How many of you have seen that video? Go here if you're interested.
I searched it out because the Web has been all abuzz about it for the last few days, what with hackers hacking confidential Scientology documents, and the omnipresent, omniscient, omniomni Anonymous releasing apocalyptic videos threatening the infiltration and destruction of Scientology. Why, it's even broken out into the mainstream media. Hoo Ha!
So I found the video. Here's what I have to say about that.
Personally, I think Scientology is a crock. (Full of cash.) I have one friend who got involved many years ago when he was much younger, and it nearly broke up his family. And I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot barge pole. Still, there are some very successful, very talented people who are Scientologists, and if it worked for them, more power to 'em, I guess. It's not for me.
But the video...People have been commenting on Tom Cruise's bizarre behaviour for some time now, starting, I think, with his couch romp on Oprah. OK, he's exuberant. Manic? He's an actor fer gawdsake! Perception is a funny thing...quite subjective, you know? Everybody seems to think Cruise's performance on this video is a bit loony.
I don't think so. And here's why. It's a promotional video produced for internal consumption among fellow Scientologists and students. In other words, it's meant not for the public at large but for people who have some understanding of the concepts being discussed. So Cruise uses jargon...Scientology jargon...without worrying about whether he is being intelligible, because he assumes he will be. (I do think it's a bit weird that the video is so one-sided...you never hear the questions he's answering. I think that would explain a lot. But you have to figure the producers made the same assumption as Cruise...that the potential viewers already understood the references.)
Now, you all know I am Buddhist person. How many of you have ever really looked at film of a Tibetan Buddhist ritual? Have you seen the scene in Kundun where they consult the oracle? To an outsider, it's bizarre. Furthermore, some of the stuff I've been reading in the last few months, readings about Highest Yoga Tantra, sounds pretty whacked if you don't have some knowledge of the references. That's why it's called esoteric! The whispered lineage. It's not supposed to be fully intelligible to the uninitiated. And if you saw some of it, you might say, "What the hell has Larry got himself into?" I'll tell you this. Damn if I know. Some of it's still unintelligible to me too. String theory sounds whacked to most of us too. Until we study it enough to make some sense of what string theorists mean.
For me, and maybe most of us, Scientology still carries the whiff of something slightly sinister. Years ago, the Hill Commission in Ontariario declared Scientology to be a cult. For some, Tibetan Buddhism smacks of cultishness. Lamaism! Shamanism! Let me toss out just one phrase: Guru Devotion. (For the uninitiated, that could well mean manipulation, abuse. Sometimes, us all being more or less human, it has, but mostly not.)
So look at the video. Aside from the jargon, if you listen to the actual words Cruise says, the sentiments he expresses, there's not much to be scared or outraged about. For us outsiders looking in, it's risky to make snap judgments.