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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Is scientology another of those weird new mental cults that pop up from time to time, or does it have real value? Staff Writer Don Branning visited the local Scientology headquarters to find out. Read his account of the visit and draw your own conclusions.
Some Miamians who are seeking something — but aren't quite sure what — think they may have found it in scientology.
Scientology is an offshoot of dianetics.
And dianetics is a mixture of psychoanalysis and mail-order philosophy, of the kind advertised in the back of pulp magazines.
A science-fiction and movie script writer, L. Ron Hubbard, dreamed up and popularized dianetics about 10 years ago.
Followers met and reclined on couches, seeking the key to their problems by recalling unhappy childhood experiences.
Hubbard called these recollections "engrams" and claimed they could stretch all the way back before birth.
When dianetic's popularity waned, Hubbard opened the Academy of Scientology in Washington. D.C. Scientology, he explained, was the "basic science" from which dianetics had sprung.
* * *
FOR AROUND $1,000 you can attend Hubbard's institute and become a full-fledged scientologist.
If your aspirations are more modest, you can become an H.A.S. (Hubbard assistant scientologist) for only $7.50 a week ($10 for couples) at the Miami branch, at 47 SW 11th St.
The local scientologist is Jim Watson, a young boat rigger, who says he was "all fouled up" when he first heard about scientology in Utah, he was working as a crane operator.
He hot-footed it to Washington, where he took the $1,700 course. ("They've never sent me a bill," he says "Just every now and then they write me a note asking how I'm doing.)
* * *
I SHOWED up there, hastily disguised as Ed, an acquisitive, mildly anarchistic house painter.
A nervous young lady named Marlene patiently explained to me scientology wasn't anything like a Dale Carnegie course. She said my rewards would not be financial.
"Scientology goes beyond dianetics," she said. "It takes in all matter — rocks, walls, minerals. everything. It teaches you to know what you know. That wall, for instance," she pointed toward the living room wall. "You could comprehend that wall."
"You mean I would really dig that wall?"
"Yes," she said.
"What good would that do me?" I asked.
While she considered my question, Watson came down from an upstairs H.A.S. class. He stuck out an enthusiastic hand. He was a fellow who had really been sold.
"Glad to have you, Ed," he said, after getting my name from the secretary. "Shall we go out on the porch and communicate?"
I said why sure.
* * *
A STURDY, slightly sphinx-like young woman named Diana, who was the only other student on hand for this session of the free introductory personal efficiency course, came out on the porch for the communication.
Jim had really warmed up to the importance of communication and while he was going on I sneaked a look at Exercise One in Ability, the magazine of scientology.
* * *
"LOOK AND act younger," commanded Ability.
"Sitting somewhere near the center of the room, close your eyes and contact the two upper corners of the room behind you. Then, holding those corners, sit still and don't think. Remain interested only in those two corners.
"No matter WHAT happens, simply hold the corners and DON'T THINK"
* * *
"SAY JIM," I said "What if you get somebody here who's really sick? I mean somebody who needs some psychiatry. Isn't that a tricky business, fooling around with sick people?"
Jim bridled at this.
"I don't see where any psychiatrist would be any better equipped to handle them than we are," he said.
"Frankly, I think psychiatry is over-rated. I heard one of their own top people say that if it couldn't do better in the next 15 years it would probably disappear."
My first Scientology lesson was about over. Jim and Diana urged me to return, and to tell my friends about scientology. This was only the beginning.
* * *
AS ABILITY says of "un-cleared individuals":
"One must feel one's way into scientology as though into a long passage at the other end of which a light is shining."
By golly, I did feel, upon leaving the scientology institute, as if I were emerging from a tunnel.