But in an open Society, such as ours, people can believe what they want to and band together and promulgate their beliefs. If people believe that the earth is flat there is nothing to stop them believing so, saying so and joining together to persuade others.
- Justice LATEY
Hubbard cast his net wide. Scientology has attracted people from most social and intellectual backgrounds, from laborers to lawyers, from plumbers to university professors. Frederick L. Schuman, professor of political science at Williams College, was an enthusiastic convert, and publicly defended Dianetics in 1950, though he soon changed his tack and distanced himself. There were psychologists working in the original Foundations; in fact, the New York Foundation was started by psychologist Nancy Rodenburg. Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, defended Hubbard's early work (though insisting that it needed scientific validation), and briefly received Dianetic counselling.
British Member of Parliament William Hamling, and former Lieutenant-Governor of Western Nigeria, Sir Chandos Hoskyns-Abrahall, have already been mentioned. Two Danish MPs were Scientologists at one time. Several NASA scientists have belonged to the Church. Dr. J.L. Simmons, who lectured in sociology at the Universities of Illinois and California, wrote an appendix to Roy Wallis's Road to Total Freedom sharply criticizing both the author's approach and his conclusions. At the time, Simmons was a convinced Scientologist; since leaving the Church he probably regrets aspects of his statement. Research physicist, and former Stanford professor, Harold Puthoff, was also a member of the Church. Puthoff, who holds several patents for laser developments, is best known for his books on parapsychology co-written with Russell Targ. Ingo Swann, who was the subject in some of Puthoff and Targs' parapsychology experiments, was a member of the Church for some years. His novel Star Fire was a best seller. Another Scientologist also achieved best seller status with a novel about reincarnation.
A group of Oxford graduates were long-term members. A number of medical doctors, dentists and lawyers have been involved. Over the years Scientology has also boasted the adherence of several celebrities. Virtuoso jazz pianist Chick Corea, a member since 1968, is an OT, as is Stanley Clarke, the highly influential jazz bass player. Clarke has left the Church, but Corea remains in the fold. The Incredible String Band were Scientologists, and distributed Scientology literature at their gigs. Actors John Travolta and Karen Black are both Church members, as is "Waltons" star Judy Norton-Taylor. Priscilla Presley has been involved for many years, and Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie, is a Sea Org member. Van Morrison was associated with Scientology for a short while. The novelist William Burroughs went Clear in the 1960s, but later satirized the movement in several novels. Scientology has also attracted many millionaires, and several multi-millionaires.
Most cults have a single selling feature, and so tend to appeal to a specific public. Scientology claims to be all things to all people: a psychotherapy, a religion, twentieth-century Buddhism, an educational system, a drug rehabilitation therapy, a human rights and social reform movement, or a business management system. It is spiritual, mental or material according to the mind-set of the person being approached. Scientology front groups appeal to different publics. Scientologists are drilled to quickly isolate an individual's concerns and tailor an approach which encourages interest.
The most contentious of these self-made characterizations is that of religion. Whether Scientology is a "religion" is a matter of definition. Because of the very broad nature of the definition of religion in the United States, it has been established that Scientology is a religion in the legal sense. However, in the United States religious status does not automatically give an organization tax-exemption, which Scientology has failed to achieve. In Australia, Scientology is also recognized as a religion, though the court there added "Regardless of whether the members of the applicant [the Church of Scientology] are gullible or misled or whether the practices of Scientology are harmful or objectionable." English law differs, and accords with the dictionaries: a religion is committed to acts of worship. Scientology has none, but claims to be a religion in the same sense as Buddhism, without a deity or deities, and consequently without worship. Lord Denning set a precedent in England by agreeing that Scientology could indeed be compared to Buddhism, which, because it has no act of worship, is not legally a religion, but a philosophy or way of life.
Scientologists are willing to see their practice as a psychotherapy or as a religion, but few would acknowledge that it is a belief system. They are convinced that it is a science, based upon Hubbard's intense research. This is simply untrue. In thirty-six years Hubbard failed to produce a single piece of work which meets acceptable scientific criteria.
The techniques of Scientology are loosely embedded in a sometimes tortuous philosophy. At the core of this is a relatively simple cosmology which starts with the first three "Factors of Scientology." These give Hubbard's explanation of the origin of life:
1. Before the beginning was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause was the creation of effect.
2. In the beginning and forever is the decision, and the decision is TO BE.
3. The first action of beingness is to assume a viewpoint. 1
From this viewpoint the universe is perceived. The first "Axiom" of Scientology is "Life is basically a static," which has "no mass, no motion, no wavelength, no location in space or in time. It has the ability to postulate and to perceive."
The Life Static is most usually called a Thetan. The Thetan is immortal and does not owe its origin to God. It is perpetually individual. 2 After the beginning, Thetans generated "points to view," or "dimension points" which caused space to come into existence. Thetans agreed that other Thetans' dimension points existed, and that agreement brought about Reality. Reality, indeed the entire universe, is an "agreed upon apparency," and all matter, energy, space and time (MEST) exists because Thetans agree it exists. But for continued existence there has to be a lie ("alter-is-ness") in the fabric of these aspects of Reality, for if anything is seen exactly as it is ("as-ised") it will cease to exist. Reality, to the Scientologist, is a communal daydream.
Thetans are all-knowing beings, and became bored because there were no surprises. Hubbard asserted that the single most important desire in all beings is to have a "game." To have a "game" it was necessary to "not know" certain things, so certain perceptions were negated ("not-is-ed"). More and more perception and knowledge had to be abandoned as time passed, and some Thetans started the "game" of creating traps for other Thetans. Believing it possible to harm others, Thetans learned contrition, and punished themselves for their own "harmful" acts. An ongoing part of this self-imposed punishment is dwindling perception.
One universe ended and another began, and there have been many universes, each more solid and entrapping than the last. An essential part of the game was the "conquest" of matter, energy, space and time by the life force, Theta. In each universe Thetans have become more enmeshed in matter, energy, space and time (MEST), to the point where many have identified themselves totally with it, and consider themselves nothing but MEST. Thetans are by now in a hypnoid state, having forgotten their quadrillions of years of existence and their original godly power, barely capable of even leaving their bodies at will.
Thetans nevertheless have the power of "postulate." Whatever they intend comes into being. Negative decisions and opinions, or "bad postulates," generate a negative destiny. For quadrillennia, Thetans have been "implanting" one another with hypnotic suggestions, and clustering other Thetans together (turning most into "body-Thetans' '). Scientology seeks to undo "other-determinism," and return the Thetan to "self-determinism," and eventually to "pan-determinism" where he acts for the good of all.
Most of these ideas can be found elsewhere. "Before the beginning was a Cause" is highly reminiscent of the central premise of the Tao Teh Ching. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna that he is immortal and imperishable, that life is a game, and that in truth no harm can be done to others, as they too are immortal and imperishable. The comparable word for "Thetan" is "atman." The doctrine of reincarnation is common to several major religions. That we reap as we have sown, or karma-vipaka, even more so. The emphasis upon the development of Intention, or the ability to postulate, in Scientology comes straight from Crowley's "thelema" or Will, upon which most magical systems concentrate.
To sum up: Hubbard saw the individual's current state as a fall from grace, but the individual's own grace, not that of God. He saw the Thetan as an all-capable individual, who has gradually restricted his powers, over "quadrillions" of years, in part to have a "game," and in part for fear of hurting others. He called this degeneration the "dwindling spiral." In Scientology counselling, the Preclear is directed back to incidents in his past existences which have shaped his way of thinking (and consequently his current circumstances). A better future is to be obtained by release from quadrillennia of long forgotten conditioning and guilt. Sociologists use the term "neo-gnosticism" to describe such beliefs when they are allied to a supposed system of enlightenment (many of the original Christian gnostic sects spent their time learning the passwords which would give them entry to heaven after death).
The more indoctrination into Hubbard's ideas they receive, the more Scientologists fall in with his view of universal history. When first reviewing "past lives" in counselling, famous lives will be offered. There are many Napoleons and Christs. Several Guardian's Office staff have told me that they felt they were paying for the harm they had done in former lives as Gestapo or SS officers. With more indoctrination, the individual starts to offer incidents which occurred in outer space, and at "implant stations." Even so, no one is required to accept Hubbard's cosmology wholeheartedly until the Operating Thetan levels. OT3 is the point of departure. If you refuse to believe in Xenu or the body thetans you can go no further. The courses leading up to OT3 (specifically Grade 6, the clearing Course, and OT2), are actually part of the same conception, but their mystifying procedures are not explained until OT3, when the individual learns he has been dealing with OT3 implants, which had to be relieved before it was safe to reveal the horrible truth of the entire incident. At any given time, the majority of Scientologists have not done OT3, so will not know its content. To them it is a mysterious and compelling promise of future liberation, but deadly to the unprepared. In over twenty years, only a few thousand people have actually done OT3, many deciding it was of questionable value at least, and mind-bending at worst. The secret OT levels up to OT8 are simply extensions of the Body-Thetan idea (sleeping Body-Thetans, Body-Thetans in parallel universes, and so forth).
Certain tenets are essential to Scientology. The first is the assumption that Man is basically good (although this does not extend to critics of Scientology, even those who helped to create and sustain the movement. Those who criticize Scientology are irrevocably evil). Scientology aims to raise the Emotional Tone Level of the individual to Enthusiasm and beyond. Scientologists believe that any problem, whether physical or mental, exists because there is some distortion in their perception of it (the lie or "alter-is-ness" which brings about persistence). They are positive thinkers, believing that their "postulates" will come true, and seeing their failures in life as simply failures to postulate with sufficient conviction. To paraphrase Hubbard: considerations are senior to the mechanics of matter, energy, space and time. So the Scientologist sees all problems, including his own, as essentially mental, and self-generated. Scientologists have an optimistic persistence, allied to acute gullibility. OTs have died of cancer believing they could postulate it away, avoiding proper medical action.
Despite its claims to be nondenominational, and to welcome members of all religions, Scientology is essentially anti-Christian. In confidential materials Hubbard attacked Christianity as an "implant," and said that Christ was a fiction. He railed against "priests." 3 The belief in reincarnation is also necessary for progress through even the early levels of Scientology. Hubbard's Scientology morality is opposed to Christianity. Certain basic Christian values are despised by the Scientologist, who considers them misconceived. Humility is supplanted by self-pride. Searching self-criticism is considered dangerous ("never disparage yourself," to quote Hubbard). 4 Material wealth is a virtue. Charity creates dependence. In Scientology, there is no concept of God, nor of grace. The Scientologist is in every respect a self-made Thetan.
Nor is Scientology compatible with the beliefs of other faiths. A Buddhist, for example, could not truly be a Scientologist. The core of Buddhism is the disintegration of the self (anatta), where Scientology believes the self to be all-important and perpetual. Hubbard dismissed yoga and all other mystical systems as traps: "Data from India, even that found in the deepest 'mysteries'... is knowingly or unknowingly 'booby-trapped.' " 5 While receiving counseling the Scientologist is prohibited from other practices, including meditation. There are specific steps in auditing to erase adherence to other systems and beliefs. Scientology is the only way. Recently, the Scientologists have trotted out one of their number who is a Catholic priest. He says there is no conflict, but has a surprise in store on the OT levels.
Hubbard also insisted upon "exchange." Despite Church claims, no one has ever told me that they received even an hour of charity auditing from the Church. In Scientology, it is considered immoral to do something for nothing. The starving and the crippled are seen as living out self-generated misfortune. Coupling this to Hubbard's philosophy of exchange, Scientologists do not usually give to charity, except to Scientology causes, or in the interests of public relations (the "exchange" being the generation of public goodwill towards Scientology). This can result in an alarming lack of fellow feeling.
On first meeting, most Scientologists have a friendly demeanor, but this is unsurprising in a group so eager to gain converts. To promote a practice which supposedly brings about cheerfulness, it is necessary to appear cheerful. Sea Org members are trained to be friendly to the public, but behind closed doors they are ruthless and scream at their subordinates, giving them "severe reality adjustments." Some have a private conceit that they are the elect, seeing even their own paying public as no more than cattle to be milked.
Scientologists are often self-confident and self-assertive. They are not allowed to discuss their "cases" (difficulties), and are discouraged from even thinking about personal problems outside the counselling room. They are also prohibited from entering into detailed discussions of Scientology (''verbal' Tech"), and from voicing criticism of Scientology. This can lead to a suspension of the analytical faculty, especially as it applies to self-observation and self-criticism. Scientologists often take vitamins instead of medicinal drugs, even avoiding aspirin. Hubbard was not averse to sleeping with female students, though he did so discreetly, until the mid-1960s. Promiscuity was not unusual, though by no means the norm in Scientology into the early 1970s. By the time I joined, in 1974, these days were over. I did not find Scientologists especially prudish, though Sea Org members are prohibited from sexual relations with anyone except their legal spouse. Homosexuality is outlawed; Hubbard insisted that the Emotional Tone Level of a homosexual is "covert hostility": they are backstabbers, each and every one.
Scientologist communities have a limited social life; there is simply no time. Staff members are hard at work bettering their stats, and public Scientologists are hard at work to pay off the loans they've taken out for exorbitantly priced Scientology courses. The work ethic prevails. Wealthy people and celebrities are doted upon by Sea Org members.
There are financial benefits in selling Scientology to others. Field Staff Members (FSMs) are paid a ten percent commission on any counselling, and a fifteen percent commission on any training they sell. There are even a few Scientologists who have derived their entire income, and paid for their own Scientology, by working as FSMs. Scientology "Registrars" (sales staff) are openly trained in hard sell techniques. They believe in the power of Scientology to such an extent that they will push individuals into financially disastrous situations, and many people have been financially ruined by Scientology. There is a widespread belief that people will automatically become capable of repaying loans after they have taken the Scientology courses or counselling those very loans paid for. The Registrars receive a sales commission, and are usually the only people in an Org who make anything like a living wage.
Recruitment for staff is a constant pressure on public Scientologists. There is a push to "recruit in abundance," to use Hubbard's expression. Students are carefully routed through various sections of the Organization when starting and finishing a course. Recruitment is built into the "routing form" at the end of every course. The majority of Scientologists spend some time on staff.
Most Scientologists genuinely want to improve society. They fervently believe their ideology is the only hope for a better world. Hubbard's motives are highly questionable, but the motives of the great majority of Scientologists are good. They wish to make people happier and more capable. Nothing in their philosophy jars with receiving a commission for doing so, though most take their commission in Scientology "services."
In some respects, Scientology is a philosophy well-suited to the last phase of the rapacious Industrial Age. It glorifies personal wealth, and teaches people that they are not responsible for the condition of the world. It is geared for the high speed of modern society, raising statistics and increasing production, concentrating on quantity at the expense of quality. It is also claimed to be virtually "instant," though after decades of noisy claims the Scientologists are still incapable of producing anyone who meets the criteria laid out for a Clear in Hubbard's original book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Some Scientologists have given almost forty years of their lives, and enormous sums of money, without attaining any of the promised abilities of the state of Operating Thetan.
Membership of Scientology is split into distinct categories. Having become involved, some people remain "public" Scientologists. They pay for their auditing and training and do not become staff members. Because they cannot afford the exorbitant cost of Scientology, many join the staff of a Mission or Org. A large proportion go on to join the Sea Organization. The majority leave the Sea Org within a few months, and end up paying huge amounts in "Freeloader Bills" for the Sea Org training they received, before they are allowed to receive any more Scientology. All Scientology staff members are under contract, and a Freeloader Bill is imposed on anyone who leaves before their time is up - whether it be the two-and-a-half or five-year staff contract, or the Sea Org's round billion. Freeloader Bills often amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Those who fail to join or drop out of the Sea Org often feel guilty or inadequate.
As well as the distinction between public and staff Scientologists, there is a divide between those who have taken OT levels and those who have not. At any given time, the majority of Church members will have no idea of the contents of the secret OT levels. They adulate OTs, believing them capable of all sorts of magical feats or "OT abilities." It is amazing how well this mystique is maintained, as in Scientology there are no credible demonstrations of paranormal abilities. Bathing in this admiration, many OTs begin to feel they really do have psychic powers. Most encourage the uninitiated to believe their fantastic notions about the state of "OT." Dissatisfied OTs usually believe that their inability to perform is their own fault, and avoid disabusing others of the beliefs Hubbard has given them about OT.
After years of claims about the powers of OTs, Hubbard redefined the state in 1982. He said the available OT levels were actually a preparation for real OT levels, which were yet to be released. Even so, each level confers a new status upon the recipient, and the OT is convinced he guards a dangerous secret. OTs usually believe they are influencing events through psychic power.
A set of beliefs can create a community which is almost a nation apart. This is certainly true of Scientology. Comparison with real nations, and their agencies, sheds a different light on the behavior of the Scientology community. While the totalitarian system of the Communist bloc provides far closer parallels with the authoritarian and absolutist nature of Scientology, Hubbard's roots were in North American soil. The tremendous virtues of the Freedom of Information Act, and of Congressional hearings, have made knowledge of U.S. government agencies' real practices available, and individuals have been allowed to speak out against abuses. Watergate, Irangate and revelations about the CIA's violations of international law have drastically altered public opinion. It became obvious in the 1970s that immoral means were being used in an attempt to maintain and extend the American dream of a democratic world of free opportunity. The public Scientologist, and most staff, are in the position of the American public before this information became known. They believe that the Church exists to "Clear the planet," and create an ethical society. As with the pursuit of the American dream, the truth shows an ideal severely tarnished.
While Hubbard was alive, he was more than a president, he was an absolute dictator, controlling Scientology through the Sea Org and the Guardian's Office, using each to check the other. He found that he could direct his organizations to undertake even immoral and criminal acts by claiming them to be the "greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics." Hubbard was also the sole legislator, creating the law for Scientologists. There was no Congress, no democratic body, no independent justice system, no single Church official with real power.
Since Hubbard's death, control seems to have passed to David Miscavige, who directs the Church through the Sea Org. Since its inception in 1967, the Sea Org has been organized as a para-military unit. It concentrates on the expansion of Scientology through the strict application of orders from the executive. Sea Org members sign a Code of conduct which begins, "I promise to uphold, forward and carry out Command Intention." The Sea Org has largely been involved in the creation and maintenance of Scientology Orgs, providing Scientology training and counselling.
The Sea Org manages the Orgs, and, more loosely, the Missions. The Orgs and Missions have no hand in management, and are ill-informed of its activities.
Until it passed into the hands of the Commodore's Messengers, the Guardian's Office was the most powerful organization in Scientology. The GO contained the Legal, Financial, Public Relations and Intelligence (or, euphemistically, "Information") departments, as well as the "Social Coordination Bureau." By 1983, the GO Bureaus had been separated from one another, and absorbed along with the Sea Org under the Messengers' control.
The Public Relations department exists to combat bad press and emphasize successes. It simply does not report any of the many failures to public Scientologists. If a court case is lost, or a government closes Orgs down, Scientologists will generally hear of it only if the media reports it. Moreover, Scientologists are discouraged from reading newspapers. When an event has to be commented on, the PR department follows the time honored practice of "plausible denial" favored by so many politicians. Free nations have the advantage of a free press, this is not so in the Scientology community. Only during the periods of extensive splintering (in the early 1950s, the mid-1960s and the 1980s) has there been anything like an independent press trying to inform Scientologists of the inadequacies and the crimes of the Scientology Church. So, Scientologists outside the PR Bureau have a very incomplete picture.
When PR fails, the Legal department takes over, at least in theory. Its mission is to block any criticism of Scientology. Governments, too, seek to stifle opposition, and leaks of discreditable information. This is particularly obvious in the totalitarian Communist countries, but even Western Europe and the U.S. are not free from such practices. Ex-CIA agent Victor Marchetti's supposed Constitutional right to free speech was withdrawn by the Courts, when he was prohibited from making any statements about the CIA without their approval. When it happened this was a novel and a unique situation for the U.S.A. In Britain, it is illegal for any government employee to reveal information gained during his employment, under the draconian Official Secrets Act. The clumsy efforts to prevent the publication of Peter Wright's Spycatcher show the lengths to which even a Western government will go to stifle criticism. Scientology, too, uses the courts in an attempt to silence opposition.
Where the Legal department fails, it is time for Intelligence, with its branches of covert and overt data collection. This was Hubbard's personal CIA, and details of its modus operandi came as a shock not only to public Scientologists, Org staffs and Sea Org members, but even to many Guardian's Office staff. As with an Intelligence Agency, information is only distributed on a need to know basis. Intelligence Agencies too perform immoral acts justified as being for the "greatest good for the greatest number."
By keeping the compartments of Scientology separate, Hubbard ensured that no one would have a complete and true picture. An individual can only act on the information he has, the combination of his experience and his belief. The PR department censors and distorts information, and feels justified in doing so on the grounds that passing on bad news is a characteristic of the Suppressive. So Scientologists generally have little accurate information. Whatever their feelings about the Organization, Scientologists are convinced they have experienced psychological and spiritual benefits, and feel more secure than they did before joining Scientology. Scientologists are also convinced that they belong to the only group which can save Mankind.
1. Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008
2. Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability
3. Confidential HCOB, "Resistive Cases," 23 September 1968
4. Hubbard, Scientology 0-8, p. 63
5. Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008, p. 135