This doesn’t happen every day: A tipster recently pointed us to something buried in a 1958 L. Ron Hubbard lecture that really knocked us for a loop. And so we showed it to half a dozen of the best experts we know on the subject, and not only had none of them noticed the item before, most of them admitted they were stumped about it.
What was it that had us puzzled? It turns out that Hubbard mentioned the name “Xenu” ten years before that word became such a famous part of Scientology’s secret lore.
Even if you’re the most casual Scientology watcher, you’ve no doubt heard of Xenu. Hubbard famously described him in a February 1968 handwritten document for the “OT 3” auditing level, and then in more detail several months later in a taped lecture in which he said the name “could be spelled X-e-m-u.” Nine years later, Xenu became one of the main characters in “Revolt in the Stars,” a screenplay Hubbard wrote while he was hiding in Sparks, Nevada from process servers and the FBI.
Robert Kaufman, in his 1972 book Inside Scientology, was the first former Scientologist to make public the name Xenu and that it was part of Scientology’s upper-level secret teachings. The Clearwater Sun wrote about Xenu in 1980, and the Los Angeles Times really boosted Xenu’s fame with a 1986 story and then a 1990 series. But it was the Comedy Central show South Park that made Xenu a household name with its 2005 episode, “Trapped in the Closet.”
You probably know at least the bare outline of the story that Hubbard revealed about Xenu in the 1968 OT 3 materials, that some 75 million years ago he ran a federation of 76 planets with an overpopulation problem. So he had beings by the billions brought to planet Teegeeack, which was Earth’s name then. He vaporized the beings with hydrogen bombs, then captured their souls and subjected them to mental image pictures before setting them loose on the planet. To this day, you learn in OT 3, you are actually made up of clusters of these unseen beings left over from that 75-million-year-old genocide, and you spend the next higher Scientology auditing levels — from OT 4 to OT 7 — locating and chasing these invisible beings away (and at insanely high prices).
But why “Xenu”? Was Hubbard trying to convince his followers that this was an actual person who had really lived 75 million years ago? Scientology historian Jon Atack has told us again and again that church members are expected to consider everything Hubbard wrote as infallible scripture. But it’s hard for an outsider not to assume that with a name that has the sound “zee-noo,” Hubbard wasn’t just pulling things out of his ample posterior.
And that’s why we think the 1958 lecture we’re looking at today — recorded ten years before “OT 3” — is an interesting reflection on that. In a typically turgid passage, Hubbard manages to come up with two words while riffing rapidly that seem to be transpositions of the same sounds — “ex-noo” and “zee-noo.”
Here, listen for yourself to this fair use excerpt, and then look carefully at the transcript…
Now the person you are processing, the person you have under the guns of the E-Meter right at this moment, has wrong with him just this fact only: That the ‘significances’ surrounding matter, energy, space, and time are so overwhelming that he cannot easily approach the is-ness of things, and this is particularly true of the Rock.
The Rock has such terrific significances connected with it: “Violations, survival, not to survive, thisa, thata, the other thing, identifications, cross-references, see file B, see file A, 1,002,642, cross-reference Navy Department” — you get the idea.
“Bulletin of War, Space Command, Planet Exnoo, figure-figure-figure-figure, think-think-think-think-think-think, figure-figure-figure-figure, thought-thought-thought-thought-thought, significance-significance-significance-significance…” And when he looks at this particular piece of matter, energy, space, and time which is all it’s conceived of, he doesn’t conceive of matter, energy, space, and time. He thinks “Cross-reference: Space Command, 8,000,000,682, general order to all torpedo-men. Following: pursuant to the orders of the admiral …” See? Now, this unfortunately cross-references with “Order of the Day, Monastery Platitude, Mount Xenu.’There shall be peace.'” Which conflicts with, “Dear, I know you are dedicated to holy orders, but I need a new pair of shoes.” Which in itself is very vastly in conflict with “Order of the Mount: Honor thy father and thy mother.” Wait a minute, how’d that get in there? And that’s why the preclear’s so baffled.
This excerpt is from a series of lectures known as the 20th American ACC, for “Advanced Clinical Course,” which Scientology today sells for $375, and describes like this…
With clearing now an accomplished fact, Mr. Hubbard devoted the 20th American Advanced Clinical Course in Washington, DC, to a comprehensive restatement of the very fundamentals of auditing from the perspective of all that had been learned in those intense years of research and discovery. In other words, not merely what process to run and why, but something even more basic—the skill and technical application required of an auditor to evoke from the preclear the willingness to be audited and their full participation in the session—namely, in-sessionness…
Hey, sounds like a bargain. Anyway, to understand what Hubbard is talking about in this excerpt, and to explore this surprising use of the word “Xenu,” we asked for help from several of our favorite experts on Scientology technical matters, former church members with decades of experience.
Not one of them said they had ever noticed this use of “Xenu” a decade before OT 3.
“The 20th ACC lectures were not part of auditor training, so I had not run across this passage before,” Bruce Hines told us. “Fascinating and completely new to me,” Jon Atack said. “I’ve never heard the lecture you’re quoting from,” Dan Koon told us.
The particular lecture is titled, “The Rock: Putting the PC at Cause,” and we were told by our experts that “The Rock” referred to a concept that Hubbard only developed for a short while before moving on to other avenues. “The Rock is something that appeared only briefly and there were a couple of bulletins that mentioned it, almost in passing, and then it was never heard from again,” Koon says.
“Ask 10 different Scientologists about The Rock and you will get 10 different answers, probably all wrong,” says ‘Techie,’ who often chimes in with expert commentary about technical matters here at the Bunker.
“The simplest explanation of The Rock is that it’s the entire case of a person, down the entire whole track,” says Sunny Pereira, referring to a thetan’s whole track of existence, which is trillions of years. “The Rock is where the thetan stores his illogic and keeps it to use all up and down his lifetimes. They hold him down, like a reactive mind, but on a timeless timeline, if that makes sense.”
Anyway, we think what’s happening in that passage is that Hubbard is explaining that to get to the root of what’s going on in a particular person’s case, you have to deal with chains of “significances” that anyone is going to have bouncing around in their head but that are extraneous and not helpful. In order to demonstrate that, he riffs on several different chains of words, and it seems obvious that he’s making stuff up on the spot to act as examples (“thisa, thata, the other thing”). During that riffing he comes up with “Planet Exnoo” and “Mount Xenu,” nonsense words that we know now were already in his head when, a decade later, he sat down to write up this planet’s history in OT 3.
We asked our experts, did the 1958 Mount Xenu really have any connection to the Xenu who shows up ten years later as the genocidal galactic overlord or did it, as it appeared to us, just show that Hubbard was pulling similar sounds out of thin air because they sounded exotic to him, and so the sound “zee-noo” happened to turn up in both 1958 and 1968?
Our experts said they saw no actual connection between 1958’s Mount Xenu and 1968’s Xenu of OT 3. “Hubbard had an active imagination and was used to coming up with ‘science-fiction-sounding’ names for things like planets and space-opera beings,” Bruce Hines said. “I tend to agree with you, I think he is just making up words as he goes along,” Jefferson Hawkins told us.
“This is a peculiar little gem,” Atack said. “I agree that it isn’t the ‘Xenu origin story’ but it points to Hubbard’s limited stock of ideas and his drug-addled repetition of them…Hubbard didn’t believe there was anything new – only the reconstituting of existing material – and he lived by that principle, so he recycles material. This includes acronyms and abbreviations – RTC is an example. It originally meant Ron’s Technical Compilations before it was the Religious Technology Center. He used ‘CC’ for both Clearing Course and Celebrity Centre.”
And speaking of recycling, “Mount Xenu” will also show up again — in the 1977 “Revolt in the Stars” screenplay, but this time referring to the mountain prison on the Planet Tawn where Xenu is imprisoned to this day.
What do you think? Does this repetition show a steel-trap mind unlocking the secrets of the universe, or a carnival barker making shit up as he goes along? Or something else? We look forward to your own assessment of 1958’s “Mount Xenu.”
Aaron Smith-Levin answers your questions
Aaron answers a variety of questions in this video, including how Scientologists try to assure that their next life will be with a Scientology family, and why some public figures leave the church but don’t talk publicly about it.
Bonus items from our tipsters
Scenes from Coachman Park and the Fort Harrison Hotel from Scientology’s Easter celebrations, when the return of Elvis to the planet Marcab results in much rejoicing.
Countdown to Denver!
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,723 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,826 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,320 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,360 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,072 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 598 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,687 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,827 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,147 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,122 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 478 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,780 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 887 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,289 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,162 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 743 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,248 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,492 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,601 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield