Just as I was finishing the last policy letter in the first section of my checksheet, the Course Supervisor called out in a loud voice, "That's it! Afternoon break!" At once chairs were pushed back and study packs closed as everyone filed out the front door into the parking lot. There was a long square log bordering a small garden by the front door which served as a bench for the students during the break. Several students were lighting up cigarettes.
I noticed a girl about my own age sitting by herself.
"Hi," I ventured. "I'm Margery. I just started the course this afternoon."
"Hi. Welcome. I'm Kris," she reached out her hand. "So what do you think so far?"
"It's pretty wild. This is different from anything I've ever done before. I guess I'm still wondering if it's all real. Maybe I'm just having a very strange dream." I laughed as I turned up the sleeves of my dress to take advantage of the hot California sun.
"Oh, it's real all right. I wondered at the beginning too. But the auditing really works. That's what convinced me. I've had so many wins from auditing. Now I just want to get up the bridge and go OT. That's where it's at." She stared abstractedly into the distance for a few seconds. "How'd you get in, anyway?"
"A friend at school. In Michigan. Everything's happened so fast. If you had told me a week ago that I'd be dropping out of school and coming to California, I would have thought you were crazy. But here I am." I shook my head as she offered me a cigarette. "How about you? I mean, how did you get in?"
"Oh, my whole family's in. My brother got in first, then my parents. Now my parents are in the Sea Org. They're on the ship. And my brother's an auditor at the Org," she pointed vaguely in a southwesterly direction. "I would have joined the Sea Org too. It would be cool to be on the ship with Ron. But I have a small part in a film, so I can't leave right now."
"Ron?" I looked puzzled.
"Ron. Hubbard. He likes us to call him Ron. He's neat. He really cares about everyone. Wait till you listen to his tapes. He's funny. But he's a genius to have figured out how the mind works. I mean, no one else for thousands of years has been able to figure it out." She looked at me, her eyes sparkling.
"Have you ever met him?" I asked her.
"No, but I would give anything just to say hello to him one time. He pretty much stays on the ship. I am so jealous of my parents. They get to work with him every day. I could have gone on the ship, but I want to become a famous actress first. That's the best way I can help the third dynamic. By getting my acting into power."
"Third dynamic?" The question was just out of my mouth when I heard a stern, "That's it. End of break. Let's get back on course. And I want to see some stats this afternoon!" The uniformed Course Supervisor stood in the doorway looking very military. She had a red lanyard around her neck to which a whistle was attached. I waited for her to use it but she didn't. The students quickly followed her into the courseroom and took their seats. As soon as everyone was seated, the Supervisor called out, "All right. Start!" The classroom was quiet once again.
I looked at my checksheet. The next section was called "Training Drills."
According to the instructions I needed a "twin" to do the drills. I went up the Supervisor. She looked around the classroom. "OK," she said. "I think George needs to do TR's. Go have a seat and I'll get him," she pointed to the pairs of chairs in the back of the room.
A minute later, an older man approached and stretched out his hand. "Hi," he said warmly. "I'm George. I hear you need to do TR's."
"Yeah, I guess," I hesitated. "I've never done them before."
"That's OK. Let's read the bulletin," and he opened his pack to the same page I was on.
"TR 0 Confronting," I read.
Purpose: To train student to confront a preclear with auditing only or with nothing. Training Stress: Have student and coach sit facing each other, neither making any conversation or effort to be interesting. Have them sit and look at each other and say and do nothing for some hours. Student must not speak, fidget, giggle or be embarrassed....
"All right," George looked at me pleasantly. "I'll be the coach. We do this for two hours. Get comfortable."
I adjusted myself in the chair and put my hands on my lap.
"Ready?" George sat in a similar position directly across from me. Our knees were almost touching.
"OK, start!" George commanded.
I looked into George's eyes, wondering what was going to happen. He looked back at me with a flawless, unblinking stare. I blinked my eyes.
"Flunk for blinking! Start!" George said sternly.
"You mean I can't even blink?" I asked incredulously.
"Flunk for talking! Start!" George said, still maintaining his perfect stare into my eyes.
I tried to return the same perfect stare he was giving me. My mouth started to quiver.
"Flunk for moving your mouth. Start!" George was merciless. All right, I thought to myself. This is serious. Then I thought of something.
"George," I interrupted. "Wait a minute. If I flunk, does that mean we have to start the two hours over again?"
"That's it," he said, temporarily ending the drill. He smiled at me and said, "Right. The two hours will start over again every time I say `Start.' When you can do TR 0 flawlessly for two hours, then we are finished with the drill."
Before I could ask him anything else, he had resumed his staring and commanded, "Flunk for talking! Start!" and we were off again. I tried as hard as I could not to blink. Soon I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. My eyes were burning from the salty liquid. But I forced myself not to blink. George continued his seemingly effortless blinkless stare.
As I stared into George's eyes, I began to see an aura of colors around his head. The colors were flowing in streams around his head. Then the colors expanded into the whole room. I watched with awe as the whole room became filled with flowing colors.
Meanwhile my pain was increasing. The tears started to run down my cheeks. Inside I was crying with pain. But stubbornness competed with the pain. "If he can do it," I thought to myself determinedly, "then I can do it too." I was feeling pain in my whole body. I was suddenly conscious of the chair, and it felt painful against my body. I wanted desperately to move and to ease the pain of the chair against the pressure points of my body. This was torture. The time went on. I began to have sensations of my body being contorted out of shape. The flowing colors in the room became even more vivid. I was feeling strangely dizzy. I wondered if I was going to pass out. I was feeling light-headed, almost like I had felt once at the dentist when I had been given gas before having a tooth extracted.
How much time had gone by? I continued my stare. I wanted to look down at my watch. I wondered how were we going to know when two hours had gone by. The thought of having to sit here until the Supervisor called the dinner break was not a good thought.
The time continued to pass by. The excruciating pain at the point where my hipbones met the chair seemed to be going away, and I was beginning to feel a sense of expansiveness, as if I were expanding like a balloon into the space in the classroom.
Suddenly I had a rushing feeling of euphoria. I felt as if I was floating, looking down at everyone from a thousand points all over the room. This was better than anything I had ever experienced on marijuana.
"Far out," I thought to myself. The pain was gone. "I feel like I could sit here like this for a thousand years." I was enjoying the expansive high. The colors were gone. Instead, I saw the room with crystal clarity. I felt an unaccustomed serenity. I could just stay like this forever, I was thinking, when suddenly George reached forward and tapped my shoulder.
"That's it," he said quietly. "You have just passed TR 0."
"Wow," I said. "I don't know if I can even stand up. I feel like I have been blasted out of my head."
"Exactly," he looked at me and smiled. "Congratulations. Most people don't do that well the first time. I can see that you are going to be an excellent student."
I tried to move my head. I was still feeling like I was located at some remote point from my body, making motion difficult. I tried to stand up and stretch, but felt dizzy. I felt as if I was moving my body by remote control. George looked at his watch. "Well, we don't really have time to do any more before dinner. Why don't we continue after dinner. That will give you some time to enjoy your win from TR 0." He seemed to understand that I was still trying to get back in control of my body.
"Don't worry," he assured me. "You are probably just feeling a bit exterior. It takes a little getting used to. I'll see you here after dinner." I opened my pack, and looked at the next drill.
"TR 0 Bullbait," I read.
Purpose: To train student to confront a preclear with auditing or with nothing. The whole idea is to get the student able to BE there comfortably in a position three feet in front of the preclear without being thrown off, distracted or reacting in any way to what the preclear says or does.
Training Stress: After the student has passed TR 0 and he can just BE there comfortably, `bull baiting' can begin. Anything added to BEING THERE is sharply flunked by the coach. The coach may say anything or do anything except leave the chair. The student's `buttons' can be found and tromped on hard.
I read it over a second time but I still didn't understand what we were supposed to do. I decided to go up and ask the Supervisor.
"Excuse me," I approached her. "I don't understand this drill. Can you explain it to me?"
She looked at me with disapproval. "What word don't you understand?" she asked coldly.
"What word?" I was puzzled.
"Yes. According to the tech, if you don't understand something in the materials, then it means you have gone past a word you didn't understand. You need to find your word and look it up," and she handed me a dictionary that had been sitting on the table.
I felt confused, but decided to take her advice. I looked through the passage I had just read.
I looked at the word baited. Maybe that was it. I turned to the B's in the dictionary.
"Bait," I looked through the definitions. "3. To tease or goad, especially so as to provoke a reaction," I read. That sounds right. I read the passage again. It seemed to make a little more sense.
Just then the Supervisor called the dinner break. I went over to Antonio who was still seated at his desk.
"Well, how was course?" Antonio smiled at me. "I heard you did TR 0 like a pro. That means you'll make an excellent auditor." He didn't give me a chance to reply.
"I suppose I should show you to your accomodations." He got up from the desk and led me to the front door. We walked around the corner to a large blue house directly behind the center.
"This is our staff house," he explained as we approached the house. "You'll be staying here until we can find you permanent accomodations."
"But how am I going to pay for it?" I asked him. "And what about food. I don't have any more money."
"You can pay us back by becoming a top-notch auditor," he smiled. "You'll be eating with us in the staff dining room. Come, I'll show you." First he took me to a small room just off the hallway in the front of the house. There were three beds in the room. "I think this one is unoccupied," Antonio said, pointing to the bed just inside the door. I put my suitcase under the bed.
"Now, let's go eat." We walked back to the dining room where Aileen and six or seven other people were already eating. "Take a plate and help yourself," I was told. The food was served family style. I hadn't eaten on the plane, so was famished by this time. And I started to feel the fatigue of the long day and the unfamiliar events.
I listened to the conversation at the table. I realized that I didn't understand much of what they were saying. It really did seem like a different language. Many of the words sounded familiar, but they seemed to be using them in ways I had never heard them used before.
"This is really an upstat dinner," Aileen said. "The cook must be in power." "Yeah," one of the others, a blond haired man in a navy blue uniform with a gold braid, laughed, "after he got over his ARC break about three unexpected people for dinner." He looked at me.
"Is this a new PC?" he asked Antonio.
"Yes," Antonio replied, introducing me. "This is Margery. She's just been selected here. Julie is her FSM. Her stats are already in affluence after her first day on course."
"Outstanding," the blond man looked at me approvingly. "We need some new blood in Tech."
I was too busy eating to ask any questions. I just tried to understand as much as I could of their unusual conversation.
After dinner, I volunteered to help with the dishes.
"No," Aileen answered, taking some plates from my hand, "you're not hatted to work in the kitchen. And we have a Kitchen I/C here to take care of everything."
"Hatted? Kitchen I/C?" I thought I would never learn all the new words.
"I'm sorry," Aileen put her arm on my shoulder. "I keep forgetting that you don't know our words yet. I guess I've just been here too long." She continued, "Every job in Scientology is called a post, and for every job, no matter how menial it is, there is a pack of materials which a person studies to learn or `be hatted' on that post. For example, Kitchen In Charge is a post, and only when a person has been hatted on that post can he take over the job."
"Anyway," she looked at her watch, "you need to be getting back on course." We walked back to the center together. I looked at the lush vegetation surrounding the house.
"I can't believe it's the end of October," I said to Aileen. "I've never seen so many beautiful flowers. At home everything is brown this time of year." I admired the bottlebrush bushes lining the sidewalk.
"I guess we take it for granted," Aileen admitted. "I am usually so busy that I don't take time to notice."
"Do you ever have time off?" I asked her.
"Well, we have personal time on Saturday morning. That's about all. But I don't mind the long hours. I feel honored to be helping Ron. We have a planet to clear, and that's a big job. And there may not be much earth time to do it in."
I remembered the poster on the wall of the house in Ann Arbor. "Why?" I asked her. "Do you think something's going to happen?"
"We are the only organization on earth that can prevent a nuclear disaster," Aileen replied. "Ron says we have about seven years to clear the planet. That's all the time we have. And if we fail, then that's it. This planet will no longer exist."
"But how can Scientology prevent a nuclear war?" I asked her.
"By getting everyone on the planet clear. When people no longer have their reactive minds, they will no longer be interested in petty disputes over territory. There will be no more war. But unless we succeed, this world is doomed. Technology has advanced much faster than man's ability to use that technology in a sane way. That's what happened on this planet thousands of years ago. We tried to prevent a disaster once before, but we failed. We cannot afford to fail again."
I walked silently beside her, thinking about what she said.
"So there was civilization on the earth in the past and it was destroyed by atom bombs?" I asked her.
"Yes, thousands of years ago. Before any recorded history that people know about today. But you'll find out more about that in your auditing."
We arrived at the center. I went in and took my seat. "That's it," the Supervisor called out. "Start of class!"
I met George over by the chairs. "I'm not sure what is meant by bull baiting," I told him.
"We'll just do it and you'll see," he suggested.
We took the same chairs we had used that afternoon. "Get comfortable," he advised.
I relaxed in the chair and put my hands in my lap.
"Start!" George commanded.
I sat and again stared into his eyes. It seemed much easier this time. I began to relax and enjoy the same expansive sensation I had experienced earlier.
Suddenly George leaned forward.
"I see what you're up to," he said to me slyly. "You're trying to seduce me aren't you? You just think I'm an easy lay."
I stared at him, not moving, not sure what to do.
"I know you girls from Michigan," he continued, his voice becoming louder. Some of the students at the tables were looking in our direction.
"Your reputation has preceded you. I know what you're interested in. It's SEX," he said the last word very loudly, his face very close to mine. My eyes were beginning to tear.
"I know all about you. You're just interested in one thing, aren't you? And here I thought you liked me for my mind," he continued, disgustedly. Some of the students were beginning to smile.
"You're not interested in my mind at all, are you? You just want my body. That's it, isn't it? You just want my body?" Now he was leaning over to me with his face next to mine.
I started to smile, losing my composure because of my embarrassment. "Flunk for smiling! Start!" he said loudly.
"You just want my body, don't you," he repeated this a few times. I tried desperately to control my muscles.
"Say, you know what, you look like a hippie. Just look at those beads." He reached over and took hold of my appleseed necklace.
"You must be a hippie. A trippy hippie. Come on, tell me the truth. Do you like to trip? Did you ever trip and have sex? How do you like it? Sex, I mean. Are you good in bed? I'll bet you are. You Michigan girls are always good in bed." My eyes were tearing and I was in excruciating pain. I blinked, and the tears flowed down my face.
"Flunk for blinking! Start!" George said sternly.
"Yeah, I know all about you Michigan girls. Say, what kind of hairstyle is this?" He reached over and pulled my hair.
"I've seen better hairstyles at the zoo. And those clothes. Really," he said with mock sarcasm. "Couldn't you find something that fits? Or don't you want to show off your body? Say, do you mind if I look at your body?" I was feeling humiliated. Even more tears were flowing from my unblinking eyes. My mouth started to twitch.
"Flunk for twitching! Start!"
"So you have a button on your body?" George continued. "Well, we'll just have to work on that. What don't you like about your body? Come on, you can tell me." I just continued to stare.
"You know," he went on, "you could stand to lose some weight. Just a little though. I don't like girls who are too thin. But you have that country look. That wholesome look. Are you wholesome? I'll bet you are. Maybe you've never had sex. Maybe you're a virgin. Hey, I've never met a virgin before." I decided that what I had to do was to look at one point on his face and concentrate on that instead of on what he was saying. I chose a spot in the middle of his forehead. This seemed to make it a little easier. Suddenly he clapped his hands in front of my face. I jumped. "Flunk for moving! Start!"
He clapped his hands again. I didn't move a muscle.
He leaned over and blew in my ear. "Did you like that? Did you? I could do it again." He leaned over toward me. I followed him with my eyes, but didn't move.
"Very good, Margery, very good. You are doing very well. I think you'll make a fine auditor. That's it. You pass TR 0 bullbaited."
I tried to relax my body. Strangely, now that I was doing TR 0, I couldn't seem to stop it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to blink. My eyes felt like they were coming out of my head. I still had the "high" feeling I had during TR 0. I felt like I was "stoned."
George clapped me on the shoulder. "Don't take it personally," he advised me. "It's just part of the drill. Now it's your turn to bullbait me."
I looked at him in shock. "I can't do that," I looked at him desperately.
"Why not?" he smiled. "It's just part of the drill. Everyone has to do it. It isn't anything personal."
"I know, but I don't want to hurt your feelings."
"That's just the thing. There isn't anything personal about it. It's just part of the training to be an auditor. You're actually doing me a favor by finding my buttons and flattening them. Go ahead. Just try it." "Start!" He sat back and resumed his TR 0.
I swallowed. "All right, mister," I started in. "You gave it to me and now I'm going to give it right back to you. Think you can take it?" I noticed his eyebrow move.
"Flunk for moving your eyebrow. Start!" I told him.
"Think you can take it?" I repeated. "What kind of man are you anyway? How could you ask me all those embarrassing questions? Those things are none of your business." I just sat there, unable to go on. I started to laugh. "George," I told him, "I just can't do this. I'm not used to it."
He relaxed and smiled. "OK, I guess we've done enough for one day. Your confront will come up. It won't be long before you will be able to bullbait anyone. But that's enough for now."
He shook my hand. "We'll finish the TR's tomorrow. You might like to listen to a tape of Hubbard for the rest of the class tonight."
He showed me where the tapes were filed in a file cabinet in the back of the room. He handed me a tape. I plugged in the headphones, wound the tape leader around the take-up reel and started the tape.
I heard a booming voice.
"Welcome to the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course," Hubbard intoned to his invisible audience. "What's the year?" pause, "A.D. what?" Someone answers from the audience "A.D. 15?" (I later learned that Scientologists number their years from the date Dianetics was published. Therefore A.D. 15 to a Scientologist would be 1965.)
"OK," continued the mellifluous voice on the tape. "What planet are we on? Earth? What in the world are we doing on Earth?" Laughter came from the audience.
Hubbard's voice had a hypnotic effect. He sounded so confident, so certain of himself. Strong and confident. I continued to listen to his voice as he told spellbinding stories about different things he had done in his life. Anecdotes about his experiences in the circus, as a seaman, as a photographer, as a pilot. It seemed as if there wasn't anything he hadn't done.
After a while, I found it very difficult to follow his train of thought. Some of the sentences didn't make any sense, and I wondered what the point of the tape was. But I found myself unable to stop listening. There was something about Hubbard's voice that was compelling. Maybe just the fact that he sounded more sure of himself than anyone I had ever heard before. Even on tape he exuded the jovial confidence of a man who had life firmly under control. "Life is just a game," he instructed his audience, "not to be taken seriously. Seriousness equals mass." That's a new way of looking at it, I mused.
The events of the day were beginning to catch up with me. I found myself yawning. The Supervisor came over to me.
"Take off the headphones," she commanded with her yet expressionless face. I complied immediately.
"Find your MU," she said tersely.
"My MU?" I said with a tired voice.
"Yes. Your misunderstood word. The only reason a person yawns when studying is because of a misunderstood word. So you'll have to find your word, then go back earlier in the tape and listen to it again."
"I think I'm just tired," I looked up at her. "It's been a very long day."
"Don't Q and A," she sounded annoyed. "According to the tech the only reason a person yawns while studying is because of an MU. The tech is never wrong. So find your MU. That's an order."
"OK," I answered meekly. I went to find a dictionary. I also noticed a Scientology dictionary lying on the table. I looked up the expression she had used: "Q and A."
"Q and A," I read, "means question and answer. It means one did not get an answer to his question. It also means not getting compliance with an order...."
I rewound the tape, and started it up again. Did I really have a misunderstood word? Couldn't I just be tired? I wondered about her statement, "The tech is never wrong." Something bothered me about that, but I wasn't sure what it was. I went back to listening to my tape, trying to locate a word I hadn't understood.
Soon, however, it was 10:30, and I heard, "That's it. End of class. Let's gather around to report our wins."
There was the sound of chairs scraping against the floor as everyone squeezed in around one table.
"All right," the Supervisor stood stiffly in front of us. "Who had a win today?"
"I did," one of the students volunteered. I looked over to a young, slim boy sitting across from me. "I was auditing a PC (preclear) today, and he totally keyed out. I really cognited today that this really does work, and I can actually help people. I just feel really good about the tech, and I'm grateful to Ron for giving it to us."
The rest of the class applauded.
"Yeah," another student joined in, "I did a touch assist today, and the pc's migraine headache blew. This stuff is dynamite." More applause. "My PC finally ran past lives today, and she had a big win," a third student volunteered. "I can't wait to do more sessions."
The supervisor interrupted. "We have a new student today. This is Margery, from Michigan. Would you like to share your wins with us tonight?" I realized that everyone was looking at me expectantly.
"Well, everything is all so new to me. I'm not really sure. I guess you could say I keyed out when I did TR 0. I didn't think I would be able to do it, but toward the end I felt like I could sit there forever. I felt really good at the end," I volunteered, not wanting to let them down. I felt relieved as they began to applaud.
I hadn't even had time to think about everything that had happened during the day. When did this day begin? I thought back, trying to remember. That morning in Michigan seemed like an event from the remote past.
A few other students shared their "wins," then we were dismissed. I walked back to the house looking up at the bright stars in the western sky. Could it really be possible that I was still living in the same world, and these were the same stars shining that night in the faraway Michigan skies? Already that world seemed to be fading into the distant past. This was a different world entirely. And I could feel myself already starting to become a different person.
Even now, walking back to the house, I felt like I could almost touch the sky. The heady euphoria from the TR's was still with me.
The Road to Total Freedom, I thought as I looked up at the starry sky. I wonder where that road will lead me?
If only I had known the answer to that question then, I could have saved myself a twelve-year nightmare.