Some of the providers of the most profound sense of meaning are some cults, providing their members with a very powerful sense of purpose or identity not easily found outside of a cult context. (Finding a strong sense of your own identity is by no means an easy process, is it?) Allow me to use the example of Scientology, and let their poster boy (Tom Cruise) express this in his own words, if you haven’t seen it already: below is the old “Tom Cruise, Scientologist” video (~10mins) which was played on the awards ceremony where they awarded him with their “Freedom Medal of Valor”. Alternatively, look at this shorter news report video clip which gives extracts with explanations. (For explanations of the uncut version, I include the jargon mini-dictionary below.)
I copied this mini-dictionary from the description on the YouTube clip above:
Scientology mini dictionary:
- KSW: (short for Keeping Scientology Working): A policy written by Hubbard in the 1960’s that requires all Scientologists to follow his words and his rules exactly.
- Orgs: Orgs is an abbreviation for ‘organizations’ and describes all churches of Scientology throughout the world.
- David Miscavige: He is the current leader of Scientology. He’s the equivalent of the Pope to the Catholics.
- Out-ethics: any behavior that violates any of Hubbard’s rules of conduct.
- Put ethics in on someone else: make others conform to Hubbard’s rules of behavior.
- Criminon: Scientology front group that tries to recruit through the prisons.
- SP: Suppressive Person. Anyone that doesn’t like Scientology and/or criticizes Scientology.
- PTS/SP: another Hubbard term to define behavior that goes against Scientology rules.
- LRH technology or ‘tech’: all the Scientology policies, rules, mandates, procedures.
Tom Cruise’s day job is acting, entertainment. Being an entertainer is a good job, an important role to play in life, people need to be entertained (entertainment is the opiate of the masses), and in making people happy, you even get a fan club! (Actually, you’re even a provider of meaning yourself, you provide fanboys with an opportunity to hero-worship 😉 ). However, it isn’t profoundly meaningful (maybe depending on the roles you get to play). Consider also that Wikipedia claims that at some point in his youth Tom Cruise aspired to become a Catholic priest, a role of profound or ultimate significance to those of that faith, one of divinely ordained altruistically motivated service to (ideally) to your community/tribe. If that were my biography, such aspirations would be an expression of my innate desire to do something more profound and meaningful than a role as a movie star acting in the kinds of movies he has been doing lately.
And Scientology provides him with that sort of meaning. Tom Cruise says (according to a source I need to dig up again, or replace this quote with another):
That’s what drives me. I know that we have an opportunity to really help for the first time, effectively change people’s lives and I am dedicated to that. I’m absolutely, uncompromisingly dedicated to that.
As delusional as he seems in the video clip above, as much as this might be motivated by the experience of being so important and so pivotal in “the most important thing in the world”, LRH tech and Scientology, there is also at least some motivation born from truly caring about humanity and the people around him. Our innate care for one another, perverted and manipulated through the mortal sin of pride, causing it to become an agent to promote abominations like Scientology…