December 6, 1968
Letters to the Editor
Those attacking Scientology run mental institutions. They make
millions out of it. They advocate brutal, murderous actions against
the insane. They are terrified of losing the avalanches of money
gouged out of governments. They see Scientology taking it all away
with kind, effective measures. There is no question in their minds
but that Scientology works. That's why they are attacking it.
A thousand other philosophies and religions arise every year with
no outcry from the madmen in charge. The hundreds of thousands of
victims of the enemy, as in all fascist actions, cannot complain.
They cannot even talk. They're dead.
L. Ron Hubbard
New York, N.Y.
"Jeff Jacobsen" <cul...@ev1.net> wrote in message
>I think this Life article is online somewhere.
Scientology - A Growing Cult Reaches Dangerously Into the Mind.
[ picture: hideous illuminated bust of LRH
against backdrop draperies:
vague silhouettes of audience heads ]
The lights in the hall grow dim, leaving the
bronzed bust of the Founder (spotlighted) at
center stage. From the loudspeakers comes L. Ron
Hubbard's voice, deep and professorial. It is a
tape called "Some Aspects of Help, Part 1", a
basic lecture in Scientology that Hubbard recorded
nearly 10 years ago.
No one in the intensely respectful Los Angeles
audience of 500 -- some of whom paid as much as
$16 to get in -- thought it odd to be sitting
there listening to the disembodied voice. Among
believers, Scientology and its Founder are beyond
frivolous question: Scientology is the Truth, it
is the path to a "civilization without insanity,
without criminals and without war ..." and "for
the first time in all ages there _is_ something
that ... delivers the answers to the eternal
questions and delivers immortality as well."
So much of a credo might be regarded as harmless
-- practically indistinguishable from any number
of minority schemes for the improvement of Man.
But Scientology is scary -- because of its size
and growth, and because of the potentially
disastrous techniques it so casually makes use of.
To attain the Truth, a Scientologist surrenders
himself to "auditing", a crude form of
psychoanalysis. In the best medical circumstances
this is a delicate procedure, but in Scientology
it is undertaken by an "auditor" who is simply
another Scientologist in training, who uses an
"E-meter", which resembles a lie detector. A
government report, made to the parliament of the
state of Victoria in Australia three years ago,
calls Scientology "the world's largest
organization of unqualified persons engaged in the
practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade
as mental therapy". As author Alan Levy found out
by personal experience (pages 100B-114), the
auditing experience can be shattering.
How many souls have become hooked on Scientology
is impossible to say precisely. Worldwide
membership -- England, South Africa, Canada, New
Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and
the U.S. -- is probably between two and three
million. In the U.S. (offices in Washington, New
York, Los Angeles, and seven other cities), the
figure may now be more than several hundred
thousand. What is astonishing -- and frightening
-- is the _rate_ of growth in the U.S.: membership
has probably tripled or quadrupled in the past
[ picture: Aerial photo of ornate building,
grounds, pool, outbuildings ]
[ picture: Facing the camera are a rather
bloated man with a misshapen nose and bad
teeth, and a lovely young woman with
shoulder- length hair, who comes just to
the man's shoulder. Both are wearing
pseudo-naval uniforms, with white service
caps bearing outsized emblems.
Both are smiling. ]
[ picture: In the foreground stand two figures in
silhouette, rearview; out-of-focus on
the left is a girl in pseudo-naval
uniform, apparently she of the picture
above; on the right, a hatless man with
a full head of swept-back hair hunches
over a railing. Beyond, twenty young
people face them from the main deck of
a sizable vessel. ]
[ caption: Scientology's world headquarters are at
Saint Hill (above), a manor house in
Sussex, England. But founder L. Ron
Hubbard is no longer seen there. His
base now is the 320-foot onetime
passenger ferry _Royal_Scot_Man_, on
which he and his oldest daughter Diana,
15, affect nautical gear. From one of
the upper decks he looks down on the elite
of his young Scientologists. ]
Recruits to Scientology are most often young,
intelligent and idealistic. They become fanatics
on the subject, impervious to argument, quick to
cut themselves off from doubters. Many young
people have been instructed by their Scientology
organizations ("orgs", they are called) to
"disconnect" from their families. "Disconnect"
means exactly that: sever all relations. Such
estrangements can be deep and lasting, leaving
heartsick parents no longer able to speak
rationally with their children.
Scientology is expensive. To reach the first
meaningful stage costs the beginner $650 in
tuition. To become an Operating Thetan, Class
VIII -- the highest present classification -- can
raise the all-in cost (books, tuition, equipment,
board and lodging at Scientology centers during
advanced training) to as much as $15,000. The
high costs have the effect of turning many young
Scientologists into permanent parts of the
apparatus. To finance their own advanced studies
they take low-paying jobs within the org -- and in
the end find themselves alienated from life
Scientology is nominally a religion, and the
figure of Hubbard has taken on religious
implications. The Nebraska-born author of the
is now adored and remote. The literature hints at
persecution. In 1963 agents of the Food and Drug
Administration raided Scientology's Washington
headquarters and seized a number of E-meters.
Scientologists still speak of the raid on the
"church". Scientology has been banned from the
state of Victoria in Australia. In England, where
Hubbard established the world headquarters of
Scientology at Saint Hill, the government has
looked with increasing disfavor on Scientology.
Asserting that Scientology is "socially harmful",
the government recently barred from entry a number
of would-be participants in a world Scientology
congress. Hubbard himself departed from England
in the summer of 1966 and now lives on a 320-foot
converted passenger ferry called _Royal_Scot_Man_,
cruising mostly between ports in the
Mediterranean. There, although he claims to have
given up his official ties with Saing Hill, he
continues to train and send out super-
Scientologists to all parts of the world.
Scientology. A True-Life Nightmare
An exploring writer becomes personally involved.
by Alan Levy
Clear is the name of a button on an adding machine. When
you push it, all hidden answers clear and the machine can be
used for proper computation.
"So long as the button is _not_ pressed, the
machine adds all old answers to all new efforts to
compute and wrong answers result."
This message, blown up in a wall-mounted advertising display
case at a busy mid-Manhattan subway exit, was a pitch for
Scientology -- a curious cult about which my store of
information was very limited: People I knew seemed to know
people who were taking it up. Scientology had overtones of
psychiatry. It promised to make a better person of you.
And, in some way, it involved a device that worked like a
That was all I knew. I read on -- and, as I did, the
language of the ad seemed to take an odd and threatening
"People who have old fixed answers reacting when
they try to think get wrong answers to their
current problems. Such old answers are not
cleared. Rollo is still solving the tantrums of
his mother, who has been dead for years. Maybelle
is still running away from the tramp who attacked
her when she was 10 years old. So Rollo stays
home as the solution to the women of the world.
And Maybelle runs madly about as a solution to all
the uncouth men she sees. Their friends think
they're a bit odd. Their doctors prescribe pills.
And we clear the answers which won't let them
I began to wonder how, and thus, without the faintest idea
of what I was getting into, I embarked upon an adventure in
mind-bending that took me from a ballroom in Manhattan to a
100-year-old brownstone off Fitzroy Square in London to a
30-room Georgian manor house in Sussex that could have
passed for SMERSH headquarters. The last was, actually, the
home of a Nebraska-born prophet named L. Ron Hubbard, who in
the 1950s invented a best-selling, but soon discredited,
"science" of mental health called Dianetics, and who then
resurfaced with the far more sinister "religion" he calls
I have Hubbard to thank for a true-life nightmare that
gnawed at my family relationships and saddled me with a
burden of guilt I've not yet been able to shed. Scientology
does indeed use a machine similar to a lie detector, and the
most menacing moments on my odyssey toward CLEAR had come
when -- inextricably plugged into the
_elctroencephaloneuromentimograph_, or "Hubbard Mark V E-
meter" for short -- I explored some nooks and crannies of my
own psyche that I wish to God had never been unearthed.
[ picture: crude plasticine sculpture of a person
with a greek letter theta on the chest.
A paper label bears the word "CLEAR" ]
[ caption: A student's model likens Scientology CLEAR
to Superman ]
I did not confront the electronic heart of Scientology --
the E-meter -- until I had invested three evenings listening
to introductory lectures. The Church of Scientology of New
York occupied the Grand Ballroom of the Martinique, a
tackily renovated hotel near the new Madison Square Garden.
Ablaze with light and encircled by mirrors, this ballroom-
church had an aura of crystal clarity. So did the giant
studio portraits of Scientology's founder -- a stern but
fatherly type with steely eyes and and outsized chronometer
on his wrist -- that lined the walls and were for sale at
$5.50 apiece. The dance floor had been cut up into offices,
cubicles, displays, bulletin boards, bookstore, a stand
selling picture postcards of Saint Hill manor in Sussex, and
reception desks -- all staffed round-the-clock by a couple
of dozen "Pre-CLEARs" working shifts to pay their own fees
for being "audited", as the Scientology processing is
[ picture: slender, well-dressed man in middle life, with
fair hair, seated and apparently speaking ]
[ picture: dark-haired, dark-eyed young girl, standing,
apparently absorbed in some handcraft ]
[ caption: Scientology's first CLEAR, John McMaster,
a South African, became No. 1 in 1966.
Its youngest CLEAR, Jill Goodman, an English
girl of 10, made the grade last summer. ]
Every one of these people -- male and female, mostly young,
and a few middle-aged -- had a peculiar smile that was
sublimely sincere, but seemed to exist independently of the
face it was affixed to. They didn't walk amidst he hotel's
potted palms, they floated. Across their eyes hung a
beatific film that I wanted to snap my fingers at. Only now
and then, when they spoke about Scientology, could I
perceive a flashing silver glint behind the film -- an
evangelical commitment, perhaps. Otherwise, the personal
data I offered -- that I lived in Greenwich Village; that I
had a wife and two kids; that I worked in "publicity" (a
half-truth that would offend only a journalism professor) --
all evoked ethereal acknowledgements of "Perfect!" or
This same enviable inner serenity bloomed unblushingly from
one of my introductory lecturers, a soft-spoken and
radiantly pretty young woman in her late 20s named Mishka
O'Connor. Her style was personal and conversational:
"I'm married to a stained-glass artist who just
went CLEAR at Saint Hill. He's been home a month
now and he's making four times as much money as he
used to -- and not working as hard." Mishka had
gone to Saint Hill with her husband, "But I had to
come home before I could finish my processing. My
husband's trying to build up his business so I can
go back for CLEAR. Then he'll sell the business
so we can both go into Scientology professionally.
And I'm sure we will, because it's amazing how
resourceful you become ... My husband knows
exactly who and what he is. He can be emotionally
stable or volatile _as_he_so_chooses!" Mishka
took a deep breath and concluded fervently: "He's
[ picture: shot apparently over auditor's shoulder.
On desk in foreground, a boxy meter with
impressive knobs; the auditor's hand holds
a pen poised over paper, ready to record in
the open PC folder. A slender, dark-haired
young woman with far-away eyes faces the
camera across the desk, holding the cans. ]
[ caption: At Saint Hill, an auditing subject holds two
cans attached by wires to the E-meter.
Her responses to questions make the needle
jump, and reveal her inner tensions. ]
The lectures -- which immersed me in Scientology's basic
tenets and jargon, while spelling out the eight distinct
levels one must pass on the route to CLEAR -- were free.
The sample "audit" with an e-meter cost me $5. It lasted
two hours and gave me much more than I had bargained for.
The E-meter was an unimposingly compact box resting on a
plain table in the middle of a bare, windowless cubicle
behind the ballroom. The machine, apparently battery-
powered, was equipped with a gauge and a moving needle,
several control knobs and wires leading to two unadorned
"Why, they look like beer cans!" I exclaimed to my
"auditor", a sallow middle-aged man with features as austere
as his auditing cell.
"As a matter of fact", he said, suddenly twinkling, "they
were V-8 juice cans."
"And it works like a lie detector?" I said dubiously.
"Well, we call it a truth detector"
I found his answers modestly disarming. Now he had me
remove my watch and wedding ring to "prevent interference by
outside metals." When I gripped the cans and sat facing
him, he turned the box so that only he could see the needle.
"I'm going to ask you each question twice", he said. Once
just to ascertain that you understand it ... Then, when
we're both sure you do, I'll ask it again. This time, you
can answer or you don't have to. The E-meter will show how
Did I have a criminal record? Was I addicted to drugs? Had
I, as instructed, abstained from drugs and drink for the
past 24 hours? "Hmmm. The needle show a `read' on that."
"Well, I was about to take an aspirin last night -- but
then I remembered."
"Good. Let me ask the question again ... Now you're
Did I have a good night's sleep? How did I evaluate my
relationship with my wife?
What would I like from Scientology?
I hadn't expected such a question. "To work harder, work
better, do better work, do different work -- to write plays
-- to be more relaxed, and a better husband and father."
"Good. Now what would Scientology have to do to convince
you it worked?"
To my own surprise, I snapped back: "I'd have to write a
successful play within a year."
"Thank you", he said. But I still get some `charge' on
that. Is there something more you want to say about this
"Yes", I confessed. "I'm starting to feel terribly
vulnerable. It's as if I've just been asked what price I'd
take for selling my soul to the devil." My auditor nodded
sagely and unsmilingly but said nothing, so I rambled on:
"Besides, my answer was unfair to Scientology. I mean, none
of you is David Merrick."
"O.K. ... Now it shows you're clean."
A "read" on "Do you have too much of anything?" finally
disappeared after I admitted to "happiness I may be
tampering with here."
And then: "Are you connected with a suppressive person?"
My auditor winced. "The needle almost went off the
machine", he announced. Then he produced a battered copy of
the 36-page _Scientology_Abridged_Dictionary_, put it in
front of me, and asked: "Do you know what `suppressive'
As I had guessed, a suppressive person was someone out to
destroy or damage Scientology. I knew that Scientology had
a reputation for secretiveness, I had not mentioned that I
planned to write an article about my experiences.
While my auditor reread the definition to me, the names of
my agent and the editor with whom I had discussed the
possibility of the story irresistibly paraded up and down in
my head. Eventually my auditor said: "Suppose you pick up
the cans and tell me who you've been thinking of."
Repressing the two names in a truth-detector interrogation
was an awesome struggle. Simultaneously I had an equally
strong impulse to shout my own name -- denouncing myself as
a suppressive infiltrator. With schizoid detachment, I
wondered which of the three names would cross my lips first.
To my absolute astonishment, the name I spoke was my wife's.
Well, yes, we had bickered over the time I was spending on
Scientology. Improvising desperately, I explained that my
wife wasn't really suppressive so much as concerned. When I
was all talked out, my auditor put the "suppressive person"
question to me again. This time the E-meter said I was
Nevertheless, he stood up. "You'll have to excuse me", he
said. "Whenever we've had any kind of `read' on questions
like this, we have to call in the Examiner-in-Charge." In
less than a minute a thick-set girl in black sweater and
skirt, with thick dark hair and a trace of mustache, stamped
into the cubicle. She tested me on the E-meter with the
"Why do I get a little `read' on it still?" she asked.
"Maybe", I replied, "because I'm shook up by having my
auditor yanked away from me like this."
"We can't be too careful", she explained without warmth.
The next time around, I was "clean" with her too, but I
still didn't get my auditor back. I was sent to Reception
to stew for 15 minutes, and then to go before the Ethics
Officer, who turned out to be an effete young man decked out
in a blue turtleneck sweater and Ben Franklin glasses. His
attack was different but also frightening. He had a printed
checklist of 20 "potentially suppressive acts" that my wife
might have committed: Was she opening or withholding my
mail? Garbling phone message? Listening in on phone calls?
Denigrating my ambitions?
With tin cans in hand, I was able to acquit or excuse her on
all counts. The Ethics Officer pronounced my case "not
serious -- just a minor break in what we call the Affinity-
The "A-R-C Triangle" is an important bit of Scientological
jargon. It means, approximately, that to Communicate
successfully with someone you must feel some Affinity for
him and you both must be talking about the same thing --
Reality. I knew exactly where the break had come but the
Ethics Officer, happily, didn't. With one last "suppressive
person" check on the E-meter, he returned me to the
The rest of the session was anticlimactic. Even probing
questions didn't bother me. While waiting for the Ethics
Officer, I had worked out a way to beat the E-meter when I
The needle seemed to record emotional stress and, since I am
good with memory tricks and concentration games, I drilled
my mind to focus on the Esther Williams - Kathryn Grayson -
Jose Iturbi - Jimmy Durante - Lauritz Melchior musical films
of my boyhood as soon as a tough question hit in. I was
able to drift dreamily pas the roughest shoals on a cloud of
M-G-M escapism -- giving away only as much as I wanted to
"That's it", said my auditor. "How do you feel?"
"Impressed", I said, quite honestly.
"Good. Now don't be alarmed, but I'm going to call in the
Examiner one last time. She has to make sure you're ready
to go back to the outside world."
The frightening girl in black asked just one question:
"What gains do you feel you've made from this session?"
"I know a bit more about myself", I said, which was true but
a considerable understatement.
The question put to me by the Registrar when the Examiner
had gone was blunt enough: Did I plan to go on and make a
real start toward CLEAR? By this time I had the distinct
impression that pressing deeper into Scientology would be
less than a joy-ride. Nevertheless, I said that I thought I
would, and the Registrar reminded me that auditing "through
Grade IV" was available right at New York headquarters. It
would cost $650.
I told him that my plans were to be in London for the
summer. "Perfect!" he said without missing a beat. "We can
refer you to the London Org and take a commission. Their
fees won't be much different from ours and you'll only be an
hour away from Saint Hill, which is like the center of the
universe.. You can go right on out there after your Grade
In the weeks before leaving for England, I learned a few
things about Lafayette Ronald Hubbard and where Scientology
had come from. Elron (as his flock speaks of him) was born
in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, the son of a U.S. Navy
commander, and, at 14, while on a tour of the Far East with
his father, "studied ... with lama priests." This turned
out to be a distinct high point in Elron's education. He
never graduated from college -- although he has on occasion
claimed a degree. During the '30s, he traveled in Central
America and made a career for himself as a prolific ("15
million published words") and popular writer of science
fiction (_Final_Blackout_), westerns ("Buckskin Brigades"),
and screenplays for a 15-episode serial. In World War II,
he served as a U.S. Navy officer. Elron claims today that
he and his experiences formed the basis for the postwar
novel, play and movie "Mister Roberts".
Meanwhile, from his boyhood onward, Hubbard had been
formulating a set of at least 200 "self-evident truths ... I
saw miracles in China and India done by holy men, but long
association with them convinced me that they did not know
entirely how they did it. I set out to find out from
This distillation of applied wisdom first emerged in 1950 as
a 435-page book called
Introduced first in "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine,
Dianetics was hailed by Hubbard himself as "a milestone for
man comparable to his discover of fire and superior to his
invention of the wheel and the arch." Sloppily but
colorfully written, and propelled mainly by word of mouth,
_Dianetics_ sold 100,000 copies in the first three months
and more than 1.5 million to date. It went right to the top
of the bestseller charts. With 500,000 believers at its
zenith, Dianetics became -- for a time -- a household word.
It was, in effect, a jiffy mind-straightening scheme for the
do-it-yourselfer to practice in his own parlor.
"The basic discovery of Dianetics", one of my introductory
lecturers explained, "was the _Engram_, a word Hubbard
borrowed from biology, where an Engram is the permanent
impression left on protoplasm as the result of a stimulus.
But to the Scientologist an Engram is a picture image that
is imprinted on a cell -- like a microgroove on a record --
by an experience involving partial unconsciousness and some
pain. It's an area Freud explored but dropped when he went
on to other things. Fortunately for us, Elron Hubbard
picked it up and went on with it."
Engrams beset man right from the beginning. "Birth is a
pretty abberative affair", Elron write in _Dianetics_. By
taking one client back to birth through drug hypnosis, he
was able to diagnose that "his asthma had been caused by the
doctor's enthusiasm in yanking him off the table just when
he was fighting for his first breath." Engrams can be
incurred prenatally: "Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked
unconscious ... Papa becomes passionate and baby has the
sensation of being put in a running washing machine. Mama
gets hysterical, baby gets an Engram. Papa hits Mama, baby
gets an Engram. ... " And finally, Hubbard's "Non-Germ
Theory of Disease" holds that many of man's ills are
Engramic, including arthritis, dermatitis, allergies,
asthma, some coronary difficulties, eye trouble, bursitis,
ulcers, sinusitis, migraine headaches, and even tuberculosis
and cancer, as well as the common cold. The human being,
the lecturer had explained, actually has two minds: the
Analytical, which is like a perfect computer, and the
Reactive, which takes care of situations like dodging an
approaching taxi. As a result of all the stimuli it
receives, the Reactive mind is one mass of Engrams, feeding
the otherwise perfect Analytical mind incorrect data. The
idea is to erase -- to CLEAR -- these Engrams. In
Dianetics, the process took too long. So, in the lecturer's
words, "Elron Hubbard asked himself: Why don't we use a lie
detector to find out what really happens behind all these
hangups and inhibitions? He experimented with the idea,
refined it -- and so today we have the E-meter."
The evolution from Dianetics to Scientology coincided with
some messy upheavals in Hubbard's personal life. Prominent
psychiatrists, including the late Dr. William Menninger,
denounced Dianetic Auditing as potentially dangerous. The
Manhattan endocrinologist who wrote the laudatory foreword
to _Dianetics_ broke with Hubbard, charging that Hubbard was
heading toward "absolutism and authoritarianism" while some
of his patients were going mad. And Hubbard -- after a
messy court case that involved the abduction of his own
child -- shed his second wife (who during the divorce
proceedings termed him "hopelessly insane") in 1951 and
later married Mary Sue Whipp of the Wichita Dianetics
Foundation. He took Mary Sue first to Phoenix and then to
England, where she bore him the first of four children.
They settled in baronial splendor at Saint Hill, the 57-acre
estate Elron acquired from the Maharajah of Jaipur.
Hubbard left behind him, in the U.S., Scientology centers in
10 cities. By designating his theory as a religion -- a
move he himself has termed "an historic breakthrough into
the realm of the Human Sprit" -- Hubbard freed Scientology
from a number of legal strictures. Regulations covering
what may be said or done in the name of religion are
considerably looser than those covering science or medicine.
"It took Elron Hubbard 15 years to find the first person who
could go CLEAR", the lecturer had said. "In February 1966
at Saint Hill, the first CLEAR was born: a South African
medical student named John McMaster. Then all the
technology fell into place, and the processing has now been
worked out. They're turning out 15 or 20 CLEARs a week at
"Now we can help a person free himself from his Engrams and
the other things that are keeping him from being an optimum
human being. It takes maybe 60 hours of auditing plus a
course in Dianetics training. The road to CLEAR is very
In the jet 40,000 feet over the North Atlantic, I wrote in
my notebook: "Hubbard and disciples clearly believe in what
he says." Then I added: "P.S.: -- so do all dedicated
The Hubbard Scientology Organization (Org) in London
occupied a venerable four-story building on Fitzroy Street,
just around the corner from Britain's tallest skyscraper,
the new 40-story Post Office Tower. After checking in and
paying my fees (in advance, naturally), I met my auditor.
David Dunlop was a taciturn Scotsman in his late 20s who,
the Registrar had confided to me, "works very well with
Americans." He wore the same neat gray suit every day
throughout my processing. The schedule he proposed to get
me up to Grade IV -- a kind of intermediate plateau beyond
which lay three further levels before CLEAR -- was
definitely businesslike: we would start at 9 every weekday
morning, take an hour out for lunch and go on until 5 p.m.
"Now we can get cracking", David said when I showed him my
bursar's receipt. "Cracking" was an apt word; in a matter
of minutes, we were probing a fragile item of my mental
luggage that I thought I'd left behind.
We began with what David called "Straight-Wire Release" --
an exercise designed to strengthen my memory and "mend past
breaks in the Affinity-Reality-Communication Triangle."
This exercise and the one after it, I was surprised to
learn, both rated below the Zero Grade. Then, if I could
handle the Zero -- which David said would bring my reactive
mind up to snuff -- we could try for Grade I.
I gripped the cans and David monitored his E-meter while he
posed the same three problems over and over.
"Recall a communication", said David.
"Just before I boarded my plane, I phoned my wife from the
airport", I responded, going on to tell him the whole
trivial farewell in detail.
"Good. Now recall something real."
I described the ticky-tacky interior of my transatlantic
"Okay. Recall an emotion."
My father had died four months earlier. The button pushed
by the word "emotion" triggered a description of my
surprisingly passive reaction to his death.
"Fine. Now recall a communication."
I described the letter that had reached me, eight months
before, with the fatal diagnosis.
"Okay. Recall something real."
"Now recall an emotion", said David. he was making notes on
a pad mounted to a clipboard.
"The letter came just as we were pulling out of a trailer
camp in Kentucky. We'd been on vacation. I remember
thinking that, if we'd only left a few minutes earlier, I
wouldn't have gotten the letter and he wouldn't have gotten
cancer. Which is silly, of course."
Good. Now recall a communication."
"A book called _The_American_Way_of_Death_."
"Okay. Recall something real."
"My awareness, even before the diagnosis, that my father's
end was near. I'd bought the book three years earlier, but
hadn't read it. And yet I took it along and read it on that
particular vacation. I must have been preparing ... "
Now I was in deep. I had to work at propelling my train of
thought toward "safer" problems. Over several dozen go-
rounds, I went from my relations with my father in his
lifetime ... to the sterility of living one's life to
achieve objectives set by others ... to three drafts of my
first adult venture into playwriting.
Recall a communication: "A trusted adviser's opinion that
it needs at least two more drafts before I can show it to
David Merrick. But there's another play I want to start
writing. Yet if I don't stick to what I'm doing, one thing
at a time, I'll just be creating a trunkful of uncompleted
Recall something real: "Well, the next play has been coming
so clear in my mind for the past three months that it's much
more real than the play I've written three times." At this
point, I was so wrought-up that David had to remind me to
keep both hands on the tin cans.
Recall an emotion: "Anticipation!" I was shouting and I
could feel a glow begin to envelope me. "Do you know,
David, that anticipating something can be much more exciting
and rewarding than the smooth, logical process of everything
going as it should go?"
David's answer was: "Very good. You can put down the cans
now." He told me, as I already suspected, that I had just
achieved Straight-Wire Release.
"You mean", I said knowledgeably, "my needle is still."
"Oh, no. When the needle is still, it just means you're
clean on a particular question that I'm asking. But when
the needle is floating freely and easily, instead of
jumping, it means that you've achieved release on the whole
On my next sub-Zero level, "Secondary Release", the
repetitive questions were "Recall a loss" and "Recall a
misemotion". Almost instantly, I was enmeshed once again in
the loss of my father and the alarming lack of grief I
seemed to feel. I found myself brooding into the E-meter
about why my own father's death didn't seem to affect me as
much as those of President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. I
started out with some glib pop sociology about our mobile
age with its rapid dissolution of family bonds and how
people we see on the screen are more real to us than our own
kin. But the answer lay closer to home and deeper within.
I would up describing, with an appalling accuracy that still
makes me squirm, the gradual filminess that aging casts over
My father was 79 when he drew his last breath. But it
struck me with hammer force that I had actually been
watching him die from at least the age of 65 onward.
As soon as I said this, David informed me that I had now
been released from "moments of loss and misemotion."
I felt good then -- very good -- in my new self-knowledge.
Later would come the weight of guilt.
"Communications Release" (Grade Zero) was a variation of the
word-association games I used to like to play at parties.
The two alternating queries were "What are you willing to
tell me about?" "What are you willing to tell me about it?"
I caromed from sex to drama to movies to friendship to
danger and almost a hundred other subjects before I finally
found myself explaining and justifying a complicated future
plan that wouldn't be of interest to anyone outside my
immediate family -- except perhaps someone probing me for
vulnerability. The psychiatrist I consulted months
afterward told me that "free association and repetition are
two quick ways to induce regression in a patient. He starts
to lose normal ego control."
After each Release I had to go through an elaborate
bureaucratic minuet. The first step was always Tech
Services, where whoever was on duty would interview me and,
whenever I seemed unresponsive, peer at me with great
concern and ask if I was all right.
If a day's auditing ended in mid-grade, David wouldn't let
me go out on the street without first focusing my attention
on each of five or six objects (the doorknob, for example)
in the otherwise barren auditing room. It felt like being
awakened from a dream.
Grade I was concerned with "problems". David would ask me,
"What is the problem?" and, when I'd named it, "What
solutions have you?" We started out with money and wound up
-- not long after the E-meter had revealed some bypassed
charge on the problem of comeuppance -- by uncovering the
notion of suicide which, I discovered, lurked in the back of
my mind as an ultimate solution to the insoluble. The more
I talked about it, the more I knew I could never do it.
Presto! Problems Release!
I came away relieved, but I wondered then what kind of
hornet's nest a less sensitive auditor might stir up in the
mind of a person with different hangups. I suspected that,
however well-intentioned they might be, Scientology's
auditors were simply people who had studied
Scientology, were devoted to the subject and had themselves
attained one or more levels toward CLEAR. Beyond that, I
doubted that they had special qualifications to be fooling
around in a comparative stranger's psyche.
Grade II involved Overts ("harmful or contrasurvival acts")
and Withholds ("undisclosed contrasurvival acts") and was
called the "Relief Release". David would repeat the same
two questions, "What have you done?" and "What haven't you
said?" I spilled out incident after incident until I was
suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that what I'd done
was to "make life -- every aspect of it, even every trivial
conversation -- a constant battle, a kind of Indian
handwrestle to get the better of someone. It's all hit-or-
flop, success-or-failure, make-or-break with me ... David,
I think I may have achieved a Release here!"
"You have", said David.
Grade III, or "Freedom Release", required me to recall a
past break with someone in the Affinity-Reality-
Communication Triangle. In retrospect, it determined my
future as a Scientologist. Straining to keep my traumas
legitimate, I suddenly jarred open a Pandora's box within
Somehow, I was reliving an argument from early in my
marriage. I had been blathering about how well I was doing
and how great I was, and my wife had made a face. I shot
back then almost jokingly: "Don't you love me any more?"
"I _love_ you", she had replied, choosing her words
carefully, "but I'm not sure that I _like_ you at this very
moment." Her words had for a brief time devastated me.
David wanted to know when this had happened.
I thought for a moment and said: "In 1958. We were living
in Luisville and had just come back from a winter trip to
new Orleans, so I'd say early 1958. And it was Sunday
morning -- I remember that distinctly."
"Good. Let's get a fix on the date. Was it January?
"March, I'd think."
"It was March", said David, consulting the E-meter. "Now
the date? First to 10th? Eleventh to 20th? I've got a
read on 11th to 20th."
"Wouldn't it be easier", I said, "to consult a 1958
calendar? There are only four or five Sundays in March."
"There's no need for that. And keep your hands on the E-
meter", David said sharply. "The E-meter will find out for
us. Was it the 11th to 15th? Sixteenth? Seventeenth?
Eighteenth? Nineteenth? Twentieth? That's funny, I get
read on the 15th, the 17th, and the 18th."
"I think I know", I said. "When you said `15th' the Ides of
March went through my head. And the 17th is St. Patrick's
Day, which anybody who grew up in New York remembers. But I
don't know about the 18th."
"Then it's probably the 18th", said David.
We rechecked March 15th to 20th on the E-meter. This time
the only "read" was on the 18th.
"Before we go on", I said, "can't we get a calendar and
check whether March 18, 1958 was a Sunday?"
"No", said David. "This is the session. And don't let go
of the cans!"
With that, he rummaged in a drawer until he found a 23-part
checklist which took me over my 1958 domestic spat. I was
too disturbed by the fresh memory of the incident, and
David's harshness even to answer Yes or No to most of the
items. But David reported that the omniscient E-meter had
shown "the greatest read" on "Was a past refusal of reality
"Of course it was", I said fiercely. "The Reality being
rejected was me!"
This was the Release, but now my hands were clenched around
the E-meter cans and David had to remind me to let go.
"Are you all right?", he asked, "or have we overrun your
"Ability Release", my farewell to auditing in London, seemed
tame by comparison -- even though it began with the memory
of stepping on a dancing partner's toes and ended still more
violently with me crawling beneath live machine gun fire at
Fort Dix. In both instances, I was made aware that my
clumsiness, or "wrong computations", had hurt or endangered
others -- particularly a sergeant who had crawled out to
hurry me along the infiltration course.
In fact, even while the London Registrar was packeting my
bulging folder for my transfer to Saint Hill -- the only
place in the world where one could take the final levels to
CLEAR -- I realized that, during the whole process, I had
been made to feel achingly ashamed of myself -- for my
remote flirtation with suicide; for the battle I'd made out
of life; for walking into a swing at the age of 4; and,
above all, for standing by, feeling no pain and offering no
help, during the first dozen years I watched my father age
Here, there was guilt within guilt: I worried that the next
time I saw my mother, I might give her an inkling of this
terrible truth I'd unearthed. A tug of war was going on in
my mind. One pull seemed to say: "Listen! Everybody gets
old. He spent _eight_months_ dying, not 14 years. There
wasn't a thing you could do that you didn't do. And you
didn't grieve because it was a merciful end and you had
eight months' warning." The other, slightly stronger, pull
seemed to be saying: "Only Scientology can save you -- can
relieve your guilt!" My journalistic involvement had led me
this far -- on an inbound voyage of self-discovery that was
starting to tear me apart.
Something else was happening to me while I killed time in
London until my appointment at Saint Hill: I, who averaged
three or four minor headaches a year, was having three or
four blinding headaches a day. They recurred whenever I
tried to ponder the Sunday, March 18, 1958 quarrel with my
wife. It was as if there were something basic either in the
incident itself or in the uncovering of it that my Reactive
Mind didn't want my Analytical Mind to find out. Struggling
in vain to apply the standard journalistic questions -- Who?
What? When? Where? Why? How? -- to the revelations of
Sunday, March 18, 1958, I simply could not get beyond
_when_? Invariably a headache would intercept and abort my
span of attention.
You can amass all the evidence in the world to convince a
man that a drug or a practice or a doctrine or a cigarette
is bad for him, but when he's halfway hooked by it he has to
find out for himself. This was my case as I rode the
British Railways from London 30 miles to East Grinstead and
took a cab to Saint Hill Manor. I craved release from
Scientology and the blinding headaches my new self-knowledge
had brought me. And yet I needed to know more about the
significance of the events of Sunday, March 18, 1958. I
suspected that both could be found only at Saint Hill.
My cab turned off the main road onto a country lane that
climbed through rolling hillsides speckled with scooters and
kiddie cars, sandboxes and swings, and a dozen children
feeding a donkey. It as all sunny, open and innocent --
until an army of trees loomed up to flank and darken the
road. As we neared the sprawling, gloomy-looking manor
house, the road ended and my driver said: "This is as far
as I can take you. Reception's in the first shed." The
mansion was marked: "OFF LIMITS".
My release from Scientology came that morning and that
afternoon in a series of revelatory incidents.
The Registrar had my papers all ready for me to sign. But
my contract for Grades V through VII called upon me to pay
not the $390 New York and London had given me to understand
-- but $3,150! "Plus living expenses", added the Cashier,
whom the Registrar had summoned in the expectation of having
my signature witnessed. "The information you say you were
given in London and New York is wrong. These are our rates,
payable in advance. We can't have credit, can we?" And he
handed me a rate card.
It was outrageous. I told him that I'd have to go back to
London and maybe to New York to swing it. "Meanwhile, so my
trip out here won't be a total waste, may I wander about?"
Armed with the horse-headed pin I had been given for
reaching Grade IV and a map showing what was on and off
limits, I explored Saint Hill for the rest of that balmy
day. The grounds were aswarm with butterflies, grasshoppers
and people. At small folding tables behind the manor house
and around the wishing-well, perhaps 60 people were auditing
some 60 others, E-meters between them. Scores more could be
seen auditing inside various bungalows.
Towards noon, I bought a sandwich and a soda from vending
machines and picnicked on the grass with what seemed like
hundreds of my fellow Scientologists. A fat lady who'd
packed her own hero sandwich wore a badge reading:
"I AM IN POWER PROCESSES [Grade V]. PLEASE DO NOT
ASK ME QUESTIONS, AUDIT ME, OR DISCUSS MY CASE
And, shortly after 12, a bright-eyed young girl came out of
an auditing shack and plunked herself down amidst benign
"Hi, Fran!" several picnickers greeted her.
"I just went CLEAR", she said softly.
All the boys and girls within earshot fell over her, cheered
her, pummeled her and kissed her. Others came running over
to do the same. A circle formed. There was a flurry of
eager questioning, which Fran answered calmly and self-
confidently in a slight Bronx accent. Then the conversation
died down. Fran's friends smiled at her. She smiled back.
Somebody new would pass by. Fran would murmur, "I went
CLEAR!" The passersby would maul her, congratulate her, and
either move on or join the circle. The smiles would come on
Finally, after a long, uneventful silence, Fran turned to
one of the boys in the circle. Withe a desperate pounce,
she grabbed his lapels and implored him: "So what's new?"
The emptiness of her going CLEAR touched me. I felt like
answering her question with another: "So who wants it?"
Right after lunch, a little girl's resemblance to my 3-
year-old daughter caught my eye. She was 5, or perhaps 6,
and wore a red dress and white stockings -- her Sunday best.
She was very, very tense. So was her mother -- a young
woman in slacks who sounded like an Australian.
"Now when you go before the Examiner," the mother was
saying, "I want you to do just what we did at home this
morning. When he asks you if you've been Released, you say
`yes' just like we did at home."
The child gave a nod, which seemed to jolt her whole rigid
little frame. As she and her mother entered an auditing
shack, a rate chart I'd seen: "Junior Dianetics: $10;
Children's Cram Course: $5.60" -- was shockingly fleshed out
for me. In less than two minutes they came out. Now the
mother's stride was brisk and proud. Her daughter was
skipping. She had pleased her mother and now she could go
play -- until tomorrow, at least.
Depressed, I retreated to the inevitable Scientology
bookstore, where a skinny, beady-eyed clerk remarked upon
the beautiful weather: "There hasn't been a spell like this
since around the time John McMaster went CLEAR. It's been
this way since Sunday ..."
Her words triggered another of my blinding headaches and, in
the moment I wondered why, the battle between my Reactive
Mind and my Analytical Mind was at last joined.
"Look!" I said, almost lunging at the poor clerk. "Do you
have any kind of almanac or perpetual calendar here?"
"No," he said. "Nothing like that."
"Can you call me a cab?"
"The switchboard can. If you'll give me fourpence, I'll see
that they place the call."
The only calendar in the bookstore was for 1967 -- when
March 18 fell on a Saturday. In the 15 minutes while I
waited for the cab, one of my minds tried to calculate
backward to March 18, 1958 -- a trick I can ordinarily
perform in two or three minutes -- while the other seemed to
be crying: "Stop!" By the time I'd paid the driver and
dashed into the W. H. Smith & Sons bookstore of East
Grinstead, I had not for the life of me been able to get
back past 1960.
Smith's had an almanac. It took me less than a minute to
find what had been gnawing at me about March 18, 1958. It
was not guilt or my wife's love for me. It was simply that
in 1958, March 18 had fallen on a Tuesday, not a Sunday.
It seems pathetic to me still, and terribly precarious, that
my failure to perform so simple a journalistic chore --
under other circumstances I would have automatically looked
up the date -- could have kept me half tied to Scientology,
the deep-probing auditing sessions and the damned E-meter.
It is still difficult for me to admit to myself how deeply
those months affected me. A psychiatrist I consulted later
in an effort to find out what had happened to me said: "You
haven't been brainwashed or you wouldn't be here talking to
me. But they did a remarkable job of indoctrinating you,
and I hope you'll get your equilibrium back."
I am sure that among the millions of words that Elron has
written, there are some to convince me that the Engram I
unlocked in that one auditing session _did_ happen on a
Tuesday -- in another life -- or that March 18 _did_ fall on
a Sunday when I was in the womb. But, thankfully, it no
As I recall the story, John Jessup had sent the older brothers in to
investigate this crazy cult that his daughters were so into. Low and
behold, Amos and Nate went right up the ranks.
It sounds not like Ron but like another blatant forgery. It is not
Ron's style to write incoherent. It is the same kind of forgery as the
letter that psychs forged saying he asked them for help!
It is true that Scientology is under attack by psychs and that psychs
are monsters. The forger thought if he uses a bit of what Ron usually
said, that psychs are the slave-masters of the earth, and if they make
that however incoherent, that people fall for it and believe it is
written by Ron. But only dumb people do. Those which an IQ look right