The Rise of Scientology: Part I
To grasp the phenomenon that is Scientology in the world from the standpoint of something other than the powerful feelings of antipathy that drive its detractors, or the mind-numbing feelings of sympathy to which certain of its adherents, like those of any spiritual stream with a central mission in human spiritual evolution, fall prey, demands the practice of positivity on a level that perhaps few in the anthroposophical world are prepared to offer. Be that as it may, it behooves the author to make an attempt at bringing to bear those qualities of discernment the path Rudolf Steiner gave the world is supposed to enable one to develop in this age of volatile spiritual conflict. This discernment involves a process of arriving at judgements or conclusions that carefully excludes the possibility of submitting to impulses of the feeling life that have no place in thinking exercised as an authentically spiritual faculty. This is not to suggest such discernment is not imbued, by its nature, with the warmth of real spiritual love.
To understand Scientology, one must understand Dianetics, which preceded it; and an understanding of Dianetics that arises from a spiritual-scientific penetration of the impulse that produced it leads one, inevitably, to an encounter with a fundamental impulse of the age of the development of the consciousness soul: the impulse inspiring courage in the face of certain facts of the life of the soul.
Rather, however, than undertake here a systematic analysis of the theory and technique of Dianetics, we shall approach the subject of this chapter from a different angle. We shall begin, not with L. Ron Hubbard, the author of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, but with another figure familiar to those of Western spiritual heritage: Elijah.
In his “Anthroposophical Studies of the Old Testament”, Valentin Tomberg states:
“...More important than his power over elemental force is the moral activity of the Elijah-being... [W]hen...Elijah, the Prophet, withstood the prophets of Baal, he was not a mere man, but also the voice and power of that being who represented the national conscience. And as he kindled drenched wood on the altar by lightning, he proclaimed by this sign that although the hearts of Israel were almost inconceivably estranged from the guidance of Jehovah by the service of Baal, they might yet be caught up as by a Nature-force and enveloped in fire, as the drenched wood had been. For if the spiritual and moral force of Jehovah has power to ignite incombustible material in the natural world outside Man, will it not have power to kindle the estranged heart within human nature?...
“...The mission of the Elijah-being consisted mainly in awakening the popular conscience of [his] race...Elijah's effect on mankind was like thunder and lightning; into the stirred hearts of men flashed a lightning-like perception of the forgotten covenant with Jehovah...”
Anthroposophists had the mission to penetrate the secrets of the life of the soul in such a way as to protect mankind from the ravaging effects an ever-increasing materialism in the thinking life was destined to have. This covenant with Michael was broken.
The anthroposophical perspective of the history of mankind's spiritual evolution has as its core consciousness the fact that this evolution, insofar as the earthly side of its progress is concerned, proceeds--for a certain time period--through the emergence and decline of what, in the development of language that has accompanied this, have come to be referred to as “races.” In anthroposophical terms, the word “race” does not refer to outward characteristics, but to inward ones that are manifested outwardly. From this perspective, every race of man that has ever existed or exists at present has emerged with a certain mission.
What it is becoming more and more difficult to see, as members of every race and culture more and more come together in the emergent world-wide cosmopolitan civilization that is an inevitability of the evolution referred to, is that this process of “race-building” continues. While outwardly it appears that the races are coming together through intermarriage, inwardly the missions of the various races continue. Steiner's indication that, as man's spiritual evolution progresses, the idea of “race” will come less and less to apply referred to the fact that what we now think of as “race” is, indeed, becoming meaningless. However, individuals continue to live out their karmic destinies, fulfilling or failing to fulfill, in various measures, that which their incarnation in a given lifetime is meant to give them the opportunity to do. This variegated inward development will continue to have consequences for the formation of certain kinds of bodies; just those needed for the continued advancement of karmic purpose as it finds expression in millions upon millions of individual lives will be produced, through the on-going work to shape man’s outer form in accordance with the demands of his karma, and, as a result, there will continue to emerge “categories” of physical constitution, though ones very different from those the word “race” presently conjures before the mind’s eye. Valentin Tomberg's great service was to clarify the way in which, in this sense, “eugenic occultism” has always been a fundamental current in the course of human spiritual evolution.
What role, then, are anthroposophists destined to play in the emergence of these new categories of physical constitution? Rudolf Steiner makes clear, in lectures such as those given in Nuremberg in the latter half of June of 1908 on the Book of Revelation, that an initiation of the will is possible that will permit those able to receive it to play a pivotal role in the work to mitigate the effects of a virtually inevitable decline of a portion of humanity into what is referred to, in the language of occult science, as an “evil race.”
Central to the reception of this initiation of the will is the development of psychosophy as a science that can do justice to the true nature of the present constitution of man, in its various forms in what continue to exist as races in our day, in a way that permits those battles of the soul to be won that must be won if this initiation of the will is to result in any victory, in the apocalyptic battle destined to be waged, for the forces aligned with Christ and led by Michael. And for those with ears to hear: L. Ron Hubbard is the Elijah in whose work can be seen the efforts of very high beings associated with Christ to “stir men's hearts with a perception of the forgotten covenant with Michael.”
In his work, however, can also be seen the intervention, finally, of the being whose role in the development of an American folk soul parallels that of the being, connected to the work of the German folk-soul, described in chapter one as having descended into the soul-life of Adolf Hitler when Nietzsche died. In the lecture of June 8, 1910 in Kristiania quoted in that chapter, Steiner also says, in reference to the retarded Spirits of Form who work as Spirits of Personality, in varied ways, in every people:
“We will also find on earth those people who have their existence more through the abnormal Spirit of Personality. These Spirits of Personality do not work towards furthering evolution. One only need come to clear insight regarding the character of the North American people; here we see a people that is based primarily upon this principle.”
The great dilemma that confronts anyone who would pursue truly objective insight into the phenomenon of Scientology is, then, that of having to sort out what on the one hand is nothing but the inspiration of the highest beings, whose work is directly in the line of the demands of the age of consciousness-soul development, and that of other beings who work against that development in its purest sense.
A beginning point for this sorting out can be found in a closer examination of the way in which Dianetics went from being a thesis in the mind of a young science fiction writer whose spiritual experience of the need to help humanity consumed him and drove his research, to being a best-seller itself driving a movement. When, after numerous attempts to bring the fruits of his research to the attention of representatives of academic psychology, he found himself with no open doors, he accepted an invitation to have his work published by a mainstream publisher. This put him in the position of having to respond to the demand for his attention to which the book's subsequent popularity gave rise. In other words, his research was subjected to forces that drove it, not from within, but from without. His acceptance of this as his destiny meant his also accepting the gradual loss of his work from the control of those forces that had initially inspired it.
This is not to say that Hubbard was conscious of what was happening to his work from the time he permitted it to be published by Hermitage House. In his waking life, his consciousness was not of forces at work in the supersensible sphere, but only of a moral demand in the earthly one. The great genius that permitted him to become the channel for the impulse for psychosophy is one that must be seen as deriving from powerful service in a previous incarnation. He was only a partial initiate in the lifetime in which he produced what has attracted so many of those souls most profoundly committed to mankind's liberation from what drags him “into the mud.” But what must be seen if the rise of Scientology is to be understood in its relationship to the progress of mankind’s development toward Atman is the way in which, in spite of the form his work had to take on in the context of mid-twentieth-century America, its inner contents succeeded in breaking through a barrier that had been erected to authentic spiritual-scientific striving from the time of Valentin Tomberg's conversion to Catholicism.
When Tomberg penned the “Anthroposophical Studies of the Old Testament”, he worked out of an impulse that flowed into that work from the same source as that which had been permitted to flow into Rudolf Steiner’s. By the time he accepted the authority of the Catholic hierarchy several years later, declaring the development of the consciousness soul to have “failed”, the forces that had been able to produce such fruit as these “Studies” had more and more been compelled to withdraw.
That this compulsion had everything to do with the divisions within the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society after Steiner’s death may require some elucidation, which, in turn, will require our turning our attention back a century or so to the mission of another embattled American spiritual figure, Joseph Smith, Jr.