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Jefferson Hawkins Drops In To See What Condition Our Scientology Condition Is In

Jefferson_Hawkins_ObeyJefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous “volcano” TV ads in the 1980s. He’s told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he’s helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology “ethics.”

So tell us, Jeff, where are you taking us this time?

JEFFERSON: This week we’re taking up Chapters 4 and 5 of Introduction to Scientology Ethics, which cover Hubbard’s “Ethics Conditions.”

Some people might not know the history of these Ethics Conditions. It started in May, 1965 with a Saint Hill Special Briefing Course lecture called “The Five Conditions” where Hubbard laid out the Conditions Formulas for his original five Ethics Conditions, in descending order:


Normal Operation

THE BUNKER: It’s interesting that in Hubbard’s view, the highest condition you can attain is Power.

JEFFERSON: Yes, it indicates what he saw as most important! As originally laid out, these five conditions mainly had to do with organizational situations, particularly economic. They were linked to statistics (as we went over last week). If the statistic was steeply dropping, one was in Danger and one was advised to bypass one’s junior staff, handle the situation and reorganize to prevent it from happening again. If statistics were dropping slightly, one was advised to promote first, change one’s operating basis, then economize. If statistics were rising, that was a Normal condition and you did not change anything. If statistics are steeply up, that is Affluence and one should economize, pay all bills and reinforce the affluence. And if statistics went steeply up and stayed up, that was a Power Condition and one was supposed to completely document the actions one took so someone else could duplicate them. These are very brief summaries of course.

THE BUNKER: Sounds like the sort of thing one might hear from any number of management gurus.

JEFFERSON: Yes, these first five conditions were pretty harmless, and contained some common-sense business advice. Of course, like many of Hubbard’s “breakthroughs,” he has taken potentially complex and nuanced situations and reduced them to somewhat simplistic “formulas” to be rotely applied in all cases. But if he’d stopped there, his “Ethics Conditions” would have been no more dangerous than thousands of other management bromides.

THE BUNKER: But he didn’t stop there.

JEFFERSON: No, two years later, in 1967, he was sailing the high seas with the Sea Organization, a rag-tag group of young Scientologists who somehow had to be hammered into an elite, dedicated, planet-Clearing force. That required, he concluded, a high degree of discipline, threat and punishment. And that resulted in the “Lower Conditions,” which were designed to do one thing: impose a high level of control over a group.

The original “Penalties for Lower Conditions,” issued in October, 1967, read like something out of Captain Bligh. The penalty for Liability, for instance, was “Suspension of Pay and a dirty grey rag on left arm and day and night confinement to org premises.” The penalty for Treason was “Suspension of pay and deprivation of all uniforms and insignia, a black mark on left cheek and confinement on org premises or dismissal from post and debarment from premises.”

THE BUNKER: Sounds like an early version of The Hole!

JEFFERSON: These rather draconian penalties were always a part of Scientology, in my experience. When I first joined staff in 1968, this treatment of staff in “Lower Conditions” was in full swing. I remember people being imprisoned at the bottom of elevator shafts, forced to wear dirty boiler suits, grey rags and even chains. On the Apollo, people were being imprisoned in the chain lockers or thrown overboard.

It was all about control. If one does not toe the line — fails to meet production quotas, questions or criticizes seniors, violates any rules or regulations — one is “assigned a lower condition.”

THE BUNKER: Let’s run through the “Lower Conditions” for the uninitiated.

JEFFERSON: The first of the “Lower Conditions,” as you move downward, is Non-existence.

In this condition, one is simply considered to be invisible as a group member. One is a nonentity. The formula has to do with communicating to other members of the group, finding out what is needed and producing it. That’s the mildest of the “Lower Conditions.”

The next step down is Liability, and in this condition (or lower), one is considered to be no longer a member of the group, and must go through the steps of the formula to petition the group to rejoin. One’s existence as a group member, in other words, is cancelled until one goes through the steps to become a group member again.

In his excellent book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Robert Jay Lifton talks about “Dispensing of Existence” as one of the hallmarks of a thought control system. He describes how members are divided into “people” and “non-people.”

But the thought reform process is one means by which non-people are permitted, through a change in attitude and personal character, to make themselves over into people.


…one is ever made aware that, should he stray too far along this “erroneous path,” his right to existence may be withdrawn.

THE BUNKER: Did you ever do a Liability Formula?

JEFFERSON: Oh, yes, probably hundreds of times! Anyone who has been on staff or in the Sea Org has been through this many times. Even public were sometimes required to do Liability Formulas. It’s pretty stressful. First, you have to “decide who are one’s friends.” Of course one’s “friends” are those who are group members in good standing. “Friend,” in the context of the formula, means people who are actively contributing to Scientology and not in Lower Conditions. At the Int Base, for instance, if you didn’t put “David Miscavige” at the top of your “friends list,” you got in even more trouble. Then you have to “deliver an effective blow” which usually consisted on writing up Knowledge Reports on crimes or disaffection you knew about, then you had to do an extensive “amends project” and finally petition each member of the group to rejoin. At the Int Base, that meant getting hundreds and hundreds of signatures — and you could only approach people at meal times. It could take many weeks to get out of a Liability Condition.

THE BUNKER: And what was the result of doing the condition, in your experience?

JEFFERSON: Well, you learned not to step out of line. You learned to do as you were told, get your statistics up and obey your seniors! Although, occasionally applying these formulas would have unintended consequences. My exit from Scientology was originally prompted by my realization, during a Liability Formula, that Miscavige was definitely not my friend!

THE BUNKER: So, as we descend down the conditions, what’s next?

JEFFERSON: The next condition down is Doubt, and it is interesting that in Scientology, doubt is considered a “Lower Condition.” In other words, if you start to have doubts about Scientology, or being on staff or being in the Sea Org, you have to go through these formula steps.

THE BUNKER: One of the signs we often see at demonstrations is “Doubt is not a crime.”

JEFFERSON: Exactly. But to Scientology, it is. It is something that has to be dealt with, preferably by the person himself, and the “Doubt Formula” accomplishes that. It’s what Steve Hassan describes as a “thought-stopping ritual,” in his book Combating Cult Mind Control.

Whenever a cult member begins to experience a “bad” thought, he uses thought-stopping to drown out the “negativity” and center himself, thus learning how to shut out anything that threatens his reality…They become quite mechanical because the person is programmed to activate them at the first sign of doubt, anxiety, or uncertainty.

THE BUNKER: So what are the steps if one starts feeling doubts?

JEFFERSON: First, one is supposed to “inform oneself honestly of the actual intentions and activities of that group…brushing aside all bias and rumor,” and then “Examine the statistics” of the group. Of course, when doing this examination, one can only go to approved Church sources of information, that is, Church issues, publications and events. One could not go to the Internet, critical books, or “wog” media!

THE BUNKER: Or the Bunker!

JEFFERSON: Especially the Bunker! Those unapproved sources of information would qualify as “bias and rumor.” Then, once one has done this “examination” of Church-approved information, one is supposed to make a decision based on “the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics,” and of course, you know which way that decision is likely to go.

THE BUNKER: Moving down from Doubt, what’s next?

JEFFERSON: The lowest three conditions, and their formulas, are as follows — in descending order:

Enemy: “Find out who you really are”
Treason: “Find out that you are”
Confusion: “Find out where you are.”

This might seem like mumbo jumbo to the outsider, and, frankly, is even obscure to many Scientologists, although they won’t admit it. But these formulas are obviously intended to be very introverting, and most Scientologists realize that they are being required to perform a major re-evaluation of self at a very basic level, and the hopefully discover a new, “truer” personality that is more “ethical” and more acceptable to the group.Most Scientologists, during these steps, come up with realizations (or “cognitions” as they would say) that they really are their Scientology identity (“I realized that I really am the Tech Sec” “I realized that I am a Scientologist dedicated to Clearing the Planet”) or that they are located in the Scientology group or organization (“I realized that I am at the International Base of Scientology”). Their realizations are usually things which reinforce their group identity.

And that’s really the bottom line on these Lower Conditions. They are designed as a continuing series of formulas and steps which catch anyone deviating from the group ideal (through lowered production, non-compliance, rebelliousness, doubts), publicly disavow and shame them, brand them as “non-persons,” walk them through a series of steps to build up and reinforce their “group identity,” then reward them with readmission to the group.

To go back to Steve Hassan, in Combating Cult Mind Control, he describes the process of unfreezing, or breaking down an individual’s personality, changing that personality with an indoctrination process, and then refreezing — reinforcing the new cult identity. I’ll give Steve the last word here:

Since mind control depends on creating a new identity within the individual, cult doctrine always requires that a person distrust his own self. The doctrine becomes the “master program” for all thoughts, feelings and actions. Since it is the TRUTH, perfect and absolute, any flaw in it is viewed as only a reflection of the believer’s own imperfection. He is taught that he must follow the prescribed formula even if he doesn’t really understand it. At the same time, he is told that he should try to work harder and have more faith so he will come to understand the truth more clearly.


Jefferson Hawkins on Sea Org Life

Karen de la Carriere presents another fascinating video…




With Scientology’s “Super Power Building” opening this Sunday, we’re counting down the days with some of the wild schematics of contraptions that were planned for the space-aged fifth floor. Today, we take a look at the schematics of the “Pain Station.” The what? This church has some pretty funny ideas…



Posted by Tony Ortega on November 14, 2013 at 07:00

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