For centuries, philosophers have pondered and repondered the nature of reality. In Scientology, agreement is considered the essence of reality. As defined earlier, reality is the degree of agreement reached by two ends of a communication line. In essence, it is the degree of duplication achieved between cause and effect. That which is real is only real because it is agreed upon. As a person agrees to something, it becomes real to him; as he disagrees it becomes to some degree unreal.
There are essentially three kinds of reality; one's own, that of the physical universe, and the individual reality of every other separate individual. These constitute the " three universes ". The agreement to perceive is an agreement which makes possible reality. That which one perceives he mechanically agrees with in the sense that by perceiving he is agreeing to its existence. The reader should understand that a person does not have to say to himself verbally " I agree " that such and such exists, even though this is also a way to create reality. No, by sitting on a very perceptible chair, he is agreeing to its reality even though he does not say " I am sitting on a chair ". Perception in itself is the agreement which enforces mechanical agreement that whatever is perceived is real. Scientology was unknown several years ago; now many people agree that Scientology exists, is real. Through communication, people have come to agree that the subject is real. Any profession to exist as a reality must have the agreement on the part of people that it does exist. The profession of the ministry is not very real to cows or to monkeys or to the Amazonian headhunter as for example in the case of several missionaries who were recently murdered.
The agreement that something exists makes it real, makes it enduring, makes it have persistence. In the days of Christ there was no Christian Church. But the agreement of many people made the Church a reality and, as it became more real, it reflected this reality in building and material objects quite tangible to normal body senses. In other words, Christianity was first an idea which became increasingly real in a very material way as people agreed to its existence. Reality has its origin in ideas or Considerations (as defined earlier). Words were probably thoughts to begin with until someone made noises and those noises were agreed upon to have certain meanings. As reality about words developed, they gained even more tangible reality in terms of a written language, and today, there are massive libraries to contain books. Agreement creates reality and as things become increasingly agreed upon they become increasingly more tangibly solid; the danger in agreement is that a person tends to identify with the agreement and if it is a solid reality, he also tends to become more solid. If a man agrees sufficiently that he should drink orange juice every morning this eventually is as strong a reality to him as the reality that the earth exists.
Societies are essentially realities brought about by agreement. The Constitution of the United States is a set of agreements which has created a very real nation today; further, each year this government gains more and more mass in the form of buildings, forests, people who work for it, etc. So it becomes an increasingly solid reality.
Morals, ethics, mores, and fashions are also realities brought about by agreement. For example, the Roman Citizen of the early Christian era felt that a person should be free to worship as many gods as he wished. This was very real to Romans who resented Christian insistence that they should worship only one God. Eventually, there were more who agreed that only one God should be worshipped and so Christianity became the dominant reality of Rome and subsequently, Italy. It is interesting to note that as the Roman empire became less a reality, the Christian Empire grew and acquired the mass which had formerly belonged to Rome. If one visits Rome today he will see that many of the massive buildings represented by the Church are on the Roman pattern, and some research will disclose that many of the actual stones of the various Churches actually come from Roman edifices. This is in no way intended as a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church but is merely an example of how agreement brings about reality which becomes more and more real in terms of mass.
If a young man agrees with himself that he wants to be a lawyer he then proceeds to make this a reality by taking a course which is the agreed upon way to become a lawyer. When he graduates he then is admitted to the bar, which is a further agreement that he is now a lawyer which members of his own profession make real by their agreementto admit him. As he meets people, they also agree he is a lawyer and, in time, this becomes quite real. If he is a successful lawyer, he usually will acquire more mass in the form of houses, cars, office equipment and so forth. Greater agreement will increase thereby the reality he is a lawyer. If he should one day walk down the street and said that he was a fine surgeon to fellow lawyers, he either would be thought to be joking or to have become suddenly insane. Generally, when people do not agree they are considered wrong, insane or stupid. The penalty for disagreement through the history of man has often been extreme, if not fatal. The early American Puritans, who actually went to America to gain religious freedom, were so strict in their own set of agreements that they would not permit anyone who disagreed to live among them. The Spanish Inquisition is another example of punishment administered to those who disagreed with the then current set of beliefs (agreements). In the Victorian era, any woman who publicly showed her legs was punished by ostracism and rejection because she was out of agreement with the then popular reality. In the more feudal days of England, no man dared disagree openly, with the King if he wished to remain free and alive. These are all forms of reality brought about by agreement.
The individual can have his own personal reality which is not subject to the laws of the material universe. He is free to imagine anything, such as living for ten years without eating, or levitating, and he can by self-agreement make the mental picture or mockup very real to him. However, the operating set of material universe agreements which constitute physical reality would be ordinarily very difficult for him to change sufficiently to make this privately imagined reality come true. In Scientology, when a person imagines something that is not demonstrable to others and yet is real to the one person this is called an "Actuality ".
For example, an architect can imagine the shape and design of a house. Until he translates his thought form into some symbol such as drawings or written specifications or the building of the house itself, this remains only an Actuality. When he communicates the idea to others and they agree, it then becomes to some degree a Reality. When the house is built, his original Actuality becomes even more of a Reality.
Endless speculation and argument could be created about the nature of reality in the physical universe. For the moment, it will be stated that the material universe of matter, energy, space and time is an existing set of agreements perceived by the human body, which is also composed of matter, energy, space and which exists in time. Consistent material universe agreements are called physical laws. The material universe which we all share is a reality composed of longstanding agreements. How these came about and the mechanics of their perpetuation are matters too theoretical and complex for this volume. For now, it will be sufficient to assume that the physical universe exists to our own personal perception of it.
The individual has his own private universe, which usually includes his perception of the material universe and the perception of the universes of other individuals. These are the three universes mentioned by L. Ron Hubbard : one's own universe; the material universe; the universes of all other individuals and life forms. Insofar as the individual's own universe is concerned, the reality of the material universe and the reality of other people's universes are as real to him as he perceives and agrees to them. For practical purposes, that which a person does not perceive does not exist as a reality for that individual.
Between the three universes there is a continuing interchange and this makes possible social reality. Any culture is comprised of a set of agreements which are real to the people within that culture and which are perpetuated to insure its survival. As the culture grows, some of the agreements are gradually changed to meet current conditions. A country which does not do this has, to say the least, much difficulty. Likewise, a person who is unable to change his agreements and who further insists that no one else change his agreements will also have difficulty. In fact, this quite often occurs with old people. They still cling to the reality, set of agreements about life, which they held as young people. The younger generation, which has been going to pot for at least 5,000 years, has a differing set of agreements more in accord with present time. Therefore, there is a difference of reality between generations. People do not usually change their agreements about life easily because their reality proved successful in that they survived by having it and they cannot realise that there might be any differing sets of agreements which could be at least equally workable. This phenomena of doggedly held realities is often seen in immigrants from Europe who settle in a new country. They tend to group together and continue the reality which they had at home and, to some degree, they do not survive as well as they might if they adapted their realities to fit their new country. It often takes two or three generations until the reality of the new nation is expressed and agreed upon by the descendants. The Chinese who settled in the United States usually took several generations to become " Americanized ". Of course, the cycle was a vicious one because they felt insecure and tended to remain in agreement and communication with that which was familiar and so did not reach out into their new society. The people in the new society tended not to communicate with them because they were so different, a failure which was a mutual failure. It was only when the children of both groups attended the same school that communication began to create an even newer reality and the Chinese of the younger generation became adept at handling two quite different social realities.
People who have grown up in isolated farming communities are quite often surprised and sometimes badly shaken by the fact that people in varying nations have completely different- realities; it is at first almost incomprehensible that "people really think like that ". For instance, there are still many nations where polygamy is the cultural norm because it is very thoroughly agreed upon and so is a reality. Anyone living in these nations who was monogamous would have a differing reality and so would be part of what is ordinarily called a minority group. The Negroes in the United States are also an example of a minority group who are out of agreement with the larger reality primarily because they do not duplicate the physical colouring of the majority of people. As indicated earlier, reality is the degree of agreement or duplication, between cause and effect. It can be seen, then, that as there is not duplication even on a gross physical level there is then some difference of reality.
Because realities differ greatly from individual to individual, and from group to group, and from nation to nation, and because this is a world of rapid communication and transportation, it is extremely important for the individual to be able to tolerate, to create and to handle differing realities. He should be able to maintain his own reality and yet not so grimly that he stays out of communication with those realities which differ. The individual should be able at will to agree or to change his agreements or to not agree. In other words, he should be able to willingly change his mind or to not change his mind as necessary. Yet this should be on a conscious, rational level and not a compulsive, unknowing need to cling to his childhood or his homeland. As a person cannot agree with the realities around him, he is out of communication and misunderstanding will exist and so he survives less well. A person who insists that his is the only reality and who tries to make the physical universe and other people's realities conform to his, will constantly create failure for himself and will be an unhappy and possibly neurotic individual. He fears that if he is willing to let other realities exist that he will be less real and that he must become like the others. Yet this is not true, because a person can maintain his own reality and still understand and appreciate other realities. Unfortunately, people are taught to be intolerant of differing ideas and that there is only one way . . . theirs. This brings about disagreement, lack of duplication and therefore misunderstanding continues. Astronomers hold differing realities about whether the physical universe is remaining constant, expanding, or contracting. Each has his own pet theory, which is mainly only theory, and, as a result of each busily defending his own pet theory, the science of astronomy in some respects is not a science at all.
One can observe that as a person's perceptions begin to fail he functions less well in the material universe. For instance, when a person goes blind he needs to develop his other perceptions and he requires outside assistance more than the person who can see. He has, in essence, gone out of agreement with the physical universe and it is less real to him in some ways. This does not mean that it has ceased to exist which he would discover when he walked into a wall, but it has become less real to him in some ways because he cannot perceive and duplicate it. In the same way, when a person refuses to perceive or to acknowledge the realities of others, they become less real to him and he is less capable of handling them even though they still continue to exist. In fact, they can quite likely do even more which he won't like and cannot do much about because he will not communicate with them.
Agreement creates reality and reality is created through communication. As a person can perceive and communicate, he can also build realities, destroy realities or maintain them. As a person's ability to. perceive, to communicate, to agree or to not agree is improved he becomes a happier, more able individual.