Some have questioned lately where I stand on the subject of Scientology and its author L. Ron Hubbard. I have found that perplexing since I believe I have pretty thoroughly shared that through my writings over the past four years. It occurred to me that maybe I lost some folks in never opening up for discussion topics that I covered in the greatest detail in the book What Is Wrong With Scientology? Healing Through Understanding.
In chapter 15 Hereafter of that book I laid out three lessons I had learned since leaving the church of Scientology that I believed if not learned by Scientologists would spell Scientology’s demise as a viable subject in the future. The first lesson was that Scientologists need to develop the tolerance and compassion necessary to integrate. That particular segment of the book is republished below. Feel free to sound off on what is wrong with this, what is unworkable about this, where I was inaccurate or unfair, why it ought not be heeded, or whatever else you want to say about it (within the bounds, or course, of this blog’s moderation policy).
Integrate or Disintegrate
One hallmark of the corporate Scientologist that has done more than perhaps anything else to harm the attractiveness of the subject is the assumption of the holier-than-thou attitude. Scientology Inc. drives home at every level, gradiently increasing as one progresses, the idea that a Scientologist is superior to mere mortals and wogs. Some of this is inculcated by Hubbard’s writings and lectures. I believe that is partly due to Hubbard feeling the need to keep people involved and engaged when it was particularly tough for one to do so.
During Hubbard’s lifetime, Scientologists were continually at risk of losing family, friends, jobs, and even their civil liberties, just by virtue of practicing Scientology. That was due in great part to the established monopoly on mental healing of the ’50s and early ’60s – driven through the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association – condemning and organizing aggressive attacks against Scientology. That this was once the case will be made plain in my subsequent book on the movement’s history. However, it is still untenable to be associated with Scientology in certain countries, including Germany and France. Hubbard’s material consistently regards Scientologists with the attitude that in the light of organized attacks, they ought to take pride for daring to look where others won’t.
Hubbard took that defensiveness to another level by becoming increasingly assertive that Scientology is the only workable route to betterment. With that came a growing disdain for other practices and philosophies. It began with psychiatry, spread to psychology and psycho-therapy, and then to other philosophies and religions. By the mid-’60s, firm policies were instituted that effectively forbade the outside study of any other mental, spiritual, or religious philosophy. It was a gradually-growing intolerance, but by the end of Hubbard’s life it became sweeping and absolute. By way of example, let us take Hubbard’s attitude toward Sigmund Freud and the fields of psychiatry and psychology. Freud was noted by Hubbard as someone to whom “credit in particular is due” at the beginning of his seminal 1951 book Science of Survival.
By 1959, Hubbard had toned that acknowledgement down to a condescending tolerance:
Older nineteenth century studies, such as psychology, developed by Wundt in 1879 in Leipzig, Germany; psychoanalysis, developed by Freud in 1894 in Vienna, Austria; and psychiatry, developed through the nineteenth century in Russia, did not necessarily fail, since they provided data which permitted Scientology to begin.
By 1970, Hubbard becomes far more critical:
Any early technology of the human mind was perverted by the University of Leipzig studies of animal fixations of a Prof. Wundt in 1879, who declared man a soul-less animal, subject only to stimulus-response mechanisms and without determinism. Further perversions entered upon the scene in the 1894 libido theory of Sigmund Freud, attributing all reactions and behavior to the sex urge.
Finally, in 1982, Hubbard summed up the contribution of the psychologist, psycho-therapist, and psychiatrist – referred to collectively in Scientology as ‘psychs’ – in a bulletin entitled The Cause of Crime:
There would be no criminals at all if the psychs had not begun to oppress beings into vengeance against society. There’s only one remedy for crime – get rid of the psychs! They are causing it!
Corporate Scientologists, trained to abide by all of Hubbard’s words literally, believe this without question. Thus, their leader Miscavige currently whips thousands of Scientologists into a virtual frenzy at his annual International Association of Scientologists event – a yearly enactment chillingly reminiscent of Hitler’s Nuremburg rallies – by announcing campaigns directed at destroying ‘the psychs.’ The crowds leap to their feet to give minutes-long standing ovations when Miscavige announces Scientology Inc. funding for the “Psychiatry: Global Retribution” campaign, or the “Psychs: Global Obliteration” plan.
Thus we see what Scientology Inc.’s celebrity spokesman Tom Cruise was referring to when he appeared on the Today show and sternly scolded host Matt Lauer with laser-intense certainty: “You are glib. You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do!” And we saw Cruise become the poster boy for Scientology Inc.’s implanted, dysfunctional, superiority complex. Witness Cruise – who claims his “best friend” to be David Miscavige himself – pridefully pronouncing in a viral YouTube video that a Scientologist “knows that he is the only one who can truly help” others, even down to assisting a motorist in distress. What are we to think – that all Highway Patrolmen, Emergency Medical Technicians, even good Samaritans are incompetent, wrong-intentioned people who cannot be trusted?
The first lesson I learned after 27 years on the inside was precisely the opposite. When I left, I moved to deep-south Texas. I had been high profile within, and thought that critics and enemies of Scientology would use my departure to Scientology’s detriment. My goal was to disappear. And for three years I was successful. During those three years, I had no contact whatsoever with anyone I had known for the previous entirety of my life. I was a hurt, lonely person. The first thing I noticed was that others noticed that condition. Mind you, these were the lowliest people imaginable, since the county I lived in was perennially one of the three poorest in the nation.
The next thing I noticed was that those lowly ‘wogs’ cared to do something about my pain. And while they did not have a lot to share, they were only too willing to give the two things they did have: compassion and communication. I noticed that in South Texas people of whatever station or race treat all other people with respect. Men call one another ‘Sir’ when they meet for the first time or when they casually pass or do simple business. One is automatically granted respect and it is up to one to maintain it. You keep it or lose it by your subsequent conduct, but you start off with their assumption that you deserve it. Where did this come from? I suppose some of it was Christian based, some of it was Mexican-culture based, some of it was Southern-Americana based. Whatever the source, I do know that the compassion and communication that ultimately saved my soul turned out to be inner-city and ‘psych’ based.
I met Monique Banks in early 2005. The minute she met me, she treated me like a long-lost family member. We have lived together since – we were married in 2010. She had an incredible set of people skills when I met her. They were tolerance, interest, compassion, listening, forgiveness and unconditional love. This woman gave me the space and understanding I needed to decompress, to heal, and to put my life into perspective. It was not till later when I met her father that I would understand where she had learned these skills. Jim Banks is, of all things, a psycho-therapist and professor of psychology by profession. Jim is a man’s man. He grew up without a father, in the Bronx. He sacrificed his teenage years to serve as father to his four younger brothers. He then served his country in the jungles of Vietnam as a United States Marine. Besides the qualities I already mentioned that Monique displayed, I learned that he taught his children four important lessons.
First, don’t ever play the victim – it is the most painful and unrewarding route one can choose, and if played too long will make you a victim for good. Two, remember that you cannot control the way that other people act, but you can always control the way you react to them, and the way you act yourself. Three, if you want to get better and more competent, then choose to associate with friends who are better and more competent than yourself (clearly impossible for one who believes he is superior to the rest). Four – and most importantly – remember that no matter what the question, the answer is ‘love.’ Ironically, Jim and Monique both naturally, and without effort, exemplified the best qualities that I believe Scientology can help one develop. Jim, despite his profession alone rendering him a ‘cause of crime’ in the eyes of Scientology Inc., had no problem understanding my description of Scientology. In fact, he agreed with just about everything I told him about it.
Spending time with my new family has taught me that the goals of Scientology are not monopolized. It taught me that there are other means to achieve those goals, and people were exemplifying that in their conduct in the world. This lead to a curiosity about how society and philosophy and the study of the mind had evolved during my years within the machine. I read and read and read some more. The more I read, the more I saw Scientology as aligning with, agreeing with, and potentially having tools that could help with other bodies of wisdom and routes to happiness and realization. I also began to see more clearly how Scientology Inc. had alienated and segregated itself from the rest of society, leaving the world at large with the inclination to steer clear of Scientology.
I never preached Scientology to Monique. But, the subject arose many times, when she would ask me about a good quality in me that she had noticed, which I would attribute to some aspect of Scientology. On three occasions I used simple Scientology techniques to prevent illnesses from taking hold of Monique’s body. This increased her curiosity. The more she learned of Scientology from me, the more she considered that it aligned with what she knew to be good, healing, and empowering.
As we learned more of each other, I found that beneath Monique’s courage, strength and wisdom she carried hurt and despair like everyone else. She reached for auditing and I provided it. I audited her up the Bridge, through the Grades and Dianetics to Clear. But I audited her up the Bridge with absolutely none of the Black Dianetics additives that have been detailed throughout this book. No attempts were made to have her believe anything, no effort was made to control her behavior and life, nothing was done to get her to view people in any other way than the way she saw appropriate to view them. My goal was solely to help her to recover more of herself, to assist her to take off those synthetic personality jackets that didn’t belong to her inherently and were making her uncomfortable – just as Hubbard prescribed when he spoke directly of the actual auditing technology. Though I had audited many dozens of people in my time within Scientology Inc. (including virtually all of its A-list VIPs), it was only during my auditing on the outside that I began to truly appreciate the power of the technology of Scientology.
There was no limit to the effectiveness of Scientology when it was offered and delivered with the sole, unadulterated intent to service and to help. It was completely acceptable and understandable to people when it was not marketed, sold, or covertly forced upon them. It enhanced and reinforced the good lessons that people learned from any number of sources, when it was not used to dissuade people from listening to or learning from other sources. After another three years of delivering Scientology on the same basis to former members of Scientology Inc. and to people new to the subject altogether, those observations have been further validated.
Scientology works wonderfully when it integrates with society, civilization, and the philosophies and religions of others. Scientology harms when it seeks to segregate from society, civilization, and the philosophies and religions of others. If Scientologists do not learn to integrate, they will disintegrate as a potential meaningful influence.
If corporate Scientologists cannot wrap their wits around thinking conceptually with the subject and integrating with society, but instead feel they must continue to act robotically, only according to literal commands of L. Ron Hubbard, then a good start for them would be to aspire to live literally by this central tenet of Hubbard’s: “A being is only as valuable as he can serve others.”
If one truly attempted to live up to that maxim, he or she might begin to see the light. To Scientologists who can think conceptually and have not cut themselves off from the fruits of observation, you might appreciate the tree from which that branch grew:
What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job? If you do not understand this, you will get lost, however intelligent you are. It is the great secret. – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching