The ARC triangle

By | July 22, 2019

I wrote this article for ex-Scientologists. It is not meant for Scientologists who believe in the Scientology philosophy. They will reject this information because it goes against their belief. By an ex-Scientologist I mean someone who was able to question his belief and is now free again to have his own opinions. He or she doesn’t rely on a guru and can think for him/herself. However, this article can be read by anyone who wants to know what this is all about.

All Scientologists or ex-Scientologists know about ARC. It is probably one of the main pillars under the Scientology philosophy. This principle is used extensively in both training and processing yet when you really analyze it you will come to the conclusion that it is a rather unstable pillar.

Let me explain:

As you know the triangle can contract or expand by influencing one or more of the three parts. Also, the A, R and C (Affinity, Reality and Communication), according to the Scientology philosophy equals Understanding. If the traingle expands it enhances understanding. You can take a look at how it is defined on the scientology site.

ARC = Understanding.

Now I will prove to you, beyond reasonable doubt, that this is a very shaky assumption to say the least.

Let me first define the 4 words that are used in this philosophical principle. I used this on-line dictionary so you can check up on it yourself. I just chose definitions that I thought were most applicable.

Affinity =

A natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc.

Reality =

A real thing or fact or something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

Communication =

The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information

by speech, writing, or signs.

Understanding =

A mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation.

Let us first analyze whether it is true that the triangle expands when one or more of the three elements are improved.

When affinity improves will communication and reality improve as well?

An improvement in affinity can improve communication and the other way around an improvement in communication can improve affinity as well. So far no problem.

But what about reality? Can it be improved? Not according to the above definition. Here another dictionary definition: the state of things as they are, rather than as they are imagined to be. A fact.

When we communicate about a reality does that reality change? When we admire a reality does it change? Can we improve reality? Or can we make it worse by communicating with it or about it? Or by disliking it?

Let’s think of an example here. Let’s say you forgot your mother’s birthday. You phone her the next day and you notice her affinity has dropped. You make your excuses and her affinity improves. Did you improve her reality? I don’t think so. You changed her ideas about reality. The fact remains that you forgot her birthday. That reality didn’t change, did it? The only thing that did change was that your mother now thinks differently about it.

For reality to change for better or for worse we have to agree on a different reality. Without agreement reality cannot be changed. When we communicate we can come to agreement or disagreement. It is these two factors that can lead to a change in reality.

This was solved by stating that reality is agreement. In essence this is correct. Our reality is an agreed upon reality. For example: we agree on the fact that we live on planet earth and that is why we all see that as our reality. However, communicating about this fact or admiring it doesn’t change that reality. Does it?

This problem with the R in the ARC triangle could be solved by exchanging it for the A from Agreement. The triangle could then be renamed the AAC triangle (Affinity, Agreement, Communication). Agreement can lessen or improve due to communication and/or affinity.

Then we have the fact that ARC equals Understanding. Let us use the AAC triangle to find out how that could equal understanding.

The above definition of understanding doesn’t clarify the word all that well. To me understanding means having an array of concepts that form a logical or recognizable whole.

So, I asked myself whether the AAC triangle could equal understanding or could lead towards understanding or towards more or less understanding.

In order to answer those questions let’s first look at the element Affinity. Does it require a certain level of affinity to understand something? Just as the other two elements, affinity can be looked at as a gradient scale from no affinity to the strongest possible level of affinity.

Let us say you are confronted with a disaster like your house is on fire. Such an event would most probably drop your affinity below zero. Your immediate understanding is that you might lose your home. The question we have to ask here is whether your understanding is negatively influenced by your lack of affinity for the situation?

Since your level of affinity is out the bottom you will have negative emotions controlling you that can cause a deterioration of your ability to communicate. It doesn’t have to be, but it could be that you are in such a shock that you don’t know what to say anymore. We can assume that negative emotions could have a negative influence on your ability to communicate.

When both elements Affinity and Communication are lowered what will happen to the element of Agreement? When your house is on fire your agreement with that situation is probably out the bottom as well. It becomes disagreement. Now all three elements are gone what do you think will happen to your understanding of the situation? Do you still understand what is happening? I think you do!! In certain disasters people’s understanding might even improve. They focus on the circumstances and so get a better picture of what is going on. But, to be honest, emotions can also lessen your understanding as you might ask yourself how this could happen.

With this example I believe I have proven to you that Understanding has little to do with ARC (Affinity, Reality, Communication) or AAC (Affinity Agreement Communication) whatever you want to call it.

Does Understanding consist of these three components as it states explicitly in the Scientology video? I am afraid not.

Their solution to the inconsistencies is to state that reality is agreement and affinity is emotion. Negative emotion could have some influence on your ability to understand something but even that isn’t always true as illustrated in the above example.

Let us now look at this principle from the element Communication. Can communication improve the other two elements? This seems to be the case when it is real communication. By real communication I mean the exchange of ideas in a respectful manner. The participators respect each other’s opinions. This could lead towards more agreement and more affinity for the topics discussed or for the ones discussing them. However, to state that as an invariable principle, to me, seems somewhat short-sighted.

Communication could lead as much to disagreement as it could lead to agreement. It all depends on what those involved think about the ideas communicated. The quality or quantity of communication doesn’t have to enhance agreement. Or would you agree on killing someone because it was communicated to you extensively and in a proper way? Maybe while being under mind control one could commit such a crime.

And last, let us look at this philosophical principle from the element Reality (Agreement). We already know that reality is the way it is and therefore cannot influence the other elements but can agreement improve or lessen the other elements?

Again this could be the case. When two or more people agree on something they could be inclined to communicate more often with each other. It could also have a positive effect on their affinity for each other.

However, agreement is a result of the other two elements. Agreement has to be established by these other elements. When agreement is established through communication and affinity, agreement could positively influence the other two. Let well, I say it could. That doesn’t mean that Agreement must improve only because one or both of the other elements improve.

I have already shown you that the two active elements Communication and Affinity don’t have to have any influence on your Understanding of a certain topic. Just as it doesn’t have to improve or lessen agreement it also doesn’t have to improve or lessen understanding.

To complicate things even further the element Communication was provided with an additional meaning as well. According to the Scientology philosophy communication can also happen between you and your environment. This means you can be in communication with objects or any other elements the environment might contain. In fact, you can communicate with everything.

This means that when you look at a tree you are in communication with that tree. This is to say that communication is synonymous to observation or awareness.

Through this type of communication (observation) we could enhance our affinity and our level of agreement. I guess it could even improve your understanding of that tree.

We could now change the ARC triangle into an EAO triangle (Emotion, Agreement, Observation) as affinity according to the Scientology philosophy can also mean Emotion. Reality can be Agreement and Communication can be Observation. How about that for a fundamental philosophical principle?

As far as I can see, the whole idea of an expanding or contracting triangle inducing more or less understanding doesn’t hold water. Understanding therefore doesn’t consist of these three elements.

When you have to change the meaning of all three of these elements to make it work and then still fail to do so we know that this philosophical principle is fundamentally flawed.

Another indication of this is that the ARC triangle as a philosophical principle has never been accepted outside of the Scientology movement. A possible reason for this might be that you have to believe in it in order to understand it.

When I was a Scientologist I believed in its value and I thought I understood it. I never looked at it in any critical way. It never occurred to me that the founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard could have made a mistake in his rather technical philosophy. Only when I stopped believing him to be infallible I was able to look at his writings in a more critical manner.

I learned a great lesson. Never allow others to do your thinking for you. Always investigate it independently no matter what others might think of it.

So, don’t believe me when I say the ARC triangle is flawed. Do your own thinking and correct me when you think I am wrong. Let me know what you think of all this if you have any knowledge on this subject. You can react on this article in the box below.

2 thoughts on “The ARC triangle

  1. Michel

    In principle isn’t ARC about raising a person up on the tonescale? It came about in relation to auditing processes. To be able to come to an understanding about something, you have to raise (1) affinity, (2) degree of acceptance of reality, and (3) communicate. Then you have (1) feeling (thing in your mind), (2) see it in the physical universe as it is, and (3) you can interact with it. I think it is pending where you use the triangle for, what do you intend to achieve. They have in Scientology for example also that KRC triangle which has a different use.

    1. Adriaan Post author

      In principle isn’t ARC about raising a person up on the tonescale?

      Yes, that seems to be the general idea. However emotion (the tonescale) is a much vaster subject than affinity. Certain emotions can be considered negative whereas affinity is mostly considered positive. Negative emotions can therefore not be seen as affinity. You cannot state, in my opinion, that affinity is the same as the tonescale. But you are right, the ARC principle can be used to raise people on the tonescale.

      It came about in relation to auditing processes. To be able to come to an understanding about something, you have to raise (1) affinity, (2) degree of acceptance of reality, and

      Degree of acceptance of reality is not the same as reality. But when you understand it that way it is workable.

      (3) communicate. Then you have (1) feeling (thing in your mind), (2) see it in the physical universe as it is, and (3) you can interact with it. I think it is pending where you use the triangle for, what do you intend to achieve.

      You are giving a very good explanation of how this principle can be used. And I agree it has workability if you interpret it in a workable way. However as a philosophical principle I am afraid it doesn’t hold much water.If you don’t interpret it in a workable way it can be rather confusing when you really look at it.

      They have in Scientology for example also that KRC triangle which has a different use.

      The KRC triangle Knowledge Responsibily Control seems much more practical to me.


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