Dan Garvin - 25 years in the SO

Hello, everybody. My name's Dan Garvin. In July of 2001, I left the Sea Org, just two months shy of qualifying for my solid gold 25-year ring.

That's right, I broke my contract when I still had 999,999,975 years left to serve. I went through the "security check" and other red tape they call "standardly routing out," in order to avoid being declared a Suppressive Person (which would have forced my wife and all Scn relatives and friends to disconnect from me and possibly subjected me to Fair Game treatment). It took a little under three months (I started in April). Because of stuff I had to sign in order to not be declared, there's a lot I can't say, at least not yet. (No free legal advice, please, thanks--I'll get it all resolved in due time.)

Within a few weeks I decided I was also through with Scientology.

I'm not going to explain all the terminology or insider concepts in what follows. It would take too long. If you're new around here, you'll have to study up a bit to follow it. If you're a regular, you won't have any trouble. If you're generally Scn-savvy but still don't get something, let me know and I'll try to clarify it.

For nearly all of the 25 years, plus a couple years pre-SO, I was a 100% true-believer dedicated Scientologist. I joined the SO the day before my 19th birthday. I spent much of my EPF (SO basic training) renovating the newly-acquired Cedars of Lebanon former hospital, now the PAC Base in LA. After that I spent the next 7 1/2 years at Flag, in the FB (Flag Bureaux: COS international management that is not International Management—go figure). Then, in LA, after a short stint as an evaluator (woo-hoo!), I worked in OSA for about ten years. >:-[

In 1995, after getting caughtup in a bizarre and vicious purge, I was banished in disgrace from OSA. Allowed to choose the org of my exile, I picked PAC Renovations (aka SIPRO,and now Construction Branch CLO WUS). In 1997, I was musical-chaired intoASHO Day. After a few weeks, I requested to route out of the SO, forpre-existing reasons unrelated to the transfer. This caused me to be transferred back to PAC Renos. After a month or so, I withdrew my request to leave (on my own, no "handling" or pressure). PAC Renos is where I stayed until I actually did leave the SO last summer.

Before I got involved in Scn, I was a very good student (when I cared enough to bother with it). I was interested in scientific and technological subjects, as well as mystical and spiritual stuff, which I already had accepted long before Scn found me. The moment I heard, from trusted relatives, that Scn could promise godlike OT abilities through a proven, 100% effective routine, I was hooked. The only services I paid for as a public Scn, before joining the SO, were the Basic Study Manual and the Comm Course (which in that instance was closer to Pro TRs than to today's STCC or any basic TRs course). The BSM was no great shakes, but, being apparently non-religious, harmless study-training, it was the only thing my parents would sign off on. I was still a minor. It got me into an org and talking to real Scientologists, and that was what I wanted.

Meanwhile, I read nearly all of Hubbard's books and fitted the new "knowledge" and technology into the worldview I already held. If this was even partly true, if it could deliver even some of what it claimed, man, I was IN! And the people I talked to spoke as if those results were a commonplace and Scientology was crawling with real OTs with magical abilities. I forgot to ask any of them to demonstrate those abilities.

After I was 18, I got onto the Comm Course. That experience, along with the material I had to read as part of the course--some truth, with the occasional unsubstantiated miracle claim thrown in--really did change my life, and I would say for the better despite the unintended consequences. I have to respectfully disagree with some critics who call the TRs hypnotic. Perhaps they could be for some. They were not for me. I agree instead with Bent Corydon, who in LRH: Messiah or Madman calls the lower levels of Scn the cheese in the mousetrap. Because of the impressive actual changes, I failed to question the promises of things I had not "yet" experienced (and never would, nor would anyone else, ever), nor the credibility of Hubbard, nor the statements of the eager, enthusiastic, friendly, sincere Scientologists I spoke with. I was young, and far more gullible than I knew. By the time I understood more, it was almost too late.

By now I was convinced that Scientology held the secrets to salvation for mankind. That being the case, the only sensible thing to do was to Clear the Planet. It had far too many stupid and messed-up people on it for me to be comfortable. Along came the Sea Org--this was exactly what I'd been looking for. I was IN. Nobody recruited me. I went and found a recruiter and had to shut him up from his spiel, to get him to let me sign the billion-year contract.

From that point forward, I wore invisible, theta bifocals. The lenses I saw Scientology through were rose colored; everything looked great, no matter its true nature. I saw the rest of the world through shit-colored lenses, exactly as it was portrayed in all the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and his other minions. I enthusiastically embraced the whole Scn and SO indoctrination, and interpreted everything I encountered through the filter of Scn "philosophy." Every new fact, after being digested in this manner,reinforced what had gone before.

You see, Scientologists don't lose their intelligence or their ability to reason. They reason, some very intelligently and logically indeed, from the basic premises and claims of Scientology. Once you accept those, the rest is inevitable. They do it by tricking you into believing it's "true for you." They don't even know they're tricking you; as far as they're concerned, they're helping you arrive at the Truth, your own Truth, the real Truth that everyone will eventually discover--if all Scientologists work hard enough, quick enough. Whether Hubbard had his tongue in his cheek while inventing all this is a subject for debate, and may never be known for sure. His head was too far up his ass for anyone to see his (facial) cheek.

With my mindset as it was, most of my time in the SO, up till the 1995 purge, was not unpleasant. In fact, most of the time I was happy as a clam, and yes, the pun is intended. (Hubbard said in Science of Survival that puns are favored by 1.1's, so Scientologists take secret, guilty pleasure in them, and chastise each other for it. Sort of like sex in some other religions, but not half as much fun.) SO members, the ones who lasted, were the tough, proud few who sneered at hardship, deprivation, and even injustice. Although we never let the public in on the secret, we despised the selfish weaklings who wouldn't toss their own billion years into the pot, and most especially the ones who joined the SO and then quit. They were letting their shipmates down, and we had such a monumental job to do and so little time to do it before the wog world committed suicide.

At this point I would like to thank all those involved in the aforementioned "bizarre and vicious purge." I can't say more at this point, but you know who you are, if you're among the few allowed on the internet. What did you do to earn my gratitude? You showed me the the dark side of Scientology's best and brightest, in a way that even my rose-colored glasses couldn't obscure. You brought me within sight of the dimly lit hallway that leads to Tory's famous door. If not for that, I might still be there, clammier than ever.

My time in PAC Renovations was therapeutic. When you're making or renovating buildings, you're dealing with reality, the kind that isn't defined as "agreement" as in Scientology, but genuine structures that fall down or equipment that doesn't work, if they're not made according to wog principles. Also, later on, I spent a lot of time driving, doing purchasing for the renos. Eventually, I got bored with music and discovered talk radio, and then books on tape. I was starting to view the outside world in ways that were not in the Hubbardian script. I still viewed the SO and Scientology world the "right" way, but holes in my mental armor were letting in cold air, and I was getting uncomfortable. Clams: you probably should add talk radio to the internet and television on your list of banned input for SO members.

Concurrently with all this and at first not related to it, I had another reason for becoming disaffected with and eventually disinfected from the Sea Org. Years earlier, I had conceived plans that would, automatically and with relatively little effort, bring about a snowballing expansion of Scientology that would sweep the globe and result in actual planetary Clearing within just a few years. For a long time, I kept low-key about it. After all, the big cheeses (no offense to El Queso) in Scientology were the smartest guys in the world; they knew what they were doing and were doing the best possible things in the best of all possible worlds, and I was but a lowly grunt with relatively little training and no OT levels. What did I know?

After my descent from the glory of OSA, I started considering the possibility that maybe I knew, well, just a little bit more about just a few thangs, than just a few of my bodacious bosses. I started getting respectfully pushy about my super-duper plans to save civilization. I started privately copping an attitude. I'm not sure if it's possible to privately cop a 'tude, outside Scientology, but it sure is, inside the SO.

Forbidden thoughts were something to get worried about. They could come up in a sec check. And believe me, if you're a loyal Scientologist who believes e-meters are infallible, boy, sec checking works--on you. And if I allowed myself to be disaffected with our fearless, fearsome leaders and it got caught, as it surely would, that would for sure nix any chance of my great plans being accepted. Still, it was hard to ignore the fact that these plans were things Hubbard said to do, and the geniuses at Int Management, RTC, and so forth should have already been doing them without my having to beg them to. And beg I did. Nothing was beneath me if it ended in the salvation of our endangered little mudball of a miserable planet. Not even the disgrace of leaving the Sea Org, as you're about to see.

There I was--getting increasingly frustrated with what appeared to be resistance, at the top, to what would actually bring peace, sanity, and civilization to all Earth, in a Scientology world of Cleared homo novis. The only way these plans could fail would be if they weren't done (or if the whole set of Scn premises they were based on was a stinking, rotten pile of hammered dogshit, but I was nowhere near that thought yet). It was so obvious to me, I couldn't figure out how the brilliant minds at the top could remain oblivious to it even when I was shoving it their faces. Be that as it may, I willingly shouldered the burden of my knowledge and determined that, whatever the cost, I would see it done. By 1997, when my last hope of internal acceptance died, I knew I had to go outside the SO to be free to create this awesome gift I would give to Scientology. I said so, and reluctantly started the process of leaving.

My lingering reluctance, and my still-strong faith in the Ultimate Truth of every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Ron, were my undoing. After a month, in a brief, friendly conversation, I was successfully convinced by an MAA (SO Ethics Officer) that I hadn't used all the tools of "the tech" to get my ideas accepted. I needed to apply the PR Series and the Marketing Series, for starters. It wasn't until much later that I realized he was telling me, without meaning to, that the big dogs at the top would not respond to a well-reasoned, sensible suggestion backed up by obvious (to a Scientologist) facts, even when it meant the entire and immediate success of all their plans. No, they had to be persuaded to respond emotionally, with PR and Marketing. How putrid. How typical. How true.

So, I tucked my tail between my legs and determined to do more, and better, to get the mental giants in command to be able to see the truth and value of my offerings. I wasn't much good with PR and Marketing, but it just meant I'd have to [spend several more years to] learn those parts of Standard Technology.

Time passed. Shit happened. My enthusiasm flagged, my disaffection grew. I gradually lost my conviction that I was the lame idiot who couldn't sell a terrific idea to sensible people, and that only left ... the people in charge of my world, who were looking less and less sensible, the more I dealt directly with them. That, of course, led to other issues, like, if these people are the best that "the tech" can produce, something is awfully wrong, somewhere. Such was the strength of my conviction that I still managed to think in terms of using the glorious and immaculate technology of Scientology to save the world--but despite the inexplicable incompetence of some of its leaders. They'd be forced to acknowledge the truth once I brought home the goods. Only results mattered. The end justified the means. (Not the Scientology org version: "The end of the week justifies the means.")

I starting thinking again that I might have to leave the SO to accomplish the SO's goals. An awful thought, but Scn and the SO life taught us to be able to confront anything. Of course if I left I'd be out in the cold for years, till I'd paid the freeloader debt I'd earned by contributing 22, 23, then 24 years of my life, at hard labor, to the SO. I didn't want to go, or plan to, but just in case, I started listening to all the LRH tapes I could, from the Qual Library, while driving my truck and doing purchasing. If the worst happened, I could use the tech in those to take care of my own case till I could get back onto org services. And if I stayed, well, it was vital information that would vastly improve my life anyway.

Except it wasn't. In my recalcitrant frame of mind, I was no longer glossing over or explaining away all the inconsistencies, self-contradictions, and outright horseshit in the material I was listening to. Where I could accept it, I did, but some things were just too outrageous, even for me. Those things are not the things that make most people go, "Huh???" at Scientology, or fall into fits of hysterical laughter. I had no problem swallowing whole track, space opera, clams and sloths and photon converters, oh my!, all that.

What stuck in my throat were the logical and factual impossibilities concerning the immediate world: How he'd seen it mathematically "proven" that the brain could only hold 3 months' worth of memories (math, my ass: Hubbard couldn't even add water), despite its 10^21 "neurones" (which would require a head at least ten feet in diameter to contain); how the speed of light was not fixed or unsurpassable, but varied measurably with the frequency (a fact no one else has noticed in over a century of constant experimental and practical use of this figure); how absolutely nothing, but nothing, except overts and withholds could ever cause anyone to leave any group, especially one as spiffy as the Sea Org (yet they leave by the dozen, despite the superb administration of Golden Age of Tech confessional procedure, which roots out and thoroughly handles overts and withholds); and so on, and so on, and so on.

If there is any concept central to Scientology, and known to all Scientologists, it is that of "Keeping Scientology Working." Fundamental to that concept is that "the technology" of Scientology is 100% workable, and infallible, and if it ever seems not to work or be correct, the fault is in the misapplication or misunderstanding of it, not in the tech itself. Failure in any way to fiercely uphold each and every point of Keeping Scientology Working (he lists 10) ranks with the worst crimes possible in Scientology, including murder, mayhem, and publicly resigning, as I'm doing here. Point #3 is "Knowing [the technology] is correct."

This was a problem. "The technology" included every word L. Ron Hubbered ever scribbled or blathered, except where and as he himself corrected it in a later writing or speech (after all, it was a new and developing science--as long as he was the only "scientist" involved). Well, these were claims that stood. They were, absolutely, "the tech." But they were bullshit, no matter what anyone said. They could not be, yet they had to be.

And that is the beginning of how a mind pulled itself back from far past the brink and thousands of feet down.

One pinhole pops the whole balloon; I had several. More led to more, and within a few months I was thinking things like, "Gee, you know, I've never actually experienced any 'theta' phenomena that couldn't be explained as coincidence or wishful thinking," and, "Matter of fact, I've never actually seen anybody else do anything 'OT' that couldn't be explained the same way." This increased my discomfort. Everybody around me still took it for granted that all this OT business was as obvious and ordinary as the sun rising at morning. I couldn't talk about it to anybody: I knew I wouldn't be re-convinced without real proof, and doubts equalled severe out-ethics, and trying to convince others of my rightness constituted interfering with their KSW and could earn me an SP declare. And I had the unwelcome suspicion I'd only learn that there really was no proof, that if this stuff really existed, it'd be shown off at every chance.

My dissatisfaction at not being allowed to save the world with my Big Ideas slowly reshaped itself into an unwillingness to devote the rest of my life, which might well be considerably shorter than a billion years, to a technology that might just be entirely specious.

One thing was certain: Things were not going to remain as they were. After dancing all around it, I finally faced up to the necessity of leaving the Sea Org, and I knew that this time it would be for real. I got my ducks, what few ducks I had left, in a row, and made my announcement. If I'd known then what I know now, of course I'd have simply blown and let them declare me. But I didn't, and couldn't. I had a wife; I hoped I might get her to leave the SO with me, but she'd never consider it if I were an SP. More than that, I hoped against hope that I was overlooking something, that there really was a top to the Bridge, that I still had a chance of being OT and flying around without my body and zapping planets and stars and living forever, you know, stuff like that. I wanted to be damn sure before I shut the door on that.

It didn't take me long. I started by looking on the web for any signs of real and verifiable OT powers. That went nowhere, fast. Up to the point I was actually gone, I had never looked at any of the Scientology websites, pro or con, or a.r.s. That was part of the self-policing that any hard-core Scientologist does; premature exposure to the OT III and above materials might kill me or make me horribly ill and seriously mess up my "case"; it would damn sure get me in a world of hurt with the Ethics people, as would reading any "entheta" information. However, once I was safely out the door and out from under the unimaginable oppression that I only noticed when it was gone, I continued up my own "bridge to rationality." For instance, if the OT III materials were so deadly, where were all the bodies? Really, where were they? Where were the epidemics of pneumonia with each new illicit publication? Why weren't those pesky critics dying off on their own, why did OSA have to bother with them? Could it be that (the possibly still awesome but now definitely suspect) Hubbard had made yet another mistake? I decided to see.

So I took the red pill (Matrix fans, please explain this to your uninitiated friends). I went to www.xenu.net and searched out the Seeecrut Scrrrriptures. There they were, and in LRH's own handwriting. Hmmm. Nothing too outlandish here, sounds about like what I've been reading and hearing since I was nearly raw meat. Is this what the furor was over? It didn't answer any questions for me, except that I didn't seem to be dying from reading it or anything. It was neither more nor less likely to be true than the rest of the space opera stuff Hubbard put out for 35 years in the name of scientific research. Would I have to go on wandering around with a lit lantern in the daytime?

Fortunately, no. I soon came upon Peter Forde's article, "A Scientific Scrutiny of OT 3." He points out what I at first overlooked: Hubbard got too specific on this one. Forde patiently and painstakingly documents the age of each of the volcanoes listed by name in the OT III materials. And what do you know? Most of them didn't exist 75 million years ago, when they were supposedly serving as sites in which to H-bomb those trillions of unhappy galactic citizens into BTs. I cross-checked his references!) AND there are no leftover traces of the explosions. AND there are no traces of the hundreds of billions of humans who inhabited Earth before the great catastrophe.

I had reached my limit. Some things just can't be explained away. This was the Big Secret I'd spent more than half my life defending, supporting, striving toward, hoping for. This was what waited for me from OT III to the very top of the Bridge. No. This was why there are no goddamn OTs. This was not too weird to be believed--that was normal for Scn, who cared about that? No, it was just plain impossible. The motherfucker was either lying or completely wacko. I didn't care which. I was gone, done with that.

After that I read a whole lot more entheta, and gave it a whole lot more credit than I ever could have done as a Scientologist. That doesn't mean I believe every random gripe or claim: you don't have to be a Scientologist to be a liar, although it helps. I formed a very different picture of my former religion. Yes, I do call it a religion, albeit a very strange one. Calling it a religion is not complimentary, however. It merely acknowledges what Scientologists admit when they want special treatment, privileges, and protections from governments, as opposed to money from new suckers: that it is NOT scientific, that it does NOT get results, that it is based only on BELIEFS that cannot be proven and must not be tested, that it has no concrete value and merely fills a "spiritual" [emotional] need in its parishioners.

That the beliefs are weird beyond imagining is irrelevant. That they're dead wrong is irrelevant. That the official church is evil and deceptive and disgusting is irrelevant. Lots of respectable religions have that in their past. That some of the practices of Scientology may be harmful is irrelevant. So is snake handling, but it's religious, all right. Scientology's a religion. If you want to say it's also a cult, you won't get any disagreement from me there. If you want to say it's a bizarre, destructive, loathsome religion unlike any religion you're familiar with, I'll give you that, too.

They want to have it both ways: the reconciliation of Science and Religion. Well, they're religious, in a rather unsavory way, but calling Scientology scientific could not be further from the truth. Of course all Hubbard's claims of introducing scientific method to the humanities were pure hogwash. He didn't know scientific method from the Palmer method, and he thought "control group" meant something you do. I've communicated my conclusions to several Scientologists, including my former wife from the Sea Org (she immediately divorced me when I routed out of the SO, and before I left Scientology itself), and, under one or more pseudonyms, several defenders on a.r.s. Of course, not one ever could or would reply to the salient arguments, because those points are indefensible. I could not have successfully argued those points myself, at my most committed, and I was a pretty clever arguer.

What now?

Well, I'm living life, my own life, really for the first time ever, since kids rarely have lives entirely their own and SO members never do. It's great. I love it. It's like being a brand new high school graduate, only with more belly and less hair. The world is my clam, I mean oyster. I'm having fun, I got myself a real job, and I can't complain. Much. I wouldn't say I've been permanently harmed by Scientology, if you don't count the 25 years hornswoggled out of me, the loss of my otherwise devoted wife, disconnection by relatives and friends, a complete lack of any job experience or training worth anything to anybody, and probably a couple other adversities I may have forgot to mention. You know, the usual stuff.

What do I think about losing my lifelong dream of infinite godlike powers? How about, "Good riddance to bad lunacy!"? Without the rose-and-shit bifocals, reality is just swell, thank you very much.

I should add that, in their own pathetic way, my astonished and disbelieving fellow SO members treated me with what passes in Scientology for decency and respect while I was routing out. I was never physically restrained, badgered, or yelled at. I got plenty of sleep. I ate reasonably well. I was never coerced into working, although sometimes I did do some light work, just to be nice. I even kept on getting the same miserable SO allowance I'd been getting before. If I hadn't been leaving town and declined their help, they would have insisted on making sure I had a job and a place to live, before cutting me loose. On the negative side, I was watched 24 hours a day, and I was expected to remain on the Scn property unless I had approval to go out, which usually required some special reason.

My sec checking proceeded at an average of one hour a day (less than 12 ½ per week is "out tech"), and didn't start till a week and a half after I requested to leave. I knew (and was told) I would be declared SP, if I left without undergoing the whole routine. I knew what being SP would entail, including losing my wife (whom I lost anyway merely by quitting the SO), friends, and some relatives, and the very real possibility of fair game treatment despite all their claims to the contrary. I knew that part of the routine I needed to comply with to keep from getting declared SP was to sign documents stating that I was under no duress or threat, giving up my right of free speech concerning all Scn entities and any right to litigate against them.

That, for them, is apparently pretty good behavior on their part. A big improvement. Maybe they're learning.

So why am I now doing what should get me declared SP, after going through all that effort to avoid it? Well, it needs to be done. I want my position and reasoning known; it's unlikely to reach or affect any hard-core Scientologists, but I feel obligated to offer it in case there are any who may on the verge of thinking freely. More realistically, if I can get the truth to minds not yet lost to reality, I may help prevent their loss. I do this for entirely selfish reasons, in the objectivist sense: I'm emphatically not an altruist, but I recognize the potential worth of any human to me, and if by sharing knowledge I can increase that worth or prevent its loss, then I have gained.

What about the other concerns? My wife and ex-friends were all SO and lost to me anyway; ex-SO members are mainly despised by SO members, who are forbidden to maintain contact with them. The relatives--well, that remains their choice and responsibility, not mine. As for Fair Game: (1) I may not be important enough to bother with; professional harassment isn't free, you know, and OSA clampower is severely limited; (2) they may be hoping to keep me relatively quiet; what I could say about them might not be devastating, but it would certainly be embarrassing; and (3) hey, give them the benefit of the doubt: maybe fair game really is being curtailed; they certainly haven't directly messed with me yet, even after I revealed that I was no friend and made a direct appeal to my ex-wife to get the hell out of Scn and offered to help her; maybe they'll keep it that way. What about it, OSA? You leave me alone, and I won't have any harassment to report. Sound fair? I won't lie about you.

Take care, all, and happy new year.

Dan Garvin

aka Rip Van Winkle: I went hunting one day, encountered some strange characters playing a strange game, drank their brew, fell asleep, woke up 20 years later.

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