint of the person. So, a person gets a viewpoint that he is outside the body. He has simply changed his viewpoint from being inside the body. The person himself does not have a location. He is simply considering a location.

The reason “exteriorization” is such a big deal is that it is quite a striking phenomenon. It often occurs in dreams. It may also occur when one is apparently unconscious, as in near-death experiences. Such an experience, at times, is so vivid that it takes your breath away.

When we look for an explanation, we find that the viewpoint of a normal person is quite fixated on himself as a body. The person gets the biggest surprise of his life, when suddenly that viewpoint is no longer fixated, but frees up. He didn’t know that his viewpoint was fixated on his body all this time. So, it is a remarkably exhilarating experience for him.

Hubbard is correct in saying that exteriorization is based on the consideration of the person, but then he also says, “the person achieves a certainty that he is himself and not his body.” This is a curve thrown by Hubbard. The fact is that the body is very much part of the identity of the person, and it expresses his individuality. Therefore, the correct interpretation of this phenomenon is, “the person achieves a certainty that his viewpoint is no longer limited to himself and his body.”

It seems that, over time, Hubbard did come to believe that a person can really be outside his body, and that it is not just his consideration, or viewpoint. He starts to make distinction between spirit and body as two distinctly separate things, and not an integrated whole.


Philosophical Underpinnings

Hubbard’s philosophy is based on the idea that thought is separate from the physical universe This idea was introduced by the Greeks.  It does not exist in Eastern philosophy. According to the VEDAS, physical and spiritual aspects exist in the same universe.

Therefore, the idea that spiritual and physical aspects of life represent two independent universes is an inconsistency. When you look at these two aspects to be integrated with each other, it becomes possible to find scientific explanations for psychic phenomena, such as, the feeling that somebody is looking at you from behind, or coincidences identified as telepathic communications.

The following conclusion appears to be more consistent.

The spiritual and physical aspects of life are integrated with each other. They are not separate and independent of each other as postulated by Greeks, the Western religions, and now, by Hubbard in Scientology.


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