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Our Experts Prepare Us for the Wall of Fire — Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level Three!

Up_The_BridgeClaire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. She and her husband Marc were Sea Org workers who escaped from Scientology’s International Base in 2005. She spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.

And now we come to it. After taking us all the way up from the bottom rung of Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” Claire Headley has brought us to the most legendary level of all, Operating Thetan Level Three. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard claimed to have nearly died learning its secrets. He warned that anyone unprepared for it would catch pneumonia and perish.

Before we dive into those secrets ourselves, we wanted to ask Claire and her fellow tech expert Bruce Hines about expectations.

We often hear that Scientologists are encouraged to believe that they’re going to experience something big on OT 3. That they’re going to pass through “The Wall of Fire.” Can you tell us what had you been told about OT 3 before you experienced it? What was the build-up like, how high were your expectations? And how did the experience itself enhance that feeling — you were taken into a room and had suitcase unlocked in front of you, right? Or something like that?

CLAIRE: I first heard about the OT Levels, the Wall of Fire and OT phenomena, at around age 7. It seemed like a mystical thing that only certain people had attained, and those people were highly revered. I can’t say I understood it at that age, but I remember thinking that these people must have special powers.

For years, I heard “wins” from people completing OT 3 at graduations. The statements were always vague as to what they had accomplished exactly, but I was left with the distinct impression that OT 3 had changed their lives irrevocably.

As a child, it was surreal. I had no desire for super powers of any kind. So it was really over my head, and certainly not something I was fretting over in terms of how I was going to reach those levels, since they were well beyond my means.

I’d almost say I developed two separate compartments, one that contained my expectations of what the OT levels might one day mean for me and the other contained the reality I saw of “OT” people.

For example, my family moved to North Hollywood in September 1988. For several weeks we were living with a woman who had recently finished OT 8, so she was highly revered as an “OL” — opinion leader. Meanwhile she was also going through a divorce, and her stepchildren were home alone by themselves most of the time and not doing the greatest. So again, I wasn’t too impressed with how her OT powers translated into real world living.

In terms of the experience itself, OT 3 started out much the same as the other levels, with study of basic theory, KSW 1, some basic references, and then a few references that talked about “appropriate” demonstration of OT powers. In other words, if you could levitate objects, it was probably best not to do so in public since it would be “out reality.” And then RJ 67, where Hubbard tells you that he had near-death experiences searching for and traversing the Wall of Fire. But he finally made it through.

So it would be accurate to say that I was certainly curious about what would be revealed.

And yes, your description of the binder and briefcase in a locked room is pretty accurate to my experience.


BRUCE: For me, the build-up and expectations for OT 3 were major. I have to admit that I was pretty much of a sucker. The very first time I went to the Denver Mission in 1972 (they were called franchises back then) the guy who interviewed me talked about OT phenomena, like out-of-body experiences and the like. I was pretty jazzed about all that and the major impetus for me getting involved in Scientology in the early years was to become OT. I viewed it as an escape from the life I had then. Not that my life was bad, but I was 20 years old, unsatisfied, somewhat insecure, and curious. Things like the Kent State massacre and the Vietnam War had me thinking the world was kind of crazy. So this OT stuff was very appealing to me.

Not long after that first course, I found myself in Germany, where I did some more introductory courses in Stuttgart. At that time, OT 3 was the big thing. Though its attainment seemed very far off, that is what I yearned for. I truly was not evaluating things in a logical manner. The Scientologists that I knew there looked forward to the next issue of Advance! mag. We would get a copy of it and turn immediately to the OT Phenomena section. People talked about OT 3, and not so much about the other OT levels, or the State of Clear.

I remember when I saw a person who had done OT 3 for the first time. This was a woman who had been in the Sea Org in Copenhagen, trained as an auditor to Class VIII (you had to be OT 3 to do the Class VIII course), and then left the Sea Org with her husband, who had done OT 2. This was in 1973. I expected them to have special powers — like maybe they could read my mind or something. It was like they were big movie stars. That woman later became my first auditor. A couple of years after that I joined staff at their mission and got to know them really well.

Like Claire, I observed these OTs to be very un-OT in their personal lives. I saw vicious arguments, instances of emotional and physical abuse by the husband toward the wife, fraudulent financial dealings, and a whole bunch of other unbelievable things. Yet, somehow, my enthusiasm for OT 3 was not dampened. Also, in 1975, I spent four months at the Advanced Org in Copenhagen on training. There I met a lot of people who had done OT 3 and above. There was nothing remarkable about any of these people. But I still wanted to make it onto OT 3, though it still seemed a long way off. I still don’t fully understand it, but I could explain away or ignore obvious bad things or fallacies, as Scientologists are wont to do. I am still amazed at what an effective carrot OT 3 was for me and for a lot of other people that I knew.

Fast forward to early 1979 when I was about to do OT 3 in Los Angeles. That I was full of anticipation is an understatement. After many twists and turns that my life had taken — and I think that Scientologists tend to have more twists and turns in their lives than the average person — I had somehow made it to that supposed magic point. Looking back at it is amazing to me. I was given the materials to study in a small locked room, though in those days the course pack was not hardwired into an alarm system like the upper level course packs are now. Seeing Mr. Hubbard’s hand-written notes on the OT 3 story had an impact on me. I think Hubbard knew that issuing copies of his actual hand writing, as opposed to having everything typed up as usual, would lend credibility to the whole outlandish story. Also, the fact that the materials were always under lock and key made them seem special, sensitive, dangerous. It all contributed to an air of excitement.

Then, silly ol’ me read the description of those whole-track incidents with relish. However, I struggled with things that did not make sense, fragmentary accounts of things, terminology that was new yet poorly defined, and a less than optimum organization of the materials and sequence of actions. I figured that was my own shortcoming. I was able to overlook the impossibility of the incidents having happened as described. It seems I was the perfect mark.

THE BUNKER: Hold that thought, Bruce. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at just what was in those handwritten materials and how each of you reacted to them then, and how you feel about them today.


Scientology’s Homophobia

Another instructive video from Karen de la Carriere…



Posted by Tony Ortega on December 3, 2013 at 07:00

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  • Missionary Kid

    I came across this in Wikipedia, in the entry about Errol Flynn.

    In a 1982 interview with Penthouse Magazine, Ronald DeWolf, previously known as L. Ron Hubbard Jr, claimed that his father had a strong friendship with Flynn, who was considered a family friend to the point of being looked upon as an adoptive father to DeWolf. He claimed Flynn and his father were alike, and engaged in various illegal
    activities together, including indulging in sexual acts with young underage girls and also drug smuggling. Flynn, however never became a practitioner of Hubbard’s religious group, Scientology.[61]

    • KJP in Portland

      Flynn had *cough* quite a background!

      • Missionary Kid

        He also had a lot of health problems. That’s why the army found him to be 4F during WWII. The studio didn’t want it known that their hero was not a well man. When he became a citizen in 1942, he became eligible for the draft, but was turned down for service. He had a drug problem, plus ailments that he took the drugs for.

  • DodoTheLaser

    From Leah Remini and the girls:

    • Baby

      Oh Dodo.. That is I just got up to turn off the light that was buggin me..

      I love K Chenoweth’s hair cut.. This is living, huh? Wow she looks not only happy but beautiful..thanks for sharing sweety… I am lovin it!

  • Eclipse-girl

    For those interested in the Holiday Card Project,

    For From Poland With Love

    From Miss Tia

    • ThetaBara

      I love it! More names and addresses are welcome – this is an ongoing project. 🙂

      • Miss Tia

        Yep! I will update the page several times a day with new info if necessary!!

        • Eclipse-girl

          you were supposed to be asleep.

          • Miss Tia

            I just got up about 20 minutes ago! I DID sleep and i went back to sleep instead of getting out of bed at 4:30am!! BONUS I didn’t walk like a drunk! I feel slightly unsteady but I stayed upright!!! 🙂 Now i’m getting ready to send a few tweets! 😉

            • Eclipse-girl

              I am glad you are feeling better

            • Miss Tia

              yep, but who knows, tomorrow i could be lopsided again…..i’ll just take it day by day! 🙂 i also took 3 benadryl last night so that might have helped? i dunno……

    • Miss Tia

      Thank you so much for posting this!! This is one localized place where everyone can get addresses and information instead of searching comments! I will keep adding names and addresses as more are suggested!!

  • tetloj

    Hmm. Enthralled Observer is normally around for a chat at this time but doesn’t seem to have been around for a few days.

  • Krew13

    It’s Tommy’s depo day! I bet the little squirt is quaking in his sneakers.

    Hey Tommy!

  • Krew13

    A pity the deposition can’t be reported live. Tommy being cross-examined is gonna be lulz overload.

  • Krew13
  • Krew13

    To answer your question, Anne:

    Yes, you do.

  • Verve

    OT 3, much like Survivor Season 73, but more boring and Jeff Probst is an alien. And more expensive.
    That pretty much cover it?

  • Quaoar

    Missionary Kid, the LA Sheriff Department is the largest law enforcement agency and perhaps one of the largest prison system in the US. While I think that Baca is a tool. he is not a fool, he cannot personally monitor every single process under his purview.

    …things happen.

    For a comparison, look at the New York Police Department that is rife with actual corruption.