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Scientology: A Half-Life

Discussion in 'Stories From Inside Scientology' started by Shanester, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Shanester

    Shanester Patron

    A Rough Beginning


    I read recently that Delphi now costs $42,000 a year to attend. (Perform an internet search on "Delphian $42,000" for a boatload of results, not least of which is

    $42,000? Wow.

    In 1982, tuition, room and board for a full-time boarding student was about $12,000. By 1986, it was $15,000. By 1990, it was $18,000. I know staff conditions are vastly improved now. Good for them. For $42,000, all conditions had better be good. When I was on staff, they were not so good. Better than most Orgs and a world better than the Sea Org -- but still, about what you'd expect for the staff of a Scientology organization. All that money from the students' parents was too busy being spent on top executive OT levels and ransomed to Applied Scholastics for there to be much left over. As well, Delphi had begun its capital improvement campaign to build gyms and dorms and tennis courts and stuff for the students -- but which also included new and improved staff housing... for top executives, who, undoubtedly, needed to practice their newly minted OT powers in tranquil and stylish domiciles among the wooded glades, far from the hubbub of young voices and pitter patter of little feet.

    But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    The summer program at the Delphian School is, in a word, awesome. Ok, three words:

    Totally. Freakin'. Awesome.

    I mean, it's the best time ever. Those four weeks in the summer of 1981 were among the most magical of my childhood. Archery. Soccer. Hiking. Camping. Nature. Swimming holes. Blackberry picking. Horseback riding. Rolling down grassy hillsides. Trips to the coast. Trips to the city. Oregon's amazing summer. I had so much fun. I'm pretty sure I even managed to get in some studying during all that summer awesomeness.

    The only thing that sucked were my two separate second-degree sunburns, the second one of which was peeling like crazy when my parents picked me up from the airport. Apparently, Delphi not only let my tender, fair skin get fried (twice) but they also neglected to inform my mother. She was upset. I'm Irish and Scottish, fair skinned and freckled. I have family members who died from metastatic melanoma. She was zealous with the sun protection. (Overzealous if you ask me, but I know it came from a good place.) I came to Delphi with specific instructions to be protected from the sun, and the staff totally, epically failed. Years later, my mom told me this had been the very first warning sign to her -- and that she wished she had listened to her instincts that very first summer.

    Like memories, sunburns fade, and, as far as I was concerned, Delphi was the bee's knees. The problem? My parents did not make enough money to send me there full time. It looked like it would be only the summer program for me.

    So, for eighth grade, I returned to wog school and, you know what? Eighth grade was the best year of my life (up to that point in my life). I still got into fights, but, for whatever reason, I stopped bothering my mother about them. Eventually, the challenges faded away and I actually became sort of popular. I think the turning point came when I brought my Ozzy Osborne and Joan Jett LPs to school and earned some serious rocker cred. I still sometimes wonder how things would have turned out had I stayed in public school.

    Behind the scenes, however, Delphi registrars were working with my parents to enable me to return to Oregon. I found out later how they made it happen. There were a few wealthy Scientologist parents who had agreed to sponsor the children of less-fortunate Scientologists. Delphi connected my parents with an "angel sponsor" who made up the difference of the amount my parents could pay. Students eligible for this program had to be the children of Scientologists and they had to have fantastic admission scores. Yay for me, I was in!

    Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with Scientologists can attest to many behaviors which set them apart from ordinary people. It has become obvious to me that the reason L. Ron Hubbard hated psychology was its annoying tendency to call out the anti-social behaviors which are the hallmark of Scientological practice. One of these primary behaviors is to "find someone's ruin," that is, make someone feel so terrible about a real or perceived flaw that the person believes only Scientology can help him. Belittling someone to control him is the hallmark of an anti-social personality. Tragically enough, all Scientologists are indoctrinated in this practice. This is one of the main reasons why smart people allow themselves to get hooked by the cult. An indoctrinated Scientologist grills you on your worst failure or the flaw in your character. A Scientologist skillfully corrals you into focusing on your most negative experiences, your biggest mistakes, the things you feel terrible about. A Scientologist seeks to lower your self-esteem to the point that you believe Scientology is the only way to get better.

    The Delphian School is not an entirely Scientological institution. It is a complicated operation which tried to cherry pick only the most positive and sensible teachings of L. Ron Hubbard in regard to children and education. In many ways, the story of Delphi follows the arc of tragedy. Founded with such high principles, it was nevertheless dragged down and, likely, ultimately undone by the machinations of David Miscaviage and Scientology, Inc. (More on that later.)

    Among the founders of Delphi were two men named Martin Samuels and Alan Larson. Mr. Samuels was declared a suppressive person many years ago and Dr. Larson has of late become mysteriously quiet. (Delphi says Dr. Larson has "retired.") These two men and their group of idealists and educators founded Delphi in the mid-seventies with the highest of ideals. Many of these ideals were culled directly from the works of L. Ron Hubbard. These ideals have always existed in an uneasy relationship with the reality of the actual practice of Scientology. Thus, while a Delphian education sought to inspire the best in a student, it could also have the curious effect of bringing out the worst in a child's character. So many children have attended Delphi, yet so few of them have actually graduated. Delphi says this is because of its high standards. This is part of the truth; the rest of the story is that the Scientologists who run Delphi cannot stop themselves from pointing out the flaws in a child's character. A few -- very few -- of these children rise above the criticism, make themselves stronger, and graduate. The rest of the children either start believing the criticism and fail, or they rebel against the criticism and leave, either through their own volition or by force. Delphi has no use for rebels and gets rid of them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    The man who picked me up from Portland International Airport on August 31, 1982 was a bear of a man, tall, bearded, muscular and jovial. He was always one of the most popular staff members at the school. He was kind in a no-nonsense, gruff way that inspired trust. Nevertheless, he was an indoctrinated Scientologist. I was the third student he met; my new fellow students and I had to hang out for a bit until the last couple of students arrived on their later flights.

    The staff member was very friendly, including the moment when he gave me a sidelong glance and asked, "What are you, about one-eighty?"

    He was of course referring to my weight. It was a question that caught me completely off guard. It caused one of my fellow new students -- an older boy who was a returning student -- to snicker. I had just turned twelve. I was five feet, two inches high. In other words, I was fat. I was to discover that this was the way most of the faculty and staff at Delphi operated. One moment they were full of praise. The next moment they would level a sharp criticism, which would be followed immediately with either more praise or a pointed suggestion as to the best method of dealing with the perceived cause of the criticism. It was a process by which they intended to help students improve themselves.

    That first day, riding from the airport to the school, surrounded by strangers, I was silent and withdrawn, confused by the friendly banter, wondering if everyone thought I was fat.

    The fall term at my new school was one of the toughest periods in my life. I could not believe how different it was from the summer session. I couldn't help feeling like I had been duped somehow, that the summer fun was a trap to lure unwary children into the evil clutches of the full school year, as if summer was the candy on the witch's cottage of which my Hansel had partook, and so become trapped. For the first month, I tried to call my mom every day, crying miserably, telling her how much I hated it. There's no question that I was being a wimp, but the hard-hearted treatment of the faculty toward me was definitely a contributing factor.

    What I didn't realize was that I was a pilot project of the Angel Sponsor program and that the school had an invested interest in seeing me succeed, or, at least, in me ceasing to call my mother every day. Apparently, somehow, my sponsor had found out about my difficulties and had expressed her concern to school executives. (My sponsor was a wealthy Delphi parent who had her own child also attending the school.) When a parent makes a complaint, it is called a "flap". As I was to discover when I was on staff, the richer the parent, the bigger the flap. My sponsor was literally the richest parent at the school. Delphi executives worked immediately to get me under control, or, as they called it, to "handle" me.

    When a new student starts at the school, he or she is assigned both a faculty member and an experienced student to aid in acclimating to the new environment. I literally do not remember the names of my original faculty advisor or student buddy. I do remember their replacements, however. After four weeks of misery, I was suddenly assigned one of the top-level faculty to be my personal advisor. As well, an experienced student two years my senior was assigned to be my buddy. Between the two of them, I hardly had a moment alone. Indeed, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, there was always someone with me. In Scientology, this is called 8Cing, so named from an early auditing routine (no. 8, in fact) wherein an auditor encourages a pre-clear to control his body. It is Scientologese for "controlling" and is one of the most preferred activities in Scientology. It is telling that the act of controlling another person is such a favored activity, although you may be assured that Scientologists believe they are 8Cing someone for his own good. The opinion of the person being 8C'd is utterly irrelevant. At Delphi, staff were constantly being admonished to 8C the students.

    And so I was 8C'd, hustled from one activity to the next, without a moment to consider what was happening. Overall, this was a good thing. The main problem was very much that I was homesick. The less I dwelled on my longing the smaller it became. My new faculty advisor -- who was and always will remain one of my most favorite people, regardless of his self-imposed blinders -- actively sought to engage my intellect. He was a very smart guy and recognized that I was smarter than an average twelve-year old, even if I was still emotionally immature. His treatment of me spoke of the very best things about Delphi and of the cherry-picked writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

    As well, my new student buddy was probably the very first crush I ever had. He was handsome and athletic, stylish and graceful. He made me feel like a million bucks and I blossomed under his guidance and good advice. He was in fact the son of the woman who was my Angel Sponsor. I wonder if it was she who insisted that her son be assigned as my buddy. I will never forget him.

    Besides my homesickness, there was one real situation which caused me no end of frustration in my studies. At the time the Upper School (high school) of Delphi used "Levels". There were four Levels, equivalent to grades 9 through 12 in public school. I was on Level 1. The very first frustration was the insistence of my supervisor to redo The Learning Book, which is Delphi's introduction to L. Ron Hubbard's Study Technology. I had already completed the Learning Book in the summer of 1981. When I returned to the school in the autumn of 1982, over a year later, my supervisor was adamant that I do the entire checksheet all over again. I insisted that I remembered very well all of the contents of the Learning Book, in all of its laughable, stick-figure glory, and was personally insulted that I was expected to repeat it. I argued and argued with my supervisor and told him what I thought about his foolish plan. (I have to admit I could be an arrogant little brat!) Finally, though, I was forced to redo it. So I did -- in a day. Then I aced the exam. What happened next was a major warning sign that I had a personality which would ultimately be unsuitable for a life constrained by Scientology.

    Whenever a student finishes a course, he is asked if he wants to write a success story. Despite the fact that this is framed as a request, it is a requirement. A student is not allowed to finish a course unless and until he writes a success story. It does not matter how idiotic the course is, every student absolutely must write a success story in order to be finished with that course.

    If a student refuses to write a success story, then that is a problem.

    I refused to write a success story for completing the Learning Book, explaining that I had already done so the first time I completed the course, and there was no reason why I should be expected to do so again. This caused me to be sent to Qualifications, that part of Delphi that assists students who are having extraordinary difficulties in their studies, because, obviously, any student who refuses to write a success story is suffering under some sort of extraordinary difficulty. Qual was unable to assist me, however. There was no problem with my understanding of the material, nor of my ability to use it. The only problem was that I refused to write a success story.

    Clearly, this problem went much deeper. Whenever Qual can't deal with a student, that student is sent to the next level of correction -- Ethics.

    Just as I had to every prior adult, I explained to the Ethics Officer that I had already written a success story for completing the Learning Book and that I found no reason why I should have had to repeat the course in the first place. He loomed over me and told me my attitude was completely unacceptable and that I had better knock off the back talk and start doing as I was told, or I would be put into lower conditions.


    Cowed, I wrote the success story and meekly submitted to my supervisor after that, all the while seething. Frankly, I found many of the courses of study on Level 1 to be far below me. Since my supervisor was determined to make me study each course no matter what, I tried to make him wrong by completing each checksheet as fast as humanly possible. Unfortunately, this backfired. I was considered to be merely an unusually bright and effective student. My clueless supervisor completely missed the fact that I already knew most of this stuff. I was seriously ruing the day I had let myself be convinced that Delphi was the place for me. This was a major factor in my unhappiness. It compounded my homesickness and led to my long and bitter complaints to my mother.

    At last, however, my new faculty advisor listened to me and agreed with me. Suddenly, I was being allowed to challenge the courses which I believed I already knew. The agreement was that if I got anything less than 100% on the exam challenge I would have to do the whole checksheet.

    Hallelujah! My homesickness went away. I was happy on course. I was doing well everywhere. Flap handled!

    I was on my way to becoming a model student.

    (to be continued)
  2. guRl

    guRl Patron with Honors

    I'm so fascinated with your story!
    MOAR please! :omg:
  3. Lurker5

    Lurker5 Gold Meritorious Patron

    Yeah, me too. :drama: Fascinating. :yes:
  4. Polly

    Polly Patron with Honors

    WOW I have just read to here I'm completely riveted...(where's my popcorn)...:drama::drama::drama::welcome2:
  5. Shanester

    Shanester Patron

    An Odd Sort of Proof


    Children of Scientology are instilled with the incontrovertible truth that Scientology is the only hope mankind has ever had to be free. That's right! After uncountable millions and trillions of years, after countless lives lived over and over, after endless births and rebirths of us stumbling blindly across the galactic plains -- now, finally, one single man had at last figured it all out and given us one single chance to be free. One single, fleeting chance for total freedom.

    This is a weighty responsibility for such a young mind.

    One day a staff member at Delphi showed off her newborn son, a big, happy baby who giggled and crinkled his face just like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when gently poked.

    One of my fellow students, a daughter of another staff member, pointed at the drooling, toothless babe and whispered, "That's Paolo -- he knew to come back to Delphi!"

    Paolo Lionni was one of the founders of the Delphian School. He wrote the book, The Leipzig Connection, which was Delphi's primary contribution to the Scientological canon against psychology. Paolo had tragically succumbed to cancer just a few months prior to the birth of that little boy.

    I was suitably impressed with my friend's inside scoop. I accepted her news as a matter of course. Except for it being a particularly juicy tidbit -- Paolo had been a top executive, after all, and an OT! -- it was an unremarkable story. It was well known at the school and in the larger Scientology community that babies born into Scientology were, for the most part, thetans who were coming back. Because of a previous life in Scientology, the thetan was smart enough to choose a Scientology family to get a leg up for this new round in a new meat body.

    This made me wonder if I myself were such a smart and special thetan. Hadn't I been born into a Scientology family? I made the mistake of discussing the phenomenon during dinner with a group of fellow Scientologist students. Meals at Delphi were served cafeteria-style in a communal dining room. These meals were attended by all of the students, not all of whom were Scientologists.

    Delphi insists that it is not a front organization for the Church of Scientology, that it simply uses the educational philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard and not any of that religious stuff. (Read it from the horse's mouth: I don't personally buy this, but the point here is that about half of the students are Wogs. Delphi is, to put it mildly, sensitive to perceptions that it is all about Scientology (which, I agree, it is not -- they really do strive for a well-rounded education, except for the parts marred by the infiltration of Scientology, which I may or may not discuss later on).

    Because Delphi strives to maintain its image of religious impartiality, Scientology is a forbidden topic of discussion in public areas of the school. This is strange, because it is acceptable to discuss other religions in the public areas -- just not Scientology. If a Wog student asks about Scientology, he is given a short summary of prepared bromides and told to discuss his interest with his parents. Even if the parents give permission, the school has a strict policy of referring the student to a Scientology organization. There is absolutely no proselytizing for Scientology -- or any other religion for that matter -- on Delphi's campus. (And yes, the Sea Org is strictly forbidden from directly engaging any student while on campus.)

    Delphi is acutely aware that the world at large finds the concept of rebirth to be a foreign one (one billion Hindus or Buddhists notwithstanding). Faculty clamps down on a bunch of know-it-all teenagers casually discussing at the dinner table which dead staff member has reincarnated into so-and-so's baby.

    This was the first time I got "the Talk". The Talk consists of the calm reassurance of Scientology's obvious superiority to... well... everything, but, because it's still new and all, and we don't want to scare the neighbors, see, we can't talk about it in front of them. Got it? Ok. And definitely do not, for heaven's sake, make casual guesses about death and rebirth at the dinner table! Beyond it being a completely inappropriate topic while eating food, it's disrespectful to the deceased, it places an undue level of expectation on a poor woman and family who have just celebrated their newest arrival, and it's completely unfair to that new baby to saddle him with that kind of expectation. Got it? Good. Now, shut up and eat your dinner.

    I guess this could be called a special Scientology kind of problem.

    Years later, when I turned my back on Scientology, my exit from it was not the clean break I hoped it would be. You see, the day I turned my back on Scientology, there was a whisper in my head that I was turning my back on mankind's only chance to be free. That weighty responsibility drilled into my head since as long as I could remember was one I could not entirely vacate. The best I could do was to shove it into one of the rooms in my head, close the door, lock it, and then pretend that room wasn't there, or the door wasn't there, or I had lost the key -- whatever metaphor works for ya, ok?

    But the weight of my abandoned responsibility was there, dragging me down. It was inescapable. I may have left Scientology, but its cosmology remained with me. My story of creation was Have You Lived Before This Life? My theory of evolution was A History of Man. I had been taught, since birth, that I was a godlike being who had allowed himself to be caught in his own trap, and that L. Ron Hubbard was the only being in all of endless existence who had figured out the nature of the trap and how to escape from it.

    And enable me to become a god again.

    Compare that with the promise of any other religion. Only the promise of the Latter Day Saints comes close. The payoffs of all other religions fall into the bush leagues.

    It's interesting how onanistic American religions are, isn't it?

    In any case, I still totally believed in past lives. I still totally believed in past space-faring civilizations (even if I was blissfully unaware of one particular civilization involving a certain Xenu). I had nothing else to believe in.

    Scientology strongly disapproves of its members seeking other paths. This of course is one of the defining characteristics of a cult. If one can learn there are better ways of doing things, then obviously the cult's retarded way of doing things becomes less attractive.

    Many children of Scientology are good little drones lacking in curiosity, having no sense of adventure, content with their narrow worldview, and unaware of the possibility of a larger picture. Then there are the curious ones, or the rebellious ones. Depending on the parents, these children are, at best, warned against doing outside research. At worst, they are strictly forbidden from doing so -- and punished if they do. Fortunately, my parents were as cool as Scientologist parents could be. Unfortunately, they sent me to a hard-core Scientology school which carefully pretended it was teaching its students about religions while making sure these religions were presented in such a way that it would be difficult to regard them as legitimate spiritual paths.

    Delphi rails against the infiltration of psychological methods in education. Delphi says all American education is poisoned with the influence of those evil psychs. Nevertheless, Delphi fully embraced one psychological treatment of one particular subject, and that is Comparative Religion. It's ironic that Delphi has no use for any innovation of psychology unless, of course, that innovation is useful to them, in this case expanding on the concept of Comparative Religion and twisting it to their own purpose: to flatten all religions into a mushy paste that cannot stand up to Scientology. The fact that Scientology is not one of the religions studied ensures that students who are already Scientologists -- and students who might at some point study it in the future -- can keep it separate from the lesser religions of the Comparative Religions course.

    I'm serious. When I did this course, it gave all of the following religions equal importance: Ancient Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic. These were all the religions I studied, even if some people do not exactly consider the Greek, Roman or Norse pantheons fully deserving of the status of "religion" any more. As you can see, this is a bastardization of a Comparative Religion course, which does not usually give equal levels of importance to, say, Zeus and Allah, if you get my point.

    (In all fairness, I studied this in the eighties and, I am given to understand, the Comparative Religion course of study may have been improved.)

    Nevertheless, I was under the impression I had studied other religions -- and found them wanting. Furthermore, the Scientologists around me said, if this religion was so awesome, how come we were still stuck on this planet in our meat bodies fighting wars, dying from disease, and generally having a hard time? If a religion was true, then mankind would have been free by now, don't you think?

    This was the primary method by which Scientologists instilled in their children a sense of contempt for other faiths. This contempt was extended to religious practices, for example prayer or yoga. Indeed this contempt extends so deeply into Scientological belief that I was warned not to practice yoga because it was a Hindu practice. Scientology doesn't like Hinduism at all because Hindus also believe in rebirth, or reincarnation. Since these Hindu concepts of reincarnation are obviously quite wrong, it can actually be dangerous for a Scientologist to practice yoga because it might be restimulative. That's right: I was told I mustn't do yoga because it might restimulate my reactive mind, or stir up a terrible incident from a past life, that could make me not only sick, but, worse, would inhibit my true path in Scientology up the Bridge to Total Freedom.

    In the case of the religious beliefs of others, at least Scientology taught me to be respectful. L. Ron Hubbard wrote a collection of thoroughly sensible guidelines called The Way to Happiness. Not least among these guidelines was "Respect the religious beliefs of others." The subtext of this commandment might have been "Respect the religious beliefs of others... even if their religious beliefs are completely retarded, and possibly restimulative!" But, on the surface, all Scientologists will at least give lip service to -- and most of them will be truly sincere about -- respecting the religious beliefs of others.

    This stands in stark contrast to that other method of seeking to understand the mind and what makes people tick. I speak of psychology, of course, in all of its many-splendored manifestations. Scientology's antagonism to all things psychological is well documented. Children of Scientology are warned of the dire, disastrous, destructive, horrible, awful, and really bad effects of allowing any slightest whiff of psychological concept to taint a pure mind. Don't even get me started about psychiatry.

    Thus, all roads are closed to the Scientologist, except for the one true path laid out by L. Ron Hubbard.

    When I turned my back on Scientology, in 1992, I did so because I just couldn't stand it anymore. Nevertheless, my mind remained closed. There was an ache in my soul that I tried to ignore, but it was always there, pulsing dimly in the background of my awareness. The only way I could bear it was to encase it in armor and push it away.

    The first crack in that armor appeared just a couple of years later, in 1994. I was working at the Walt Disney Company and, as a team building exercise, my department had the Myers and Briggs Foundation come in and test everybody's Jungian personality type. This was my very first experience with psychology. I tested INTP.

    Being exposed to the psychs didn't make me sick. My head didn't even explode!

    Over the next twenty years, I kept chipping away at the mental armor and finally started forming my own opinions about Scientology, even if I kept on ignoring it. In 2005, I did an online Jungian personality test -- but got a different result from the one I had completed ten years earlier. I tested as INFJ. Curious, I did four more online tests -- and each one I tested as INFJ.

    This led me to online research to find out if personality type can change. The short answer to that is, yes, personality can change, just as people can change. However, in my case, the story went a little deeper. I decided that my personality had always been the thoroughly sensitive INFJ, but that Scientology had molded it to be the more "analytical" INTP. Scientology has no use for sensitive people and strips away such useless emotions to create the stereotypical steely-eyed Scilon prevalent today.

    It took me well over ten years to start regaining a true sense of myself. My mother expressed regrets about sending me to Delphi. She looked at the steely-eyed, determined young man who mocked homeless people and wondered what had happened to her sensitive, artistic little boy to whom kittens had flocked and rainbows were just a smile away.

    Well, mom, that little boy has finally started to find himself again. Thank you for always believing in me.

    (to be continued)
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  6. HappyGirl

    HappyGirl Gold Meritorious Patron

    :welcome: Shanester. I hope you continue.