Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield - Next - Previous

Chapter 2

L. Ron Hubbard -- Messiah? Or Madman?

It is worthy of note that the most notorious quacks, often men of genius and education, though mentally ill-balanced, and morally of low standards, have been great travelers and shrewd observers of human nature. When such an one becomes ambitious to acquire wealth, he is likely to prove a dangerous person in the community.
-- Robert Means Lawrence, 1910

Ironically, ... most messiahs have had markedly unstable lives. Their backgrounds and life histories are rife with traumatic experiences. It is commonplace among them that their calling is precipitated by crisis, nervous breakdown, and physical collapse. Most messiahs are people who have been unable to successfully integrate themselves into ordinary society. They are marginal individuals -- members of groups denied access to power, or individuals who for a variety of reasons have failed to achieve it. As a group, messiahs also display other characteristics. They are ambitious, intelligent, and rigid; thus, despite their inability to follow the usual routes to success, they manage to create their own.
-- Willa Appel, Cults in America

To his followers, L. Ron Hubbard was larger than life. The biographies of Hubbard given within the cult portray the metamorphosis of this legendary man in stages from youthful prodigy, to teenager adventurer, to brave war hero, to the long-suffering messiah who gave his life for all. It would seem only logical that a man of the extraordinary accomplishments boasted of by Hubbard would have had an equally extraordinary life.

Unfortunately, while the legendary accomplishments of this cult guru might have made interesting fodder for one of his swashbuckling adventure novels, the true facts of his life reveal quite another picture. As with the Wizard of Oz, once the curtain was drawn, the fearsome wizard was just an ordinary man. So it was with Hubbard.

The official biography states:

L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska, on the 13th of March, 1911. His father was Commander Harry Ross Hubbard of the United States Navy. His mother was Dora May Hubbard.... (1)

So far, everything is true.

Because his father was away at sea, the biography continues:

Ron spent his early childhood years on his grandfather's large cattle ranch in Montana, said to cover a quarter of the state. It was on this ranch that he learned to read and write by the time he was three and a half years old. (2)

The truth is that Hubbard's grandfather was a small town veterinarian who did not own a cattle ranch in Montana. After Hubbard and his parents relocated to Helena, Montana, where his father was hired to manage a local theater, the grandparents soon followed, bought a house on Fifth Avenue, and the grandfather opened the Capital City Coal Company.

In another biography, Hubbard boasted that his great-grandfather, I. C. DeWolfe, was a distinguished sea captain. It is not known whether the grandfather was a sea captain; however, it is known that I. C. were the initials of his great-grandmother, not his great-grandfather.

The story continues:

L. Ron Hubbard found the life of a young rancher very enjoyable. Long days were spent riding, breaking broncos, hunting coyote and taking his first steps as an explorer. For it was in Montana that he had his first encounter with the Blackfoot Indians. He became a blood brother of the Blackfoot.... When he was ten years old, he rejoined his family.... (3)

Although these events may have existed in the imagination of a young boy in Montana, that is the only place where they did, in fact, exist.

Young Ron Hubbard lived with his parents in a small apartment on Rodney Street in Helena, and he attended the local kindergarten. His grandparents and his lively maternal aunts lived nearby. When he was six years old, his father enlisted in the Navy after the start of World War I. For the next few years, Ron and his mother followed Harry to a series of port cities where he was stationed.

By the time he was twelve years old, young Ron Hubbard had read a large number of the world's greatest classics -- and his interest in philosophy and religion was born. Ron Hubbard had the distinction of being the only boy in the country to secure an Eagle Scout badge at the age of twelve years. In Washington, D.C., he had also become a close friend of President Coolidge's son, Calvin Jr., whose early death accelerated L. Ron Hubbard's interest in the mind and spirit of man. (4)

Although Hubbard did receive an Eagle Scout badge at the age of thirteen, the Boy Scouts of America keeps only an alphabetical listing of Eagle Scouts, with no record of their ages. Hubbard was chosen, during his thirteenth year, to go with forty other scouts to shake the hand of President Coolidge, who was being given an honor by the Scouts. It is not known whether he did become friends with the President's son.

"The following years, from 1925 to 1929, saw the young Mr. Hubbard, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, as a budding and enthusiastic world traveler and adventurer. His father was sent to the Far East and, having the financial support of his wealthy grandfather, L. Ron Hubbard spent these years journeying through Asia." (5)

"He was up and down the China coast several times in his teens from Ching Wong Tow to Hong Kong and inland to Peking and Manchuria.

"In China he met an old magician whose ancestors had served in the court of Kublai Khan and a Hindu who could hypnotize cats. In the high hills of Tibet he lived with bandits who accepted him because of his honest interest in them and their way of life.

"In the remote reaches of western Manchuria he made friends with the ruling warlords by demonstrating his horsemanship. On an island in the South Pacific, the fearless boy calmed the natives by exploring a cave that was supposed to be haunted and showing them that the rumbling sound from within was nothing more sinister than an underground river. Deep in the jungles of Polynesia he discovered an ancient burial ground steeped in the tradition of heroic warriors and kings...." (6)

Heady adventures for a teenager!

The truth, however, is a bit more believable. At the age of thirteen, the Hubbards had moved to Bremerton, Washington, where young Ron was an eighth grader at Union High School. Hubbard enjoyed activities such as hiking and camping at the nearby Boy Scout campground.

Two years later, when Ron was a sophomore at Queen Anne High School, his father was unexpectedly posted to Guam. It was decided that while his mother would join her husband in Guam for the two-year posting, Ron would go to live with his grandparents and aunts in Helena and finish high school.

However, to mollify Ron, the father suggested that he spend part of the summer with them in Guam before returning to school. So in May of 1927, Ron and his mother sailed to Guam on the steamship President Madison, with stops in Honolulu, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Manila. Mother and son arrived in Guam in June, and Ron spent the month teaching English to native children who were apparently spellbound by his thatch of red hair.

In July, the young Hubbard sailed back home, and was registered by September as a junior at Helena High School, where he joined the editorial staff of the school newspaper as the jokes editor.

In the spring of his junior year, however, Hubbard suddenly disappeared from both home and school. There was a rumor that he had a fight with a teacher and didn't want to face being expelled from the school. He went first to visit an aunt and uncle in nearby Seattle, then caught a train to San Diego to catch a ship bound for Guam. Although he couldn't sail without permission from his father, his father obligingly cabled the needed permission. Young Ron was bound once more for Guam.

In Guam, his mother tutored him to prepare him for college. In October of 1928, Ron went with his parents for a ten-day vacation to China, where Ron was unimpressed by the Chinese, writing in his journal:

They smell of all the baths they didn't take. The trouble with China is, there are too many chinks here. (7)

In his journals, young Ron was already writing adventure stories, interspersing his more mundane studies in history and geometry with adventures stories, most often in exotic, Oriental settings.

To his father's disappointment, Ron failed the entrance exam for the Annapolis Naval Academy. Determined to get his son into the Academy, Harry enrolled Ron at the Swavely Preparatory School in Manassas, Virginia, in a special program for prospective Annapolis candidates. Inevitably, however, Ron was denied admission to the Academy because of bad eyesight.

Next, Ron was enrolled in the Woodward School for Boys in Washington, D.C. as a substitute for taking the College Entrance Examination. In September of 1930, Ron was admitted to George Washington University School of Engineering with a major in civil engineering.

If ever there was a match made not to be, it was that between young Hubbard and the School of Engineering. Bored by studies in calculus, chemistry and German, Ron immersed himself in starting a gliding club on the GWU campus. Ignoring his studies, he spent every possible minute at the nearby air field and was soon licensed as a Commercial Glider Pilot.

Predictably, and to his parents' distress, Ron's grades for the first semester ranged from an A in Physical Education, to a C in Mechanical Engineering, a D in chemistry, and Fs in German and calculus, earning him a D average, and placing him on scholastic probation.

Undaunted, Ron continued to write his stories, and in January of 1932, had his first professional article published in a flying magazine, the Sportsman Pilot.

During the summer of 1932, Ron organized the "Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition," renting a four-masted schooner and planning a voyage with fifty other students to sixteen Caribbean ports of call at which they would make adventure movies.

However, the trip did not turn out as planned. A storm at sea drove the sailing ship off course and they ended up in Bermuda instead of Martinique. After leaving Bermuda, the fresh water leaked out of the tanks, morale on the ship was at an ebb, and when the ship did finally reach Martinique, most of the disgruntled crew abandoned the ship for home. The ship's owners, realizing that their fee was at risk, ordered the ship back to Baltimore where the trip had begun.

Although Ron was later to claim the trip as a great success, citing among its scientific accomplishments that rare specimens of flora and fauna were gathered for the University of Michigan, that underwater films were taken for the U.S. Hydrographic Office, and that photographs of the trip were purchased by the New York Times, subsequent investigation has proven that none of these things were true.

Ron returned to Washington, D.C. to receive his grades for the previous semester which were: a B in English, Ds in calculus, electrical and magnetic physics, and Fs in molecular and atomic physics. Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, he informed his parents that he would not be returning to college.

His father's solution to his son's educational failure was to send him on a trip to Puerto Rico, where the Red Cross was looking for volunteers. Ron used the trip to search for gold in the Puerto Rican countryside, working briefly as a field representative for a company called West Indies Minerals.

In spite of his failure at school, Hubbard later frequently boasted that he had been a student in the first course in atomic physics in the country and that he had received an honorary Ph.D. -- which he renounced much later when it was discovered and made public that the bogus degree had been purchased from from a diploma mill in California.

The official biography of Hubbard continues:

His first action on leaving college was to blow off steam by leading an expedition into Central America. In the next few years he headed three, all of them undertaken to study savage peoples and cultures to provide fodder for his articles and stories. Between 1933 and 1941 he visited many barbaric cultures and yet found time to write seven million words of published fact and fiction. (8)

Although there is no evidence that Hubbard made any trips to Central America, there is evidence that when he arrived back in Washington, D.C. from Puerto Rico, he married Mary Louise Grubb, nicknamed "Polly," and began his career as a struggling writer.

In 1933, he sold four articles, receiving less than a hundred dollars for all, the rate of pay for pulp fiction writers at the time being a penny a word.

In 1934, his first child was born, a son named L. Ron Jr., and to keep pace with the rising expenses of a young family man, Hubbard began to produce fiction at a prolific rate, often writing a story a day. His writing habits were unique. He would frequently write all night long, retiring at dawn and sleeping until the early afternoon.

Soon, this labor began to pay off, as more and more of his fictions were published, and Hubbard began to acquire a reputation among adventure writers. In 1935, his output included ten pulp novels, three novelettes, twelve short stories, and three non-fiction articles. The titles of his stories included: "The Phantom Patrol," "Destiny's Drum," "Man-Killers of the Air," "Hostage to Death," and "Hell's Legionnaires." (9)

Another child arrived in 1936, a daughter, Catherine. Hubbard moved his small family to Bremerton, Washington, where his parents had settled, and where Ron and Polly bought a small house. Hubbard spent the next few years shuttling between Bremerton and New York City, where he made frequent trips to fraternize with fellow adventure writers. In gatherings with other writers, Hubbard was invariably the center of attention, entertaining the others present with his yarns and tall tales.

In 1938, John Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, persuaded Ron to try his hand at science fiction. The result was successful and Hubbard's stories in this genre began to appear regularly, alongside his regular adventure stories and westerns.

During this same year, there is a curious story about Hubbard. He apparently began to tell friends that he had written an important book, called Excalibur, which he claimed would have a greater impact on people than the Bible. He seemed quite excited about this book. He told his wife that it would earn him a place in history. Yet, strangely, no one ever saw the book.

Hubbard claimed that the first six people who read the book were so overwhelmed by its contents that they went out of their minds. He claimed that the inspiration for the book came from an out of the body experience he had under nitrous oxide while at the dentist. To prevent any more casualties, he claimed to have the book safely hidden. Although Hubbard would mention this book from time to time, its existence has never been proven.

In 1939 and 1940, Hubbard continued to write, producing several famous stories such as "Fear," "Typewriter in the Sky," and "Final Blackout." His stories are still known and read by science fiction fans throughout the country, to whom the name L. Ron Hubbard is associated with science fiction and not with a controversial cult.

In 1941, as the United States was drawn into the Second World War, Hubbard was determined to get into the Navy. When a friend of his who was a Senator obligingly gave him some official stationery, Hubbard composed his own letter of recommendation for the military.

This will introduce one of the most brilliant men I have ever known: Captain L. Ron Hubbard.

He writes under six names in a diversity of fields from political economy to action fiction and if he would make at least one of his pen names public he would have little difficulty entering anywhere. He has published many millions of words and some fourteen movies.

In exploration he has honorably carried the flag of the Explorers Club and has extended geographical and mineralogical knowledge. He is well known in many parts of the world and has considerable influence in the Caribbean and Alaska.

As a key figure in writing organizations he has considerable political worth and in the Northwest he is a powerful influence.

I have known him for many years and have found him discreet, loyal, honest and without peer in the art of getting things done swiftly.

If Captain Hubbard requests help, be assured that it will benefit others more than himself.

For courage and ability I cannot too strongly recommend him. (10)

In July of 1941, L. Ron Hubbard entered the Navy as Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Hubbard's stories of his naval career serve as an example of his most outrageous fiction writing. The official (Scientology) account of Hubbard's naval career reads:

Commissioned before the war in 1941, by the US Navy, Hubbard was ordered to the Philippines at the outbreak of war in the U.S. and was flown home in the late spring of 1942 in the Secretary of the Navy's private plane as the first U.S. returned casualty from the Far East.

He served in the South Pacific, and in 1942 was relieved by fifteen officers of rank and was rushed home to take part in the 1942 battle against German submarines as Commanding Officer of a corvette serving in the north Atlantic. In 1943 he was made Commodore of Corvette Squadrons, and in 1944 he worked with amphibious forces. After serving in all five theaters of World War II and receiving twenty-one medals and palms, in 1944 he was severely wounded and was taken crippled and blinded to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. (11)

Another "official" biography continues:

Crippled and blinded at the end of the war, he resumed his studies of philosophy and by his discoveries recovered so fully that he was reclassified in 1949 for full combat duty. It is a matter of medical record that he has twice been pronounced dead and that in 1950 he was given a perfect score on mental and physical fitness reports.

The truth about Hubbard's war career, although quite different, is no less interesting.

Hubbard's first job in the Navy was a desk job in public relations. His job was to write stories featuring the American serviceman for various national publications. However, this did not fit with the image that Hubbard had of himself as war hero, so he soon requested, and was awarded a transfer to Navy Intelligence.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and war was officially declared.

On December 18th of 1941, Hubbard was posted as an Intelligence Officer to the Philippines. In Brisbane, Australia, while waiting for a ship to Manila, Hubbard managed to so antagonize his superior officers that he was sent home, with an entry in his record stating that, "This officer is not satisfactory for independent duty assignment. He is garrulous and tries to give impressions of his importance. He also seems to think he has unusual ability in most lines. These characteristics indicate that he will require close supervision for satisfactory performance of any intelligence duty." The report also added that Hubbard had become "the source of much trouble." (12)

Hubbard was then sent to San Francisco and given a posting in the Office of the Cable Censor, another desk job. Two months later, bored with his duties as Cable Censor, Hubbard requested sea duty and was made the Commanding Officer of the USS YP-422, a converted Navy gunboat. Hubbard went to Neponset, Massachusetts, where the gunboat was being refitted, but he was relieved of command before the boat sailed because of difficulty that he had with the Commandant of the Navy Yard. Again a report was filed in his service record, stating that he was "not temperamentally fitted for independent command." (13)

Anticipating another desk job, Hubbard's spirits rose when he found that he was being sent to the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida.

After the completion of his studies in Miami, and a ten day anti-submarine warfare course in Key West, Florida, Hubbard was once again entrusted by the Navy with the command of a 280-ton sub-chaser, the USS PC-815.

In May of 1943, Hubbard sailed his ship out of the Navy shipyard in Portland, Oregon. The ship was to sail from Portland to San Diego on her first shakedown cruise.

Just off the coast of Oregon, Hubbard and his crew made a surprise discovery of two enemy submarines in the coastal waters, right in the middle of a busy shipping lane. Six depth charges were fired at the enemy subs. Joined by another sub-chaser, seven more charges were fired. Soon a US Coast Guard ship came to the rescue to replenish the depleted supply of depth charges aboard Hubbard's ship. The PC-815 continued to attack, delivering all twenty seven depth charges, the crew on deck anxiously scanning the water for signs of the destroyed enemy subs surfacing on the water.

The PC-815 was ordered to return to shore, where an investigation was called into this unusual battle, and because of the proximity of the enemy submarines to the Oregon coast.

The conclusion of the investigating body was that there were no enemy submarines in the area patrolled by Hubbard's ship, but that there were known magnetic deposits in that area. The conclusion reached was that Hubbard and his crew had just fought a two-day battle with a suboceanic magnetic deposit. Hubbard, as expected, took some good-natured ribbing from other officers for his "battle with a magnetic deposit," but he was not relieved of his command.

In May of 1943, he sailed his ship to San Diego with no misadventures, but while moored off the coast of San Diego, his ship strayed into Mexican territorial waters and Hubbard ordered a test firing of the ship's guns directly at the nearby Coronados Islands.

An official complaint was lodged by the Mexican government and a Board of Investigation was held, as a result of which Hubbard was once again relieved of his duties and transferred elsewhere.

In a fitness report covering Hubbard's Navy career to this point, he was evaluated as "below average" and the following notation was placed in his record:

Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results. He is believed to have been sincere in his efforts to make his ship efficient and ready. Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised. (14)

After this, Hubbard spent three months in the naval hospital in San Diego, complaining of a variety of ailments ranging from an ulcer to malaria and back pains. In a letter to his family, he reported that he had thrown an unexploded shell from his ship and it exploded in mid-air, injuring him.

In October of 1943, Hubbard was assigned to take a six-week course at the Naval Small Craft Training Center at Terminal Island in San Pedro, California. He was subsequently made Navigating Officer of the USS Algol.

In January, he made this depressed entry in his personal journal:

My salvation is to let this roll over me, to write, write and write some more. To hammer keys until I am finger worn to the second joint and then to hammer keys some more. To pile up copy, stack up stories, roll the wordage and generally conduct my life along the one line of success I have ever had. (15)

As the Algol prepared to go into battle in the Pacific Theater, Hubbard applied for transfer to the School of Military Government at Princeton University. And although this transfer was approved, in a strange incident which occurred just before the Algol sailed to the Pacific, Hubbard discovered a homemade gasoline bomb in a coke bottle amidst the cargo being loaded on the ship. There was an investigation into this curious incident, but the results of the investigation were not recorded. However, that evening, Hubbard was relieved of duty and sent to Princeton, where he completed a four-month training course.

In September of 1945, Hubbard was transferred to Monterey, California for further training. He reported in sick with a suspected ulcer, and was hospitalized at Oak Knoll Military Hospital in Oakland, California, where he remained until December 5th, 1945, when he was discharged from the Navy.

Contrary to his own report of receiving twenty-one war medals, he received four routine medals which were awarded to all servicemen serving in this war.

As soon as he was released from the Navy, Hubbard, again having no immediate financial prospects, began a series of requests to the Navy to award him a disability pension for injuries and ailments he claimed he sustained during the war. Among the complaints he listed in his claim were a sprained knee, an ulcer, conjunctivitis, arthritis and malaria.

He was eventually awarded a small partial disability rating, and his efforts to have his disability allowance increased continued for several years. In a pathetic letter to the Veteran's Administration dated October 15, 1947, Hubbard writes:

This is a request for treatment.

After trying and failing for two years to regain my equilibrium in civil life, I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically or even by a psychoanalyst. Toward the end of my service I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all.

I cannot leave school or what little work I am doing for hospitalization due to many obligations, but I feel I might be treated outside, possibly with success. I cannot, myself, afford such treatment.

Would you please help me?

Sincerely, L. Ron Hubbard (16)

After being discharged from the Navy in December of 1945, Hubbard did not head for home, where Polly and his children were still living in Bremerton, Washington. He instead headed directly for a house in Pasadena, California, which housed an interesting and eclectic assortment of people including one Jack Parsons, leader of a satanic organization called the Ordo Templis Orientis. That was the U.S. name for the organization headed in England by the infamous black magician, Aleister Crowley.

So began a new chapter in Hubbard's life, although in actuality it was but the continuation of an old chapter, begun, reportedly when young Hubbard went as a teenager to the Library of Congress with his mother, and there discovered a work written by Crowley.

Thereafter, he was fascinated by Crowley's "Magick," and Crowley became a mentor for Hubbard, a relationship that would last until Crowley's death in 1947. In one of his later lectures, Hubbard would refer to Crowley as "my good friend."

Crowley's most famous work was called The Book of the Law in which he expressed his philosophy of life: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." It is a philosophy Hubbard was to live by throughout his life.

Crowley wrote, in The Book of the Law:

We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of Kings: stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.

I am of the snake that giveth Knowledge and Delight, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs.... They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self.... Be strong, Oh man! Lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture ... the kings of the earth shall be kings forever: the slaves shall serve.

Them that seek to entrap thee, to over throw thee, them attack without pity or quarter, and destroy them utterly.

I am unique and conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned and dead! Amen.

Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled and the consoler! (17)

Perhaps this explains why, in Scientology, sympathy is considered to be a "low-toned" emotion. Scientologists learn in their training not to feel sympathy.

According to Ron (Hubbard) Jr., his father considered himself to be the one "who came after"; that he was Crowley's successor; that he had taken on the mantle of the "Great Beast." He told him that Scientology actually began on December the 1st, 1947. This was the day Aleister Crowley died. (18)

Following in Crowley's footsteps, Hubbard adopted some of the practices of the black magician, including the use of drugs and the use of affirmations.

According to Hubbard's son, his father regularly used illegal drugs including amphetamines, barbiturates and hallucinogens including cocaine, peyote and mescaline. (19)

Also, according to Hubbard, Jr., his father occasionally put phenobarbital in his son's bubble gum.

Among the many affirmations that Hubbard was known to have used was the following:

All men shall be my slaves! All women shall succumb to my charms! All mankind shall grovel at my feet and not know why! (20)

Hubbard and Parsons struck up an occult partnership, the result of which was a series of rituals they carried out with the objective of producing a "moonchild," an incarnation of "Babylon" in an unborn child. A woman in the house was chosen to be the mother of this satanic child.

During these rituals, which took place on the first three days of March 1946, Parsons was High Priest and had sexual intercourse with the girl, while Hubbard, who was present, acted as skryer, seer, or clairvoyant and described what was supposed to be happening on the astral plane. (21)

Later, Hubbard was to reveal some of his occult beliefs to his son in a conversation documented by L. Ron Hubbard, Jr.

"I've made the Magick really work," he (Hubbard, Sr.) says. "No more foolish rituals. I've stripped the Magick to basics -- access without liability."

"Sex by will," he says. "Love by will -- no caring and no sharing -- no feelings. None. Love reversed. Love isn't sex. Love is no good; puts you at effect. Sex is the route to power. Scarlet women! They are the secret to the doorway. Use and consume. Feast. Drink the power through them. Waste and discard them."

"Scarlet?" I (Hubbard, Jr.) ask.

"Yes, Scarlet: the blood of their bodies; the blood of their souls.

"Release your will from bondage. Bend their bodies; bend their minds; bend their wills; beat back the past. The present is all there is. No consequences and no guilt. Nothing is wrong in the present. The will is free -- totally free; no feelings; no effort; pure thought -- separated. The Will postulating the Will.

"Will, Sex, Love, Blood, Door, Power, Will. Logical.

"The Doorway of Plenty. The Great Door of the Great Beast." (22)

The final result of the relationship between Hubbard and Parsons was that Hubbard ran off with Parson's girlfriend, Sara Northrup, to Florida, where, with $20,000 of Parson's money, they bought several boats and were enjoying an easy life together at sea before Parsons caught up with them and obtained a restraining order to retrieve some of his assets.

On August 10, 1946, Hubbard and Sara were married in Washington, D.C., in spite of the fact that Hubbard was still married to Polly. Sara did not know about the existing marriage to Polly, or about Hubbard's two children.

Hubbard and Sara ended up living in a trailer in Port Orchard, Washington, just a few miles from Polly and the two children in Bremerton, whom he occasionally visited. A year and four months after marrying Sara, his divorce from his first wife was granted. In April of 1950, just before the publication of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, Hubbard became a father for the third time to Alexis, his daughter with Sara.

Unfortunately, the marriage to Sara was also fated to end in failure. Toward the end of their marriage, both Hubbard and Sara became involved in extra-marital affairs.

Sara left Hubbard early in 1951, accusing him of being "paranoid schizophrenic." Hubbard, perhaps having a legitimate worry in this regard, retaliated by first kidnapping Alexis from the Church of Scientology premises in Los Angeles, and then by kidnapping Sara and trying to have her declared insane in order to prevent her from doing same to him.

Sara Hubbard, in her divorce complaint, alleged that Hubbard had "repeatedly subjected her to systematic torture, including loss of sleep, beatings, and strangulations and scientific torture experiments." According to Sara, when Hubbard realized that a divorce was inevitable, he asked Sara to kill herself, fearing that a divorce would ruin his reputation.

She said that Hubbard kept her from sleeping for four days, then gave her sleeping pills, nearly killing her. And that once when he nearly strangled her, he ruptured the eustachian tube in her ear, permanently impairing her hearing.

There were other allegations as well, and the conclusion reached in the divorce complaint was that Hubbard was "hopelessly insane." (23)

Hubbard fled to Cuba with baby Alexis, who was then nearly a year old. Eventually, after moving to Wichita to establish the Wichita Foundation with financier Don Purcell, he reached a settlement with Sara in which he agreed to return Alexis to her if she would recant her accusations of him.

On June 12th of 1951, Sara traveled to Wichita to collect Alexis, signing a statement prepared by Hubbard, stating that the things she had said about him were untrue and that L. Ron Hubbard "is a fine and brilliant man." (24)

She caught a bus back to Los Angeles with baby Alexis. She never saw Hubbard again.

Hubbard, meanwhile, was carrying on an affair with a student from the Wichita Foundation, a dark and pretty young Texan named Mary Sue Whipp. In March of 1952, Hubbard married Mary Sue, who was two months pregnant at the time of the wedding. She was his third and final wife, by whom he eventually had four more children.

From reports of people who were close to the family, although Mary Sue was devoted to her children, Hubbard did not develop close relationships with any of his seven children. His only interest in them was in what they could do to advance his interests in Scientology. When he learned of his son, Quentin's, suicide in October of 1976, he was heard shouting at the top of his voice, "That stupid fucking kid! That stupid fucking kid! Look what he's done to me...." (25)

Descriptions of Hubbard in the early fifties portray a man of contrasts. He could be charming when he wanted to be, and at other times would explode in outbursts of temper.

According to one student:

Ron lectured every day. He was very impressive, dedicated and amusing. The man had tremendous charisma; you just wanted to hear every word he had to say and listen for any pearl of wisdom.... (26)

Another student says:

Hubbard had this incredible dynamism, a disarming, magnetic and overwhelming personality. I remember being at Saint Hill one evening and running into him and as we started to talk people gathered round. People had a wonderful feeling with him of being in the presence of a great man. (27)

Another student comments on Hubbard's unpredictability:

He (Hubbard) could be very thoughtful and kind one minute and quite hideous the next. We were auditing about fifty hours a week and I remember one afternoon a girl burst into tears when she was telling Ron about a particularly difficult case she had. He put his arm around her and said, "Jenny, anything we can do for this preclear is better than doing nothing. She needs help and a bit of attention and that is what you are giving her. Just keep on doing the same thing you're doing and you will resolve it in due course. You can't expect miracles overnight." That struck me as a very humane and comforting thing to say to her.... But then I have also seen him behave in a grotesque fashion. One afternoon during a lecture a woman in the audience was coughing rather badly and he walked to the front of the stage, red-faced and visibly angry, and shouted, "Get that woman out of this lecture hall!" She was one of his most fervent supporters and she was also desperately ill -- she died three weeks later of lung cancer. (28)

Another aspect of Hubbard's character was his paranoia, a trait clearly evident in a series of lengthy letters he wrote to the F.B.I., accusing most of the associates working with him of being Communists who were plotting to destroy him. At one point, he wrote to the F.B.I. accusing his wife, Sara, and her boyfriend of being Communists, a move with potentially dangerous consequences during that era of McCarthyism. Fortunately for the many people he named in these letters, the F.B.I. did not take Hubbard seriously, at one point making the notation "appears mental" in his file.

One of his girlfriends during his marriage to Sara wrote about him:

He didn't trust anyone and was highly paranoid. He thought the CIA had hit men after him. We'd be walking along the street and I would ask, "Why are you walking so fast?" He would look over his shoulder and say, "You don't know what it's like to be a target." No one was after him; it was all delusion. (29)

Once, on an airplane trip with one of his staff members, when the plane stopped for refueling, Hubbard "scurried across the passenger terminal and stood with his back pressed against a wall for the duration of the stop, explaining to his companion that there were people `out to get him'." (30) During the late fifties and early sixties, Hubbard's delusions seemed to become even more bizarre. In a bulletin written in February of 1957, called "The Story of a Static" (static being another Scientology term for the "thetan", or soul), Hubbard wrote:

Once upon a time there was a thetan, and he was a happy little thetan and the world was a simple thing. It was all very, very simple.

And then one day somebody told him he was simple.

And ever since that time he has been trying to prove that he is not.

And that is the history of the Universe, the Human Race, the Fifth Invaders, the Fourth Invaders, the 3-1/2 invaders, the people on Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Arcturus, the Marcab Galaxy, the Marcab System, and Psi Galaxy, Galaxy 82 -

I don't care where you look -- that's the story. (31)

In another bulletin dated May 11, 1963, Hubbard claimed he had twice visited heaven, 43 trillion and 42 trillion years earlier. Teaching his followers that heaven was just an implant station in space, he said that on the first visit he had found heaven "complete with gates, angels and plaster saints -- and electronic implantation equipment." On his second visit, a trillion years later, he says that he found changes in heaven.

The place is shabby. The vegetation is gone. The pillars are scruffy. The saints have vanished. So have the angels. A sign on one side (the left as you enter) says "this is Heaven." The right has a sign "Hell" with an arrow and inside the grounds one can see excavations like archaeological diggings with terraces that lead to "Hell." Plain wire fencing encloses the place.... (32)

In one of the tapes on the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, Hubbard claims to have been flying around space without his body, getting caught in the Van Allen Belt, and he relates this experience in great detail for his students. Later, in the Sea Org, a student on the ship relates this experience with Hubbard:

LRH (Hubbard) was on the ship and in a real jolly mood. He used to stay up late at night on the deck and talk to us into the wee hours about his whole track (past life) adventures, how he was a race-car driver in the Marcab civilization. The Marcab civilization existed millions of years ago on another planet; it was similar to planet earth in the fifties, only they had space travel.... (Hubbard) said he was a race driver called the Green Dragon who set a speed record before he was killed in an accident. He came back in another lifetime as the Red Devil and beat his own record, then came back and did it again as the Blue Streak.

People would stand around listening to these stories for hours, very overawed. At the time it seemed like a privilege and honor to share these things, to hear him talking about things that went on millions of years ago like it was yesterday. (33)

Hubbard should probably have been diagnosed as a manic-depressive with paranoid tendencies, according to several people who knew him well. Certainly he did have periods of deep depression from time to time, in which he lay in bed in a torpor, once telling one of his attendants that he wanted to die. (34)

"He developed phobias about dust and smells which were the cause of frequent explosive temper tantrums. He was always complaining that his clothes smelled of soap or he was being choked by dust that no one else could detect." On his trips between the ship and a rented villa in Las Palmas, "he would insist on stopping because there was dust in the air conditioning. He would get into such a rage that on occasions I thought he was going to tear the car apart." (35)

His temper tantrums were to increase with age. After a motorcycle accident in Tenerife in the Canary Islands in which he broke his arm and several ribs, he was in a particularly vile temper:

"He didn't get out of that red chair for three months," said Doreen Smith (one of his young aides in the Commodore's Messenger Organization). "He'd sleep for about forty-five minutes at a time, then be awake for hours, screaming and shouting. It was impossible to get him comfortable. None of us got any sleep. I was better with a cushion. Someone else was better with a footstool, someone else with cotton padding, so every time he woke up we all had to be in there, fussing around him while he was screaming at us that we were all `stupid fucking shitheads' ... he was out of control...." (36)

According to another aide, after the accident at Tenerife, conditions aboard the ship took a turn for the worse:

His actions definitely became more bizarre after the motorcycle accident. You could hear him throughout the ship screaming, shouting, ranting and raving day after day. He was always claiming that the cooks were trying to poison him and he began to smell odors everywhere. His clothes had to be washed in pure water thirteen times, using thirteen different buckets of clean water to rinse a shirt so he wouldn't smell detergent on it. (37)

His young messengers bore the brunt of his temper throughout his later years, although they continued to serve him with devotion.

According to one Sea Org member who later defected:

His messengers were there to cater to Hubbard's every need. The girls would stick cigarettes in his mouth and light them. They had to catch his cigarette ashes. If a drop of sweat was on his forehead, they had to wipe it off. Every word he said had to be written down by the girls. Whenever he appeared people would clap. If it was four in the morning, and nobody could see straight, people would clap. (38)

The girls in the Sea Org also served as his personal attendants.

When he woke up he would yell "Messenger" and two of us would go into his room straight away. He would usually be lying in his bunk in his underwear with one arm outstretched, waiting for us to pull him up to a sitting position. While one of us put a robe around his shoulders, the other one would give him a cigarette, a Kool non-filter, light it and stand ready with an ashtray. I would run into the bathroom to make sure his toothbrush, soap and razor were all laid out in a set fashion and I prepared his bath, checked the shampoo, towel and temperature of the water.

When he went into the bathroom we would lay out his clothes, powder his socks and shoes and fold everything ready to get him dressed. Everything had to be right because if it wasn't he would yell at us and we didn't want to upset him. The last thing we wanted to do was upset him. When he came out of the shower, he would be in his underwear. Two of us held his pants off the floor as he stepped into them. He didn't like the trouser legs to touch the floor, God forbid that should happen. We pulled up his pants and buckled his belt, although he zipped them. We put on his shirt, buttoned it up, put his Kools in his shirt pocket, tied his cravat and combed his hair. All this time he'd be standing there watching us run around him. Then we'd follow him out on to the deck carrying anything he might need -- cloak, hat, binoculars, ashtray, spare cigarettes, anything he could possibly think of wanting. We felt it was an honor and a privilege to do anything for him. (39)

Once asked what inspired him to form the CMO (Commodore's Messenger Organization):

He said it was an idea he had picked up from Nazi Germany. He said Hitler was a madman, but nevertheless a genius in his own right and the Nazi Youth was one of the smartest ideas he ever had. With young people you had a blank slate and you could write anything you wanted on it and it would be your writing. That was his idea, to take young people and mold them into little Hubbards. He said he had girls because women were more loyal than men. (40)

According to some of the messengers, Hubbard did not have sex with them. One of the messengers stated, "I think he got his thrills by just having us around." (41)

One reason for this is that Hubbard was reportedly impotent. "It is documented that Hubbard used huge amounts of testosterone, stilbestrol (a female sex hormone). Taking the sex hormones were his solution to an impotence problem." (42)

One woman with whom Hubbard did have a sexual encounter described a very strange experience. She was taken to a room in one of the Sea Org buildings in Los Angeles, and describes a man who fits the description of Hubbard:

Sitting on one of the chairs ... was a heavy set older man. He had reddish grey hair, slightly long in the back. He was wearing a white shirt, black pants, black tie, and black shoes, highly polished....

He didn't say a word and slowly got up, motioned me to follow him into the next room.

I found myself in a lavish bedroom....

Without a word he suddenly began to undress me.

I was repelled by him.

I did not want to sleep with him. Yet, I felt really chilled and cold to the bone at that moment.

I acutely sensed real fear and danger in the room. In an instant I realized the calculated power coming from this person. If I resisted I knew that my punishment would be extreme.

His eyes were so blank, no emotion, no interaction, nothing was there.

I made the decision not to resist no matter what happened. I realized it would be a bad mistake for me to do so. He seemed to be completely divorced from reality. He was so strange that I realized that if I provoked him he could be extremely dangerous.

I let him undress me without resisting.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next.

He lay on top of me.

As far as I can tell he had no erection. However, using his hand in some way he managed to get his penis inside me.

Then for the next hour he did absolutely nothing at all. I mean nothing!

After the first twenty-five minutes I became about as frightened as I have ever been in my life. I felt as if in some perverse way he was telling me that he hated me as a female. I then began to feel that my mind was being ripped away from me by force.

That was the worst of it all. I really felt he coveted an aspect of my personality and he wanted it. This was weird, total control on a level I could not fathom at the time. I had no idea what was happening.

After half an hour I really thought I was going crazy. I couldn't move my body from underneath him, and I could feel he still had no erection.

He wouldn't look at me, but instead kept his head averted to the side and just gazed into space.

I had to discipline myself to keep from screaming because I felt I was having a nervous breakdown. Then I got the terrible thought that he was dead. He was hardly breathing. Then I thought he would kill me too. My thoughts became very morbid.

After an hour he got up and walked out.

I just lay there for ten minutes. Then mechanically I got dressed. Instantly after that I began crying hysterically. I cried and cried and cried....

I didn't say a word to anyone. (43)

After Quentin's death in 1976, Hubbard seemed to change. Before his son's suicide, he had been in rare good spirits, working with his messengers to produce movies.

But after Quentin's death, "he reverted to the familiar bellowing, foul-mouthed tyrant, plagued by phobias, surrounded by fools and besieged by enemies." (44)

Hubbard was deteriorating in body as well as in mind and spirit. He is described by a messenger upon meeting him for the first time, in the desert in California during the late seventies:

The first night I was there I didn't talk to LRH (Hubbard) since he was busy, but I saw him. He had long reddish-grey hair down past his shoulders, rotting teeth and a really fat gut. He didn't look anything like his pictures. The next day I met him. He was doing exercises in the courtyard and called me over. I was nervous meeting him. I was really surprised that I didn't feel this "electric something or other" that I was told happens when you are around him. (45)

Another messenger working with him in the desert says, in describing her first meeting with Hubbard, that:

I was working in the wardrobe department when I heard a barrage of abuse from behind a screen: "You dirty goddam sons of bitches, you're so goddam stupid. Fuck you, cocksuckers..." It seemed to go on for several minutes. I said, "Who in the world is that?" They said it was the Boss -- we weren't allowed to use the name Hubbard for security reasons. "You mean the leader of the church speaks like that?" I asked. "Oh, yes," was the reply, "he doesn't believe in keeping anything back." (46)

But later, in hiding in Hemet, his mood once again seemed to improve.

In the evenings he would reminisce to a small, but always attentive, audience. He was a good storyteller and it was nice to listen to him. He told us once how he was Tamburlaine's wife and how he had wept when Tamburlaine was routed in his last great battle. Another time he was on a disabled spaceship that landed here before life began and realized the potential and brought seeds back from another planet to fertilize planet earth.... (47)

This young follower said that he recalled:

... sitting on the floor with a couple of messengers while (Hubbard) played hillbilly songs on his guitar and talked about the time he had earned his living as a troubadour in the Blue Mountains. "I think he made up the songs as he went along.... Afterward, everyone clapped." (48)

During his last five years, fearing discovery by federal officials, Hubbard went into even deeper seclusion, retiring with three trusted messengers to a secret ranch in Creston, California. In a final glimpse, one of his neighbors, a man named Robert Whaley, said Hubbard could be seen:

... pottering around in baggy blue pants and a yellow straw hat, taking photographs. He was overweight, and with his white hair and white beard, reminded Whaley of Kentucky Chicken's Colonel Sanders. Once Whaley walked across to (the ranch) to see if he could borrow a tool and surprised the old man in the stable. (Hubbard) was busy filing a piece of metal and was evidently not pleased to see his neighbor: he glared suspiciously at Whaley for a second, then scurried off into a workshop without a word, locking the door behind him. (49)

To his followers, Hubbard was the Messiah, and the reincarnation of Buddha. In a poem called "Hymn of Asia," he had told them:

Everywhere you are I can be addressed
But in your temples best
Address me and you address
Lord Buddha
Address Lord Buddha
And then you address Meitreya. (50)

On January 24th, 1986, Hubbard died at his ranch in Creston of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.

On January 27th, his followers gathered at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles for a briefing by the new head of Scientology, Hubbard's protege, David Miscavige. Miscavige announced that Hubbard had gone on to "his next level of research," a level done in a state exterior to the body:

Thus, at 2000 hours, Friday 24 January 1986, L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for seventy-four years, ten months and eleven days. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside its confines. The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists. Although you may feel grief, understand that he did not, and does not now. He has simply moved on to his next step. (Hubbard) in fact used this lifetime and body we knew to accomplish what no man has ever accomplished -- he unlocked the mysteries of life and gave us the tools so we could free ourselves and our fellow men.... (51)

Hubbard left most of his immense fortune to the church of Scientology.

For his funeral service, Hubbard had written his own eulogy:

And so we send into the chain of all enduring time our heritage, our hope, our friend. Goodbye, Ron. Your people thank you for having lived. Earth is a better place for your having lived.... We thank you for coming to us. We do not contest your right to go away. Your debts are paid. This chapter of thy life is shut. Go now, dear Ron, and live once more in happier time and place. Thank you, Ron. And now here lift up your eyes and say to him, Goodbye. Goodbye, our dear, goodbye. We'll miss you, you know.... Come friends. He's all right. And he's gone. We have our work to do and he has his. He will be welcome there. To man. (52)

L. Ron Hubbard is gone, but he leaves behind the legacy of his church, with its 100,000 dedicated members, working fervently to carry his dream of a "cleared planet" and a "new and better civilization" to the rest of the world.

To study a man like Hubbard demands a study of the nature of evil itself. Hubbard was faithful to the credo of his mentor, Aleister Crowley, which was to "do as thou wilt." Hubbard lived by no laws but his own.

There is an interesting story that once one of Hubbard's associates told him, "It would be nice if we could be closer friends," to which Hubbard replied, "Yes it would be nice, but I can't have any friends." (53) Hubbard was a psychological vampire; people existed for him to exploit -- their time, energy and assets sucked out and used to his profit.

Hubbard scorned his followers, refusing to be called a "Scientologist," in much the same way that a Scientologist scorns the label of "wog," refusing to be identified with the lower life forms outside Scientology ("wog" being the Scientology designation for a non-Scientologist).

There are signs, however, that Hubbard, "Source," had in the end fallen victim to his own trap; in the later days of his life he continued to audit himself daily in search of the elusive freedom he had packaged and marketed so successfully to others.

Hubbard, undoubtedly a genius, was most human at certain points in his life when he was able to admit to his vulnerabilities. One such moment was his letter written in the Navy in which he lamented his tendency to fail at everything but his writing, "the one line of success I have ever had." (54)

Another instance was his 1947 letter to the Veteran's Administration begging for psychiatric help. "Would you please help me?" he ends this pathetic letter, a call for help which apparently went unanswered. One can only wonder what the outcome might have been had he received that help. It is possible that his thousands of victims might have been spared; it is even possible that his formidable genius, channeled in a more positive direction, might have resulted in some more laudable achievement in the field of the mind.

Hubbard is gone, but his church -- Scientology -- lives on as the externalization of Hubbard's paranoia. We have only too recently seen the effect that one madman can have on history and the lives of millions. In the end, the success or failure of Scientology will depend on the inhabitants of the "wog" world, and whether they are willing to trade their freedom and sensibilities for the elusive promises of Scientology.


  1. Corydon, p. 219
  2. Ibid, p. 219
  3. Ibid, p. 219
  4. Ibid, p. 220
  5. Ibid, p. 220
  6. Miller, p. 26
  7. Ibid, p. 43
  8. Ibid, p. 59
  9. Ibid, p. 68
  10. Ibid, p. 93
  11. Ibid, p. 95
  12. Ibid, p. 98
  13. Ibid, p. 99
  14. Ibid, p. 107
  15. Ibid, p. 107
  16. Plaintiff's exhibit #336
  17. Corydon, p. 49
  18. Ibid, p. 50
  19. Ibid, p. 53
  20. Ibid, p. 53
  21. Ibid, p. 163
  22. Ibid, p. 307
  23. Ibid, p. 282
  24. Ibid, p. 192
  25. Miller, p. 344
  26. Ibid, p. 159
  27. Ibid, p. 252
  28. Ibid, p. 224
  29. Ibid, p. 166
  30. Ibid, p. 244
  31. Professional Auditor's Bulletin No. 105
  32. Miller, p. 247-9
  33. Ibid, p. 279
  34. Ibid, p. 266
  35. Ibid, p. 267
  36. Ibid, p. 320
  37. Ibid, p. 321
  38. Corydon, p. 175
  39. Miller, p. 322
  40. Ibid, p. 323
  41. Ibid, p. 323
  42. Corydon, p. 288
  43. Ibid, p. 126
  44. Miller, p. 348
  45. Ibid, p. 348
  46. Ibid, p. 354
  47. Ibid, p. 362
  48. Ibid, p. 362
  49. Ibid, p. 373
  50. Corydon, p. 15
  51. Miller, p. 375
  52. from a tape of the funeral service
  53. Miller, p. 218
  54. Ibid, p. 108

Contents - Next - Previous