Page last updated: Aug 29, 2020 @ 5:38 am

Life as a web of interconnected life forms and their activities is a product of intelligence, or consciousness, at work. Under Dianetics this special form of “life energy” was termed THETA and was first introduced and described in the book Science of Survival:

(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.

In Dianetics we are dealing then with theta and MEST. Theta is thought, life force, elan vital, the spirit, the soul, or any other of the numerous definitions it has had for some thousands of years.

As soon as we separate the two entities, a host of problems heretofore quite complex resolve into simplicity. Theta, we could say, comes from the universe of theta, which is different from the MEST universe. Theta has its own matter—ideas; it has its own energy and the characteristics of that energy; it has its own space of operation, as distinct from MEST space; and it has its own time.

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.


Theta-MEST is a pretty good model except for Hubbard’s limiting assertion that life’s “ONLY mission” in the physical universe is the CONQUEST of MEST. That sets a pretty aggressive tone from the get-go especially with words like “painful smash,” “onslaught,” and “raid.” It should not then be surprising that Hubbard’s ultimate construct for his organization was a highly authoritarian, quasi-military order that was literally on a mission to conquer the planet and then proceed to conquer the galaxy at large using the technologies of D&S (note: Scientologists believe that there are many other civilizations inhabiting the galaxy on other planets).

When we actually OBSERVE life and what it is doing, we can see that the “mission” of life is not so much a conquest but an elaborate CREATION of interconnected forms and experiences. All of life’s activities could be viewed as CREATIVE activities. The “energy of life” could then be better conceptualized as an ENERGY OF CREATION or INTELLIGENCE OF CREATION.

Conquest in itself could definitely be viewed as a creative activity, but not all creative activity can be easily viewed as “conquest.” The view of life’s mission as a “conquest” presents life as a rather mechanical activity with a lack of meaning. It also implies that the physical universe is some kind of an “opponent” to be overcome by life as opposed to being “raw material” to be used for creative expression.

If we look even at the most microscopic level of cells and bacteria, life could be seen to be very creative and intelligent in its expression.

If we view life as a form of intelligence that manifests itself by creating in the physical universe then our own lives and what we are trying to do becomes much more meaningful and clear as well. And clarifying “theta” as an energy / intelligence of creation also explains why things tend to work out better in life when you have more “theta.”

Notice how such conception of life is also in line with the concept from The Fundamentals of Thought of a spirit being THE CREATOR OF THINGS. It is worth noting that in Scientology, which was developed after Dianetics, there is an increasing emphasis on creation (as opposed to survival), but the view of life (theta) at large was never quite adjusted to parallel this newer approach in Scientology which is done on this page.

Let’s look at a few more examples of life as intelligence creating in the physical universe.

Sycamore Seeds – How does a tree “know” the laws of aerodynamics and how to build a seed that will fly propelling itself through the air?


And wondering about all the beauty and complexity of life in the sea, you just can’t help to think that there is something more going on than just “conquest.”


And another one on pollination:


Page initially published on September 12th, 2014
Moved to June 20, 2020

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