SECRET LIVES - L. Ron Hubbard

Part 2

Part 2 - RealAudio, 1962K (16m)

With his book, Dianetics, a best-seller, Ron Hubbard was America's new guru. In August 1950, at a lecture hall in Los Angeles he presented to a crowd of 6,000 the first person to be what he called a 'clear'. She was a student called Sonya Bianca. As a clear, she was supposed to have total recall.

"Various members of the audience called questions at her. Could she remember what was said on page 217 of her physics textbook? She couldn't. Could she remember what she had for breakfast on the morning of August 17, 1946? She couldn't. Then various people called out for Hubbard to turn his back on her and see if she could remember the colour of his tie. She couldn't. At that moment, the whole business sort of collapsed. People started leaving the auditorium."

Suddenly Hubbard was in trouble. He was accused of being a con-man and Dianetics a form of hypnotism., a technique at which he was so expert. He recruited a bright young PR woman, Barbara Kaye.

"Well, I've always found that it's the mind of a man that is most sexy. He was not really terribly physically attractive. And he had a brilliant mind, no question about that. I surely thought this was a man who is interested in marrying me, and who I might be interested in marrying."

The intellectual attraction turned into an affair and Barbara stayed with the 40 year old Hubbard in an apartment in Hollywood. But by now Hubbard had left Polly and was married to his second wife, Sara. He had led Barbara to believe that the marriage with Sara was over. It wasn't.

"It was quite shocking when shortly after moving some of my things into the apartment, suddenly Sara turned up with the babies and moved in. I believe he was just as dismayed as I, because the next day when he came to the office with some of my belongings, like my cologne and toothbrush and so forth, he looked very downtrodden and apologetic and not happy about the situation at all"

Nevertheless, Barbara was kicked out. Dianetics was still in trouble. After the initial success of the book, money had rolled in, and rolled out just as fast. Hubbard went to Palm Springs to try and recoup his fortune with a follow-up book. But the business, his marriage with Sara, and his writing were in crisis. He asked Barbara to come to him.

"He was certainly very depressed, He had lost the colour in his face. His voice was hardly audible. He told me that he was totally blocked, he was working under a publisher's deadline that he was failing to meet. He believed that his inability to write was due to the sinister interventions of other people, such as Sara hypnotizing him in his sleep and telling him that he would never write again. I found him paranoid, you know. He was clearly going through a clinical depression."

Worse followed. Hubbard and Sara finally split up. Their divorce became a public sensation. Sara accused Hubbard of torturing her, and declared him insane. Hubbard denounced Sara as a Russian spy and kidnapped their 13-month-old daughter. Hubbard ended up in Wichita in Kansas and got back in touch with Barbara.

"He sent me a wire telling me that he had been very ill and saying that he wanted to marry me. I went to Wichita. He looked terrible. He had hair down to his shoulders and his fingernails were like talons. And I found a note, a very sweet note in my hotel room saying 'glad you are here, I love you' but I saw a man there who had no prospects, for one thing, and that he had some psychiatric difficulties and I didn't see much of a life for myself with that sort of individual. So I left."

But Hubbard bounced back. He got married for the third time, to one of his students, Mary Sue Whipp. This marriage lasted, and Mary Sue would become his devoted deputy. Sara, his second wife, was 'cleared' from his memory, just like an engram.

"How many times have I been married? I've been married twice. And I'm very happily married just now. I have a lovely wife, and I have four children. My first wife is dead."

"What happened to your second wife?"

"I didn't have a second wife."

In 1952 Hubbard launched a revolutionary new product, Scientology. Dianetics originally covered this life only. But in a new book, Scientology - A History of Man, Hubbard revealed that wasn't enough. Human bodies were in fact inhabited by immortal souls or 'thetans' going back to primeval times. Hubbard's son from his first marriage, Nibs claimed the book stemmed from an unusual piece of drug-driven research.

JIM DINCALCI - Ron Hubbard's Medical Officer:
"LRH gave his son Nibs some amphetamines, and Nibs started talking, he said, started really going talking fast, from the speed. And he kept talking, he kept talking, and his dad kept giving him speed and all of a sudden he was talking about his history, when he was a clam and all these different situations in early Earth. And out of that came 'History of Man'."

"Suddenly you were nobody - 'Oh, I've been back three lives, you know, I've been back seven, you know, I was in the time of Pharaoh'. Well, when I got back to the individual who was a clam, lying on a primordial seashore with a grain of sand irritating a pearl inside it, I decided that was as far back as I wanted to go and I just departed from Scientology altogether."

In late 1952, Hubbard came to London. He was still in financial trouble back home. A business partner had just issued a warrant for the return of $9,000 Hubbard had borrowed. To make money, he needed to go international, and here, instead of creditors, he found a new group of adoring fans.

PAM KEMP - friend and ex-scientologist:
"He was really flamboyant, I mean he was full of life and he rode about on his Harley motorcycle, and we threw parties and he would play his guitar and sing and put on his cowboy hat and he was just lots and lots of fun. We would all get together and then we would do various exercises and we would go out and see if just with thoughts we could knock off policemen's hats. What kind of power did we have in terms of thinking and thought and energy and that sort of thing. I mean, it was great fun."

CYRIL VOSPER - Ron Hubbard's Staff:
"I thought it would give me total control over my own life. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it, but put in those terms, that is basically what Hubbard was saying. He was saying that you and everyone else, with the use of Scientology (or Dianetics at that time) could become a god. And we were all, if you like, fallen gods."

The next step was to create a church for his new gods. A writer friend called Lloyd Eschbach later recalled how after a dinner in the late 1940's Hubbard had said "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is'. Now, a few years later the Church of Scientology was born. In America, in particular, there were sound practical reasons.

RAYMOND KEMP - friend and ex-Scientologist:
"There are tax advantages and there are advantages in the Constitution which says that the Government must not abridge the operations of a church. I think that that more than anything else made him agree to using that vehicle because it is and has to date proved to be very difficult for any government to abridge the activities of a church."

Hubbard found the perfect cathedral for his church: Saint Hill Manor, in East Grinstead in Sussex. He played his new role, the country squire. He told the locals that he was a scientist, researching plants, and their reaction to pain. He and his young family settled into Sussex society, bringing American razzmatazz into East Grinstead's Road Safety Campaign.

But the locals hadn't realised that Saint Hill was to become the Mecca of Scientology. Devotees arrived from all over the world to study at their master's feet. They paid thousands of pounds for Hubbard's courses. Virginia Downsborough was on the first Saint Hill clearing course.

VIRGINIA DOWNSBOROUGH - Ron Hubbard's Personal Assistant:
"Ron had such an amazing ability for making you feel that you were just so important to him and so valued. So many people wanted to do what he wanted, wanted to show him their best efforts, wanted to be part, you know it was 'wait for me, let me come along with this wonderful game you're playing'."

Central to the game was Hubbard's E-meter, a form of lie-detector which he claimed could electrically detect emotional charge. Students spent hours, days, months, sometimes years going over painful events or engrams in this or their past lives trying to make the needle float - proof that the engram was now cleared from their memories.

Hubbard had designed an ingenious commercial product. The more past lives, the more memories, the more engrams to be cleared, all in a complex series of expensive courses.

HANA ELTRINGHAM - Hubbard's Deputy at Sea:
"Making money, I think, to Hubbard was paramount. He wasn't that interested in it for himself. He did have perks, he did have his cars, his motorbikes, his books, his good food and things like that and eventually he had his villas and he had his estates and so on but the money that he wanted predominantly was for power."

Hubbard wanted to create a world-wide army of Scientologists. Going clear was only the first step. After that, further courses could improve your IQ, improve your work, turn you into a superman.

"The purpose of Scientology was to make the able more able, and he was always striving for that, and in everything he did I think he was looking at that. Now his idea was that if you could get everybody looking in the same direction then you'd have a very powerful nation, you see."

This photograph, composed by Ron Hubbard himself, betrays an extraordinary ambition he held for Scientology.

"The entire objective was to find a place that Hubbard could eventually turn into his own kingdom, with his own government, his own passports, his own monetary system, in other words his own principality, that he would be the benign dictator of. That was the objective."

"He had been having some auditing and doing some investigative auditing and looking at past lives and past experiences and he ran into what he thought might be the past life of Cecil Rhodes so he went to Rhodesia to check out what he had discovered in his auditing."

"He was there to attempt to create a Scientology community in the country and eventually turn the country over into a Scientology country. He was looking for a homebase for Scientology."

Hubbard's vision of becoming a latter-day Rhodes failed. The Rhodesian Government became suspicious of him and his visa was not renewed. Back in England, Hubbard was also under attack. Parents were worried by strange communications from children who had fallen under Scientology's thrall.

MRS HENSLOW - parent of Scientologist:
"There was a letter from her saying that she was disconnecting from me. You're probably familiar with this, you've seen it in the papers, but that I was destroying her and that she didn't want to see me again. That was it. Karen, it was signed."

The newspapers were accusing him of being a fraud and lobbied the government to launch an enquiry. Hubbard decided there was only one answer. He would take to the high seas. With his loyal band of disciples he would move himself and his empire outside any government's jurisdiction.

"At one point he turned round and said to us in a very masterful way, in a very, almost ambassadorial sort of way, he said, 'It's perfectly all right to step outside the law, because the law itself is aberrated, so in order to achieve our ends, that gives us licence to step outside the law."

Hubbard's followers were about to see the consequences of life beyond the law as their messiah became their dictator.

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