Many websites have a page of “Frequently Asked Questions,” or “FAQs.” We do too, but we have to admit that we don’t really know, in advance, just what questions will be “frequently asked” of us. In light of this, we have simply compiled certain information, which we think might be of interest to our visitors, into the common “faqs” format. Over time, if we find that certain questions actually are asked frequently, this will be reflected on this page.
Q: What is the Scionics Institute? Is Scionics a philosophy, a religion, or what exactly?
A: The Scionics Institute is a small, private think-tank, tasked with generating a fully-integrated matrix of reason- and reality-based knowledge and concepts, called “Scionics.” This task demands the absolute and unwavering understanding, acceptance and application of sound principles of reason and evidence, and of the conclusions and integrations resulting from such reason and evidence; in other words, it requires an honest, disciplined, scientific and business-like approach to extracting knowledge from, and operating within, reality. This discipline concomitantly entails the rejection of all forms of mysticism, superstition, magical thinking, uncritically accepted faith, and the like: the acceptance of reason and reality inescapably involves the rejection of all forms of mysticism.
It should not be surprising, then, that during the early decades of the Institute essentially all forms of religious beliefs and practices were strictly rejected, due to their inherently mystical, non-rational and non-reality basis. Two developments within Scionics, however, ultimately forced a very subtle but important modification to this otherwise non-religious stance. The first of these involved the integration of various Scionics concepts which were first laid out in “Mathematical Cosmic Consciousness: The Ultimate Foundation and Cause of All Reality.” This document put forth a view which is distinct from either mystical theism or simplistic atheism, called “matheism.” Matheism posits that, rather than some mystical imaginary god, or even simple blind chance, the ultimate foundation and cause of all reality is the universal and ontologically necessary truths of mathematics. It further goes on to carefully distinguish the difference between mind and consciousness, and to explain why consciousness (not mind) necessarily arises from mathematics itself, and, in turn, serves as the source and foundation of physics, and hence the physical world itself. This consciousness (again, not mind) permeates all reality, and is thus called “Cosmic Consciousness.” The subtle but important differences between this mathematically-grounded cosmic consciousness, on the one hand, and the “personal god” concept found in many religions, on the other, is the source of the subtle but important differences between matheism and both theism and atheism. (This is complex and heady stuff. We invite those interested such physical and philosophical things to please read Mathematical Consciousness for themselves.)
The second development which modified the strictly non-religious stance of the Scionics Institute came from a survey of beliefs and practices of a great number of world’s religions. As might be expected, essentially all of them were rejected as fundamentally and irreconcilably mystical. There was one, however, which was found to contain a core subset of non-mystical and reality-based beliefs and practices which were completely compatible with reality and Scionics. This “religion,” in fact, is actually held by many as not truly being a religion in the usual sense of the word, but instead is considered to be a philosophy or simply an approach to living. This “religion-which-is-not-a-religion” is Buddhism, when it is stripped of all mysticism and its reality-based essence is laid bare. It should be noted that such stripping away of mysticism simply cannot be productively applied to most other religions. Christianity, for example, relies upon its Christ-centered mysticisms, and cannot stand once these are stripped away; the same would be true for Judaism and Moses or Abraham, or Islam and Mohamed. In the case of Buddhism, however, one can easily remove all mystical notions surrounding Gautama Buddha, or reincarnation, or anything else for that matter, but one would still be left with a set of powerful meditative techniques (the efficacy of which neuroscience has conclusively demonstrated) as well as certain valuable and profound insights and understandings regarding the human condition.
Once these Buddhist-derived non-mystical practices and concepts were identified, they were quickly integrated into the body of Scionics, under the simple principle of embracing and integrating the widest possible array of non-mystical concepts. At this point, one could legitimately question whether Scionics should properly be identified as a philosophy or a religion, or perhaps something somewhat different. After all, matheism straddles and shares some of the conceptual territory of both theism and atheism, while remaining somewhat distinct from either. And the non-mystical core of Buddhism identified by Scionics informs much of traditional Buddhism as it has been practiced throughout the world, while itself remaining free of all of the mystical superstitions which have also traditionally surrounded it. We have come to realize that we are treading on somewhat new territory, and that the usual traditional distinctions between religious and secular do not apply here. Is a non-mystical religion really a religion, or is it a philosophy, ? Is a philosophy, informed by non-mystical religious practices and concepts, still a philosophy, or is it a religion? Or is it neither, or both, or something else? This also calls into question the role of the Scionics Institute itself: is it now, strictly speaking, a philosophical think tank as originally conceived, or has it become a religious organization? Or, just as Scionics itself, is the Scionics Institute neither, or both, or something else?
To resolve this issue, the Scionics Institute decided it would be best to operate in a dual capacity: on the one hand it would continue, just as it always had, with its task of integrating reason- and reality-based knowledge, and on the other it would also found a separate “Scio-Buddhist” organization, for the purpose of carrying out the Buddhist-derived, non-mystical practices in a somewhat traditional manner, in the recognition that many individuals find value in the positive social reinforcement of shared (and in this case, non-mystical) religious community. Scio-Buddhism, then represents the natural reason- and reality-based evolution of of Buddhism, entailing the rejection of all mysticism, and carrying out purely non-mystical meditative practices. The Scionics Institute, then, while continuing to operate essentially as it always had, would also serve as the independent research, publishing and policy arm of the Scio-Buddhism. To clarify, while the Scionics Institute is an arm of the “Church of Scio-Buddhism” the Church does not direct the activities of the Institute in any way; to the contrary, it is the Scionics Institute which sets policy for the Church. In fact, if the Scionics Institute were to develop or discover new information, contradictory to currently established Church Doctrine, the Church would be bound to modify its Doctrine accordingly. The Church of Scio-Buddhism will, in this way, maintain an iron-clad grip and adherence to the most accurate reason- and reality-based information available – making it unlike essentially all other churches which cling to their mystical, unreal doctrines, despite mountains of contradictory evidence.
Those who feel no need for anything even remotely religious in nature, or who are perhaps averse to religion in any form, have no need to embrace Scio-Buddhism at all; every bit of knowledge available from Scio-Buddhism is available from Scionics itself, without the religious trappings. Those who feel they would benefit from the social communion of a religious organization, however, while wishing to avoid all mysticism, would do well to consider participation in the Church of Scio-Buddhism.
Q: Who created all of this? Who is involved with this project? What is the Priory of Scion?
A: The Scionics Initiative, aka the Scionics Project, was initiated by one anonymous person, our founder, the pseudonymous “Chyren,” decades ago. (The origin of this pseudonym is explained in the next paragraph.) For the first several years he worked alone, laying the foundation for all that was to come. Due to the massive scope and complexity of this project, he began to quietly seek the consultation and aid of others with needed knowledge and skills, often without revealing almost anything about the project at all, beyond the very bare minimum required to accomplish the task for which they were recruited. This is a practice we continue to this day.
Over time a very small handful of other individuals have been inducted into the inner core of the Scionics Institute. As a playful reference to the 1956 French fraternal organization, the “Priory of Sion,” (French: “Prieuré de Sion“) the core members of the Scionics Institute call themselves the “Priory of Scion,” and have given the Founder the title of “Prior,” “Chyren,” or “Prior Chyren.” (Chyren was the pseudonym of Pierre Plantard, the founder of the Priory of Sion, so this seemed an apt, albeit somewhat humorous, appellation for our founder as well.)
The members of the Priory, according to the principles of Scionics, set forth by Chyren, are guided by an unwavering commitment to reality and reason, or “empiricorationality,” as this is termed in Scionics. This commitment to empiricorationality necessarily entails an unwavering commitment to honest: this includes self-honesty, in order to cultivate the proper psychological relationship with reality and reason, as well as honesty in the information we publish, which is the very foundation of our mission. It is the rare individual who possesses the requisite traits to become a member of the Priory, but we are always alert to find such people.
It has been determined that all of the members of the Priory should remain anonymous at this time, because much of the information generated by the Scionics Institute directly exposes the falsity and mysticism inherent in much of religion, government, and society in general. To reveal our identities would be to put ourselves at risk of becoming the targets of those who might view us as threats to their belief systems or power structures. Protecting our identities thus leaves us free to do our best, most honest work.
Q: Is the Scionics Institute a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit religious organization? Are donations to the Scionics Institute tax deductible?
A: We are not lawyers or tax specialists. We are simply expressing our understanding regarding our tax-exempt status, so the following should not be construed as legal or tax advice, but only as our considered opinion, regarding the tax-status of donations to the Scionics Institute.
We pride ourselves on being self-funded. We never require or even ask anyone to donate to our cause. Any donations we receive are completely voluntary and unsolicited. If you feel that our work deserves your financial support, and if you are in a position to donate (in other words, only if your donation will not cause you any financial difficulty at all) then you may do so, only then, with our sincerest gratitude.
With that out of the way, we have never officially registered with the IRS or any other governmental body or offices for tax-exempt status, or for recognition in any way. We are a Church. To be more specific, the Church of Scio-Buddhism is a Church, and the Scionics Institute, as mentioned in an answer above, is an essential part of the Church, serving as its independent research, publishing and policy arm.
We are based in the United States of America, where Churches automatically have a special tax-exempt status, and do not need to “apply,” “register,” or undergo any sort of governmental or other “approval” or “recognition” process in order to exercise their tax-exempt status. This has been true since at least as early as the 1791 ratification of the United States Constitution, the First Amendment of which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This was the very First Amendment to the Constitution, because it was recognized that these rights are so absolutely fundamental human liberty, and to the functioning of a free society. The unique status of Churches is reflected in the Internal Revenue Code, passed by Congress. Whereas certain types of not-for-profit organizations are required, by law, to apply for Federal recognition of their not-for-profit status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, this requirement does not apply to Churches. In order to make this clear, Section 508(c)(1)(A) specifically lists “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” as being exempt from the requirement to register for recognition as a not-for-profit organization. They are exempt from this requirement because they are automatically tax-exempt under 501(c)(3) by virtue of their very unique legal status.
Furthermore, regarding the tax-deductible status of donations to the chruch, IRS Publication 526 states:
You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. To become a qualified organization, most organizations other than churches and governments, as described below, must apply to the IRS.
So, from all of the above, you can see that while we have not applied for 501(c)(3) status, and are not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization, as a Church we automatically have 501(c)(3) status. Furthermore, as a Church, contributions made to us are automatically deductible. Again, we are not lawyers or tax specialists, so this is not to be taken as legal or tax advice, but only as our considered opinion of the matter.
Q: Are you a cult?
A: The term “cult” has been applied to a wide array a groups, although it can be difficult to pin down an exact definition of just what makes something a cult. That being said, we have created a short list of criteria:
- Cults attempt to control and extract values from others.
The fundamental reason that one would attempt to create a cult is because the creator or cult-leader desires to get something of value from the cult members. This can be money, but it can also be things like social prestige, sex, or anything else valued by the leader. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, one could also say that even legitimate businesses exist in order to get something of value from their customers, namely money. The difference here is that whereas an honest business is offering something of actual value in exchange for the fee paid, a cult offers disvalues. Furthermore, the level of control exerted by a cult is far beyond the simple voluntary exchange of values one would engage in with an honest business, but instead would involve fraud, force or coercion.
As stated in the previous question, the Scionics Institute prides itself on being self-funded. No one is ever required or asked to donate to our cause. We would never knowingly accept a donation from anyone that we knew was not in a financial situation to make such a donation. Even when we sell a book or other information, we also make that same information available for free on our website. Furthermore, since our core members (the Priory of Scion) remain anonymous, it should be obvious that we aren’t seeking anything like social prestige or sex from those who value the information we provide.
Since we are not trying to gain anything from anyone, we have no reason to try to control anyone. To the contrary, everything we do is designed to increase and protect the individual freedom and autonomy of anyone who is exposed to our anti-mystical writings.
Cults try to attract vulnerable people and appear to meet their needs.
There are legitimate, non-cult organization which try to attract or recruit vulnerable people. A homeless shelter or soup kitchen, for example, is seeking out people in need, but in this case they actually provide valuable goods or services for these people. A cult, on the other hand, provides nothing of any real value, while attempting to provide an illusion of value and of needs filled. This illusion serves as a sort of lure to keep people feeling dependent upon the cult, which the cult uses, not to actually provide any actual value, but instead to extract value from its vulnerable members.
The Scionics Institute does not specifically seek out vulnerable people, although it is gratifying to be able to help those with the greatest need and an empiricorational orientation would be a value to anyone. We have no reason to offer some illusion of value to keep anyone feeling dependent upon us, since there is nothing we are trying to gain from anyone. In fact, we offer real value to everyone who wishes to abandon mysticism and embrace reason and reality.
Cults try to get their followers to reduce or cut off social contacts with those outside the cult, such as family, friends, and so on, as well as reducing exposure to any ideas which are contrary to the cult.
Limiting outside contacts and reducing exposure to ideas contrary to the cult is a means for limiting the chance that their followers will be exposed to ideas which will help them see through the cult and its harmful effects, and abandon it. Limiting outside social contacts also has the extra effect of eroding the follower’s social safety net, thereby increasing their vulnerability and dependence upon the cult.
The Scionics Institute has no desire to limit anyone’s contact with their friends or family, or to limit their exposure to any ideas whatsoever. If anything, we welcome competing ideas. Competition in the marketplace of ideas can only serve to strengthen Scionics Philosophy which, unlike cults or traditional religions, is firmly founded on reason and reality and, like science itself, adapts to reflect more accurate information as it comes to light.
- Cults create conventionally “unfalsifiable” doctrines, i.e., doctrines which are incapable of being directly tested.
When it is impossible to test an idea, it is impossible to prove it wrong. Many people erroneously view this as proof that it is right. As an example, a cult leader may claim that he or she is in direct contact with God, and is following God’s orders. Since there is no way to directly test such a claim, this can easily lead naive followers astray. There’s really no limit on the number of such claims which could be made. Cults will often create a doctrine of a number of mutually reinforcing but unfalsifiable claims, trapping their followers in a web of lies and dishonesty.
It should be noted, however, that such techniques are quite obvious to anyone employing non-mystical empiricorational thinking. Scionics therefore makes a person highly resistant, if not invulnerable, to such techniques. For this reason, it would be not only pointless but actually devastatingly counter-productive for the Scionics Institute to ever publish philosophical concepts which are counter to reality or reason. We will never ask you to just take our word for it, however. We want you to think for yourself, hopefully empiricorationally and non-mystically.
- Cults attempt to control and extract values from others.
Q: What is the meaning behind your logo?
A: Our logo, The Illuminated Triangle, primarily represents the enlightening power of empiricorationalism. The triangle represents conceptualization. At the base of the triangle, the widest horizontal stretch, there is very little conceptual integration, and one is in greatest darkness. Ascending the triangle, the lower-level less integrated concepts begin to get integrated into higher-level, more integrated concepts, and the darkness begins to diminish as one begins to experience a degree of enlightenment. At the pinnacle of the triangle, all lower concepts have been fully integrated, and one has attained full enlightenment.
The Illuminated Triangle also represents another type of enlightenment or awakening which comes as one experiences the world in a less dualistic and more unitary manner. The bottom of the triangle represents the greatest duality, which diminishes as one ascends the triangle. At the pinnacle is the experience of unity, which is also the point of greatest illumination.
These representations can be applied to the honest individual, the Scion, ever-striving for greater empiricorational understanding and for greater unitary experience. It can also be applied to humanity at large, as it slowly lumbers away from the mystical darkness which has enveloped it for countless millennia, towards the dawn of a new age of reality- and reason-base knowledge and social unity. Finally, it can be applied to the Scionics Institute itself, in its continuing effort to integrate and deliver ever-greater spheres of understanding and enlightenment to the world.
Q: Are you the “Illuminati?” Are you the “Scio-Illuminati?”
A: The Illuminated Triangle logo and the “Priory of Scion” appellation of our anonymous inner core group (and the alleged but false links between the original Priory of Sion and the Illuminati) have caused some to speculate or assume that the Scionics Institute is an Illuminati organization. Furthermore, there is an organization called the “Scio-Illuminati,” which claims to trace its roots back to the time of Pythagoras, and which promotes our Scionics Philosophy. We have occasionally been mistaken as the same organization, but they are completely separate and distinct from us.
We make no claims of ancient Pythagorean origins. Furthermore, if there were any such organization in existence today, they would have nothing at all to gain by exposing themselves; instead they would do all they could to hide or deny the true nature of their organization. The only reason any organization would make claims of Illuminati ties would be to take advantage of the credulous and foolish. We seek not the fools, but the wise.
That said, we are happy whenever anyone promotes our work, and uses it the way it was meant to be used: as an instrument for promoting rational, reality-based thinking, and for creating a more happy and peaceful world. The “Scio-Illuminati,” despite their regrettable and dishonest claims of ancient origin, does appear to have many of the same goals as we do. So, while we are separate organizations, we are certainly working to “illuminate” an often very dark world.