Robert Kaufman’s Inside Scientology

In the history of the cult of scientology, there have been many books written by people who were a part of it.  These people were often the most dedicated and enthusiastic of Hubbard’s students, until they grew disillusioned with the dysfunction that is inherent in the cult and it’s systems.  Robert Kaufman was one of the first of such authors, and he was the first to publicly reveal the secret OT III materials, in his book.  He also suffered a great deal of harassment and cult “fair game” nonsense as a result, which made his life terribly difficult for a time.  A highly gifted pianist, and by all accounts a nice person and a good friend, Robert was sincere in his practice of the processes that scientology offers, and he was open to receiving a positive outcome from them. He got into the cult through a friend, named Gerald, who had a franchise and eased him into regular auditing with occasional sessions.  He was reluctant at first, but the more that he practiced, the more enthusiastic he became about the processes.  As Kaufman’s skepticism waned, he eventually decided to travel to St Hill, against the advice of his auditor-friend, who had some issues with how the official church runs things, and often ignored policy in his auditing work.  Kaufman got a taste of the original “ideal org”, and the true cult experience, and that is when things began to go very wrong for him.  In a matter of months, Bob was falling apart, and wound up having a mental breakdown. The constant ethics and fundraising pressure was just too much. Sound familiar? Eventually, he got out, and returned to the US. He decided to leave the cult behind. However, his independent (franchise) auditor friend adds the final insult. He was desperate to help repair the damage Kaufman suffered, and claimed to have gone to AOLA to learn some special new auditing processes at L Ron’s personal behest. He begs Bob to let him help… for a fee, of course. Bob sees this as the final outrage, walks away, and decides to write a book soon after.

Bob Kaufman found himself eventually caught in a double-bind that every member faces at some time, and must resolve in terms of their own character and priorities as to what should be sacrificed when life requires sacrifices.  Scientology generally has one of two effects on a person, either it alienates them from their own moral center, or it causes them to get better acquainted with it.  Kaufman was one of the latter, he remained on the fringes of the cult for a long time, but eventually found his way deeper in to the madness.  It did not take long before the sickness began to overwhelm him and he had to find his way out.  In a way, Bob’s case illustrates the point that it is better if a person *cannot* adapt to the crazy in the cult.  There are so many stories of people who only found their way out because they fell into mental illness or physical distress that could not be concealed.  The cult has no use for those who are suffering.  There is a strong bias against the sick and the mentally ill among scientologists in general, and this attitude is built in to the tech by Ron himself, who apparently was a malingerer identified by psychiatrists as suffering from some kind of mental affliction.  This, from a group of people who claim that they are the only ones who can help in a crisis, and who claim to have a tech that restores and maintains health and well-being.   In reality, scientologists are loathe to confront any kind of real mental illness.  The behavior of a mentally ill person is uncomfortably close to that of a person who has “blown charge” on some process.  Also, when faithful scilons apply Ron’s tech as directed (sort of, because at the same time Ron claimed to have the cure-all for any affliction of the mind, scientologists have always been forbidden from processing the mentally ill) for dealing with mental illness, things do not get better.  The tech is a lot better at inducing mental illness than it is at treating it.

Any confrontation with this fact puts the faithful scientologist in a double-bind.   A faithful cult member never wavers in their faith in the effectiveness of the tech.  Merely to witness a failure of it would be a kind of betrayal of that commitment.   When scientology begins to make you sick and confused, as it inevitably will once you get beyond the introductory processes, you face a moment of crisis as a believer in the “tech”.  You have to choose whether your allegiance is to yourself or to maintaining the appearance that scientology works.  That is when you find out that a large part of supporting the intention of “KSW” is to cover up any instances when it appears that it does not work.  That is certainly one way to keep things working.  Scientology always works, if it isn’t working for you, then you are doing something wrong.  Moreover, in doing so, you are suppressing the goals of scientology by making it appear as if it does not work.  So many exes have recounted this mental hamster wheel that they are put on when they first encounter this cognitive dissonance.   It is incredibly stressful, not because you are being asked to believe in something that doesn’t work, but because you are being forced to dissociate from your own experience of the impact it is having on you.  That enforced dissociation occurs when your “eternity”, i.e. your ultimate well-being, is pitted against your wholeness in the moment.  Setting someone up so that they have to make such a choice is a good way to apply enormous psychic pressure.  Then, if you offer them relief from that pressure, they will grab for it with both hands and credit you with rescuing them.

For some folks, that conclusion sticks a lot longer than it does for others.  For Bob, the whole thing began to break down right away, it took him only three months to decide that he could not stay any longer at St Hill.  He was assigned a condition of doubt, which meant he had to leave the AOUK, and he took that as an opportunity to get away entirely and return to the US and the “wog world”.  On some level, he knew that he was being done no favors by the people he was dealing with in the cult.  The irony of the situation is, he was “inoculated” mentally against the environment he found when he travelled to St Hill, by another aspect of his cult experience: the processing that he did with his friend Gerald, who was a franchisee — what later became missions, and then were ground under Miscavige’s heel when he decided it was all or nothing for anyone involved with scientology.  Franchises were always a looser place to get the processes, and that was certainly Bob’s experience.  Gerald actually warned him against going to St Hill, because he had seen others get a bad result there.  He wanted Bob to continue working with him, in a way that was more centered on his own pace and his own needs from the processes.  But the fact is, the results that Bob was getting were not satisfactory.  They didn’t live up to the promises made on behalf of the “tech”, and he wanted to find that benefit he was looking for, for his musical skills and his ability to make the most of his career as a pianist.  Also, the cult processes really do encourage an accelerated investment — they awaken a hunger that they are always on the verge of satisfying but can then never satisfy.  The moving goalposts syndrome, when the goal you are striving to attain is always just a few steps ahead of you.  I have heard it described as an addiction, and it is certainly analogous in the the sense that it sets you chasing after something that you can’t ever really catch.  Also in the sense that there are those who will push it on you because they profit from your addiction, and then blame you when it goes bad for you.

All of these things are borne out in Robert Kaufman’s story of his time in the cult.  This is a man who had enormous talent, who was sincerely open to the possibility that Hubbard had uncovered secrets of optimizing the human mind and its abilities.  That is all it really takes.  When they promise to “make the able more able”, that is such enticing bait to people who are struggling to bring their obvious talents to fruition in a satisfying way.  A frustrated and talented person can be very vulnerable to the promise of relief for their frustration and fuel for their abilities.  Everyone who heard Bob play agreed that he was truly gifted, but it is always a struggle for artists to find a place in society, and to feel like they are making the most of their gifts.  In fact, some say it is the curse of the artist to forever feel as if they have failed to achieve the potential of their vision and what they feel as if they are capable of.  Scientology ruthlessly exploits that character trait in the creative, by promising a sure-fire way to overcome that self-doubt and the limitations of the artist as executor of a vision.  This is why actors and other creative types, sometimes giants in their field, are vulnerable to the promises of the “tech”.  There is no handbook for art, there is no one way to be certain one will get it right.  The creative process is dictated by the vision behind a specific work.  An artist can never be certain that a work is finished, or that it is good enough, or that it is indeed even art.  Anything that offers a way out of that insecurity is always going to be very seductive to creative people.

Bob Kaufman was no exception to this rule.  His reasons for deciding to try scientology fell right in line with these ideas.  When he played for his new scientology friends the first time, they oohed and aaahed over the spiritual depth in his playing, labeling it “ARC”, and then pointing out the ways in which scientologists are the masters of ARC.  This is a come-on that artists can find hard to resist — “we are the only ones who truly appreciate your gift, and we have secrets which will allow you to make the most of that gift.”  Look at scientology promotional videos readily found online, which always feature creative people engaged in artistic pursuits.  Why?  This is one of their most common tactics, and it works well on young people, who are often at a place in life where creative activities are appealing as a career path.  There is no way that a young person, new to scientology and being shown these videos touting the various services available, could know that all the promises they were made are lies, false and manipulative statements offered purely as a lure.  This becomes apparent only when it is too late — after the young person in question has committed all of their money, or signed on to staff, or signed a billion-year contract for the Sea Org.  Then, and only then, do they start to hear all the talk about how the arts are a waste of time when there is a planet that needs clearing.  The “bridge” always leads there, and when confronted with such a double-bind, the young person usually has a hard time holding on to their dreams and asserting the value of whatever creative talents they have.  It is hard to argue that you should be spending your time in line for walk-on parts or trying to find an agent, when the person you are talking to is speaking in apocalyptic terms and addressing you as a crucial part of the effort to save the world.  Young people are vulnerable to this approach, for the same reason that they are capable of such big and creative dreams for their lives in the first place.  The cult finds the ones who are already ambitious enough to makes some moves on behalf of their own dreams, and they hijack that ambition and chain it to the half-baked dreams of a drug-addled pulp writer.  That is a terrible thing to do — both to the individual, and to the world at large, which is suffering for a lack of truly creative people.

I highly recommend Robert Kaufman’s Inside Scientology, as an enlightening view into the earlier days of the cult and the way it treated it’s students at that time.  It is out of print, but widely available on the ‘net as a free PDF.  It is important to note that Bob was the very first to reveal the OT three materials in print, back in 1972, and he paid a heavy price for it. He was hounded and harassed, of course. The usual terror tactics. The COS did their best to ruin his career as a concert pianist, sabotaging important performances and so on. His book was a milestone in the exposure of the scam, and he is all but forgotten now. This is unfortunate, as I think he deserves as much appreciation as any of the current wave of noisy exes.  Even better, Bob is a great writer and does an excellent job depicting what it was like for a typical public scilon in the late 60’s and early 70’s. If you have wondered how things worked in the cult back in the good old days under L Ron, here it is.

Same as it ever was, that’s the way it is in the cult of scientology. Check out Robert Kaufman’s book to see just how true that is.  Originally published in 1972, Bob revised it in 1996 and made the revised edition available free online.  There are many places to find a PDF, here is one link:

https://www.apologeticsindex.org/Inside%20Scientology%20Kaufman.pdf

Tom Cruise and scientology

Tom_Cruise_in_Minority_Report.JPG

The subject of scientology is inextricably tangled up with that of celebrities. This is not an accident of circumstance. L Ron Hubbard actively sought and exhorted his followers to diligently seek the support and endorsement of people he called “opinion leaders”. That is, people who hold sway over public opinion or the opinions of other influential people, because they are famous or popular or have a reputation in academia or the media that can be exploited to augment the credibility of his cult long-con. Eventually, the empty promises and moving goalposts of Dianetics processes, and the religious footing that Ron took up in order to escape the scrutiny of experts and government agencies, drove away all the opinion leaders in any field where credibility and reputation matters — which left him with only celebrities and the very wealthy to exploit in this fashion.

Many people who are watchers and critics of the cult tend to shy away from the celebrity aspect because they feel it lowers the story to a tabloid level. I think this is a mistake, and it is important to instead look at which stories draw the most interest from the general public. It is always the celebrity stories that get a lot of eyes on them; in America the public loves celebrity gossip and feeling like they know why “those big stars are not as great as they think they are”. This is familiar and appealing fodder for the public, unlike most stories about scientology and its outrageous abuse and exploitation. The bizarre details in the story of the cult of scientology can be so unfamiliar and out of context in daily life as to be repugnant and cause people to turn away — until they are connected with a celebrity. With that backdrop, the same bizarre details become salacious and fascinating. To put it another way: more people have learned about scientology and its disturbing practices via the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce story, than ever learned anything from the Debbie Cook story, which I considered a much bigger and more momentous scientology story by far. Debbie Cook testified in court and had inside knowledge of the billion-dollar reservoir of cash that the cult has on hand, among other things. There was very little interest from the media in this story. The reticence to risk scientology’s infamous cadre of attorneys still held strong sway over much of American media at that time.

It was not until the story of Tom’s divorce from Katie broke, and people began to openly declare that she was leaving to protect her child from scientology, that the media grew more courageous about covering the bizarre story of the cult. When they do so, it is still most often presented in the context of celebrities. Leah Remini’s noisy exit from the cult and open criticism of their oppressive practices did so much to expand that coverage. Now, people are far more familiar with the details that watchers and critics have known all along. Disconnection, and sec checks, and the Sea Org. This is the power of a celebrity tag on a story that is really about an evil cult. This is why I think it is a mistake to eschew the celebrity angle, if you actually want to get through to the same people who might be swayed to join the cult because Tom Cruise says it is great. If we critics and watchers ignore this factor, we can be sure that the cult does not, and they are then free to define the narrative about scientology celebrities. In an information war, it is never a good idea to cede that kind of territory to your adversary.

Further, these celebrities deserve to be called out and held under the spotlight as promoters of the “tech”, so that they can then answer for the abuse and exploitation that is part and parcel of that “tech”, and how they look away and allow their questions to be dismissed or silenced. Leah Remini in particular has pointed up this particular question about celebrities in scientology, with their blithe endorsements of it as something that has enhanced their lives. Are we to believe that Leah is the only one who noticed that their ecclesiastical leader was no longer making appearances with his wife, and seemed to have an inappropriately cozy relationship with his assistant? It is a lot more likely that she is the only one who had the courage to go ahead and ask an unwelcome question and not settle for being told to shut up, and that she was the only one with the integrity to then walk away from an organization that apparently does not allow freedom of thought or freedom of association, despite promising the ultimate liberation. Even Tom Cruise, who is apparently the most valorous scientologist ever, has never had that kind of “confront” when it comes to his religion and its leader.

For these reasons, when you talk about scientology, at some point you absolutely should talk about Tom Cruise and other celebrities that have allowed their images and star power to be used by the COS for promotional purposes. The list of celebrities under the sway of the cult is really pretty short, mostly b-list and below, and many of them really don’t seem to be very actively involved in their “church” beyond making donations to the IAS. Tom Cruise is not one of those, however. Quite the opposite. Tom Cruise is the man who received the “Freedom Medal of Valor” from his leader and friend, David Miscavige. He was presented with that medal, ostensibly, for being such a powerful “disseminator” of scientology tech and ethics. Many within the Sea Org, however, felt that he was given the medal mostly for being a famous movie star that was best friends with the leader of the church. He certainly could not be portrayed as making more of a sacrifice or effort for his “religion” than any one of those SO members, Most of whom live on subsistence pay and are often called upon to break the law for their faith. Tom Cruise was not even asked to disconnect from his “suppressive” wife and child, as so many others have been told to do to their loved ones who leave the cult, much to their distress.

Tom Cruise is held up as the very emblem of what a scientologist can be. He attributes his success in his career to his practice of scientology, and feels it gives him extraordinary abilities and power to save the planet.  He conducts himself, as narcissists often do, with great charisma and solicitude, which leaves people glowing in his wake and wondering what his secret is. If they attribute that to his being a scientologist, then that will certainly lead some folks to the cult. There is no doubt that Tom is an excellent PR asset for David Miscavige. If it weren’t for Tom, Miscavige would have to be the face of the cult, and those crazy eyes and uncontrolled temper of his would drive people away, not reel them in. Tom boosts cult PR, and the cult boosts Tom’s ego, declaring him the number three “big being” in the history of this planet, and some sort of moral savior for mankind. What man who has spent his whole life playing action heroes and moral warriors could resist such an ego stroke? It is no surprise that Tom says such positive things about his cult. He knows that to do otherwise would cost him all the self-aggrandizement that he finds so irresistable. To question the behavior of David Miscavige, or the constant money grabs of the IAS, by the rules of the cult, would be counter to their ostensible intention of saving humanity. That would indicate that Tom had gone insane and needed to be shunned until he got sane again. He would no longer be the celebrated big being that deserves a shiny gold medal and to bask in the presence of the shining ecclesiatical light that is David Miscavige.

With that being said, would Tom ever leave the cult? That is the question that comes up frequently amongst scientology watchers and critics of the cult. It seems obvious to outside observers that his association with the cult, and his willful ignorance of the apparent exploitation and inurement that is going on, sometimes to his benefit, is costing him a great deal that seems to be good in his life. He has lost two marriages to his devotion to the cult. And now, his power as a movie star is fading, in part because of his association with an increasingly distasteful and disturbing story. When you add in the events and reporting surrounding his divorce from Katie Holmes it becomes even clearer that there is every reason to assume Tom feels an increasing internal imperative to leave the cult. The widely reported reason for Katie leaving Tom is that she wished to protect their daughter from the impending onset of her scientology “instruction”. That is, the drills and interrogations that scientology deems an appropriate way to initiate a child into awareness of themselves as a spiritual being — a “thetan”. This twist to the otherwise mundane story of yet another hollywood divorce, was the crucial element in allowing the media to put aside their fear of scientology’s legendary litigiousness. Tom’s religion became a fair topic for reporting, because it was apparently an element in the story of his divorce. It could not be characterized as bigotry or prurient interest in a highly personal matter. With Tony Ortega providing leadership to the media in the form of some well-written articles defining the stakes for Katie in terms of what was ahead for Suri in her father’s “church”, there was a sea change in reporting on the cult and its mad practices. That change persists to this day, and the media’s curiosity about the subject, and their willingness to milk it for all the sensationalist value possible, has lead to a very different environment for the cult in this decade.

It is also a very different media environment for Tom Cruise. Where he used to be able to effectively control the conduct of interviews with him, with his publicist dictating to reporters and media outlets that the topic of his religion is off limits, now he must simply avoid most media outlets and speak only to those known for sticking to softballs and celebrity ass-kissing. If Tom were to open himself up to the kind of media junket most movie stars do to promote a movie, he would soon find himself being asked some uncomfortable questions about his religion, his marriages, and his behavior. He would find that he is not the universally beloved action hero that he once was to the average movie-goer. Tom would be confronted with the hierarchy of public affection, as it applies to the story of his divorce from Katie Holmes. In the eyes of the public, the child is always number one — she is young, lovely, well-behaved and doted on by her mother. Katie comes next in terms of affection, because of this. Katie kept quiet through the entire divorce process, leaving the public to decide for themselves what her motives were in leaving. As details emerged concerning the steps she felt it necessary to take to get out of her marriage — the disposable phone, the cover story about developing a script about a single mom, etc — the media and the public began to form an impression of her as a woman who stood up and said no to an unhealthy situation imposed on her and her daughter by Tom Cruise. The stories fed to the media about how shocked and hurt he was, and how cold-hearted Katie was for dropping a surprise divorce on him, never took root. People had not forgotten how Tom had treated his ex-wife Nicole, and he got no sympathy on the whole “ambush divorce” angle. This is when it became clear that his standing in the eyes of the public was degrading, steeply. Tom came in last in the competition for public affection, and that will be his position from now on. No matter what he says or does, unless Katie were to trash her image and Suri turned into a brat, he will remain at the bottom of the list.

The important question is, what is Tom’s personal hierarchy of affection? Tom has made it clear that David Miscavige is his personal hero, and presumably he believes David should be an object of even greater applause and adulation than Tom himself. However, it is also clear that Tom loves being a star, he loves the public affection he receives, and he loves being the hero in the movies he makes. Even Miscavige himself has emphasized the importance of Tom’s celebrity as his means for dissemination to “billions of people on this planet”. When he is confronted with a situation where one is pitted against the other, he is put in a double bind. He is caught between two competing investments, psychologically. Being a devout and sincere scientologist as defined by his best friend David Miscavige, and being a beloved celebrity who is spoken about with respect and admiration. If these two are at odds, that dichotomy can create a real ego crisis for him. It begs the question; which is more fundamental to maintaining his ego intact — being a good scientologist, or being beloved and respected by the public? In considering the answer to this question, it is important to remember that he sought celebrity before he ever heard of scientology and often refers to scientology’s value in his life in terms of how he imagines it has enhanced his career as a movie star. This suggests that being a movie star is the real bottom line for Tom.

Tom Cruise must eventually realize that he is stuck on a false dichotomy. When he realizes that there is a way to remain a “good scientologist”, while also rescuing his beloved celebrity status from the corrosive effect of David Miscavige and his abusive behavior and remaining popular and respected by the public, that would be a turning point. He could come off as brave, and strong enough to admit he was “misguided”. Tom could announce he is disaffected with growing corruption in the hierarchy of his church and unanswered questions about it.  Then, heroically walk away and declare himself an independent scientologist, courageously reclaiming his right to practice his faith on his terms regardless of any authority. He could even claim that it took losing Katie to wake him up, thereby reclaiming some public sympathy in that situation. This would be the move of a powerful, big being, who is in fact free and fully in possession of himself. That is the irony of Tom’s situation, joined at the hip to David Miscavige, and dependent on his validation, while Miscavige puffs him up as the most powerful and free being in the world, and has control of his entire life. Tom’s career choices, marriages, relationships with his exes and his children, and especially his money, are subject to the “ethics” dictated by scientology, via David Miscavige. Being under the thumb of another man doesn’t support the assertion that Tom is a heroic and powerful being. It would be surprising if this has not already occurred to him.

It really comes down to one question — how much has David Miscavige persuaded Tom of the necessity of his leadership and influence? How much does Tom conflate the power of his religious beliefs with the leader of his religion? That’s hard to say. Tom keeps quiet about Miscavige most of the time, and in any case he is an actor capable of projecting any emotion with conviction. He could persuasively pretend to suck up to important people in his sleep, I’m sure. He has seemingly been persuaded that being a good scientologist means absolute unswerving dedication to the agenda and ego of Miscavige. If Tom should change his mind about that, then it would be a simple matter for him to become an independent scientologist, if that is what he wants, and to reclaim the good will of the public and his standing as a go-to guy for big box office returns. This is true to some degree for any celebrity scientologist. Whatever secrets the cult may hold over their heads, culled from recorded auditing sessions, would cause far less damage to their image and career than a continued association with an allegedly abusive and psychotic cult leader. Here’s hoping that all the celebrities who have been shilling for the cult can wake up, and walk away for good.