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, thanks for another new post. Tell us about the question Scientologists can’t ask each other!
JON: My late friend, Professor Johannes Aagaard, would become agitated at conferences when listening to some sociologist pussyfoot around the activities of a cult group. Like me, he objected to the term “new religious movement” when it was applied to groups that had no religious pretensions, such as the Landmark Education, Amway, or the Larouchies. Like me, he objected to the refusal to discuss the biography of a cult leader, because such “hagiographies” must never be questioned (and, yes, sociologists use this term, which means “the biography of a saint.” So, Hubbard’s invented exploits are “hagiographies”). If you had video of Jesus changing water into wine at the Wedding at Cana, there was no way that these sociologists would let you watch it. You must simply accept the elaborate deceptions of the likes of Ron Hubbard. On such occasions, the good Professor Aagaard would take a sharp intake of breath and say, “Why don’t they ask the truth question?” Why should we not question the usefulness of the doctrine itself?
The Buddha insisted that his followers present every aspect of the doctrine for discussion and debate. Monks have formalized ways of arguing both for and against any and every doctrine, every article of faith. In the Kalama Sutta, this supporter of reason over authority said:
Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, even though they have been held in honour for many generations, in many places. Do not believe a thing because many people speak it. Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past. Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that some god inspires you. Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters or priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be rational, and conform your conduct thereto.
Curiously, this is the source for Hubbard’s statement “What’s true for you is true.” Hubbard also reversed the Buddha’s insistence that every doctrine be challenged and thoroughly examined by banning any discussion of his supposed “technology.” This is termed “verbal tech.” Scientology is most certainly not “twentieth century Buddhism” as Hubbard claimed. Indeed, he showed not the slightest understanding of Buddhism (check the core doctrine of anatta if you don’t believe me). And, he was not Maitreya, he was a very naughty boy. Maitreya will lead all of humanity to enlightenment. Dying — sorry, “dropping the body” — is not an option when it comes to this prophecy.
The truth question is never discussed in Scientology. I am convinced that the key to recovering from Scientology is in asking that truth question. Does increased communication always lead to increased affinity? Hubbard says that bullets are communication, so, is it true that when someone shoots you, hits you, or yells at you that you feel more affinity for them? Is it right to give yourself, your family, and your pet rock an equal vote with all of humanity when using the 8 Dynamics to solve a problem? And, if you believe in God, how can you outvote Him?
Scientology is an endless mess of contradictions and conflicting statements. We are told that “more communication not less is the answer” and then that we must disconnect when ordered to do so. We are told that we will become totally self-determined as long as we agree with everything we’re told and follow orders exactly (“I promise to uphold, forward and carry out Command Intention” for those poor Sea Org members). We are told that auditing leads to supernatural powers, but, in the sixty years since those claims were first made, there has been no evidence. This is especially strange, as Hubbard claimed to adhere to the scientific method. How can this be when there has been no scientific verification of any of his many claims?
The continuing influence of Scientology relies upon the continuing belief in its tenets, and the continuing inability to question those tenets. Yes, the whole subject is set about with phobia inductions (“you will lose your immortality,” for instance) and guilt inductions; the methods are intensely hypnotic and create unreal expectations; the staff experience is abusive and humiliating; but if you can focus on the teaching itself, and realize that it is absurd, it will no longer have any hold on you. This is the key to the implants: they only work while you still believe in them.
The IAS gala — a field report
Pete Griffiths sent us this report after yesterday’s big IAS gala in East Grinstead, England — Scientology’s big annual party to thank its big donors by subjecting them to an interminable speech by church leader David Miscavige about the supposed successes of the past year. Pete was one of several folks who protested outside the grounds of Saint Hill Manor, L. Ron Hubbard’s former estate and Scientology’s UK headquarters, where the IAS party is held.
The day was one of great enturbulation. Videos and photos to follow. Numbers were definitely down on two years ago. The numbers of coaches arriving (full or empty) was down from dozens to just five. One from France, one from London, and three smaller ones.
The rest of the transport was cars. Two hours before the event there were 250 cars on the car park, this probably doubled in number by 7 p.m. The majority of these vehicles had just a solitary driver, others had a few passengers. Some of us estimate 4,000, others go for 3,000, the eternal optimist (me) thinks it’s closer to 2,000.
One brave Greenfields School pupil hung out with us instead of going in, and reconnected in person with one of Sam Domingo’s daughters at the gates of Stain Hill. Other event attendees clearly didn’t know what to make of the protest. Lots of childish “flipping the bird,” a few thumbs up. Chill E.B. actually put two fingers up to us as his minibus went in.
Thanks for that report, Pete. We’re especially happy that you got a glimpse of Chill.
Posted by Tony Ortega on October 18, 2014 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
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, 48
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, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49