Scientology in the 1970s from various perspectives in time

March 1, 2007


Scientology was originally founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1950 as a type of psychology termed Dianetics, which had some similarities with psychoanalysis in terms of reliving incidents from one's childhood past and gaining a release of blocked up emotional turmoil thru a catharsis known as "clearing engrams" [1]. However, there has continuously been a great deal of concern and criticism of Scientology, with many people and organizations claiming that Scientology is a dangerous cult [2]. Scientology has been in existence as a religion for over 40 years, and presently enjoys tax-exempt status in the United States, though it is outlawed in some other countries after thorough government investigations ( c.f. [2]). Scientology claims that it is being harassed unfairly by various anti-cult organizations, that it has done nothing wrong, and that it should be protected by our constitution that allows for freedom of religion. It is difficult to confront Scientology, as Scientology is exceedingly wealthy and is continuously involved in litigation aimed at discouraging individuals from speaking out against them ( c.f. [2]). Millions of people have been involved in Scientology, and there are Scientology churches or missions in over 130 countries. Scientology has been successful in reaching out to famous movie stars and celebrities who have become Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The public image of Scientology is one of confusion, as while there are certainly many exposes of Scientology available for anyone interested, there is also a tremendous advertising campaign put out by Scientology to win over the public, and the famous Scientology movie stars and celebrities go a long way in inducing many people to either join Scientology or at least look upon the organization in a more favorable light.

I was involved in Scientologist on and off for two years in the 1970s. In this article I will describe my experience of leaving Scientology from various perspectives in time, in five parts. The first description, entitled "On Scientology," conveys the highly emotional investment I had in Scientology at the time of my writing (1977), and the allegiance I still felt towards L. Ron Hubbard. It was my way of finally making the break, even though I was not able to admit to myself that I was officially leaving the church. My next two descriptions, entitled "Scientology And Fear" and "Scientology On Trial," were written a few years after

I did officially leave the church, and conveys the fear factor that every ex-Scientologist must overcome in order to publicly convey his/her experiences in Scientology, as well as some of the negative documentation and publicity that Scientology was being subjected to in the late 1970s. At this point I had embarked upon a study of various 20th century spiritual organizations that I termed "modern religions," which included Scientology, est, the Unification Church (Moonies), Divine Light Mission, and Gurdjieff groups ( c.f. [3]).

My essay "A Comparison Of Scientology And Judaism," written in 1980, was a significant step for me in being able to remove myself from Scientology to enough of an extent to compare and contrast its religious and social aspects with the religion I grew up with, which is Judaism. For a few years after I had left Scientology I had been teaching a course I developed, called "Psychology, Religion, And Human Values" at various community learning centers, in which I would share my experiences in the above five modern religions I had written about in my "Modern Religions" book ( c.f. [3]). I became used to having stimulating and open-ended discussions about spirituality, cults, and religion with my handful of students who were taking my course, and this was a significant step in my assimilation of Scientology into my conscious self awareness. My experiences in Scientology actually became quite valuable to me as I realized that my quest for learning and knowledge about spiritual matters without social manipulations and/or exorbitant financial costs was becoming an authentic philosophical quest. I came up with the name "natural dimension" to express my philosophical quest, which I gradually generalized to all of life.

However, I made the decision to earn my living teaching mathematics, and the next 15 years I did not engage in any more of my modern religions investigations. This began to change for me in 1995 thru my romantic relationship with a devotee of Eckankar ( c.f. [3]) and since that time I have once again re-immersed myself in an experiential study of modern religions, which I also started to call "new age spiritual organizations." One of these new age spiritual organizations I had explored was Reiki Healing, and this interest of mine contributed to yet another romantic relationship with a spiritual devotee, and along with my "Scientology Hunting" with my 20 year old son, is the basis of the final perspective on Scientology that I describe in this article, "Scientology In The 21St Century," which was written in 2002, 25 years after I had left Scientology in 1977. On Scientology

On this day, January 11, 1977, after two years of most interesting experience with the recent world religion of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1950 (the year of my birth) with the advent of

Dianetics, I shall write.. I want to convey something of my experience with Scientology. As of now, I am on official "pastoral counselor" (auditor) in the Boston Church of Scientology, and am nearly an ordained minister of their church. The one thing I am though, that they do no know about, is a TRAITOR. To me, Scientology is little more than phenomenological experience. I believe that anything in this world has the right to be studied by the human mind and soul (freely), and Scientology is no exception. If there is any one piece of external data that I can point to which shows a unique contribution I have made to the world, it is my singular--I believe--simultaneous progression in both Scientology and psychology. I hear stories of practicing psychiatrists who turn towards Dianetics (a sub-study of Scientology), but to simultaneously advance in both Scientology and psychology (I am crossing my fingers that I really did get my Masters in counseling from Boston State College) is an achievement that I am quite proud of. In my experience, L. Ron Hubbard makes Sigmund Freud look modest. The sad--to me--thing though, that I must begrudgingly admit is that I do not believe that L. Ron Hubbard--in his psychological, philosophical, and theological works, is any less great than Freud. I pay this tribute to Hubbard, fully realizing that he would probably laugh at my even comparing him to such a bumbling idiot as Freud (although he does give Freud a bit of credit for one or two things). But what can I say? "Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health" ( c.f. [1]) is a great book. It is Hubbard's first main non-science fiction book, and I believe he has written approximately thirty Scientology related books and booklets since then. His writings should indeed be publicly known and acclaimed, and he should go down as one of the greatest psychologists, philosophers, and theologians in the history of our time. Perhaps, you are wondering, if I am so enthralled with L. Ron Hubbard, why do I call myself a traitor to Scientology?

I shall try to explain.

You must remember that I, Elliot Benjamin, live in a natural dimension. That comes first. "Realness" is important to me. I got interested in Scientology because at the time it was "real" to me. Indeed, Scientology is quite alluring when one is trapped in our materialistic, self-shattering society.

A Scientologist is a spiritually oriented person--make no doubt about it; and human beings have been attracted to spiritualists for thousands of years. But Scientology is a very unusual kind of spiritualism. It successfully combines the technology of the West with the mysticism of the East, and is so expansive and all-encompassing, that it has only one major flaw and lack: FREEDOM!

Yes—that's it. A Scientologist is a slave. A slave to the ideas of Mr. Hubbard. Hubbard's ideas are remarkably brilliant, but the price is a bit too high for me--and I am not just talking about the financial price. You literally must sell your soul to Scientology in order to become a Scientologist. I believe that Hubbard has made some ideological mistakes, has overdone some of his ideas, and in short has committed the human fallibility of being imperfect. Another way of saying this is that Hubbard is not God. Perhaps some day I shall write a psychological/philosophical analysis of Dianetics and Scientology. I cannot fight the temptation to expose Scientologists. They manipulate others, and therefore they deserve to be exposed for who they really are. If they can catch me, fine. So far, they haven't. As I continue to survive in their church, I take the attitude that if they let me stay with them, with all that is in my mind--as finally evidenced a little by what I have so far written, it is their own shortcomings, and they must pay for it. For they let me stay with them only because they believe I am one of them. No way. I am studying them. The price is costly to me--both in finances and in emotional stress--but I love it!

Scientology and fear

It is now one and a half years since I wrote all these essays on Scientology. In this time span I have extended my material on Scientology to the rest of the essays in this book [4] and have put together quite an interesting little piece of work on modern religions, if I do say so myself. I have sent my manuscript to one publisher so far, and got it sent back un-read but with a list of two other suggested publishers to send it to. Now comes the fear. The publicity about Scientology is beginning to become a big news item, as Scientology is being indicted for stealing thousands of government documents. On the other hand, Scientology is conducting lawsuits against various individuals who have written and spoken out against Scientology. The lawsuits are minor compared to some other maneuvers Scientology has been accused of using: alleged fires to an individual's personal belongings, continuous harassment with the intent of driving an individual to a mental hospital, spreading false rumors to destroy an individual's reputation, and threats on an individual's life. So what am I to do? I never expected Scientology to embrace my book, but their near Gestapo tactics have exceeded even my own expectations of their reactions to other ex-Scientologists' exposes about their church. Yes--I am afraid. I am afraid for my own life and the lives of my family. I am no martyr. I do not see myself as a statue of stone like Joan of Arc. I rather see myself in my own back yard--pondering the trees and doing theoretical mathematics. But I also do have my pride and dignity. This book has become such a living part of me. I wish I were able to get back into communication with Scientology and have them accept my book; I would even agree to take out section 9: "Quotes From L Ron Hubbard" and the other direct quotes I have used from Hubbard's writings [5]. I really do not like the idea that publishing my book now must become a measure of not only my determination, but my courage.

There was a time when I wanted fame and glory, but that time is over with. I realize that I am a writer, and I must be true to my own self. This is why I will proceed with my plans to publish this book--for this reason and none other. Whatever comes from the publishing is superfluous--money, fame, whatever. I always did like a challenge, and I indeed have met my share of personal challenges in my own lifetime. I hope that the challenge of publishing this book will be one that both myself, my family, and my future publisher can successfully meet.

It is interesting that for one year, while every week I was teaching my course "Psychology, Religion, and Human Values" at the Berkeley Adult School and reading most of the essays in this book to my students, including all my essays on Scientology, I was living one block away from the Berkeley Church of Scientology. I would continuously pass by the church and fight a vague temptation to go in. Eventually I'll be moving back to Boston--which is where I had the bulk of my experiences with Scientology. I know the intensity of these Boston Scientologists when there is something they want. So I shall be prepared for what I will have to deal with when this book will be finally published. But notice I say "when"--not "if".

I initially taught my class at the Berkeley Adult School mainly in order to put Scientology fully into my own phenomenological experience and out of my warped sense of having done something unethical. After having taught this class three times, I have certainly succeeded in my goal. Week after week, I would have stimulating open discussions with my handful of students--about Scientology and all my other religious involvements. Gradually Scientology became part of my own life experience which I finally did incorporate into my self concept. No--I cannot see myself going back to the Boston church to try to communicate with them. I think that I am past that point. I will probably proceed with my attempts to find a publisher, and then wait for them to strike. All I can say is that when I hear from them I'll be ready: lawyers, police, and even doctors, if necessary. Could you imagine if all the religions that I have written about made a pact to join together to "get" me? Luckily for me, they are each too egocentric with their own greatness and uniqueness to ever join together for anything, especially for a communal pact to do away with one small obscure writer.

Scientology on trial

It is now two and a half years since I wrote these essays on Scientology. In the past year I sent these essays to another publisher, and I got back a vehemently destructive critique of my writing style. My determination to publish this book has not been diminished, but I believe that my fear of Scientology has been. The Bay Guardian newspaper of San Francisco has recently put Scientology on their front page--reporting on a courtroom trial in Oregon. It turns out that an ex-Scientologist has sued Scientology for deceitful techniques and unethical behavior and she has won her suit--the court billing Scientology for over 2 million dollars, and classifying them as a counterfeit religion. The article goes on to describe many of the ideas and practices of Scientology that I have described in my essays, but includes some interesting tidbits about L Ron Hubbard that I did not know about. It turns out that Hubbard has falsified his credentials, and never did graduate from the colleges that he claimed to. The article makes it sound like Hubbard is unquestionably nothing more than a super con-artist. The article also says that Scientology is probably doomed, as many more ex-Scientologists will undoubtedly try their own luck in suing Scientology for personal damages, based upon the success of this case in Oregon. All in all, it seems that in ten years the essays that I have written about Scientology will be nothing more than historical data on an extinct modern religion [6]. But the question still remains: what positive things can we learn from Hubbard and Scientology? Is it all evil and destructive to human possibilities, or should we carefully bother to extract the wheat from the chaff? As my fear of Scientology is now greatly diminished, I feel much freer in regard to thinking further about the psychological/philosophical analysis of Scientology that I talked about in my essay "The Engram And The Dream" (see Part I of this article). I wonder if it is perhaps not entirely unfeasible for me to get back into communication with the Boston Church and try to get their cooperation in my venture. What?! No, this would be rather far-fetched. I'm sure that Scientology has not yet admitted defeat. Scientology is an amazingly resourceful animal, and they are not yet ready to beg for mercy. But at any rate, I can no longer say that I am afraid to publish these essays on Scientology. Whether or not I ever develop the interest and ability to extend my material on the concrete ideas of Scientology is an open question right now. But as far as publishing these essays are concerned, I can no longer use fear as an excuse.

A comparison of Scientology and Judaism Now that I have described my experiences in the 1970s with the Church of Scientology, I feel that it would be interesting for me to look at the similarities and differences that exist in the two religions which have had the most impact upon me in my life--Scientology representing the modern religions, and Judaism representing the traditional religions.

In comparing Scientology with Judaism, I feel that I really am making a comparison between what I conceptualize as a generalized form of traditional religions and modern religions. Judaism is a religion that is over 4,000 years old, while Scientology is a religion that is at this point (1980) 30 years old.

What do such seemingly diverse spiritual structures as Judaism and Scientology share together? These questions I will now make an attempt to tackle and make some kind of opening experiential analysis for.

As a boy, I went to an orthodox Jewish school known as a Yeshiva. There I studied both Hebrew and English, both American History and Jewish history, and was instructed quite completely in all the rules, regulations, and commandments of my religion. I was taught to both love God and fear God, for God was almighty and always present, watching you every moment of your life. I used to obey certain rituals such as wearing little prayer caps (yamulkahs) on my head, going to shul (Jewish temple) on Saturdays, attempting to not ride buses and not turn on lights on the Sabbath, never have milk and meat together, etc. As a boy I did not question any of these commandments, but I felt quite guilty and frightened when I would inevitably break these obligatory rituals. I did not realize that these were only rituals, and that the true God was far more interested in my own private undeveloped thoughts, fantasies, and feelings than in anything I did or did not do in the external world. But I succumbed to the exhortations of my teachers, and I was a good Jewish boy, adept at reading Hebrew and at reciting the designated prayers at the Sabbath service. Then I went to college away from home, and began to think for myself. I studied anthropology and questioned anything and everything that I was taught about the bible. I could not resolve the mounting discrepancies that I was discovering between Judaism and anthropology, and so I gradually stopped keeping the rituals, stopped going to shul, and soon became a declared atheist.

I imagine that this little story is quite common amongst many young people today, but it was still a tremendously difficult decision for me to make, and one that has had much impact in shaping the remainder of my life. But what is the point of bringing this up now? The point is that after I so bitterly rejected all the dogmas and rituals of the traditional religion which I had been brought up on, like so many other young people had likewise done in the 1960s and 1970s, I soon found myself getting swept away in just as much rigid dogma and ritual--but this time in a sugar-coated modern religion that was very different on the outside but quite the same on the inside--to the traditional religion which I had so emphatically left behind. I find it to be very interesting that so much of the things we are breaking away from in traditional religions are with us just as much or even more so in modern religions. Scientology promised to enable me to achieve total freedom, but bit by bit I discovered that in order to be a Scientologist I had to obey a great many commandments and rituals. I had to keep to a rigid and burdensome daily schedule of courses; I had to promise to not reveal any "inside" information about Scientology to non-Scientologists; I had to agree to go out and try to sell L. Ron Hubbard's literature and bring in people to the Church; I had to applaud enthusiastically after each person in Scientology spoke--no matter how I felt about what the person said; I had to submit to regular ethics checking on the E-Meter; I had to write weekly letters of report to "Ron" (L. Ron Hubbard), etc. In short, I soon found a whole new set of expectations and requirements that left me more enslaved to Scientology than I ever was to Judaism. Whereas Judaism had a connotatively derogatory term for non-Jews: "Goy," Scientology had a connotatively derogatory term for non-Scientologists: "Wog" (meaning "wise old gentleman").

Just what is it that traps people into leaving something distasteful behind and then going out and discovering this same distasteful thing again--but this time accepting it because it has a new color? Anthropological studies of religion show that themes of heaven and hell, rituals, and sacred practices are very different from culture to culture, depending on such diverse factors as time period, geography, climate, size of population, etc.

Thus, this barrage of modern religions that we are witnessing today is really just another theory of heaven and hell, ritual, and sacred practice. For a Scientologist, heaven means to go "Clear" and hell means to remain being a Wog. For an est graduate, heaven means to "get it" and hell means to still think there's something to get [7]. For someone engaged in the Gurdjieff work, heaven means to achieve the states of no. 4 and no. 5 man, while hell means to remain in the ordinary sleep-state characteristic of being a machine-like human being [8]. Just as concepts of heaven and hell are very different in Alaska and Africa, they may be quite different from one religion to another--be it modern or traditional. But the generalized theme of searching for everlasting happiness and avoiding a cursed meaningless existence still remain with the people of the modern religions.

The people of the modern religions generally view heaven as not a place in the sky that one goes to after one dies, but as something inside yourself that you strive for your whole life, giving up a lot of freedom along the way. It's this striving that structures their whole lives, as they--like their comrades of the traditional religions--find themselves worshipping a leader outside of their selves, and attributing tremendous wisdom and power to this leader, feeling both love and fear for him or her (the leader has generally been male), as I did for my own Jewish God as a boy.

As far as rituals and sacred practices are concerned, we once again have just made a trade-off of one kind of ritual for another.

Instead of reciting the "Shama Yisrael" in shul on Saturday morning--as orthodox Jewish people do, we attend est seminars and "go into our space" and conduct Scientology auditing sessions with the much adored statement: "Your Needle is Floating". These statements: "Go Into Your Space" and "Your Needle is Floating" have become the ritualized sacred practices of est and Scientology.

They have all the meaning to est graduates and Scientologists that the Shama Yisrael has to the Jew and "The Lord is My Savior" has to the Christian. It takes a while to really see the analogues and patterns of similarity and identity that exist between traditional religions and modern religions, but once found these patterns become quite intriguing. For it helps us to understand what our own forefathers went through--thousands of years ago--in adopting the then "modern religion" and its code of ethics, rituals, and commandments. I honestly contend that the current modern religious leaders such as L. Ron Hubbard, Werner Erhard (founder of est), Guru Maharajji (founder of Divine Light Mission), Reverend Moon (founder of the Unification Church), etc., are very similar in nature to the ancient religious leaders such as Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, etc., although there are also substantial differences between these ancient and modern religious leaders, as I have described some of the modern manipulative and unethical procedures of certain modern religious leaders [9]. However, I believe that the crucial difference is the passage of time--and the eventual evolutionary determination of which religion will survive and which religion will fade. Thus the terms "modern" and "traditional" become much more blurry upon closer examination, and we find that Judaism and Scientology are in basic substance not very much different at all. For me, I have gone through my own evolutionary forms of being both a Jew and a Scientologist, and I am left only with a greater and wider appreciation of the inter-connections of all religions in all times.

Scientology in the 21st Century

A quarter of a century later and I have learned a bit more about Scientology. A few months ago I visited my son Jeremy, who is now a twenty year old engineering student at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. He had been telling me how Scientology is tremendously popular and widespread in Los Angeles, but I did not think a whole lot about it. One day as we were driving through the downtown area, we saw a sign on a building saying "Hubbard College of Business Administration". Jeremy said this must be a Scientology place as L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology, but I was not at all convinced, thinking that the name must just be a coincidence. However, something in my curiosity made me park the car, and the two of us went into the building, with butterflies in my stomach. Sure enough, the founder of this college of business administration was none other than L. Ron Hubhard himself.

Lots of Scientology books were on public display, and the man behind the counter had a dark business suit on and looked deeply into our eyes in a way that I knew all too well.

I felt these shivers of coercive and manipulative memories telling me to get the hell out of this place as soon as possible, but I also felt this dedicated curiosity and almost responsibility to find out what was currently going on in Scientology.

I managed to ask the guy a few generic questions, and obtained the 60 page college brochure. I could feel my exploratory excitement being rekindled as I thumbed through the booklet. Yes--one could obtain a two year college degree at L. Ron Hubbard's accredited business school, paying nearly $35,000 a year tuition. There were all sorts of business certification programs and general public education business courses and workshops offered. The more I read the more I became reacquainted with L. Ron Hubbard's whole educational system that I experienced back in the 1970s, from individualized competency-based education to the "Misunderstood Word" technology to professional salesmanship and marketing techniques in order to bring people into a Church of Scientology ( c.f. [2]). Hubbard's techniques of training Scientologists to package and market Scientology so successfully to the world was now formulated into a bona-fide business college! And this business college was not just a unique college in Los Angeles; these colleges were all over the world, as there were close to twenty of these colleges established as subsidiary organizations of the Church of Scientology. This was both amazing and scary to me, as there was no doubt in my mind that anyone taking part in Hubbard's business college was simultaneously being manipulated into becoming a Scientologist as well as a business executive, especially as there were a number of Scientology churches in Los Angeles only a few blocks away from this business college. And thus the fire of curiosity became rekindled in me, as Jeremy and I went on what we referred to as "Scientology Hunting" as we drove down Hollywood Boulevard.

We soon passed a massive structure of adjoining buildings that Jeremy said was the major Scientology church in Los Angeles. There was a large banner advertising a celebration for L. Ron Hubbard's birthday in two weeks in the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium (Hubbard had died in the 1980s). I knew it was time for me to once again enter a church of Scientology, this time with my twenty year old son. I felt both frightened and excited as we made our way into the church. I had told Jeremy that we should give them false names and telephone numbers, as I did not want them to be able to have us on their marketing lists. The more things change the more they remain the same--as we immediately got offered a free personality test, a free invitation to L. Ron Hubbard's birthday celebration, numerous Scientology brochures and pamphlets, and were invited to watch a half hour film about Scientology. There were lots of Scientology books now available to the public, and Jeremy and I went into the small auditorium to watch the Scientology film--just the two of us. It was all there--just as I wrote in my essays back in the 1970s (see [3]) --but greatly expanded, as the brochures included a list of all the Hubbard colleges of Business Administration throughout the world. Scientology has been steadily growing and becoming richer over the years. They have a multitude of large churches as well as small missions in over 130 countries in the world--and millions of people have now been involved in Scientology. They won their many court battles over accusations of being a counterfeit religion, and are now legally established as a bona-fide religious institution, along with non-profit status. They presently advertise--in both their film and brochures--their Celebrity Centers in Los Angeles and New York, with pictures of acting celebrities Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kristi Alley, and famous jazz pianist Chick Corea in the celebrity forefront. One of their immediate future massive marketing plans include large Scientology billboards in major cities all over the world, targeting people on the streets--as recruiting people in dire straits for initial free auditing (Scientology therapeutic processing, see [3]) has the potential of producing quite the dedicated future Scientologists. Their hatred and paranoid fears of psychologists and psychiatrists has reached massive proportions, as they continuously stress the dangers and harmful effects of engaging in any other kind of professional therapy--aside from Scientology auditing. Yes--Scientology is all too alive and well in the 21st century. L. Ron Hubbard died back in the 1980s, and the Church of Scientology now worships him as an enlightened spiritual being in the company of Jesus and Buddha.

The list of his amazing accomplishments and achieved expertise in numerous professions and hobbies is indeed staggering. As I remember writing in my Scientology essays in the 1970s, Hubbard is a brilliant man and there is much we can learn from Hubbard and Scientology. But make no mistake about it; the 100% doctrine (see [3]) has not changed--meaning that Hubbard professes that 100% of the time everything he utters is infallibly the way things are, and neither has the serious danger changed of becoming a member of a self-destroying manipulative new age spiritual organization.

Well--after stopping into a smaller Scientology information center and feeling like the attractive bookstore receptionist was seeing right through me and my acting attempts to be the naive newcomer to

Scientology, I had enough of "Scientology Hunting"--in Los Angeles, anyway. As I had recently been thinking about trying to make another go of my Spirituality & Cults course, I felt like I got the shot in the arm that I needed to once again initiate my venture. I forced myself to read through two Scientology books available in my local bookstore--and read through all the material on ARC (affinity, reality, communiication), the tone scale, the dynamics, engrams, Dianetics, etc., and even some generic descriptions of auditing (Scientology therapy) procedures (see [3] for a description of all of this). The list of Scientology churches and missions throughout the world was unbelievable. There were over 35 churches and missions and centers in Los Angeles alone! But I noticed that there was also a Scientology mission right here in Maine. It was in Brunswick--just a 45 minute drive from the town in which for the past year I have been spending a lot of time with the woman in my life-- Bobbi. Bobbi is a Reiki master who has recently opened up her own Reiki Center--and it has extended into offering herbal consultation, family math, and new age spirituality explorations, as I have become quite involved in Bobbi's Center [10].

I knew that I needed to check out Scientology in Maine, but as Bobbi had listened to all my Scientology essays she was quite concerned about me going there by myself, and she insisted that she go with me. I had serious qualms about Bobbi being in a Church of Scientology, but I also appreciated her concern for me. I realized that I was dealing with something that had tremendous personal impact upon me. And thus Bobbi and I went together to the Brunswick, Maine Church of Scientology.

And now my essay about Scientology in the 21st century takes on a bit of a humorous twist. To backtrack a little, after Jeremy and I ventured into the Church of Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles, I became determined to find out what the current costs of Scientology were, as my information was all from 25 years ago. But in none of the Scientology literature or books was there any mention at all of how much either auditing or training costs. I did manage to ask the financial question at the second Scientology place we stopped into when in Los Angeles, but I felt very nervous about making us seem suspicious to these Scientologists. I knew that it was way past my comfort and safety zone to set foot in the Scientology churches in Boston and New York again, and I figured that the least I could do was to check out the Scientology website. Sure enough the Scientology website contained the same kind of information as the brochures--full of praise and promise for Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, but no mention of the costs. Bobbi had mentioned to me that she knew of someone through her internet Reiki correspondences who had been a Scientologist a few years ago, and she gave me the person's e-mail address. But this person wrote back to me claiming that he had never been a Scientologist and referred me to someone else who might be able to help me out. But this second person wrote back saying that he did not remember what the costs were and suggested that I contact Scientology directly. Bobbi and I began to wonder if Scientologists could possibly be afraid to divulge this information to me. I felt too uncomfortable to call the Church of Scientology, and though Bobbi offered to do this herself for me, I did not think it was safe for her to do either. But once I found out that there was a Scientology mission so close to us, I could no longer avoid taking the risk, and thus it occurred that Bobbi and I paid a visit to the Scientology mission in Brunswick, Maine. I knew that a mission was a small church, but I was not at all prepared for how different this mission was from the Scientology churches I had been to in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. The mission was in an ordinary two-story house with a small sign on the door, and after ringing the door bell and no-one answering for a minute, we were about to leave--figuring that Scientology in Brunswick was pretty low key if they were not even home in the middle of a weekday. But just as we were leaving, a rather ordinary looking middle aged man came to the door and invited us to come in. We thus entered the house and found ourselves passing by a musical band/drums set and into a homey and cozy living room, where a woman sat behind a desk, looking rather bored. We sat ourselves down on an old comfortable couch and the man sat in an easy chair directly opposite us; he was both relaxed and friendly, and did not at all seem threatening or manipulative to us. There was a stack of the usual Scientology books in the bookshelves, and occasionally Scientology students on course would walk by from the upstairs rooms. But the relaxed and friendly atmosphere was almost embarrassing to me, as I had warned Bobbi so much about all the dangers of actually setting foot in a Church of Scientology. Bobbi and I had our lines all prepared, as Bobbi set us up as "Karen and the Professor." Not only did we give ourselves fictitious names, but Bobbi took on the hilarious identity of this ditzy woman Karen, as we pretended to be a married couple, me being the patient professor and Karen talking a mile a minute about utter nonsense. Many times I was afraid that Bobbi was overdoing her act--and that the guy would realize we were secret agents and an awful scene would take place. I had to control my inner laughter tremendously as Bobbi would say things like: "I don't need my books audited," "Does being on the E-Meter (Hubbard's physiological thoughts and emotions measuring device; see Part I) hurt?" "There is nothing wrong with me--I just want to change people's attitudes," "I'm a natural person--I don't like electronic devices," etc. Even the guy let out a smile and said "Come on" when Bobbi asked him if the E-Meter could electrocute you. But somehow the guy began to look deeply into Bobbi's eyes as he questioned her, trying to reach who she really was. Bobbi did not succumb or give up her Karen act, but she said afterwards how penetratingly deep and invasive this guy's captivating stare was. Yes--TRs (an acronym for Training Routines to dilate a Scientologist's eye pupils and "capture" people through their deep eyeball stares, see [3]) was alive and well in Brunswick, Maine. I managed to keep my naive inquisitive professor act up, and I succeeded in finding out the information I came there to find out. It turns out that for only $500 you can become a Dianetics auditor without utilizing the E-Meter. Of-course the great emphasis is on becoming a full E-Meter Scientology auditor afterwards, but the guy said that one would need to go to Boston to learn this as they were not equipped to do E-Meter auditing in Brunswick. When he talked about the priceless benefits of going Clear (the Scientology goal of relieving people of all their engrams and achieving the first stage of inner peace; see [3]), I asked him if there were levels beyond Clear. Bobbi became concerned that he would become suspicious of my thinking about this, but he answered me directly, admitting that each post-clear level (the Operating Thetan levels) cost a few thousand dollars. I remembered how back in the 1970s there were about a dozen Operating Thetan levels. How much would it cost to go Clear? Around 15 or 20 thousand dollars if done on the E-meter. It would be cheaper without the E-meter, but virtually no-one did it this way because it takes too long. Somehow this guy was so nice and calm that in spite of all my background and our being such wonderful actors, Bobbi/Karen actually became interested in buying a book and even momentarily thinking about the $100 Introductory course the guy told her about which could help her learn to change people's attitudes thru becoming skilled at observing the tone scales people were on. And I actually found--in my imagination--the prospect of becoming a Dianetics auditor to be rather tempting. Yes--I was very glad that Bobbi was with me, and I decided against buying the book--as Karen told the guy that I controlled all our finances. I think that the guy thought I had a lot of potential to make a fine Scientology auditor, and making a Scientology auditor is still the essential ingredient that allows Scientology to survive and prosper.

And so--I have fulfilled my responsibility to learn more about Scientology. By the time we left--at least two hours from when we entered the Scientology mission--Bobbi was quite impressed with the impact that the Brunswick Church of Scientology had upon her. She said that if she were by herself and had never met me, she would have definitely signed up for the Introductory course and would have been at their mercy. Their course schedule is so much more convenient and lighter than the way it used to be back in Boston in the 1970s, as two or three evenings a week is enough to enroll on a course here in Brunswick, Maine [3].

Dianetics auditing at the mission could be done at $30 per hour. The emphasis is still on 12.5 hour intensives, and following up with the more expensive E-Meter auditing is expected, but for an initial investment this was certainly most reasonable. This was not hard core salesmanship--this was laid back small town Maine friendliness. And it was alarmingly effective, as the dangers and traps are the same as they were 25 years ago. Take one step and you are hooked--you would be in the Boston Church of Scientology before you knew it. But as my understanding of the frightening versatility and variety at which Scientology procures its victims is now current, at this point I shall conclude my explorations of Scientology in the 21st century.

Notes and references

  1. See any of L. Ron Hubbard's books on Dianetics and Scientology; in particular see "Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health" (Los Angeles: The American Saint Hill Organization, 1950, 1975); "Scientology: A New Slant On Life (Los Angeles, 1988, 1997); "Scientology: Fundamentals Of Thought" (Los Angeles, Bridge, 1983, 1999).
  2. See for example Paulette Cooper, "The Scandal Of Scientology" (New York: Tower, 1971); Robert Kaufman, "Inside Scientology" (New York: Olympia, 1972); Russel Miller, "Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard" (Great Britain: Penguin Books Ltd., 1987); Bent Cordon & L. Ron Hubbard Jr., "L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah Or Madman" (Sebaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1987); Joe Atack, "A Piece Of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, And L. Ron Hubbard Exposed" (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1990); Elliot Benjamin, "Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis And Expose`" ( c.f. [3]). In addition, see Scientology news, articles, and updates at various cults awareness websites; in particular International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA; ); Freedom Of Mind Resource Center (; Factnet;
  3. For a description of my tri-perspective experiential analysis applied to various modern religious movements, see Elliot Benjamin, "Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis And Expose`" (Swanville, Maine: Natural Dimension Publications, 2005; available by contacting the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.); this description is also available in my article "Spirituality And The Cults: An Experiential Analysis" (The Ground Of Faith Journal; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; April, 2005).
  4. "this book" refers to "Modern Religions" (c.f. [3]).
  5. All direct Scientology quotes have not been included in either my "Modern Religions" book or this article for obvious legal reasons.
  6. See the section "Scientology In The 21st Century" for an account of how incorrect the failure of Scientology has been.
  7. See my est essays in "Modern Relgions" (c.f. [3]).
  8. See my Gurdjieff essays in "Modern Religions" ( c.f. [3]).
  9. See "Modern Religions" (c.f. [3]) and Geoffrey Falk, "Stripping The Gurus" (, 2005).
  10. See my Reiki essays in "Modern Religions" (c.f. [3]).

Author's note:

Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D is a mathematician, philosopher, musician, counselor, writer, and the author of over 45 articles in the areas of pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality and cult dangers, and art and mental disturbance. He has also written several self-published books, including "Numberama: Recreational Number Theory In The School System," "Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis And Expose`," and "Art And Mental Disturbance." He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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