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Bruce Hines: Life in Scientology’s Sea Org was brutal, but it could also be absurd

This is a silly little thing about something that happened while I was in Scientology’s Sea Organization. I laugh every time I think about it. I just find it amusing. And it is a little snapshot of the insane existence inside that organization.

It has to do with a guy named Hansueli Stähli. He is from Switzerland. He married a lady named Heidi. Both of them were well-known people at the Int Base (the international management headquarters Scientology in Gilman Hot Springs, California). I got to know them in 1980 when I became an auditor in the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida. They were also auditors there. Back in those days it was possible to get a leave of absence. It was (and still is) official policy of the Sea Organization that a member is entitled to two weeks of vacation per year. From what I have heard, today it is next to impossible to get any time off at all. But at the time, Hansueli and Heidi wanted to take a trip back to Europe. In order to do that they had to get approval via a CSW (Completed Staff Work).

This CSW needed to show that their posts would be covered while they were gone. Heidi’s difficulty in this was that she was auditing people who had come to Flag from German-speaking areas. She needed another auditor who could audit in German or she would not be allowed to leave. She and I were both assigned to units that audited people who were already on their “OT Levels.” Because I had some fluency in German, I was the only other auditor who might be able to serve as her “replacement” during her leave.

I had lived in Germany but had not spoken German in five years. Plus, I was not familiar with the the German equivalents of the special terminology used in auditing, especially on the wacky OT levels. After hours, she drilled me on auditing at those levels until she felt satisfied that I could do it. She was then able to take her vacation while I audited some people from Germany. It all went OK. After that Hansueli and Heidi were good friends of mine.

Some years later we had all been transferred to work at the Int Base. We all ended up with posts that had something to do with auditing and the “technology” of Scientology. Much of the time Heidi was in the same unit as I. Hansueli went to Religious Technology Center (RTC), the highest entity on the base. David Miscavige called him “Hank,” as he had some kind of difficulty with the actual name. The people in RTC were strongly discouraged from “fraternizing” with folks who were posted in lower units. So, Hansueli couldn’t act friendly towards me, though on occasion some human warmth did shine through.


But one day, in the early 1990s, there could be no trace of friendship. Hansueli came down from on high to the unit where I was working to set us straight. It was a situation, often seen in the Sea Organization, where a more senior person calls some more junior people on the carpet, acting all tough and mad and “unreasonable.” This was not his true nature, though he could muster up a passable show of it. I don’t think he really had his heart in it. Some Sea Org executives seemed to relish such situations, apparently being innately mean.

Though Hansueli knew English well, he still spoke with a distinct Swiss accent. Also, for a person speaking in something other than their native tongue, figures of speech and idioms can
be a problem. Sometimes he said unexpected things.

Our offices were in a building named Del Sol on the Int Base. It was a wooden two-story structure that had served as a hotel back in the days when that property was a resort. Doors could be opened to connect adjacent rooms. We had three of them, with the Senior Case Supervisor International in one and some of his staff in the next two. We sat there going about our business, which mainly consisted of looking at those old CRT computer screens, sending messages, and digging through auditing records. Suddenly Hansueli burst through from the hallway, shouting and stomping around. He was acting angry about us not having done our jobs well enough. That usually meant that some higher-up in RTC had deemed that a program or order, out of literally hundreds, was not getting sufficient attention. Progress had been too slow. Hansueli was informing us of this in a very loud voice. There were six or seven of us listening to him. I remember him kicking the door that separated two rooms, causing it to slam against the desk next to it. At one point, in the most condescending, disgusted voice he could muster, he said, “You eager beavers!”

I had a hard time keeping a straight face. We were supposed to act respectful and repentant, promising to do better. I’m not sure what he was trying to say. For sure no one tried to correct him. Generally being called an eager beaver would be a compliment in the work place, right? It was certainly amusing. The Swiss accent made it even funnier.

The last I knew, both Hansueli and Heidi were still at the Int Base. I don’t believe they were on high posts any more. Through all the travails of life at that place, I always had a good relationship with them. There had been a lot of pressure on and indoctrination of Hansueli to get him to act that way. I’d love to see them again. It is too bad they are still caught in that web of lies.

— Bruce Hines


Technology Cocktail

“The public is warned not to accept Scientology processing except from Academy trained auditors and is additionally warned not to embark on being cleared except by a properly certified auditor in consultation with a Class IV clearing consultant The rewards of clearing are enormous. The perils of clearing in unskilled hands are too numerous to mention.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1963




We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“The Fifth Invader Force came in to use this area, and the name of this solar system is Space Station 33. They started to use this area without suspecting that the Fourth Invader Force had been there for God knows how many skillion years, had been sitting down, and they have their installations up on Mars, and they have a tremendous, screened operation…Now, as I say, this sounds science-fictiony. Well, don’t let it sound science-fictiony to you, because the truth be told, it’s not science fiction. In the first place, it’s not fiction, and it really isn’t very closely resembling what you read and call science fiction. Science fiction is just a very chimerical sort of a picture of it. Space is wild. There aren’t any writers down here and there’s no audience down here that could take real stuff about space. It’s wild!” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 30, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The ship lately has been lying too much in the harbor, has not been at sea enough. This is usually very bad for a crew. A ship, by definition, is something that goes to sea. After a day or so, people who tend to get queasy get over it and on short jumps do not get a chance to do so. You will also notice that the first few days at sea, a crew tends to stand around and not work. But after it has been at sea for three or four days, they get their sea legs and work and routine go on as usual.” — The Commodore, October 30, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I think that a Seck Check for all returnees (LRH or not LRH) must be a mandatory action.”


Past is Prologue

1995: Karin Spaink reported that Scientology is suing systems and an individual in the Netherlands for hosting the Fishman documents on a number of web servers. “It will be a ‘kort geding’, a summary proceedings. When such a summary proceedings is filed immediately after the plaintiff has gained knowledge of the alleged crime, it is usually dealt with within days; but because the first Fishman-homepages are by now almost two months old, the judge will not be quick to schedule it. The law suit may not be dealt with before December or January. In their telephone conversation with Bakker Schut, Nauta Dutilh announced their intention to sue XS4ALL, Cistron, Dataweb, DDS and me. Planet Internet has been dealing with Nauata Dutilh through a different lawyer; I do not know whether they have received such a notification, but my guess is that both Planet Internet and Euronet will be sued too. The law suit has been set for December 14, 10:00, The Hague. The defendants are: XS4ALL, DDS, Cistron, Dataweb and me. I am the only individual sued, because CoS considers me to be the ‘motivating force’ behind all this.”


Random Howdy


“When people say they got some good out of Scientology, I think to myself, ‘Yeah, telling your problems, fantasies or opinions to anybody, including hookers and homeless people, makes everybody feel better…derp!.’ This blog is my ‘auditing’.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing October 30.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, Scientology submitting anti-SLAPP response Oct 26.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Discovery phase.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Paul Morantz is remembered for Synanon rattler, but he also faced Scientology’s fangs
[TWO years ago] What you aren’t going to hear at this week’s appeal of Scientology ‘religious arbitration’
[THREE years ago] Riley Keough to outdo Elisabeth Moss for most hypocritical Scientologist?
[FIVE years ago] Scientology hails study vindicating its rehab program — so we take a closer look
[SIX years ago] Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as a cop in Los Angeles: What’s the real truth?
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology will go after your kids with its quack ideas on drugs — even at a Christian school
[EIGHT years ago] Leah Remini dishes on Scientology — Live-blogging the ABC 20/20 special
[NINE years ago] Scientology outside the official church: ‘I’m quite happy with the world the way it is’
[TEN years ago] Clearwater Tent Showdown: Scientology Reportedly Getting Ready for Events Next Week
[ELEVEN years ago] Another Scientology Victory: Photos of Marc Headley’s Roof Being Repaired!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,198 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,713 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,263 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,253 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,134 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,438 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,309 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,414 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,861 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,203 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,769 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,688 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,855 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,437 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,698 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,734 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,450 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,014 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,329 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,504 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,055 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,186 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,524 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,379 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,498 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,854 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,157 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,263 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,661 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,537 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,102 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,615 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,869 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,978 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 30, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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