The comments section has been removed as a result of some miscreant spammers who think they can use this site as their own personal billboard. In reality, the comments page was made read-only years ago when I tired of manually removing bogus comments from spammers. It's unfortunate that the many have to be inconvenienced by the selfish few but, until I can implement a bulletproof comment mechanism, you'll just have to send me your thoughts in an email.
I have added a Questions and Answers page to this site. There isn't much there yet, but I have some stuff that should be posted soon. Write me if you have any specific questions you would like to see addressed on this page.
In what seems to me to have been a previous lifetime, I was a member of the Church of Scientology. I was affiliated with the organization for a number of years, trained and interned as a Dianetic Auditor, and eventually wound up working for the now-infamous Guardian's Office. One of my last official assignments took me to Saint Hill, Scientology's worldwide headquarters in East Grinstead, England. I am no longer affiliated with the organization and have somehow managed, for the most part, to steer clear of the maylay between the Church and it's critics for many years.
Back in 1996 I became aware of apparent efforts on the part of the Church of Scientology to supress it's critics on the Internet. I constructed a critical page of my own complete with personal opinions and links to a number of other critical sites. While I have nothing against those who chose to be vocally critical of Scientology, I always felt that my page, as it was originally worded, didn't accurately express the full complexity of my personal opinions on the subject of Scientology.
Having been both an apologist for and a critic of the organization over the years, I have developed what I think is a rather unique point of view on the whole subject. I am sure that fanatics on both sides of the ongoing debate will probably figure that I've "sold out" to the other side but at this point I don't much care what anyone else thinks. All of my accumulated experience in various religious groups has brought me to the point where I have formulated a personal 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 training course offered by the organization.
The text to which I refer is called "Keeping Scientology Working". The article is essentially an instruction to Scientologists to "accept no substitutes" (to borrow an overused marketing phrase). However, at least during the time I was a member, this article was all too often interpreted as a call to arms for every Scientologist to do their level best to "stamp out" (ie: destroy) any and all non-Scientology ways of thinking.
Recently I was contacted by a very interesting and level-headed gentleman from the Office of Special Affairs (OSA) of the Church of Scientology. The OSA, for all practical purposes, has taken the place of the disbanded Guardian's Office. The OSA is the part of the organization tasked with handling critics. According to my OSA contact, the harmful acts perpetrated in the name of the Church were actually initiated and carried out by a handful of "bad apples" who have since been removed from any position of authority in the organization. To be quite honest, I have no hard evidence in my posession that the Church is currently employing threats, "dirty tricks," or other questionable actions against it's critics (I would be happy to listen to anyone who believes they do have hard evidence of ongoing abuses on the part of the Church of Scientology). But lacking such evidence, the best I can do is to shed some light on historical events of which I do have personal experience in the hopes that abuses cannot continue unchecked out of sheer apathy or fear of reprisal.
You see, there is no doubt in my mind that some very harmful actions have occured in the past and have been justified by some Scientologists who believed that the protection of the Church was more important than the privacy and freedom of the individuals involved. However, the past is the past and organizations can and often do change over time as they mature. I am a also strong believer that the actions of a small handful of members of a group cannot always be generalized as being the policy of the group as a whole. To cite an example closer to home, I often find myself personally offended by news reports of "occult crime" which directly or indirectly implicate practitioners of my own religion when, in reality, the real situation is simply that some loner went off the deep end, killed someone, and then painted a pentagram on the wall because he thought it looked cool. If we are to criticize a group for the actions of it's members, we should at least make sure there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the actions are the direct result of organizational policy.
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 philosophy", then the technology may well be working after all and these guys deserve another look.
For all these reasons, and in the interest of free speech and fair play, I have offered to publish the following rebuttal written by my OSA contact, Nick Broadhurst. In contrast to the sometimes lame "good roads and fair weather" (or the equally lame: "I'm a member of Scientology and I've never seen anything like what you're saying") messages that some Scientologists have been known to post on the newsgroups, this letter is actually well thought out and from the heart. I can vouch for that after having met personally with the author many times over the past several years.
Before reading any further, please allow me 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. In this most recent edit I have made every attempt to identify and/or weed out those purely speculative accusations which I cannot support with evidence or experience.
To those Scientologists who may read this page and think "that's just not how it is in the Church today", all I can say is: "What's true for you is what's true for you." Nothing I say should substitute for your own experience. If your experience in the organization is all positive, well done... Continue. In fact, I would guess that the vast majority of the rank-and-file members of the group really are there for an honorable reason. Just realize that those who have left also left for a reason and they should be granted the same rights you claim for yourself. If both sides of this apparent "War" would simply stop to realize this one fundamental principle, the active critics would probably all move on to more interesting pastimes and all this nonsense would stop.
In the process of writing and re-writing this page several times since it first saw publication in 1996, the length of the text has grown beyond that which I can comfortably call "one web page". Some of the comments therein are still worth preserving and serve to illustrate the thinking process which has led to the page you're now reading. I am instituting a new history page to house the overflow text. The history page is less about the subject of Scientology than it is about my own thoughts and feelings surrounding my role as a self-appointed "critic" of the Church and how that fits in with the rest of my life philosophy. The history page is a work in progress and thus will not be available at the same time this page is updated. Stay tuned.
When I first wrote this page in 1996, I had just heard of apparent attempts on the part of the Church to silence it's critics on the Internet, even when the criticism was legitimate. My first page was very vitriolic and did little other than serve as one more loud voice refusing to be silenced. While that made me feel a bit smug for a while, I later realized that the Internet community would be better served if I simply wrote down what my honest opinion was at the time and trust the reader to be smart enough to sort out the wheat from the chaff, as it were. After all, when I first became a member of the Church, I sought out all the information I could find, both positive and negative, weighed the various opinions, and made up my own mind. As it turns out this is, in fact, a variation on what I later discovered is the "standard technology" for resolving any situation of personal doubt. Of course, for this to happen honestly, there must be various opinions and facts available to those doing the research.
Eventually, things seemed to fall in place for me when I realized that in order to completely understand Scientology one must first 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 leaders, (c) the philosophy, (d) the technology, (e) the membership, and (f) the founder himself, L Ron Hubbard. I will attempt to briefly expound on each in the sections that follow.
The organization known as Scientology, at the time I was there, was a well-oiled example of organizational 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.
Nearly all Scientologists, at least when I was around, seemed to believe that their existance on this planet was the only thing that stood between utopia and nuclear anihilation. Looking at things from this perspective, it's not too hard to see how the group (as a whole) might tend to focus more on the attainment of the goals of the group than on the sanctity of the individual. After all, if millions of lives are at stake, what's one or two casualties along the way?
Of course, those looking in from the outside realize that this attitude really stems from an over-inflated sense of self importance. No goal is worth leaving an endless chain of trampled individuals in your wake. The point is that often the actions and reactions which we see coming from the Church are too often the result of zealous middle-managers blindly applying what they have studied in their executive courses rather than of any malicious intent on the part of the individuals involved. Of course, there are always exceptions.
Someday I may write some simple summaries of those Scientology management principles I found most useful -- some of which I occasionally use to this day in my personal life. For now perhaps just knowing the attitude from which most Scientology policy stems is enough to help understand why things are as they are today.
The original "leaders" of Scientology have all left, died, or been tossed out. Those who assumed "leadership" of the Church in the early and mid 1980's (the period of greatest upheaval) consisted mostly of young folks who were pretty much raised on Scientology their entire lives. For them, there was no other way of thinking so it only stands to reason that they would view anything besides literal compliance with the principles they hold most dear as an attack on their personal freedoms. And why not? That's really all they knew.
What I said in the section above about lack of malicious intent does not, in my humble opinion, hold true for the leaders of the Church. They knew damn well what they were doing to people's lives. They generally seemed to make their own rules. They certainly had a vested interest in the continuance of the Church in its current form, since none of them would likely 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.
I am told that at least some of these so-called "leaders" were themselves tossed out later. I am also told that the current leadership of the Church (as of 2003) is no longer involved in cloak-and-dagger assaults on those who don't agree with the Church and it's actions. Maybe so. It's been quite a while since I've heard reports of abuse at the hands of Scientology. Let's hope the reform is real and that the leaders of the Church have finally realized that they can accomplish more through peaceful co-existance than through threats and bullying.
The ironic thing is that most of the anti-Scientology criticism I've seen can be directly attributed to actions on the part of the Church itself. If there is any group that should be expected to understand the basic principle that "what you resist is what you get", it would be the Scientologists. Funny how somehow basic principles go out the window when the perceived "threat" begins to hit close to home.
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 more a matter of belief than science. But once accepted as a concept, it does allow us to build a workable structure of therapy which is no longer dependent on whether the original underlying premise is or is not actually true.
From this original premise stem all sorts of further principles, on which I will eventually write smaller sub-articles. For now, one can understand much of the Scientology system by realizing that, as spiritual beings using this 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 allow us to transcend our limited notions of time and space -- rendering moot both the laws of the physical universe and the laws compiled by human society.Moreover, to help the entire world achieve this ultimate freedom is considered sufficient excuse to bend any and every rule of society that gets in the way of achieving that ultimate goal. While the ends, in reality, never justify the means, the utopian lure of such unlimited freedom is hard for most people to resist.
At first glance, it seems odd to many people that a religious organization has a "technology". But once you realize that "technology" is nothing more than applied science and that science can (and often does) involve looking deeply into the causes of things, then it's really not so odd after all. I separate the philosophy and the technology of Scientology because Hubbard himself did [maybe someone who has access to the materials please find me the reference]. Hubbard said at one point that it didn't really matter whether the principles upon which the technology was based were actually true or not. What mattered is that if you did "A" then "B" would reliably follow. So if "B" is your goal, then "A" is your path thereto. Simple, isn't it.
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 "auditor" (a practitioner of Scientology). 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.
Auditing can also be a very dangerous process when placed in the wrong hands. There are good reasons why the human mind tends to erect protective walls around certain areas. Some of these reasons include the ability to consciously inspect data from the outside world prior to embedding it in the subconscious. Another reason is that very few people are sufficiently tolerant to accept the unfiltered thoughts and beliefs of others. Part of the trust enjoyed by the best auditors revolves around the pledge the auditor takes not to reveal any part of what is said to him in session. Around the mid-80's or so, auditing sessions and the written records thereof seemed to be controlled more by the political needs of the Church than by the emotional needs of the members. When material disclosed under the seal of a confessional turns out to be used later to damage the reputation of someone the organization may feel is a threat (or to control someone via the threat of having the contents of their sessions made public) -- then I suppose the practice of Scientology auditing could be said to have already fallen into the wrong hands.
Now... that was a long time ago and this is now. Do today's Scientologists have to worry about where their auditing records (known as "folders") are going and who gets to see them? I really have no idea. I would like to believe that some degree of sanity has been restored to the group in that regard. After all, you can't expect someone to place his innermost secrets into the hands of his auditor unless he can trust the auditor to keep his confidence. For those who are already involved in the organization, a good test might be to request your complete set of auditing folders. There is really no technical reason why one should not be allowed to control their own auditing folders.
The vast majority of 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 possibly their friends and family) become better able to understand and control their lives and they decided to follow the call of service to mankind. There is no greater calling than this call of service to one's fellows. I suppose there may be 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 seem to 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 has always been open to anyone who dared give it a try. I saw few, if any, instances of members who were there against their will.
Nonetheless, the Church has, in the past, engaged in coercive tactics to keep high-ranking and/or overly vocal members from leaving. In general, this kind of thing 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 potential departure from the organization is a noble gesture. Here we're back to the question of ends versus means. And to a certain extent, those who have complained of coersion probably weren't completely convinced of their intentions anyway. As far as I know, anyone who really wants to leave the group can ultimately walk away clean.
One of the criticisms often levelled against Scientology is that they recruit people against their will. It's really 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 as to whether or not they are there of their own free will and simply stay the heck out of their way. After all, that's how we would each like to be treated. Suppose your unique flavor of Southern Baptist religion came under fire and suddenly your family and friends collectively decided to have you kidnapped in order to "save" you from the "bad influence" of the group. You'd probably be furious. And those that depended on you would probably also be furious (one of my personal auditors was once kidnapped by a well-known "deprogrammer" so I have first-hand experience here). But because Scientology has gotten 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 the Church of Scientology, either go unreported or ignored. Whose business is it of ours anyway to decide what is the "right" or "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. It's difficult to measure the size of the membership, since 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 outside the Church has access to the real figures. Personally, I don't think the number of members is a very good indication of the effectiveness of the technology anyway. I think history has shown us that sheer numbers do not determine right from wrong. Anyone contemplating membership in the Church of Scientology should look into their heart of hearts and decide whether the group is worthy of their support -- and simply ignore the numbers and all the Marketing nonsense.
Okay, so what could possibly be said about the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, that has not already been said. And what better way to make a target of yourself than to start espousing personal opinions about the founder of what is arguably one of the most controversial religions in history.
I never knew the man and nobody that I personally know can claim they really knew him, either. I have had the opportunity over the years to speak with a few members and ex-members who served under Hubbard but few of them ever saw anything other than the projected personna that came to be known as "LRH." So what I am about to write is really based more on pure conjecture than on actual fact or personal experience.
In the 40s and 50s, Hubbard was a writer of mediocre (pulp) science fiction. He was also apparently an avid reader (as one would expect from a prolific writer). At some point he met up with an occultist by the name of Jack Parsons. There are many opinions as to what happened during that period and I am not about to open up that can of worms. There are, however, a number of concepts expressed by Hubbard in the early years (most notably in the 1952 Philadelphia Doctorate Course lectures) that indicate the more-than-passing influence occultism had on Hubbard and his beliefs. I don't mention this as any sort of criticism. On the contrary, Hubbard probably would have been better off had he taken the time to completely understand the underlying principles of occult magick. It might be interesting to speculate about the effect Hubbard would have had on the OTO and Parson's group in Pasadena had he stuck around. But he didn't.
Hubbard was also a researcher. He liked tinkering with people. As far as I can tell from several "old timers" I've spoken to, the early years really were one of excitement, experimentation, and discovery. Dianetics, along with it's later offshoot, Scientology, really was the product of much research and discovery on the part of Hubbard and his early followers. And from what I've heard the early processes, as crude and unreliable as they may have been, were apparently quite effective in changing people's lives.
As time passed, Hubbard became more and more secluded and, in my opinion, out of direct touch with what was going on in the organization. In 1967 he issued a statement in which he claimed to have crossed what he called the "Wall of Fire", something he considered to be the biggest factor preventing the human population from achieving the spiritual freedom they deserved. It was not long after that when the "ethics policies" were issued (including those policies which were later used as justification for violating the rights of critics of the Church). It was also at that time that Hubbard decided to establish his own personal Navy (the Sea Organization), and the draconian atmosphere of "win or die in the process" first started to develop. There have been any number of theories as to why everything suddenly changed from an environment of excited research to one of deadly seriousness. One of my favorite speculative theories is that Hubbard never quite emerged from the "Wall of Fire" and that from that point on he was somewhat paranoid. Another theory is that around that same time others who had placed themselves between Hubbard and the "real world" started to take control of the organization for their own benefit. Whatever the reason, Scientology started slipping into it's own unique form of "dark ages", complete with it's own version of the Spanish Inquisition. This lasted pretty much up to the time of the great Mission Holder's Conference (ie: revolt) and the later expulsion of anyone who dared to question the decisions of the new leadership.
It's hard to believe that Hubbard himself didn't know what others in the group were doing in his name. After all, his own wife ran the Guardian's Office, the group arguably most responsible for the violations of personal freedom carried out in the name of the Church. His own "Commodore's Messengers Organization" was pretty much in charge of the remainder of the organization, as far as I can tell. I'll leave it up to the reader to determine how much Hubbard knew and how that stacks up against the legacy of technology he left in his wake. I'm pretty sure this is a topic that could be argued till the end of the Universe.
However, anyone taking a serious look at the volume of written and spoken output generated by this man Hubbard would have to conclude that there was at least a spark of genius shining through the old war stories. And despite what one may say about the organization's methods of handling it's critics, there are also a lot of people out there who genuinely feel they have been helped by techniques and ideas that flowed from the pen of this controversial man.
Hubbard is an enigma. Some would call him a god. Some would call him insane. I don't think I would agree with either of these extremes. I believe that genius breeds insanity. Everyone who could truly be called a "genius" was at least a little cracked in some way. And the closer to pure genius, the more cracked. It seems go with the territory. And don't discount the possibility that what looks like insanity to some of us may simply be thinking that goes so outside of the box that the rest of cannot even conceive of the box itself, let alone the thinking that takes one outside of it. I'm not saying that I believe Hubbard was that kind of genius -- but I also cannot ignore the fact that the techniques conceived by this man have helped so many. At least I wouldn't feel right ignoring that part of my experience just for the sake of prolonging a battle that should never have been fought in the first place.
So now Hubbard's dead. The circumstances surrounding his death were just as mysterious as were the last years of his life. His body was cremated before officials were even notified of his death. Apparently nobody, save for his two personal attendants, had even seen him for months (possibly years) before his death. Rumor was that he may have been dead for quite a while but that those who knew of his death witheld the information in order that they could solidify their positions prior to the announcement. In fact, what I observed while I was in the Guardian's Office could certainly be interpreted as a kind of "silent power struggle" as the Watchdog Committee, the GO, the Commodore's Messengers, Flag, the RTC, the Sea Org, and various other "upper management" factions of the organization jockeyed for authority over the other management groups. Of course, this is all conjecture and based only on observations made from completely outside the group. Maybe it was really just a clever defense against possible legal action (I've actually heard that explaination before). Maybe someday someone who was actually in the inner circle will come forward and explain all the confusing spider-web of cross-management. Maybe not.
One of Hubbard's contemporaries and an early formative contact, Jack Parsons, once wrote an essay entitled "Freedom is a Double-Edged Sword." In this essay Parsons points out that along with ultimate personal freedom comes ultimate personal responsibility. One cannot unilaterally claim freedom for oneself without being willing to grant that same freedom to others. There's a myriad of sayings like: "what comes around goes around", or "you reap what you sow", or "what's good for the goose is good for the gander". We intiutively know that our own right to exist, to enjoy life, and to express our opinions is a direct result of our own willingness to allow those same freedoms to others with whom we interact.
The only safeguard we have to ensure these hard-won freedoms survive is a constant vigilance that ensures that everyone unequivocally granted the rights we wish to preserve. Once we start down the slippery slope of "this speech [with which I happen to agree] is protected but this other speech [with which I may not agree] is not protected" -- well, at that point who do you put in charge of making the decisions. And then who do you put in charge of watching the watchers. It's a dangerous precedent that we cannot afford to put in place.
A quick tour of my web site will confirm that my religious beliefs are not quite in line with what one would consider the "norm" for a Westerner. I have seen some of the most ridiculous statements made about my religion. But unless the authors of these statements are causing measurable material harm to someone else, I have no choice but to allow the ignorant to speak their piece. After all, it's only my personal opinion that separates the truth from the bullshit. And who am I but just another dweeb like everyone else.
My point is that attempts to assert one's own viewpoint at the expense of silencing other viewpoints only serves to erode freedom of speech for all of us. Attempts to expose someone else's religion to ridicule for no reason other than it doesn't fit within commonly accepted "norms" only ends up exposing the bigotry from which such an attempt must necessarily stem.
The natural flow of the Universe is toward increased entropy. The casting of everyone into a single tightly-controlled mould is not natural. It takes the level of intolerance only found in the human race to try to destroy anything that doesn't conform to the average line of thinking. What we must keep in mind is that we wouldn't even exist as a race if it were not "natural" for life to constantly attempt to expand in new directions. It takes a very special kind of eternal vigilance to make sure the seeds of evolution are not trampled under the feet of the clueless masses.
Most of us know in out hearts that it's not right for a large organization to use their money and influence to destroy the lives of those who would speak out against their interests. But what we must also point out that it's just as wrong for someone who doesn't agree with what the organization teaches to just publish some of their most sacred material on a public forum for no purpose other than to hold it up to ridicule. And yet these kinds of things happen with surprising regularity. And yet we claim that we've advanced beyond the age of the crusades and the inquisitions. I'm not so sure any more.
A famous Buddhist saying goes something like: "If you see the Buddah on the road, kill him." Of course we should not interpret this literally, after all the original Buddah has been dead for centuries. The generally accepted interpretation, from everything I've read, is that eventually everyone must grow beyond the limitations of the system which has brought them to their enlightenment. One cannot continue to evolve spiritually being slavishly tied to one particular implementation of Truth.
That's not to say that everyone eventually moves on. There is also a lot to be said for those who choose to forgo their own advancement for the sake of helping others follow the path they themselves have already tread. But all the same, we should realize that Truth comes in layers. It's like climbing a very tall mountain. As each successive peak is conqured, the next peak makes itself known. In life, as we succeed in reaching we must have a new goal in mind in order to continue moving forward. So it is with spiritual advancement.
The ultimate goal for each of us, in order to reach out full potential, is to define our own unique ontology -- our own unique life paradigm. And then to live within that paradigm fully. In the terminology of the belief system which I currently follow, we call this "finding your own True Will." It's not something which is normally achieved in one lifetime. And it's not something one would be able to purchase for a fee or accidentally find in a book. This is because our own personal paradigm is as unique to us as we are to the Universe as a whole. We often find pieces of the puzzle lying about under various rocks or hidden in dark corners (in other words, in the context of organized religion). But ultimately it is our responsibility to pull all these threads together in the context of our own lives and to weave the tapestry of our lives.
It should not be viewed as a terrible loss when one finds that a particular belief system has contributed about as much to that tapestry as it can and when one then realized that it's time to move on. For me personally, as an ecclectic, one of the key threads in my life has been my drive to collect religions (like others might collect stamps). That kind of instability may not work for everyone. In fact, if you jump around from group to group just because I made it sound so cool, you've probably missed the whole point.
One group in which I currently participate even goes so far as to have a special ceremony when someone decides to resign from the group. In this ceremony the person's contribution to the group as a whole is acknowledged and they are given best wishes for their continuing journey. There is no negative stigma attached to their departure for everyone knows that their departure from this stage in their lives is nothing but the opening up of the next stage and that it all culminates in the person finding their own True Will. If only all organized religious groups could be so enlightened.
As I mentioned before, anyone contemplating any sort of affiliation with the Church of Scientology would do well to research various opinions both pro and con, evaluate the various viewpoints with respect to where you see your own path taking you, sort out the useful data from the noise, and then make up your own mind and proceed with eyes wide open. Keep in mind that in this kind of controversial situation, both proponents and critics probably have their own agendas in addition to presentation of facts and experiences.
I would probably not recommend active membership to just anyone. At the same time I must say that I would not recommend involvement in occultism to the average meat-body human. On the other hand, I cannot honestly say that involvement with the Church of Scientology would be without any personal benefit. The truth lies somewhere in between these extreme views and the answer is most likely different for different people. As with anything else, check out what you can, evaluate the situation from your own point of view, and be confident in your own ability to decide.
Listed below are some of the more interesting sources of information which have come to my attention regarding Scientology. The web sites links below are for entertainment purposes only. The opinions expressed on these sites, if any, are the sole responsibility of the authors thereof. I do not personally endorse any of these opinions, as I simply do not have enough time to research the facts in every case. In fact, given the emotional charge surrounding the topic, I would assume that any "facts" represented on these sites are slanted to support the position of the authors. However, I do believe that intelligent people have the right to hear both sides of an issue before making up their own minds. That's pretty much what I did when I first got into Scientology and I would expect nothing less than that from anyone else.
For me, Scientology was one of the early formative systems on which much of my subsequent exploration into spiritual matters has been based. As such, I would prefer to see both the philosophy and the technology preserved in some form for others who may follow along in my footsteps. But I also despise the whole idea of suppression of information -- especially when said information pertains to some individual or some group abusing their power to supress their critics. I am not saying that Scientology is currently involved in supressing critics but I am quite sure in my own heart that such supression has happened in the past.It would be ideal for those actions to eventually become public knowledge so that the natural forces of public opinion and individual choice can come to bear on them enough that the group leadership can begin to see the value of conformance with generally accepted social behavior. There is some evidence that suggests this is beginning to happen already.
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 also realize that the vast majority of Scientologists are only doing what they believe is right from their point of view and that, short of keeping them out of our own personal affairs, we have no right really to interfere with what they choose to believe or practice.
It's a mighty tough fence to walk, isn't it...
It never even occured to me until very recently that it might be necessary to explain the value of humor and parody in helping to defuse the seriousness surrounding the ongoing controversy regarding Scientology. When I was writing many of these ideas (on paper -- before the web really started to take off) my friends and I had a saying which was, in itself, a parody of a Scientology policy watchphrase: "If it isn't funny, it isn't true." Truth is often much funnier than anything anyone could make up.
It is my belief that a completely balanced individual can enjoy finding absurdities in everything, including themselves and their own system of belief. It is also my belief that pointing out these absurdities can help to break up the seriousness that prevents us from becoming completely balanced individuals.
You see, everything that exists in this Physical Universe is "absurd" in some way or from some viewpoint. Even modern science has managed to point out the "absurdities" of such things as Newton's laws of physics, Bohr's model of the atom, and the inviolability of matter and energy. These days anyone who thinks their own particular brand of "truth" is the One and Only Truth (tm) is viewed with suspicion. And rightly so. Even Hubbard once wrote that it doesn't matter whether the concepts of which he spoke were objectively true ot not. What does matter is whether the techniques developed from these concepts work to improve the individual's life.
But it seems as if some Scientologists have conveniently forgotten this point that Hubbard himself once made. It seems to be the belief of Scientology (per the "Jokers and Degraders" policy, as interpreted by some members) that making fun of Scientology in any way is to be interpreted as a direct attack on the Church and it's beliefs. It's unfortunate because even though it was never my purpose to offend anyone personally, I feel that to supress these writings simply for the purpose of protecting a handful of easily offended individuals from having their feelings hurt would be to buy-in to the idea that something in this Universe is above reproach. And that is just not something that falls within my personal paradigm.
Therefore I issue this disclaimer. Some of the material found at the other end of the links listed below is likely to offend some members of the Church of Scientology. If you count yourself among those that take the Jokers and Degraders polich seriously, you are expressly forbidden from following these links and reading the material contained in these articles. I hav already removed one article because upon further reflection, I found that it most likely was written with offense as it's sole reason for existance and that it added little comic value to the site as a whole. However, the following four articles stand as-is. The first one I wrote. The second one came from a very close friend. And the latter two from another (different) friend. And that's about all I will say about that -- consider yourself warned.
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