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Daring Greatness -- L. Ron Hubbard

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born in 1911 in Nebraska, the son of a US Navy officer. He attended George Washington University for two years beginning in 1930, but his poor grades prevented him from completing any kind of degree program. He embarked on a reasonably successful career as a pulp science fiction writer after that. He served in the US Navy from 1942-1945, with no engagement in combat action.

Following WWII, it is said that Hubbard dabbled in ritual magic, the occult and hypnosis. He wrote to his literary agent that he had come up with a novel therapy system that had tremendous promotional and sales potential. Piecing together hypnotic techniques, Freudian theories, Buddhist concepts and elements of other philosophies and practices, Hubbard called this new "regression therapy" system Dianetics. In 1950, he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. The book became a best seller, and he soon took it a step further by establishing the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation to teach and promulgate the healing techniques he claimed to have discovered. The foundation soon collapsed in bankruptcy, as the initial interest in Dianetics deflated -- likely, by the lack of any actual therapeutic results from the system.

Hubbard had declared in the late 1940s: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." In 1952 he reconstituted his organization as the Hubbard Association of Scientologists, and once again in 1954 as the Church of Scientology (CoS).

Hubbard got it into high gear at this point. He claimed to have discovered certain "natural laws" of the spiritual universe, which could be used to predict and control behavior. He fleshed this out into an incredibly complex dogma that may as well have come straight out of one of his early pulp sci-fi fiction novels.  He laid out an extensive, prolifically detailed set of sub-doctrines, jargon, and psychotherapeutic "procedures".  By undergoing a progressive and lengthy series of hypnotic "auditing" sessions performed by trained CoS technicians, one could become free of the many negative attachments to the body.  Once fully purged and thus "cleared", a person might then be able to consciously control matter, energy, space, time, thought, and life. The higher the attainment of the CoS adept, the more bizarre the revealed church secrets became.

The hierarchy and ranking system for CoS members is more complex than any to be found in Freemasonry. Progression through all levels of the teaching takes many years of dedicated study and practice. For the would-be adept, the fees for CoS services and materials to facilitate the full journey are estimated to cost approximately $300,000 - $500,000.

Scientology paints itself as a religion, but its organization also actively markets material related to business management, education, mental health, physical health, law enforcement, "moral revitalization", and entertainment. It is a transnational business in every sense of the word. The Church of Scientology has assets totaling an estimated $400 million and an annual revenue of $300 million.

It seems that L. Ron was right: the real money comes from establishing your own religion.

In 1967, the church bought several ocean-going ships.  For the next eight years Hubbard lived largely at sea. While he claimed that he had given up control of his church, the facts indicate he actually held full control over all its operations. In a series of subsequent activities reminiscent of an Ian Fleming novel, Hubbard made brazen but bungling attempts to use political intrigue and undercover manipulation to create a "country of convenience" from which to base CoS operations. Attempts to infiltrate and influence the governments of Morocco and Rhodesia failed. After a cozy initial relationship, the military junta that ruled Greece in the late 1960s ordered Hubbard out. He was banned from entry into Britain. He was convicted in absentia of fraud in France in 1969.

At various times, Hubbard (and/or his church) had been investigated by the US Justice Department, the FBI, FDA, CIA, IRS, NSA, Bureau of Customs, DEA, DOD, the Secret Service, the US Post Office, INS, BATF, Department of Labor, police departments of various US cities as well as Interpol and a host of other governmental agencies worldwide. The Church of Scientology was convicted of breach of the public trust and infiltration of government offices in Canada. Scientology was banned by the state of Victoria, Australia.  Hubbard attributed all these events to plotting by Russian communists, neofascists, bankers, the media, the IRS, Christian clergy, fiendish extraterrestrials, and (his arch enemy) the psychiatric profession.  Well, as they say:  sometimes paranoiacs do have enemies...

During the early 1970s the IRS investigated evidence that Hubbard was skimming millions of dollars from the church, laundering the money through dummy corporations in Panama and stashing it in Swiss bank accounts. In retaliation, church members stole IRS documents, filed false tax returns and harassed the agency’s employees. Later, in the early 1980s, eleven CoS officials, including Hubbard’s wife, were imprisoned following a massive bugging and burgling operation against government offices across the US, code-named "Operation Snow White." Hubbard himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, but he escaped justice because no one could find him.

Hubbard went into hiding following the "Operation Snow White" debacle.  After some substantial infighting, the reins of the Church of Scientology were grabbed up by David Miscavige, a second-generation CoS member who was all of 21 years old at the time. High-level CoS defectors soon bubbled up from the carnage of the regime change, claiming that Hubbard had stolen as much as $200 million from the church. The IRS sought yet another indictment for tax fraud. According to one defector, Scientology members ‘worked day and night’ shredding documents the IRS sought.

Hubbard died a recluse in 1986, before his criminal case could be prosecuted. He expired in a Blue Bird motor home, about five miles east of Creston, California. He had been heavily medicated with Vistaril®, a psychiatric drug used to calm frantic or overly anxious patients. (The use of psychotropic medications had always been absolutely banned by CoS doctrine.)

Not many men have dared so much to be great. Most who do, die as Hubbard did – broken and psychotic at the end.

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Image of L. Ron Hubbard from site © 2004 Criminon International.  Fair use!  Fair use!  It's a nice, flattering picture.

This material was sourced from:




While the detailed tenets of Scientology dogma can be gleaned from the Internet, I will refrain from revealing any of them here. They are rather fantastic, but -- like all of Hubbard’s "space opera" sci-fi -- boringly pulpish and not very stylistic. To be honest, the real reason for my recalcitrance is that the CoS has tight copyright control over most of their material, and they can’t abide anyone using the "fair use" protection doctrine of Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Moreover, the CoS is known to be extremely vindictive and will brazenly attack any published critiques of their cult using every legal – or extralegal, if necessary – means at hand. We’ll see what they do with this page…

I know quite a lot about gnosticism. My read on Scientology is that it's just a strangely twisted spin-off of that religious philosophy. See http://www.mystae.com/streams/gnosis/cos.html for an excellent comparison between the two.


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