L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology, was such a man. Philosopher, author, educator, artist, mariner and explorer--L. Ron Hubbard embraced life in ways that few 20th century figures ever equaled. As a Far East adventurer through the 1920s, he had logged over a quarter of a million miles before the age of 19. As a popular writer in the 1930s, he helped redefine speculative fiction.
He was also an accomplished pilot, a celebrated photographer, an internationally known horticulturist and more. Indeed, notwithstanding popular misconceptions of religious founders as remote and contemplative figures, L. Ron Hubbard was precisely the kind of man who would have founded a religion that encompasses all life.
His body of work on Dianetics and Scientology is the culmination of more than half a century of research and comprises tens of millions of words. His writings and lectures also cover subjects as diverse as drug rehabilitation, education, marriage and family, administration, art and many other aspects of life.
Mr. Hubbard's writings and lectures on the human spirit comprise the Scripture of the Scientology religion. This body of knowledge is an applied religious philosophy which provides a route to spiritual freedom.
When he departed this life on January 24, 1986, Mr. Hubbard had seen the broad application of his work expand to six continents as the spiritual cornerstone for millions. As the sole source of the Scriptures, he has no successor. He is remembered not as one to be idolized or worshiped, but as a great humanitarian and philosopher whose legacy is the technology of mind and spirit he left behind.
Although he once remarked, "I was the lesser part of my project, " the details of his life nonetheless provide some understanding of the tradition of Scientology.
Son of United States naval commander Harry Ross Hubbard and Ledora May Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard was born March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska. Soon thereafter, the Hubbards settled in the state capital of Helena. There, young Ron Hubbard lived what he later described as a typically Wild West existence with its, "do-and-dare attitudes, its wry humor, cowboy pranks and make nothing of the worst and most dangerous."
At the same time, he was soon reading well beyond his years under the tutelage of his mother. Also to prove a meaningful influence in later life was his rare friendship with the indigenous Blackfeet, and particularly a tribal medicine man, who was ultimately to honor the 6-year-old Ron with that unique status of blood brother.
The next milestone in his progress came in 1923 with his father's transfer to a Seattle, Washington, naval base and the family's friendship with navy medical corps officer Joseph C. Thompson, the first US naval officer to study under Sigmund Freud in Vienna. Although only 12 at the time, the young Mr. Hubbard was soon intrigued, and informally studied Freudian theory with the commander for many months. It was also through 1923 and 1924 that he entered the Boy Scouts of America and became the nation's youngest Eagle Scout in March 1924.
With his father's posting to the US naval station on the Island of Guam in 1927, Mr. Hubbard began a period of travel that would consume the next several years. Included were extended voyages throughout the South Pacific and South China Sea as a supercargo aboard a working schooner, and treks across a still remote China. His adventures were both many and exotic, and he became one of the first Americans to gain access to the fabled Tibetan lamaseries in China's Western Hills.
Upon his return to the United States, he entered the Swavely Preparatory School in Manassas, Virginia, and then Woodward School for Boys in Washington, D.C. Following graduation from Woodward, he enrolled at George Washington University where he studied engineering. What had been kindled in Asia, however, an appreciation of a vast spiritual heritage, was not to be extinguished, and he was soon embarked upon a search for what he then termed "the Life essence."
To that end, he enrolled in one of the nation's first nuclear physics classes where he examined the possibility that life might be explained in terms of small energy particles. It opened but a small crack in the door, but it was methodology such as this that led him to become the first 20th-century thinker to take a wholly scientific approach to inherently spiritual questions.
These George Washington University days were further significant as marking the start of Mr. Hubbard's professional writing career. As he later explained, however, the university held nothing for him in the way of an avenue for his larger quest, so he left to embark on several ethnological expeditions, first to various islands in the Caribbean and then to Puerto Rico, where he conducted that island's first mineralogical survey under United States rule. These expeditions would later be most noted in terms of ethnological work among Haitian Voodoo cults and the Puerto Rican Jiberaro.
Returning to the United States in 1933, L. Ron Hubbard embarked upon the literary career for which he was best known through the next two decades. His primary outlets were those now-fabled pulp fiction magazines that helped launch the likes of Raymond Chandler, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Dashiell Hammett. Although primarily celebrated for his adventure stories, much of them drawn, incidentally, from actual travels, L. Ron Hubbard was nothing if not versatile. Indeed, his work through the 1930s and 1940s spanned all genres: western, aviation, mystery, high seas adventure, fantasy and science fiction. All told, his output between 1934 and 1950 included more than 200 novels, stories and screenplays.
Although science fiction comprised only 17 percent of his published works, he is rightly credited with helping to reshape that genre, along with such greats as Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague DeCamp, Robert Heinlein and John W. Campbell, Jr.
Lest the point be missed, however, L. Ron Hubbard's literary career was actually but a means to another end: his continuing research into what he now spoke of in terms of the "common denominator of life."
Along that track, the late 1930s saw much laboratory experimentation concerning cellular memory retention and memory transmission to later generations. Mr. Hubbard's conclusion (eventually to be reconfirmed through similar experimentation at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research) held that some unknown factor was capable of recording and transmitting the memory of a single event from one cellular generation to the next.
In 1938, the first summary of these and other findings appeared in his unpublished manuscript, "Excalibur." In brief, that work proposed that the dynamic thrust of all life is the urge to survive. That life was so directed was, of course, not a new idea. But that life was only surviving, and that all else may be seen in terms of this common denominator, had never before been so stated.
Thereafter, Mr. Hubbard's research continued along two broad veins: to further confirm his theories on survival as life's single dynamic thrust, and to determine what internal mechanism within the human mind tended to inhibit that thrust. This research consumed the better part of 1940 and 1941. Given the extent of his ethnological work, 1940 also marked the year he became a member of the famed Explorers Club and the year he received the first of two Master Mariner licenses.
With the outbreak of World War II, Mr. Hubbard was commissioned a lieutenant (junior grade) in the United States Navy. He saw service in the South Pacific and Atlantic. By 1945, he had received 29 medals and palms, and had seen action in five theatres. He was also, by this point, adjudged partially blind from injured optic nerves and lame from hip and back injuries. He was thus admitted to Oak Knoll Naval hospital in San Francisco for treatment.
It was at Oak Knoll that Mr. Hubbard began his first concerted test of therapeutic techniques he had developed. His subjects were drawn from former prisoners of Japanese internment camps, and particularly those with a mysterious inability to assimilate protein in spite of hormone treatments. Utilizing an early version of Dianetics, Mr. Hubbard proceeded to determine if there were not some sort of "mental block" inhibiting normal recovery. What he found was precisely that. Thought did indeed regulate endocrinological function and not, as then commonly held, the reverse. Utilizing these same techniques, Mr. Hubbard was eventually able to fully restore his own health.
At war's end, Mr. Hubbard embarked upon an intensive testing program, and continually refined Dianetics techniques. In essence, those techniques addressed what he defined as the sole source of all psychosomatic ills and mental aberration, or what he termed the reactive mind. Described as "an obsessive strata" of the mind, this reactive mind had been previously unknown, unseen and even unsuspected.
The first summary of these findings was informally presented to friends and colleagues in a manuscript entitled Dianetics: The Original Thesis (later to be published as The Dynamics of Life). Response was immediate and considerable, the manuscript copied and passed from hand to hand. Two bodies, however, were utterly uninterested in the subject--the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Although not so precisely stated, their objections were twofold. First, L. Ron Hubbard was not a name in this field, he had not emerged from sanctioned academia, and was otherwise regarded as an unwelcome stranger. Second, and even more to the point, in addressing psychosomatic ills, Mr. Hubbard was seen to be encroaching upon medical-psychiatric ground. Neither field had ever offered a viable solution to psychosomatic ills beyond a pharmaceutical treatment of symptoms, but given that some 70 percent of what ails us is said to be psychosomatic, the threat to their assumed authority was severe.
In either case, Dianetics: The Original Thesis gained much popular support and Mr. Hubbard was persuaded to draft two more papers on the subject. The first, appearing in the Winter 1949/1950 Explorers Club Journal, was aptly entitled "Terra Incognita: The Mind." The second, largely written as a favor for longtime friend and editor John Campbell, appeared in Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction magazine as "Evolution of a Science." Yet, in that neither of these papers offered a definitive explanation of how Dianetics was employed, Mr. Hubbard was further persuaded to write a full-length handbook. That work was, of course, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
An event unique in American history, the May 9, 1950, publication of Dianetics is still remembered in publishing circles. With four times the original print run sold prior to actual distribution, the book was in unprecedented demand. Moreover, and remembering that Dianetics offered techniques that any reasonably intelligent reader could apply, there were soon 750 Dianetics groups across the nation and 250,000 people using these principles--in spite of media attacks launched by the medical-psychiatric establishment.
What all this meant to L. Ron Hubbard was immense public demand. Point of fact: By June 1950, he actually found readers camped on the lawn of his New Jersey home. What those readers wished was personal instruction in Dianetics from the author. Shortly thereafter the first Dianetics Research Foundation was formed in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and soon followed by five more: in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Hawaii.
Yet even while continuing instruction and lecturing, Mr. Hubbard's advancement of the subject did not cease, and by 1951 he had authored a second book on Dianetics, Science of Survival. Remembered today for its delineation of the human emotional range, Science of Survival is also notable on another count--as the first public disclosure of psychiatric-intelligence mind control techniques (later confirmed by Central Intelligence Agency testimony regarding the MK Ultra projects and the Navy's Project Chatter). If Mr. Hubbard's condemnation had been accurate, however, it was costly; and as revealed in since declassified documents, he was now to be under constant federal scrutiny. To be sure, for some 40 years L. Ron Hubbard and his work were subjected to the single most intensive federal assault in American history--much of it illegal and unscrupulous. Nevertheless, neither his personal progress, nor Scientology as a whole, were ever to be seriously impeded.
Thus research continued, and along an especially rich vein, as Mr. Hubbard encountered increasing evidence of man as a wholly spiritual entity with experiences extending well beyond the current lifetime. Also now glimpsed were potential states of existence far beyond those previously envisaged.
What followed was the foundation of all that is addressed by Scientology -- his definition of that seemingly immortal life-source he eventually termed thetan, from the Greek theta, the traditional symbol for thought, or life. Regarding its characteristics, he was soon describing a potentially omnipotent and limitless being that was, in fact, the source of life. Given the inherently religious nature of these discoveries, it was only natural that those surrounding him would come to see themselves not only as students of a new philosophy but also as members of a new religion. And so, in 1954, Scientologists established the first Church of Scientology. Thus it was that although L. Ron Hubbard founded the religion in Phoenix, Arizona, early Scientologists began the Church in Los Angeles.
With the founding of Scientology, and the increasingly international impact of Mr. Hubbard's work, his movements grew commensurately more global. By the mid-1950s, he was regularly traveling between lectures in Europe and instruction at the First Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, DC. As Executive Director, he further saw to the worldwide administration of Scientology through these years, and the drafting of key organizational policies that still form the basis of Church administration.
As a result of Scientology's growth through the 1950s, Mr. Hubbard re-established his home in the more centrally located England, specifically at the famed Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, Sussex. There, and while continuing to advance the administrative body of work by which the Church functions to this day, he likewise advanced the religion itself through continued instruction and lectures. Indeed, in 1959, for example, Mr. Hubbard delivered no less than 128 lectures to burgeoning Scientology centers in Australia, Great Britain and the United States--all while continuing both his administrative duties and research. Among other significant developments through this period, the early 1960s saw his inauguration of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course lectures, the delineation of the Scientology Bridge and the gradual advancement of that Bridge to increasingly higher levels of spiritual gain.
It was specifically for the advancement of Scientology's highest levels of spiritual attainment that Mr. Hubbard resigned as Executive Director of the worldwide Scientology network, eventually departed from his home in Saint Hill and moved to sea in 1967. The choice was a logical one, particularly in light of his having long been a master mariner licensed to captain any vessel in any ocean. With Scientology now a thriving worldwide religion, Mr. Hubbard simply could not continue his very demanding advanced research while remaining on the administrative front; hence his move to the 3,200-ton Royal Scotman, later to be rechristened the Apollo, and his formation of the Sea Organization--all in the name of a distraction-free research environment. Given that those first Sea Organization members were largely unfamiliar with the sea, 1967 marked a period of extensive training, with Mr. Hubbard drafting much instructional material on the care and management of ships.
What followed may be broadly charted along two tracks. First, and while streamlining lower portions of the Scientology Bridge, Mr. Hubbard continued his research towards the attainment of new spiritual heights. Yet simultaneously, and particularly after 1968, he began to search out solutions to society's more salient problems. In 1969, for example, having noted what even recreational drug abuse spelled in terms of cultural and spiritual decline, he commenced work on what would ultimately become the L. Ron Hubbard Drug Rehabilitation Program. It was also through this period that Mr. Hubbard authorized the establishment of the Narconon centers for the rehabilitation of the hard-core drug user. Similarly, after noting what a failing educational system spelled in terms of widespread illiteracy and societal waste, he set to work on the development of his Study Technolology for secular use.
These years at sea additionally saw L. Ron Hubbard's codification of his administrative discoveries, including his highly workable principles of personnel, organizational establishment, and even the technology of running of an international network of organizations. As earlier, however, the bulk of his energies were devoted to his mainline research, particularly as regards disturbing sociological trends. To that end, 1972 and 1973 found him in New York City where he further examined questions relating to hard-core drug abuse and attendent social decay. From this New York sojurn would also come the genus of many of Mr. Hubbard's community betterment programs that have since become a worldwide Church effort.
Returning to the United States in 1975, Mr. Hubbard devoted his energies to the founding of the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida. To fulfill a pressing need for instructional films, he then moved to Southern California where he established what would become the Golden Era Productions. As with his training of the first Sea Organization members, he now trained an entirely green crew in all cinematographic fundamentals. Through the process, he also drafted several volumes of instructional materials, more than 30 Scientology training films, and personally directed seven of those films.
With the film unit then functioning, L. Ron Hubbard next settled in the central California coastal town of Creston in the early 1980s. There, and in what amounted to spare time between advanced research, he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a professional writer with Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3,000. This epic science fiction novel, the genre's largest, was followed by the 10-volume Mission Earth opus, also written largely for amusement in spare time. Just the same, all 11 books went on to become New York Times and international bestsellers, an unmatched consecutive bestseller record.
The true culmination of this Creston period, however, was, of course, the completion of his research into man's ultimate spiritual potentials. After finalizing that research, in fact, all the Scientology technical materials he had spent most of his life developing, Mr. Hubbard departed this life on January 24, 1986.
Today, those materials are recorded in the tens of millions of words on the subject of the human spirit which comprise Dianetics and Scientology philosophy. The more than 25 million words of his lectures--just those that are on tape--are enough to fill over 100 volumes of text. In fact, it may well be that L. Ron Hubbard's works include more literature, recorded research and materials than any other single subject of philosophy, the spirit or religion. In all, there are more than 110 million L. Ron Hubbard books in circulation.
As just one indication of L. Ron Hubbard's continued popularity, fully 38 years after its initial publication, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health achieved the unheard of, returning to the top of the New York Times bestseller list in 1988. It still rides on bestseller lists around the world to this day and has thus far sold 16 million copies.
The accolades for his work are no less impressive and would literally fill volumes with awards recognizing his literary works, his humanitarian contributions, and his discoveries, including Dianetics. In 1988, Publisher's Weekly, the journal of the book and publishing industry, bestowed on Mr. Hubbard its Century Award in recognition of Dianetics being on its bestseller list for more than 100 weeks. No wonder Magazine and Bookseller a leading publication of the U.S. book trade wrote, "Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard seems to go on and on."
Unquestionably, however, the greatest testament to his accomplishments is the appreciation afforded him by those his work has touched. Today, millions regularly utilize his principles to the betterment of their lives, and that figure literally grows by some 10,000 every week. In tribute to that fact, and all else he stood for, the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition was erected in Hollywood, California. Among the displays are hundreds of artifacts that served him through the journey recounted here. There are also readings from his works, excerpts that reflect the essence of the man:
"I like to help others, and count it as my
pleasure in life to see a person free himself of the shadows
which darken his days.
"These shadows look so thick to him and weigh him down
so that when he finds they are shadows and that he can see
through them, walk through them and be again in the sun, he
is enormously delighted. And I am afraid I am just as
delighted as he is." L. Ron Hubbard
"These shadows look so thick to him and weigh him down so that when he finds they are shadows and that he can see through them, walk through them and be again in the sun, he is enormously delighted. And I am afraid I am just as delighted as he is."
L. Ron Hubbard
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From: The Church of Scientology: 40th Anniversary.
Copyright 1994-2006 CSI. All Rights Reserved. Grateful acknowledgment is made to L. Ron Hubbard Library for permission to reproduce selections from the copyrighted works of L. Ron Hubbard. Dianetics, Scientology, Saint Hill, The Bridge, Flag and Golden Era Productions are trademarks and service marks owned by Religious Technology Center and are used with its permission.