The next day I woke up wondering whether the events of the previous night had been real or just part of a bizarre and elaborate dream. My answer came in the early afternoon when Julie arrived with her E-meter in hand.
The meter was a rectangular box, a little bigger than a cigar box, with two hinges on the sides securing a removable top.
We pulled my small table into the center of the room and Julie proceeded to "set up" the E-meter.
She removed the top of the E-meter, using the side hinges to attach it to the back of the meter where it became a prop to keep the meter at an upright slant, facing her. On the face of the meter was a large dial under a plastic case with a thin needle resting at the left side of the dial. During the "session," Julie told me, I would sit opposite her at the table, from where I would be unable to see the face of the meter.
Only the "auditor" is allowed to see the needle "reads" that would indicate which part of my mind to explore, Julie explained.
But first she wanted to give me a demonstration of the meter. As I stood beside her, she took two small juice cans from her purse and connected them to the leads attached to the meter, and told me to hold onto the cans. Then she switched the power knob on. As she turned another knob, I saw the needle float lazily to the middle of the dial, then to the far side of the dial and then back again to the left side.
"Your needle is floating," Julie informed me.
"What does that mean?" I asked, watching the lazy movement of the needle.
"Well, when the needle is just floating back and forth like this with no interrupted movements in either direction, it means that nothing in your reactive mind is currently being restimulated. Here, I'll show you. Watch the dial," she commanded.
Suddenly Julie reached over and quickly gave my arm a sharp pinch.
"Ouch!" I cried. I wasn't expecting that.
But as she pinched me, I saw the needle suddenly veer all the way to the right side of the dial. Yet I hadn't moved.
"Now," said Julie loudly, "remember the pinch."
As I mentally focused on the pain in my arm, I saw the needle again make a smaller movement toward the right side of the dial.
"See, the needle reacts to your thought," Julie explained. "And the reason we use it in auditing is that it can `see' below your conscious awareness. When I ask you questions, the meter will give me your reactions at a subconscious level, things you may not even be aware of."
"So this machine can help you read my mind," I laughed. "Amazing!" I remembered how ridiculous the whole idea of the E-meter had seemed at the lecture several weeks earlier, and how we had laughed about it on the way home. For some reason, it didn't seem so silly now. The way Julie was explaining it, it seemed to make sense.
"Are you ready to get started?" Julie asked, motioning me to the chair across from her. She pulled several sheets of blank white paper and some pencils out of a small portfolio she had been carrying, and set them on the table to the right of the E-meter.
"Sure. What do I do?" I could feel that adventure lay ahead, and I was eager to get started.
"Just hold the cans in your hands in your lap. Don't move them if you can help it. I am going to ask you some questions about yourself, and we'll just see what happens."
"Now," she gazed at me intently, glancing down every few moments at the meter dial, "Tell me more about your anxiety attacks."
"Well, they started about a year ago, right after Bill died. I was just walking along the street one day when I began to feel this awful feeling of terror. It seemed to start in my stomach. I just had this feeling of terror, like something terrible was going to happen. I was too scared to move. I just stood there. Finally it went away. But it's been happening more and more.... I don't know, I seem to be afraid of something, but I don't know what it is."
"OK," Julie said, "that's fine." She was writing rapidly on the paper as she spoke. "You had a read on the phrase `a feeling of terror.' So that's what we are going to run."
"Run?" Another word used in an unfamiliar way.
"Oh, that just means that we are going to use a Dianetics technique to take this feeling of terror back to its root. Once we get to the earliest time you had this feeling, and you are able to reexperience that earliest incident, then the feeling should go away and never bother you again."
"How do you know if it's the earliest incident?" I wanted to know.
"I can tell by the E-meter. The needle moves in a certain way when you have reached the earliest incident. Now, let's get started." Julie continued to adjust the knobs on the meter.
Then she looked at me and said loudly, "Locate an incident containing a feeling of terror."
"All right," I thought back. "Yesterday. Just before the recital. I started to experience fear. I had the feeling that something awful was going to happen."
"OK," Julie responded. "What was the date of the incident?"
"Yesterday," I answered.
"All right, what was the duration of the incident?"
I thought back. "It only lasted a few minutes. About fifteen minutes."
"OK. Close your eyes. Go to the beginning of the incident and scan through it to the end. Then tell me what happened."
I closed my eyes and followed her instructions. I could "see" yesterday's events very clearly in my mind.
"All right. I'm there." I described the event to her.
"Now, is the incident erasing or growing more solid?" she asked.
"It seems to be more solid," I said with my eyes still closed.
"All right. Now I'm going to ask you if there is an earlier incident containing a feeling of terror."
"Well, yes. I had that feeling last week during a class." With my eyes still closed I began to visualize the classroom.
"OK. Now move to the beginning of that incident," Julie commanded. Then she asked me the same questions about the date and duration of the "incident." Again, at her commands I could clearly visualize the classroom. The familiar feeling of terror started its spread from my stomach to the other parts of my body. I was beginning to have a familiar feeling of panic.
"Is it getting more solid?" Julie inquired softly.
"I think so. I'm starting to feel really scared."
"OK. Now think back and see if you can find the earliest time you had this feeling of terror."
With my eyes closed, I looked into the blackness, trying to follow Julie's command.
"I don't see anything," I said honestly.
"OK. Just relax and see if anything comes to your mind. It doesn't have to make sense. Just anything at all. Look for the earliest time you felt terror."
Suddenly in my mind, I saw the picture of a foot. A tiny foot. Then a hand. "Well, I see a foot. It doesn't make any sense. I just see this little foot. And a hand. And I feel scared. I don't know what's happening." I looked anxiously into the darkness, wanting to see more.
"All right. Go to the beginning of the incident and tell me when you are there."
"I'm there," I said uncertainly.
"Scan through to the end of the incident and tell me what happened."
"Well, I see this little foot and this hand and it's pulling the foot. It's holding this baby upside down and spanking it. It's a baby that's just been born. And I feel scared. Really scared. I feel like I don't know what's happening."
Julie looked at me expectantly, but in silence.
"That's me, isn't it? That was me in the picture. I was being born. And I was scared." I opened my eyes and looked across at Julie, wanting some kind of confirmation. But she just continued to look at me as if she was expecting something else. But what? I closed my eyes again.
Then I noticed that the terror inside me was subsiding, and I felt myself slipping into a state of deep relaxation. The picture started to fade away into the darkness, getting smaller and smaller. Then something unexpected started to happen. I opened my eyes and looked straight at Julie. Suddenly I started to laugh. For no reason I just started laughing as if I had just heard the world's funniest joke. The laughter seemed to come from deep inside me, and I couldn't stop it.
Julie just sat there, looking at me, with a fixed expression, unsmiling, apparently not sharing any of my mysterious mirth.
After I had sobered up, Julie continued to stare at me and then said solemnly, "I'd like to indicate that your needle is floating. This is the end of the session. You can put down the cans."
"That's it? That's all there is to it? You mean my anxiety attacks are cured?"
"Well, you just have to wait and see. There might be other feelings involved. Just wait and see," Julie answered as she turned off the meter. She folded up the sheets of paper and started packing everything away. "Now I want to take you over to the center. Come on. You have to see the Examiner." We drove to an older house not far from the university. I still had a lingering feeling of elation from the mysterious session.
As we walked in the house, I was directed to a small room off to the right. A sign over the door said, "Examiner." In the middle of the room was a table with an E-meter already set up in the middle of it. A young boy of about high school age was sitting at the table and he motioned for me to take the chair across from him.
"Pick up the cans," he commanded as he looked at the meter and adjusted the knobs. Then he looked across at me and said solemnly, "Thank you. Your needle is floating. You can put down the cans." Then he smiled. "You have to come and see the Examiner after every session," he explained, seeing my obvious confusion.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because, if your needle isn't floating or if the tone arm is reading too high," he said pointing to one of the larger knobs on the meter, "then you might have to go directly into a Review session. To correct what went wrong in your session. That's all. But you are fine. Your needle was floating all over the dial."
He looked at me with satisfaction. Then he got up and I went out to rejoin Julie in the hallway. The boy handed Julie a piece of paper and quickly disappeared into another room.
"Come on. I want you to meet everyone."
We walked into the living room where several people were sitting as if they were waiting for something. It reminded me of the reception area in a doctor's office.
Julie introduced me to an older woman who was seated at a desk piled high with papers.
"This is Rita," Julie said as the woman smiled at me. "She's the director of the center." Then she looked over toward several people sitting on some sofas in the center of the room. They all seemed to be about my age or a little older.
"Margery just had her first session," Julie announced triumphantly.
"Oh, wow. That's great. Congratulations," several of them came over to me and hugged me and shook my hand.
"I can tell just by looking at you that it was a success," the older woman beamed at me as she got up and took me by the hand. "Now come and I'll show you around the center. We'll have to get you signed up for the Communication Course."
"The Communication Course?" But my question was lost as she began to introduce me around. There were more hugs. I felt like an honored guest. I responded to their friendly smiles and warm congratulations. I had never seen so many apparently happy people. They could all have been on drugs, but their eyes were clear and direct, and they had a relaxed alertness that seemed to belie any drug involvement.
Julie told me that we had to get a "C/S" before she could audit me further.
She explained that someone called the Case Supervisor had to look over the notes she had taken during our session, and write down for Julie the instructions for our next session. This written page of instructions was called a "C/S."
She explained that the other people in the living room were either auditors or their "preclears" and that they were also waiting for a "C/S" before they could resume auditing.
"Look," Julie told me. "I have some work I need to do. Why don't you stop back around seven tonight and we'll see what's next? I'll meet you right by the front door."
"OK. Thanks." As I walked toward the front door, I saw a small poster hanging in the hall that had a picture of Earth done in crayons, and black lettering below that said, "What would you be doing if there were only seven days left until the end of the world?"
"Strange," I thought, but quickly dismissed it from my mind.
As I walked home, it seemed to me that everything was a bit brighter. I seemed to be unusually alert, noticing the bright, metallic colors of the cars parked along the street, and the unusual vividness of the leaves on the trees. I had smoked marijuana a few times at parties, and this seemed curiously similar to the heightened perceptions I had when "high" on grass. Everything just looked more vivid.
When I got home, I went in the bathroom and looked into the mirror. Something caught my attention. Suddenly I felt a rush of euphoria as I looked at myself in the mirror. A thought was forming somewhere deep in my mind, making its way to the surface like a bubble.
"That's not me," the thought made me simultaneously confused and elated. My mind was racing ahead as I tried to grope for some sort of mental order. "That's not me." Again I looked into the mirror, into my own eyes.
"That's my body. But it's not me. I am different. They're right. I'm not my body, I'm something else. I am different than my body." Then I felt an explosion all around me. It seemed as if the walls had just exploded all around me. I looked around. Nothing had moved. What was that explosion? This was wild!
I decided to go back to the house. I needed to talk to someone. Something was happening to me.
As I walked I noticed that the colors around me were still unusually bright. And I still had the feeling of euphoria. I was feeling like at any moment I could explode into a million tiny particles.
I walked up the steps and into the house. I found Rita talking to someone in the living room. She saw me, and quickly came over.
"What is it?" She put her hand on my arm.
"I'm not sure. I just had a very strange experience." I told her about the colors and the brightness I had observed on the way home, and then my thoughts as I looked into the mirror and the strange explosion.
"OK. You need to go in and see the Examiner again and tell him exactly what you have just told me. It's OK," she looked at me reassuringly and smiled. "Don't worry. This has happened to other people. You're just going a little faster than usual, that's all."
She didn't seem to be alarmed.
I was again seated at the table with the young boy, and I repeated what I had told Rita, feeling somewhat embarrassed.
He was writing down notes as I was talking. Then, after staring for a long time at the E-meter dial, he finally looked up at me and said with an expressionless face, "Your needle is floating. You can go and wait in the living room."
So I went and sat in a chair on the far side of the room. The other people in the room seemed to be absorbed in reading or in quiet, private conversations, so I just sat there, wondering what I was waiting for.
Half an hour later, the young boy appeared in the doorway. He held a manila folder in his hand. Then very loudly, he shouted out, "That's it! Margery has just attained the state of keyed out Clear!"
Suddenly the room came to life. At once, everyone was looking at me, and clapping. They were all smiling.
"Speech, speech!" they were shouting while the clapping turned rhythmical. "Well," I stammered, crimson from all the unexpected attention, "I feel really good. I'm not sure what has happened to me, but I feel great."
The clapping continued. Finally, Rita's voice came from the doorway. "OK, everyone. That's it. You can go back to your reading."
The clapping stopped as suddenly as it had started and everyone turned back to their activities. Julie had appeared in the room with Rita. They were both laughing as they came up to me. I must have looked very confused.
"What in the world is keyed out Clear?" I managed to ask them.
"It means," Julie replied, "it means that you have just temporarily achieved the state of Clear. Sometimes the reactive mind moves out of the way temporarily and you actually feel like you would if you were Clear. I can't believe this happened to you after just one session!"
"Margery," Rita saw that I was still confused, "the only way to really get Clear is to do all the grades in Scientology that lead up to Clear." She led me over to a large chart on the wall, printed in red. It was labelled in big red letters at the top, "The Bridge to Total Freedom." There were rows of little boxes on the chart and I quickly understood that each level on the chart represented a different level in Scientology.
"You are here," Rita pointed to the lowest level, "and Clear is here," pointing to a level halfway up the chart. "You must do all these levels in between to become a real Clear. However, because you have achieved the state of keyed out Clear, I'm afraid that you can only be audited from now on by someone who is Clear or above," she motioned to the levels at the top of the chart.
"What about Julie?" I looked toward Julie who was standing there silently.
"She's not Clear, so she can't audit you here anymore. We don't have anyone here who is Clear yet, other than myself. I'm Clear, but I'm not tech-trained, so I can't audit you either."
"Then what am I supposed to do?" I was feeling even more confused.
"I'm afraid," Rita looked at me smiling broadly, "you're going to have to go to Los Angeles to continue your auditing. You have suddenly exceeded our ability to help you."
"I can't go to Los Angeles. I'm in school. Here." I looked helplessly at both of them.
"Margery," Julie said slowly, "you will just have to make a decision. You really don't know much about Scientology yet. It goes way beyond anything you can even imagine. Look at these top levels." She pointed to a level just above Clear.
"These are the OT levels. When you get to these levels you will achieve states of mind that before this time people have only dreamed about. And if you go to L.A. you can train to become an auditor yourself. This is just the beginning of a great adventure for you. There are no limits in this game. There is no problem that auditing can't handle."
"And besides," she continued, "didn't you tell me that you wanted to help people? Well, there isn't anything you can do that will make as much of a difference as becoming an auditor. This is the most powerful stuff in the whole world, in fact, in the whole universe. Just think about it."
I was dizzy. Los Angeles? I thought about the life I had here in Ann Arbor. Somehow things weren't the same. Somehow working in the coffee house and going to classes seemed pretty dull compared with the events I had experienced in the past two days. This was an adventure. What did I have to lose? If it didn't work out I could always come back.
I made a decision. I looked up at Rita and Julie.
"OK. I'm going. I'm going to L.A."
"All right!," Julie grabbed me in a big hug. "This kid's gonna go Clear!"
"OK," said Rita. "We're going to have to make some phone calls. Let's get busy." She looked at me proudly. "You have a wonderful adventure ahead of you. I promise you, you will never be the same again."
She would never know how true those words were to be.