This post differs in content from what we have covered before. Of course, bringing to light the stories of peculiarities and off policy is important and we will certainly continue to do so.
Possibly more important though are stories that help us attain a richer understanding of the history of the Church and LRH. Perhaps then we can develop a 3 dimensional picture of this philosophy.
Joe van Staden is a controversial figure in Scientology circles, particularly in South Africa as he is from here and currently resident here. It would be accurate to call him a pioneer of Scientology. He was involved in the formation of the Sea Org and for some years worked closely with LRH. He was declared at some point and he left the church. Some say he was declared by LRH himself.
However controversial he may be, we are thrilled that he has made contact and has been willing to share. I’m sure, over time, more of the story will emerge. But for now we are reposting here a comment he left this morning. Remember, this is one viewpoint of a multi-dimensional man. Here goes:
I guess it is to be expected that the founder of something like Scientology will be elevated to a status which reflect the hopes and aspirations, wishes and fantasies of devotees. And as evidenced throughout history, who the founder actually was is increasingly lost sight of with the passing of time.
During my involvement with Scientology and since, it dawned on me that not everyone was, or is, having the same experience – in some cases not even close. The same applied to the relationship with LRH, whether up close and personal or at a distance.
LRH interacted up close and personal with several individuals at various stages of Scientology’s evolution and no doubt everyone have their own story to tell. .
Initially when I first came into Scientology my relationship with LRH was “at a distance” so to speak. I saw him as more than human. But while on staff at St Hill in the mid 1960’s and particularly during the early years of the Sea Org my relationship with the old man became up close and personal. I got to know the man. And he definitely had his flaws – some of which will be unequivocally denied or “blocked out” by the current crop of devotees.
It may be possible to cover up a variety of bad judgment calls and character flaws in a typical corporate environment, but at sea, handling ships in an unpredictable, unforgiving environment the good, the bad and ugly in people is almost impossible to hide. In such an environment keeping up pretences becomes far less relevant. It was in such an environment that many came to get a deeper insight into LRH the man.
In my personal experience, during this time, I had little doubt as to who I was dealing with. When LRH was angry he let you know in no uncertain terms, when he was sick he was sick and behaved accordingly. When he was confused it was reflected in his behavior. .But also, when he appreciated what you had done he let you know, even if it was just a whisper in your ear saying, “what would I do without your shoulder to lean on”.
Should the theme of your discussion be woman during a one on one conversation, depending who you are, he would express how he really felt with no ought to be’s. For instance, in one such conversation he said to me; “you know Joe, the grey hairs on a man’s head when he is old are not the one’s he did but the one’s he didn’t”. This was in reference to bedding woman in case the point was missed.
I certainly can not abide by labels of conman in reference to LRH. Whether one agrees with his approach to unraveling the mysteries of the mind or not, I personally believe he was first and foremost in search of answers – answers to his own case as well as, what he perceived to be, answers fundamental to all of existence. His contribution in this regard can not be denied. I do not agree that his work is the final word on the matter, but the idea that he was essentially out to enrich himself is ludicrous.
As I see it some philosophical (tech) and organizational judgment calls made by the old man were flawed. Yet, in retrospect, it could probably not have been otherwise when viewed within the context of comparable evolution and developments in medicine, most religions and politics.
Leaving aside my assumed flaws in the philosophy for now I will point out what I believe to have been a serious error in judgment organizationally. There was a point, leading up to the birth of the Sea Org, when LRH made some decisions which amounted to the replacement of Qual by ethics – the replacement if the review auditor by the ethics officer. Qual’s correction function was, to all intents and purposes, taken over by ethics. This single action put Scientology on a “different” course, which became increasingly obvious with the passing of each year. At the point when I realized the C of S was no longer the organization I originally joined I decided it was time to move on.
On the day I walked of the Apollo’s gangplank for the last time I was stopped by the LRH com and handed a personal letter from LRH, Suffice it to say it was confirmation of mutual respect.