Following the Light Into the Darkness
I have wanted for some time to open this blog up to other contributors. Here is the first of what I hope to be many guest contributions, from Lunamoth, whom I consider a brilliant writer.
I had a visit from an old friend today. At least, she looked like my old friend. The woman who showed up at my door with the borrowed item she was returning looked a lot like her, but something important was missing. There was some intangible change, some diminution of life force like a lowered flame that made her almost hard to recognize. The experience was like seeing someone who looks so much like someone you know, but it’s not really them.
It had been a year since I’d sent her and two other close friends that link to the St. Petersburg Times article, and since that time she had stopped responding to my emails. It was even longer since we’d seen each other. This was a drastic change to our long‐standing habit of getting together several times a year. I hugged her hello, as we have always done, but there was no welcoming embrace in return. Her words were impersonal, with none of the happiness I felt at seeing her again after all this time. She looked at me, but didn’t make eye contact. Hard to do, standing a mere foot or so away from me as she was.
Since I’d sent that link to those few friends our relationships had changed dramatically. These women, my dear friends, are people with whom I have shared decades of my life. We have worked together, laughed together, raised our children together, weathered lost jobs, bankruptcy, marriages, divorce, the death of parents, the births of children, and lately, grandchildren. I love these women. They are my friends, my sisters.
The link I sent them was to the interviews done by a St. Petersburg Times reporter last year, interviews with Jeff Hawkins, Marty Rathbun, Steve Hall, and Amy Scobee, among others. If you’ve seen those interviews, I need say no more. (If you haven’t seen them, they’re still available to be viewed on that paper’s website). In sending this link, I knew I was sticking my head in a hornet’s nest. There was a very good chance its content would be construed as “enemy line” and that they would not be well received. But how could I not tell people I loved what I’d found out? Was it even an option to not warn them of the crimes against their friends and family, and against their own principles and creed, that a few leaders of our “church” were committing with impunity and in relative secrecy? There was no question that I had to pass on what I’d found out. The question was only how to mitigate the damage it would likely do to our friendships.
As it turns out, the organization known as the Church of Scientology is pretty good at this particular aspect of damage control. I was naïve and completely outclassed by the speed of its machinery , and by the willingness of various DSA’s and others to “handle” by any means necessary the threat that this information poses to the church. Through the use of third party and whispering campaigns, and in the case of one friend who was auditing on OT VII, a creepy degree of influence over her thoughts and actions, my friends were persuaded in short order that I was “bad” and to distance themselves from me.
Other friends and even family members of mine were spoken to by mutual “friends.” They stopped communicating with me. Third party is pretty effective when you cannot communicate to clear it up. So all three of these women cut the line of many years with me. They stopped returning my calls and my emails. But first there were comments to me that I had “chosen the wrong side” (side?), that the information I wanted them to look at was “entheta,” that “looking was OSA’s job. “ That one about floored me. I really thought I knew this woman, and she was saying she had no personal responsibility, not even a personal interest, in knowing the truth?
But before our relationships were severed, our conversations via email were taken over by OSA. Whether OSA was actually in the room with the keyboard or not is of no consequence to me. After 25 years of knowing and communicating with someone, you recognize the distinctive personality in their written and spoken words. I can honestly say that the few emails these women sent in response to my attempts to talk to them were not recognizable as their own communication. Syntax, vocabulary, even sign‐offs, were different in these emails from the previous thousands of emails I’d received from these women spanning many years. The text of the new emails from these three was remarkably consistent in length, content and tone one to the other, and the communications were completely sanitized of any characteristic language, viewpoints, humor, or anything remotely personal. I was either being spoken to by church terminals directly or through my friends.
One exchange in particular was a real anomaly. This friend is an artist, very warm, soft and gracious in manner, a little self-deprecating. She has never been a “champion of LRH” as much as someone trying and not succeeding too well in pursuing her own muse while still navigating the culture of Scientology. Those last emails from her were hard and cold, probing, asking pointed questions obviously intended to get me to make anti-Scientology statements in writing. The tone was so imperious, and so completely unlike that particular friend, that in exasperation I finally responded “Who the hell IS this?” There was no response to that one, and no further communication to this day. The actual death of that line had apparently come earlier, and now all pretense of a connection between my friend and myself was dropped.
So here I found myself today, sitting in my living room having a cup of coffee with my “friend.” Over the hour or so she was here we never touched on the subject that stood between us, completely avoiding any mention of the elephant in the room. The initial awkwardness of this visit never really dissipated completely, but there were times during that hour when I heard the spontaneous laugher or an offhand remark that I recognized as uniquely hers. I could also hear the stress and utter fatigue in her voice at other times. Overall, she was unusually subdued, a little grim. She obviously has stuff going on. So like I always do I asked about it. She talked about a failed project of years duration she’d recently had to abandon due, she said, to some local bureaucrat, and how that had left her owing money to several family members. Her ex was not doing well, having never recovered from his short but unsuccessful stint in the S.O. a couple of years ago. I heard about how “people” will do things that are destructive and mean, because “people are like that.” Then there was the one adult child who had been recently fitness‐boarded out of the Sea Org after many years of service due to health problems , by their nature obviously post related. Another adult child, also ex‐S.O., was doing “all right, “ said with a sigh and a grim expression and a “You know her.” And now the youngest child had just recently routed in to the Sea Org. She really didn’t want to talk about that one.
While listening to her make “small talk” about various things that are wrong in her life, I realized suddenly and with some sadness that this woman, in all the time I’ve known her, has never really done well. Yet she seems to value LRH’s tech on handling life so much that she would cut me off in a misguided attempt to preserve it. I can say pretty confidently that this woman has probably realized at least as much good from her long‐term friendships as she has factually realized from her own personal application of LRH tech. I’ve been there, watching it all, for 25 years.
What my friend apparently perceived as an attack on LRH was not that at all. The stories she should have listened to in full, but obviously didn’t, were not OSA’s “business as usual” attacks on Hubbard and the Scientology religion. That difference was purposefully obfuscated and the truth manipulated by the church terminals who have “handled” her. My friend has been told what the interviewees said, and she’s been told what to think of it, and she’s been told what to conclude about me. So those interviews and their content are not what has really come between us, that’s not the truth. After all, the truth would set her free, wouldn’t it? And let me tell you, this long‐time scientologist is not free. She becomes more mired in debt and problems and failed projects and family disappointments every year. Now add to that the loss of lifetime friendships. And despite her efforts to do so and the many thousands of dollars she has spent, she still doesn’t move on the bridge.
Nope. Not free. So what is the truth?
Well, I can tell you what the truth is for me, because I have been there, on the precipice where she is standing. I have one child, not several, who’s love and company I was in danger of losing if I violated the church’s mandate on ‘looking.” And like all three of my friends, I momentarily considered that I risked my eternity. And those two things, her children and her imagined future as a spiritual being, these are the real reasons I believe she doesn’t look.
As a long time Scientologist, she’s been through the wars, the purges, the hobby‐horsed campaigns by management, the various evolutions, the regging, the compulsory bridge redo’s, and the Gold Age of Bullshit. She’s had her life turned upside down by the treatment of her pregnant S.O.‐member daughter and the unsuccessful attempts by her “church” to coerce the abortion of her first grandchild. This woman, who learned the creed of a Scientologist early on, is a strong, independent woman at heart with a lot of compassion and integrity. Yet she seems to have no real anchor in life but organized Scientology, and still she is constantly the effect of so much. She cannot bear to lose her connection with her children, and she mistakenly fears the loss of her “eternity.” And those are the things that keep her toeing the line.
But for her to fully view that situation would end with her having to admit to herself that her continued support of a corrupt organization and her willingness to abandon a friend are both the result of extortion by her own church.It’s there, that truth. She feels it on some level. She can make out its dim outline in the darkness where her awareness refuses to go. She doesn’t look directly at it. She doesn’t want to see it too clearly, because she has no solution for the problem this creates for her.
It’s what Scientologists refer to as a suppressive situation.
I can’t judge her, and since discarding so much of my old paradigm, I no longer feel obligated to and I don’t want to. I understand the situation she finds herself in, and it makes me sad because I can’t save her the inevitable pain that she is trying so hard to avoid, but which she is creeping closer to all the time. The church she thinks she is protecting is already dead. Fortunately for her, her eternity was never under its stewardship. My friend has simply been abdicating her responsibility for it for quite a while, and that never works out.
Ironically, I realized that from auditing.
So I said goodbye to my friend at the door, and I may never see her again. She’s moving. She probably won’t write for the obvious reasons. And I’m a little sad, but it’s only because I can’t show her the truth to protect her from what is coming.
I can’t save her from the light she is following, the one she sees at the end of the tunnel, the one that is the proverbial oncoming train.