From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 50
See Home Page at http://www.ivymag.org/
IVy on the Wall
by Ken Urquhart, USA
Beyond Those Black, Black Clouds:
Chapter Three in a consideration of 'A Piece of Blue Sky' by Jon Atack
Beyond Those Black, Black Clouds:
IN CHAPTER TWO I accused our friends, Jon Atack and Russell Miller, of constructing, out of selected facts and entrenched opinions, a prejudiced condemnation of L.Ron Hubbard and his work. I strongly suggested that although they had reason to complain there was more truth on the subject than they had encompassed. I must now support this claim.
Note: Before I present any arguments I must acknowledge that in the last chapter I also made little of the basis on which I perceived Jon and Russell adopting their complaining mode. My belittling was ungenerous and I apologize for that; I am aware that it raises at least one question. I will address that question in a later chapter. Now to the substance of this chapter:
Let there be no doubt that I acknowledge that L.Ron Hubbard had faults and weaknesses, even vices. He had vanity, and could be proud. He became greedy for money later in his life. He could be vicious with his perceived enemies, capricious with his supporters, fickle with his friends. He had no scruples in manipulating people to suit his own purposes when he wanted to.
He saw no wrong in presenting himself socially and professionally as other than he was. He developed policies and codes profoundly respectful of others' rights yet adhered to them only as it suited him. He seemed to assume (rightly or wrongly) that all others' cases were as his. Without question, he misbehaved. For some, he misbehaved unforgivably - amongst them many who do not follow the party line of Messrs Atack and Miller. Within the tightly-controlled 'Church of Scientology' the party line is that he must be adored as being without sin. In between these viewpoints range many who experienced him or his organizations or processes and view him with very mixed and often strong feelings.
Did LRH make a difference despite his misbehaviour? Does his misbehaviour invalidate anything and everything he did? I believe that he made more than one difference - and that in one aspect, the difference he made is epochal.
Did he achieve on his own, as he and the C of S would have us accept? Most likely, not altogether: there are people who claim to have made this discovery or that development that became parts of the Scientology canon. He himself acknowledged contributions, or some, in the earlier years - but in 1965 flatly denied the value of any other's contribution to the subject.
Those who claim to be source of this or that are free to document their cases and to convince us. I say that I believe that LRH made a difference whether as a synthesizer or as a thief smart enough and big enough to get away with it (not that I approve of stealing and bullying but if the person stolen from doesn't make a fuss the theft tends to become accepted). In my view, LRH made differences on different levels.
He taught us better ways to think than we had precisely known before. He taught us to be more honest in reporting, describing, and evaluating information. He refused to let us get away with palming off opinions as facts, with selecting and fudging our facts to make the truth appear as something else to suit our own purposes. He created a discipline described in his 'Data Series' Policy Letters with which to maintain our own integrity and to measure the integrity and reliability of another's perceptions and relay of information. He analyzed the activity of analyzing observation, information-gathering, and reporting. For this he developed a discipline of practical application that anyone can learn. He created a workable and teachable tool available to all at all levels of education. The only qualification is that one be at least somewhat intellectually and emotionally adult.
The general use of this tool throughout a society would transform it utterly. Intellectual honesty respects others' capacity to sift the true and the false. The pap pumped at us day and night disrespects us all as stupid fools.
And yes, LRH failed shamelessly to analyze his own utterances and writings very often.
He clarified at least some of the fundamentals of the group dynamic. Here, as in his other cited contributions, there is a mixture of nonsense, falsehood, and aberration surrounding a core of sanity. He saw the group dynamic in terms of flow. I consider this correct and basic, and that it opens doors to simplification and power.
Things and/or people flow through the parts of an organization; as they flow the organization changes them and the changes add value; the various flows of the parts come together to culminate in the final desired product for which the customer exchanges value. This exchange gives the organization energy it uses to maintain and operate the flows and their channels. The desired final product is determined by the Purpose and Goal of the organization; all flows within the organization forward or support Purpose and Goal and contribute to the final product - or are transformed or eliminated. The quantities of final product consumed by customers bring about desired changes in life as required by the group's Purpose and Goal.
Management of the group consists largely of making sure that the flows' channels are clear, that the people or things on the flows are proceeding along the channels in correct sequence and form at the desired quality and rate, that raw materials are correctly put in at one end and acceptable products delivered at the other, and that energy is exchanged in return so that the group can move into the future, that slowed flows and overloaded flows are adjusted, and that customer satisfaction is as high as it possibly can be. This is simple, and sane.
Regrettably, LRH forced on to this simplicity a militaristic hierarchy of authority, whose verticalities contradicted the desires of the flows to flow, whose solidities blocked the flows' channels. Further, he deliberately set up his organizations to have what he called internal tensions - in which one division would put pressure on another to produce more and better. These two design decisions had the unhappy and foreseeable result of making the actual Purpose of the organization no longer to bring desirable changes to Life, but to itself alone. His organizations introverted severely.
To make matters worse, his system of ethics which, while workable in many ways, could be used - and was and is - to create further internal misery (not to mention external). But around the basic simplicity and sanity of his concept of the group dynamic he built up management and administrative tools of tremendous workability which are well worth learning and using. Their full value I think only time will tell. There are many and this is not the place to list them; I make no strong specific claims here other than that he distilled the group dynamic to a sanity and simplicity that any group can use to grow with.
If a group does not find it workable, it can at least certainly use it as a starting-point for exploration. I firmly believe that a group of intelligent and energetic individuals can multiply their combined effectiveness by many times with the help of Hubbard's group dynamic tools.
He has not said the last word on the subject but he has changed the concept of the group dynamic forever.
Bridge (the real one)
The greatest difference LRH made to life on Planet Earth and in the Physical Universe is, in my opinion, a very great one indeed. In said I consider it epochal. It stands with the greatest contributions by any great spiritual or humanitarian figure with whom we have been blessed.
The most highly revered spiritual leaders of the past have all pointed to something that is better than what we live in and with. They have all suggested that if we improve our behaviour towards self and others, we can become happier. They all differentiate between the material and the spiritual. But none of them - by immediately obvious evidence - have given all people the tools by which they can support self and others in the difficult and complex task of transforming from material-orientation to spirituality-orientation. A spirituality-orientation is the prerequisite to the happiness they promise.
Yet the demands and the temptations of the material can crowd out any leaning towards or time for spirituality. The person who wakes up every morning to face anew the challenge of providing for a family for the day with no resources beyond the body and own wit has no time for the spiritual. The person who has the time to explore the spiritual has not been well served, as we can tell through our knowledge of history. There has been a tremendous, crying need for a ladder, a connection, a bridge wide and open enough for the many to help themselves embrace their own spirituality and to tap their own spiritual strengths in order to fight for and gain freedom from material suppression or from the temptations of materiality. I maintain that LRH unlocked the door to such an opening. And that although others before him and with him contributed, it was he that had the status, the vision, and the strength to grasp the key, to turn it, and to push open the door to let in the light. That door will never be closed again in the entirety of Existence.
The key that LRH grasped and gave to every being on this planet or on any other, in this universe or in any other, is the discipline whereby one being may be as a practitioner with another, the practitioner giving the entirety of his or her attention to the client. For the duration of the session at least, the practitioner puts the needs and wants of the client above everything else in existence (acting appropriately in any material emergency that impinges on the session, such as a fire).
Er, What was that again?
Yes, '...puts the needs and wants of the client above everything else' does need some exploration.
The practitioner begins the session, having done everything necessary to keep the appointment. He usually has, but does not have to have, a session agenda arrived at through careful study of the client's expressed and understood needs. Often a very experienced support person well versed in the technology the practitioner is using provides this agenda. Once the session is begun, the practitioner's focus is on guiding the client through the steps of the session agenda. The aim is not necessarily to complete the agenda in one sitting but to bring the client along it as far as possible, ending session only if the agenda is actually completed or when the client en route to its completion reaches a state of happiness where further introspective work is inappropriate while the state obtains. In such a case, the session agenda would be resumed later.
Once he has started the session for which he does have an agenda, the practitioner usually has three choices: if he can, he proceeds with the agenda; if he finds the agenda is not appropriate for the client's state as the client settles in for the session, he may end the session in order to change the agenda. In some instances, especially if the practitioner is the one providing the agenda for his sessions, the practitioner may change the agenda to suit the client's state without ending the session-in other words, he handles the situation on the run.
In either case that the practitioner commits to going on with the session (that is, whether per given agenda or per ad hoc agenda), he commits to certain standards of behaviour. Now, simply in starting the session at all, he commits (by Hubbard's clear intention) to what is sometimes in itself a heroic act: any attention the practitioner has on his personal affairs, distant or immediate, no matter how horrendous and pressing they may be, he pulls off those affairs and keeps it off them for the duration of the session. He forbids them to violate the space of the session, to impinge in any way on the client, or to reduce by one iota the depth of his commitment to delivering and completing the session for the benefit of the client.
Now, once he has begun the session, and has chosen to continue it, he commits much farther again.
Providing stability and objectivity
Although clearing is not always by any means about the negative, it often is, especially in the early stages. Here, the practitioner guides the client through the client's own personal minefields of misconceptions, misunderstandings, misperceptions, self-deceptions, and outright untruths - the problems the client created for reasons best known to herself.
The guiding of the client towards her truth about these things allows the client to let go of the negatives corresponding to the reestablished truths that she finds. As the client experiences the process of establishing her truth, a process that can embrace any and every human manifestation, she may reveal to the practitioner details of life which, in the ordinary course of life, would severely trigger the practitioner's own negativity. When we are triggered, our attention withdraws from the present and it introverts; we feel negative emotions and adopt negative attitudes. Our ability to be with the present and to deal with it positively reduces greatly if not altogether.
Should the practitioner in session become triggered and suddenly depart from the present and adopt a negative attitude whilst the client is in the middle of the process of establishing her truth, two very adverse consequences can occur. Firstly, the client is distracted from her work, her attention is forced on to the practitioner who now suddenly becomes to her a new pressing present problem, and she can be severely disoriented by the jolt. She perhaps was re-experiencing a bad time when another was extremely negative to her; she can only approach the event because she trusts the practitioner not only to be stably present but also to remain objective and at least neutrally supportive. The second adverse consequence is that the jolt convinces her that she must not trust this practitioner again, and perhaps even that she can trust no practitioner at all ever again.
One could say that the action of the practitioner in allowing himself to react negatively to what the client is disburdening herself of (because she trusts him explicitly), is an action of cowardice and betrayal.
The discipline that Hubbard calls for is that the practitioner do whatever he has to do to keep the client working on what the client is working on (having in the first place got the client working on something that the client needs and will benefit from). If it happens that what the client expresses while working on her material should make the practitioner want to gag, faint, cry, scream, run away, sweat, blush, itch, twitch, squirm, frown, get furious, attack, justify, explain, excuse - do anything other than simply be present - the practitioner exercises whatever self-control he needs to in order that the client shall not perceive any of these reactions in the practitioner,but smoothly continue her work undisturbed.
Well, we are human...
Two obvious observations on this last point:
(a)we practitioners do not succeed 100% of the time in this commitment. No matter how hard we have worked, if we still have a weakness, something will find it out. But
(b)most of us know perfectly well when it happens, we immediately address any and all damage that results from it, and we act to make sure that the same mistake does not recur. We immediately again put the client first.
To the client, our integrity to our commitment means a guarantee that on the one hand she will be heard and handled almost always without opinion, judgment, evaluation, invalidation, or other arbitrary nonsense, by a practitioner who does not drag into the session his own problems or issues.
And on the other hand, our integrity guarantees that when we do make our mistakes we will be honest enough to know it and responsible enough to put it right to the extent necessary to retain the client's fullest trust.
Now, there are plenty of good people who walk the earth who wouldn't dream of hiding a mistake or of not putting right something they had put wrong. More than probably, Jon Atack and Russell Miller are amongst them. But I think the practitioner goes further than most. He is in a situation in which his competence and all his incompetence alike, his very beingness from the best in him to the worst in him, is potentially open to the individual sitting opposite him. He risks that the incompetence and the worst will be visible.
He takes that risk without really thinking about it. He still knows that the best in him will work with the best in anybody else, and that his best will always win over his worst whenever the benefit to the client is at stake. It is in one way - to the practitioner - such a small thing, mattering so little, hardly worth any attention. The client comes to accept it as completely ordinary.
Yet, in another way, small and insignificant as it is, it is - to Life - the way of saintliness.
This is the key that Hubbard grasped - whether he found it on his own or not, whether in finding it and developing it he manifested his best or his worst: The integrity of the practice of saintliness for the sake of another, a practice that can be taught and learnt by any and every human being that wants to learn it.
Having said that, I bring this chapter to a close, but must warn that I am by no means done with the difference that Hubbard brought to us.
© 2001 Kenneth G. Urquhart.