Singer, voice of South Park's Chef, and devout Scientologist Isaac Hayes passed away a few days ago prompting my inquisitive wife to wonder, "What happens to Scientologists when they die? Or, what do they believe happens to them when they die?" Well according to an article over in Slate, this.....[emphasis mine]
His soul will be "born again into the flesh of another body," as the Scientology Press Office's FAQ puts it. The actual details of how that rebirth occurs are not fully understood by church outsiders, but some core beliefs of Scientology are that every human being is really an immortal spiritual being known as a thetan and that the "meat bodies" we inhabit are merely vessels we shed upon death. (Members of the elite church cadre known as Sea Org, for example, sign contracts that pledge a billion years of service throughout successive lives.)
When a body dies, its thetan forgets the details of the former life, though painful and traumatic images known as engrams remain rooted in its unconscious. In order to move up the path of spiritual progression—known as the Bridge to Total Freedom—one must eradicate these psychic scars, which cause a person to act fearfully and irrationally. Once a Scientologist has purged them through the counseling process known as auditing, he or she is said to be "clear."
Well that explains Tom Cruise's career plunge....as well as Katie Holmes' dad's desperate attempt to kidnap and deprogram her. Reincarnation, a space-alien overlord named Xenu, and meat bodies. Man, that's some funky religion!