Stairway to Heaven

Troll Bridge


By Is that clear enough

Any South African coming into Scientology today will make the rapid discovery that the Bridge to OT is simply not affordable unless they are already extremely wealthy. The last generation for whom the Bridge was relatively affordable was those who joined in the 90s. Even in their case it would not have been possible without extensive co-auditing.

Of course, affordability is a subjective point. We are talking here of an ordinary employed middle class, middle management type individual, a professional or self-employed. Even that population group in South Africa is a select one – anything less and we are then talking of an entirely elitist group of probably 0.5% of the population. So to be in the game of clearing this country at all, Scientology needs to at least cater for the demographic of salaried people supporting a family.

Yet, this group and all the way on up to upper middle class will not be able to afford to go up the Bridge in South Africa (or probably anywhere) under current pricing and stops to training. But let’s get down to specifics – we will use the analogy of the ‘ordinary man in the street’, albeit with the proviso he needs the above-average intelligence to train to a Class 4 auditor.

One particular individual interviewed for this article came into Scientology in 1988 as a salaried person supporting a family on a modest income. By 1995 his then salary of R10,000 a month (about R25,000 in today’s money) wouldn’t have got him far as a paying PC. However, in the early 1990s it was still possible to co-audit, which is what he did.

Even then co-audit was so little encouraged that one would have to view it as being in effect actively discouraged. Scarcely a handful of those who came into Scientology in the late 80s and early 90s accomplished auditor training in the org. For the previous generation, the Bridge was apparently affordable all the way – something that only started changing in the 80s. But even for them, those that lingered on OT7 for decades found the affordability factor catching up and entrapping them between the conveyor belt of refreshers and poverty.

None of us will easily forget when Robin Peglar (on OT7 for decades) dropped the body. His England-based, non-Scientologist brother who came out to wrap up his ‘affairs’, confided with a look of deep anguish and abhorrence on his face that his brother died a pauper. Yet Robin was a highly educated, intelligent and refined man who could easily have flourished in investment banking. Instead, he devoted all his energies to the Bridge and paid the ultimate price of a rather shabby ending.

So how did our middle class Scientologist interviewee achieve the impossible?

He came in through the somewhat alternative route of the Jory mission where the emphasis was still on producing dedicated Scientologists rather than making money. He achieved big wins through a comm course, massive amounts of objectives co-audited on the HQS course and completed the Purif – through to the maximum daily intake of 50 niacin – for a total cost of no more than about R2,000 (that is, maybe half one month’s salary at that time). He was particularly wise in following Bronwyn Jory’s advice and bought a training package from the org that cost around R3,000 – and that package saw him pretty much all the way to Clear for very little cost through co-auditing – which is what he did.

Training in those days was fun (little known fact: you had to get early onto course to bag a seat). The pre-requisites were kept to a minimum of obvious courses such as the Student Hat, Pro TRs and Upper Indoc – no Basics to slog through or Pro Metering course. It was straight on to the Levels and you were auditing literally within a couple of weeks. Regging wasn’t nearly as bad as it came to be (though certainly it existed and a reg was always a person to avoid). Without today’s back-off of being in the org, a standard schedule wasn’t a hardship. In fact, this particular student even put in extra time. This in turn qualified him for scholarship rates on professional auditing. He got through Grades 0, 1 and 2 (professionally audited) in no more than 6 or 7 intensives at the then scholarship rate of R900/intensive.

He then co-audited Grades 3 and 4 (as well as Method One right at the start) with a fellow student and some FPRD lists with another co-audit partner as well to really set himself up for a fast ride through OT levels. In terms of hours, the vast bulk of his Bridge was therefore co-audited and even the intensives bought were remarkably cheap.

Throughout this time money that otherwise would have been spent on Grades he was able to flow towards OT levels at Anzo. Even in the mid-90s, the exchange rate was probably less than R2 to the Aussie dollar and before he knew it, even on his meager salary he had paid up to OT4.

One thing which helped the prior generation is that Miscavige hadn’t yet changed the definition of an FN. Slow eligibilities, queues at Examiner and consequent red tags were virtually unheard of, and PCs could expect to complete everything according to TIP or faster. However, after the new definition of an FN many PCs found their progress slowing and chewing up unnecessary intensives at the exact time they were paying maximum rates for them.

Once at Anzo (or Flag) a new problem materialises – it becomes less a matter of expense as time. As an employee it is not easy to get sufficient leave for months away – and retain your job.

This challenge only gets worse as you further walk the Bridge. OT5 is next, and based on the experiences of many South African Scientologists this is often the first time (but very sadly not the last) they have to borrow the money to do a level. So it was with our interviewee, and because he also couldn’t get the open-ended months off work, he also had to resign his job.

In summary, our interviewee went from a basic comm course at the Jory Mission to OT5 at Anzo in just six years, and at a total cost of less than R100,000. OT5 in 1995 cost R50,000, OT1-4 a year earlier about R30,000. In contrast, those recently completing – Sally-Anne Cooke and Diane Cooke for example – paid R250,000 just for OT5, not to mention many months off work, a cost which often exceeds that of the level. Both these recent OTs spent a million and more just for the OT levels component of their Bridge. Inspection of those getting onto OT7 over the past decade will reveal hardly if any who earn anything less than very high incomes, and typically have no dependents at all.

Back in the 90s, donations were not an integral component of OT levels. We know of one OT who as recently as six years ago got on to OT6 (not 7, however) with just an annual IAS membership! What this all suggests is that the Bridge is being made more and more unaffordable for ordinary people, and this has been happening for the past 30 years’ of Miscavige’s ‘reign’. At the Fort Harrison in 1992, each hotel room had an LRH reference on costs and ‘where your money goes’. It explicitly stated that though costs were high (though nothing like today) the idea was that they would steadily come down with the economies of scale.

As with so many things in Scientology, the exact opposite of what LRH intended has taken place.

People who earn the same equivalent amount today that our interviewee did, even if they co-audited – a much tougher proposition post-GAT2 – could not make it.

Three factors have changed the affordability equation:

•       The cost of services and e-meters is today far higher

•       The exchange rate in 1992-5 was about 2:1, and today is about 11:1

•       The training route (quite apart from the far higher cost) has been put out of reach by the arbitrary lengthening of the runway which didn’t exist pre-GAT

By the way, this isn’t news. The reference to Stairway to Heaven is that in the early 1970s Led Zeppelin apparently wrote the iconic song on being introduced to Scientology and the Bridge to Total Freedom (if you can afford it).


28 thoughts on “Stairway to Heaven

    AO Africa is scheduled to open in 2016.Then, according to current exchange rates, OT levels will cost 1/10th of the current prices.
    The SPs are going to go crazy!

      • The opening date keeps getting pushed further into the future.
        They suffer from bad planning and ‘just make it go right ‘ management strategies.
        I was told the ‘New ‘ date recently.

      • Yes, we were all told that. Actually, it may have been earlier even, for that matter. It was all hogwash, of course. I’m wondering if it will ever open. The ‘rule’ is that all SA orgs are Ideal which means staffed (trained staff) and public flooding in, lots of auditors and pcs, lots of students on course, lots of auditors in training. Well, the buildings might be bought and eventually renovated but as for the rest, well we know the story.
        If is does open, like everything else the church does, it’ll be done hurriedly, shoddily, costs rising exponentially (always wanted to use this word) and fake paid-for-crowds at the opening, staff posing as public for academy pictures afterwards and so on.

  2. “Stairway To Heaven”
    There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
    And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
    When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
    With a word she can get what she came for.
    Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
    There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
    ‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
    In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings,
    Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
    Ooh, it makes me wonder,
    Ooh, it makes me wonder.
    There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
    And my spirit is crying for leaving.
    In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
    And the voices of those who stand looking.
    Ooh, it makes me wonder,
    Ooh, it really makes me wonder.
    And it’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
    Then the piper will lead us to reason.
    And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
    And the forests will echo with laughter.
    If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
    It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
    And it makes me wonder.
    Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
    The piper’s calling you to join him,
    Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
    Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?
    And as we wind on down the road
    Our shadows taller than our soul.
    There walks a lady we all know
    Who shines white light and wants to show
    How everything still turns to gold.
    And if you listen very hard
    The tune will come to you at last.
    When all are one and one is all
    To be a rock and not to roll.
    And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

  3. As a trained sup, any student I found in auditor training waiting for three sweeps
    Of the needle before calling an FN would be promptly flunked and referred to LRHs
    Definition of an FN. The above alteration would be and must be the ruin of sups, word
    Clearers and qual personnel. If the intention is to PARK scientologists in training and auditing
    That would be the way to do it. Empty auditing academies? If we have all these new flag
    Auditors……..who were they auditing?

  4. From my observation of old friends who are/were in, the 3 swing F/N was the killing blow on their progress up the Bridge.

    Among my Scientology clients, the ravages of the 3 swing F/N are the first thing to handle.

    The interminably nervous stare of the examiner at the emeter in EVERY exam was enough to kill the F/N of any preclear who was not smart enough to think of a “happy place” during the exam.

    Faking F/Ns to get through exams kills the spirit of the most dedicated Scientologist. They stop going to Flag, then they stop going to events and then, they disappear…..under the radar….

    • I think you are right David. The three swing f/n almost drove me nuts while on Solo Nots. If you can imagine doing a process and you feel like you are f/ning but them need to focus on whether the f/n swung three times or not, thus sometimes killing your f/n and then be in a Q&A about whether you should go to the next step of the process or not? Then on your “refresher” getting sec checked to see if you “falsified any meter reads”, thus introverting you even more on three swing f/n’s. I then started reporting in my worksheets : F/N 90% or 85%, or whatever ( as if 90% sure it was an f/n) just so I wouldn’t get nailed at Flag and have to do lowers and buy book packages and walk around the Flag AO getting signatures on my liability formula. Then have to go back into the meat grinder course room and hash it out with the sweating masses what a three swing f/n looks like and watch all the students and supervisors agonizing over whether or not an f/n swung three time or only two and a half…. Mind numbing!!

  5. This story isn’t a joke. I have the exact same experience. All the way up to OT5 I was considered both a fast student and a fast PC. Even when I arrived at Flag for OT7 I got through everything FAST. At a certain point it all slowed horribly and I became a slow PC. I had absolutely no idea of the definition of FN changing but it now makes complete sense. I literally went from thinking “hey, this bridge is for FREE!’ because the wins seemed to far out-stretch the cost, to the cost far out-stretching the wins on OT7. Only through the open communication on this blog did I finally come to understand how Miscavige cheated me of my potential wins. He is one sordid piece of shit!

  6. What a pretty picture! Money made more scarce than an honest gouvernment!! Adding to this farce, demand this rare commodity (money) to pay for something you will never get (in the church) either? Anyone feel like they have been Rodgered by a humvee limo sideways? A real express elevator to hell fully disguised as a stairway to heaven!
    DM should have his gonads slow roasted and served at an Independant Scio dinner party!!

  7. BTW the origins of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” are somewhat obscure. More so than say Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” but anyway the original policy on pricing was written in a PL that summarized reg policies back in the early ’60′s that said that an intensive which was 25 hrs back then and a major course probably meaning the Academies and SH shouldn’t be any more that what the average lower middle class earns in a month.
    That said.
    The main emphasis of any real Scientology Org as opposed to the stage props being called “Ideal Orgs” was on training auditors.
    Back in Scientology’s hey day in the ’70′s before the coup training was made even cheaper.
    For instance you could do HSDC and all your Levels for 1500 bucks and coaudit all your grades and Dianetics.
    Then you could go the any SH slap down about 1200 bucks and coaudit all the actions needed as part of Solo setups back then with the exception of power.
    BTW if you were a SHSBC grad Solo was free and power was half price.
    This doesn’t include other discounts like Scholarships and “Bridge Boom Packages” that were prevalent back then.
    Me with the exception of the “TRD” which I was forced to buy because I had become “disaffected” and was “Black PRing” management by writing all kindsa nasty reports about their off policy and out tech and some squirrelly Sec Check I received when I was on staff at some Mission which was attached to my FLB when I left that hell hole I’d never bought an intensive of auditing.
    Despite the above. It turns out after reflection that like William S Burroughs who published quite a number of books while he was in Scientology that I made more money auditing and FESing in the ASHO and AO HGCs as Non SO Staff than I actually put into it.
    Unfortunately people like me are more the exception than the rule these days.
    What with all this fixation on “non tangible donations” as proscribed by the IRS and any training that a person undertakes taking forever to do which I think is done intentionally so that the person eventually gives up and buys auditing.
    My advice to those of you out in the field.
    Is grab a set of Tech Vols and get yourself a cheap Mark V off eBay and find a coaudit twin and book audit yourselves to clear. Just like we did in the good ol’ days when DMSMH came out.
    If you run into any trouble. There are plenty of highly trained auditors like mio or Trey or Karen or Pierre or Les and many others ….who can patch ya up and get you going again.
    For those who don’t have the time to read it, drill it and do it.
    There are more highly trained Scientology auditors in the field currently than all the Orgs combined.
    Just find one you trust and get going.
    We have all the materials out here to take anyone from the bottom of the Bridge to full OT.
    Forget about that Tax Exempt, Government Approved (and infiltrated) Squirrel Cage Officially known as the “Church of Scientology”.

  8. From my Declaration of Independence, dated 1 March 2012:
    The corporate church has priced Scientology services far out of reach for the average man and woman. LRH references exist wherein he goes into detail about how to properly price auditing and training, so that the vast majority of public can realistically afford it. Per LRH, services should be priced within reach of the lower middle class. That is certainly NOT the case with today’s prices for services, which can only be realistically reached by those in the upper middle class or higher. This is a suppressive act, as it puts Scientology auditing and training out of reach for most people.
    Prices should be set according to HCOPL 23 Sept 1964 which is actually based on “the average lower class of lower middle class pay scale.” Such is clearly not the case today, where it costs upwards of $29,000 to become an auditor in a Class V Org, if one is an IAS member. This is more than half a year’s salary at the U.S. median income. In fact, that figure represents 100% annual salary for the average lower class of the lower middle class today.
    No doubt, the cost to become a Class V auditor has increased even more because of the new GAT II requirements, putting auditor training even further out of the reach of the working middle (and lower) class.

  9. “the idea was that they would steadily come down with the economies of scale.”
    Back in 1972 it didn’t seem unreasonable to pay $A400 for a 25 hour intensive of grades auditing, or to save up a few thousand for OT levels. We were enthusiastic about being among the first scientologists, and blazing a trail for the millions who would be able to cross the bridge at more accessible prices.
    Fascinating datum about ‘Stairway to Heaven’, too. One afternoon I took a walk after doing hard TRs and the riff that introduces Page’s big guitar solo was playing in my mind. It kept expanding into larger and larger spaces, leading my attention with it until I was exterior – like, hundreds of feet high. But I suppose that’s forbidden these days :-).

  10. The swell size is running at about. 1m with a light easterly wind, ok for those in need of salt in the eyes,
    The weekend should bring some good swell with south westerly wind clean glassy wave on the east coast,

  11. On the 3 swing F/N that is how they make extra
    money, money, money – Review after Review after Review!
    what better way to f u up and then charge you to
    f u up again and if you are really lucky another
    advanced programme because the previous one
    did not advance you! money, money, money!
    when you red tag at examiner because they
    are counting swings! money, money, money!
    Not mention grinding you on your six
    month Sec Checks and keeping you in session
    hours at a time because the real F/N was bypassed!
    money, money, money!
    PS I have never eaten a boiled Egg again!

    • I also completely went off boiled eggs and yoghurt. And Sheeple, please, I definitely don’t want to be eating DM’s gonads … roasted, boiled, fried, lightly buttered or otherwise. Siss!!!

  12. This befuddles me no end. The huge waste of money that Mi$cientology has become.
    Miscarriage screws up every single building built so they cost millions more than needed.
    Miscarriage tells everyone to throw out the window everything learned in the last decades and everything LRH ever said and relearn it all by paying Miscarriage more money for the same books everyone already owns.
    Miscarriage terrorizes all of the remaining sheeple so they are afraid to leave, afraid to stay, afraid of life so nothing happens anywhere.
    Miscarriage leaves brand new e-meters in drafty moldy warehouses for years and then says you have to use the new broken meter & throw out the one you own.
    Miscarriage is spending millions of dollars on a court case that is all about squirrels. well not really squirrels, but you get my drift.
    There is something fishy in Denmark. Miscarriage is purposely driving Scientology into the ground. Or he is an absolute idiot.

  13. Ah so tell me Mootykiller out raged , what is happening in Denmark?

    Fish aways , John dorys, ocean basket ?

    Never trust a man who can only spell a word one way,

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