A little something about what was going on before Scientology.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32
Man has been telling stories forever. Why? Entertainment? Is that really why we read a novel or go to the movies? Just a little distraction from our (possibly) humdrum lives?
I remember when Star Wars first came out into movie theatres long ago in 1977, it was a big deal! After WWII Hollywood began to increase making realistic movies (“issue” driven “message” films) with real plots about struggling, flawed, real people battling a hopelessly meaningless real world and, often, failing (the bleakest possible interpretation of existentialism* had become the de rigueur philosophy of the time). This trend escalated until the early 1970s and it nearly killed Hollywood. Then Jaws (1975) came out: a monstrously huge, unbeatable monster loses to a few intrepid individuals who just don’t give up. Monster loses! Good guys win! (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t yet seen it.) Still, Hollywood lumbered on until Star Wars and then the lesson was learned: some stories are more true than real stories †. (I make no attempt to bash these “message” movies but they just oughtn’t be the dominant fare. Of course a great, great many of them were excellent and inspired people to think seriously about social issues, but Lord, were they (groan) REAL!).
Before going on to relay some other stuff about Scientology I thought it might be a good idea at this point to lay down a little about what came before Scientology and that would be, of course, Dianetics.
Dianetics was originally a procedure that was on the table for awhile before the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was published in 1950, which was a compendium of material developed over a number of years.
Experimental psychology had been around since the 1830s and psychoanalysis since the 1890s but in looking it over in the 1940s my father, despite being un-credentialed‡, felt that there were quite a few things that could be developed that might significantly improve the results so far achieved in the field of mental health. I should mention also that psychiatry and psychoanalysis were very much on the rise in the United States after WWII in part due to the alarmingly large numbers of returning soldiers suffering from what will come to be termed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Veteran Administration hospitals and mental hospitals were overwhelmed to such a degree that the public became alarmed, enough so that the National Mental Health Act was created (1946). It was in and out of these facilities that dad was experimenting with various techniques originally based on psychoanalytic theory but eventually differing in quite a few important ways.
Now, I don’t know the whole history of mental health, I’ve read a great deal about it, but being no scholar all I’m going relay here are a few significant points in Dianetics that addressed what my father saw as major flaws, as well as omissions, in the area of psychoanalysis at that time §. In other words, I won’t say precisely all that was new in Dianetics (there was a lot though) and what was incorporated into it, just the broad strokes.
(An interesting note here: he also saw that the theories devised over time in psychology were being weaponised to manipulate consumer markets and the electorate on behalf of the rapidly growing mega-corporations and their increasing merger with government by harnessing the myriad mental loopholes in the human psyche. So, in addition to his purpose to improve things overall, he was hurrying in an attempt to make that manipulation more difficult and, eventually, even impossible.]
Anyway, Dianetics. Basically it goes like this: if you tell the truth you can go free.
Truth, in this particular case, is something in Scientology that’s referred to as “Time, Place, Form and Event” – that would be: 12 noon, corner of x and y, bit by dog, (and then you describe the whole incident in all the detail you can remember). This description of the event is done over and over in Dianetic procedure which allows seemingly “forgotten” bits of a traumatic, upsetting story to surface like shrapnel from a wound until it is all told as well as is possible. If you can describe a past moment, or current situation or anything that needs a solution, with accuracy then your chances of finding the right answer to the problem are significantly improved. Lie about anything, anything, and that problem might never quite go away. You may seem to forget about it but that’s all. Time does not heal all wounds, they just scab over and bleed all over again the second you scratch at ‘em.
If you tell the truth you can go free.
That is to say, free of mis-emotion, dis-ease of mind, re-activity of all kinds and even, possibly, of any number of psychosomatic ills. Free to regain an enthusiastic outlook on life with the energy restored to set about achieving any goal that seems reasonable (for the self and for the society) to pursue. Free to be that most elusive of all things: to be truly alive! This is the basic idea in Dianetics. I’ve heard it called quackery quite a few times but so far not by anybody that’s actually read the book and tried it out.
If you are like a lot of people then it’s possible there may be a few upsetting events in your past. Anything ranging from loss, such as a beloved relative or even pet, trauma of all kinds, injuries, abuse, serious illnesses and so on. The idea is that a lot of what is contained in these events can get stuck in an area of the mind that is hidden from one’s awareness yet can influence one’s behaviour dramatically, always in a negative way. Going over and over these events can reveal their truer nature and thus they may gradually cease to act on one’s life without one’s consent (called “reactivity”). Seeing the whole picture of what happened can potentially set a person free of these negative effects; what comes into the light of consciousness can no longer pull your strings from the shadows.
[A note: A hidden event that seems to affect one in a positive way is referred to as a “manic” outside of Dianetics. Hypnotists often advertise that they can “implant” positive commands into this murky level of consciousness but this has very limited success: that which lurks in the twilight of one’s mind, nestling as it will with nattering demons and chittering chimeras, cannot remain positive for long if at all. By the way, I recommend studying hypnosis but not using it. Yes folks, it’s a real thing, if it weren’t then political advertisments wouldn’t work.]
There are a number of rules in doing this however, rules that were wholly new to the field of mental health back in 1950 such as: you can’t go diving into a serious incident right away, you’ve got to come at it gently (unlike Exposure Therapy that often has soldiers suffering from PTSD plunging right into the past hell that might be causing their present upset – maybe a soldier can do this but a lot of people can’t). Other rules are, you must find the actual beginning of the incident because often the true beginning is obscured by the worst part of the trauma; such as when a person got sick originally as different from the surgery that came later, perhaps years later. So, there are a number of very specific rules in Dianetics that I have not seen applied or even mentioned in other earlier therapies although a goodly number of them are showing up in later ones (imagine that).
Quite soon after 1950, it came to be recognised that even better results could be achieved if the patient could find what are known as “earlier similar incidents” that occurred before the conception of said patient. Originally in Dianetics, a patient wasn’t required to go earlier than birth or conception because the treatment only dealt with the genetic/cellular sentience of the person’s current body. This, naturally, sparked a lot of controversy and was responsible, in part, for the bringing forth of a second (but older) subject, Scientology. (Dianetics and Scientology are different subjects, the first deals with the mind, the second with the soul.)
There is still a lot of controversy on this subject of past lives** mostly because of all the confusion that has been generated about definitions of truth and reality; what’s true versus what’s REAL. Only a short time ago here in the West, and in many places in the world still, these things wouldn’t have been controversial at all. But here in the West, where so much of our success has been through developing machine technologies and where many of these machines have been used in historical levels of carnage, it’s really controversial! This might be because there’s nothing like blood and violence to make things “real” and render invalid anything that can’t be measured with “square and compass” (or spanner)‡‡.
The “objective” universe apparently rules the roost today and the subjective is dismissed as “brain patterns”. That may be true but this has resulted in imagination coming to mean “something that is not real” yet without it we wouldn’t even have all these machines§§. Go figure.
Despite all this noise and turmoil, dad, the perennial heterodox, swam against the tide of naysayers and pursued this method of therapy regardless. Since the method of going earlier into previous lives was getting results and making people better, then that was the only definition of truth that was needed. Anybody, if they dare, can grab a copy of Dianetics or even check out how to run the procedure online and see what happens for themselves.
That’s how and why the whole business of past lives came about, getting at the beginning of an upset. Turns out some upsets are really, really old, for some people at least, and people got better! More miraculous still, the story told didn’t need to fit the “facts” it only needed to be as accurate as the patient could describe it for themselves. You might even feel you’re “just imagining it”, telling a story, whatever, doesn’t matter, this is where the idea “what’s true for you is true” actually applies. Suddenly a person didn’t have to check with the “real world” to get permission from it to get better; they just had to tell their story as truthfully and accurately as possible. This is therapy, after all, not a court of law. This experience, being extremely real in many cases, naturally becomes a subjective fact for most anyone who experiences it. Thus past lives are real, end of controversy***.
Now, moving along. The fact is all entities have a history no matter what, some older than others. You are a human being (I am assuming) and you have a history beginning at least with conception. On the other hand, can one be so sure? Maybe your beginning was years earlier when your dad first fell in love with your mom. Your body, at least, has a history going back to the beginning of life, you might even trace it back to the beginning of things! In Dianetics you trace whatever history turns up in the procedure and run with it. This is basically why we study history, by the way; they say we should study history so as not to repeat past mistakes – which we do anyway because a lot of history is either so poorly known or people just aren’t being taught it. [The word history comes from histōr which means “learned” or “wise man”. Wisdom means, among other things, not repeating errors, which, by the way is another way of describing the state of Clear.]
Clear is what a person achieves if they clean up enough trauma and upset from their past, their history, that they can actually notice when they make errors in the present. How many people do you know seem to make the same errors over and over and over? That person, once in therapy, would be known in Dianetics as a Pre-Clear.
It’s this idea that I’ve tried to live with in my life, that if you can tell yourself the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God (all in your own personal court of law) then all may come right. If you can’t get to the whole truth or even part of it (sometimes – a lot of times – without therapy this is impossible), try to tell what you can or, at least, don’t lie. Try to root out as many of the untruths as you can find (often this is much easier) and some freedom from suffering could eventually be realised. Do it truly well and the freedom to become what you desire (and that is also good for society) could be on the table too. You always know when you’re doing it right because things change and maybe even get a bit better. If nothing changes then you’ve got more work to do.
“Hey Mac, what’s your problem?” He says, “I don’t have any money!”. You say, “Feel better now?”. He says, “No!” Then that’s NOT the problem! If it was he’d feel a bit better, if only just a little bit.
Because so many people have incidents in their past, or their past past, that contain pain or unconsciousness it can be really hard to tell the story. It is Dianetic technique that is specifically designed to successfully get at them and reveal their secrets.
So what was all that blather earlier about about Star Wars? Well, Man has been around a long time so what’s the real and true story here? Well it’s, so far, SUCCESS! Despite the countless wars, crumbling civilisations, plagues and famines, the literally staggering amount of dying of all kinds, Man is winning. We’re winning! Maybe it’s all been just pure luck, especially considering the past hundred years but I think we should give ourselves a pat on the back and a “well done!” just the same. You simply wouldn’t be here if you and all your ancestors hadn’t somehow successfully fought all the multitudes of giant monsters and evil empires (both external and internal) that have been before or are even with us now. That’s the REAL real story.
But wait! Before the die hard pessimists and cynics out there cry foul, remember this: as the successes mount so do the dangers and risks. Of course it could all get tipped into the drink by this time tomorrow, knocking millions of years of hard work back to the eukaryotes (or even earlier) but that’s all the more reason for as many of us to do as much shadow work, as Carl Jung calls it, as possible; get at those terrible dark places in our psyches by whatever means. It’s my personal opinion Dianetics is a great way to do this, get this past cleaned up and perhaps, perchance, live to another, even better, age of Man.
* A philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on an analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.
† Star Wars also popularised the work of Joseph Campbell who brought a whole new understanding of myth to the broader public.
‡ Un-credentialed like thousands of other experimenters, discoverers, explorers and inventors in the tradition that is the Great Experiment of the Planet Earth.
§ One important flaw being the idea of “adjusting” the patient to the environment (which can leave the patient apathetic). Another is that the therapist should never tell the patient what he or she is thinking or feeling or why.
** Past lives is a term coined by Edgar Cayce, (1877-1945).
‡‡ WWI (1914-1918), for instance, left millions of people spitting at God, resorting instead to atheism and even atheism’s kissing cousin, nihilism.
§§ To any mechanophiles or Luddites out there I should clarify that I am not saying machines are either good or bad, they are just so.
*** Pooh poohing past lives is no better than any other sort of religious discrimination. If nobody is jamming their beliefs or experiences down people’s throats then leave it be, these are sacred grounds.