Scientology in Retrospective
Copyright (c) 2004 by Heidrun Beer - all rights reserved
These are my conclusions about Scientology after being a church member for 19 years (20 months of that time on staff), trying to establish a Freezone center for about one year, and then watching the Freezone for over six years while continuing my spiritual search on other paths of study.
It is also an attempt to compress insights that could fill a book into a text which is short and structured enough to allow a reader who tries to inform himself about Scientology his own understanding, without costing him the amount of money, time and life energy which I have spent to make up my mind...
Here is the short version:
1. Scientology is a gold-mine.
2. Scientology is a dangerous gold-mine!
3. Scientology is a jungle.
4. Scientology is a hall of mirrors.
5. Scientology is an IQ test.
6. Scientology is an island.
7. Scientology is a gold-mine...
Scientology is a gold-mine.
I am not talking about getting financially rich but about a treasure of (potential) knowledge. The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, has spent much of his early life studying, compiling and distilling the texts of many important thinkers and writers into a philosophical theory which could be used as a foundation for active work (as opposed to mere think-think or read-read) to improve the condition of the human mind and spirit.
At a time where people only had the choice between extreme materialism and over-ritualized (and oppressive) churches, he brought the spiritual viewpoint of Eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism to the Western hemisphere, but stripped from the rituals which they too had developed and which were obscuring their essence of true spirituality.
At a time where psychiatry was ignorant of the human soul and treated the patient as a mere chunk of meat, he offered an approach to the human mind which took care of the human being's spiritual nature (today this view has spread through many branches of research and therapy). He added a technical way of assessing and handling a case which was more attractive to a Western mind than a diffuse or mystic religious practice.
He further invented the e-meter, an electrical device which helped to locate areas of mental pain with greater precision than any other method. When he found that people had difficulties to learn his materials, he developed a "learning how to learn" course that helped remove these difficulties, and when his movement then started to grow, he developed administrative knowhow which fills big volumes and contains many gems of insight. Some of his early books are key tools in human relations and can keep you from making painful mistakes.
The goals of Scientology as such already give a feeling of hope to create a better future. A world without drugs, war and insanity; a world of ethics, of high emotional levels and optimum rationality, where everybody takes full responsibility for everybody else - doesn't that sound like a paradise? Especially if literally everybody can contribute to and participate in it - there is no school certificate needed, no university degree, just the determined intention to invest time and energy and make people and circumstances better than they have been yesterday.
If people had only L. Ron Hubbard's work to manage organizations (whether they deal with Scientology or not) and handle mental trouble, they would be pretty successful. But this same work does not perform well on the wider playing field of other authors and their "-ologies", especially the ones established by the mainstream world of science in schools and universities. Stay tuned to understand why...
Scientology is a dangerous gold-mine!
L. Ron Hubbard has written so many books, policy letters, technical bulletins (instructions how to deal with a person's mind) and other texts, that he would have needed another lifetime to look them all over and align them so that they form a coherent framework without any of the contradictions that make their study so difficult.
Actually, Scientology is so full of contradictions (see the most serious ones here) that only the most persistent people can study it long enough to finally get the overall concept. From the first courses on, the student keeps seeing lines like "the only way to handle X is Y, and if you do anything else it can be very dangerous and even kill people". Then he reads lines to the contrary, which threaten him with equally serious consequences. It needs a few months or even years to realize that these statements have to be taken with a grain of salt, and in some very delicate cases are plain wrong.
For one of the most important terms, "Clear" (a big achievement in Scientology), there are a dozen definitions, of which the oldest ones are best, but the newest provides essential details, so all of them need to be studied and kept in mind - Scientologists are not allowed to merge them into one concise new definition, or the group would oust them as squirrels.
Hubbard does provide a text to resolve contradictions "by weight" (basically by assessing the priorities or relative importances in statements). It is the article "Anatomy of Thought", the first in a series of texts called the "Data Series", therefore also named "Data Series 1". Unfortunately this article is not very well known, although every Scientologist should have read it early in his training. So whenever a contradiction is met, the all too human habit has taken over to do what the majority does instead of doing one's own thinking based on "Anatomy of Thought".
Now the majority of Scientologists, especially of church staff members who get very little personal attention, is still far from being "Clear" (the fully rational person at the end of a series of Scientology grades called the "bridge"). Based on some of Hubbard's statements (to which there are many contradictions which have greater priority but are less well known), they show an elitist arrogance which in some cases - especially inside the church - has developed into a severely intolerant, oppressive and even fascist mindset. There are many reports on the internet where victims and firsthand witnesses tell stories of outrageous abuse.
Let me assure you that if you ever meet a Scientologist who appears to be an intolerant or even fascist asshole, s/he has not studied Hubbard in the depth which would be necessary to open one's eyes regarding Hubbard's true priority settings. Hubbard has even predicted this. In his key text "Keeping Scientology Working", he mentions that the human unconscious mind (the source of all irrationality) will do everything to turn a workable approach into something irrational and destructive.
It is really too sad that we see his observation come true not only in his very own church, but even in some of the church-independent Scientology groups of the "Free Zone", who criticize their "Mother Church" as being no longer true to Hubbard, but display themselves a similar intolerance and arrogance as the one seen in the church. Some of the people who were most eager to improve their own selves have fallen into these pitfalls, have disappeared in this maze, and instead of becoming better people, they have lost all the decency and good-heartedness they still had when they started.
The gold-mine of Scientology is a gold-mine with no maps and no signposts. You have only your own integrity to guide you. Once this guide stumbles and breaks its neck, you are lost and may never see the light of being an open, outgoing, warm and friendly person again.
Scientology is a jungle.
Compared with Scientology, a jungle is a peaceful and comfortable place. While the theory teaches relationship rules and laws of fantastic simplicity and workability, practical life simply doesn't sufficiently reflect the theory.
Hubbard's "Two golden rules" and his "Code of a Scientologist" alone would make any person who truly applies them appear holier than a saint. Reality shows that these concepts, which sound like the promise of a better world when read in the introductory books and which are the stuff that attracts new people to Scientology, are not really applied - period.
Of course there are some Scientologists - especially the old ones who have known Hubbard in person - who are really wonderful examples for the virtues of Scientology. But they are the minority. Many beginners also try to improve their relationships by applying these rules. But most never do enough study and training to become really good in the art of communication, which is supposed to be one of Scientology's cornerstones, or in any of the other Scientology skills.
The fact that Hubbard puts an enormous emphasis on the importance of the theory's application doesn't make a big difference. Nor do the many lines which Hubbard wrote about the personal responsibility which each Scientologist has for keeping his group's ethics high.
Now in the Scientology jungle, the little rats and snakes are actually the minor problem. There are also the big monkeys, who can make your life pretty miserable, and the predators who literally can cost you your life.
The big monkeys are the leaders who have formed groups outside of the church (to be fair: only a few of them are bad guys!) There is an amazing "guru" mentality in some of them - meaning that they make people depend on their leadership instead of teaching them how to lead themselves based on the study of the essential writings of Hubbard. And what is worse, these self-important chiefs of little local groups cannot keep peace, they are involved in mutual mudslinging and so have no reliable structure to compete with the global management network of the "Church of Scientology".
Open mobbing and outright lies about competitors occur more often than once in a century. Such behaviour may be "just human", but it is certainly not representing the spirit of Scientology - actually it is quite low on Hubbard's scale of emotional levels. I am not going to tell names here, because there is always hope that somebody changes for the better - just watch out for it before you give somebody a lot of money, if you are a Freezone Scientologist.
The predators - at least at the time of this writing - are mostly found in the church. They put Scientology's church members under such duress that they will sell their house, their dog, their kids and their grandmother in order to satisfy the church's never-ending money hunger.
It may surprise you that this is very, very contrary to L. Ron Hubbard's principles, as he is portrayed as such a greedy old bastard by most critical books and web-sites. Not so! The relevant policy letters show clearly that he wants donations for services realistic and "not to high to discourage the public". Also he teaches about the importance to have a person's life areas balanced, which also means that it is not a Scientology virtue to sacrifice everything in order to make more money for the church.
There are several speculations as to how all this came about and why Hubbard's clear instructions are not followed. The more benevolent theory is that the current leader of the church, David Miscavige, is simply a failed student who never read Hubbard's work thoroughly enough to understand the spirit of Scientology instead of its printed letters. Instead, he is very good at screaming, and although this is not supposed to impress any Scientologist who has completed the "Communication Course" (the very first step on the ladder of courses), reality is again different and the noises made by one man have put all the wisdom of Hubbard out of use.
Probably closer to the truth is another theory: The famous remote viewer Ingo Swann - who worked for the American government - had so spectacular successes with Scientology methods that the CIA got afraid they would no longer be able to keep anything secret if a greater number of people became remote viewers by using these methods. So they infiltrated the church and made sure that Scientology in general was so severely perverted that it became the destructive mess which it is today, and that especially the drills and exercises which produced remote viewers were no longer available in the church.
There are plenty of web-sites with evidence for these and other theories on the net. If you need to know more details about these things, just do a word search on Google. That the church lets its members no longer apply these "old" methods, is a matter of fact. That Scientology has lost any attractiveness in the public view, is a matter of fact too. If it was really a CIA operation with the aim to put Scientology out of business, they have deserved a medal for doing such a good job. Whether it was a genuine service to humankind is a different question.
Scientology is a hall of mirrors.
Some of Hubbard's statements found on the internet are pretty shocking, if they are quoted out of context.
The old rule "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" applies. The same is true for most emotional levels: we experience things in the very same light that we are projecting at them. Reality is like a white wall. If a red spotlight is directed at it, it will appear red. If a green spotlight is directed at it, it will appear green. Emotions work in a similar way. Texts, images, even people appear in the emotional "light" which we are projecting, whether it is friendliness, love, hate, anger, fear etc.
If you have ever listened to a few tape minutes of one of Hubbard's lectures, you will find that he is enormously funny and his audience must be rolling on the floor with laughter. One of the few opportunities to see somebody giggle in a Scientology courseroom, is when he is listening to a Hubbard lecture on tape.
At this emotional level it is just a hilarious joke if he says something like "the government and other criminals". Printed on paper it suddenly looks like the statement of the member of a dangerous conspiracy.
A balanced person on a high emotional level would never think of setting an opponent's house on fire. Reading a text of Hubbard where he mentions that "the enemy's camp goes up in flames" as a birthday present for one's boss, he would grin for a moment and appreciate that Hubbard's absurdly exaggerated joke gave him a relaxed little smile in the middle of a long day full of concentrated hard work. He would also learn something about the need to please one's boss.
A deadly serious person who sees hidden enemies in every shadow, reads the same lines and thinks "Wow! Hubbard was an outright criminal and this is an open invitation for his followers to commit crimes too!"
Maybe it was a mistake of Hubbard not to foresee the possibility that his sarcasm and grim humour could be taken literally by people who laugh only once a year and only after they have made sure that nobody is watching. He didn't foresee that people would quote his lectures without ever hearing any of them, so that they wouldn't know anything about the generally loose and funny atmosphere of his lectures. He also didn't expect that his exaggerated jokes in written texts would be taken so literally by some people.
Although he should have been warned: the prediction that people who are on low emotional levels will have no sense of humor and take everything literally can be found in his "Chart of Human Evaluation".
Scientology is an IQ test.
Without going into too many details, I want you to understand that Scientology procedures have a lot to do with differentiation.
Hubbard has formulated the theory that in a traumatic experience, everything is identified with everything else. The red color of the car which hits us is identified with the blue sky, the sunshine, the screeching of brakes and the headache which stems from falling down onto the road. So in the future all the nice things like sunshine or blue skies will give us a headache. This is how the "reactive mind" works (the unconscious part of the mind where traumatic experiences are stored).
Now a lot of the Scientology procedure deals with taking these wrong identifications apart. After going through such an incident a few more times, we realize that a blue sky is not the same as a headache. It is different. We learn to differentiate. The red car from 10 years ago is not the red car from today, and a red car is not the same as a headache. The mind, which had been overwhelmed by a package of perceptions, takes the package apart and learns to treat the perceptions separately. This way, the pains of psychosomatic illnesses disappear.
Typcial Scientologists spend years of their life with sessions where they go through whole chains of such incidents. Over time, they learn to differentiate better and better. But in one point, they are expected to differentiate perfectly even before they had their first session: in the question of whether or not to trust Scientology enough to use it for self-improvement!
There are so many negative informations about Hubbard and his church on the internet and in the media, that a mind which has learned to mis-identify by many traumatic experiences, will probably mis-identify these negative informations with all the good that Scientology procedures can do. Like the wrong equation blue sky = sunshine = red car = headache, it also makes the wrong equation Scientology = sessions = greed = totalitarian control.
A mind which has learned to differentiate properly will probably be able to distinguish the pearls from the shit, but how can we expect somebody to have an ability even before he ever started the learning path which teaches the ability? Could it be that only those people can find the good in Scientology who don't need Scientology at all, because they already possess the ability which Scientology was supposed to help them develop?
Or is it simply an IQ test? Nobody would think less of Picasso's paintings just because he was a womanizer. Nearly all great artists have their drug or alcohol problems. Some beat their wives and others have been to jail for stealing or racing through red traffic lights. And yet they are still valued for the greatness of their work.
In a gold-mine, tons of rock are searched for a few grams of the precious metal. Does L. Ron Hubbard's work contain enough value to take the trouble of separating it from the rubble in his biography and in the history of his church?
Scientology is an island.
L. Ron Hubbard ends the book which started his career, "Dianetics", with the invitation to the reader "Build a better bridge!" ("bridge" being his term for the way from an irrational human being to a fully rational person or "Clear"). This creates an eager feeling of being encouraged to continue the work that he started. It is no surprise that this book has been the entry point to Scientology for many of today's members.
It is still one of the main promotional items. However, as soon as a person starts to do courses in the church, they keep studying texts after texts which state that only Hubbard's writings and tapes are to be used by a Scientology student, that there are no discussions allowed about them, that if any questions arise, the students are only to be shown Hubbard's text again and asked to define any words they might not have understood. Explanations are forbidden.
Scientologists love Hubbard's statement "The only thing which is true for you, is what you have observed to be true yourself". They love it when he says "Don't accept something just because I said it", and when he refuses to be their authority. But the reality is that somebody, if not Hubbard himself, has made him the absolute authority beside whom nobody else can exist.
Using trauma reduction procedures or mental exercises of other authors, or writing one's own procedures, even if they relate well to Hubbard's procedures, is a "high crime" (no joke!). And yet on an advanced course he states that a graduate of this course will be able to formulate tailormade procedures for any special need: one of the many contradictions already mentioned.
Here is another one: It is absolutely forbidden to "mix practices", and having an "open mind" is considered a character flaw, not something positive. And yet there is the book "Science of Survival" and its "Chart of Human Evaluation", where we find that at the top of the scale, a person will try to broaden their viewpoint by studying the viewpoints of others. If we apply the principles of the "Anatomy of Thought" article to this contradiction, many pages of Hubbard's texts would have to be ripped out of the books!
Creative people who want to further research and expand the subject earn collective contempt and are insulted as "Squirrels", not a friendly word at all in the world of Scientology, but a very derogatory term for somebody who will distort something workable until it is no longer useful. In a peer-oriented science like medicine or physics - where a new student gets to learn the insights, procedures and techniques of countless people, each of them a genius - shutting up the young generations by a guru-worship like that would be unthinkable.
This is another issue Hubbard describes in his own work: in his course about how to study, he describes three study barriers, plus a fourth one which is actually the first (he calls it "study barrier 0"): the idea that one knows already everything that could be available for learning. Exactly this attitude is present in basically every Scientologist. They are practically unable to understand new thoughts which have not been mentioned and pre-digested by Hubbard. And if they do understand them, they are quick to invalidate them as unnecessary or otherwise make sure that nothing challenges their frozen framework of Hubbard axioms, Hubbard assumptions, Hubbard conclusions and Hubbard opinions - their master himself would rotate in his grave if he could see this!
Also there is the huge problem that Hubbard incorporated the work of so many authors without ever giving precise sources. In the early editions of his books these authors are at least mentioned by name on the title page - in the recent copies these credentials are missing altogether.
Human Philosophy is a vast network of interconnected thoughts originally coming from many sources. Hubbard took dozens of them and obscured the original source by rewording the thoughts and deleting any informations about the original authors. It is as if he had held a global net of lines, pulled the goodies at the end of each line onto his personal island, and then cut the lines and let them sink into the dark ocean, never to be found again - until he ended up on an island full of treasures but with no connections to the remaining continents full of other living people with their memories and their history.
It would require many years of working time from a doctor of both philosophy and theology to restore all the lost connections of Hubbard's texts to the exact sources in the work of earlier authors. Scientific writers are used to list their references to other authors with full name and the exact title and page of the publication from which the quote has been taken. Hubbard's style in these things is entirely incompatible with well-founded scientific habits.
All these things make Hubbard and his universe an isolated solution which by its own priority settings is neither willing nor capable of networking with other fields of research or even other researchers in the same field. So I am afraid that Hubbard's gold-mine will never show up in a university library.
The fact that this - the universities - is where most of the world's leading thinkers can be found, does not concern the Scientologists. They believe to be the world's elite, just because they understand a few principles about the spirit and the mind and have the noble goal of bringing sanity to this planet - but they fail to see that the world's actual elite is running its own show entirely without the help of Hubbard and his followers. As a logical consequence, the gold nuggets which can be found in Hubbard's work, are lost to the mainstream researchers. It keeps baffling me that nobody seems to make any calculations about the loss of human resources that is caused by this isolation.
Scientology is a gold-mine...
This is what Hubbard said in 1956. It's just one of the nuggets which keep a real Scientologist digging:
"I consider all auditors [auditor: practitioner of Scientology] my friends. I consider them that even when they squirrel [squirrel: see definition above]. I believe they have a right to express themselves and their own opinions. I would not for a moment hamper their right to think. I think of auditors and Scientologists as the Free People." ...
"I don't expect auditors or Scientologists to instantly agree with or seize upon whatever I say. I would be offended if they did and would feel they weren't a Free People. Since they are intelligent I expect them to think over what's said, try it, and if it's good for them, use it. That old auditors sooner or later come back to and use what I have discovered isn't any testimony to our relationship at all, it's only a testimony to my being right because I meant to be right in the first place." ...
"I sorrow when I see somebody accomplishing less than he should because he thinks I wouldn't approve of it. In organizations and out I count upon initiative and good judgment."
L. Ron Hubbard, PAB 79, 10 April 1956, THE OPEN CHANNEL
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This page last changed on: 30. Mar 13