L. Ron Hubbard—LRH as his followers know him—was a fascinating man born in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska. He died in 1986 in Creston, California.
Hubbard and his system have been treated as a running joke in popular culture, including being famously panned in the cartoon South Park as an alien-obsessed lunatic cult. Still, the truth is that Scientology is far more convincing and interesting than many critics claim.
Many who denounce Scientology know about its scandals but are almost entirely unfamiliar with what it is or what Hubbard taught.
Hubbard started his career writing bizarre but addictive science fiction books, a man of brash magnetism and enormous intelligence. He reported his first spiritual revelation in 1938 during a near-death experience due to an allergic reaction to a drug used by his dentist during a procedure.
Hubbard joined the US navy in 1941 to climb the ranks of navy’s intelligence with his brilliant mind. However, there were a series of small incidents onboard, like spending 68 hours engaged in combat with a non-existing submarine and conducting gunnery practice on the Mexican island of Coronado believed as inhabited and uncharted territory belonging to the US. He was reported as unsuitable for independent duties and “lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation.” The report recommended he be assigned “duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised.”
Hubbard left the navy in 1946. Over the next few years, he went deeper into his spiritual studies. However, he had been involved in at least a couple of questionable schemes during this period.
After being arrested in August 1948 and pleading guilty to a charge of petty theft, Hubbard decided to make a leap in his life. It was time to think bigger and give better use to his potential.
In 1949, Hubbard developed a system called Dianetics, affirmed to have the power to set anybody free from all sorts of psychosomatic ailment and emotional trauma.
The name Dianetics comes from two Greek words: dia and nous, which means “through the soul” when put together.
According to Hubbard’s Dianetics, each of us carries not one but two minds. The first is the “analytical mind,” responsible for thinking and discerning. This mind holds the gift of reason. The second is the “reactive mind,” responsible for our instinctive reactions.
The “reactive mind,” according to Hubbard, exists at a much deeper level than the “analytical mind.” Further, it takes over under certain circumstances, resulting in irrational behavior.
Dianetics considers the “reactive mind” to be our “animal mind,” reacting to whatever it considers as a threat. Hubbard says that painful and traumatic events can imprint powerful impressions in the “reactive mind,” empowering it and causing us to lose our capacity of acting in full rationality.
Hubbard claimed that people could be cleared of their stored memories through a process called “auditing.” This involves having their body healed from any sort of disease and mind operating in its highly effective mode, meaning an increased IQ, photographic memory, and a few more skills.
His new enterprise was relatively successful, despite the intense press critics and objections from the scientific community. In 1950, there were already 500 Dianetics centers spread all over the US, and Hubbard’s books were translated into German, French, and Japanese.
Several celebrities became involved with Dianetics, including the best-selling writer Aldous Huxley.
Yet, it sank as fast as it rocketed. In August 1950, Hubbard failed miserably in front of an audience of 6,000 people in Los Angeles. He introduced Sonya Bianca, who was “clear” thanks to Dianetics therapy and in possession of a privileged IQ and perfect memory. However, Sonya failed to remember a single formula in physics (her major) and the color of Hubbard’s tie in the demonstration that followed.
Dianetics earned Hubbard a good amount of money in 1950, but the guru didn’t have a conservative investor profile. Even after some millionaire contributions, the Dianetics Foundation couldn’t survive the drop-down of its disappointed members and Hubbard’s uncontrolled expenses.
At that time, Hubbard’s unstoppable spirit did not consider taking a break. Only six months after Dianetics Foundation’s bankruptcy, the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International was founded.
In Hubbard’s words:
“The first principle of my own philosophy is that wisdom is meant for anyone who wishes to reach it. It is the servant of the commoner and kind alike and should never be regarded with awe.”
According to Hubbard’s Scientology, humans have a much more real particle than our physical body and third-dimensional self. This true self is called the thetan. The thetan is immortal, omniscient, and omnipotent. After creating the Universe, we thetans forgot our divine powers and got trapped inside our physical bodies. However, we should be able to awake to our divine form or “rehabilitate” our thetan and bring back its powers through Scientology, becoming an operative thetan again.
Scientology wasn’t an easy job for Hubbard at the beginning. In 1953, he only had a few followers and was facing terrible financial struggles.
However, combining his hard work with the brilliance of his creative mind, Hubbard was ready to turn the game. In that same year, the status of the Scientology hubs was changed from clinics to spiritual centers, and Scientology was declared a religion. The Church of Scientology was being created.
The following lines were extracted from one of his letters to a Scientology high-ranking member, written one month before the shift in 1953:
“We don’t want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem of practical business. I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to sell.”
Thanks to Hubbard’s perseverance, hard work, creativity, and not-so-ethical strategies, the Scientology Church had solid growth in the 1950s. Hubbard was paid a percentage of the church’s gross income, earning him USD 200,000 in 1957, equivalent to USD 2,200,000 today.
Despite its religious status, Scientology seemed to take a different path than religions imposing their truth over the followers. Hubbard described Scientology as a philosophy that gives elements for people to develop their discernment rather than preaching one truth:
“A philosophy can only be a route to knowledge. It cannot be knowledge crammed down one’s head. If one has a route, he can then find what’s true for him.”
The starting premise of Scientology was quite logical in various ways and could draw in many seekers and those turned off by the vagueness of religious mysticism but still wanting answers to the struggles of life and their miseries.
Mixing mystical knowledge with science and spicing it with the talent of a sci-fi novel writer, Scientology attracted thousands of followers worldwide.
Although Scientology’s knowledge could be easily mistaken as an episode of Star Wars, there’s a lot of pragmatism in its philosophy. According to Hubbard, a philosophy “must be capable of being applied.” Scientology claims to be a path for knowledge and achieving the kind of knowledge that can lead to prosperity, happiness, and success.
Hubbard had an especially strong hatred of psychiatry and modern mental health, believing it to be wholly fraudulent and harmful. He accused the US Government of being secretly controlled by psychiatric front groups intended to overthrow him and his church. He further prophesied that the attacks “were proven false and baseless, which were to last 27 years and finally culminated in the Government being sued for 750 million dollars for conspiracy.”
He relentlessly attacked critics and accused opponents of being possessed by malign spiritual forces and past-life enemies intended to sabotage him and his redemptive mission for humankind.
He was a master at convincing people of his brilliance and possessing an infallible system for curing their problems based on science and reason.
He was also a master gas-lighter, convincing members that outside society was insane and manipulative, trying to hold them back from reaching their full potential.
The many attacks against Scientology made Hubbard suspicious of external forces. He could also see the threat inside his church. He trained and implanted techniques for identifying and containing potential troublemakers to protect his church. These methods included interrogatories with the aid of a polygraph called e-meter invented by him. The members were also required to cut every contact with anybody who was not favorable to its cause.
Hubbard understood that human loyalty is fragile and passible of failure. He implanted methods to gather files on the church members’ dark secrets to use as a potential weapon and prevent them from leaving or turning against the cause and inspire his followers in the honorable path of loyalty and commitment.
He also implanted the “Fair Game” policy, which should be applied to any enemy of Scientology, who “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
The Scientology Church attracted many eyes. Many police jurisdictions started investigating the church in the 1960s with Interpol and the FBI.
The FDA demanded the many pills, books, and devices sold by Scientologists for healing purposes could only be marketed after receiving a label explaining that they were “ineffective in the diagnosis or treatment of disease.”
Scientology was banned from Australia after the Victorian Board of Inquiry defined it as a brainwashing cult intended to seduce, dominate, and exploit people.
In the UK, foreign Scientologists were prohibited from entering the country, so not even Hubbard was allowed.
Similar inquiries were launched in further years in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Hubbard reacted by creating the Sea Org in the face of these adversities, which was described as a private naval force. It was initially composed of three ships, which traveled the world seeking a safe harbor for Scientology to prosper.
In total, around 7,500 people participated in the Sea Org. Can you imagine how cool it was to travel the oceans of the planet with your fellow Scientologists while navigating the unfolded mysteries of life in the pursuit of knowledge?
During this time, Hubbard wrote the most advanced part of his teachings, the Wall of Fire. This esoteric treat was highly confidential and disclosed only to selected members who had already climbed the first esoteric levels of the organization and proved themselves prepared and worthy of such knowledge.
We’ll never really know what it is about unless we join the Scientology Church and survive its initiating path. Yet, some ex-members decided to face the organization and reveal some of the most precious secrets in the Wall of Fire.
According to Wall of Fire’s cosmogony, a disaster of huge proportions happened on Earth and 75 other planets part of the same galactic confederation 75 million years ago. The event was a punitive attack inflicted by the ruthless Xenu, leader of the Galactic Confederacy, who shipped billions of thetans to Earth and threw hydrogen bombs on them. After the event, the traumatized thetans were imprisoned at implant stations, where they were brainwashed with false memories before being contained within human forms.
Before you make any judgment about the Wall of Fire, please remember that it’s just an unofficial excerpt of a much broader threat. It may sound like sci-fi, but if you read the Book of Genesis to someone who has never contacted the Judaic or Christian traditions, it may sound like an amazing fiction book. Let’s keep an open mind, remembering that the realm of faith has always challenged reason.
While Xenu’s cosmic drama was unfolding in the earthly year of 1972, Hubbard was charged with fraud and customs violation in France. It caused him to leave the Sea Org’s fleet and hide in Queens for one year until the threat of extradition was over.
The fleet’s situation wasn’t good after Hubbard’s regress. Sea Org’s ships went banned from many ports in Europe, and rumors linking Sea Org and the CIA made the Scientology fleet even more unwelcome worldwide.
In 1975, the Scientology Church sold the ships to invest in land bases worldwide.
Landing back in the US, Hubbard dedicated his next years to direct the Guardian’s Office (GO) operations. The GO was a bureau of intelligence established by him to protect Scientology. According to Hubbard, Scientology was under the attack of the Tanaka Memorial, a Nazi network composed of big corporations, banks, drug companies, and psychiatrists intending to control the whole planet.
Hubbard launched a program called Snow White, where GO agents received the mission of removing negative reports about Scientology from governmental files and tracking down their sources. In practical terms, it meant infiltrating organizations (e.g., the American Medical Association, the US Department of Justice), stealing documents, and harassing opposers.
In 1977, after the arrest of two GO agents in Washington’s IRS office, the FBI conducted an investigation sending 11 high-ranked Scientologists, including Hubbard’s wife, to federal prison.
If the dammed Tanaka Memorial really existed, they were a powerful global organization, and the government decided to defeat the noble guru at every cost. In 1978, the French court condemned Hubbard to four years in prison.
Hubbard spent most of his last years traveling the US under the authorities’ radar. He died after having a stroke onboard his blue-bird luxury motorhome in Creston, California. According to the Scientology Church, he decided to leave his body to continue his research on another planet.
Hubbard’s dream didn’t die with his body. Scientology is still very much alive, counting celebrities, such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise, in its ranks.
Maybe you’ll end up being invited for a free IQ test if you accidentally pass in front of their headquarters while visiting Times Square in New York or the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
It may be your chance to check what it is all about for yourself. However, would you trust them with your dirtiest secrets?