THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
In trying to assess where Scientology stands at the moment and may go in the future, it is necessary to distinguish three separate elements. First the body of ideas and practices currently covered by the headings Scientology and Dianetics. Then there is the discoverer and evolver of these ideas, L Ron Hubbard. Thirdly there is the organisation that was developed to promote the subjects, the Church of Scientology. It cannot be stated too often that these are not the same things and they should be assessed and judged separately.
First then let us consider the subjects of Dianetics and Scientology. On a number of occasions Ron Hubbard indicated that the areas he was studying are far from new. Indeed if one is examining the fields of knowingness and certainty, the findings cannot be new. Many so called 'primitive' societies have much deeper certainties about life and existence than we have in the West. Our own tradition of Greek-Roman-Christian philosophy has consistently discredited ideas from other sources as unenlightened and irrational.
What could be said to be new about Dianetics and Scientology was that it evolved a methodology to enable the individual to increase their awareness and to discover these certainties for himself. The methods o auditing and studying which have emerged have proven effective for significant numbers of people.
The growth of the worldwide following of Scientology over the last 30 years is one indicator that the ideas and therapies of the subject meet a widely felt need. There are plenty of documented examples and living proofs of the relief from suffering and beneficial changes that Dianetics and Scientology have brought to many individuals. That is not to say that Scientology should be seen as a cure-all to be force fed to the population of the world. The most that any new movement should have in a free society is the opportunity to present its case without obstruction. People should then make up their own minds about whether it is of any value to them.
Few new ideas have gained acceptance without resistance from the established institutions. In fact, this very resistance is part of the proving process which kills off more doubtful new ideas and lets only the most
80 THE SAD TALE OF SCIENTOLOGY
Although the birth of Dianetics and Scientology may have been messy and wasteful, it cannot now be suppressed. Enough people have perceived its relevance and application to the needs of the twentieth century to ensure its continued survival.
It should not be assumed however that it is without competition. There are other ways to spiritual enlightenment and freedom Many who have become disillusioned with the way Scientology has been administered have found consolation and made further progress in other practices, The future widespread acceptance of Dianetics and Scientology is by no means certain. It could remain the province of a relatively small number of committed followers, like many other fringe religions, or it could become a world movement with immense potential for the health and happiness of mankind.
Next we come to Hubbard himself. In a book called 'The Hidden Story of Scientology' a non-Scientologist journalist and writer called Omar V, Garrison attempted to take an independent view of the movement, The book is a little dated now, being published in 1974. He says early in the book however that in considering Ron Hubbard we are undoubtedly looking at a genius. This statement may be difficult for his critics to accept but most people who know Hubbard's work would have been happy to have produced in their lifetime one corner of one of the many subjects that he developed.
Genuises are not the same thing as Saints. Many of the great minds of history were also flawed characters. Characteristics that are strongly visible in his make-up are imperiousness egocentricity impatience and arrogance. There were probably other features that his admirers would prefer to gloss over. Minds capable of great leaps of insight are also capable of great follies. Some of the claims that he made about himself and some that the Church has made about him will probably be disproved in the future. Regrettably he must also pass through the inevitable period of criticism and eclipse that most philosophers and writers are subject to immediately after their death. In due course a balanced assessment of
Quite apart from the exaggerated image that the Church may have projected of Hubbard it cannot be denied that he has had tremendous success as the populariser of the ideas of Dianetics and Scientology. In 1952 it must have looked as if the creative work that had gone into Dianetics was to be dissipated into a multitude of fragmented groups, all developing in different directions.
The achievement of pulling back the initiative and building up an
CHAPTER SIXTEEN 81
organisation to develop and control the use of Scientology and Dianetic is impressive. The unfortunate need for an organisation and structure can be seen when we look at those derivative and breakaway groups that have faded away. Where also are the current practitioners of the discoveries of Freud, the post-Freudians and even Carl Jung.
In the sixties Ron Hubbard applied part of his energies to developing the structure for delivering the whole progression of individual gain through the prototype 'Org' at Saint Hill. His success at this, but less evident success at holding the worldwide movement together, shows that he was probably better at developing something new than at keeping something old growing steadily.
For reasons which are only partly known to us, he stepped out of executive running of the Church in 1966. At this point it was probably the best opportunity for more pedestrian intellects to take over and consolidate the management of the Church. This may well have started to happen in the late 60's.
Ron Hubbard may have intended to go off on his boat and leave them to get on with it, but it didn't turn out like that. During the time on the ships he revealed another talent, that of a management theorist. Although his work on management is difficult to read until one has mastered the terminology, it is probably in the same league as Peter Drucker or Wilfred Brown. Although his theory is brilliant and highly workable, he was not the ideal person to operate it. In addition he wrote so much of it that it is inclined to overwhelm inexperienced managers.
During the time on the ships the cult of personality probably first got out of hand. The enormous charisma of the man and the adulation of the young Sea Org members probably led to the first whiff of fanaticism. The newly trained Sea Org personnel would leave the ship with a firm belief in the inability of Ron the man to be wrong.
With hindsight we could say that Hubbard should have been aware of the danger and prevented it. Probably his authoritarian style inclined him to believe that these dedicated young 'Storm Troopers' were the best hope for the movement to fulfil its promise. Brilliant as he was as a researcher and formulator of workable methodologies, he was not able or willing to play the political game necessary to get acceptance of new ideas. By belittling the established thinking and ridiculing its practitioners he encouraged a hostile climate which was bound to be resistant to his unconventional discoveries.
In the late seventies Ron saw some progress but not the success that he would have hoped for. We can only speculate on his action from then on. Perhaps he was content to bow out of further management
82 THE SAD TALE OF SCIENTOLOGY
involvement in the Church and concentrate on his technical development of the higher OT levels and writing 'Battlefield Earth'.
Whatever other information emerges about his activities, it cannot detract from the validity of the principles and techniques he developed and stood for. The laws of gravity cannot be called into question because of any personal failings Isaac Newton may have had. Each individual must judge if Hubbard's findings are valid for them and do their best to come to terms with his human failings.
Finally we come to the Church of Scientology. It is all too easy to blame the Church and its management exclusively for the troubles that Scientology has experienced. Mostly the Church is run by dedicated and honest people who are willing to give up a normal life in the hope of bringing about a better world and a happier future for mankind.
The excesses and failures of the Church over most of the last 20 years no more invalidates the principles or purposes it was founded to uphold than corrupt Popes or the sale of Indulgences invalidated the principles of Christianity.
As indicated in the previous chapter, the Church may be making certain strategic mistakes. These revolve around trying to push a relatively small number of people up through the higher levels of the Bridge rather than giving attention to building a widely based popular movement. Also continuing emphasis on elimination of so called 'squirrel groups' is diverting much of its attention and resources from the task of establishing communication with the mainstream population.
Whatever the merits of the Church s case against the Independents it is unlikely to derive much gain from it. In real terms the benefits it would achieve from closing the Independents would be small. Few of the Independent Scientologists or their adherents would be likely to rejoin the Church in the foreseeable future In addition the continuing conflict climate reduces the chances of voluntary return by the many disillusioned members who have become inactive.
The low number of new recruits brought in by the Church probably accounts for their fear of the Independents. They could expect a committed new member who makes his way all the way up the Bridge to spend 100,000 pounds or dollars over the course of say 10 years. In view of the very small numbers willing and able to undertake to commit themselves on these terms, the Church has to guard jealously its few committed followers.
For both the Church of Scientology and the Independent Scientologists, the crucial battle to be fought is not with each other in the courts. They should be applying their energies in the everyday world,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN 83
among the many people who sense there must be more to life than material existence.
It is one of the many tragic ironies in this sad tale that Ron Hubbard has bequeathed the Church most of the technology to do this. The principles he identified relating to Reality levels, Communication and Gradients all have applications in this area. Anyone who has done the first major course in a Scientology Academy can tell you how technology gets lost!
Return to the book's index