Inside Scientology/Dianetics, by Robert Kaufman - Next - Previous


I sat across a small table from Felicia. The E-meter, about the size of a large cigar box, was propped up on the table at a forty-five degree angle, its face turned so that only Felicia could see the workings of the needle on the dial. Two tin cans, which formerly might have borne soup labels, were connected to the meter by cords and lay on the table within my reach.

Felicia smiled and explained that we would be doing a process on "communication, the ability to talk to others." She adjusted several small knobs on the box and said in a firmer voice than usual: "Pick up the cans, please ... thank you."

The cans were tarnished with use. I relaxed my grip on them until it felt comfortable. Felicia looked directly into my eyes and said: "This is the process. What are you willing to talk to me about?"

"A lot of things," I said.

"Thank you," she said. "I'll repeat the auditing question. What are you willing to talk to me about?"

"Music," I answered.

"Fine. What are you willing to tell me about it?"

"Anything I know."

"Thank you. Is there anything more on that?"

I told her there was nothing about music that I wasn't willing to talk to her about.

"Thank you," she repeated. "What are you willing to talk to me about?"

"People," I said.

"Good. What are you willing to tell me about them?"

I started thinking. This was a very broad subject; I'd have to do some figuring-out. Felicia's gaze was direct, as if to draw out my response.

"Anything I can."


Gradually I loosened up. I mentioned various subjects. Each time Felicia asked me "Any more on that?", I would answer "No" or make a brief comment, and she would thank me. After a while, Felicia -- or the machine -- seemed satisfied on that question.


"What are you willing to talk to me about?"

There it was again. There must be some simple trick to this, leading me towards an obvious conclusion. There wasn't much of anything I wouldn't be willing to talk to Felicia about. I hesitated. There was something. I winced in instant recognition of the thought that had shot into my awareness, lighting up my brain like a red flare.


"I'll repeat the auditing question. What are you willing to talk to me about?"

"Oh, a lot of things. Just about anything, I guess."

"The needle is reading on something here. What do you think it could be?"

The meter had detected it. I hesitated.

"That -- that!" she cried, spotting reads.

As I sat there clutching the tin cans, I had a sudden urge to really talk to her for the first time, to tell her everything.

"I have this thing about women's asses."

"Thank you. What are you willing to tell me about it?"

"I have this infernal obsession about their asses."

"Thank you. Any more on that?"

"I've always had it."

"All right. Anything more you're willing to tell me about it?"

"That's just it -- I don't know. It's something to do with `looking inside,' but I don't know what it is or why. It all seems silly."

"Fine. If you were to look inside, what do you think you might see?"

"A hole ... a passage ... a tunnel."

"Thank you. Anything else?"

"An elevator shaft, a dishwasher, a green Mercedes," I said, getting into what I hoped was the spirit of it.

"Good. Let's take a look at this. Just keep going. We'll make up a list of all the things you might see."

Feeling somewhat dense, I continued to free associate, adding to the list of everything I "might see," Felicia duly noting each item on a sheet of paper. At one point I felt myself getting closer to the core of the mystery and the reason for my obsession, but the feeling vanished. Felicia urged me on and I kept adding to this list.

When I spoke the word "funnel" I reached it. Something started changing inside my head, bringing a physical sensation, a gentle, probing relaxation, carrying with it a hint of memory of a long-forgotten pleasure. As in a vision, I was looking down into a vortex.

"Maybe I'm reliving something," I said, and as I tried to describe it to her it shaped itself into a cornucopia winding down into the middle of my head, unlocking lost sensations.

"Thank you. Go on."

"It's getting weaker."

"All right. Anything more on that?"

"It's gone now."


Our last exchange of the session occurred shortly after that:

"What are you willing to talk to me about?"


"What are you willing to tell me about it?"

"Anything you want to know."


Felicia smiled and said, "Thank you. That's it for now. What gains have you had from the session?" I was slightly taken aback and told her I hadn't had time to find out.


We met for the next session two or three days later. Nothing had happened in the interim to suggest any "gains" or to throw any light on the "vortex in head" experience. I hoped to explore the "vortex" further; it tantalizingly evoked something from my early childhood -- perhaps to do with my eyesight; I had worn glasses from age eleven and had probably been nearsighted long before that. The only other thought that I remember having right after the first session might have been occasioned by Felicia's auditing mannerisms -- her concentrated gaze and numerous "Thank you's." The thought was that never before in my whole life had I received such pure attention from another person.


Felicia directed me to pick up the cans. Her first question was, "What gains have you had from the previous session?" I replied, "None as yet, but the session itself was interesting."

"Thank you. I'm going to ask you some questions about people you might find difficult to communicate with. This is the process. If you could talk to a policeman, what would you be willing to talk to him about?"

"Whatever wouldn't get me arrested."

"Thank you. If you could talk to a judge, what would you be willing to talk to him about?"

"Anything that wouldn't put me in contempt of court."

"Thank you."

Whenever Felicia was satisfied, she would go on down her list.

"If you could talk to your mother, what would you be willing to talk to her about?"

"I couldn't. She died several years ago."

"All right. Any more on that?"

"She didn't die peacefully."

"Okay. If you could talk to your mother, what would you be willing to talk to her about?"

"I'd tell her I was sorry."

"Thank you. If you were talking to her about being sorry, what would you say exactly?"

"Well, I couldn't be talking to her, really."

"All right. Put down the cans a moment. If it was merely your consideration that you couldn't talk to her, maybe you really could talk to her. I want you to just go along for a minute or two with your mother being here so you could communicate with her. Pretend if you have to."

I gripped the cans again and told my mother that I wished I'd been a better son to her.


At session's end Felicia asked me for my gains. I had none to give her.


About one hour into the third session Felicia started to lean toward me, with the rapt look of a bird-dog sniffing the air. My responses were coming quicker now, and her eyes glowed as though an awesome event was unfolding.

"If you could communicate to anyone, what would you be willing to talk about?"

"Anything. Anything at all."

Felicia spotted the E-meter read she had been looking for and announced: "Thank you. That's it! Put down the cans. Congratulations, Bob, on your Grade 0 Communications Release. Now tell me your gains from the process."

This little speech and especially the question annoyed me. I didn't need an auditor and an electric box to teach me how to communicate. I had paid $125 for an ability I had always possessed, and was now told I had achieved something great.

Even if Felicia were right, it would take me some time to find out for myself -- to see if I were any different, if my life opened up in any way. But there was Felicia with her "gains" again. I had none to report.

I didn't mention to her my annoyance, despite my "communications release" (in fact, I was less outspoken than I might have been before!), but told her I would let her know within a week about taking the next grade.

I would have been happier if the second or third session had brought back the "vortex" experience, yet Felicia was perfectly content with my "release." I didn't understand that. Apparently I had some misconceptions. I did feel there was something to auditing; it had immediately plucked mysterious chords in the past. My relationship with Felicia was also intriguing. It was a kind of challenge. She thought highly of me. Surely nothing could happen on one more grade to lower that opinion.

The following week I made advance payment for the next grade, Problems.


Renzo Lancia told me he was not ecstatic about his wife's "open-house" for her Scientology friends. As a "Scientology widower," he welcomed our music sessions and long walks. Most of Felicia's circle were musicians, but even their professional shop-talk was larded with Scientology jargon.

Joan Porter lived near the Lancias and dropped by most evenings. She habitually spoke in the lingo, taking it into her own airy speculations. This drove Renzo up the wall. Renzo liked to think that Joan's prattle had little to do with the "real Scientology." Surely Scientology had a dignified side, and Joan's flightiness was her own aberration which would be "audited out of her" if she stuck with it long enough.

A guest Renzo found particularly abrasive was Marty Moussorgsky, a non-musician, veteran Scientologist, and one of Felicia's first auditors, who was known in her circle for his knack for auditing preclears to speedy releases through his own free-wheeling departures from Hubbard's Standard Operating Procedure -- a practice the org people would have called "squirreling" had they known about it. Renzo described Marty Moussorgsky as solidly built, blue-eyed and pockmarked, with rough, handsome features and a lot of wavy brown hair. Renzo thought him obnoxious.

I met Marty one evening at the Lancias. Joan Porter and I soon started arguing over how to learn a piece of music. This was typical of our recent exchanges. I made a provocative remark about "the pain certain people come to expect when practicing their instrument." Marty, who was across the room ostensibly in another conversation, bellowed, "And what makes you think you know anything about pain -- or pleasure? You should be able to have or not have both before you go shooting off your mouth."

I discussed the incident with Joan when I saw her home. "Marty always has good reasons for the things he says, even if he seems off-the-wall," she said, "and he's helped a lot of people." "Have" and "Not Have" proved to be Scientology concepts, but this didn't help me to understand Marty's diatribe.


Felicia informed me that she planned to go to England soon for clearing. Because the process was so costly, Renzo would be getting only his "Power Release," a preparation for clearing. Marty had already been over for the Power Processing -- which helped to explain his high stature in Felicia's circle -- but he was forbidden to divulge anything about it to those at lower stages. All processes above the Lower Grades, including clearing, were "confidential" and given only at Scientology central headquarters, located near the town of East Grinstead, Sussex, England.

This raised some questions in my mind: How did Scientology clearing differ from Dianetic clearing? What was the secret method? Had Hubbard discovered something about the mind that made him change Dianetics? Whatever the answers, Felicia was excited about her forthcoming trip. I was curious to see what she would be like after clearing. It made me feel a bit nostalgic to know that clearing had its place in Scientology after all. I'd always wanted to see England. If the process proved stable over the next few years, I might toy with the idea of going to England to try out clearing again. On a lark.

You, as a theta being, may or may not have seen Greece or Rome.

"This is the process. Tell me a problem."

"Sometimes living is a problem."

"Fine. If living is a problem, how would you solve it?"

"I don't know."

"Thank you. I'll repeat the auditing question. If living is a problem, how would you solve it?"

"In a lot of ways. In fact, too many ways."

"Fine. What do you consider `too many ways' could be?"

"Be active, be passive, fight it, avoid it, work like hell, be a bum."

"Good. Just give me all your possible solutions."

"Get better jobs, live in an apartment instead of my furnished room, get married, study something new."

"Thank you. Any other solutions?"

"Exercise, stop smoking, eat right, meditate."

"Thank you. Tell me a problem."

"My music."

"Thank you. If music is a problem, how would you solve it?"

"Practice the piano, give a recital, compose, write a book about it ... Something just occurred to me, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with this subject. I'm getting a funny feeling."

"All right. What do you consider it could be?"

"I have a mental picture of Afghanistan. I'm in a tent. There are green fields, flags, horses outside."

"Fine. When is this?"

"The first thought I get is the fifteenth century."

"All right. Is that when it is?"

"Yes, I guess it is."

"Thank you. Anything else on that picture?"

"Yes. I was in Afghanistan on a music tour once. But this is strange. I saw flags and fields last Sunday at a rally in Central Park."

"Thank you. Anything else?"

"There's something different about this. I think there are fires burning, torches sending out clouds of smoke. This is funny -- I don't really believe it, but it's like I've been in that scene."

"Thank you. Anything more on that?"

"I just don't know if this is an actual reliving or a dream or fantasy. I'm sinking deeper into it. This is making me very uneasy. I'm being held captive in the tent."

"Thank you. Anything else?"

"I want to get out. I'm right in that tent imagining I'm outside seeing those horses. They're having a race or a contest or something."

"All right. Any considerations on that?"

"You know, maybe that's what the problem is: They're keeping me inside that tent and I want to get out."

"Thank you. If that were a problem how would you solve it?"

"I can't solve it. I'm stuck in it. I'm a tiny, helpless baby and I can't do anything -- it's all being done to me. I'm not responsible for what's happening."

"I got that! What are your considerations on `responsibility'?"

"The word has unpleasant connotations for me. I associate it with guilt, shame, being told to do things I don't really want to do and being blamed if I don't do them."

"All right. Put down the cans a minute. Here's a standard dictionary. Look up `responsibility' ... Okay, so what does it mean?"

"Yeah, I had it all wrong. `Blame' isn't in there. But I just don't like the word. Something about it rubs me the wrong way."

"I want to make sure you know what the word really means, because one of the goals in processing is to raise your responsibility level so you can accept responsibility for your past."

"Do you think that was a past life I just described?"

"I can't evaluate for you. Please pick up the cans. I want to check something on the meter. How do you feel about responsibility now?"

"I guess I've been reading things into the word that aren't there."

"All right. I'll repeat the question. How do you feel about responsibility now?"

"I don't know where I got that idea. I was never overburdened with responsibilities."

"Thank you. Anything more on that?"

"The word means what it means."

"All right. I'll repeat the process question. If that were a problem, how would you solve it?"

"By being responsible for it."

"Thank you. Tell me a problem."

"Having problems."

"Fine. And how would you solve it?"

"By not having problems."


The auditing sessions I depict here are not verbatim accounts (if they were, I stand guilty of possessing the total recall that L. Ron Hubbard ascribes to a Clear). They are reconstructions, encapsulating in short sequences the key events of several hours of auditing. Felicia's gaze was alert and steady, a stare, but for her quick glances down to the meter dial; her "acknowledgments" of my every response -- "Thank you," "All right," "Good," "Fine" -- rang sincere, as though she were saying, "There! I received your thought and it's all right that you had it and told it to me." Unlike so much of human communication -- whether in psychotherapy, as I imagined, or in everyday life -- in auditing there was no analysis, interpretation, reasoning, comparison, judgment; in fact, very little discussion, since the preclear's responses were simply "computations" registered on the E-meter. The auditor, with her electrical device, did not rise to the colorful, the sexual, the "interesting." The things I considered of possible significance -- memories, emotions, hints of psychic phenomena -- were nothing more to Felicia than flashes of rapidly passing scenery, or perhaps obstructions on the path to a completed process.

This odd blend of the personal and the impersonal somehow provoked surprising responses -- which made me think that auditing did relate directly to me.


An old music school friend phoned me from the West Coast. She asked me about Scientology, which I had mentioned in a letter.

"I don't intend to go very far with it," I said, "but auditing is interesting."

"Do you think it can rid me of guilt, like they promise?"

"It's possible."

"I'm going to try it," she said. "I've got to do something with my life. My marriage is on the rocks and everything is a mess. I'm about ready to crack up."

"But are you sure it's right for you?"

"They claim it works for everybody. I read one of Hubbard's books and some of the things he says I've known all along. I've always believed in reincarnation."

"You know it costs a lot of money."

"I can work on staff here at the local org until I've earned the Grades," she replied. "I've got to try it. It's my last hope."

I felt funny after the conversation and wrote to her the same night: "I'm being audited by friends, not at the central org, and I'm only doing it for kicks. Don't make a commitment yet. Give yourself a little time to rediscover your old self, to feel as you always used to, that life is beautiful just as it is, without these promises of self-fulfilment."


"This is the process. What have you done?"

"I get a strong feeling on that. It calls up all the bad things I've ever done."

"Thank you. I'll repeat the auditing question. What have you done?"

"I've done some good things too, but right now I associate the past with wrongs I've committed. I hear the question as `What have you done wrong?'"

"Fine. Put down the cans a moment. On Grade II we deal with overts and withholds. I want you to look the terms up in this Scientology dictionary."

An "overt" is defined as "a harmful or contra-survival act," a "withhold" as "an undisclosed contra-survival act."

"All right. I'll repeat the auditing question. What have you done?"

I told her some of my "overts" -- harmful acts -- over the years. She took it all down in her report.

"Thank you. Anything more on that?"

"I still feel guilty about something."

"Thank you. What are your considerations on `guilt'?"

"There's certainly no reason for it. None of the things I've done are cardinal sins."

"Thank you. Any more on that?"

"This is absurd. I shouldn't feel guilty about any of the things I've ever done. It's all in the past anyway. Say, I wonder if I committed those `overts' because I felt guilty to begin with? I think we're on to something now."

"Good. Is there something you haven't said?"

During the next few seconds my thoughts returned to our first session. There was still something I hadn't told her -- perhaps something to do with sex -- but what? No, there was nothing left. I was chasing figments!

Now I was getting the knack of being a preclear and quicker at recognizing these fresh choices as they came up in session. I did have a choice; and my choice made the E-meter read one way or another. But now that I spotted the choice could I make it that easily about something so incomprehensible yet so crucial, just to cooperate with Felicia -- (Felicia, intently scanning the meter, was smiling) -- when all my life I had been introspective, preoccupied? But Felicia was already confirming my release.

Joan Porter, who had been in the kitchen studying, came out and gave me a warm congratulatory hug. This would have struck me as ludicrous just a week or two ago. But during this session I had been aware of the choice. Now I had earned their applause.


Being audited felt much more natural now. Felicia's friendly but penetrating eyes no longer intimidated me. At the outset I had averted mine, but now, as Felicia triumphantly pointed out to Joan, I could look her directly in the eye.

I didn't feel pressured or coerced when asked for "gains," either. Still somewhat haltingly, I replied that I knew auditing was helping me, even though I wasn't sure how.

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