An exhaustive information source on Scientology
Written by: Los Angeles Times Posted on: 04/25/2003
Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics
Heading # 9
The Mind Behind the Religon
From a life haunted by emotional and financial troubles, L. Ron Hubbard
brought forth Scientology. He achieved godlike status among his
followers, and his death has not deterred the church's efforts to reach
deeper into society.
Los Angeles Times (LT) - SUNDAY June 24, 1990
By: Joel Sappell; Robert W. Welkos; Time Staff Writers
Edition: Home Edition Page: 1 Pt. A Col. 1
Story Type: Non Dup; Series; Main Story; Profile
Word Count: 3,122
Series: The Scientology Story. Today: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard. First
in a six-part series.NEXT: Part Two-- The Selling of Scientology.
It was a triumph of galactic proportions: Science fiction writer L. Ron
Hubbard had discarded the body that bound him to the physical universe and
was off to the next phase of his spiritual exploration--"on a planet a
"Hip, hip, hurray!" thousands of Scientologists thundered inside the
Hollywood Palladium, where they had just been told of this remarkable feat.
"Hip, hip, hurray! Hip, hip, hurray!" they continued to chant, gazing
at a large photograph of Hubbard, creator of their religion and author of
the best-selling "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health."
Earlier that day, the Church of Scientology had summoned the faithful
throughout Los Angeles to a "big and exciting event" at the Palladium. They
were told nothing more, just to be there.
As evening fell, thousands arrived, most decked out in the
spit-and-polish mockNavy uniforms that are symbolic of the organization's
The excited assemblage was about to learn that their beloved leader, a
man who dubbed himself "The Commodore," had died. Yet, death was never
Instead, the Scientologists were told that Hubbard had finished his
spiritual research on this planet, charting a precise path for man to
achieve immortality. And now it was on to bigger challenges somewhere
beyond the stars.
His body had "become an impediment to the work he now must do outside
of its confines," the awe-struck crowd was informed. "The fact that he ...
willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him signifies
his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a
The death certificate would show that Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, 74, who
had not been seen publicly for nearly six years, died on Jan. 24, 1986, of
a stroke on his ranch outside San Luis Obispo.
But to Scientologists, the man they affectionately called "Ron" had
The glorification of L. Ron Hubbard that brisk January night wasnot
surprising. Over more than three decades he had skillfully transformed
himself from a writer of pulp fiction to a writer of "sacred scriptures."
Along the way, he made a fortune and achieved his dream of fame.
"I have high hopes of smashing my name into history so violently that
it will take a legendary form, even if all the books are destroyed,"
Hubbard wrote to the first of his three wives in 1938, more than a decade
before he created Scientology.
"That goal," he said, "is the real goal as far as I am concerned."
From the ground up, Hubbard built an international empire that started
as a collection of mental therapy centers and became one of the world's
most controversial and secretive religions.
The intensity, combativeness and salesmanship that distinguish
Scientology from other religions can be traced directly to Hubbard. For,
even in death, the man and his creation are inseparable.
He wrote millions of words in scores of books instructing his followers
on everything from how to market Scientology to how to fend off critics.
His prolific and sometimes rambling discourses constitute the gospel of
Scientology, its structure and its soul. Deviations are punishable.
Through his writings, Hubbard fortified his clannish organization with
a powerful intolerance of criticism and a fierce will to endure and
prosper. He wrote a Code of Honor that urged his followers to "never desert
a group to which you owe your support" and "never fear to hurt another in a
He transmitted to his followers his suspicious view of the world--one
populated, he insisted, by madmen bent on Scientology's destruction.
His flaring temper and searing intensity are deeply branded into the
church and reflected in the behavior of his faithful, who shout at
adversaries and even at each other. As one former high-ranking member put
it: "He made swearing cool."
Hubbard's followers say his teachings have helped thousands kick drugs
and allowed countless others to lead fuller lives through courses that
improve communication skills, build self-confidence and increase an
individual's ability to take control of his or her life.
He was, they say, "the greatest humanitarian in history."
But there was another side to this imaginative and intelligent man. And
to understand Scientology, one must begin with L. Ron Hubbard.
In the late 1940s, Hubbard was broke and in debt. A struggling writer
of science fiction and fantasy, he was forced to sell his typewriter for
$28.50 to get by.
"I can still see Ron three-steps-at-a-time running up the stairs in
around 1949 in order to borrow $30 from me to get out of town because he
had a wife after him for alimony," recalled his former literary agent,
Forrest J. Ackerman.
At one point, Hubbard was reduced to begging the Veterans
Administration to let him keep a $51 overpayment of benefits. "I am nearly
penniless," wrote Hubbard, a former Navy lieutenant.
Hubbard was mentally troubled, too. In late 1947, he asked the Veterans
Administration to help him get psychiatric treatment.
"Toward the end of my (military) service," Hubbard wrote to the VA, "I
avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would
balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected.
"I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and
suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first
triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all."
In his most private moments, Hubbard wrote bizarre statements to
himself in notebooks that would surface four decades later in Los Angeles
"All men are your slaves," he wrote in one.
"You can be merciless whenever your will is crossed and you have the
right to be merciless," he wrote in another.
Hubbard was troubled, restless and adrift in those little known years
of his life. But he never lost confidence in his ability as a writer. He
had made a living with words in the past and he could do it again.
Before the financial and emotional problems that consumed him in the
1940s, Hubbard had achieved moderate success writing for a variety of
dime-store pulp magazines. He specialized in shoot'em-up adventures,
Westerns, mysteries, war stories and science fiction.
His output, if not the writing itself, was spectacular. Using such
pseudonyms as Winchester Remington Colt and Rene LaFayette, he sometimes
filled up entire issues virtually by himself. Hubbard's life then was like
a page from one of his adventure stories. He panned for gold in Puerto Rico
and charted waterways in Alaska. He was a master sailor and glider pilot,
with a reported penchant for eye-catching maneuvers.
Although Hubbard's health and writing career foundered after the war,
he remained a virtual factory of ideas. And his biggest was about to be
Hubbard had long been fascinated with mental phenomena and the
mysteries of life.
He was an expert in hypnotism. During a 1948 gathering of science
fiction buffs in Los Angeles, he hypnotized many of those in attendance,
convincing one young man that he was cradling a tiny kangaroo in his hands.
Hubbard sometimes spoke of having visions.
His former literary agent, Ackerman, said Hubbard once told of dying on
an operating table. And here, according to Ackerman, is what Hubbard said
"He arose in spirit form and looked at the body he no longer inhabited.
... In the distance he saw a great ornate gate. ... The gate opened of its
own accord and he drifted through. There, spread out, was an intellectual
smorgasbord, the answers to everything that ever puzzled the mind of man.
He was absorbing all this fantabulous information. ... Then he felt like a
long umbilical cord pulling him back. And a voice was saying, 'No, not
Hubbard, according to Ackerman, said he returned to life and feverishly
wrote his recollections. He said Hubbard later tried to sell the manuscript
but failed, claiming that "whoever read it (a) went insane, or (b)
Hubbard's intense curiosity about the mind's power led him into a
friendship in 1946 with rocket fuel scientist John Whiteside Parsons.
Parsons was a protege of British satanist Aleister Crowley and leader of a
black magic group modeled after Crowley's infamous occult lodge in England.
Hubbard also admired Crowley, and in a 1952 lecture described him as
"my very good friend."
Parsons and Hubbard lived in an aging mansion on South Orange Grove
Avenue in Pasadena. The estate was home to an odd mix of Bohemian artists,
writers, scientists and occultists. A small domed temple supported by six
stone columns stood in the back yard.
Hubbard met his second wife, Sara Northrup, at the mansion. Although
she was Parsons' lover at the time, Hubbard was undeterred. He married
Northrup before divorcing his first wife.
Long before the 1960s counterculture, some residents of the estate
smoked marijuana and embraced a philosophy of promiscuous, ritualistic sex.
"The neighbors began protesting when the rituals called for a naked
pregnant woman to jump nine times through fire in the yard," recalled
science fiction author L. Sprague de Camp, who knew both Hubbard and
Crowley biographers have written that Parsons and Hubbard practiced
"sex magic." As the biographers tell it, a robed Hubbard chanted
incantations while Parsons and his wife-to-be, Cameron, engaged in sexual
intercourse intended to produce a child with superior intellect and powers.
The ceremony was said to span 11 consecutive nights.
Hubbard and Parsons finally had a falling out over a sailboat sales
venture that ended in a court dispute between the two.
In later years, Hubbard tried to distance himself from his embarrassing
association with Parsons, who was a founder of a government rocket project
at California Institute of Technology that later evolved into the famed
Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Parsons died in 1952 when a chemical explosion
ripped through his garage lab.
Hubbard insisted that he had been working undercover for Naval
Intelligence to break up black magic in America and to investigate links
between the occultists and prominent scientists at the Parsons mansion.
Hubbard said the mission was so successful that the house was razed and the
black magic group was dispersed.
But Parsons' widow, Cameron, disputed Hubbard's account in a brief
interview with The Times. She said the two men "liked each other very much"
and "felt they were ushering in a force that was going to change things."
In early 1950, Hubbard published an intriguing article in a 25-cent
magazine called Astounding Science Fiction. In it, he said that he had
uncovered the source of man's problems.
The article grew into a book, written in one draft in just 30 days and
entitled "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health." It would become
the most important book of Hubbard's life.
The book's introduction declared that Hubbard had invented a new
"mental science," a feat more important perhaps than "the invention of the
wheel, the control of fire, the development of mathematics."
Hubbard himself said he had uncovered the source of, and the cure for,
virtually every ailment known to man. Dianetics, he said, could restore
withered limbs, mend broken bones, erase the wrinkles of age and
dramatically increase intelligence.
Not surprisingly, the nation's mental health professionals were
Famed psychoanalyst Rollo May voiced the sentiments of many when he
wrote in the New York Times that "books like this do harm by their
grandiose promises to troubled persons and by their oversimplification of
human psychological problems."
But "Dianetics" was an instant bestseller when it hit the stands in
May, 1950, and made Hubbard an overnight celebrity. Arthur Ceppos, who
published the book, said Hubbard spent his first royalties on a luxury
Hubbard had tapped the public's growing fascination with psychotherapy,
then largely accessible only to the affluent. "Dianetics," in fact, was
popularly dubbed "the poor man's psychotherapy" because it could be
practiced among friends for free.
In the book, Hubbard claimed to have discovered the previously unknown
"reactive mind," a depository for emotionally or physically painful events
in a person's life. These traumatic experiences, called "engrams," cause a
variety of psychosomatic illnesses, including migraine headaches, ulcers,
allergies, arthritis, poor vision and the common cold, Hubbard said.
The goal of dianetics, Hubbard said, is to purge these painful
experiences and create a "clear" individual who is able to realize his or
her full potential.
Catapulted from obscurity, Hubbard decided in the summer of 1950 to
prove in a big way that his new "science" was for real.
He appeared before a crowd of thousands at the Shrine Auditorium to
unveil the "world's first clear," a person he said had achieved a perfect
memory. Journalists from numerous newspapers and magazines were there to
document the event.
He placed on display one Sonya Bianca, a young Boston physics major.
But when Hubbard allowed the audience to question her, she performed
Someone, for example, told Hubbard to turn his back while the girl was
asked to describe the color of his tie. There was silence. The world's
first clear drew a blank.
"It was a tremendous embarrassment for Hubbard and his friends at the
time," recalled Arthur Jean Cox, a science fiction buff who attended the
More problems were on the way for the man whose book promised miracles
but whose own life would move from one crisis to the next until his death.
He became embroiled, for instance, in a nasty divorce and child custody
battle that raised embarrassing questions about his mental stability.
His wife, Sara Northrup Hubbard, accused him of subjecting her to
"scientific torture experiments" and of suffering from "paranoid
schizophrenia"--allegations that she would later retract in a signed
statement but that would find their way into government files and continue
to haunt Hubbard.
She said in her suit that Hubbard had deprived her of sleep, beaten her
and suggested that she kill herself, "as divorce would hurt his
During the legal proceedings, Sara placed in the court record a letter
she had received from Hubbard's first wife.
"Ron is not normal," it said. "I had hoped you could straighten him
out. Your charges probably sound fantastic to the average person--but I've
been through it--the beatings, threats on my life, all the sadistic traits
which you charge--12 years of it."
At one point in the marital dispute with Sara, Hubbard spirited their
1-year-old daughter, Alexis, to Cuba. From there, he wrote to Sara:
"I have been in the Cuban military hospital, and am being transferred
to to the United States as a classified scientist immune from interference
of all kinds. ... My right side is paralyzed and getting more so.
"I hope my heart lasts. I may live a long time and again I may not. But
Dianetics will last ten thousand years--for the Army and Navy have it now."
Hubbard, who had earlier accused his wife of infidelity and said she
suffered brain damage, closed his letter by threatening to cut his infant
daughter from his will.
"Alexis will get a fortune unless she goes to you, as she then would
get nothing," he wrote.
He also wrote a letter to the FBI at the height of the Red Scare
accusing Sara of possibly being a Communist, along with others whom he said
had infiltrated his dianetics movement.
The FBI, after interviewing Hubbard, dismissed him as a "mental case."
In one seven-page missive to the Department of Justice in 1951, he
linked Sara to alleged physical assaults on him. He said that on two
separate occasions he was punched in his sleep by unidentified intruders.
And then came the third attack.
"I was in my apartment on February 23rd, about two or three o'clock in
the morning when the apartment was entered, I was knocked out, had a needle
thrust into my heart to give it a jet of air to produce 'coronary
thrombosis' and was given an electric shock with a 110 volt current. This
is all very blurred to me. I had no witnesses. But only one person had
another key to that apartment and that was Sara."
After months of sniping at each other--and a counter divorce suit by
Hubbard in which he accused his wife of "gross neglect of duty and extreme
cruelty"--the couple ended their stormy marriage, with Sara obtaining
custody of the child. In later years, Hubbard would deny fathering the girl
and, as threatened, did not leave her a cent.
Not only was Hubbard's domestic life a shambles in 1951, his
once-thriving self-help movement was crumbling as public interest in his
The foundations Hubbard had established to teach dianetics were in
financial ruin and his book had disappeared from The New York Times
But the resilient self-promoter came up with something new. He called
it Scientology, and his metamorphosis from pop therapist to religious
leader was under way.
Scientology essentially gave a new twist to the Dianetics notion of
painful experiences that lodge in the "reactive mind." In Scientology,
Hubbard held that memories of such experiences also collect in a person's
soul and date back to past lives.
For many of Hubbard's early followers, Scientology was not believable,
and they broke with him. But others would soon take their place, conferring
upon Hubbard an almost saintly status.
But as Hubbard's renown and prosperity grew in the 1960s, so, too, did
the questions surrounding his finances and teachings. He was accused by
various governments--including the U.S.--of quackery, of brainwashing, of
bilking the gullible through high-pressure sales techniques.
In 1967, Hubbard took several hundred of his followers to sea to escape
the spreading hostility. But they found only temporary safe harbor from
what they believed had become an international conspiracy to persecute
Their three ships, led by a converted cattle ferry dubbed the "Apollo,"
were bounced from port to port in the Mediterranean and Caribbean by
governments that wrongly suspected the American skipper and his secretive,
clean-cut crew of being CIA operatives.
While anchored at the Portuguese island of Madeira, they were stoned by
townsfolk carrying torches and chanting anti-CIA slogans.
"They (were) throwing Molotov cocktails onto the boat but they weren't
lit," a crew member recalled. "Fortunately, this was not an experienced
The years at sea were a watershed for Hubbard and Scientology. He
instituted a Navy-style command structure that is evident today in the
military dress and snap-to behavior of the organization's staff members.
Hubbard named himself the "Commodore," and subordinates followed his orders
like Annapolis midshipmen.
As former Scientology ship officer Hana Eltringham Whitfield put it:
"Scientologists on the whole thought that Hubbard was like a god, that he
could command the waves to do what he wanted, that he was totally in
control of his life and consequences of his actions."
Photo: Above, L. Ron Hubbard, face toward camera, panning for gold in
Puerto Rico in 1932. He lived the life of an adventurer in his earlier
years, becoming a master sailor and glider pilot. At right, a copy of
Astounding Science Fiction Magazine from May, 1950. Hubbard's article in
this issue, "Dianetics: A New Science of the Mind," grew into the book that
laid the foundation for the Church of Scientology. Below, Scientology's
Saint Hill Castle in East Grinstead, England, on the estate where Hubbard
lived in the 1960s.
Photo: At left, John Whiteside Parsons, who befriended L. Ron Hubbard in
1946. At the time Parsons was the head of a Pasadena-based Satanist cult.
The two men later had a falling out over a failed business venture. At
right, Sara Northrup Hubbard. She and Parsons were lovers before she began
a romance with Hubbard, later becoming his second wife.
DESCRIPTORS: HUBBARD, L RON; CULTS; CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY; RELIGION;
WRITERS; THERAPY; MENTAL HEALTH; MYSTERIES; OCCULT SCIENCES;
PARAPSYCHOLOGY; PSYCHIC PHENOMENA
Heading # 8
The Mind Behind the Religion
Defining the Theology
Los Angeles Times (LT) - SUNDAY June 24, 1990
By: Joel Sappell; Robert W. Welkos
Edition: Home Edition Page: 36 Pt. A Col. 1
Story Type: Series; Sidebar
Word Count: 1,487
Series: The Scientology Story. Today: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard. First
in a six-part series.NEXT: Part Two-- The Selling of Scientology.
What is Scientology?
Not even the vast majority of Scientologists can fully answer the
question. In the Church of Scientology, there is no one book that
comprehensively sets forth the religion's beliefs in the fashion of, say,
the Bible or the Koran.
Rather, Scientology's theology is scattered among the voluminous
writings and tape-recorded discourses of the late science fiction writer L.
Ron Hubbard, who founded the religion in the early 1950s.
Piece by piece, his teachings are revealed to church members through a
progression of sometimes secret courses that take years to complete and
cost tens of thousands of dollars. Out of a membership estimated by the
church to be 6.5 million, only a tiny fraction have climbed to the upper
reaches. In fact, according to a Scientology publication earlier this year,
fewer than 900 members have completed the church's highest course,
nicknamed "Truth Revealed."
While Hubbard's "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health"
typically is one of the first books read by church members, its
relationship to Scientology is like that of a grade school to a university.
What Scientologists learn in their courses is never publicly discussed
by the church, which is trying to shake its cultish image and establish
itself as a mainstream religion. For to the uninitiated, Hubbard's theology
would resemble pure science fiction, complete with galactic battles,
interplanetary civilizations and tyrants who roam the universe.
Here, based on court records, church documents and Hubbard lectures
that span the past four decades, is a rare look at portions of
Scientology's theology and the cosmological musings of the man who wrote
Central to Scientology is a belief in an immortal soul, or "thetan,"
that passes from one body to the next through countless reincarnations
spanning trillions of years.
Collectively, thetans created the universe--all the stars and planets,
every plant and animal. To function within their creation, thetans built
bodies for themselves of wildly varying appearances, the human form being
But each thetan is vulnerable to painful experiences that can diminish
its powers and create emotional and physical problems in the individual it
inhabits. The goal of Scientology is to purge these experiences from the
thetan, making it again omnipotent and returning spiritual and bodily
health to its host.
The painful experiences are called "engrams." Hubbard said some happen
by accident--from ancient planetary wars, for example--while others are
intentionally inflicted by other thetans who have gone bad and want power.
In Scientology, these engrams are called "implants."
According to Hubbard, the bad thetans through the eons have
electronically implanted other thetans with information intended to confuse
them and make them forget the powers they inherently possess--kind of a
While Hubbard was not always precise about the origins of the implants,
he was very clear about the impact.
"Implants," Hubbard said, "result in all varieties of illness, apathy,
degradation, neurosis and insanity and are the principal cause of these in
Hubbard identified numerous implants that he said have occurred through
the ages and that are addressed during Scientology courses aimed at
neutralizing their harmful effects.
Hubbard maintained, for example, that the concept of a Christian heaven
is the product of two implants dating back more than 43 trillion years.
Heaven, he said, is a "false dream" and a "very painful lie" intended to
direct thetans toward a non-existent goal and convince them they have only
In reality, Hubbard said, there is no heaven and there was no Christ.
"The (implanted) symbol of a crucified Christ is very apt indeed,"
Hubbard said. "It's the symbol of a thetan betrayed."
Hubbard said that one of the worst implants happens after a person
dies. While Hubbard's story of this implant may seem outlandish to some, he
advanced it as a factual account of reincarnation.
"Of all the nasty, mean and vicious implants that have ever been
invented, this one is it," he declared during a lecture in the 1950s. "And
it's been going on for thousands of years."
Hubbard said that when a person dies, his or her thetan goes to a
"landing station" on Venus, where it is programmed with lies about its past
life and its next life. The lies include a promise that it will be returned
to Earth by being lovingly shunted into the body of a newborn baby.
Not so, said Hubbard, who described the thetan's re-entry this way:
"What actually happens to you, you're simply capsuled and dumped in the
gulf of lower California. Splash. The hell with ya. And you're on your own,
man. If you can get out of that, and through that, and wander around
through the cities and find some girl who looks like she is going to get
married or have a baby or something like that, you're all set. And if you
can find the maternity ward to a hospital or something, you're OK.
"And you just eventually just pick up a baby."
But Hubbard offered his followers an easy way to outwit the implant:
Scientologists should simply select a location other than Venus to go "when
they kick the bucket."
Another notorious implant led Hubbard to construct an entire course for
Scientologists who want to be rid of it.
Shrouded in mystery and kept in locked cabinets at select church
locations, the course is called Operating Thetan III, billed by the church
as "the final secret of the catastrophe which laid waste to this sector of
the galaxy." It is taught only to the most advanced church members, at fees
ranging to $6,000.
Hubbard told his followers that while unlocking the secret, he "became
very ill, almost lost this body and somehow or another brought it off and
obtained the material and was able to live through it."
Here's what he said he learned:
Seventy-five million years ago a tyrant named Xenu (pronounced Zee-new)
ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including
Earth, then called Teegeeack.
To control overpopulation and solidify his power, Xenu instructed his
loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sizes from the various
planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by
the billions to Earth in planes resembling DC-8s. Some of the beings were
captured after they were duped into showing up for a phony tax
The beings were deposited or chained near 10 volcanoes scattered around
the planet. After hydrogen bombs were dropped on them, their thetans were
captured by Xenu's forces and implanted with sexual perversion, religion
and other notions to obscure their memory of what Xenu had done.
Soon after, a revolt erupted. Xenu was imprisoned in a wire cage within
a mountain, where he remains today.
But the damage was done.
During the last 75 million years, these implanted thetans have affixed
themselves by the thousands to people on Earth. Called "body thetans," they
overwhelm the main thetan who resides within a person, causing confusion
and internal conflict.
In the Operating Thetan III course, Scientologists are taught to scan
their bodies for "pressure points," indicating the presence of these bad
thetans. Using techniques prescribed by Hubbard, church members make
telepathic contact with these thetans and remind them of Xenu's treachery.
With that, Hubbard said, the thetans detach themselves.
Hubbard first unveiled his Scientology theories during a series of
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