[This book is available through Amazon.]
In this compelling read, Jesse tells of his experiences in the Scientology universe, from the circumstances of his introduction to the subject, then by way of his rapid climb to the top of the organization’s corporate maze (in the early 80’s), to his unhappy exit (in the late nineties) – followed by aspects of his life thereafter, focusing on the nastiness of the fights he got into with that maze and its leader and his then henchmen.
I’ve read few of the books produced by former members, because I’m not terribly interested in what people have to say about an organization which was already a wreck before I left it in 1982. The writing was on the wall forty years ago as clear as day. Who wants to keep staring at a wall, over and over? One could say that many have walked alongside this particular wall, taking their time to read it, some of them then taking time to tell us what they have been through. “See! See what the writing on the wall, which we did not heed, has wrought!” Nothing wrong with that. If it interests people, it interests them.
None of it, that I know of, has so far made much difference to anything. We have revelations about misbehaviours within the C of S [Church of Scientology] towards its staff and its members, we have revelations about the misbehaviours and insanities of L. Ron Hubbard, and we have almost endless commentary about the endless gossip concerning all these misbehaviours and what they mean.
Jesse’s book, which I have read once and quickly, swims in the same waters but is a different kettle of fish. Jesse, whom I knew slightly in Clearwater, was an independent, never a zealot, never a robot. His heavy-lidded eyes were always his own; although relaxed, he was watchful; although friendly, he was tough; although conscientious, he was not a simple true-believer. He had a ready wit and a ready laugh. His tongue could be sharp without being unkind.
I remember one time of his attending to me when he was a Cramming Officer. I, an auditor, was with him to explore some auditing sin I had committed in a recent session. By that time, LRH had ordered that when an auditor was sent to Cramming because of an alleged error in a session, the Cramming Officer had to “fly the rudiments” on the auditor as the first action in the Cramming procedure. “Rudiments” in this context are questions asked about basic upsets or concerns a person might have in the moment; to fly them means to clear up any such issues so they’re no longer distracting the possessor from the main action (correction of auditing errors) about to happen. Each question in the set of rudiments that is taken up is explored until the possessor’s needle floats on the question on the meter; hence the term “fly” – but don’t ask me why it’s “fly” and not some other word.
“Rudiments” include questions about matters which the person whose rudiments [ruds] are being “flown” would rather not bring into the light of day, such as misdeeds or secrets. With this kind of ruds question, if focusing solely on misdeeds or secrets, we used to say we “pull” them rather than fly them, whereas for the whole set of ruds we fly them. It comes to the same thing; again, the usage is obscure and don’t ask me.
So, Jesse is getting ready to fly my ruds so he and I can get into and complete my Cramming thing; this one’s not going to be a long affair. Once a Cramming Order is issued, the auditor has to go to Cramming to get it looked into, with corrective actions undergone as found necessary by the Cramming Officer. The auditor does not return to auditing until cleared by the Cramming Officer after the corrective action. In the office with us is a young Latina woman who is also an auditor and also has a Cramming Order to carry out. She, aggressively anxious to get it all over with so she can get back “in the chair” (that is, in the auditor’s chair delivering auditing to the organization’s customers) is insisting that her ruds be flown. All she is doing in fact is interfering with Jesse’s performance of his job with me so he can get to her.
He tells her politely a couple of times that Yes, he will fly her ruds just as soon as he’s finished with me. She continues her nagging. With a slight edge to his voice, but in total control of his enunciation, and a mischievous glint in his eye, he tells her “All right, my dear! I will pull your rudiments.” She then fell silent and left the room. [Probably not too much of a joke for some, but it tickled me, simple as I am. If any explanation needed: Jesse was telling the young lady that in his eyes, the ruds he’d have to handle with her were going to be – because of her obnoxious attitude – of the misdeed/secret category. Not exactly kind, but she was asking for it.]
Jesse stood out not just because of his dark-brown skin. As in any close-knit community where there is jockeying for promotion, favour, and so on, internal politics can break out in ugly rashes. Many people learned to keep their mouths shut and to cover their rear ends carefully. Anyone with eyes to see saw it. Jesse was one who watched what he said, but you could see he had no fear of expressing himself regardless of the politics. Moreover, he looked as though he could speak his mind eloquently enough to hold his ground and gain respect.
After Jesse left Clearwater, I became aware that he’d quickly gained promotion in the hierarchy over at wherever he had gone. This meant little to me since I was already on my road out of the organization. I wasn’t surprised that he’d been picked out in the newly-dominant management culture, with its emphasis on what would come to be called the kick-ass approach. If that approach appealed to Jesse, he’d fit right in. I left a few months later, having never had ambition of the kick-ass type. In the years that followed, I’d think about Jesse now and then, wondering how he was getting on in that environment, particularly how he might be managing his relationships with his seniors and associates. If he was staying with the program, he would be dancing skilfully, I felt. But I wondered how far he would go with it.
Through the years, I heard, of course, of his public opposition to his former colleagues and of his connection with Bob Minton. I think we exchanged a brief greeting on some digital platform, but our paths haven’t otherwise met or crossed. [I have never considered brute force to be effective with people like Miscavige, and I have never had any resources with which to deal with him.] When I heard that Jesse had written his book, I looked for it, got it, and read it through in one sitting.
Two immediate comments: Firstly, the book is by a committed representative of the anti-Scientology, anti-C of S, anti-Miscavige, anti-Hubbard industry. By this, I mean the community of people who know with full certainty that because something about Scientology is bad, all of Scientology is bad; because many things about the C of S are bad, everything to do with the C of S is bad; because a lot of what Miscavige is accused of is really bad, he is all bad; and because Hubbard became in some respects insane and evil, the totality of his being and living was and always has been nothing but insane and evil. This is a harsh, filtered, one-eyed view and not one I agree with; I can accept that there was insanity and egregious misbehaviour. Can I ignore what I see was, on the contrary, positive? No way. More on that later.
Secondly, the book is by someone who was part of the topmost management of the C of S corporate conglomerate and, as I’ve pointed out, his own person with his own eyes. He has first-hand experience that he can describe, and he can do it with independent intelligence and insight. Jesse talks of relationships and events at a level unique in what I’ll refer to as the ‘anti industry’. And although you would have to think he regards Miscavige as at best an enemy, and LRH at best a fraudster, his narrative is not loaded with bitterness or hatred, nor with disguised propaganda (that I could see).
With regard to propaganda, Jesse does direct suspicion towards Miscavige in respect of possible forgery of Hubbard’s signature and of possible involvement in the violent death of someone close to him (to Miscavige) whose existence threatened Miscavige’s position at the top of the organization. Jesse also adds fuel to the accusatory fire beloved in the anti industry about possible obfuscation by Miscavige of truth concerning the circumstances of LRH’s passing and of his will.
Concerning propaganda against LRH, Jesse points towards evidence that LRH was an alcoholic but is clearly careful of drawing any certain conclusion on that subject. On the other hand, Jesse allows one of the reviews of his book (included in the Foreword) to state unambiguously that LRH was an alcoholic in terms that are bombastic but not backed up with fact.
Jesse’s observations of LRH’s behaviour and state of mind are of great interest. Just about all that he reports of these I can believe. Without trying to sound all-knowing, he tells me that which I (and others) saw coming when I decided I couldn’t follow LRH on the path he began to take in the mid-70’s. Thus, Jesse’s words ring as very likely true. This being said, it is extremely sad to hear just how far and in what way LRH’s mental and spiritual condition degraded, and to know that he was not well cared for in his last days – notwithstanding the fact that LRH had made for himself the bed he was lying on, and had held close to him the people who accepted the responsibility of caring for him.
[There is some comfort in having an idea of how LRH’s sanity shook as he drew close to the end of his life; the knowledge helps me feel less stupid about how my sanity slipped away as my days within the church drew to their end, and about how long it took me to get myself back on an even keel after returning to the real world. In fact, that process still continues. And I’m grateful that it does.]
Jesse describes Miscavige’s final humiliation of Mary Sue Hubbard, a ritual sacrifice in which Jesse participated as a witness and Miscavige supporter. To Jesse’s credit he expresses regret about that horrible event and his part in it. Consequently, I for one will not hold his complicity against him, should my doing so or not ever be important. The rest of the mob that Miscavige dragged with him for that ritual can join him in hell forever as far as I’m concerned. Mary Sue was not perfect, but she had been loyal; in no way did she deserve that treatment. In this Miscavige performance in Mary Sue’s own home he bullied her into signing away her rights as widow despite the fact that much of the wealth he was diverting from her hands existed because of her life’s work for the organization – quite apart from anything she was due from LRH’s will or entitled to in the absence of a will, as his widow.
Interesting to note that a factor in Jesse’s initial acceptance of and entry into Scientology had to do with out-of-body experiences [OOB]; he tells us that he mentioned in his first visit to the organization that he had had many OOB experiences and was interested in knowing more about the subject; they assured him he’d come to the right place. It’s interesting because part of Jon Atack’s initial experience [described in his book A Piece of Blue Sky] had to do with the promise of “going exterior”, otherwise known as OOB. Atack’s book (which Jesse recommends) is part of the same anti industry.
An important aspect of the history of the degradation of Scientology is the role played by the part of the organization devoted to getting people to purchase services and to continue to buy them. In 1968, not long after the Sea Organization [“the SO”] began its interference with the international Scientology network of organizations (which the SO had avowedly left to the Scientology World-Wide headquarters at Saint Hill [known as “WW”]), reports began coming into WW, where I was an executive [and not part of the SO], of marked increases in the amounts of money being taken in by far-flung organizations. The SO people involved were insisting on large increases in income from week to week at each org, and in most instances the increases occurred. As a WW executive, I was greatly concerned that we did not know what it was that these organizations were now selling – and therefore promising to deliver. It’s a disgrace on my part that I didn’t pursue this concern; why I didn’t is another story.
I’m digressing from discussion of Jesse’s book here only to give the book some context I think has relevant importance: both Jon Atack and Jesse were attracted into the grip of the Scientology organization by promises of spiritual candy. Whatever else they learned on the path by which they came to find that the candy had a bitter taste, they share the view that they had been misled fraudulently. In view of the promises they were sold on, they are not mistaken, in my opinion. However, in their disillusion they are busy dealing with a set of problems that would never have existed had the staff who sold them the candy been properly and honestly trained and supervised as regards what they were leading people to expect by way of results. The promise of exteriorization was explicitly forbidden in policy LRH wrote himself. In pushing the organizations to ignore that policy, the C of S upper management (in reality, LRH and the SO) created a hornet’s nest of problems for itself. Making the receipt of money more important than the spiritual health of the paying customer is bad enough; taking that money and putting the customer in harm’s way creates the kind of energy that results in the anti industry.
While off on this tack, I should add that just after the death of L. Ron Hubbard there was a time when the Lords Muck-a-Muck of corporate Scientology were agog to have access to the “OT” levels that LRH had left behind. These Lords, according to Jesse (who was one of them), thought that these esoteric, advanced materials could make them masters of the manipulation of matter, energy, space, and time. Evidently, their eyes were greedy for that great prize. In due course, they found that the materials would do no such thing. But the commentator can notice that from the inception of the “OT” levels, the levels have carried with them the implied promise of abilities far beyond the human. Those who went into the OT levels with open eyes could find value in them without expecting anything more than what they could get. Unfortunately, the implied promises spoke loudly to those seeking the fools’ gold of extraordinary powers in order to increase not their abilities to live good lives in good community with family, neighbours, and fellows, but their abilities to bully the totality of family, neighbours, fellows, Planet Earth, and The Universe – and, presumably, all other bullying OT’s too. A moment’s reflection would have shown them that if a number of individuals become free to autonomously change the arrangement of matter, energy, space, and time in which the cosmos holds together, then chaos would quickly result, ending all games, good or unworthy.
In these two ways at least, in promising the candy of OOB and the fools’ gold of cosmic mastery to all who could be tempted to pay for it, the C of S set itself up for the attacks of the bitterly disillusioned against its arrogance and stupidity in making insane promises. Alas, the C of S set up the technology to be tarred with the same brushes. The technology is not perfect but it is too good for what the C of S made of itself. Whatever about that technology is pure remains pure.
Much of what Jesse says we must take at face value. It is worth noting, though, that the main persona in one of Jesse’s stories of his time within the organization does dispute some of Jesse’s stated facts. This is Robin Scott, the British man who, having left the Sea Org, impersonated a Sea Org officer and got his hands on the most advanced and valuable technical materials the organization possessed. Jesse recounts how he got the better of Robin; Robin has a different story. Part of that story, according to Jesse, is the belief that David Mayo wanted and got copies of that precious material. I can dispute this up to a point, in some support of Robin’s position. I was with David Mayo at the time in question (but left shortly thereafter) and can attest that David was not only horrified at the theft but vehemently against anyone connected with him having any copies of that stolen material. David could possibly have changed his mind later, but I doubt it because, in that period, he was defending himself against brutal attacks from Miscavige and Jesse.
Jesse also has remarks about the materials David Mayo wrote up for his own use at his own centre for the level the stolen materials covered. The documents making up the C of S package were originally signed by LRH, whereas it was clear to anyone familiar with the respective styles that some of the issues in that package were transcripts of LRH recordings (of briefings he had given David himself) on the subject, and the rest were mostly written by David either on behalf of LRH or with his approval. I believe that David, after he’d set up his own independent centre, was rewriting in his own words for his own independent use what he had written for LRH to sign for C of S use. Jesse claims that what David wrote is nonsensical and unworthy. All the auditors at David’s centre read his version and found it workable.
Jesse reports this thing and that from intelligence reports he was receiving from C of S spies infiltrated into David Mayo’s group. I’ll believe all of these things once they are fact-checked. I suspect that Jesse likely accepted reports from spies who were saying that which they thought it was good to say and for their masters to hear. It’s a bit late to fact-check these things; nonetheless, I believe that in what Jesse saw with his own eyes, heard with his own ears, and figured out with his own judgment, he is a reliable witness. Do we know that he tells all that he might tell, and all that is relevant? We can never know that about any story.
Jesse can be rightly proud of the prominent position he earned – high in this wealthy organization clutched by dedicated and ruthless dominators. Here, he demonstrated not only his ability to get things done, itself a distinction, but also his presence of mind in manoeuvring the bogs of bullshit necessary to keep the dominators cool and collected – and away from his throat. To what extent do we admire him for these accomplishments, as we’re invited to by their recitation? One’s admiration would have to be tempered by one’s evaluation of his masters.
Admiration is also tempered by mindfulness of the horrible conditions in which ‘ordinary’ members of the SO and of the C of S had to live, and the disgraceful way in which SO children were housed, not educated, and otherwise treated. Jesse’s successes insulated him from those realities and allowed him to enjoy such things as his expensive motorbike, a toy also favoured by Miscavige, and, one could think, purchased and ridden to show him (Jesse) a member of the elite.
Jesse, although, as I say, his own person, evidently hardened himself to some human feelings as he took on difficult projects for his master, Miscavige. For example, he describes how he was given the repulsive task of obtaining from Diana Hubbard something all others had failed to get – her signature on documents resigning her rights over her daughter, Roanne. The documents were required because LRH had decided he wanted Roanne to live close to him, while Diana had moved away. Until Jesse went to see her for the signatures, she had adamantly refused to hand over her daughter.
Jesse did succeed, although we can’t be quite sure how it came about; his story is that he asked Diana for her signatures and she gave them without demur – although not without tears. Jesse does tell us that he felt Diana’s pain as she signed the documents, and he gives us to understand that he did not enjoy what he was doing. Hard to fathom, then, is the coolness with which Jesse relates that shortly after he returned to headquarters and had delivered the signed documents, LRH paid him a reward or bonus of $500 or $700. Jesse is entitled to his own view of his actions. I myself find it hard to understand how he can be so callous about taking the money for separating the mother and her child. He may have his reasons for remembering the money with equanimity, but one can consider it unworthy to do such a deed and then take money for it.
Another personal observation on one minor aspect of Jesse’s story: He refers to a man with whom he worked, a lawyer, a man who deposed me twice. His name was Joe Yanny. Jesse obviously liked and enjoyed this man, calling him a “good person” with a striking sense of humour. As I say, I met Joe Yanny twice, and of course in a quite different context from Jesse’s association with him. Jesse and Yanny were involved in the C of S suit against David Mayo. As a former member of David’s independent group, I was involved, had testimony, and was summoned twice by Yanny for deposition in Miami, where I lived. So I had several hours of questioning from him and had that opportunity to observe him and his behaviour.
Joe Yanny struck me as being a young man on the make (as in ‘ferocious self-promotion’) and highly pleased with himself at his success so far. He did not strike me as fearsome in his treatment of me, although, not unexpectedly, he did look down his nose at me a lot, and quite smoothly, too. In return, I looked down mine at him. I didn’t offer him any pleasantries and would have been offended had he tried to offer me any. His skin shone as though covering layers of butter (although he was quite trim), his dark eyes comfortable and happy in their security. He seemed delighted with his own perfection. The relations between Jesse and this man may have been thoroughly open, honest, and straightforward; my opinion is that it’s likely that Joe covered Jesse with lots of butter.
When Jesse tells us that Joe Yanny was “a good person”, he does so in the context of a story he’s telling about working with Yanny on a case and spending off-duty time with the man. I would like to have known if Jesse considered Yanny a good man for what Yanny did for the C of S in its lawsuits against its perceived enemies, or for – what?
I’m making the point that, as always, another’s story can have holes picked in it, just as my story can have. Self-congratulation is all very well but is an ingredient that requires the greatest degree of judgment in the simmering of one’s soup. What Jesse doesn’t include in his story is that even though Yanny was involved in the success of the C of S suit against David Mayo, the latter eventually won his counter-suit against the C of S – although by that time, Yanny must have been long separated from the C of S pots of gold. In fact, Yanny, despite having received (by report, not verified by me) auditing sessions from the C of S, ended up opposing the C of S and involved in lawsuits against them. And he is on record as saying some extremely harsh things about the C of S and its methods of conducting lawsuits [as can be found on a web search].
Jesse makes it clear that it was not he that ordered and managed the conduct of lawsuits that outraged Yanny (and others); however, one has to wonder how it is that Jesse, in describing them, does not forthrightly condemn the lawsuits for the mischief that they were, or have any considerations now about his earlier support for and use of that conduct.
So, as with every telling of every tale, we need to be alert to the possibility that this or that is missing or that the telling might be biased one way or another. This is by no means a criticism directly aimed at Jesse but a reservation necessary in every reading of any author. As I’ve said, in what Jesse says of what he saw and heard and evaluated by himself, I think we can trust his word; at the same time, though, we have to recognise: firstly that his story seems to involve a serious element of self-congratulation (and lack a serious element of self-reflection); secondly that he does himself no favours as an author in not having someone go over his text. It is a bit staggering that presumably not one of the people who read his text before publication pointed out that the way to spell “days” is not “daze” [as happens twice] or let stand other simple textual errors – such as we all can make and shouldn’t be too proud to have another correct for us. Possibly, somebody did point this out to Jesse and he chose to gloss over them. One could admire that chutzpah while rejecting it as contrary to basic and expected author friendliness towards the reader. The book shows (in my opinion) the need for mature editing in both style and substance.
The anti industry is doing its job well. It focuses attention on the misbehaviours of Miscavige towards staff and members and towards the products of Scientology technology seemingly degraded at his hands. The industry repeatedly calls into question LRH’s integrity and motives, not to mention his sanity. It lumps all this negativity together, be it real or imagined – and builds its own big wall. On that wall it writes large: “Scientology is all bad!” “Hubbard is all bad!” When the world speaks of “Scientology” these days, what it means is the collected misbehaviours of the C of S and its leader – along with the horror and outrage we surely must feel for such evil. Any truth in the technology LRH put together must die.
I have only one disagreement with this message on the anti wall. I do agree that all the bad behaviour is all bad. I agree that the insanity is insane. What I never accept is the message: It was always and ever this way from the very beginning.
Bah. What utter, childish nonsense.
The message is just not true. But the people who have been involved in the organization since the early 80’s – that is, those who were already members and who remained members and those who joined up after that time – and have become disenchanted with it and upset with it assume that all the bad that they know of the organization and of Hubbard is all there is to know about them. They do not recognize the possibility that at some earlier time things were different and better, and that things changed through time, becoming worse and worse – but started from a very much better place than they ever knew.
I can’t and don’t blame people for assuming what they assume; assuming is, it seems, an essential human activity. We are riddled with biases of one kind or another, all of us. It can be difficult to grasp that we don’t know what we don’t know. We shy away from examining our assumptions and the biases we base them on. For example, that LRH changed for the worse over his later years is nothing new or strange for old people. Who is the bigger fool: the one who makes something neither strange nor new a big deal or the one who agrees that it is?
Those who, like me, were around LRH as he changed beyond control failed to help him rethink what he was doing. Thus, we, and I, did our part in helping bring about the conditions which energise this dratted anti industry. The energy creates a thick black curtain over all that took place prior to the culture that has dominated the C of S since the early 80’s (having existed within it, in one manifestation or another, for many years prior). Jesse plays his part in solidifying the curtain. The purity of Scientology as a subject is buried in piles of ordurous mischief.
Jesse tells us that he suffered harshly at the hands of his former masters after he turned against them. He became deathly ill after they made his life a hell for him. We are supposed to assume, I guess – if we are loyal members of the industry – that his illness was a direct result of the harm that Miscavige and his agents did him. We who do not employ ourselves in the industry can keep an open mind on that point, but I’m happy that Jesse had the strength and courage to overcome his extremely serious illness and to produce his book. I’m glad he did that, and I for one thank him for it.
Well worth reading, even if it’s about events that shouldn’t have happened and which can only sadden us. Read with open eyes. Read everything with open eyes.
© Kenneth G. Urquhart 2018