From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 53- August 2001
See Home Page at http://www.ivymag.org/
IVy on the Wall
by Ken Urquhart, USA
Forecasting the Whether
Chapter Six in a Consideration of 'A Piece of Blue Sky' by Jon Atack
Forecasting the Whether
'Part II: Before Dianetics, 1911-1949' covers a very large part of Hubbard's life in a disproportionately small part of the whole book; that this Part is dedicated almost wholly to Hubbard's misdoings in this period without mentioning much that is commendable is worthy of note. However, I don't propose to make an issue of this, since there is enough well-documented and serious material in this Part to outweigh any but the most exceptional well-doing - and I have no idea of what well-doing there actually was that would find a place in this context. Since the author makes no mention of any search for redeeming behavior we can't be sure that he desired to find any.
I want to make clear at the outset that it is not my aim to destroy a case against Hubbard. Jon Atack does not so much make an effort to discredit Hubbard in these chapters as present a case that speaks for itself. His presentation, of course, is slanted towards accusation, but I will not attempt to deny that what Jon says was going on is untrue, or to make it less reprehensible than it is. Nor will I attempt to argue that LRH was somehow right to do it, or that some later perfection justifies all. I will maintain that Jon's approach omits factors that truth and justice require us to consider, regardless of any unreality Jon might have regarding those factors.
Hubbard's first sinnings
Part II consists of six chapters, entitled respectively: `Hubbard's Beginnings,' `Hubbard in the East,' `Hubbard the Explorer,' `Hubbard as Hero,' `His Miraculous Recovery,' `His Magickal Career.' The last chapter gives detail of a part of Hubbard's life that he withheld information about or glossed over, later. The other five chapters all expose lies or exaggerations put out by Hubbard about his own history. Many of his untruths became part of the false, supposedly legendary persona that he and the C of S attempted to create to bolster his position as Source and Founder of Dianetics and Scientology. The persona was part of the marketing package.
Jon shows specifically how many of the aspects of the false persona were contrary to the documented truth. He says, of Hubbard's early exaggerations of his teen and young adult years: 'Hubbard did not confine his creativity to his fictional work. He reconstructed his entire past, exaggerating his background to fashion a hero, a superhero, even. Although Hubbard wrote many imaginative stories, his own past became his most elaborate work of fiction.' (Ch.1, p.45). I don't think anyone who looks at these chapters could disagree. Add to this a quote from someone who knew him: 'Hubbard was certainly an enthralling story teller.' (Ch.1, p.48). And, 'Hubbard was already writing in his teens, struggling to generate fiction. His journals are packed with attempts at pulp stories. Even his diary entries were obviously written for an audience, suggesting that even then Hubbard's distinction between fantasy and reality had blurred.' (Ch.2, p.59).
Two other quotes are revealing and characteristic: 'As ever, we are faced with a germ of truth embedded in its exaggeration. The habit of a lifetime.' (Ch.3, p.68); 'As usual, the story was tailored to fit the circumstances. Hubbard had cut his cloth to fit a man of greater stature than himself.' (Ch.4, p.76). The latter point is correct and well stated as it applies to Hubbard as a social entity in society.
We can conclude that just about anything laudatory that Hubbard or the C of S has put out about his childhood, youth, earlier career, war service, and the development of Dianetics, is either outright untruth, an exaggeration of a truth, or an enforced focus on selected truth. Hubbard was no war hero, for example; he lyingly whined to the Veteran's Administration repeatedly to get and to increase his military disability pension.
Jon's chapter on Hubbard's involvement with Jack Parsons leaves no doubt that Hubbard seriously and deeply dabbled in satanic practices. Hubbard's business dealings with Parsons evidently forced Parsons to go to court against him. Jon also states that Hubbard bigamously married Parson's former mistress on August 10th, 1946, but he doesn't give the source of that information. If it is a genuine and incontrovertible document, why are we not told that it is so?
How damning the evidence?
The story revealed in this sifting of the facts of Hubbard's life, and his claims about his life up to 1949 show a character no man of substance would be happy and proud to have his daughter ally with in marriage.
Was Hubbard so, and only so, throughout all of his life? I do not believe so. Is it logical to assume, as I believe Jon Atack assumes and wants us to assume, that because LRH's behavior in his years up to 1949 was as bad as it was then nothing he produced later could possibly be of any superior quality or value? If it were so, then the Christian churches would have to expunge their tradition of two thousands years in revering the actions and words of St Paul on the grounds that his earlier cruelty to Christians can only make him unacceptable. LRH was not St Paul, and so far as I know, was never on a road to Damascus; nonetheless, bad behavior in one period of a man's whole life does not have to negate the good. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is an elementary fallacy in logic. Jon would argue that the bad behavior continued. I accept that some of it did but would not change my position; Jon would assert that Dianetics and Scientology were products of the bad behavior and nothing else - and on that we would have to agree to disagree. This disagreement is what these Considerations are all about.
Process of maturing
Hubbard was born in 1911. He evidently arrived with equipment that suited him to deal with life by creating, magnifying, and enlarging a reality about himself that others would interest themselves in, be impressed by, and would subject themselves to. This is not only not in itself necessarily evil, it is not so uncommon. In fact, it was, in my opinion, very much part of the Victorian male's outlook. The Victorian male got away with whatever he could get away with by appearing so convincingly to be what he made himself appear to be. And the Victorian culture not only let him get away with it but was happy to not look too closely behind the facade as long as the facade kept the dirty linen hidden in the cupboard. The convincingness of the performance was justification enough for its acceptance. The tentacles of that time reached out and touched L. Ron Hubbard; they were not willing to let him go, yet. And he believed that the convincingness of his performance was good enough for him to wish its acceptance into being.
I feel that Hubbard did not come to terms with this aspect of his approach to life.
Hubbard was born with or developed a taste for pulpish fiction. [I myself have not read his early fiction or science fiction. I don't read much fiction, and science fiction is not to my taste. I started to read 'Battlefield Earth', and found that its action moved satisfactorily quickly but one-third through the book I felt I just couldn't stand to have one more short sentence with little words hit me on the head.] He used his ability to create pulpish fiction, as Jon has stated, to create the fiction he wanted to create about his own past. And he used the style of pulpish fiction, and his ability to create a facade, in his serious writing in Dianetics, Modern Science of Mental Health, for example. Its prose, its presentation, its assertions, are deliberately cast in a way that Hubbard felt made him sound like a scientist, an engineer, a pioneering researcher, a man of deep learning, and a great humanitarian.
His work would have had wonderful dignity if he had been able to present it as it was, rather than to present it as part of a facade he thought it necessary to create in order to gain acceptance, respect, and acknowledgment. In personal contact, and in the privacy of his study he could have the personal discipline necessary for simple and powerful honesty. When it came to his public persona, however, he could not resist the temptation to impress the world and to play to his own gallery.
Since I believe that Hubbard had lived before, and will live again, I believe that he was on a path, that he had been on that path for a while, and is continuing on it into the future. I believe that despite the seeming failures to open himself completely to be what he really is behind his facade or facades, he has been working to open himself; he hasn't got to the end of that part of his path yet.
Lastly, here, the matter of the black magic: I do not find it inconsistent that a man destined for what I and a number of people consider great work in the realm of spirituality would explore, on his way to greater enlightenment, the dark side of spiritual reality. Who is to say that it wasn't a case of Life putting temptation in his way, he taking the bait but only long enough to see through it and to see the other direction that was open to him, and to then get into his stride on his fated path? The Victorians used to say (Anthony Trollope said it, anyway, often): 'You cannot touch pitch and not be defiled'. Given his predilection for creating a fictional facade and his taste for pulpish fiction, it is reasonable to accept that a certain amount of what he learned in black magic remained with him. But you have only to read the Axioms of Scientology to know with great clarity that he could and did on occasion rise above all considerations of facade, pulp, or black magic.
Here I believe that Hubbard did learn much of the lesson Life required him to learn, or at least a great part of it. I don't doubt that he will learn more.
Crime, sin, or violation?
I do not accept that the violation of a suburban, middle-class standard is in itself reprehensible. However, I agree with the middle-class viewpoint that fraud is a crime and lying is a sin.
When a person believes another's claim that the other can bring him or her all kinds of promised benefits, for which he/she pays good money but then receives none of the benefits and is treated shabbily into the bargain, he/she is entitled to scream Fraud! When that person looks into the background of the principal and key figure in this perceived fraud, and finds that that figure has lied about himself, the person can feel very justified.
I am not saying that L. Ron Hubbard committed criminal fraud (or that he didn't), or that he callously set out to defraud or to deceive. He was unable to live his public life without creating a facade. Parts of the facade were that:
he had developed ways to help everyone relieve emotional, mental, and spiritual pains, disabilities, and remedy lack of ability;
he had created an organization capable of fulfilling this astonishing claim for every person that came for it (excluding certain types).
Supposing his first claim here to be true, the second obviously was not. His critics have experienced the latter and from that extrapolate that the first claim is also false. I myself do not consider the first claim to be altogether false. It has truth in it; to this truth Hubbard added the marketing he could not resist. He compounded the false in the marketing with the failure to deliver wholly, exactly, and universally, the results he himself could obtain himself or through his direct supervision of auditor and organization. This was a problem he did not succeed in resolving, because he was not honest enough with himself to know that he was failing.
Given the chance to lead a loyal, joyful, and powerfully effective band of supporters, he chose instead to present them as a carnival parade.
There were many who benefited hugely from the services they bought and received at organizations remote from Hubbard. There were many who felt disappointed and betrayed. The latter he failed. He set himself up for charges of fraud because he had not been honest with them - he tried to involve them in his self-deceit.
A spiritual context
Although it often seems as though a large portion of society has no interest in anything beyond the material, I believe it is true that all individuals exist on several different levels, including the spiritual. One who believes he has no existence on a spiritual level exists on a spiritual level as a being who doesn't believe he exists as a being. This person chooses not to be aware of what is beyond the material.
I believe that Hubbard had great awareness of the spiritual but it took him a while in that lifetime to recognize it and act accordingly. That he trod the path he trod in order to come to that recognition is not shocking to me. The significance of his path is simply that it was his path. It would be real nice if his path had been as distinguished as he made it out to be, but that he went through what he went through and lied about it is not to my mind reason to invalidate his path or where he came to. I believe that out of what he came to he gave us some unique and excellent tools that help us move forward and upward, and my view is that we are free to forgive him his weaknesses and failures. Who can deny that without weaknesses and failures a human being might never reach a point where she/he could produce something of value?
His major failure, in my mind, was that he held himself aloof from the people who did not or could not respond actively to his methods, and held himself aloof in ways that made those people wrong and reinforced his arrogance and antagonism towards them. On the whole, he was not ready for the job for which he sought the pay. On a high spiritual level he was undoubtedly capable of it, but his power of operation from that high awareness could not embrace control of his lower, more material urges - and they uncompromisingly perverted the purity of the spiritual.
Here I must clarify that although I say 'people who did not or could not respond actively to Hubbard's methods' I don't place any blame on them or infer that their states of `case' were so low and so awful they placed themselves beyond reach (and I certainly do not aim such thoughts at Jon Atack in particular). No, we are all free to move in whatever direction we think is best for selves and others, and are right to follow our own instincts. Hubbard himself had the direct responsibility to see that his message reached those who could hear it, to tailor his message honestly to those that needed adjustment in his message, and to see that the help he intended for people in general did arrive at its destination. My contention as regards Jon Atack is that his criteria in `exposing' LRH are flawed in that they arise out of a culture's restricted view of existence, Jon being a product of that culture.
It is a very, very sad thing that those who went into Scientology organizations to find the relief and expansion promised them not only did not always find it but were also sometimes badly abused for their pains. They sought, and should have found. They asked, and should have been cared for.
I have experienced LRH in his metier, the supervision of sessions and the extrapolation there from of further and general directives for auditors and case supervisors. I saw him operating and with the most genuine care, and with high enjoyment of his own certainty and virtuosity. I perceived the results he could obtain on people in difficulty, whether as auditor or recipient. It is to me a tragedy that people such as Jon Atack and many others never experienced the value of Hubbard's outflow on this level, and that Hubbard fooled himself into believing that he could force a world-wide organization into practicing technically at his level consistently -in addition, into believing that if the organization didn't deliver at his level, he would somehow save the day. He was brilliant at saving the day, but not big enough to do it on a whole planet in one lifetime.
He let down a lot of people and will answer for it. I don't believe he meant to. I believe he wasn't fully aware of all the effects he was causing.
Delayed demonstration of value
I do not mean to minimize any of the hardship that those who met with disappointment and abuse experienced. The unfortunate fact is that a bear entered the farmyard, and it was the lesser animals in the yard that got hurt. Those who could deal with the bear came out of their skirmishes intact. The hens are still cackling in the henhouse, the wethers still bleating in the fields.
The bear came in at what was perhaps not the best time. He strutted and roared in a very rude fashion. He rushed here and there, upsetting numbers of apple-carts. He got himself a very bad reputation generally, and mostly amongst those who never had the chance to hear his softer voice, feel his tender touch, bathe in the warmth of his smile, his friendliness, and his space.
It will take some time before the whole farmyard can acknowledge, as it will some day, that even though the bear caused so much trouble (some of which persists), things are much better than they were before he pushed his way on to the top of the dunghill, that despite the roars and the ridiculous prancings, despite the bullying, he brought good news.
Life's challenge to L. Ron Hubbard:
Learn to operate from your high spiritual awareness to embrace the realities of Planet Earth in such a way that your abundant and powerful energy always promotes solution and joy in being.
Life's challenge to Mankind:
Wake up. Grow up. Be open to changing the way you look at life and act in it. Look beyond the apparent obvious. Question your assumptions. Challenge your limitations, internal and external. Watch what you agree with. Step outside of your box. Refuse to accept misery and suffering as beyond your control. Learn to handle abuse from others. Live, and live more. Live happily with yourself and with your close ones and with your companions, neighbors, associates, colleagues, and fellows. Take a little peek at your potential - believe what you see. Believe in yourselves. Move forward as far as you can move, get used to it, and move forward again. And again.
May God guide us to more generosity of spirit rather than to less.
© 2001 Kenneth G. Urquhart.