L. Ron HubbardClearly, no greater man has ever lived. Even beyond single-handedly inventing the scientific field known as Dianetics and founding an immensely popular religion, L. Ron Hubbard has by his own account led a most extraordinary life: conversant in seven languages, decorated war hero, scientist, inventor, philosopher, film director, musician. And his success as a writer and a messiah is undeniable.
It is common for people to assume that Hubbard was a pathological liar or some manner of megalomaniac when they learn his life story, because it certainly does sound incredible. But his followers have carefully researched their founder's biography and secured all the documentation to prove their claims. Although this paperwork has yet to see the light of day, or is in fact contradicted by more readily-available sources, the simplest explanation is that Hubbard made some powerful enemies in the government who would stop at nothing to discredit him. Because it simply defies reason that so many people would choose to follow anyone who concocted stories as fantastic as these about himself. And anyway, truth is stranger than fiction.
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born in Nebraska in 1911. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Helena, Montana. There he quickly blossomed into a cowboy poet. According to an official biography, Ron was "riding broncos by the age of 3, soon breaking them, and at 6, he became a blood brother of the Blackfoot Indians." At the same time, he began reading the works by Shakespeare and Greek philosophers. If this was claimed of anyone else, you would be right to be skeptical. Especially considering that nobody's been able to verify exactly where this ranch existed. But Montana is infamous for its poor record-keeping; everybody knows that.
He was definitely a force to be reckoned with. In kindergarten, little Ron was defending his neighbors and classmates from bullies twice his age by using a form of judo his grandfather called "lumberjack fighting." That's right: he was in kindergarten. None of the former kids actually remembers Ron taking care of business, but people easily forget things from their childhoods.
In 1922 the family moved to Washington state, where Ron joined Boy Scout troop 10 the following year. Sometime around Christmas, the kid evidently developed a powerful hankering for an Eagle Scout patch because he earned his remaining 18 merit badges by March 25. That works out to one badge every 4.7 days. Nowadays, Scouters tend to frown upon rushing through the advancement system, because it tends to create "paper Eagles" -- kids who hold Scouting's highest rank but can't remember how to tie their knots. But maybe things were different back in 1924.
In 1930, Ron enrolled at George Washington University's school of engineering. He studied for a career in civil engineering, but left after only two years. Perhaps he was bored by the pace of the coursework. Or maybe he just decided he would benefit more from an autodidactic approach. For whatever reason, his GWU transcript included six D's and four F's. The simplest explanation is that these were simply clerical errors which Hubbard never bothered to correct.
war heroA year and a half before Pearl Harbor, as a civilian Ron had already begun fighting the Nazis. He was piloting a boat up the Alaskan coast when he stopped off at Ketchikan. There he met the owner/operator of KGBU radio. Evidently the area had been experiencing mysterious interference in the station's transmissions. Ron immediately had a hunch: it was none other than the work of a German spy, out to disable America's communication systems to prevent the prompt relaying of emergency information. Hubbard made a full report to the FBI, thus thwarting the plot. For some reason, the government still denies that this ever took place, but then they deny a lot of stuff we know to be true.
Ron volunteered for the Naval Reserves in 1941, where he distinguished himself with a brilliant military career. In August 1942, Lt. Hubbard was assigned to the YP-422, a patrol boat at the Boston Navy Yard. After a single training exercise, the Navy decided that Hubbard's talents were being wasted on such an insignificant task. Somehow the Axis had infiltrated the Navy Yard, because the Commandant stripped Hubbard of his command after only a single training exercise. Or maybe he was simply intimidated by the young officer's complete and utter mastery of leadership and sailing skills.
Hubbard got shuffled around to a couple of desk jobs before managing to convince the Navy of his value as a commanding officer. So in May 1943 he took charge of a submarine chaser, the PC-815. As luck would have it, on the very first day of its maiden voyage, Hubbard's subchaser encountered sonar contacts off the Oregon coast. He spent the next several hours hunting two submarines, dropping depth charges and shooting at surface debris with deck guns. The next day, four other ships and two Navy blimps were brought in to aid in the hunt. Evidently Hubbard's quick thinking ruled the day, because no trace of the submarines could be found. No doubt, they were both lying wrecked on the ocean floor.
It was Hubbard's bad luck that the battle took place directly over a known magnetic deposit, which made it impossible for instruments to distinguish between the wreckage and the minerals in the seabed. Which is of course precisely what made it the ideal spot for enemy subs to hide. But the Navy brass refused to acknowledge the heroic feat. So they scapegoated Hubbard, claiming that he had simply become confused by the geological feature and wasted all his ammunition on phantoms. They were probably just worried about inciting panic among the populace.
He was admonished and then ordered to take his ship to San Diego, where it was to remain for a two-year assignment. On June 28, after a day of training exercises off the coast, Lt. Hubbard ordered his men to practice firing at a practice target floating near some uninhabited islands. They unloaded all kinds of ammo into the thing, including four 50-caliber artillery rounds. At least two of those rounds missed the target and struck the island.
After the crew returned to San Diego the next morning, they were surprised to learn a few things:
Evidently bowing to Mexican pressure, the Navy brass showed no mercy. They formally reprimanded Lt. Hubbard and stripped him of his command. According to the comments in his fitness report, L. Ron would never again captain a naval vessel:
Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgement, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results. He is believed to have been sincere in his efforts to make his ship efficient and ready. Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised.
In November he was assigned to serve as the Navigation Officer on a freighter, the SS Algol. There he spent nine months trying not to die of boredom. Finally, he was accepted into a three-month Military Government course at the Navy Training School on the campus of Princeton University. It is really astonishing that Hubbard managed to make it through the course, because he soon wound up in a VA hospital, where he spent two years recovering from extensive war injuries. As he put it:
Blinded with injured optic nerves, and lame with physical injuries to hip and back, at the end of World War II, I faced an almost non-existent future. [...]
As inspiring as Hubbard's recovery was, it was even more amazing that he had made it through the entire government class at Princeton both blind and crippled. Once again, if you heard this story about anyone other than L. Ron, you would be right to question it. Especially given the fact that Lt. Hubbard's medical records include nothing more serious than an ulcer. Which is troublesome, until you discover that Hubbard wound up making some very powerful enemies near the end of his life, who would like nothing more than to discredit him and his work.
crusader against the Dark ArtsAfter his miraculous recovery and discharge from the service, L. Ron was sent on a secret mission to infiltrate a coven of warlocks in Pasadena, California. The government instructed Hubbard to destroy it from within. Unfortunately, there is no record of any government agency making such a request, but you really can't expect the Feds to hand over sensitive paperwork like that. But there is independent documentation that L. Ron successfully insinuated himself into the group.
First he befriended Jack Parsons, the head of the Agape Lodge. In no time at all, they became best friends. Next, he seduced Jack's girlfriend Betty. (It's unclear whether this was an assigned objective, or just a fringe benefit.) In early 1946, Parsons wrote a letter to Aleister Crowley, who was the head of the parent organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis:
About 3 months ago I met Capt L Ron Hubbard, a writer and explorer of whom I had known for some time... He is a gentleman, red hair, green eyes, honest and intelligent and we have become great friends. He moved in with me about two months ago, and although Betty and I are still friendly, she has transferred her sexual affections to him.
As illustrated in the letter, Jack had come to trust L. Ron implicitly. In fact, Hubbard had proposed a financial arrangement to speed the disintegration of the Lodge:
We are pooling our resources in a partnership which will act as a parent company to control our business ventures. I think I have made a great gain, and as Betty and I are the best of friends, there is little loss...
Parsons coughed up $20,970.80, Hubbard threw in $1,183.91, and with that $22,154.71 in seed money they formed Allied Enterprises. Then L. Ron suggested that they invest in yachts. They would buy underpriced boats in Florida and sell them in California. Since he was an accomplished sea captain, Hubbard would sail them to Los Angeles. This idea sounded good to Jack. So in May, Hubbard and Betty left for Florida on a boat-buying mission.
Evidently, part of the government plan to root out the coven involved squandering its financial resources, because as soon as Hubbard got to Florida he drained the Allied Enterprises bank account and spent it all on three yachts and a whole lot of high living.
In the end, Parsons went to court but only managed to recover about half his money. The financial trouble must have hindered the Agape Lodge, and by extension the OTO. After being apprised of the situation, Crowley dispatched a message to his subordinate expressing utter dismay:
From our brother's account he has given away both his girl and his money -- apparently it is an ordinary confidence trick.
Which was certainly true, of course. Except what Crowley didn't know -- and the feds still refuse to admit -- is that Hubbard had done it all for Uncle Sam. It is quite possible that without Ron's courageous undercover work, America would today be overrun by the forces of evil.
self-help guruIn 1949, Hubbard began developing a theory of mind which would prove revolutionary. In his model, the human brain was a system akin to a digital computer. And just as you can improve a computer system's performance by defragging its hard disk, L. Ron believed that you could accomplish the same optimization by clearing space in a person's long-term memory. In doing so, the subject is capable of freeing himself of the lingering effects of negative memories -- eliminating psychological and psychosomatic illnesses, vastly improving memory retention, and boosting the I.Q. score. This is accomplished by reliving the bad experiences in a trancelike state, where they are dealt with and disposed of, one at a time.
This scientific field came to be known as Dianetics. Inauspicious as it may sound, Dianetics was introduced to the world in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. A few weeks later, a full-length book was published entitled Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Healing. It soon became a best-seller, moving 150,000 copies in the first year alone. The system set forth in these works and other magazine articles would change the lives of millions.
By following Hubbard's regimen they were relieved of all forms of irrational behavior, including unhealthy compulsions, repressive inhibitions, and psychosomatic illnesses. At which point, they were considered "Clear" -- absolutely free of self-defeating influences. A person who was Clear had harnessed the extraordinary powers of the human intellect. In so doing, they would appear to be superhuman in the eyes of the "Pre-Clears." Hubbard revealed that Buddha and Jesus Christ, far from being divine, were simply ordinary mortals who had progressed "a shade above Clear."
Another startling realization Hubbard made during his years of research was that people with serious physical or mental problems were almost always the victims of dozens of abortion attempts. As he explained it later, "attempted abortion is very common." Each such incident left a mark on the unborn fetus, along with the mother's engagement in sexual intercourse, masturbation, douching, morning sickness, and constipation. This revelation was so unsettling that it drew fire from many critics. For instance:
Hubbard's extensive discussion of things sexual, his concern with abortions, beatings, coitus under duress, flatulence which causes pressure on the foetus, certain cloacal references, all suggest to me a fascination which borders on the obsessive, as if he possessed a deep-seated hatred of women. All of them are being beaten, most of them prove to be unfaithful, few babies are wanted.
Strident opposition to Hubbard's insights extended into the federal government as well. As part of an orchestrated effort to discredit him and drive him out business, the FBI opened a file on Hubbard and began tracking his activities. But even as the enemies were closing in, Ron did not cease his research, which led him to discoveries even more earth-shattering.
savior of all humanityIn late 1953, L. Ron Hubbard announced to the world that the Dianetics system was more than just a self-improvement mechanism -- it was also the key to understanding the source of mankind's spirituality. In other words, Dianetics was now a religion. Hubbard termed his new faith Scientology.
Ron had made this unparalleled discovery through a technique established in Dianetics -- reliving past experiences to root out traumatic memories. Hubbard proposed that the earlier the memory, the more impact it has on the grown subject. Many adherents of Dianetics wind up re-experiencing life events all the way back to the gamete stage, remembering the consciousness they had when they were just a sperm cell. In fact, Hubbard realized that he could use this method to remember past lives, all the way backward through one's evolutionary ancestors, thus proving once and for all both evolution and reincarnation.
He also empirically calculated the age of the immortal soul (or more accurately, the thetan), which he determined to be trillions or quadrillions of years. (This figure is significantly older than the planet Earth.) LRH revealed that our material bodies contain a collection of these thetans, one of which is dominant and the rest fight for control. Which brings us to the centerpiece of L. Ron Hubbard's mind-blowing theology. It turns out that our spirits were actually transported to this planet 75 million years ago -- back when its proper name was "Teegeeack" -- by an impossibly cruel dictator known as Xenu.
Xenu was the head of the Galactic Federation, a group of civilizations on 76 planets in our general neighborhood of the cosmos. As a result of incredible overcrowding problems, Xenu ordered that millions or billions of political dissidents from the various planets be brought to Teegeeack, where they were brainwashed and their souls implanted into the local fauna. Many dozens of these thetans were crammed into each animal. Then the creatures were dropped into volcanoes and vaporized with hydrogen bombs. Through Scientology, LRH provided the means by which a person can exorcise his unwanted thetans and undo Xenu's brainwashing.
This process is extremely dangerous if done improperly. So naturally, the Church of Scientology is very careful about who receives the full briefing. It's the kind of thing that could permanently damage the psyche of an unprepared mind. Which is why none of this information is provided to Scientologists until after years of mental preparation and training.
persecutionAlmost overnight, Scientology opened centers across America and England. What had been only a self-help discipline a few years before had suddenly grown into the single most important institution in the history of humankind. Ron alternated between continuing his groundbreaking research into the mind and giving lectures on the subject of Scientology.
It was soon thereafter that elements of the government began to focus on undermining the Church of Scientology and its founder. Hubbard wrote a letter to the FBI in July 1955 informing them of an IRS plot intended to destroy him. The FBI ignored his plea for help, proving their complicity in the effort. The intimidation and harassment worsened over the next decade, eventually driving LRH to escape the jurisdiction of the United States. And Britain. As well as every other nation on Earth.
At L. Ron's direction, the Church of Scientology began assembling a fleet of ships in the late 1960s. Hubbard transferred the church's files and principal staff members onto the Royal Scotman (later rechristened the Apollo). Then the church's mobile headquarters put to sea, with its founder at the helm.
LRH remained at sea for the next few years, thus evading the clutches of the corrupt governments of the world. This is the period Scientology's enemies like to claim that Hubbard turned into some kind of paranoid Howard Hughes-like recluse. That he was terrified of dentists and doctors and refused to be treated by either. That he became addicted to prescription drugs. That he became capricious and cruel with his crew. That his mind and body both deteriorated to an appalling state. All of which is utter nonsense.
If Hubbard's primary concern was in dodging law enforcement, creditors, and process servers, it was simply needless to live at sea for several years. He could have accomplished the same thing by secretly purchasing a huge large tract of land in an out-of-the-way location, and establishing a fortress there under a cover story intended to deflect suspicion. That would have been simpler than spending years on an ocean liner.
Eventually, LRH returned to the U.S. and ordered the church to quietly procure a sprawling land parcel near Hemet, California. There they established a defensible compound disguised as a small-scale film studio and duplication house for corporate training videos so they could avoid attracting unwanted attention. Hubbard lived there for a few years, before retiring to a similar low-profile facility constructed near the small town of Creston, California.
moving onThree days after the founder's death, the news was broken to the church membership at the Palladium theater in Los Angeles. Hubbard's successor, David Miscavige, delivered the eulogy. Miscavige stressed the fact that Ron had not actually died, but rather progressed to a level above human (much like what Marshall Applewhite would attempt to do a decade later):
"Thus, at 2000 hours, Friday 24 January 1986, L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for seventy-four years, ten months and eleven days. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside its confines. The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists. Although you may feel grief, understand that he did not, and does not now. He has simply moved on to his next step. LRH in fact used this lifetime and body we knew to accomplish what no man has ever accomplished -- he unlocked the mysteries of life and gave us the tools so we could free ourselves and our fellow men..."
And so ends the story of the greatest man who ever lived.