In explaining how he came to invent Dianetics, and later Scientology, Hubbard marked his off-curriculum “experiments” at George Washington University, which he attended in 1930-32, as the beginning of his “search for life force.” He also claimed that he was “fired initially” on this search by Commander "Snake" Thompson USN, whom Hubbard said he met in 1923 on a ship travelling between San Francisco and New York through the Panama Canal.
Although Hubbard identifies Thompson as the person who gave him his basic “education in the field of the mind,” and schooled him in “Freudian analysis,” there is a strong suggestion that Thompson was also, and more importantly, his initiator and mentor in the occult. (Ref. Lecture: Further Introduction to Dianetics)
The “experiments” Hubbard claimed he conducted at GWU had the same focus or goal as the “experiments” magicians or occultists had carried out for many years. Aleister Crowley's “primary teacher” and yoga instructor Charles Bennett had been “experimenting on a machine for registering the power of thought,” which involved a galvanometer. (Ref. Ananda Metteyya) Scientology’s E-meter, of course, is a skin galvanometer. Crowley called occult activities and experiences “experiments,” and Hubbard in his “Admissions” called his sex magic ritual with occultist John W. Parsons a “psychic experiment.” Hubbard even called his writing of the “Admissions” an “experiment … to re-establish the ambition, willpower, desire to survive, the talent and confidence of myself.”
The life force that Hubbard “experimented” to find and measure at GWU he would call in Dianetics and Scientology “theta” and symbolize it with the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet.
After choosing theta for his life force, Hubbard called a unit of this force thetan, an individual himself. The thetan is the “personality,” which Hubbard and Scientology claim auditing “addresses” and transforms, or as they say "rehabilitates."From Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary by L. Ron Hubbard who wrote:THETA, 1. theta is thought, life force, élan vital, the spirit, the soul, or any other of the numerous definitions it has had for some thousands of years. (SOS, p. 4) 2. the life force, life energy, divine energy, élan vital, or by any other name, the energy peculiar to life which acts upon material in the physical universe and animates it, mobilizes it and changes it. It is susceptible to alteration in character or vibration, at which time it becomes enturbulated theta or entheta. (SOS, Bk. 2, p. 21) 3. theta is thought; an energy of its own universe analogous to energy in the physical universe but only occasionally paralleling electromagnetic-gravitic laws. The three primary components of theta are affinity, reality, and communication. (SOS, Bk. 2, p. 3) 4. reason, serenity, stability, happiness, cheerful emotion, persistence, and the other factors which man ordinarily considers desirable. (SOS, Bk. 2, p. 12) 5. an energy existing separate and distinct from the physical universe. (SOS, p. 4) 6. Greek for thought or life or the spirit. (Aud 10 UK) 7. not a nothingness. It just happens to be an exterior thing to this universe—so you couldn’t talk about it in this universe’s terms. (PDC 6)
The rehabilitation of thetans to their original powerful state is done by submitting to Hubbard's brainwashing program called The Bridge to Total Freedom or The Grade Chart for short. At the top of the Bridge one is an Operating Thetan or OT.From Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary by L. Ron Hubbard who wrote:THETAN, 1. the living unit we call, in Scn, a thetan, that being taken from the Greek letter theta, the mathematic symbol used in Scn to indicate the source of life and life itself. (Abil Ma 1) 2. the awareness of awareness unit which has all potentialities but no mass, no wave-length and no location. (HCOB 3 Jul 59) 3. the being who is the individual and who handles and lives in the body. (HCOB 23 Apr 69) 4. (spirit) is described in Scn as having no mass, no wave-length, no energy and no time or location in space except by consideration or postulate. The spirit is not a thing. It is the creator of things. (FOT, p. 55) 5. the personality and beingness which actually is the individual and is aware of being aware and is ordinarily and normally the “person” and who the individual thinks he is. The thetan is immortal and is possessed of capabilities well in excess of those hitherto predicted for man. (Scn 8-8008, p. 9) 6. the name given to the life source. It is the individual, the being, the personality, the knowingness of the human being. (Scn 8-80, p. 46) 7. energy-space production unit. (COHA, p. 247) 8. in the final analysis what is this thing called thetan? It is simply you before you mocked yourself up and that is the handiest definition I know of. (5608C——) 9. the person himself—not his body or his name, the physical universe, his mind, or anything else; that which is aware of being aware; the identity which is the individual. The thetan is most familiar to one and all as you. (Aud 25 UK) 10. a static that can consider, and can produce space and energy and objects . (PXL, p . 121 )
From Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary by L. Ron Hubbard who wrote:OPERATING THETAN, 1. a thetan exterior who can have but doesn't have to have a body in order to control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space and time. ( SH Spec 82, 6611C29) 2. willing and knowing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time. And that would of course be mind and that would of course be universe. ( SH Spec 80, 6609C08) 3. 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. (SH Spec 66, 6509C09) 4. a Clear who has been refamiliarized with his capabilities. (HCOB 12 Jul 65) 5. a being at cause over matter, energy, space, time, form and life. Operating comes from "able to operate without dependency on things" and thetan is the Greek letter theta (T), which the Greeks used to represent "thought" or perhaps "spirit" to which an "n" is added to make a new noun in the modern style used to create words in engineering. (BCR, p. 10) 6. by operating thetan we mean theta clear plus ability to operate functionally against or with mest and other life forms. (SCP, p. 3) 7. this state of being is attained by drills and familiarity after the state of Clear has been obtained. A real OT has no reactive bank, is cause over matter, energy, space, time and thought and is completely free. (HCOB 12 Jul 65)
Hubbard associated the forward progress of theta on with a scale of awareness characteristics that proceeeds from "materiality" or "Unexistence" to Total Freedom." The Awareness characteristics are shown on the center column of that chart.Wikipedia wrote:Theta rhythms are one of several characteristic electroencephalogram (EEG) waveforms associated with various sleep and wakefulness states of the brain. When measured in this fashion, they are between 4 and 8 Hz, and involve many neurons firing synchronously, in the hippocampus and through the cortex. Theta activity can be observed in adults during some sleep states, as well as in states of quiet focus (meditation, for example).. These rhythms are associated with spatial navigation and some forms of memory and learning, especially in the temporal lobes. (FromWikipedia. More...)
Hubbard claimed to use EEGs, hypnosis and narcosynthesis in his research for Dianetics. (Ref. DMSMH). Interestingly, he associated Dianetics with the Greek letter Delta, which is another brain wave. (Wikipedia: Delta wave)
Hubbard correlated the upward progress of a thetan on the Bridge with a scale of awareness characteristics on the Grade Chart that proceeds from "materiality" or "Unexistence" to Total Freedom." The awareness characteristics are shown on the center column of that chart.
Hubbard's Grade Chart and its ascending scale of awarenesses corresponds philosophically with the “Tree of Life” taught by Aleister Crowley. (Primer on The Tree of Life and its relevance for students of Crowleyan magic.) Crowley labeled the upward spiritual path out of "Malkuth," or the physical universe, with the letter theta.
The following diagram from Crowley's Magick: Liber ABA shows Crowley's placement of theta on The Tree of Life.
In the Tarot deck, the card “Universe” represents the path of theta upward from Malkuth. Crowley describes the attributes of the Universe in The Book of Thoth. Associated with the Universe is the 19th letter in the Greek alphabet (Tau) “T,” which also means the Sign of the Cross. On the Tree of Life, Tau is associated with the third sefira “Binah.”
Binah means Understanding. There is an important occult relationship between Malkuth and Binah. Spirit arises from Malkuth, crosses the abyss and arrives at its destination of Binah.
In the above definition for theta, Hubbard states that “the three primary components of theta are affinity, reality and communication.” Hubbard also states that affinity, reality and communication compose understanding. Hubbard’s ARC Triangle, which he called a “magical triangle,” operates in the same way as Rosicrucian philosophic triangles: Manipulate one factor or corner to produce effects in the other two.From Dianetics: The Original Thesis by L. Ron Hubbard who wrote:It is a purpose of Dianetics to pass man across the abyss of irrational, solely reactive thought and enter him upon a new stage of constructive progression to the ultimate goal.
Hubbard's Bridge to Total Freedom manufactures beings who have been implanted with Hubbard's understanding, and who operate for him and his organization. The symbol for Operating Thetan is Theta with the T (Tau cross) inside. “In ancient times, [Tau was] a symbol for life and/or resurrection, whereas the 8th letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death.” (Wikipedia: Tau )From Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary by L. Ron Hubbard who wrote:UNDERSTANDING, 1. understanding is composed of affinity, reality and communication. (SH Spec 79, 6609C01) 2. knowingness could simply be a potential understanding. It could be an ability being carried forward, an action taking place; understanding is an action. Understanding is knowingness of life to a certain direction and object and thing or action. The understanding is knowingness in action. We break down this and we get affinity, reality and communication. (5411CM05) 3. understanding is a sort of a total solvent, it’s the universal solvent, it washes away everything. (SH Spec 79, 6609C01)
See also: The Formula of the Cup of Babalon by Frater Osiris 2001.
More about Dianetics: The Original Thesis