Theta and Thetan

Page last updated: May 15, 2017 @ 10:03 am

Hubbard first introduced the concept of THETA in his book Science of Survival which, in common terms, can be understood as CONSCIOUSNESS – as that form of intelligence which creates various life forms and their activities:

(June 1951) Science of Survival

An examination of existence and the fondest hopes to which man has clung discovers for us the possibility that the energy of life is a different thing from the current flowing in a power line or the energy radiated by atomic fission. It is not necessary to have a vast knowledge of physics to conclude that life is something more than a mechanical contrivance rigged out of atoms and chemicals. In the first place, it follows only a few of the electromagnetic-gravitic laws and at best only vaguely parallels these. Life has its own performance rules.

A further examination of life demonstrates that it is undoubtedly made up in part of matter and that it exists in space and time. This is quite certain because a dead organism disintegrates into dust. Something has obviously ceased to be a part of this organism, however, the moment it fully died. This “something” has variously been called the human soul, the spirit, the life force. Bergson called it “elan vital.”

Let us call this life energy by a symbol in order to identify it. We will assign to it the Greek letter theta and distinguish it as an energy existing separate and distinct from the physical universe as we know it.

The physical universe would be the universe of matter, energy, space and time. It would be the universe of the planets, their rocks, rivers, and oceans, the universe of stars and galaxies, the universe of burning suns and time. In this universe we would not include theta as an integral portion, although theta obviously impinges upon it as life. From the first letters of the words matter, energy, space, and time, we can composite a new word: MEST.

Considering theta one finds that it, alone of observable energies, motivates and activates MEST matter and energy through space and time. Further, it computes, reasons, learns and retains what it learns.

Now all a student of Dianetics needs to know and understand about all this is that theta plus MEST equals life; that theta and MEST have a natural affinity for each other and combine, linking the two universes, so to speak; that theta and MEST coming together too hard get into a turmoil which we call pain; and that the turbulence of theta and MEST under the duress of too much impact gives us a tone scale.

Theta crushed too hard into MEST becomes entheta. MEST crushed too hard into theta becomes enMEST. Entheta is simply a compound word meaning “enturbulated theta.” And enMEST is another word meaning “enturbulated MEST.”

Consider that theta in its native state is pure reason or at least pure potential reason. Consider that MEST in its native state is simply the chaotic physical universe, its chemicals and energies active in space and time.

The cycle of existence for theta consists of a disorganized and painful smash into MEST and then a withdrawal with a knowledge of some of the laws of MEST, to come back and smash into MEST again.

MEST could be considered to be under onslaught by theta. Theta could be considered to have as one of its missions, and its only mission where MEST is concerned, the conquest of the physical universe. MEST is under raid. Theta is doing the raiding.

Theta survives by conquering MEST and retaining the conquest. Theta may have numerous other methods of survival but they do not apply to this particular physical universe where we are situate.

The survival of theta depends, as it applies to this universe, on changing MEST and organizing MEST.

Life is a manifestation of theta-conquered MEST. Theta has conquered and organized with high complexity certain MEST chemicals and energies into life forms. These forms are very diverse. They progress from the lowest orders, such as the lichens and moss, through the entire vegetable kingdom, through the animal kingdom and up to man. Each form evolved from the initial impact of theta against MEST, and each form on a higher level is supported by lower-level forms.

Man alone of the animal and vegetable kingdom possesses the potential power of changing MEST in wholesale lots into something theta can use. Man can, by steam shovel and dynamite, move mountains and perhaps — who knows? — conquer a galaxy. Theta thus evolves toward higher and higher reason and a higher and higher ability to conquer and change the physical universe — MEST.


Out of the word THETA Hubbard then coined a word THETAN – to symbolize a unit of consciousness that is an individual him or herself, as separate from the body. Another term for theta or a thetan is a LIFE STATIC or simply STATIC to differentiate it from KINETIC which is a term in Dianetics to denote any form of material existence.

The basic “truths” of Scientology are laid out in its Axioms. Let’s take a look at some of them:

(April 1955) The Creation of Human Ability


Definition: a Life Static has no mass, no motion, no wavelength, no location in space or in time. It has the ability to postulate and to perceive.



[The subject of reality will be addressed in a separate page.]



A Static has no mass, meaning, mobility, no wavelength, no time, no location in space, no space. This has the technical name of ‘Basic Truth’….








Note, how in axiom 45 it states that once theta is “placed,” meaning once it considers itself to occupy some specific location, it becomes a PROBLEM. This is easy to see that once something becomes a point in space then it has an immediate problem of being only in one place and not being in other places hence it somehow has to move if it wants to be in a different location. Of course problems begin to multiply and increase in complexity when you add matter and other things.

Now, The Creation of Human Ability was said to be “the primary text” when it came out in 1955 but since then was superseded with a much more complex web of materials and practice. In addition to the axioms and a general theory, this book also included specific processes one could engage in to start moving in the direction of increased spiritual awareness and ability. The primary route of processing was called ROUTE 1 and it started as follows:


This command was supposed to “locate” and “exteriorize” a thetan (spiritual being, that unit of consciousness that is the individual) out of being in a body. The only issue is that according to Scientology’s own axioms, a spiritual being inherently has no location (except by consideration) and assigning one leads to a “problem” according to axiom 45 cited above:



In fact, Hubbard includes a note where this first command was described in more detail:

NOTE: A thetan located in a space is less than theta itself, but a thetan located is greater than homo sapiens.

So we should all be good and no misunderstanding should arise that a spirit is not in fact some identifiable entity hovering at a distance from a body or being “trapped” inside of it, right? Not quite… In fact, even though conceptually incorrect the “three feet back of your head” mantra became a colloquial standard among Scientologists by which to judge exteriorization. To make matters worse, this concept of a thetan as being some entity identifiable in space actually gets reinforced over and over again all throughout Scientology materials and artwork seemingly in direct contradiction to its own basic axioms. Let’s take a look at some examples:

In The Fundamentals of Thought, a thetan is assigned a location – “residence” – right after stating that it has NO LOCATION (except by consideration) in the preceding paragraph:

The Fundamentals of Thought (1956)

The thetan (spirit) is described in Scientology as having no mass, no wave-length, no energy and NO TIME OR LOCATION IN SPACE except by consideration or postulate. The spirit, then, is not a thing. It is the creator of things.

The usual RESIDENCE of the thetan is in the skull or near the body. A thetan can be in ONE OF FOUR CONDITIONS. The first would be entirely separate from a body or bodies, or even from this universe. The second would be near a body and knowingly controlling the body. The third would be in the body (the skull) and the fourth would be an inverted condition whereby he was compulsively away from the body and could not approach it. There are degrees (subdivisions) of each one of these four states (conditions). The most optimum of these conditions, from the standpoint of man, is the second.

[bolding and capitalization added for emphasis]

It does not exactly say what it means by “entirely separate” but by the meaning of the entire paragraph we can conclude that “separate” means not being somewhere in or near a body or even in the universe. Saying that something is NOT somewhere also implies location meaning that it is somewhere else, but regardless, it is clear from this paragraph that it in actual fact reverses on the definition in the preceding paragraph and now postulates the spirit as some identifiable entity in space. Note, it says ONE OF FOUR CONDITIONS meaning that it is EITHER “near” the body OR “in the skull” if we compare the second and third conditions. And why “in the skull” and not occupying the whole body? Are you feeling your hands, your arms and legs… your abdomen? So there must be some of “you” there as well, no?

Next we have some Scientology videos for the public reaffirming the vision of a spirit as some identifiable entity hovering in space. Take a look:


Despite of apparent simplicity in the axioms, Hubbard progressed into building up a lot of complexity around the supposed nature of a thetan as some mysterious entity that needs to use complex system of energy beams and “ridges” to control a body and things in the environment.

[14 NOVEMBER 1952] The Command of Theta: Standard Operating Procedure Issue 2, Part II

Here’s – a pressor beam and a tractor is the pattern of the communication line. A communication is taken from the MEST body by a thetan with a compressor and a tractor. These are pressor lines. And so he pushes the order in and he’s pushed the order in on the body and pushed the order in on the body continually until he has built up ridges. He’s built up these ridges himself and on those ridges lands… That’s an objection to the command, really – it seems like it to him – and he’s built it up himself and it finally says it can’t listen. That’s the way he stops himself from listening and so on.

Now, the thetan employs these ridges and these routes because it’s a communication line, no matter how poor. No matter how poor a communication line it is, it’s at least a communication line to the body.

Let’s go back now to III. III is “Out by Orientation.” You make the guy push himself outside of his head, pull himself outside of his head and putting out tractors, beams, so forth, push himself sideways back and forth. And actually, if he can locate himself inside of his head, the best way for him to locate himself is just to see one of his pressors and tractors and he turns it off and puts it on at will. And he orients himself and all of a sudden he moves right on outside of his head.

Don’t overlook the fact that a preclear can do this: put a beam against the inside of his forehead and push. He’d say, “Yeah,” he all of a sudden sees the beam, all of a sudden he lengthens it, all of a sudden he’s looking at the back of his head-orientation, locating in time and space. Now, you simply put him through drills of time and space, put him through drills that have to do with time and space. He just locates himself in this fashion and you can orient somebody out of his head.

From lecture glossary:
pressor: a type of beam that pushes.
tractor: a type of beam that pulls or drags.


The “III” in this lecture refers to Step III which, along with other steps, was more clearly described in this reference:

[1952, ca. early November] The Journal of Scientology, Issue 6-G: Procedures for Theta Clearing

(This reference can be found in Dianetics and Scientology Technical Bulletins Volumes – Volume I)

Step III: BY ORIENTATION. Ask the preclear, still inside, to locate the inside of his forehead. Ask him to put a pressor beam against it and push himself out the back of his head. Supplement this by asking him to reach out through the back of his head and grab the wall with a pulling beam and pull himself out. Ask him to steady himself outside and then, by means of beams, to raise and lower himself while outside and to move to various parts of the room while still outside. By orientation as a thetan, placing himself as a thetan in time and space, he becomes sure of his whereabouts. Have him find and cast off old lines which have their terminals fixed to radiators and water taps so the energy will drain out of him. The III ordinarily has enough lines to cause him to snap back in the head when he releases beams. Failing this go to Step IV.


Here are some more quotes from other lectures:

[24 JULY 1952] Technique 88: Behavior of Energy as It Applies to Thought Flows

You have to establish a beam of electrons and then foreshorten the beam in order to get a retractor wave. You have to hang together a solid flow, so to speak, and then make the solid flow collapse in order to get a retractor wave. And this is what I’m going to tell you now, is the behavior of a retractor wave in running pcs.

Now, you have to be able to run retractor waves, even though this society today knows they are very possible, but can’t build one. They’re too much in the dark ages. I mean, this country is really pretty kindergarteny on electronics. And they can’t build one of these things, but you’ll find it in pcs. And if you don’t know what it is, your poor pc is just going to just suffer, that’s all.

A retractor beam, or a retractor loop, is a beam which goes out here from the source-you don’t have to know anything about electronics. You don’t have to be able to do one of these things, or make one, you just have to be able to run one. Because you as a theta being can make one, that’s the big joke. The electronics can’t, but you can. We can’t mock one up, in other words, with condensers and ohms and so forth and voltages. But a human being can do this.

[Note: “pc” is a pre-clear – a term for someone who undergoes Scientology processing.]


[19 NOVEMBER 1952] Source of Life Energy: Attention, Part I

I don’t know anybody has passed any laws regarding this and frankly, don’t know why it is that when you as a thetan say, “There will now be an energy beam between me and … ” there is one. Now, I’m going to take one of those beams someday and put it under a microscope or something and inspect it more closely and find those — protons. But the harder I look at these beams and the more I examine them, the more apparent it is that they don’t break down to such patterns.


This just sounds kind of disturbing. Has anyone in Scientology actually tried this? Does this even work? If Hubbard was so smart and truly knew what he was talking about, why didn’t HE make a device that could create a “rectractor wave?” As can be seen from the dates, these publicly available lectures were delivered in the early 50’s meaning that it has been SIXTY some years since this data was known in Scientology. Is there or has there ever been a Scientologist who could demonstrate a “retractor wave” in action? Hubbard said that “a human being can do this” and gave instructions on how to run (i.e. process through application of Scientology procedures) these beams so any well trained Scientologist should be able to do it, right?

Rationally thinking, why would a thetan even need to control a body through some complex system of “energy beams” if a thetan could simply BE a body and could simply create body motions according to the very definition of a thetan as a “creator of things?” Instead, “being a body” is used as a rather derogatory term in Scientology.

Also, suggesting that a thetan uses “energy beams” to control a body and establishing procedures to MOVE a thetan from INSIDE the head OUT of the head again envisions a thetan as an entity of some kind with a location inside or outside of the body that has to use some strange energy mechanisms to control it, yet again according to its very definition in the axioms of Scientology a thetan has NO LOCATION and no “wavelength” and so can be both inside and outside the body as a pervading beingness which is exactly how almost any person can experience themselves with enough practice – as a pervading field of awareness with forms and motions in it as opposed to being in a form (body) and perceiving other forms and motions through it.

In the same wise, being “three feet back of your head” is also a misnomer for exteriorization as again a thetan is not a point in space and so can be the space and a body in it all at the same time.

Perhaps “exteriorization” or “being exterior” could themselves be somewhat misleading since “exterior” means “outside” and a thetan, inherently having no location, does not have to be limited to being inside (interior) or outside (exterior) of the body but can simply pervade THROUGH the body and the environment all at the same time.


If we view a thetan (or theta, static, spirit) as a pervading awareness in its basic form, then it is easy to see how a spirit could occupy some point in space according to its own considerations of itself or it could fill the space itself. You could, for example, perceive yourself as occupying a body and operating through it or you could perceive yourself as an expanded field of awareness with your body and some aspects of your environment in it, and this, in effect, would be complete or partial “exteriorization.”

To perceive that you, as a unit of awareness, is “outside” of the body, it seems that you would simply need to either:

1) Be aware of something else and not be aware of your body, at least not as far as awareness of inside of your body goes, or

2) Be able to perceive your body from some point in space external to the body.

Theoretically, both of these could give someone a sense that they are “outside” of the body. Descriptions of experiences with regards to the first point can be found in literature on mediation that usually have to do with intense and prolonged concentration on some object to the point where the observer loses awareness of one’s own body and instead “blends in” with the object of observation.

Descriptions with regards to the second point are not as widespread outside of Scientology community and usually have to do with descriptions of near death experiences or experiences while under influence of psychedelic drugs. There is also a growing community of people practicing OBE (out-of-body experiences), but these usually have to do with a certain type of dream state as opposed to experiencing being outside of one’s body in a waking state so the two phenomena may not be exactly the same.


Hubbard himself confirms the idea of changes in awareness in a different lecture that is more in line with Scientology axioms and common sense:

[19 MAY 1952] Route to Infinity: Outline of Technique 80

You could be aware of the body. What you want to be on the First Dynamic is to be so aware of the body that you then rise up, pass through that and become never aware of the body.

Did you ever see a ballet dancer who was aware of his feet? No, not a good one. Nor have you ever seen a tennis player who was aware of his racket.

[First Dynamic is a term for oneself as an individual.]


In this same lecture Hubbard also gives an idea on how objects could be moved without a body – no “tractor waves” required:

In the first place, evidently, a human being can look at an object and move it if he is high on the Tone Scale. He can look at an object and move it. Poltergeist, you call it. All you do is put a few more ergs of energy on one side of it than you put on the other side of it and it’ll move. Like an airfoil, it goes up, because it has got less air on the top than the bottom. That’s the way you move things when you don’t have a body.


Why Hubbard needed to go off and conceptualize a spiritual being as some entity that supposedly uses energy beams to even gather communication from the body is not very clear. The truth is basically simple but with over three thousand (3,000+) lectures, volumes of bulletins, and a complex organizational structure Hubbard made it seem so complex and overwhelming as to make Scientology virtually useless and counter-productive from the viewpoint of a genuine spiritual practice.


The above analysis was performed using Hubbard’s own definition as evaluation criteria, but now…


To put it simply, Scientology axioms serve to deny or negate the factor of existence to reality, including the reality of consciousness itself.

First, Hubbard defines a Thetan in terms of what it is not (no mass, no motion,  no location, no wavelength) but highlights its supposed ability (to postulate and perceive). This is like defining an “apple” by saying that “it is not a pear, and it can produce a tree when planted in the ground.” Saying that something is not something else does not exactly provide a descriptive definition. This is why on this website a definition for Consciousness started with attempting to identify what it actually is – a form of intelligence – rather than elaborating on what it is not.

From defining a Thetan in terms of “non-existence,” Hubbard then proceeds to invalidate the factor of existence to the physical reality itself by asserting that “space, energy, objects, form and time” are all “the result of considerations.” Of course someone can argue that saying that something is a “result of” considerations is not the same as saying that something “is” a consideration. As an analogy, a clay figure could be seen as a “result” of sculptor’s vision, but it is not itself a vision. However, Axiom 48 further clarifies Hubbard’s view that all is thought or that thought is the underlying nature of all that exists:

48. Life is a game wherein Theta as the Static solves the problems of Theta as MEST.

So Theta is all that exists, but ultimately Theta itself is defined as a form of non-existence that can produce postulates and considerations. So ultimately considerations is all that exists, and there is no actual existence outside of considerations?

Perhaps the most direct statement along this line can be found in The Creation of Human Ability:

(1955) The Creation of Human Ability

Considerations take rank over the mechanics of space, energy, and time. By this it is meant that an idea or opinion is, fundamentally, superior to space, energy, and time, or organizations of form, since it is conceived that space, energy, and time are themselves broadly agreed-upon considerations. That so many minds agree brings about Reality in the form of space, energy, and time. These mechanics, then, of space, energy, and time are the product of agreed-upon considerations mutually held by life.

So in Scientology’s view established by Hubbard, CONSIDERATIONS are the fundamental building blocks of reality meaning there is no actual reality with existence of its own apart from “considerations,” but since even consciousness or theta itself has been defined as a form of non-existence, then there is no actual existence at all. How can this view be supported by any real observations or experience?

Even with respect to Consciousness itself, if we actually look at it – such as consciousness of a selected individual or group or some living form – we can see that Consciousness does have a factor of existence to it: Consciousness has “volume” (or capacity); it can be enhanced or inhibited; it can expand or become limited in scope. Consciousness can be trapped and manipulated or liberated and empowered; it can have greater freedom and capacity or it can in some way be blocked or restricted. Consciousness can definitely occupy space – it can be concentrated in some narrow area or pervade through and cover large areas of existence and reality…

If actual existence of reality is acknowledged in line with common experience, then the nature of Consciousness also becomes more clear as a sort of “ethereal substance” of intelligence that can pervade through and interact with the various existences in reality. It seems like this was Hubbard’s initial understanding under the Theta-MEST Theory in Science of Survival, but then it got sidetracked into the sphere of non-existence for both MEST and Theta alike with Scientology Axioms.

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