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Beliefs and Practices of Scientologists Concerning Death

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Scientologists believe that the defining part of every human is his soul, or thetan. The physical body is a very transitory and limiting part of existence. Indeed, the purpose of auditing in Scientology is to eliminate harmful spiritual influences that restrict the thetan, and higher levels of this process allow the thetan to interact with the world without needing to use the body as an intermediary.

Life After Death:

Each thetan is billions of years old, passing from one human life to the next through reincarnation. There is no judgment of the soul involved, and the process is automatic, without any necessary intervention through ritual, prayer or other means. As such, Scientology funerals are relatively simple ceremonies and are largely for the benefit of attendees rather than the deceased.

Treatment And Disposal of The Body:

Scientology doctrine does not dictate any required or forbidden treatment of the body after death. Scientologists may have the corpse either buried or cremated. Ceremonies may or may not involve a viewing of the body, and grave markers may or may not be used.

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was cremated. He requested that no memorial be created in remembrance and no ceremony was performed other than the depositing of his ashes at sea.

Organ Donation:

Scientologists are allowed to make their own decisions about organ donation. However, they also believe that all traumatic experiences form harmful engrams, which limit the expression of the thetan until expelled through auditing, and that this process may occur even when unconscious or suffering “brain death”. Therefore, there may be spiritual repercussions to organ donation requiring additional auditing in the next life

Funeral Ceremony:

If the family of the deceased opts for a funeral ceremony, a church official will address the deceased, bidding farewell and encouraging his thetan to take up a new body and a new life through reincarnation. The ceremony also generally involves a celebration of the deceased’s accomplishments in life and thanking him for the time spent with those attending. Readings from Hubbard’s works on Scientology are also generally included.

Non-Scientologists are welcome to attend any portion of the funeral services.

Services Available For Family:

Counseling through auditing is encouraged by the Church of Scientology for survivors of the deceased. The grief associated with the loss of a loved one is understood to form engrams, which need to be worked through and released.
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