All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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It all started with Ron. Not the L. Ron Hubbard who started Scientology back in 1950 when he wrote Dianetics, but a groovy young cat named Ron who wears those sharp amber glasses and green suede shoes. At least, I think his name is Ron.
He's in charge of a mission of the Church of Scientology.
That's what they call it, a mission.
Really, it's sort of a school and of a mind-bending operation. Mostly, though, it's set up to rid spare cash — lots of it — and then sucker you into working for them for almost nothing.
A groovy trip while it lasts.
I met this cat, Ron somebody, at the Celebrity Center. The Celebrity Center is this art center sort of thing that the Church of Scientology runs in downtown Los Angeles. Imagine having church services behind some old stage flats in a recreation center with an art show going on? And a coffee house bar to one side? And can smoke right during the service and nobody even looks surprised? Man, it's a gas.
You know what else is a gasser? These Scientologists are the anti-drug cats of all time and they won't even let you take an aspirin for six days before one of their mind-bending sessions, but they all smoke like fiends. Ron explained it. This Hubbard who must think he's a god the way they all bow down at the thought of his name decided that drugs swell the mass of your brain. Make the brain itself swell like a sprained ankle or something. Well, that's bad, man, that's b-a-a-d. But Hubbard never told them that nicotine was a mind-swelling drug so cigarettes are okay. This anti-drug kick is part of a respect ability campaign.
Anyway, one Saturday night I went to a poetry reading at the Celebrity Center which is just around the corner from the First Temple of Astrology, just in case you want to find it for yourself.
I thought the Celebrity in the name meant that some Hollywood names would be around, but there weren't. I was stupid enough to ask and this Ron told me that Bobby Darin is going to be taking their Dianetics Training Course in return for something Scientology asked him to do. I never found out what.
So I got interested and the next thing I know, I'm asking this Ron what a Dianetics Training Course is.
Man, I wish you could have come along on that trip!
Did you know before you were born, while you were still half the length of your mother's little finger, all curled up in Mama's uterus, the cells of your body were storing up every word you heard? That's absolutely the way they tell it.
Everytime something happened while you were in Mama's belly, you got knocked unconscious and all your cells stored up everything you heard!
You get a lot of sex hammered into you that way. Ron gave me Dianetics to read. It's full of how a zygote (that's a one day old pregnancy) got knocked unconscious because its parents had sexual intercourse. And every word that Daddy said to Mommy while they were having intercourse was printed right on those two tiny little cells. And when the baby grew into a man, there was that conversation—word for word—stored up in his subconscious mind giving him all sorts of hang-ups!
Now, listen, I didn't make up any of the stories about people remembering being there, just little lumps of tissue inside their Mama's belly taking down every word while Daddy . . . anyway, all this is quoted directly from Dianetics (The Paperback Library, First Printing : October, 1968) and I've put the page number so you can check up on me, if you want to.
Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked unconscious. Mama runs lightly and blithely into a table and, baby gets its head stoved in. Mama has constipation and baby, in the anxious effort, gets squashed. Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine . . . (page 143)
I was visiting a Scientology Center that wasn't mine one day. This is usually a no-no. Each center likes to hang on to its own customers. No poaching. That's bad ethics.
Anyway, I had legitimate business at this other center and I was running my errand when I needed to find the little girls room. I wandered down the wrong hall and I heard this come floating out a closed door.
MAN'S VOICE: "Come in me! Make me pregnant! (mumble, mumble).
I want a baby. I want your baby!"
Now, either it was play acting, a Dianetics Training Course or . . . ?
Anyway, if you believe in Scientology and in Dianetics, the foundation of Scientology, your sex life is going to be changed forever.
They believe that that unborn baby is storing up every word it hears while it's getting jostled around as an embryo. Naturally, that means no talking whatsoever while you're having sex. After all, how can you be that sure you're not pregnant? As one auditor told me when I asked, "There are slip-ups with the Pill, you know."
Silent sex isn't quite that silent, I guess. Whimpers and grunts and so forth probably aren't too damaging.
It may sound silly here, but believe me it sounds very scientific the way it's explained in Dianetics and the flocks of other stuff they give you to read. If the unborn baby hears, "I just can't come" (Mama's whimpering voice) while Papa is thrusting away, then that unborn baby stores up those words and takes them literally and the rest of her life after she's born, she'll be afraid to go anywhere . . . to school, to college, to the market. And say that unborn baby hears, "Oh, if my husband ever found out he'd kill me and the baby!"
(Dianetics is sure most Mamas have intercourse with their lovers while they're pregnant.)
And so that baby is born and grows up sure that Daddy is going to kill her and Mama. You can make all sorts of horror stories out of picturing what Mama and Daddy or another man might have said to each other while they were indulging themselves.
Anyway, that book Dianetics got me interested. I've a few hang-ups about sex myself. One of them fouled up a really swinging relationship . . . lost me a guy I'd really thought was maybe husband material . . . and I had a fairly good savings account. I could afford to invest in a Scientology course or two and get rid of those hang-ups.
I went home and thought about it.
The more I thought the better it sounded. Wow! Just a few weeks of going to training sessions every night and I could get rid of all my hang-ups! Much faster than analysis or group therapy. Wow! Fantastic!
(All the kids around Scientology are always using these wild words for nothing. Tell one of the girls at the front desk that you're going out to get a coke and she replies, "Fantastic!")
Besides, this Ron character had been telling me that the first thing I'd learn to do was communicate. Now, communication fascinates me. I've always been pretty good — college newspaper, the whole bit. I've studied a certain amount of psychology and sociology, too.
I was really looking forward to the first course. They call it a basic course in communication.
You have to go through it yourself or you won't believe me. Scientology's version of communication has nothing to do with people relating to each other and exchanging ideas or feelings.
This is sub-human communication they teach. The opposite of anything you'd ever call communication in the normal world.
Here you are in a plain, bare little room. A long table, the folding kind. Some folding chairs. An instructor to get you started. (He just stands around.) A partner.
My first partner was the college "hippie" type. We looked pretty much alike, which struck me as an odd coincidence. This girl is training to be an auditor, Scientology's version of a Viennese psychiatrist. Long, brown hair. A little bit chunky. Big round gray eyes. (I saw a lot of those eyes.)
Hard to believe that this 19-year-old kid is almost to CLEAR (no hang-ups left). Within two years at the very most, she'll be a Class 8 auditor pulling down her three or four hundred bucks a week. And she dropped out of college in her Freshman year.
For this basic course in communication, you and your partner set up two folding chairs facing each other, exactly three feet apart. Your partner (trainer) sits in one. You sit in the other. Your knees just about touch.
That's what this first course in communication is all about — sitting. Just sitting and staring at the trainer across from you without a movement, without a flicker of expression, without even shifting your eyes! And you're supposed to do it so well that you can sit there motionless and expressionless for two hours!
It is not as hard as it sounds.
There is a deep well of animal awareness in all of us. Put in a jungle situation with the animal trainer at whip's distance, you learn to be as alert and still as a tiger very rapidly.
Every time you move, even a hint of a twitch at the corner of your eyebrow or lip, the trainer says, "Flunk!"
It's so startling, it's almost painful.
You become so intensely self-aware that you can tell when an eyelash is beginning to sag.
After an hour or so, I got pretty proficient at this motionless sitting. They call it "confronting" in Scientology.
They make certain that you've learned each step, Once you've got it down somewhat, your trainer starts taunting you, "Bull Baiting."
Back when I was just sitting, she'd start in on me, "Why don't you lose weight? Why is your hair such a funny color? You bite your fingernails, don't you? Did you have sex last night?"
Anything the trainer can think of to make your respond to her as a human being, lose that control for an instant, break — and you flunk.
At first, well, for the first few times I couldn't quite control a bit of smile. You know, she'd pretend to be pathetic. Her trainer would flunk her if she couldn't break me. One corner of my lip would curve up and I'd be flunked. Later on, she really "punched my buttons," started in on all the sensitive spots in my make-up, and, let me tell you, those auditors in Scientology really can tell where your hang-ups are located.
(And I'm not going to tell you about the exact "Button Punchers." Too darn personal.)
The "Flunks" shot out harsh and sharp every time I thought anger. An eyebrow would move or a muscle in my cheek would twitch. "Flunk!"
Flunk! Flunk! Flunk!
Pretty soon your reactions become geared to doing what you're supposed to rather than reacting emotionally in a normal way.
They really drill all this into you.
That "confronting"—just sitting no matter how my trainer Bull Baited me and no matter how sensitive my Buttons were — was the first exercise. Next came, "Delivering a command."
I've always been nervous. I got in trouble constantly in grammar school for wiggling and fidgeting, so learning to sit like a statue in that first exercise made me feel as if I'd achieved super-human control.
Learning to deliver that command wasn't too hard. The trainer hands you a list of one sentence quotes from Alice In Wonderland. You're supposed to read them, one at a time, without moving and without any excess inflection in your voice. You're also supposed to project yourself through your eyes across the three feet between you and your trainer while you read these quotes. (All she does if you've done it right is say, "Okay," or something like that.) Then you know you've survived one more test and you can read the next one. If your eyebrow moves or your eye contact isn't strong enough, here comes that "Flunk!"
You may not move at all through this, not even to look down at the paper and up again. You may move your eyes, though, just enough to shift them from the paper to the eyes of your trainer.
Look at the trainer. Memorize the sentence. Shift your eyes. Deliver the command. Wait for her to acknowledge it. Go through the whole thing again.
"I'm late! I'm late!" (Remember the White Rabbit?)
"Come along with me to the Cheshire Cat."
"Flunk! What did you do?"
"I . . . I started to smile."
"Come along with . . ."
"Flunk! What did you do?"
"I don't know."
"You moved your head."
"Come along with . . ."
Delivering a command is harder than just sitting and confronting, since you've got your voice to control, too. But once it's mastered and you master it quickly with those "Flunks" flicking your ego to shreds, delivering a command comes easy.
Next step is "Acknowledging."
Acknowledging is what she was doing when she said, "Okay," at the end of each nonsense quote from Alice In Wonderland.
Acknowledge is all you're supposed to do in Scientology when someone says something to you. You don't get into a two-way conversation, share ideas. Sharing ideas is a No-No except maybe in a business meeting. You're just supposed to acknowledge that you know the other guy said something to you.
The Acknowledgements are, "Fine, Good, Okay, That's nice," and I've already forgotten one of the official acknowledgers. Scientologists really use this principle of theirs in their regular conversations and they run to superlatives for their acknowledgers. That's why the kids say, "Fabulous!" if you tell them you're going out to put a nickel in the parking meter.
What all this training in Scientology's version of communication does is teach you obedience. Conditions it into you with fear.
It's Pavlovian. Just the way Pavlov's dogs learned that a bell ringing meant dinner and so continued salivating later when the bell would ring but no food was forthcoming . . . well, that's the way a beginner in Scientology is conditioned to expect that "Flunk!" even when it's not there.
Nobody says, "Flunk!" to you in the auditing sessions. That's just training. But by the time you're trained to "communicate," you are totally intent on giving the trainer or auditor what he wants from you.
Baby, you've been brain-washed and reeducated.
You couldn't use the E-Meter without the training in communication, though. The E-Meter is a sensitive gadget. If you wiggled or squirmed, you'd goof up the reading the auditor is taking on you the whole time he is exploring your subconscious mind for memories of Papa's intercourse with Mama and all the other weird things that are pulled out of you during Scientology training or therapy.
It was explained to me — or maybe I read it — that the E-Meter is a galvanometer. This measures the resistance of your body to an electric current. A small one. It doesn't hurt.
The auditor told me that the electrical resistance of a dead male body, measured by the E-Meter, is 1,200 ohms. My auditor says nobody knows why but a dead female body only measures 500 ohms.
L. Ron Hubbard has measured the dead bodies and that's what it is. I wonder where he got the bodies?
Hubbard has also used the E-Meter to measure the resistance of a ripe tomato.
The E-Meter costs $140. Every Scientology auditor buys his own from the church. Like everything else around there, this was put into shape — patented, I guess — by L. Ron Hubbard.
The refined, perfected model my auditor used has a dial with a needle that swings around it. The auditor twiddles little black knobs to measure how much resistance your body is putting out from moment to moment.
Your auditing (training and therapy) sessions take place in the same bare little rooms. All there is is a table (for the E-Meter), some folding chairs, sometimes a bulletin board if it's a bigger room that is used for classes too. And, almost always there are piles of paper or other junk around. One classroom had some dolls. The auditor explained that auditors in training practice with dollies. They put the doll on the table in front of them and practice telling it what to do.
There's often some clay around. They check up on your understanding of those engrams (traumas, neuroses, hang-ups) by having you model little clay statues of engrams.
Anyway, there you are in that bare, sort of untidy little room — just you, the auditor and the E-Meter. The E-Meter faces the auditor. You can't see the needle or the knobs during the session, although your first time the auditor will show you how it works and let you play around a little to get used to it.
Naturally, you have to be hooked up to the machine or it couldn't measure your electrical resistance. Two ordinary tin cans are attached to it with insulated wire. You take one can in each hand and hold it firmly. This is where all that training in sitting still comes in. Wiggle or twitch or move around and the needle goes crazy.
Your auditor couldn't measure your emotional condition with the E-Meter if you were moving around. Once you're working, that infernal E-Meter is telling the auditor just what you're reactions are. Are you relaxed or uptight?
In psychology, it's a trauma. To us, it's a hang-up. In Scientology, which is considerate enough to furnish everybody with a little pamphlet-size dictionary, it's called an engram.
An engram is a moment of pain or unconsciousness or unhappiness (induced by getting hit over the head with a baseball bat or Daddy's penis). While you're sick or out cold or unhappy, you stop thinking rationally and just store every sight and sound in your unconscious mind, like taking a continuous sound movie without any editing. They've got a special term for the subconscious in Scientology, too. They call it the "reactive mind."
The whole point of being audited is to go back over your entire life, engram by engram, back to the moment Daddy's sperm entered Mommy's ovum and formed you and get all those engrams relived so they'll go away and you'll he free of all your hang-ups, psychosomatic diseases and so forth.
(They promise you no more allergies, no more near-sightedness, no more arthritis, etc. once you're rid of your engrams.)
You sit there, holding a tin can in each hand.
The auditor asks a question like, "Remember a time someone was friendly to you."
Well, your mind hitches on to a memory. He can see this because the tension increases in you even though you can't feel it and the needle on the E-Meter moves.
The auditor says, "Tell me what's happening."
So you remember and tell him every detail of your memory. You concentrate so hard that the memory quickly becomes real.
"I'm out in the backyard in my playpen. It's under a tree. The sun is funny. It dances around the leaf shadows. I'm absolutely all alone except for this gopher. It keeps sticking its head out of a hole and looking at me. I don't stand up very well, but I'm holding on to the playpen bars and sort of jumping up and down. Oh-oh, I'm going to fall. I'm going to fall down. Ouch. My head!"
(Now, here's the engram. Mommy comes rushing out. She picks me up. She's really scared. According to Dianetics, she's pretty guilty too.)
"Oh, my poor baby! My poor, poor baby! Poor little thing. Oh, she'll be blind and mentally retarded for life. Look at me poor little baby! etc."
(And that is why I am nearsighted — "Nearly blind." That is why I am stupid — "Mentally retarded for life!" etc.)
As you get near an engram, my auditor explained, the needle on the E-Meter drops over to the left. That alerts him to probe for an incident you don't remember because it's stored in your unconsciousness, not your conscious, mind.
You get to the end of the engram and the auditor makes you tell it all over again. This time you get even more detail into it. You "see" the gopher's beady eyes and maybe you smell Mommy's seductive perfume. And then he has you tell it again. And one more time.
I keep getting the feeling L. Ron Hubbard had a mother thing.
When you tell the incident a few times it loses its emotional charge and you feel purged . . . more or less like the floating, lazy feeling after orgasm . . . and the needle floats lazily back and forth over the dial.
Of course, there is no way of knowing whether you're really remembering something that happened or whether you've made the whole thing up because you've been conditioned by all those "Flunks" to please your trainer no matter what.
And the likelihood that you made it up is pretty damn good, since Scientology goes in heavily for reincarnation and some of the engrams you're going to be fishing out of your subconscious will be of previous existences . . . maybe as a squishy pink outer space creature who got killed in an inter-galactic war some 50 trillion years ago. So help me, there are books full of these things — written by L. Ron Hubbard, published by Scientology and peddled as absolute, incontrovertible, scientific fact.
But the feeling of release, that post-orgasm peacefulness, that comes after gotten rid of an engram is great . . . whether the memory was real or just fiction.
Awfully easy to get hooked on something like this. To convince yourself that all the stuff you're telling the auditor and the E-Meter is fact.
Besides, my auditor was a great guy. Harvard grad. Peace Corps. The whole bit.
And, to be frank with you, the social scene around Scientology beat just about anything I've encountered in my career.
Face it. Where else are almost all the men young, single and making good money. They're good looking too.
My auditor was very unhappy with me when I'd finished the communication course and the Dianetic Training Course (that Bobby Darin's supposed to be getting from them for free) and I told the auditor and the head of the center that I couldn't buy any more of Scientology's services. Not for a while, at least.
I wasn't broke, don't misunderstand me. But Scientology isn't sold for peanuts. I'd given them several hundred bucks and that's a big hunk out of a junior research assistant's savings account.
That's when the pressure started to mount. They were "understanding," but they really pushed. My auditor, the head of the center, everybody there — and the Scientology Center is like a club. Everybody knows everybody else and goes out for coffee and gets involved in your business.
Everybody told me that I'd recoup my investment in Scientology fast if I'd just take every penny out of the bank and buy Scientology with it. All I had to do was get myself up to "Release" and I'd be so much more efficient and intelligent that I'd make three times the money back in a few weeks or months. You can see the pitch, can't you?
"Release" is a sort of intermediate step on the way to clear. Release means you haven't gotten rid of all your engrams, but they aren't bugging you any more.
If you're ever around a Scientology Organization ("Org" for short) for more than an hour, you'll see an auditor and a pupil or patient or whatever you want to call it coming out of a training room and the auditor will announce that Judy or Ben has just achieved a "Grade Four Release!" Then everybody sitting around claps loudly. And the trainee who just got released beams proudly and sheepishly at the same time.
The manager of the center I was attending called me into his office for a fatherly little chat. (He's about a year younger than I am.)
Scientology doesn't want to lose a beautiful person like me. Since I don't have the cash to pay for any more training, well, they'll let me earn it.
First. There's a lot of typing the center needs done. Sending out direct mail invitations to free lectures. Stuff like that. I can come in for two or three hours every evening and work Saturdays and Sundays and earn big discounts against all the costs of training.
Then, the Director reminded me, I can earn more discounts off my Scientology by bringing new people — prospects into the center. I get a $5.00 discount off my next course for every new person I bring within the sales manager's range. (That's what the Director is, a sales manager). I get an extra $5.00 discount for every person I bring who buys a service from them.
The lights were beginning to come on. It's a darn good thing I wasn't hooked up to the E-Meter just then.
You can buy the courses separately — they cost more that way — but the Beginner's Package is a four course thing. (That introductory course in communication is tossed in free in the package. Individually, it is Scientology's only bargain — $15.00. But of course, it's the thing that hooks you.)
The Beginner's Package takes you from Grade 0 to Grade Four (Release) in just a few weeks. It costs $1,500. The average sale at that center is . . . $1,500. He was offering me about 6/10 of one per cent commission on each sale made to somebody I shilled for them.
If I brought in ten people and they sold one of them that package, I'd get a $55 commission, usable only to buy Scientology, and they'd make well, a lot of money. A lot.
Scientology is very secretive. About what goes on its training and about money.
The auditor gets about 10 to 20% of the price you pay. That means he gets from $150 to $300 of that $1,500 from the Beginner's Package. Part of the rest goes for overhead and salaries.
I don't think that amounts to as much as you'd think. Most of the centers look pretty good, hut if you think about it, you can see that they have good locations in older buildings . . . ones that are starting downhill. Inside, the waiting rooms are plushy, but the rest of the space is strictly utilitarian, Once they've got you back there, you're hooked.
Sure, they have to pay salaries, but you check around Scientology and you'll find that most of the people are continually in training. They get their training half-price because they're staff. So figure that most of the money they receive in salaries from Scientology gets right back in payments on training, even though it's half price.
Everything in Scientology has to he paid — cash in advance. No credit. No financing. No easy terms, but you can, I think, charge it to your credit card. I'm not certain, but I was told that some of the centers will accept Bankamericard.
Part of the money you pay . . . I've no idea what percentage . . . goes to the main organization, headquarters, sort of a franchise fee. Somehow, some of the money trickles back to L. Ron Hubbard who sits on a mammoth yacht in the Mediterranean running "Sea Org."
Hubbard isn't head of Scientology any more. He sold out his interest a few years ago . . . sold it to the Church of Scientology for $240,000.
He may not be boss on the corporate board, not now, hut there's no doubt he really still runs everything.
What goes on at Sea Org is anybody's guess. Sea Org is constantly recruiting for new people to go and live and work on the boat. You get most of your pay in Scientology training.
Sea Org makes you sign a contract committing yourself to stay with them for one billion years, if Hubbard wants to keep you that long. You also have to pay your own transportation there . . . and have cash in hand to pay for your return ticket.
Hubbard struts around his floating empire, giving order as captain of the ship, and spends most of his time developing new "levels" or courses, Naturally, there's a built-in market for the higher-level, further-out courses as he thinks them up. Everybody who has completed the current highest grade in Scientology scurries to plunk down their cash to take the newest course as soon as it comes out, so they'll continue to be the highest ranked . . . with the biggest status. And the largest income.
The two newest courses haven't gotten to America yet. It's hard to guess what will be in them and, believe me, low level Scientologists and outsiders are given intriguing hints, but we aren't "prepared" to understand so we are "carefully shielded" from any details.
Already the highest ranked Scientologists have been taught how to go to sleep while their thetans (spirits or souls) go astral travelling. Every time someone mentioned this to me, they explained that their body could be sound asleep in Los Angeles while their spirit was off having a ball in Acapulco.
Why just Acapulco? Nobody ever talked about their spirit taking an astral trip to New Guinea or Taiwan.
I had enough sense while I was there not to make fun of this. The quickest way to get hauled before the "Ethics Committee" is to make fun of something or express doubt in Scientology.
It is also a good idea to drift away from Scientology quietly, if you've been in and decide to get out.
Remember last winter? Those two kids — just 19 and 15 — who were murdered in a Los Angeles alley? Both Scientologists . . . on their way to an auditing session where the 15-year-old boy was going to audit the 19-year-old girl. The girl was living in a sort of commune with other Scientology kids. The 15-year-old boy, from Clayton, Mississippi, was here to take advanced Scientology training with his folks' permission and cash.
It costs about $7,000 to go from Grade Zero all the way up to OT 8. You can figure just how bemused parents must be to invest that kind of cash in a kid's Scientology training.
It's an eerie experience to ask a bunch of Scientologists about that murder. They give you short, sharp, noncommittal answers. It's also not a good feeling at all to have gone through a course or two and then discovered that Great Britain has officially termed Scientology a mental health hazard or to read the article published by Life magazine. The reporter who did the article went through a couple of lower courses and suffered severe emotional damage. He was still going to a psychiatrist trying to repair what Scientology had done to him when that article was published.
The most frightening part, though, really, is to see all those lonely, bored, new prospects come, in . . . and they do every day . . . and bite for Scientology's wild promises. "We'll raise your I.Q." "We'll get rid of your hang-ups." "We'll . . ."
We'll relieve you of your cash. We'll get you so booked that Scientology will be your entire life and the only life you can lead after a while.
That's what somebody should warn the innocents.