Book News - A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack

Published by Lyle Stuart.
Reviewed by Leonard Dunn, England.

The title of this work stems from a remark made by LRH some 30 years ago: 'Let's sell these people a piece of blue sky'. This was interpreted by the author as meaning that the whole thing was a confidence trick. There is, however another meaning since blue sky can indicate happiness and freedom and this is what Scientology has brought me.

The intention of this book is honestly stated in its subtitle: "Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard exposed". An expose is invariably a seeking out of all that is detrimental and totally ignoring anything that is contrary to this. It is an attempt to destroy. This can be self-defeating. When I was in Spiritualism we found that whenever there was an expose and denunciation by the Press the result was always a new influx of enquirers, many of whom remained with the Movement.

Jon's research

The research for this work took nearly seven years and more than 150 people were contacted. Many of the documents consulted have never been made public before. I would have preferred it if there had been reports from those of us who have made long and lasting gains from the materials and the auditing.

In point of face I am really surprised that Jon has written the unbalanced work that this is since he had contact with Buddhism before encountering Scientology. He is a very imaginative abstract painter and his version of the Tao Teh Ching, which he sent me, was the best version I have read, better than that of a scholarly Chineses writer. His version is very much expressed in the basic ideas of Scientology.

Jon's attitude to LRH

As I read this book I thought of a passage in "In Tune with the Infinite" in which Trine relates that in talking to a man this man, speaking of another, said that he saw no good in him. Trine replied 'Then, my friend, you are no seer. There is good in everyone although it may be deeply buried'. The way that Jon has written this book gives the impression that he sees no good in LRH or anything connected with him.

His attitude is readily understood by reading his experiences in the Movement which he entered in 1974 at the age of 19 when the C of S was already in decline, out ethics and out tech and it became much worse later.

Out Tech

In regard to TR 0 he speaks of two people staring at each other. This is indeed really out-tech. I recall when doing the TR's when returning for a Course that TR 4 was not being done properly at all. Another time the Superviser, a friend of mine, flunked me for something saying that she had been taught differently on her recent visit to Flag. I showed her the bulletin and she had to agree that what I had done was in accordance with it.

Later in the book he shows great appreciation for the book by Robert Kaufman, "Inside Scientology". This is natural enough since both he and Robert had similar experiences. I had read this book and the best thing about it as far as I was concerned was the hilarious letter from one Scientologist to another written in Scientology jargon. The account of his auditing caused me no surprise that he hadn't made any gains, since he was out tech from Level 0 and doing just about everything wrong that it was possible to do. His Level 0 was done by a friend who was not fully trained in it and bore little resemblance to what should have been done.

Co-audit on Grades

If I may digress for a moment I should like to deal with the fact that the Orgs often advocated that the least expensive way to do the lower levels was to take the training course and to co-audit with a fellow student. I recognise now that it is really a criminal act not to have these levels done by a fully trained and highly competent auditor. One needs to pick up all the nuances of a PC's communication, something which probably couldn't be done by reading the trainee auditor's admin. It is these that give an indication of things that need to be handled as terminals. Geoffrey Filbert in "Excalibur Revisited" maintains that the C of S have never run these levels as they should be run and he includes far more, and more workable, processes than are to be found on "The Bridge".

I am currently running a Natural Clear on them and realize just what he means. She is making exceptionally good progress. Beyond the PC's known problems lie those that are not realised by the person and these processes really find them and deal with them.

Jon on org staff

To return to Jon, he made the mistake of joining the Staff at Saint Hill. What he experienced there was enough to turn anyone off! Here I am not relying just on what he says since a very dear and close friend was at the Danish Org and saw the brain washing of Staff in progress. She simply refused to act in this way and was beyond the so called "Ethics" because she was their only translator and was too valuable to be touched by any threats.

His processing

Jon and I have been in communication with each other for a long time as he was first editor and the Literary Editor of "Reconnection", the British journal for Independent Scientology. When he sent me the book he enclosed a personal letter which sometimes belies the attitudes that he expresses in the book. He says that he feels that a review in the American "Free Spirit" exaggerates his denigration of the tech. I agree! Jon has simply related what he received in as honest a way as possible. He was pronounced a Natural Clear after not becoming one and making no gains in Dianetics. He also relates that all one had to do to be pronounced "Clear" at this time was to be able to reword the definitions of it in the Tech Dictionary and to have a personal "realisation". This was at the time when the C of S was trying to claim as many Clears as it could and the Clearing Course was seldom used. It is true that many of us were actually Clear from earlier processing. With me it became obvious when the running of Clearing materials produced no big reads.

That he got little or nothing from the Upper Levels is in no way surprising since this is very unlikely if lower levels haven't been fully run and just about impossible if one is not really Clear. The real proof of one being Clear before Clearing Course is to be found in the way that a person handles life. It was this which led me to feel that the lady I am currently auditing was this. Her friends commented on the way in which she had overcome quite heavy problems and was so very capable. An E-meter check revealed that my assumption was correct.

That LRH made exaggerated claims in regard to the results that auditing would produce has long been evident to me but that does not mean that nobody made any gains from it. Many gains cannot readily be put into words. What resulted in my case was a great increase in my spiritual awareness.

Historical or biased?

In Jon's letter to me he also says that what he has written is simply "historical". Undoubtedly that is true but what historian can write totally objectively and dispassionately. Jon tries but his thoughts show up even if only in small ways. His experiences make this inevitable. This is particularly the case when describing the books and tapes of LRH. I am sure that Jon considers that he is being quite impartial but there is so often the little word or so that show his true feelings.

Hubbard's cosmology

I noted this especially where he refers to "Hubbard's cosmology". In the early days LRH stated quite plainly that there was nothing new in Scientology except the processes. Although he doesn't mention it some of these were not new either. Things that Jon dismisses as Science Fiction are often, in fact, found to be things that are well known in occult circles and are part of what is known as the Ancient Wisdom. LRH once remarked that the only thing wrong with some SF (Science Fiction) writers was that they didn't remember exactly what had happened in past. There was a saying originating, probably, from the ancient Hindus but may be much older, that "That which is, has been and will be again". In the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes it is stated "there is nothing new under the sun" and that applies to Scientology no less than anything else. It has all been around before and even Clears and OT III's were made in the past and are around on earth today.

There can be less than true historicity when Jon gives a partial quotation which can give a different meaning than that when seen completed. It is in the chapter dealing with the association of LRH with "Black" Magic that Jon quotes, in part, the dictum of Alesteir Crowley, whom LRH describes as a friend in the PDC Lectures, "Do what you will shall be the whole of the Law". This is, of course intended to be detrimental as so many people regard this as permission to be totally self-centred and unprincipled. This attitude has always intrigued me. What sort of a being is it who, in following this maxim, would himself behave in the way attributed to it? Accepting it as being nothing but detrimental would be an example of self incrimination would it not? Think about it!

LRH and Crowley

The full quotation is, of course, "and the whole of the Law is Love under the Will". The capitals are those of the text in" The Book of the Law" by Crowley. I leave it to you to decide why the abbreviated version is used. Black Magic, properly defined is the use of Magic with the full intention of harming others. The term "Black" is often used by those who wish to denigrate the subject through fear, ignorance or prejudice. This often comes from adherents of the "accepted" religions who consider that their concepts of the deity are the only valid ones. Magic and Witchcraft are often concerned with different deities and "The Devil" complete with horns and tail is, in fact, an acceptable deity from much earlier times and known on earth as far back as the Stone Age. Anything that is a power of good can, when misused, become a power for evil. Just think of the C of S in its present state so fully described with full documentation by Jon Atack.

In passing let me mention that I have not been involved in either Magic or Witchcraft in this present lifetime as the ritualism no longer appeals to me but I most certainly have been in past lives and I strongly suspect that most other people have been too!

Denigration of LRH

Even though historical, the protrayal of only the -bad- things that LRH and the Scientology Orgs have done must, of necessity be denigrating. There is a quotation of uncertain origin from the late 1800 to early 1900's, attributed to several people but disclaimed by them:

There is so much good in the worst of us
and so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly becomes any one of us
To talk bad about the rest of us.

How true! If we look back at our own records, even though clean now - and some present lifetime records haven't been all that clean if others knew about them - what we have done on the whole track shows up so many non-survival activites that we have little cause to be all that proud of ourselves.

On the other hand there is another quotation - not given in my Dictionary of Quotations but which may come from Bertrand Russell, the English philosopher, the: "All it needs for evil to flourish is for men of goodwill to sit back and do nothing!". This is the line that I feel that Jon has taken in this book in regard to LRH and the C of S - he didn't know the Scientology Orgs before the C of S but even they were not all that they might have been.

"Excalibur Revisited"

Geoffrey Filbert writes something very interesting about the decline of LRH which I quote: "The story behind them (Power Processes) is a bit of a tragedy because L. Ron Hubbard developed these privately and he ran them on himself, and left them unflat. He's got them backwards, and has been kind of crazy ever since 1965. Prior to that particular period of time, he seemed essentially rational. Since that period of time he has been essentially irrational".

"Excalibur Revisited" is a book that is well worth reading and using if you can get a copy. It was never printed but appears in a photostat of a typescript and these are not easily attainable as one source of producing them has dried up but if you can find someone whose copy is available, the having it photocopied will be very worthwhile. It is a balancer to Jon's work, critical, but mainly of what LRH failed to do in spiritual matters, but using his material in this book where valid and workable.

Jon and free scientology

Jon makes some reference to the Independents without in any way evaluating their work but dealing mainly with their conflicts with the C of S. In his letter he told me that he has had no auditing since 1984 and this I feel is a great pity since I feel truely sorry that he has not experience the gains that I have. In case anyone who hasn't experienced such gains believes that those who claim to have done so are suffering from self delusion let me say that the greatest validation is when non-Scientologists see the difference that has been made to the individual and comment on it. When I went Clear in 1954 my brother-in-law remarked "Old Len has become almost human"! This was a fair comment on the level of change at that time but much more has occurred since then.

I mentioned that in the way Jon's book was written I got the impression that LRH was something akin to the Devil and that he and all his works should be renounced. This, however, is not borne out in his letter to me where he said that he felt the work of Sarge Gerbode; "Metapsychology" could be of value to Dianetics and Scientology. I feel this is true although it is still very much in the formative stage but reports in Free Spirit of the new way of handling GPM's seems very good indeed judging by results but I haven't as yet seen the precise method used. As I have said, I find Filbert's work on the lower levels to be highly productive.

I have to admit that I found 400 pages of almost unrelieved revelations of the non survival aspects of LRH and the C of S having quite a detrimental effect upon me for a while - I've fully recovered now! Since I will not review a book until I have read all of it I persevered right to the end but was glad when I had finished it. The length and material are considered necessary since this is the most researched and extensive work on this rather unpalatable subject to date.

I feel that Jon has concentrated on the non-survival aspect so fully in order that potential new comers to Scientology should be fully aware of the true activities of the C of S. He does not want others to be entrapped by their increasingly brain washing and money making techniques. If he prevents anyone from doing this then the book will have been worthwhile. On the other hand if it prevents anyone from coming into the Independent Movement and making gains like my own then that is something very different.

In conclusion may I give a couple of quotations. A.J. Balfour "It has always been desirable to tell the truth, but seldom if ever necessary". Frederick Langbridge: "Two men looked out through the same bars: One saw the mud, and the one the stars." I feel that one should be able to see and confront both but it also seems to me that Jon, after a brief vision of the stars saw only the mud.

I trust that Jon will be able, metaphorically, to raise his eyes and find his stars in whatever form they may be to represent truth and enlightenment for him.

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