Monday, April 6, 2009

A critique of $cn (controversial)

(photo credit: kylertconk)

This quote of Thoreau is interesting, juxtaposed with both the tools of his profession at the time (he wrote before even typewriters - and was also his day job) and the cause of his death from tuberculosis.

A Critique of $cientology
(note/disclaimer/whatever: Corporate $cn being highly litigious, I will mention that the trademarks and copyrights they have belong to them - if I happen to mention one of their products without the right squiggly-mark next to it, just be patient. I don't make a dime from talking about them or using their products as such. And so the use of $ in their title and the abbreviation $cn for their corporate organization.)

My background: I fit the average demographics for being part of that corporate cult. Got into it at age 20, spent my the next 20+ years on staff, left when I saw it was a dead-end. Meanwhile, I studied everything I could get my hands on, was trained formally or informally in all their techniques and teachings from the bottom to the very top (excepting some of their rarified personal processing levels - which was no loss.) Since then, I've been studying the rest of life and livingness, working to make sense of how I had spent my life and how life actually worked - supporting myself mostly as a freelance entrepreneur/publisher/writer/webdesigner/artist/philosopher/analyst.

Let's get this "cult" term out of the way. Nothing to do with religion. $cn's argument about religion is between them and the IRS. All life is spiritual, and legally then is not subject to any humankind law - as was true in the time of Jesus ("...render unto Caesar...") and is guaranteed in the US by the Bill of Rights - and is also hard-wired into our Constitution by the frequent use of "God" in these writings. $cn is a corporate cult as it is a closed subject. It has one self-declared source of it's writings and the punishment for going outside it's tight corporate world is shunning (and a lot more, such as personal harassment through private investigators and lawsuits, plus disconnection from any family members still inside it - there is plenty of eyewitness evidence we don't need to bring up here). Corporate $cn doesn't like the Internet as it allows people to get more data about how it operates and the fundamental data it's based on.

And the corporate part is where $cn fails.
  • Hubbard set up $cn as a money-making proposition. Nothing wrong with that.
  • He set it up as a church - again, nothing wrong with that, as the subject is spiritual in nature.
  • He set it up as a church to make money and get personally rich --- well, some take bones with that.
The broad strokes of this analysis point out one key shortfall: it's exclusionary base.

Where $cn continually fails to "clear the planet" is that you have to have money to join. Preferably U.S. dollars. While other time-validated religions spend a lot of time in and amongst the poor and in developing nations (like the Catholic church getting expansion in former Communist China) - $cn spends most of its efforts in persuading the average American to part with their money.

Now statistically, this is hard to prove. Mostly because their PR's have inflated their real numbers and as it's a private corporation, they don't release their actual records to anyone. So we are left with gleaning data from the Internet, where some analysis has been made based on their published graduates list.

Probably the best proof is that media reports that the Catholic Church is expanding in China, and not $cn. Most $cn media stories revolve around crazy-acting celebrities and the corporate attempt to remove videos and quash stories.

How $cn works.
It works, simply, within the tiny world it created. Broadly, it really has no effect outside of a handful of devotees who insist that it works. In short, it works - where it does - on faith. Not uncommon for any religion or spiritual activity.

Where you go far afield of this corporation, away from it's teachings, you'll see that the world runs along with its successes and largesses and travesties - normally, unaffected by anything $cn has to say, or anything it does. The people it affects are those who have faith in it and those who are committed to its destruction (or at least major revision).

And you'll also find that the people who are upset with $cn aren't particularly upset with the guy who started it ("Founder") or his writings. They are upset with the corporate policies he wrote and how they are being (mis)used.

That particular discussion is for other forums as well, not this post.

I bring it up as another example that the corporate cult which maintains $cn is the problem of that body of data, not the body of data itself (which I'll discuss below).

Where corporate $cn went off the rails.
  • 7 February 1965 - the issue of "Keeping Scientology Working". In this paper, Hubbard declared that all the research and key ideas for $cn were his and his alone. And that anyone who came up with any other ideas never amounted to anything, so don't listen to them. In fact, this policy laid out certain rules which would get you irrevocably shunned if you did. Various other policies then followed which built on this.
  • Creation of the Sea Organization - August 12, 1967. Shortly afterwards, Hubbard dissolved the existing corporate structure of $cn and turned all its financial management over to the "Sea Org" and officers who he personally ran - even though he stated he turned over the Executive Directorship many years prior. Technically, various legal organizations "ran" the set up, however they all got advise from him, and he continued to profit from their activities. This arrangement continued up to his death.
  • FLAG ORDER 2710 27 January 1971 - titled "Hard Working People - Ethics Protection", this issue by Hubbard was the turning point in the cult. Essentially, it said that you didn't have to follow policy in order to "make things go right", and that tirades and displays of temper were permissable. In this, he changed from an earlier policy stating that these "Flag Orders" were junior to both Policy Letters and Technical Bulletins.
You only have to study the comprehensive and well-referenced wikipedia article about Hubbard to see what ensued after that point.

The Truths of Scientology (corporate = $cn)
My description of this body of work is and remains this:
If you could get the idea of a huge gynasium, or an outdoor arena - the floor of which was filled completely with ice cream sundaes with the cherries removed from their tops. Those cherries are what Hubbard picked to build his Scientology from. The sundaes below are the really workable parts which he left behind. If you ate only the cherries, you'd be fine. But if you dived into those sundaes (if you could possibly eat that much before they melted) you'd really be satisfied.

As I've said, Scientology is workable in its own tiny world (as long as you divorce it completely from corporate $cn, its buildings and its PR and Legal attack machines). And there are many belief systems which only work according to their faith and dogged persistence of devoted followers. And people should be encouraged to find systems of religious and personal belief which improve their lives.

According to that old Japanese saying, "There are many paths up the mountain," and even older Polynesian/Huna teaching, "No one school has all the teachers."

That is the crux of this critique. By shutting down and closing Scientology into $cn, Hubbard and his management made a money-building empire which left Hubbard personally worth more than $200,000,000.00 on his death. But ensured that what he buillt would dwindle thereafter, since there was no one to carry on his research and develop new materials. All the "releases" after his death have mostly been in the form of re-releases of "improved" books and courses which devotees have to purchase and re-take or re-study - even personal (expensive) processing/auditing programs. Their top-level "OTVIII" was released and nothing since.

Another point is that by creating this corporate cult, Hubbard actually created problems for this "church". While other practicing systems (Christian Science and Silva as two contemporay examples) had no problems with the government and being able to claim they could heal people, $cn got into trouble and was raided, having to put a sticker on their "e-meters" saying they weren't a healing device. While any spiritual healing depends on the faith of the follower, $cn is one of the few organizations where they have been almost incessantly attacked for lack of results any time they claimed (as in Dianetics) they could heal.

Why? Essentially because they weren't inclusive. And Hubbard was exceedingly critical of nearly every other self-improvement or spiritually oriented organization out there - past and present. His lectures have disparaging remarks on nearly every agency that ever tried to help humankind lift itself up out of its problems. All roads lead to Hubbard as the salvation - everything else was a dead-end, booby-trapped. He had the only "road out".

Of course this is a scam.

The three major religions responsible for civilizing the bulk of this planet were Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. If Scientology were a major force, the world should have been converted by now - since in these ages of instant access to material, and the supposed superiority of Scientology teachings, any sensible person should have been able to incorporate Scientology into their existing beliefs and turbo-charge them to incredible higher states.

Reasons Scientology never "cleared this planet":
  1. Corporate $cn bent mostly on making more money, keeping it a closed cult.
  2. Scientology is composed from only the cherries off that arena full of ice cream sundaes.
There is a lot - an almost inestimatedly huge amount of really workable data within Scientology. And those who who throw away the shoe because they stepped in a dung pile can walk barefoot from there on. (And see what they do with the next dung pile their bare foot steps in.)

My point has always been to evolve Scientology beyond what it ended up as and to expand it to what it could become.

These past few years have been studying the philosophic and spiritual world outside of $cn/Scn. And if you check out my profile, you'll find the books I've written and those I've edited and re-published from other authors. Hubbard never held a monopoly on self-improvement, self-help, or personal development - or the mind. Never. That's $cn-talk.

There is a huge, vast world of living and life outside Scientology. And you can use everything you learned inside that structure to start explaining the real world.

But you are going to have to do two things:
Become truly open-minded to both new and old ideas - "effectiveness is the measure of truth."
Become inclusive - operate on the "big tent" priniciple of working to find the real underlying systems which influence our personal improvement and well-being.

Those two "whys" above explain any failure of $cn/Scn. But they boil down to one word:


Open up the real data of Scientology and let people discuss and mingle as they will. Then you'll start to find progress and world-wide enlightenment. Join with other spiritual-based organizations with real mutual respect and admiration and gratitude - and you'll then (and only then) see the world's problems start dissolving.

It will be at that point - and only at that point - where we can see "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights..."

The steps to this are simple:
1. Shun the current corporate structure of $cn. Pay it no more dues, ignore its celebrities and shills who say it is the "only way out."
2. Listen to and promote those spiritual leaders, the books and materials you personally find workable and useful.
3. Seek to live at peace with all around you and give openhanded help to everyone you encounter - help others to live at peace with themselves and others around them. Live the Golden Rule.
4. Shun the media and extremist groups who actively work to separate people into groups so they will fight with each other. (Includes both greedy corporations and ideological fanatic envinronmentalists - like global warming preachers.)
5. Realise that there need not be shortages of food, clothing, shelter, or ideas on this planet. The only reason such situations exist is because organized sets of people (governments, mostly, as well as drug lords) are locally holding these areas down - suppressing them. (See the difference between North and South China as example.) There is plenty of charity to go around and lots of great ideas and investments ready to help people bootstrap their economy and their quality of living.
6. Elect and support leaders who are just like yourself. Don't support parties per se. These are, by their nature, divisive. Support people you believe in and encourage open forums where ideas can be exchanged between people and these electables. Investigate and post data about their past actions and papers. Be very curious when certain papers are hidden from public view.
7. Laugh and smile daily. Happiness is the best medicine for anything that ails you. Pass it around.