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by Sally Peck
Friday, Sep. 11, 2009 at 10:53 PM
The day My life changed
My Live in Scientology
The following is an account of my life in Scientology, I lived aboard the Flagship Apollo ("Flag"), the home of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology. On Flag, I trained to be an auditor (a Scientology counselor). My life on Flag was a continual roller-coaster of ups and downs. One day I would receive a personal commendation from Hubbard and be held up as an example of what a Flag auditor should be and then, just months later, Hubbard would take away all my certificates and send me to the RPF (Scientology's prison camp) for an auditing error I did not even commit. On Flag as auditors, we were under continuous pressure to be perfect, the standard of perfection being the whim of L. Ron Hubbard.
Many people, no doubt, have read horror stories about what occurred on Flag and I can personally attest to the fact that they are true. This might lead one to wonder why a person would join such a group in the first place. How could anyone put up with such abuse? In writing this testimony, I hope to give people some insight into this question. The fact is that I didn't join Scientology to be ordered around and abused and I don't know anyone who did. The group I thought I joined, as an idealistic eighteen-year-old, bore little resemblance to what Scientology actually was and still is.
When I found Scientology, I thought I had found all the answers to the great mysteries of life. I had found the Truth -- or so I thought. What I didn't know at the time, however, was that I was involved in a destructive cult that used deception, followed by subtle, but very effective techniques to control my mind and the minds of many others.
I didn't realize the full ramifications of the impact of this experience on me until years after I left the group. I now realize that this group has caused me tremendous harm -- that I was a victim of mind control. My purpose in writing this account of my experiences is to make people aware of how it feels to be a Scientologist, what attracts people to Scientology and to show the techniques that are used in Scientology to control people's minds. It is not a pretty picture, but having this knowledge is essential if you wish to help a friend or loved one to free themselves from the clutches of this very destructive cult.
As painful as my experiences were, I am very happy finally to be free, once again, to make my own choices in life. However, some people weren't so fortunate. Quentin Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard's son and a very close friend of mine, committed suicide at age 22 because he could see no way out of the trap he was in. Having been born into Scientology, he could not envision living outside of the cult, but could not stand living in it. It is too late for Quentin. He is gone and no one can undo that the damage that was done to him, but it is not too late for others. If writing this gives someone the insight to get their loved one out of Scientology, then perhaps, my years in Scientology will have served some purpose.
How I Got Involved
I have always been, and still am, a very inquisitive person about the questions of life and human nature. As a teenager, I kept detailed journals of my experiences, my thoughts about them and my insights about life. I was very aware of the serious problems that existed in the world and I wanted to do something positive about them. Many of my friends took drugs to escape the pressures of life, but I didn't join them. I was a very strong-willed person who didn't give in to group pressure. I was, in my mother's words, a "free spirit."
I was very interested in ideas that were departures from the accepted norm. What the world needed, I felt, were innovative ideas and solutions and I hoped someday to make a contribution that would make a real difference in people's lives. I read anything I could get my hands on that might provide me with some insight into human nature and how we could achieve our full potential as human beings. I very much believed that to change the world, we had to change as individuals, so when I heard about a book called Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard, I was very interested.
It was the fall of 1970 and I had just started college at the University of Utah at the age of 17, with a major in music. I had been studying music since the age of four, having come from a family of musicians. I had always assumed, up until then, that I would be a musician, but that year I was beginning to question that assumption. This caused me to feel intense inner struggle, as it was, in my mind, a rejection of everything my parents wanted for me, but, at the same time, I knew I had to follow my own path. This inner struggle, not uncommon to people my age, was one factor that made me vulnerable to Scientology.
I became very interested in the subject of Psychology and was taking an introductory course on the subject which was biased, mainly in favor of the Behaviorist school of psychology. There was very little emphasis on other forms of psychology, which probably would have appealed to me more. Given the limited information that I had, I concluded that the establishment had very little to offer and began to look outside for insights into the field.
There was a music professor at the University named Sally Peck who was involved in Scientology. Sally was principal violist of the Utah Symphony and a respected member of the community. It was one of her students who told me about Scientology and took me to a free lecture on Communication in December, 1970, shortly before my eighteenth birthday. There was nothing profoundly earthshattering in the contents of the lecture, but I was very impressed by the people involved. Many of them were artists and musicians who seemed to be having great insights into the nature of life and their work as artists. After the lecture, I bought the Dianetics book and spent my Christmas vacation back home in Michigan reading it. I just couldn't put the book down; I was fascinated. L. Ron Hubbard, it seemed, had developed an innovative theory about the human mind and the cause of all human abberation and he had developed a technique called auditing, designed to put this theory into practice and thus, bring about a world free of war and insanity. And so my journey began. Upon returning to Salt Lake City in January, 1971, I started my first Scientology course.
I think it is important, at this point, to explain more fully what it is about Scientology that appealed to me. Every cult, no matter how sinister it seems, has something positive about it that is used as bait to attract people. After all, if everything about a cult were negative, nobody would join. I don't believe that it is human nature to be masochistic; people don't want to suffer the humiliation and degradation that is rampant in cults. People join cults because they believe that the cult has something that will help them, in some way, to change some unwanted condition in their lives and to grow as a person so they can live happier and more fulfilling lives.
In Scientology, auditing is the bait used to attract people. Auditing is a process that occurs between two people: the auditor (therapist or counsellor) and the preclear ("PC", the person being audited). The auditor's job is to ask the preclear a question, listen attentively to the answer the PC gives and acknowledge what the PC says, by saying "thank you", "good" or "ok" after the PC has answered. The PC's job is to look into his own mind and answer the question. One basic rule of auditing is that the auditor never evaluates for the PC, meaning that the auditor never tells the PC what he thinks the answer is to the question or how the PC should think. Thus, the PC is encouraged to look within him/herself for answers, rather than relying on someone else to give the answers, promoting self-determinism. The premise behind auditing is that the answers lie within each of us and that we are fully capable of finding them.
I found this idea very empowering as well as mentally and spiritually stimulating. What I didn't realize at the time, however, is that this idea of asking questions and getting answers is one that has been around for a very long time -- it goes all the way back to the Greek philosophers and there are legitimate forms of psychotherapy that do not revolve around cults that are based on the same premise. I thought that Hubbard had come up with something new and wonderful, as did many other people who were drawn into Scientology.
Hubbard claimed to be anti-authoritarian. After all, we had only to look within ourselves to find the truth. It was completely unnecessary to rely on any person who called himself an authority. Any authority, that is, except him, and this is where all the contradictions come into play. The Sea Org, Scientology's inner circle, is one of the most authoritarian groups imaginable. Many people, such as myself, who were originally attracted to Scientology because it advocated independence and self-determinism later found ourselves living under a totalitarian dictatorship on a ship with L. Ron Hubbard at the helm. Hubbard had said, "There are no absolutes", but the closer one gets to the inner circle of Scientology, the more one discovers that Hubbard's authority is an absolute, never to be criticized or questioned.
If only I had known in these first few months what I know now. If only I had known that any assertion of self-determinism that ran contrary to LRH's whims was severely punished. If only I had known that the universe LRH created was one in which no one could be trusted; where "friends", even relatives, wrote up knowledge reports on one another. If only I had known that L. Ron Hubbard's son, Quentin committed suicide after several earlier attempts because he found life under his father's control unbearable. If only I had known that Hubbard had, in fact, created exactly the opposite kind of world to the one he promised us -- that he betrayed everything he professed to value -- that he betrayed and shattered the dreams of myself and many, many others. If only I had known all this in January, 1971, when I took my first Scientology course, I would have run as far away and as fast as I could. But destructive cults, such as Scientology don't tell you those things. Deception is used to draw people in and then techniques of mind control are used to trap them and that is exactly what happened to me.
The idea of giving and receiving auditing appealed to me enormously. In auditing, I saw tremendous potential to really make a difference in people's lives. Many people involved in the arts are attracted to auditing because they feel that the process helps them to discover and realize their creative potential. They have no idea that the price they ultimately pay is to become enslaved into a cult that stifles any possibility of being creative. There are celebrities who are involved in Scientology, such as Priscilla Presley, Karen Black, John Travolta, Chick Corea and others who, I am sure, would disagree with me. Even though these people have done many advanced courses, the powers that be in Scientology have made sure, for obvious PR purposes, that these celebrities never see the dark side of Scientology. They are given very special treatment in centers set up just for them called Celebrity Centers. When they are guests at Scientology organizations, such as the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, they get the best rooms and are served by uniformed waiters in an elegant dining room. They are not shown the parking garage, where the backsliders in the Sea Org are sent to live, as punishment. This is something that Priscilla Presley has never seen; you can be sure of that. She and her daughter have never been locked up in the chain locker of a ship, something I witnessed happening to young people and others several times while I was aboard the Apollo. She still sees Scientology as I saw it when I first joined and will never be allowed to see anything else, nor will she allow herself to believe written testimonies, such as mine.
In those early months, I saw Scientology as a group of very powerful, but gentle people who were working together to free people from their mental prisons and thus, to create a world without insanity or war where each person was granted dignity. As the months passed and I became more indoctrinated, I decided that Scientology, and only Scientology, had the tools to create such a world. I concluded that there was nothing more important than for me to be involved in Scientology. By March, 1971, I had dropped out of college to become a full-time Scientologist. One of my music teachers who I had been close to, Chris Tiemeyer, saw what was happening to me and became very concerned. I "handled" him by pointing out that Sally Peck, principal violist of the Utah Symphony and a respected member of the community, was involved in Scientology and felt it had done her a lot of good. (Sally was another example of a Scientology celebrity, on a local level.) Even though Chris continued to have some reservations, I eventually got him and his wife to come into the center and get some auditing. Neither of them got involved very deeply, however and their involvement was very brief. I think they were just curious to see what all the fuss was about.
Meanwhile, I was in my "honeymoon" phase with Scientology and felt I was making new discoveries each day about the secrets of the universe. It was exhilarating. I felt that I was living out the purpose I had been seeking all my life.
My first two years in Scientology (1971-1973) were spent working as a staff auditor at the franchise in Salt Lake City, when I wasn't away at a higher organization ("org") receiving training as an auditor In franchises, at least in those days, the heavy ethics (Scientology disciplinary tactics) that existed in higher orgs didn't exist in franchises, especially not the Salt Lake City franchise. The purpose of the franchise was to bring new people into Scientology. Franchise holders were allowed to earn a modest, but adequate living for themselves and gave ten percent of what they earned to Scientology. All this changed in 1982, when the franchises were taken over by a fanatical group in the upper echelon of Scientology and many franchise holders expelled. In 1971, however, the franchise was a very pleasant place to be. As a staff auditor, I received a small salary and lived in a house with 4 or 5 other Scientologists next door to the franchise. We shared the rent, which was 5 a month. Living conditions were not bad -- I'd say they were comparable to the average college student living off campus. In addition to my salary, I was also receiving 0 a month from my parents at the time, which I saved up to take more advanced Scientology courses.
Deon Satterfield, the franchise holder and my boss was a Class VI auditor and had achieved the state of OT III, considered in Scientology to be a very advanced state of awareness. Before becoming a Scientologist, Deon has been a harpist with the Utah Symphony. She and I developed a warm, close friendship and I admired her very much. She became my mentor. In many ways, Deon was a very independent person. Her dislike for higher Scientology organizations (not the courses or the auditing, but certain people in them) was obvious, though never openly stated. She was a kind person who never applied heavy discipline to her staff. As a result, working for the franchise was quite pleasant. She once told me that she could never work for an org. She said, "I'm just not an org person", but never explained herself further. She didn't dare. Later, I came to understand exactly what she meant.
My Father's Attempted Intervention
In 1971, there was no Cult Awareness Network and no exit counselling. The only alternatives concerned parents had was either forcible deprogramming or to try to get their children out on their own. When my parents found out I had dropped out of school, they became very concerned. Years later, my mother told me that she and my father went to the library and did detailed research on Scientology. What they found out alarmed them even further. My father flew out to Salt Lake City all the way from Michigan to show me articles they had discovered and a book written by Paulette Cooper called The Scandal of Scientology -- a book she was to be endlessly harassed by Scientologists for writing. I read the articles and the book and summarily dismissed them as lies perpetuated by Suppressive Persons ("SP"s). An SP is a Scientology term for anyone who is against Scientology. Paulette Cooper, to me, was the very incarnation of evil. I pictured her as a miserable, tortured person who wanted to bring everyone else down with her. Her book told horror stories of Flag, LRH's home. I didn't believe them because I hadn't experienced anything like that at the franchise. I threw the articles and the book away and told my father it was all a pack of lies created by the press. I couldn't believe that my father has flown all this way to show me such rubbish! After seeing my reaction, he had no choice but to back off, but he let me know that he loved me and was very concerned.
Mind Control Techniques -- The Early Months
My father's intervention was unsuccessful because, even in the first few months, mind control techniques were being used on me that I wasn't aware of. Here are some of the methods of indoctrination that were being used on me.
As a newcomer, I was introduced to a whole new language -- the "nomenclature of Scientology", as Hubbard liked to call it. Here are a few terms or phrases that I learned that were used to manipulate me and others:
Defined as the failure to complete a cycle of action, which means a failure to finish something started. This was expanded to mean any questioning of an order given by someone senior to the person or any expression of disagreement. This was a device used to get people to follow orders given to them, no matter how ridiculous. For example, students on the Class VIII auditor's course on Flag were ordered to throw their fellow students overboard for auditing errors. If anyone dared to question this order, by perhaps, pointing out that Hubbard had once said he did not believe in punishment, that person would be told, "Don't Q&A. Just do it." In addition, that person would also have been overboarded for his Q&A.
A person who Q&As is a person, in the eyes of a Scientologist, who questions the intentions of Hubbard. Anybody who Q&As with an order is thought to be a weak person who isn't capable of completing a "cycle of action." The fact that the order might be quite ridiculous or irrational is never considered.
"Make it go right"
is a phrase that is used in Scientology, ad nauseum. Hubbard had said that "The supreme test of a thetan is the ability to make things go right." (Thetan is the Scientology term for spirit.) This statement was used as an excuse and justification for throwing people into the most horrendous situations imaginable. For example, in the Sea Org, a person could have all his privileges taken away, be stripped of his rank and thrown on the RPF and told by a senior, "Make it go right!" In the late 1960s, when Hubbard first created the Sea Org, people were assigned duties of seamanship that they had no training for or experience in, put into the middle of storms and told to "make it go right."
"Suppressive Person" or "SP"
An SP is a person who is against Scientology, especially someone who speaks out against Scientology or publicly criticizes it. Sometimes even Scientologists in high positions who were trying their best to be ideal Scientologists were declared SP, for some imagined transgression, at the whim of LRH. If a person is in Scientology and then leaves, that person is automatically declared suppressive. SPs are barred from receiving auditing, taking Scientology courses or speaking to any Scientologist in good standing. To a Scientotogist, being declared SP is worse than a death sentence.
Hubbard wrote a bulletin called The Anti-Social Personality. This is must reading for any parent, friend or exit counsellor because it describes, in detail, what an SP is in the eyes of a Scientologist and anyone attempting an intervention would certainly be considered an SP. According to Hubbard, the SP has, at an earlier time (probably in a past life), committed a crime of great magnitude against humanity. This caused other people to heavily attack him. The SP is "stuck" in that incident and is continually acting it out, lashing out at anyone who is doing good (the good, of course, being Scientology!. He goes on to say that an SP might appear to be a very sweet, kind person, but underneath this veneer, he/she is a wretched tortured soul who wants nothing but to destroy everyone around him. There is no hope or salvation for such a person. The Scientologist in good standing is expected to "handle" or disconnect from any SP he/she happens to be connected with. In the case of someone who has left Scientology, the order is always to disconnect. There were times, in Scientology where children were made to disconnect from their parents if they got overly critical of Scientology and couldn't be "handled", but this practice was later discontinued because Hubbard said he had developed the "tech" to handle people who were connected to SPs. These people are known as "PTS", or Potential Trouble Sources, because of their connection to an SP. In actuality, I think this policy of disconnection from parents was discontinued because it created very bad PR for Scientology.
"Overts/Withholds" or "O/Ws"
With the O/W phenomenon, Hubbard brilliantly managed to incorporate three out of the eight criteria for mind control described by Robert J. Lifton that are used by cults. This is not only part of the loaded language of Scientology, but is also the main thought stopping technique used by Scientologists and makes use of the confessional as a way to control and manipulate people.
According to Hubbard, anyone who is critical of Scientology, a Scientologist in good standing, or wanting to leave Scientology has undisclosed "crimes" against it. An overt is any harmful act and a withhold is a failure to disclose that act. Scientologists are taught, practically from day one that if they have any critical thoughts about Scientology they must then ask themselves, "What overts have I committed against Scientology?" If someone is being audited and voices to the auditor a critical thought, the auditor must immediately ask, "What have you done?" What eventually happens is that the person stops thinking critical thoughts. We were told, as auditors, to get actual deeds because a critical thought is only a symptom of an underlying crime.
Whenever a person wants to leave Scientology, the first action taken is to "pull their overts and withholds", meaning to get the person to disclose what harmful acts he has committed against the group and any other crimes the auditor can dig up. This is done by what is known as a security check, or "sec check", which is a series of questions designed to discover crimes. This procedure, like all auditing, is done with the aid of an E-Meter, a device that is supposed to measure electrical charge around the person, which is supposed to indicate what is going on in a person's mind. For example, a person might be asked, "Have you ever stolen anything from the organization?" and the needle on the E-meter falls. This is supposed to indicate that something is going on in the person's mind with regard to that question. The person might answer, "I stole a pencil once." The question is then repeated and if the needle reacts again, the person is expected to tell more. The question is repeated until it is clean, meaning the needle no longer reacts.
In normal auditing, the auditor is expected to follow an auditor's code, which states that the auditor must not evaluate for the PC, invalidate him, or get angry with him in session. The code also states that the auditor must never reveal what a PC has said in session. This code is completely disregarded in a sec check and the auditor is expected to do whatever he has to to get the information. Anyone who wants to leave Scientology and voices such a desire is subjected to hours, sometimes even days and weeks of sec checking to find out what "crimes" they have committed against Scientology. Evidence in recent court cases has been introduced that indicates that information people had revealed, not only in sec checks, but in regular auditing has been used against Scientologists if they ever leave the group and try to make trouble. The information in their PC folders is used as blackmail against them. When I was an auditor, I was unaware that this was being done. I thought that the data told to me as an auditor that I recorded in the PC's folder was being kept strictly confidential.
As an auditor, I employed this thought stopping technique on many of my PCs. If they ever voiced a critical thought against someone in the organization, I would immediately ask them, "What have you done?" Hubbard described the O/W phenomenon in detail, in a way that seemed to make sense to me at the time. According to Hubbard, this is how it goes: A person commits an overt against the group. Man, however, is basically good, even the most corrupt person. When a person commits an overt, because he is good, he feels that he has to separate himself from the group so he won't continue to harm them. This act of separation causes the person to be critical of the group so he can convince himself that the group is bad and thus, individuate (as Hubbard calls it) from it. Through his criticism of the group, the person then justifies the act of leaving, or "blowing".
When a person stops his critical thoughts about Scientology by asking "What overts have I committed?", it takes his attention off what is wrong with Hubbard and Scientology and turns it back in on himself. This greatly hampers a person's ability to think rationally and objectively about Scientology because any critical thoughts are stopped dead in their tracks, no matter how legitimate.
If you are ever involved in an intervention with someone who is steeped in the doctrine of Scientology, you can be certain that as doubts began to creep up from the information you give him, he will be asking himself, "What overts have I committed?", whether he voices this thought or not.
"Dev-T" (short for "developed traffic")
means unnecessary clutter that stands in the way or delays achieving a particular goal, especially a Scientology-oriented goal. I wanted to be an auditor and do all I could to help clear the planet. Going to the university was dev-t, so I quit.
is short for negative chatter, especially about Scientology. Any criticism about Scientology or the way the group is run, is considered natter, no matter how valid it is. I was often accused of nattering when I didn't like what was going on and spoke up.
These are only a few of the many loaded Scientology terms. For a more complete list, I suggest looking at a Scientology dictionary and discussing with an ex-member how these terms are used to enslave people.
Alienation from the Outside World
Another mind control technique used very early on in Scientology is to give a very dreary view of the world outside of Scientology. Non-Scientologists are referred to as "Wogs" or "Raw Meat" and were looked down upon as being on a very low level of spiritual development. The outside world is referred to as the wog world, which was a dreary place filled with people who were controlled by their reactive minds (the abberated part of their minds) and therefore in a semi-conscious daze. True happiness and fulfillment was impossible for a wog. I can remember very early on in my involvement in Scientology, reading about people who left Scientology and attacked it who were so guilt-ridden that they went insane or got sick and died -- all propaganda to make sure we never left or spoke out against Scientology. I vowed that I would never leave Scientology and it was inconceivable that I would ever speak out or write publicly against Scientology. My cult self would have been horrified at what I am doing right now.
The idea of retribution for leaving was so firmly indoctrinated into my mind that it affected me eleven and a half years after leaving the group, since I had walked out of the cult without receiving any exit counselling. At that time, I read Bent Corydon's book, L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman, which to my amazement, contained many events that I had personally experienced. I had a strong desire to write to him so I could get in touch with some of the people he mentioned in the book who had been in Scientology with me and had since left. I wrote the letter, but I never sent it because I had terrifying thoughts of retribution. What if someone broke into Bent Corydon's home and found my letter and came after me? That same week, I caught a terrible cold, which subconsciously made me feel I was being punished for my intentions. I decided I'd better put the whole thing out of my mind, which I halfway managed to do. It wasn't until several months later, when I read a book called Combatting Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan that I realized the extent of the mind control I had been under and decided it was time to fight for my constitutional right of free speech. I may incur threats from Scientologists, but I realize that the only way to stop the insanity that is continually getting worse in this group is for people to refuse to be intimidated and to speak out.
I Begin My First Steps on the "Bridge to Total Freedom"
By the spring of 1971, I had finished the Dianetics course and was officially certified as a Dianetic auditor, the first level of an auditors training. Dianetic auditing deals with psychosomatic illnesses and unwanted emotions by having the PC re-experience traumatic experiences from his past, through a very specific process that takes the PC back in time. This is, of course, a very simplified explanation. A detailed description of Dianetics is presented in the book, Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard. Modern Dianetic auditing technique is somewhat different from that described in the book, but the basic theory is the same.
Scientology has a detailed chart, describing the levels a person goes through in Scientology and exactly what results are promised upon completion of each level. There are two routes a person can go: 1) be trained as an auditor on each level and co-audit the Dianetic and Scientology processes with another student auditor or intern, or 2) be strictly a PC and pay to be audited on each grade, by the hour. The advanced courses are audited solo, meaning the PC audits himself, under the direction of a case supervisor. When I was involved in Scientology, auditing cost an hour. On Flag, it was 0 an hour. Now, auditing is much more expensive.
Since I was interested in becoming both an auditor and a PC, I chose to do the training route. The Dianetics course was 0 and included co-auditing with another student. The next step in my training was called the Academy Levels, which cost ,000 at the time. This course would train me to audit the Scientology grades (0-IV). Each grade dealt with a specific area and had a promised result or end phenomenon (called "EP", for short). For example, on Grade 0, the promised EP is the ability to communicate with anyone on any subject. One of the processes on that level was for the auditor to make up a list of topics the PC might be uncomfortable in discussing and ask, "What are you willing to tell me about (topic)?" and "Who else could you say those things to?" The PC answers each question, the auditor acknowledges the answer and repeats the questions. This cycle is continued until the end phenomenon of the process occurs. The end phenomenon of every process in auditing consists of three things: 1) a floating needle on the E-meter ("FN"), which is a reaction that is supposed to indicate that the preclear's mind is free with regard to that subject; 2) an insight, or "cognition" ("Cog"), as it is called in Scientologese; and 3) Very good indicators ("VGIs"), which basically means that the PC looks happy. When the PC has attained the end phenomenon of a particular process, the auditor can then go on to another process or end the session. Each grade consists of many processes. After each session, the PC is checked out on the E-meter by another person, called the examiner. The examiner notes the E-meter reaction, which should be a floating needle and how the PC looks. The auditor then writes up a full report of the session (including a running record of what the PC said in session that was recorded by the auditor during the session), attaches the exam report and sends it to the case supervisor ("CS"), who evaluates the session and decides what the next action should be. If the PC has VGIs and an FN at the exam and the auditor has run the processes correctly, the CS gives the session a "Very Well Done". If the PC looked unhappy at the exam (referred to as a "bad exam report" or "BER") or had any E-meter reaction other than a floating needle, it is always assumed that the auditor did something wrong and is sent back to review the materials. This is called cramming. The CS would write in the instructions, "Flunk, Auditor to Cramming" and list what materials must be studied. The folder is then red-tagged and the PC must be taken back in session with in 24-hours and the "mistake" corrected. If the auditor makes too many mistakes, he can be sent back to redo the course and is sometimes sent to an ethics officer, the person who is in charge of the disciplinary aspect of Scientology. In the franchise I worked at, auditors were never sent to ethics, but this was a very common occurrence on Flag, as I will describe in more detail at a later point.
It wasn't easy for me to get the ,000 together to do my Academy Levels, but I managed to scrape it together, being determined as I was. The academy levels were not offered in franchises, so I had to go to a higher org. I did Level 0 at the Las Vegas Org. While I was in Las Vegas, I attended a Scientology conference. It was at this conference that I first heard about the Sea Org, the inner sanctum of Scientology.
My First Contact with the Sea Org
Joining the Sea Org is the ultimate commitment to Scientology. To join the Sea Org, a person signs a one billion year contract. Sea Org members work in the larger and more advanced Scientology organizations around the world and, in exchange receive room and board and a small allowance ( a week, at the time). From these Sea Org members, a very elite group was selected to live on the Flagship Apollo, the home of L. Ron Hubbard. Flag was described to me as "the sanest space on earth". Sea Org members believed that they had worked together before in past lives and were now together once again. The motto of the Sea Org is "We come back." The goal of the Sea Org was to "clear the planet", meaning to make this a Scientology planet. After planet earth was cleared, we would go into outer space, in future lives, and spread Scientology throughout the galaxy. From the time I first heard about the Sea Org, it was my dream to live aboard the Flagship with Hubbard and be an auditor there. I knew that someday I would reach that goal; it was only a question of when.
In May of 1971, I flew out to Los Angeles with my friend, Ginger, to find out more about joining the Sea Org. We visited the headquarters in Los Angeles, which served as a liaison office between Flag and the land-based orgs. The location of Flag was kept secret and no one was allowed to directly communicate with people on Flag. All communication had to go through the Flag Liaison Office ("FOLO"). Most of the staff at FOLO didn't even know the location of Flag. The reason for all this secrecy was that Hubbard was extremely paranoid about people who were out to get him, especially United States government organizations, such as the IRS and CIA. All this mystery added to my sense of romance and adventure about being on Flag.
At FOLO, I saw very busy people who seemed very dedicated to what they were doing. I felt I had been a part of this group in past lifetimes and felt an immediate urge to join. I spoke to a recruiter, a red-haired woman about 25 years old named Brenda. I told Brenda about my feelings for the group and she supported them further by saying what a strong, purposeful group it was. It never occurred to me, at this point, to bring up things such as food, living conditions or schedules. I considered such things mundane. I did, however, have one concern that I voiced to her. I wanted to know if I would be able to get trained as an auditor in the Sea Org since, at the time, I was only a Dianetic auditor. Not being very advanced at the time, I was concerned that I would be given a menial job and not be able to train, but she gave me the impression that I could.
I was all set to join, but being under 21, I needed my parents' written permission to join. That night, I called my parents long distance, collect, from my hotel room. My parents refused to sign and a big screaming match ensued over the phone for about an hour. I was furious with them and they sharply criticized Scientology. Needless to say, this did not help to promote good relations between us. When I hung up, I cried all night. I felt so frustrated and angry with them. I was more determined than ever to stay in Scientology, even if I couldn't join the Sea Org. I was determined that my parents' refusal to let me join would only be a temporary setback and that when I was 21, I would join.
A few months later, I managed to convince my parents to sign permission for me to join. I'm not sure how I managed this, but I think they saw how much their criticism of Scientology had alienated me from them and felt that if there was any hope for any kind of a relationship with me at all, they'd better keep their critical thoughts to themselves and do what I wanted. I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for them to make, especially without anyone around they could turn to for advice.
The second time I returned to FOLO in July of 1971, I intended to join, but two factors changed my mind. First, this time, I saw the terrible living conditions under which staff members at FOLO lived. They lived in a rundown house that looked as if it should have been condemned by the Board of Health. There were about eight people to a room and they slept in a dingy basement on filthy mattresses. I visited the galley, where the food was prepared and that further appalled me. The people preparing the food were peeling the outer leaves off slimy rotten lettuce that was ridden with maggots. I asked them how they could eat such rotten food and they didn't seem at all concerned. My thought at the time was that if Hubbard knew about the terrible living conditions at FOLO, he would be very angry. I had always thought that Scientology respected the dignity of each person, no matter how low their position -- a quality that was certainly lacking at FOLO.
The second reason I decided not to join was that they would not promise me I could train as an auditor. I would have to take whatever job was given to me, which, given my current bevel of training, would have been menial, such as being a filer in the mimeo department or, God forbid, a worker in the kitchen. Since I had set definite goals for myself that did not include taking such a position, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to wait to join the Sea Org until I had reached a higher level of training as an auditor. This would virtually guarantee me a good position in the Sea Org as an auditor. I would pay for my training on my own, outside of the Sea Org. In the Sea Org, members were trained and audited free of charge.
My plan was to remain on staff at the franchise as an auditor, making intermittent trips to higher orgs to be trained as an auditor, at my own expense. That summer, I continued my training on the Academy Levels at the org in Los Angeles.
TRs the Hard Way
As a part of each level of training as an auditor, we were required to do TRs (Training Routines). The purpose of TRs was to teach the auditors to be in good communication with the PC. The first, most basic TR was called TR-0. In TR-0, the auditor is required to sit face-to-face with another person (in this case, another student), maintaining eye contact and "just be there". No twitches, movements, breaks in eye contact, or even thinking is permitted. To pass this drill, we had to do this for a period of two hours. I had done TRs on earlier courses and normally it was no problem for me to pass TR-0. However, that summer, Hubbard got the bright idea that we all had to do TR-0 without blinking. This had always been in the instructions, but no one had taken it literally before this. Hubbard called TR-0 without blinking, TRs the hard way. He should have called it TRs, the impossible way. Going without blinking for two hours is, for all practical purposes, physically impossible so the courses soon filled up with people who could not get past TR-0. The supervisor kept a close eye on us and if we blinked, we would have to begin the 2 hours all over again. For about 2 months, I spent up to 12 hours a day, along with hundreds of others, trying to pass TR-0. Doing TR-0 for this long had the effect of putting me into a trance state, similar to the state people go into when they meditate for long periods of time. Sometimes, I lost all sense of time and felt completely separate from my body. At other times, I felt very frustrated at being unable to pass. Deep down, I felt this was ridiculous, but LRH had ordered it and no one dared to question an LRH order. Whenever I had doubts, I told myself that I hadn't understood the real purpose of the drill and that I should persist. Occasionally, someone would pass, which gave credibility to the farce. I'm sure these people didn't go for two hours without blinking; their blinking was simply missed by the supervisor who, after all, couldn't catch every single instance.
After a few months, someone, probably Hubbard, realized that Scientology was losing money on TRs the hard way because people were stuck on courses, unable to move on and, thus, pay for their next level. The rules for TR-0 were finally relaxed and we were allowed to blink, as long as the other requirements for the drill were met. Because I had been in LA for so long, I decided to return to the franchise in Salt Lake City for awhile and work as an auditor before continuing my training.
In December, 1971, I went to San Francisco to complete my Academy Levels. The course was very intensive, beginning at 9:00 AM and ending at 10:30 PM, with short breaks for meals. I could have done the course only during the day, but I wanted to get through it faster, so I chose this schedule. As part of the course, I audited someone to Grade IV. He was a wonderful preclear, who was very insightful and thrilled with the results of his auditing. Even though San Francisco was a higher level organization than the franchise in Salt Lake City, there was still not the heavy discipline of auditors at the time that existed on Flag. If I made a mistake, I was simply sent back to review the materials. I had no problem getting through the course.
I returned, once again, to the Salt Lake City franchise as a Class IV auditor, which made me very valuable to them because I could now deliver any auditing service that the franchise was able to offer people.
I spent the winter and spring of 1972 living in Salt Lake City and working as an auditor for the franchise, a job I enjoyed. At this point, no one tried to control my personal life. What I did in my spare time was considered to be my business. For the most part, I got along well with the rest of the staff. One friend of mine, an artist named Steve, had gone to LA and done the advanced course up to a level called OT III. OT stands for operating thetan. Thetan is the Scientology word for spirit. An operating thetan is a thetan who is able to operate without the need of a body and has control over the physical universe, which consists of matter, energy, space and time. Hubbard believed that the physical universe was entirely a creation of the thetan and reality, according to Hubbard, was what a group of thetans agreed upon. Hubbard never mentioned the concept of God, even though Scientology was called a "church". The highest level of OT at the time I was in Scientology was OT VIII and the EP was supposed to be that the person was "at cause over matter, energy, space and time". OT VIII had not yet been released (how convenient!), but we were told that it was to be released in the near future. Today, Scientologists are enticed by even higher OT levels that are promised to be released someday.
The materials of all the OT levels were keep secret, but OT III was supposed to be the big one. No one is allowed to see the materials of an OT level until they have completed all levels up to that one. We were told that if someone looked at the OT III materials before they were ready, they would go insane and eventually die. Steve told me that OT III was just incredible; that after looking at the materials, he understood things that he had wondered about all his life. OT III explained everything! Naturally, I was very curious to find out what OT III was all about and was very eager to get enough money together to do the advanced courses. This is exactly the effect Hubbard had intended to have on people by making OT III such a mystery.
By June, 1972, I had saved up enough money to go back to LA and take my next level of training, which was called the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course. This course was originally taught by Hubbard at Saint Hill Manor in England and consisted largely of taped lectures from the original course. Upon completion of that course, I would be considered a highly trained auditor -- a Class VI. While I was in LA, I also got audited on Grade V, Power, and went on to do Grade VI (the first advanced course, which is audited solo) and then the Clearing Course, where I attained the state of Clear. The promised EP of Clear was to be at cause over mental matter, energy, space and time. This means that I would be at cause over the contents of my own mind, but not necessarily what went on in the physical world. The OT levels, which came after Clear, were designed for that purpose. On October 8, 1972, I attained the state of Clear. On this level I came to the realization that I, myself, had created the contents of my mind and could, therefore, be in control of it. I felt extremely powerful and exhilarated and wanted to share my joy with everyone around me. I believed that the best way for me to do this was to dedicate myself fully to Scientology and join the Sea Org. When I returned to Salt Lake City in October, 1972, I knew that I would soon return to LA and make this final commitment.
OT III was the last thing I wanted to do before signing my one billion year Sea Org contract, so in January, 1973, I went to LA to do my OT levels through OT III. The Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (AOLA) was the only place in the U.S. where these courses were offered. These advanced levels are audited solo, meaning the preclear audits himself, with the aid of an E-meter. OT III, at that time, cost about 0 and I stayed in an apartment across the street from AOLA while I was auditing this level.
It seems incredible to me now that I accepted, without question, the materials of the advanced courses, particularly OT III. It just demonstrates how thoroughly indoctrinated I was at the time. I never heard of one case where someone saw the OT III materials and rejected them as a fantasy. That only shows what an expert Hubbard was when it came to indoctrination. The OT III materials were kept secret for a very good reason, that reason being that if someone were to see the OT III materials too early in the indoctrination process, they would never believe it and probably dismiss Scientology as ridiculous. To the horror of Scientologists, there are now two books out that reveal the OT III materials, the first one written by Bob Kaufman in 1972 and the second one written recently by Bent Corydon.
A word of caution: Scientologists are told that if they see the OT III materials before they are "ready", they will go insane, not be able to sleep, get sick and eventually die, and they believe it! For this reason, I would not suggest revealing OT III materials to a person during an exit counselling if they haven't seen them, not because it is true, but because the suggestion that they will go insane might act upon them as a post-hypnotic suggestion and they might respond to it by actually "getting sick" or even going insane. In my opinion, it simply isn't worth the risk.
At the time I did OT III, the entire level was audited solo, unless repairs were needed. Today, there is much more involved in doing OT III and a person can spend thousands of dollars getting audited on this level. It took me about two weeks of daily solo auditing to get through OT III. The EP that was promised to us was return of full self-determinism, which I attested to. I felt like I had the world in the palm of my hand and I felt, on an even deeper level, that my mission was to join the Sea Org so I could commit myself more fully to making this a Scientology planet.
Little did I know that self-determinism of any kind was impossible in the Sea Org and that every waking moment of my time was to be controlled by the whims of L. Ron Hubbard or some other Sea Org officer. I was about to find out what Scientology was really all about.
The Sea Org
In February, 1973, I returned to Salt Lake City to get the rest of my belongings together and move to LA, where I would be joining the Sea Org as an AOLA staff member. This time, since I was an OT III, Class VI auditor, doors were open to me as a Sea Org member that would not have been open previously when I had very little training and auditing. My training and experience as an auditor were considered to be of great value to the Sea Org and I would immediately be given a position as an auditor, with opportunities to train to the highest level possible, free of charge.
When I told Deon, the franchise holder in Salt Lake City, that I was joining the Sea Org, she was very angry at me. She accused me of being an opportunist, using the franchise as a stepping stone to get what I wanted. I felt badly about what she said, since we had once been very close, but I also realized that I had a right to move on. After all, I had paid for my own training and auditing outside the franchise and didn't feel I owed her anything. In retrospect, I think she was upset because she knew what the Sea Org was really like and what would be in store for me. She knew several leaders in Scientology and had heard the stories of the heavy ethics. She had probably had a taste of it herself, having studied at Saint Hill in the late 1960s. Of course, she didn't dare criticize the Sea Org to me. She just said that she was "not an org person" and wouldn't elaborate further.
In late February, 1973, I returned to LA and finally signed the contract for one billion years. Even though I was very excited, I had a bad gut feeling about the group. I explained it away by saying that things would be better on Flag. Right after joining, I came down with a bad cold and laryngitis, so I stayed in a hotel for a week before moving in with the group. During that time, I felt weepy and depressed, but I paid no attention to my feelings and quickly dismissed any thoughts I might have had that I made a mistake in joining the Sea Org.
When I got better, I moved into one of the houses where the staff members lived. Right from the start, I was difficult and argumentative. At first, I was shown to a small room where four people lived in bunk beds. I refused to stay there, so I was eventually given a larger room that I shared with just one other person. Refusing accomodations was not something that was normally done or accepted in the Sea Org, but I got away with it because of the clout I had as a highly trained auditor and OT. When a Scientologist who has not attained the state of Clear and OT is faced with an OT, they are usually in awe and go into a kind of trance state. At the time, I was not aware of this phenomenon on a conscious level, but, subconsciously, I picked it up and used it to get what I wanted. On Flag, however, this was not the case because there were so many clears and OTs and being around one didn't phase anyone.
My job as a staff member at AOLA was to audit clears and OTs who needed additional auditing to supplement and repair the auditing that they had already received so they would be prepared to audit themselves on the advanced levels. One of the people that I audited was Anne Burgess, a top level person in the Guardian's Office, which was run by Mary Sue Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard's wife. Anne and I developed a very good rapport and she was very pleased with the auditing she received from me. Word of her auditing got back to Mary Sue, who personally invited me to come to Flag and to train as a Flag auditor. I considered it a great honor to be singled out by the wife of L. Ron Hubbard. Going to Flag to live on the ship with Hubbard and the elite of the Sea Org had been a dream of mine for two years -- a dream that I had worked very hard and had overcome many obstacles to realize. My dream was finally about to come true.
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