Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard Still Surfing the Galaxy
Twenty-six years ago today, L. Ron Hubbard decided to leave his body after using it for 74 years.
A young David Miscavige, a Sea Org member who behind the scenes had been clearing the way to become Hubbard's successor as leader of the Scientology movement, announced Hubbard's death to his followers at the Palladium in Los Angeles. It is still a dramatic moment.
"Approximately two weeks ago, he completed all of his researches he had set out to do," Miscavige says, and you can hear the audience react with admiration and applause, apparently not realizing what's coming.
"He has now moved on to his next level of OT* research. This level is beyond anything anyone of us has ever imagined. This level is in fact done in an exterior state. Meaning, that it is done completely exterior from the body. At this level of OT, the body is nothing more than an impediment, an encumbrance to any further gain as an OT. Thus, at 2000 hours Friday, the 24th of January, AD 36, L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for 74 years, 10 months, and 11 days. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this MEST universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside of its confines. He felt it was important, as Scientologists, that you were the first to become aware of this fact...
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"The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists. However, the body he had could no longer serve his purposes. This decision was one made at complete cause by L. Ron Hubbard. Although you may feel grief, understand that he did not, and does not now. He has simply moved on to his next step."
Well, it's 26 years later, and L. Ron is apparently still researching new OT levels out between the stars somewhere. Ex-Scientologists tell me that church executives still fully believe that Hubbard will eventually return to the Earth in a new body, and they are preparing for that with several different houses for the new Hubbard to live in.
We'll have more about that in one of several lengthy stories we're preparing at the moment. But for now, let's just contemplate the amazing translation of L. Ron Hubbard from tubby old recluse to galactic soul surfer, surely an amazing moment in American spiritual history.
[*OT = "Operating Thetan," a level of spiritual enlightenment that Scientologists achieve after several years -- and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. "AD 36" = After Dianetics, which was published in 1950. "MEST" = an acronym for "matter, energy, space, and time," which represents the physical, rather than spiritual realm. Still confused? Check out our primer, "What is Scientology?"]
Update: January 24 turns out to be an anniversary in other ways for Scientology watchers. As Kate Bornstein tells us in the comments below, it was January 24, 1986 that she legally changed her name from Al to Kate. And I just spotted this notice by Claire Headley at Facebook which gives us another reason to mark this day on the calendar:
Today is my own personal Independence Day... This day seven years ago I escaped from a dangerous cult with the clothes on my back, $200 in my purse and the husband I love. I miss my family who were taken from me in the process and I hope one day they will return to me... However I love the life I now have and thus I celebrate breaking free from the cult I was born into.
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
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