Last week, we asked Scientology historian Jon Atack about OT III, the most important step on L. Ron Hubbard’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” That got us talking about Xenu the Galactic Overlord, and Atack confirmed for us that this wild space opera tale was always meant to be taken literally by church members (at least, those who had spent enough money to reach OT III). This week, we’re continuing our conversation as Jon helps us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet — a project we call “Scientology Mythbusting.”
Jon, recently we’ve come to the understanding that what is shocking for some people who reach OT III is not the content itself — many of them have been spending years “remembering” their own million-year-old space opera tales during “whole track” auditing. Instead, what surprises them is that everything they’ve experienced up to that point has come from their own experiences, memories, and self-discovery. OT III is the first time that Hubbard tells them to accept his version of galactic history. Why did he do this, do you think?
JON: It breaches the Auditor’s Code, which says ‘Never evaluate for a preclear.’ Notice the use of the word ‘never.’ Though, of course, suggesting to people that they have ‘engrams’ is also evaluative, but not on such a grand scale.
Hubbard spent a long time working with the OT III ‘incident.’ He not only wrote OT III, and a variety of supporting material for the Class VIII course, having said that exposure to the incident would cause death in a matter of days, he cheerfully wrote a screenplay based on it, which he called ‘Revolt in the Stars.’ If we follow his logic, his intention in writing it was to produce a film that, if shown to the world, would kill off the non-OT III part of the population. John Travolta still longs to bring this revelation to a beleaguered humanity. I believe that Travolta actually stopped on the Bridge at this level some thirty years ago. He may have since done another OT level, but he stayed put for a long time, indicating that he was unsure about the remaining upper levels (the goal of Scientology, let’s face it). Another famous Scientologist who is stuck on the Bridge is David Miscavige.
Anyway, In the script Hubbard wrote for the movie, the character ‘Rawl’ (clearly based on Hubbard himself) takes on the might of various two-dimensional characters with single syllable names (‘Chi’ and ‘Min’) who have wandered out of an episode of Flash Gordon. Even though moviegoers will be stricken as they watch, Hubbard rolled out the whole saga.
THE BUNKER: We’ll interrupt you there to confirm that there’s photographic proof that John Travolta seemed engrossed by the OT III materials…
If you squint, you can see the “OT III” notation on his folder. As for “Revolt in the Stars,” Atack says he has somewhere in his possession a version that is actually in script format, with indications that it’s a third version of the story and rewritten by Hubbard’s daughter, Suzette. But the only copies we could find online are in novella form, and contain gems like this…
The 1930s serials feel really comes off the page, doesn’t it?
Hubbard wrote it in 1977 while he was holed up in Sparks, Nevada, hiding after the FBI raided Scientology offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles that July. Star Wars had hit theaters in May, and it must have provoked some kind of reaction in Hubbard to see space opera, his old genre, become the subject of the hottest (and most lucrative) movie in the land. Was “Revolt” his attempt to cash in, by hastily building a script around material he’d written for OT III ten years earlier? Hubbard apparently had ambitions of making the movie himself, and after relocating to a ranch in the Palm Springs area, began making small “tech” films to develop a crew. (His chief cameraman was a young David Miscavige.) Very quickly, it became obvious that this was not the route to a large, professional feature film. So millions were raised in the hope of turning “Revolt” into a movie through a company called Brilliant Films (see this 1979 New York Post story, which mistakenly has Hubbard still at sea on the Apollo), but Bent Corydon tells us in L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? that the funding fell through and the company went bankrupt. Fortunately for all of us, John Travolta then made it his mission to bring another Hubbard classic, Battlefield Earth, to the big screen — which he did in the year 2000.
Despite these less than successful attempts to bring Hubbard’s science fiction to the screen, the galactic elements in his Scientology writings was pretty pervasive, and were not meant to be taken as make believe, isn’t that right, Jon?
JON: Hubbard had often inserted his notions of ‘space opera’ into his books and lectures. It is hard to explain to those who have never been subjected to Scientology that these are inviolable. Not a single word that Hubbard said can be contradicted or even commented upon, even when, as is often the case, it contradicts another word by Hubbard. So, when Hubbard talked about the Fourth and Fifth Invader Forces, and said that they were living on Venus and Mars, it has to be accepted as truth (the notion of ‘metaphor’ does not come into Scientology). When he spoke of the Marcab Confederacy, he meant it. Most important is the context of OT III. The Loyal Officers — the Sea Organization — come from this time. The management technology, including almost all of the Organizing Board, comes from those Loyal Officers, who managed to capture Xenu and put him in an electronic trap in a mountain (he has since escaped and runs his own website in Norway). Hubbard insists that this OT III happened in the ‘Galactic Confederacy’, an expression borrowed from science fiction writer E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith.
THE BUNKER: Xenu does get his just deserts at the end of “Revolt in the Stars,” as he gets strapped down to a device in his prison inside a mountain…
As in OT III, Hubbard set this story 75 million years ago, and in “Revolt,” someone asks how long the devices will keep Xenu trapped. “About seventy-four million years, I think, possibly more. Long enough,” says the electrician. (Cue the scary music!)
Whether Xenu has managed to escape his prison, the upshot for Scientologists is that, after reading OT III, they spend the next several levels removing invisible “body thetans” from their person at incredibly expensive rates (about $800 to $1,000 an hour). But putting aside the lucrative nature of this business plan, why did Hubbard come up with this stuff?
JON: Hubbard was very conflicted, as the 1946 ‘Admissions’ show. Some part of him knew and from time to time said that he didn’t believe in immortality — except through artistic productions — but at the same time, some other part of him wanted to believe fervently in immortality. Hubbard was friendly with Arthur J Burks, US Marine and mystic, and in his book, Burks talks about a visit from Hubbard — long before Dianetics — where Hubbard claimed he could see the ‘little its’ as he calls them. This is the first mention of entities.
As a student of Aleister Crowley, Hubbard knew that most ‘magic’ is practiced in the belief that entities — discarnate spirits — can be captured and used as vehicles for malevolence. Crowley is the major source for Scientology — I found about sixty instances of borrowing, even the ‘birth engram’ was described by Crowley, years before Dianetics — so Hubbard was well aware of this idea. Don Purcell rescued Hubbard, in 1951, when he bought Hubbard’s interest in Dianetics for a dollar because bankruptcy was inevitable. This included the rights to Dianetics, the book. To the surprise of all concerned, the judge allowed Purcell to buy all of the assets, free and clear (so to speak), leaving Hubbard in a paranoid funk (this was one bridge that he burned) and bereft of his ‘science.’ This bit of A Piece of Blue Sky might be relevant:
The greatest innovation of the Hubbard College Lectures of March 1952 was the introduction of a new cosmology, Hubbard’s history of the universe. Dianeticists had sometimes audited “past lives,” but Hubbard had published next-to-nothing on the subject. Now the “time-track” of the individual was extended long before the womb. The “Theta-MEST” theory (where Theta is “life,” and MEST, “Matter, Energy, Space and Time”) was expanded to include single “life-units” which Hubbard called “Theta-beings.” According to Hubbard, the “Theta-being” is the individual himself, and is trillions of years old (he was later to increase even this, to “quadrillions”). In simple terms the “Theta being” is the human spirit. Unfortunately, Theta beings have to share human bodies with other lesser spirits, or entities, originally called “Theta bodies.” The doctrine of the composite being emerged again in the mid-1960s, becoming the basis of the secret “Operating Thetan,” or “OT,” levels.
Hubbard claimed that “Theta beings” had been “implanted” with ideas during the course of their incredibly long existence through the use of electrical shock and pain, combined with hypnotic suggestion, aversion therapy on a grand scale. Hubbard said it was necessary to recall these implants, and to separate out the different entities in an individual, and put them firmly under the command of the Theta being. This was the direction of Hubbard’s new auditing techniques. Hubbard said he had been researching Theta beings for over a year, but had not considered it timely to release his findings.
But, in short, Hubbard had lost Dianetics with all its many engrams, so now had to create Scientology out of whole cloth. Luckily, Crowley was dead and gone (and ‘the wickedest man in the world’), so he wasn’t about to claim any infringement of intellectual property rights. Hubbard grabbed hold of Magick in Theory and Practice and ransacked it for ideas. Entities are the strongest contender for engram replacement. When Purcell generously returned the rights to Hubbard, he was able to return to his more profitable earlier ideas, and it took a while before he again brought forward the entity idea, now clothed as a body thetan.
THE BUNKER: So there was actually a long history of Hubbard’s interest in “its” or “theta bodies” or what turned out to be body thetans — essentially, invisible space cooties that have to be eradicated with e-meter exorcism. Fascinating. And he finally laid that on his upper-level followers in 1967 in the form of OT III.
JON: And the rest at least got to hear something about it when he announced OT III in Ron’s Journal ’67, which everyone who wants to understand Hubbard should hear.
THE BUNKER: Well, Jon, on your suggestion we looked around the Internet and look what we found: a full recording of Ron’s Journal ’67, all forty minutes of it. We recommend that our readers set aside some time to hear the whole thing, as Ron is in rare form with his spookiest, most conspiratorial tone here.
Some key moments…
1:34 “You have heard mention of the Sea Org (the Sea Organization) and you are likely to hear other mentions of it as time goes on. This is in reality just another Scientology organization with the difference that it handles extremely advanced work and materials, and its personnel are OTs. Its mission is to bring Clears through the upper levels safely and certainly and with speed, and it also has the mission of getting in Ethics.”
8:21 “The organization, under the direction of Mary Sue, actually before I returned from southern Africa, employed several professional intelligence agents who had long and successful professional backgrounds, and they looked into this matter for us. And the results of their activities, although still in progress, have told us all that we needed to know with regard to any enemy we had on this planet. Our enemies on this planet are less than twelve men. They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains, and they are, oddly enough, directors in all the mental health groups in the world which have sprung up.”
24:10 “The mystery of this universe and this particular area of the universe has been, as far as its track is concerned, completely occluded. No one has ever been able to make any breakthrough and come off with it and know what happened. As a matter of fact, it is so occluded that, if anyone tried to penetrate it, as I’m sure many have, they died. The material involved in this sector is so vicious that it is carefully arranged to kill anyone if he discovers the exact truth of it….I am very sure that I was the first one that ever did live through any attempt to attain that material.”
31:46 “As it has only been a very few weeks since I found a proper line through, these people have not yet been through the Wall of Fire, what is called, really, Section Three, OT, so they are having their troubles, too. We are just now embarked on putting the entire personnel of the Sea Organization who are eligible for it through Section Three, OT.”
34:38 “It is very true that a great catastrophe occurred on this planet and in the other 75 planets which formed this Confederacy 75 million years ago. It has since that time been a desert, and it has been the lot of just a handful to try to push its technology up to a level where someone might adventure forward, penetrate the catastrophe, and undo it. We’re well on our way to making this occur.”
Keep in mind, this was a lecture that Hubbard made available to all Scientologists, not just those who were on the OT levels. It’s clear that he’s talking about “Incident II,” the Xenu material, and that he’s dead serious. But to this day, if you ask them about it, Scientologists familiar with this material will tell you they don’t know what you’re talking about.
Thank you, Jon, for this glimpse into Ron’s space opera magnificence.
UPDATE: We must add Denise Brennan’s fascinating recollections about “Revolt in the Stars,” which she left in our comments…
I was sent from GO Worldwide on a mission for Hubbard to take the rights to “Revolt In The Stars” from A Brilliant Film Company (“ABFC”) so that it could be given to Myron and Alice Robinson, who Hubbard felt would do better in getting the film made into a multi-million dollar blockbuster. Randy Eaton (or something like that) was running ABFC and I met with him a few times. He had raised seed money and was trying to use it to raise the big bucks needed to get it made into a movie (at that time I think about $50 million would be the budget for a top of the line “blockbuster” movie) and it was something like that that they wanted to raise. Randy had this idea for the start and end of the movie which would be wrapped around the script. Basically someone would be scuba diving and there would be an earthquake which would expose long ago buried (some 75 million years) video recording of what would be the OT III “incident II” story that was covered by Hubbard’s script. The scuba diver somehow decided to bring it to the US government who secretly played it (as luck would have it, government movie players of the late 20th century could in fact play movies made 75 million years ago — I am NOT kidding here). Then you would see Hubbard’s story from way back then. After the story from Hubbard played, you would see the US government reps decide to hide the film so that it would never be seen by the public. (The implication being that some 75 million years later somehow the US government was carrying on the plot started by Xenu and his buddies. So in effect Xenu was still somehow running this from behind his electronic mountain trap). Nothing is too crazy for Hubbard world. Little did Randy Eaton know but we were working on a plan to take the movie from him as Hubbard was impatient and wanted the movie made “NOW”!!! I even met secretly with a Hubbard messenger in a hotel room then (I will not name her as I don’t believe she is speaking out yet). She briefed us on what Hubbard wanted. We met with Myron and Alice Robinson who were ready to take over the movie. I have no idea who was crazier in this little cast of characters but I do know that they had zero chance of getting a big studio to take it up. One big reason was that Hubbard had injunctive relief rights in his agreement which meant that he had to approve of every detail of the movie or he could get its production stopped. Hubbard said that he had to insure it was true to what “really” happened 75 million years ago and only he could tell if it was. So, the studio might spend $50 million to make a blockbuster only to have Hubbard say it had to be reshot because the clothes the studio had people wearing 75 million years ago on earth were not what they really wore. Hubbard said he would go into session as the filming progressed and then pass on details of the clothes worn on earth (“Teegeeack”) then, the cars driven, etc., etc. No kidding Tony could you imagine ANY credible studio ever agreeing to shoot, reshoot, and re-reshoot every single time Hubbard would review a scene only to say they got something wrong??? The story of Revolt in The Stars is far wackier than even what you and Jon write about it. Those were the days!!!
SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!
As we announced on March 1, we’re joining bracket fever with a tournament like no other. It’s up to you to decide who should be named the new SMERSH, the traditional nemesis of Scientology. Cast your vote for who’s doing more to propel the church down its long slide into oblivion!
It’s time to finish up the first round with a real tossup!
Lawrence Wright stunned the Scientology watching world in February 2011 with his epic 24,000-word New Yorker story about director Paul Haggis and his defection from the church. The Pulitzer winner then turned that material into an even more comprehensive book which came out in January, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. No book on the church has ever garnered as much attention, and it should educate the public about Scientology controversies for years to come.
Mark Bunker was the man who brought video about Scientology to the Internet. Before the arrival of Anonymous in 2008, you can bet that just about any online video about the church was either created or uploaded by Bunker. He then became even more well known as Wise Beard Man, the person who counseled Anonymous that peaceful demonstration was the way to get word out about Scientology. And today, he’s working on a documentary that is going to feature amazing interviews, judging by the glimpses we’ve seen.
Go to our March 1 post for the latest tournament results.
Posted by Tony Ortega on March 16, 2013 at 07:00