Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.
Jon, we told you we’d be interested in your thoughts about a recent item by former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun. At his blog, Rathbun pointed out that there are multiple accounts of the life of Jesus, not only within the books of the New Testament but also in alternative texts that were edited out of the Bible. But Scientology, he points out, doesn’t allow alternative views. Its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, went to great lengths to make sure that only his take on things was considered “source” and couldn’t be altered.
And Rathbun says that Hubbard enforced that fundamentalist view by suggesting that he had “descended to earth in human form in order to deliver its people from evil.”
In other words, Rathbun is saying that Scientology is a “monotheistic” religion, and Hubbard is its god.
Says Rathbun: “There is only one God in Scientology, and…the adherent will believe it because that God has commanded that it will never be appreciated by appeal to reason.”
What are your thoughts, Jon? Was it Hubbard’s aim to achieve the status of a deity?
JON: Wow! In Blue Sky, I argued that Hubbard was seeking apotheosis (from the 1990 edition):
Most of Hubbard’s thousands of followers regarded him as more brilliant than Einstein, more enlightened than Buddha, and quite as capable of miracles as Christ. Perhaps there was a more sinister motive underlying Hubbard’s actions. Some Taoists believe that human beings can achieve immortality by becoming the focus of worship; some Roman Emperors had a similar belief. The deification of Hubbard seems to be taking place in the Scientology Church throughout the world. Maybe he thought he was gathering up all of his devotees’ shed body-thetans so that he could use them for magical purposes? (To quote from his secret Affirmations again: “elemental spirits are my slaves”). Given his fertile, and often juvenile, imagination, and an awareness of his duplicity, it is hard to decide what Ron Hubbard really did believe.
The next stage in this marvelous process of awakening logic in the erstwhile Thetanist is the realization that if Hubbard wanted to be admired and adored as the God of the universe then perhaps the ‘Tech’ has a different purpose (it also means that he didn’t follow his recommendation never to want admiration, in the Code of Honour. But he did explain that only the very elite make rules for the lesser beings — the “players” to impose on the “pieces”). The Tech exists to create adulation in the god-making process that Hubbard was set upon. The perfect narcissistic process. It does not work to liberate, but to entrap. To do this, it must evoke the right feelings. Any simple procedure will bring about euphoria — fixated perception, repetition and mimicry all bring about “very good indicators.” Keep them coming back for the buzz of light trance, which also has the advantage of making your feel not just happy — perhaps even “high” — but also of disorientating you, so that you no longer feel as if you are in your body. Even though you can’t actual perceive from this position.
If you can take over the language, too, you can take over the thought patterns, as George Orwell pointed out in the superb appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four. You can make certain ideas unthinkable; condition disgust with shared enmity towards some out-group; and have gleeful meetings to celebrate your believed superiority over the lowly “wogs” (and the “wog-reverts,” like me).
The hardest part to accept is that belief is comparable to other addictions, compulsions, and obsessions. By repetition, behaviors are entrained. The brain chemistry of a “floating needle” is doubtless the dopamine stimulation that attends pleasure — from sex, to drugs, to gambling. It gets you high with “very good indicators” as the first indication that you have reached a “win.” The hypnotist — or “auditor” — sees the euphoria (a first indication of trance: recognised by hypnotists for a century before Hubbard), it means that the person is in a state that will last beyond the testimonial, sometimes for several days. Sometimes, as with other forms of hypnosis — but only rarely — for a lifetime. But almost always within three days, the buzz will wear off. The devotee will feel the let down, and accept personal PTSness — the roller coaster effect of normal life, where that euphoria is generally non-useful, because it lowers defenses, and makes us more willing to take a subservient role. The Tech always works, but the imperfection of the paying customer/serf is the cause of all problems (which somehow don’t vaporize after Grade 1 Release). The serfs — and I mean them no disrespect by that term, but it is accurate — are given varying status, in a military fashion, and put under extreme behavioral controls — ascetic and exhausting — so that they crave higher status (which always ends in a Suppressive Person Declare or the Rehabilitation Project Force. No single executive has lasted more than a few giddying, soul-destroying years of utter obedience to Our Ron.
The Tech works not as the Source said it works, but as he intended it to work. That is the lie in Scientology. The “alter-is” that ensures that it persists, in Hubbard’s convoluted terms. With this realization comes the ability to disagree with Ron Hubbard and regain self-determinism, rather than being completely identified with his ideas, even when he contradicted so many of them.
But it is a great feeling, when you realize you can pick and choose what you want to believe by using your own experience and critical thinking. The ability gained is embarrassment that you believed a set of suggestions/affirmations offered by a criminal (who “accused others of things he himself” was doing) who wanted us to believe that he was Metteya. (In A Hymn of Asia. The Hubbard original was altered by John Sanborn before publication. Hubbard wrote “I am Metteya” not “Am I Metteya.” Sanborn held it up from publication for over 20 years with this protest.) He was not Metteya, as Metteya will lead us all into nirvana, during his own lifetime. He won’t “drop the body” first. Hubbard has missed that one, but could still aim for Demiurgical status. The old Power processes directed some people to the “cognition” that the Founder was indeed The Founder. That was back in the 60s. OT VIII inevitably boosts this conviction. You only have to watch the public testimonials. The gleeful state that passes for “enthusiasm” (being “filled with God,” literally) and the overblown worshiping language of those testimonials. I wrote plenty of embarrassing “success stories,” but I’ve had 30 years to reconsider. If Hubbard created this universe, I think I’d rather be in another one.
THE BUNKER: Thanks for that view, Jon. And what fun to see you and Marty Rathbun actually in agreement about something.
Posted by Tony Ortega on July 31, 2014 at 07:00
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UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43