Saint Hill Manor is a traditional old English mansion that stands behind a high gateway on a quiet Sussex road some 30 miles south of London. Its size and age – it was built in 1728 – give it an impressive but faintly brooding air. Before 1959 it was owned by the Maharaja of Jaipur, and before that by Mrs. Anthony Drexel Biddle. But it is a safe bet that in all its 236 years Saint Hill Manor has never seen anybody quite like its present owner, Dr. Lafayette Ronald Hubbard.
Doctor Hubbard is a big, orange-haired, 52-year-old American who describes himself as an author, explorer, scientist, boatsman, engineer, glider pilot, philosopher, movie writer, student of the occult and the real-life model of “Mister Roberts” in the novel of the same name. The most fascinating side of his many-faceted character, however, is the “Doctor” before his name. He is not an M.D. but a D.Scn., which stands for “Doctor of Scientology.” This is a degree that brings a look of puzzlement to a Johns Hopkins or a Harvard registrar, but Scientology, a growing international movement with branches on all five continents, is close to Doctor Hubbard’s heart. He is not only its head and best-known practitioner; he actually invented it.
Essentially Scientology is an outgrowth of an American fad of the early 1950’s called Dianetics, which was also invented by Dr. L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology purports to be a sort of “religion,” but it is not affiliated with any of the broad U.S. church movements. It has elements which resemble psychoanalysis, although leading psychiatrists bitterly reject it. Even Hubbard, who has written 10 million words about Scientology, seems to have difficulty defining it. He currently calls it “the common people’s science of life and betterment,” but this is only the latest of a series of definitions that he has tried and discarded. In view of its tremendous scope, its odd procedures and the remarkable feats claimed for it, an attempt to compress Scientology into the few words of a definition is much like trying to gift-wrap a dozen live eels.
[Picture. Caption: U.S. marshal removes “E-meters” from Scientology org after Washington raid.]
It is easier to explain what Scientologists do. For a fee, Hubbard’s followers will “audit” or listen to people who have troubles. They use a small, battery-run machine known as a Hubbard E-meter while they are auditing the people with troubles, whom they call “preclears.” The machine has two wires running out of it, and these are clamped to a couple of tin cans, which the “preclear” holds while he is being audited. The E-meter has knobs and a large dial with a needle, and as the person talks, the needle moves around, which presumably means something to the Scientologist. As Hubbard explains it, “The meter tells you what the preclear’s mind is doing when the preclear is made to think of something. If they’re emotionally disturbed about cats, and they’re talking about cats, the needle flies about. If they’re not disturbed about cats, the needle doesn’t fly about. So you let them talk about cats until they’re no longer disturbed about cats, and then the needle no longer flies about.”
Scientology also has many drills for people with troubles. In one, you sit in a chair, visualize the two upper corners of the room, then “hold” these two corners in your mind and think of nothing else. This is called “Holding Corners.” Its purpose, Hubbard says, is to “make you act younger.” In another drill the Scientologist reads a sentence or two from Alice in Wonderland to the preclear, who repeats it verbatim. The Scientologist then says, “Thank you,” and reads another passage from Alice in Wonderland, and this goes on and on. This drill, called the “Dear Alice,” is supposed to “improve communication.” In at least one instance it resulted in a complete collapse of communication. A police captain in one eastern city, puzzled by reported goings-on at a Scientology office, enrolled an undercover man there. The agent spent several bewildering days listening to Alice in Wonderland, repeating it to the Scientologist, and getting thanked. When he returned to the police station, his superior asked him what went on at this Hubbard place. “I’m not going to tell you,” said the officer, “because you won’t believe me.”
[Picture. Caption: At Scientology headquarters in London’s Saint Hill Manor, students of cult learn how to “audit” each other properly.]
The feats Hubbard claims for his science are just as unusual. At various times Hubbard has held that Scientology “can cure some seventy percent of man’s illnesses,” that it is the only effective counterforce to the H-bomb threat and that it can make you immune to the common cold. He maintains that Scientology can raise a person’s I.Q. one point for every hour of auditing. (“Our most spectacular feat was raising a boy from 83 I.Q. to 212,” Hubbard told this reporter.) He claims that it can improve the performance of astronauts and help jet pilots avoid crashes, that it can “arrest the aging process” and make you look younger, that it will restore psychotic persons to sanity much faster and cheaper than psychiatry. (“I saw Ron do it in an asylum,” says a California follower. “He just went along snapping his fingers at them and saying, ‘Come up to present time! Come up to present time!’”)
And along with all this, according to Hubbard, a Scientologist can move a person out of his body and let him stand over in a corner and look at himself. “We don’t like to publicize this,” says Hubbard, who has publicized it in many of his pamphlets. “It makes people uneasy.”
If these marvels seem reminiscent of the old-time snake-oil peddler, let it be said immediately that there is nothing old-time about L. Ron Hubbard. A few feet from his desk at Saint Hill stands a Telex, giving him instant communication with his far-flung branches. “Airmail is too slow for Scientology,” he says. Hubbard speaks easily and with seeming authority about physics, mathematics, nuclear fission, or indeed, almost any science, and salts his conversation with phrases like “small energy measurements,” “stimulus-response cycle” and things like that.
Scientology literature frequently refers to him as an engineer, a mathematician and a nuclear physicist, and Who’s Who in the Southwest credits him with an engineering degree at George Washington University. The university does not. Its records show that he enrolled in 1930 but never received a degree of any kind.
Today, besides his “Doctor of Scientology,” he appends a Ph.D. to his name. He got it, he says, from Sequoia University. This was a Los Angeles establishment, once housed in a residential dwelling, whose degrees are not recognized by any accredited college or university.
Hubbard, who was born in Tilden, Nebr., in 1911, has been married three times, divorced twice, and is the father of seven children. (Scientology is supposed to be superb in healing marital difficulties. Hubbard carefully points out that his present wife was a Scientologist when he married her, and that they have been happily married for 12 years, whereas the two earlier non-Scientology marriages were stormy.) He once wrote movie scripts, his major opus being The Secret of Treasure Island, a Columbia adventure serial. He served as a commissioned Naval officer in World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, and after the war banged about L.A. and Pasadena, where he was known as a fellow with intense curiosity.
Somewhere along the way he took up the writing of science fiction, and both Dianetics and Scientology show the strong influence of his former craft. Both Scientology and science fiction are characterized by arcane words and by invented terms, phrases and abbreviations. Where every science-fiction fan knows that a B.E.M. is a Bug-Eyed Monster, every Scientologist knows that an “org” is a Scientology group, and that H.A.S.I. is the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International. Hubbard’s followers also deal with and knowingly discuss such things as down-bouncers, Thetans, M.E.S.T. bodies, lock-scanning, dub-ins, rock slams, bops, big mid ruds, S.O.P. goals, anaten, engrams, H.C.A.’s and boo-hoos, or weepers. It is not possible to explain all these in just one magazine article, but the “boo-hoo,” or “weeper,” deserves some detailing. As pâté de foie gras gives you the flavor of France, the boo-hoo tells much about Scientology.
The boo-hoo, Hubbard writes, was a clam-like animal that lived millions of years ago and used to pump sea water from its shell through its eyes. It marked the transition from life in the sea to life on land, and “may be the missing link in the evolutionary chain.” Life on the beach was miserable for the boo-hoo; sometimes it would get stranded there, or even attacked by predatory birds. (Hubbard did not explain where, if life was just emerging from the sea, those birds came from.) According to Scientology, you may have been a boo-hoo, aeons ago. If you were, your personality has been affected by some of the awful things that happened to you as a clam on the beach at the dawn of time. When a Scientologist audits you, he may discover evidence of your life as a clam. He then processes this, which is called “running the boo-hoo.” This makes you weep like a clam pumping sea water through its eyes, after which you feel much better.
“TWO MILLION MEMBERS”
For some reason this sort of thing has attracted a considerable amount of support. According to Hubbard he has “several million” followers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Europe, Japan and Australia. “Somewhere in the world there is a new Scientology office opening every three days,” Hubbard says happily. “We can’t give you our exact membership total, because it doubles every six months.” A quick compilation shows that if Scientology has two million followers today and is doubling every six months, it will number more than eight billion people by March, 1970. Long before then the last holdout will obviously have given in, and everyone on earth will be a Scientologist.
There are orgs on five continents, and a heavy sprinkling of Scientology installations across the U.S.: New York, Washington, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Honolulu, San Diego and, naturally, Los Angeles. Scientology has also established itself in Auckland, Melbourne, Wellington, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, London, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Caracas, Vancouver, Toronto, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.
There are also a number of Scientology academies, usually coexistent with a large org. In the U.S. there are two academies, one in Washington and one in Los Angeles, which train people in Scientology, issue them certificates of various sorts, then send them out to train other Scientologists.
Saint Hill Manor, which bears the same relation to Scientology that Vienna once had to psychoanalysis, offers the equivalent of postgraduate courses. “Saint Hill training” is necessary to achieve the high ranks of H.G.A., which stands for Hubbard Graduate Auditor. The loftiest of these is an H.G.A. Class 4. “When a Class 4 speak up, everybody else shuts up,” says Doctor Hubbard. “The lion has roared.”
Fees vary in the academies, but one can get a short, “intensive” course of 25 hours for $700 or $800. According to a Scientology pamphlet, “Scientology is sufficiently simple and rapid that where it requires 12 years to train a psychotherapist, eight weeks of heavy training can get a person to achieve results. ... A complete Freudian analysis costs $8,000 to $15,000. Better results can be achieved in Scientology for $25 and, on a group basis, for a few dollars.”
Unfortunately Scientology does not straighten out every client at these bargain basement figures. One U.S. police department has a record of a Florida millionaire who has spent $28,000 on Scientology processing in less than two years. His only complaint was of “nervousness” and, before turning to Scientology, he had been checked at Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic, where doctors told him they could find nothing wrong. “The common people’s science” did not give up so easily on this weighty Floridian, and at last report was still doggedly auditing him.
People who encounter Scientology for the first time are astounded at its far-flung growth. Actually Scientology did not have to start from scratch but was able to rise phoenixlike from the ashes of Dianetics, a craze which swept the U.S. in 1950. It originated with a book that Hubbard wrote in 60 days called Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Overnight, Dianetics became a runaway best seller, although the learned journals of psychology, psychiatry and medicine all ignored it.
To understand Scientology it is necessary to understand Dianetics, as Scientology incorporates Dianetics and goes on from there. This is quite a feat, because Hubbard called Dianetics “a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch.” Dianetics preached that everybody had two minds, the “analytical,” similar to Freud’s “conscious,” and the “reactive,” like Freud’s “unconscious.” The analytical mind, Hubbard maintained, was a perfect computing machine, incapable of error – except for “engrams,” which fouled the computer.
Engrams were recorded on your “time track” by your reactive mind, when your analytical mind wasn’t looking. For example, said Hubbard, “A woman is knocked down by a blow. She is rendered ‘unconscious.’ She is kicked and told that she is no good, that she is always changing her mind. A chair is overturned in the process. A faucet is running in the kitchen. A car is passing in the street outside. The engram contains a running record of all these perceptions.” Later the engram gets “keyed in,” and all sorts of things can happen; the woman may feel a sensation of being kicked whenever she hears a faucet running.
[Picture. Caption: Student holds metal-can terminals of Hubbard E-meter, as auditor seeks out “engrams.” Though Scientology is set up as a religion, auditors do no usually dress as ministers.]
[Picture. Caption: Reg Sharpe, Hubbard’s right-hand man, points out locations of “orgs” on all five continents. Hubbard claims membership of “several million,” which is “doubling every six months.”]
You could also get “prenatal” engrams; Hubbard preached that the embryo recorded engrams in the womb from the moment of conception. “Mama gets hysterical, baby gets an engram,” Hubbard wrote. “Papa hits Mama, baby gets an engram. And so it goes.” Hubbard maintained that a child whose mother had been pregnant and wed in a “shotgun marriage” often could recall, under the ministering of Dianetics, having “attended” his own parents’ wedding.
Dianetics taught one how to erase engrams by auditing. You “returned” a person on his time track to the time of the engram and had him talk it out by “reliving” it. Once all the engrams were erased, a person would become a “clear” – highly intelligent, healthy, with a great zest for life, enormously improved abilities and a perfect memory. In short, a giant among pygmies. Dianetics was enough like psychoanalysis to impress a good many people, and also had the advantage that anyone who bought Hubbard’s book could play doctor at home, without all those tedious years in medical school. In no time hundreds of thousands of Americans, armed with Hubbard’s book, were playing Sigmund Freud for each other.
For some hectic, glorious months Hubbard was one of the busiest lecturers in the U.S. He acquired advisers, managers, press agents. A Dianetics Foundation was set up in New Jersey. He was besieged by admiring fans and feted in Hollywood. Across the country psychiatrists seethed inwardly. So did the rest of the medical fraternity, resentful at his preaching that the erasing of engrams would cure most of man’s ailments.
In New Jersey, when his foundation was charged with violation of the medical-practice act, his followers packed up their E-meters and fled to Kansas. But the boom was already fading, and within a year the fad had died. Dianetics was put away on the top shelf with the old almanacs, and people turned to hypnotic “age regression” and The Search for Bridey Murphy. Hubbard retreated to Arizona to plan for the future, dropping out of the news entirely. “In 1954 I even got a letter from the Encyclopaedia Britannica asking what had become of Dianetics,” he recalls with a smile.
Little did the Encyclopaedia Britannica know. Despite the public’s mass defection, a few thousand stalwart believers across the country still clung to the faith. By 1952 Hubbard was regrouping his forces, and Dianetics was preparing to sally forth on little cat feet under the brand-new name of Scientology.
But this time there would be no publicity, no press agents. He quietly built from the ground up, establishing his orgs, setting up his lines of communication, training his staff men.
Hubbard established one important difference between Scientology and Dianetics. Instead of presenting it to the public as a science equal in importance to the discovery of fire, he set it up as a religion. Many of the orgs are now labeled and chartered as churches. At the outset this move distressed his followers, some of whom were science-fiction fans, free-thinkers and even agnostics.
“To some this seems mere opportunism,” Hubbard quickly explained, “to some it would seem that Scientology is simply making itself bulletproof in the eyes of the law, and to some it might appear that any association with religion is a reduction of the ethics and purposes of Scientology itself. ... Why should Scientology ally itself with religion? ... There are many, many reasons. Amongst them is that a society accords to men of the church an access not given to others. Prisons, hospitals and institutions ... cannot do otherwise than welcome men of the church. ...”
The rebellion dwindled, and the new faith went forth. With scarcely a whisper of publicity Scientology spread and prospered. Hubbard himself took it to England, found that he liked the country and settled there.
Although he is founder and unquestioned titular head of the Church of Scientology, Ron Hubbard does not look upon himself as patriarch, pope, bishop or even elder. “I control the operation,” he says, “as a general manager would control any operation of a company.” The orgs or churches pay 10 percent of their take to the Saint Hill center. Hubbard insists that he does not profit from Scientology but draws only a token salary of $70 a week. He claims he is “independently wealthy” and that Scientology is a “labor of love.” Just exactly where the 10 percent goes is not clear; Hubbard says he has spent “a million dollars or two” on research. He does not like to talk about money; he responds to questions about it with a smile, a sad shake of the head and a comment about “the American preoccupation.”
Despite Hubbard’s claim that he is leading a religious movement, the Food and Drug Administration moved against him in early 1963. They raided his headquarters in Washington, D.C., seizing a hundred E-meters and copies of some of Hubbard’s publications on the grounds that the meters were “misbranded” devices claiming “diagnosis, prevention, treatment, detection and elimination of the causes of all mental and nervous disorders such as neuroses, psychoses, schizophrenia, and all psychosomatic ailments,” including “most of the physical ailments of mankind such as arthritis, cancer, stomach ulcers, radiation burns from atomic bombs, polio, the common cold. ...” The books were seized, the FDA said, “as labeling containing therapeutic claims charged to be false.”
The Scientologists claimed religious persecution, showering congressmen and the White House with angry letters and telegrams. They complained about “Gestapo attacks” on “our confessionals.” Letters to the late President and the Attorney General called on them to protect the sanctity of the religion of Scientology, “even though you are of a different faith.” The Washington headquarters of Scientology asked, “Are we in America today living under a Godless government which intends ultimately to destroy all religions?”
At Saint Hill Manor Hubbard focused on the book seizures, which he referred to as “book burning.” He expressed a desire to meet personally with President Kennedy to “come to some amicable understanding on religious matters.” No answer was forthcoming, and the envisioned summit meeting of Saint Hill and the White House glimmered away. Scientology has appealed the FDA seizure in court, and the case will go to trial sometime this year.
Hubbard admits that “mistakes were made” back in the 1950’s, but he insists that he now hammers at Scientologists “not to treat the sick or insane,” and that “any physical illness which is manifestly physical illness, or even questionable, is turned over immediately to the medical doctor.”
Nevertheless, his orgs still peddle the Dianetics volume as “the basic book.” In all the editions it has gone through, Hubbard has never altered its claim that engrams are “the hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration,” or that with the book an “intelligent layman can successfully and invariably treat all psychosomatic ills and inorganic aberrations.” Says Hubbard proudly, “It is still selling like mad.”
No secret can be safe
Scientologists have an interesting explanation of any hostility toward their movement, whether by organizations like the FDA or by individuals. People who oppose Scientology, Hubbard says, are afraid of it because “a Scientologist can FIND out! The secrets of a person who is evilly disposed toward his fellows are not safe around a Scientologist.”
Hostility toward Scientology can even be defined as refusing to pay a Scientologist’s bill. A middlewesterner, whose son owed a New York Scientologist $350 for “processing,” at $22 an hour, complained that the treatment was worthless and declined to pay. He received a two-page letter on the letterhead of The Founding Church of Scientology bearing the handwritten signature of a Rev. Andrew Bagley, Organization Secretary. “If you want to start a donnybrook, buddy, wail away,” the letter said. “To use the argot of the streets, I’ll just start my people to work on you, and then before long you will be broke and out of a job, and broken in health. Then I can have my nasty little chuckle about you. ... You won’t take long to finish off. I would estimate three weeks. Remember: I am not a mealy-mouthed, psalm-canting preacher. I am a minister of the Church of Scientology! I am able to heal the sick and I do. But I have other abilities, which include a knowledge of men’s minds that I will use to crush you to your knees.” The recipient quickly ponied up the money.
As befits the head of a five-continent operation, Hubbard thinks globally, and currently he is wrestling with a global political problem. Although Washington seems blind to the vast potentials of Scientology, he says the Red Bloc is not. He has been approached, says Hubbard, by Castro’s government, which wants him to train a corps of 50 in Scientology and is even willing to send them to London for the training. As far back as 1938, Hubbard says, the Russians were angling for his services. “I was put under considerable argument and stress,” he relates. They offered me $200,000, all laboratory facilities, everything I needed in Russia. “He turned them down, Hubbard says, and later his apartment “was blasted open” and his “basic manuscript” disappeared.
“We have no objection whatsoever to making Russians sane, or Cubans sane,” says Hubbard, “or even U.S. government officials sane.” But Hubbard realizes the “defense potential” of Scientology. “We can raise the I.Q. of a scientist one percent per hour of processing, and we can reduce the reaction time of a pilot at will up to 1/60th of a second. If offered to a foreign state, Scientology could cause the U.S. to suffer a reverse in war. This is a hot package, and I don’t care to have it in my hip pocket forever. ... After all, we’re not dealing with Joe Blow, the crazy inventor of pocomonoda. I mean, we’re dealing with stuff that has a large background.”
A man with his inventiveness doubtless will solve this problem, as he has solved so many others. Meanwhile he recently has completed a whole new “research line” – subject undisclosed – and is preparing it for publication.
Perhaps it will provide the definitive answer to a question that some of his enemies have raised. They have said that the very man who had discovered the “clear” had never himself been processed to that high plateau of almost superhuman ability.
“That is the wildest pitch I’ve ever heard,” he said with indignation. “Of course I’ve been processed to ‘clear.’”
However, the definition of “clear” has been changed somewhat from the days of Dianetics, when it meant a man freed of engrams, with a flawlessly functioning mind, fantastic abilities and total recall. Since then Hubbard discovered that people have a time track that runs back not just to their conception but perhaps to the clam-like boo-hoo in the misty beginnings of life. Hubbard has a new, and slightly more modest, definition of “clear.” It now means “a person who has this lifetime straightened out.”
Having explained this, the master of Saint Hill Manor rings for his butler Shepheardson, who fetches his afternoon Coke on a tray. Twice a day the mail truck swings in through the gateway bringing the letters from his followers in a bag that Hubbard calls “the Santa Claus pack.” If he wishes a bit of air, his chauffeur will wheel out a new American car or the Jaguar, and as he gazing contentedly out over the broad acres of what was once a maharaja’s estate, the profound truth of what he says becomes apparent. Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Doctor of Scientology, may indeed be a man who has this lifetime straightened out.
[Picture. Caption: In daily ritual, Shepheardson, Hubbard’s butler, serves him Coke on a silver tray.]
Archived for educational purposes only, under U.S.C. Title 17 Section 107.