Joe van Staden speaks of LRH

Joe van Staden in 2010

Joe van Staden in 2010

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.


8 thoughts on “Joe van Staden speaks of LRH

  1. Thanks Joe. I appreciate your help. I feel sure I would be a lesser person had I not had some of the experiences of 30 yrs. as a public. Some things have left me upset and definitely confused, yet I will not deny the positives. Your statements help me toward finishing the puzzle that is Ron and what was he actually wanting to accomplish. I admire you for your contributions and hope you are doing very well in your life.

  2. Hi Joe.

    Very kind of you to share you thought on your experiences with LrH. As you point out, the man was not infallable and certainly had his flaws, something which many authors have touched upon.
    Much like yourself, I too had experiences with Lrh. When the CofS makes statements about Hubbards life which are contradictory to my reality, it becomes difficult for me to remain connected to this group. Its called integrity.
    I believe you have some too.

  3. Thanks Joe, it is good to hear from one of the old timer pioneers who is a South African. Your first hand testimony and that of all the original pioneers is invaluable to understanding the full picture, and piecing together the true history of the Church, which has been hidden from those still inside. Every piece of the puzzle is invaluable!

  4. It seems to have become fashionable to comment on LRH’s shortcomings.I guess this gives the commentator altitude in the unsuspecting readers eyes,for after all if one can see another’s frailties then one must in some way be a superior entity.
    I for one could not care less about LRH,s frailties.How on earth are they relevant to the workability of standard tech.The man said”ïf its not true for you its not true”
    There are things that thetans with bodies do,so if LRH did some of those then does this in some way demean him or even more ludicrously, the tech?
    For heavens sake lets get on with building a better Bridge.LRH’ s shortcomings have nothing to do with it unless one is climbing on the bandwagon of “discredit the man…discredit the work” or trying to justify ones own life filled with chasing the next skirt to come along.
    Joe pops up on various sites across the planet and the thing that I object to is the covert criticism of LRH.It is so learned and hidden within other positive comments that its easy to miss.

    Finding out LRH made mistakes does not help me get anything into perspective.I never worshipped him,but hell,am I glad that he lived and I had the benefit of his tech!

    Joe I have not seen you once comment on any benefit you got from standard tech application
    In my opinion you are no Guru.Lets get it straight:you worked for LRH and not with him.It requires little courage to covertly denigrate LRH when he is not around.
    If I was you I would reread Simon Bolivar.


    • Hey Kevin – I just read your response to the Joe V Staden article. Joe did state that people’s accounts of interactions with LRH would differ from person to person. A number of studies have been done on this scenario: A crowd of people all witness the exact same incident yet everyone, when questioned afterwards, will relay a completely different story.

      I know of and have met many people who had personal interactions with LRH – the stories have been varied and interesting. Some have not been that complimentary, most have been and certainly ALL of them have stated that being in his presence was a unique and life-altering experience.

      I know the story of an Australian woman who attended 2 LRH Congresses (in Melbourne and London) – she observed that he stood on a little sheepskin mat at both events. The next thing you know is inference is being made about how “LRH takes a small white rug with him wherever he goes” as if this was some weird “hocus-pocus” thing. The TRUTH however is that LRH stood on a carpet when he delivered congresses in order to ease the pain in his war-damaged feet, and it was pure coincidence that his communicators in both these countries each bought a “small white rug” for him to stand on.

      I do believe that personal stories of LRH are important – the good, the bad and the ugly alike. I have never lost site of the fact that anyone recounting such stories is doing so from their viewpoint – and this viewpoint can be utterly skewed, depending on the person’s own level of confront and case shape at the time. It does not make these stories “wrong” or untrue – it just makes them different. Of course I do agree that some nutcases will embellish and bullshit just for the gratification of denigrating LRH – but in this case, “spitting venom stains with venom”.

      I remember Joe from the early days – he was a friendly chap and I certainly never got the impression that he was “evil” or trying to harm SCN – quite the converse. He gave up his entire life for the cause, traveled to Saint Hill on the smell of an oil-rag and slept in the coal shed – all with the purpose to put his shoulder against the wheel. That he has come away from the experience with a degree of cynicism is sad, but these were HIS experiences and I think he has the right to communicate them from his viewpoint.

      I do also utterly agree with you that ultimately, who LRH was is not nearly as important as the tech and legacy he left behind.
      Love BP

  5. Hello Black Panther,I like your gentle and well reasoned approach.I agree,I too worked with Joe and found I liked him a lot.I doubt he has an intention to damage,but I detect a impulse to be right.What I don’t like is what appears to me to be his intention to be right at LRH’ expense.
    To be specific you will see his story re LRH’s comment on grey hair.In my opinion LRH was talking to Joe on an R that was acceptable to Joe.Joe has completely missed this.I am not a fan of LRH bashing and from my training and auditing it is clear to me that one can take anything LRH did and give it a sinister meaning where another would simply say “yes I see what he was doing” What is this desperate need that so many have to reduce LRH to the ordinary or explain him in terms of their own little wanky worlds??

  6. Hi Joe, I have just read your article on the “back incomm ” site, which I enjoyed immensely.
    I would like to find out what your thoughts are on ” the way out”, at this time. I mean the way to achieve the the state of “native state”.
    I no longer wish to know what happened in the old days. What is the solution now!
    Regards, Rodney Corbett.m

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