My Risky Scientology Visit
Risky Scientology Visit
Three-plus decades before HBO’s “Going Clear” documentary aired, the subject of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard was a hobby/obsession of mine. Rare individuals that have shaped the lives of numerous of people, whether it be in war, Ponzi schemes, dictators etc. fascinate me to no end. I guess it’s more – “…why would so many people go along with some illogical crap?” What made this particular decision to go deep into the Scientology landmarks during a business trip much more difficult was the fact that I had a well-hardened fear burned in at the conscious and subconscious level during a bad stint of medically induced psychosis after brain surgery.
I had a cerebral AVM, a form of aneurysm, gamma radiation zapped in 1999 and the outcome eight months later was really bad. I was strapped to the bed and put into a medically induced coma but lived through 24/7 steroid psychosis, painting all my five senses with vivid "realities".
Some were fleeting, some left me 100% sure I had died in my Cedar Sinai room but recieved planted, comforting memories of my remaining life (wife, kids, retirement) that never happened. The core of my delusions – day after day with Scientology members standing at my bedside asking weird questions and flashing lights in my eye for days. Even though I could not speak, walk, or bathe myself - somehow I did manage to sketch... pieces that I do not remember doing to this day. Now what did I see outside of my 14th floor Cedar Sinai neuro room?
The Scientology building.
The picture above does closely match the view I had. I do remember the fear that all my brain washing was converted to "energy" that was streamed, along with other hospital captives, and beamed out of the Scientology transmission station, the hidden core of the Pacific Design Center.
Ok there's that.
Suffice to say that I am 100% unsettled at the idea or existence of a group that can amass a legion of followers with ideas or perspectives that would be recruits didn't originally subscribe to. I went to the weird Scientology anti-psychiatry(http://www.cchr.org/) and the "L Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition" museums Sunday afternoon - both took about an hour each. The psychiatry one was like a holocaust museum throughout the ages.
This place was creepier in person with the flashing lights and freaky videos
I got to the last display case of the psyc museum after about 45mins. I that had rows and rows of various antidepressants and other brain meds when the tour guide asked me "Do you know anyone that has ever taken any of these pills before?" I said, "Yeah, I take 7 pills a day and 4 of them are these two". She a almost shit. I explained the whole brain aneurysm thing and that the chunk missing from my brain really wants to send bad signals to my body and Vimpat, Keppra kinda help in not dying. She stared blankly.
The Hubbard museum was a fanciful pile of shit.
It was comprised of elaborate ( amazingly beautiful ) dioramas of L.Ron's life that made Howard Hughes look like a lazy, moronic loser.
Apparently New York newsstands only sold Hubbard comic books...
To round off my Hubbard/Scientology experience, I headed off to take pictures of the ultimate Scientology icon, the famed Los Angeles "Celebrity Center" castle on Franklin Ave.
I walked around the heavily ivy and tarp covered iron bars unit I got to the main circular drive. It had a small sign that read "Private tour avails upon request". F-it... I padded up to the large oak doors at the end of the cobble stone drive walked in.
The ceilings were side-lit paintings of clouds (think Ceaser's Palace) with decending white pillars and gold gilded molding. Various people strode past me as I lumbered through the multi-teired hallways when a uniformed woman looked at my cautiously I and asked, "Can I help you?". She was scanning me up and down in a pretty creepy manor. I mentioned the sign and she seemed a little put out before walking me into her office. I simply mentioned the sign. Just as she was finishing her "We dont do unschedualed tours to the public.." blow off when I said, "My wife and I are educated moral people that no longer believe in Christianity but have spent the past 6 years feeling a life disconnect". It was something like that, but more drawn out and not so obvious. I continued, "I'm a long time amateur historian of L. Ron Hubbard". She pulled up the handset of her desk phone abnd began to dial, saying said she wanted me to talk to the on-site director.
This suited guy shows up and asks me, point blank, what I knew about Hubbard beyond what the internet provides. I said, "I've been a true historian of this man for the past 15 years.
I know hes the first US Eagle Scout, visited 3 asian countries before the age of 17, penned more than 10 million words making him the most prolific author in the history of the world. While I do not know all the tenents of Scientology, as a Physicst and keen observer of human cause and effect - I feel that Scientology itself isnt sound. What I do want for myself and my family is to benefit from this mans life experiences and digest it so that it makes sense to me. I cant belive this is all a scam as the media portrays, but I do believe that there is a procedural pomp and circumstance that you guys wrap around the 'meat' of his discovery s that is unnecessary and makes Scientology look sleazy"
He asked for my phone number and I gave it to him with two numbers swapped.
While we chatted, he much have "test called" me cause he said, "Oh your number didnt go through". SCARY! I told him he entered the last two digits backward and DID give him my real number, which he DID verify. Trust established!
We talked for about 45mins while he took me on a long tour. He kept throwing out subtle trick questions that fell flat... I didnt call him out negatively, more like "Oh no no, L. Ron kept detailed notes in his unpublished journals describing how he navigated the seas without a sextant, pretty much inn use today. Whether he was given credit for that is still a mystery to me, as was the documentation from the Defense Dept labling this as 'a great contribution in photography' "
Are you sitting down? He let me try an E-Meter when we got back to the original area!!!!!!!!!!!!! While he fiddle with a dial on the side, the black needle settled a bit while I was holding the two aluminum cans. He asked, "Think of something that really upsets you". I told him I was thinking about my frustating drive through LA and how the traffic actually made my heart pound. As I relived my factual frustration, I slowly lostened my grip on the metal cans, making sure the needle stayed dead center. He unplugged the thing and began his shpeal about having me stay for a free four hour evaluation. We schedualled for 5:00pm on Weds. No I was not going.
Anyway - the guy opened up a set of dark wooden doors and showed me L. Ron's original office!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The whole visit did leave me a tad unnerved and afraid to think nothing could possibly happen in a four hour period even if I knew it was BS.
I was given a prep video I was to watch before my audit and the Senior Consultant's card!
Some of the review questions in my "Informational Packet"
Imagine the information one could amass from a person answering the above questions while, basically hooked up to a working lie detector. Within a few hours, the auditor would know your fears, insecurities, weak spots, and desires... slam dunk product production of the ultimate manipulation toolkit. Even if you were not Freud - you could yank the chain more efficiently than Mrs. Bates did with Norman.
An in all my years of programming, not once has my desktop browser popped up with this security prompt:
So my work week got in to full swing and I had mostly forgotten about my pending evaluation outside of a few retellings to work friends and text messages from my wife urging me NOT to risk going. It was unanimous, no one wanted me to go back even though I said I was mentally prepared and wanted to go to complete my "Scientology Risky Visit" tour. Th
Then the text message started coming....
After being asked if I had transportation I decided I've gone as far as I wanted to go. I left this experiment 100% sated, and then some. It's now very clear how people can willingfully be part of this organization, sorry this religion, because the entry point is pretty basic - provide people with what they are fundamentally craving. Ironically in the non-Scientologyy world this is called psychology, support groups, therapy, or just talking opening with family and friends. I dig and admire that. Strip away the special effects, overtly plush buildings, sci-fy BS, and the perversions of a money-making empire and this could have been something that helps a lot of people.