Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
As I write this pre-preface, I can't help but reflect on how my personal philosophy of life, ethics, and fair play have evolved over the years. I have probably been involved in enough practices of various sorts to keep a small roomful of people busy for the majority of their lives. Not that I am especially proud of my uncanny inability to stick with one religion for my entire life (as would the so-called "normal" human being). Rather I see my path in life as one of convergence and integration. A path that demands that I find the common threads running through the philosophies to which mankind subscribes and try to make sense of the whole picture, without the trappings of any particular dogma. When I am asked to accept "facts" which do not arise from logic and common sense, I instinctively begin looking for the hidden agenda behind those "facts" and whose cause is being served by such blind faith.
If my travels have taught me anything at all, it's that individuals must be free to accept, explore, espouse, and promote whatever beliefs their heart tells them are important. I also believe that in order to claim that right for myself, I must be equally willing to extend the same right to others. In the some two and one-half years that I have known Nick Broadhurst (see this article), I have realized that in a way I had subconsciously taken on the role of the oppressor with respect to my stand on Scientology. To be sure, there were some oppressive acts perpetrated by some members of the organization. There were some pretty opressive people associated with the Church at the time I was a member and just after I "graduated" (note that I am consciously avoiding the word "suppressive", as that is an overused term in this whole debate). For all I know, there may still be oppressive acts taking place at this very moment in the name of the Church. If so, let us take on the organization on those points alone, and not on the issue of the content of their beliefs. Bottom line, the members of the organization have just as much of a right to exist and practice their beliefs as do you or I. You certainly don't hear the Dali Lama going around condemning the beliefs of the nation who took away his homeland. Why should I toss rocks at a system that, admittedly, helped to make me what I am today?
For that reason, I am deleting those parts of my essay below which I no longer feel are relevant to the issue of whatever oppressive acts on the part of the Church of Scientology may or may not have been performed in the past and/or may or may not be going on in the present. Anyone who is genuinely interested in reading the original text should contact me privately, and include enough data about yourself and your interest in this subject that I can adequately assure myself that you are not likely to be offended by the content. (As an aside, I explicitly do NOT grant permission to anyone to republish, mirror, or otherwise distribute the contents of this page in it's current or prior forms.)
And the genuinely astute will notice that the name of the page has been changed. This is at the request of someone whom I have grown to respect and who is genuinely offended by the use of the word under which this page was originally published. The word was useful at the time, if for no other reason than to draw readers to my page due to the controversy surrounding the very word itself. The controversy has long since grown cold, the shock value of the word is no longer as important as it once was, and it is more important to me that my page inform readers than it is that it offend readers. If the hard-core critics want to take me to task for this decision, so be it.
And, lest the rumor mill start conjuring stories of how I was coerced by the threat of lawsuit (or worse), let me assure you all that no such suit exits -- the text of this page has stood pretty much unchallenged for nearly seven years. And my provider in Japan actually stood their ground in regards to my right to publish the parody image of Hubbard's face on a generic female torso. So I am certain, at least in my own mind and heart, that I am not caving in to the coersive tactics for which the Church of Scientology has become infamous.
I guess the bottom line is that I have never been particularly fond of religious wars and that is exactly what this has become, despite all the disclaimers to the contrary which were laced throughout my article. Eventually I intend to replace this page with one dedicated to telling my version of what Scientology is all about and explaining how those "common threads" of human religious experience run through this religion just as they do nearly every other religion. Of course, Nick cringes when I talk about my plans, as likely would some of my occult friends. But hey... Truth is truth -- you recognize it when it hits you on the side of the head and, for those who feel the 'whack' when they read my page, more power to them.
Love is the law, love under will.
In the interest of free speech and fair play, I have offered to publish the following rebuttal written by a very interesting gentleman from the Church of Scientology. In contrast to the sometimes lame "good roads and fair weather" posts that some Scientologists have been known to make on the newsgroups, this letter is well thought out and from the heart. I can vouch for that after having met with the author several times over the past few weeks.
Before reading any further, I would like to point out that what I have written below is based partly on personal experience and partly on speculation and assumption. Where the personal experience comes to bear on the subject, I make no apology for what I have said. However, some of the more speculative generalizations were written out of expediency and, admittedly, sometimes for the sheer shock value of the concepts themselves.
I intend to make another pass through this material sometime soon but right now I really don't have time to do it justice. Instead, please keep the following points in mind as you read this:
I am a strong believer that the actions of one member of a group should not necessarily be generalized as the policy of the group in general. I am constantly offended by news reports of "occult crime" where the real situation is simply that some loner went off the deep end, killed someone, and painted a pentagram on the wall because he thought it was cool.
If the abuses committed against individual rights by the Church in the past were indeed the result of a small group of "cloak and dagger" nuts operating independantly, and if this organizational cancer has indeed been routed out and handled, and if the organization is indeed maturing to the point that they no longer equate "stamping out incorrect application of Scientology technology" with "stamping out anyone who disagrees with Scientology technology", then the technology may be working after all and these guys may well deserve another look.
A comments section has been added to this page. You may now leave comments related to this page without having to sign my guestbook. I especially encourage anyone who has recently left the organization to add their comment or write me privately with your reasons. Thanks.
In what seems to me to have been a previous lifetime, I was involved in the Church of Scientology. I am no longer affiliated with the organization and have managed to steer clear of the maylay between the Church and it's critics for many years. Back in 1996 I was informed of the Church's efforts to supress information on the internet. I constructed a critical page of my own complete with personal opinions and links to other critics. While I have nothing against those who would be vocally critical of Scientology, I always felt that the page, as worded, didn't really express the full complexity of my opinions on the subject.
Having been both an apologist and a critic of the organization over the years, I have developed what I think is a rather unique point of view on the subject. I am sure that fanatics on both sides of the ongoing debate will probably figure that I've sold out to the enemy but I really don't care. All of my accumulated experience in various religious groups has brought me to the point where I formulated the motto: "Stamp out stamping out". This phrase is meant to refer directly to a well-known Scientology text which appears as the first page of every course offered by the organization. The text to which I refer is essentially a call to arms for every Scientologist to do their level best to "stamp out" (destroy) any and all non-Scientology ways of thinking. The trouble is, those who would oppose the Church's beliefs often take the same one-sided view in their efforts to rid the world of what they percieve as a public menace.
After I left the organization, I floated around among the ranks of those who, for one reason or another, had either defected or had been tossed out for criticizing the newly installed leadership. I managed during that time to see documentation of some pretty shady operations and became convinced that the organization was indeed even more corrupt than the majority of its critics ever realized. But, despite that fact, I still held firm my own belief in the workability of what I had learned as both a Scientologist and as a certified Dianetic Auditor.
Eventually, it all came together for me when I realized that one must separate out the various parts of the whole and give each the thorough examination it deserves. I speak, of course, of: (a) the organization, (b) its current leaders, (c) the philosophy, (d) the technology, (e) the membership, and (f) the founder himself, L Ron Hubbard. I will attempt to expound briefly my opinion of each in the following sections.
The organization known as Scientology, at the time I was there, was a well-oiled example of operational efficiency. Companies could do worse than to study and use some of the ideas found in Scientology's "Organization Executive Course". Of course, as with all Scientology principles, these ideas were taught and held as absolutes, generally resulting in a mindlessly draconian atmosphere in which individual innovation was all but squashed. Hubbard managed to install a hectic statistic-based management system over the top of a win-or-die-in-the-process attitude that practically forbid anyone from stopping for longer than it took to take a crap.
Some day I'll probably write some simple summaries of those management principles I found most useful -- some of which I occasionally use to this day in my personal life. But for now the point I would like to make is that often the reaction one sees coming from the Church is really more the result of zealous middle-managers blindly applying what they have studied in their executive courses than of any malicious intent on the part of the individuals involved. Of course, there are always exceptions.
The original "leaders" of Scientology have all left, died, or been tossed out. The current "leadership" consists mostly of young folks who were pretty much raised on Scientology their entire lives. For them, there is no other way of thinking so it only stands to reason that they would view anything other than compliance with the principles they hold most dear as an attack on their personal freedoms. And why not? They're certainly welcome to believe whatever they want without our interference. Just so long as they stay out of our individual and collective ways.
What I said in the section above about malicious intent, however, does not hold true (in my opinion) for the leaders of the Church. They know damn well what they're doing to people's lives. For the most part, since Hubbard's death, they seem to make their own rules. They have a vested interest in the continuance of the Church in its present form, since none of them would be able to find and/or hold jobs in the real world. Remember, too, that these are the people who expelled those who may have been Scientology's last hope for real reform.
The primary philosophy of Scientology is that every being is essentially a spiritial entity and that these flesh bodies we push around are no more "us" than our cars are "us" when we're driving them. This is not a new concept. It can be found in most Eastern esoteric religions. Whether it's true or not is debatable. But when accepted as a concept, it allows us to build a workable structure of therapy which is not dependant on whether the original premise is or is not actually true.
From this original premise, stem all sorts of further principles, on which I will eventually write small blurbs. For now, one can understand much of Scientology's system by realizing that, as spiritual beings using a meat-based body as a vehicle, the ultimate freedom would be the freedom from continual re-incarnation. And that is something that, if accomplished, would transcend our limited notions of time and space -- rendering moot both the laws of the physical universe and the laws compiled by human society. And, beyond that, to help the entire world achieve this ultimate freedom is considered sufficient excuse to bend every rule of society that gets in the way of achieving that very goal. While the ends, in reality, never justify the means, the utopian lure of such unlimited freedom is hard for most people to resist.
The process which Scientology calls "auditing" is a powerful method for looking into the dark crevices of the mind. Essentially, the process consists of a trusting subject accepting and answering questions/commands from the practitioner, called an "auditor". These days, there is also an electronic instrument called an "E-meter" involved, which measures the dynamic changes in the impedance of the body as the questions/commands are called off. But it's not the E-meter that makes all this work, It's the trust the subject places in his auditor that allows him to drop the usual protective shell around the inner depths of his mind and helps him to rummage around and find the stuff which has been affecting his thoughts and actions from behind the scenes for years.
The members of the Church of Scientology are, for the most part, people who saw a technology that they could use to help themselves and their friends become better able to control their lives and they decided to follow the call. I suppose there are a few who joined because they wanted to control the world -- there's a few of those in every group. And I suppose Scientology has more than its share of weak-minded fodder who say "yes" to every random salesman that knocks on their door without a clue as to what they're getting into. But, with very rare exceptions, Scientology's exit door is open to anyone who dares give it a try. I saw few instances of members who were there against their will. Nonetheless, the Church has, in my opinion, engaged in coercive tactics to keep high-ranking and/or overly vocal members from leaving.
This too, in general, starts out with the best of intentions. Since most of the members of the Church believe that Scientology holds the keys to ultimate freedom, it's not hard to convince them that putting every roadblock in the way of a friend's departure from the organization is a noble gesture. Even so, except for certain cases which are politically sensitive for the Church leadership, anyone who wants to leave can ultimately walk away clean.
It's hard to say when the stated will of an individual to follow a particular path stems from their own choice and when it might have been a choice made under duress. Lacking the presnece of handcuffs and/or electric fences, my take is that we should accept the word of the individual involved and stay the heck out of their way. After all, that's how we would each like to be treated. Suppose your particular flavor of Southern Baptist religion came under fire and suddenly your family and friends decided to have you kidnapped to get you away from their "influence". You'd be furious. But because Scientology has a bad rap (despite how well it may be deserved) and Southern Baptism a lot of influential members, those kind of incidents, when perpetrated against a member of Scientology, either go unreported or ignored. Whose business is it of ours anyway to determine what is the "wrong" religion for someone else?
Scientology claims to have millions of members. It's rumored that there are no where near the number of members they claim. In fact, after the big purge in the 1980s when David Miscavage took over, I doubt it's grown much at all. But nobody really knows. Anyone who's ever so much as taken a 1-day seminar is on record as a member, even if they never showed up again. And nobody has access to the real figures. Personally, I think even 10,000 would be a gross exaggeration.
Elsewhere on this site, I have spoken on the subject of freedom. The right of every individual to follow their chosen path (whether that be the path called Scientology, the path called Thelema, or the path called Christianity) is something that we must protect and nurture at all costs.
But freedom means little if the available options from which one may choose are artificially limited. The basic right of humans to exchange ideas with each other without interference from those who "know what's best for you" is an essential part of establishing a true Thelemic society. The right of each individual to freely speak his mind on any subject whatsoever must be preserved at all costs, for thought is the precursor to action and once we allow thought to be censored, control of action cannot be far behind.
Nonetheless, there are those forces that would seek to supress the free exchange of opinions in order to further their own ends (or to protect their respective behinds). In the interest of freedom, these efforts must be exposed for what they are -- not for the purpose of supressing contrary opinions (for that would defeat the very freedom we seek) but so that the Light of Truth might prevail.
I discovered back around 1995 that the Church had become involved in an all-out attack against certain vocal netizens, their service providers, and the Internet in general. Their pretense is protection of copyrighted materials and trade secrets. Such a claim would be legitimate if their attacks were limited to the unauthorized publication of the aforesaid protected materials. However, from reading the history of actions taken by the Church, it seems very clear to me that their intention was to supress the growing anti-Scientology sentiment among netizens at any cost.
In defense of free speech and of the right of each individual to make their own views available via the "Information Superhighway", I originally listed some of the relevant critical pages here but over the years, many of the links have either changed or have disappeared entirely. However, below are a few of the key pieces of the puzzle. I know there is little organization to what I am presenting here but that simply reflects my lack of interest in the whole affair. Simply put, I moved on and got myself a life.
It seems the Church of Scientology has a new weapon in their battle to supress free speech. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires ISPs to remove alleged copyrighted material from their servers in response to a simple complaint (no due process involved). This site, too, has been the target of such attacks. My US-based provider (best.com) never even gave me a heads-up before blocking access to my web account. For that reason, I removed everything that even hinted at copyrighted works from these web sites.
Later, they came after my provider in Japan (gol.com). To their credit, the staff got in contact with me and kept me appraised of the status of the complaint. In the end, the legal folks at Exodus (gol.com's parent company) stood their ground and allowed the page to stand as-is on the basis of "fair use".
The culprit, as it turns out, was not the content of the page at all but one silly picture of Hubbard's face mounted... shall we say... in a compromising position. A nice fellow (Nick) from the OSA (the replacement for the now-defunct Guardian's Office) called me up and we met over lunch. Not only was he non-confrontational about the whole thing, but he asked very politely -- twice -- if I would mind: (a) changing the picture, and (b) giving the page another read-over to catch a few generalities that he pointed out.
Well... Request (a) was easy. I found something that fits the general intent and demenor of the page much better than what was there before and is less likely to draw enemy fire. The second part of the request I may or may not take up over the next few weeks. It will be a good chance to unload a few more of my odd opinions on the unsuspecting masses. As I stare at the page source, I see a substantial section which is not published to the public site that should be cleaned up and published sometime soon -- stay tuned...
For me, Scientology was one of the formative systems on which much of my subsequent exploration into matters spiritual has been based. As such, I would rather see the philosophy and the technology preserved in some form for others who may follow along behind me. But I also despise the idea of suppression of information -- especially when it pertains to someone or some group doing things they ought not be doing. I know the organization known as Scientology was involved in a lot of shady things. I'd like those actions to one day become public knowledge so that the natural forces of public opinion and individual choice can come to bear on them enough that the group can begin to see the value of conformance with generally accepted social behavior.
I would also like to see the individuals responsible for ordering and carrying out illegal acts on behalf of the Church brought to justice. At the same time, I hope that those who oppose the Church as a result of these acts realize that the vast majority of Scientologists are only doing what they have been brought to belive is the right thing and that, short of keeping them out of our own affairs, we have no right really to interfere with what they choose to believe.
It's a mighty tough fence to walk...
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