From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 56 - March 2002
See Home Page at http://www.ivymag.org/
IVy on the Wall
by Ken Urquhart, USA
Playing at Thunderbolts
Chapter Nine in a Consideration of 'A Piece of Blue Sky' by Jon Atack
Playing at Thunderbolts
IN PART FOUR OF HIS BOOK Jon Atack pours considerable scorn upon one of LRH's major developments: Ethics. LRH made Jon's job not too difficult. Jon presents the subject and practice of Scientology Ethics as further evidence of LRH's insanity and irrelevance. Jon seems to judge from the viewpoint of one who resents anything that disturbs the comfortable routine of existence. I make no special claim for my viewpoint except to say I seek to include as broadly as possible and to understand as deeply as possible. Nonetheless, in some ways Jon is right - and, as usual, his reasons I cannot agree with while his general conclusion I can share.
I have some things to say about LRH's Ethics, firstly to do with its theory and secondly to do with its practice in the form of the Ethics Conditions. With regard to the theoretical underpinnings of Hubbard's concept of Ethics, let's begin by quoting his HCO Policy Letter of 18 June, 1968, 'Ethics'.
(1)'The Purpose of Ethics is: TO REMOVE COUNTER-INTENTIONS FROM THE ENVIRONMENT. And having accomplished that the purpose becomes: TO REMOVE OTHER INTENTIONEDNESS FROM THE ENVIRONMENT. Thus progress can be made by all.'
(2)'One has an intention to expand the org. An `expert' says it is difficult as `The building society .....'. The impulse is to then handle the problem presented by the `expert', whereas the correct ETHICS action is to remove his Counter Intentionedness or Other Intentionedness'. (Capitals in these quotes are as in the original, as in OEC Vol. 0 page 153..)
My comments on these statements are:
1.They reveal a strange mixture of practical common-sense and totalitarian dogma. Yes, to make progress one has to do something about counter-intentions and other-intentionedness; Hubbard chooses the specific word 'remove', rather than some gentler and more inclusive idea such as to transform. The action has to be surgical and decisive so as to obliterate the enemy. Notice also that only one point of view is valid: that of the wielder of the Ethics power. Any contrary viewpoint is counter-intentioned, any different viewpoint other-intentioned.
2.If an 'expert' gives one nonsense the expert is a fool. If one is alert, percipient, and responsible one dismisses the 'expert' and his opinion and looks for competent advice. This is practical, and common-sense; only a fool needs paraphernalia or system to slow him down.
3.I do not think that a fool being foolish is out-ethics. He is merely foolish. What can one expect from a fool? Does a fool respond to pressure? That would depend firstly on the depths of his foolishness and his ability and willingness to change. Secondly, it would depend on one's leverage on his attention, time, and effort, and lastly, on the time available to work with him. In a militaristic environment one can impose physical or emotional pain repeatedly to implant new patterns of thought and behavior. In a prison such imposition in itself does not produce willing cooperation. In a school or family (some of which can be prison-like) it's much the same. These examples of force are not ethical since they aim to produce robots, not capable people; some, including Hubbard, used his Ethics system to produce robots (and then furiously accused them of robotism). A robot is another kind of fool.
4.To improve the behavior of a fool who is not a criminal requires much patient education. To force a fool to become sensible is a fool's errand. In interrupting the fool's self-determinism the enforcer is unethical. One must begin by accepting the foolishness. If one needs help, one chooses help that is capable. In a situation of immediate, real, and high emergency, one does what one can, however one can do it, and soothes the bruises later. LRH created a false emergency with his talk of the imminence of war, or of the psychiatrists taking over the world tomorrow, or of the ever-lurking SP.
5.One chooses whether to make a problem out of another's foolishness. Once one does, there is no reason to complain about the problem to anyone else. Of course, one has one's own foolishness that one has to work out and learn to transform; one learns these lessons at the expense of others, as they learn at ours.
6.In the case of a fool or a lunatic who aggressively or carelessly violates boundaries of acceptable behavior one must of course impose restraints.
7.It seems to me that LRH confused morality and ethics on the one hand with expediency in both senses of the word- that which is most appropriate to the purpose at hand, or that which serves oneself the best.
8.LRH seemed to postulate (a) the universality of an ethics system to which all are or should be subject; (b) that his system is the universal system; (c) that all persons are equally capable of understanding, following, and using a universal system; (d) that those who don't or can't embrace his system are the most in need of it. If indeed he postulated thus, he believed and postulated himself to be the 8(th.) Dynamic ('Supreme Being', he called it). Who is to say he would be wrong in so believing?
9.Well, I do not believe that Supreme Beingness would manifest Itself in the totalitarian and militaristic manner that LRH adopted and demanded of others. Now, LRH often did act quite differently. He could be extremely friendly and supportive, although it is also true that the older he got and the more mired into being Commodore and Source the harder he became.
LRH seemed also to postulate that all of existence is a struggle between Good and Evil, that all engage themselves in this struggle whether they know it or not, that those who are Good agree with him while those who disagree with him are Evil, and that the struggle is eternally critical. In this he projected on to the world his own misconceptions, misperceptions, fixed ideas, and pictures. And in doing so, he elevated the ordinariness of living to a state of false heroism to which it had no claim and was extremely unsuited to. Out of this grew tremendous organizational and spiritual complexities many of which were very painful for people to live through.
Human behavior is much like the weather; we get expected, or ordinary weather, and we have unusual or extraordinary weather. We refer to our weather as Good or Bad but it is nonetheless simply weather being weather. It has no intention towards us, it being the result of random combinations of random physical forces within certain ranges. Likewise, human behavior is, usually, ordinary. Sometimes it is unusual or extreme and extraordinary; when behavior suits us we call it Good. If it doesn't, we call it Evil (and sometimes we call it: 'Terrah-Izzum'). Yet in itself, behavior is just behavior being behavior. Much of it is the result of random combinations of random human or spiritual forces within certain ranges over which we choose to consider we have no control.
Humans have intentions, though, and make individual choices within accepted or perceived limits. Humans also have emotions individually and separately, as well as in the mass; when swept away in the mass humans can behave like the tornado. The dynamics of behavior then are much more complex than the dynamics of climate. Are the dynamics of behavior amenable to a simplistic and militaristic system of ethics?
How we respond to the vagaries of weather behavior depends on the viewpoint out of which we experience it. In my warm and dry house, with food to eat and a cozy bed to lie in, I regard the snowstorm outside as an adjunct to my comfort. The storm increases my appreciation of the Good in which I now exist. But if I'm a newborn lamb on the exposed hill, the same storm is a deadly danger, and is potentially Bad. The howl of the prowling, hungry wolf is to me (as a lamb) potentially Evil (while my existence as a potential meal is to the wolf a real Good). We often regard the vagaries of human behavior in the same light: it all depends on the viewpoint from which we experience them.
In human circumstances we have times of great pressure in between periods of relative calm. This holds true for individuals, groups, nations, races, and for Mankind. In times of pressure we partially or completely lose command of our belongings, our time and space and energy, of our attention, or our motions, of our purposes and desires, and of our viewpoints and relationships. With this loss of command usually goes a range of emotions, and we call these the negative emotions. The negative emotions may spur us to get active, or they may key-in earlier negativity to make us less effective.
Hubbard said that in times of pressure we can always regain control of something, and that once we have regained that control we are in a position to regain control of something else, and to keep going up a scale of control of our affairs. This gives us a tool to deal with negative situations and negative emotions. Further, in times of relative calm we can increase our control of our affairs.
His Ethics Conditions are the action arm of his positive Ethics system (as distinct from the negative arm of punishment and restraint). They provide steps by which one can regain or increase control. Control of the circumstances of one's life and surroundings (whether 'one' be an individual, or a number acting together, or all Mankind) we consider desirable. It's how we get things done, how we bring into being our visions.
For Hubbard, the Conditions showed us how to respond to the actions or inactions of the Enemy (both the Enemy within us individually and possibly the Enemy within the group, and the Enemy we faced on Planet Earth and within the Physical Universe). And they showed how to prosecute the War against Evil, how to gain the power to control all possible opposition - for its own good, of course. I am not saying that this had always been Hubbard's sole or primary goal. It was a mode that he approached gradually as he aged and developed. It was always incipient; had he applied (and had we had the intelligence and courage to make him apply) his own technology to himself, who knows what conditions we would all have brought about?
Let's assume here that in our lives we are working on improving conditions for others and self, out of motives that put others first. Motives that put self first from time to time in order to better serve others I consider ethical; motives to put self first selfishly I consider to be an invitation to Fate to do her worst against us, and (when extreme) to be the basis of insanity.
Hubbard's Ethics Conditions postulate that we are fully responsible for our present state of affairs (again, whether 'we' is one, some, many, or all). No matter who did what to whom at what time, each of us is responsible for where he/she is at or is not at, in the present. We are responsible for all our actions and choices; today's actions and choices create tomorrow. Actions and choices of others can crash into our todays and tomorrows. Our choices and actions crash into others' todays and tomorrows. Sometimes the crashes are good and fun, often they waste time and energy, and `frustrate' us (put us into negative emotion). However, the facts of others' existence and of the quality and character of their choices and actions are things that we can choose to be responsible for, or not. If we do choose to take responsibility for them, we act accordingly; if we don't so choose, we suffer the consequences.
In order to exert causative control, we have to be honest with self and others, and we have to have clearly defined orders of importance. We need to be very tolerant of randomity and to be able to NOT control a great deal. We must be sharp in our differentiation between the real and the pretense, the reality and the dream or nightmare, the substantial and the fleeting, the permanent and the unfounded, the infinite and the irrelevant, the happy tumult and the sad conflict, the joying in the totality and the screaming of the alienated. Above all, we must choose our viewpoints; our viewpoints dictate the relative importances of what we perceive; our importances dictate our purposes and intentions; our purposes and intentions create sub-viewpoints; our senior viewpoints empower the sub-viewpoints (for example, identities) to make them effective.
Do I experience as a body? Do I experience as a spiritual being with a body? Do I experience from a sub-viewpoint only? Do I experience as a spiritual being with a body and with a connection to the whole dynamic of spirituality within this universe? Do I experience as all this but with a depth and range of view that embraces the universe from a place without it? Or from a `place' beyond all matter and space, a `place' of Truth than which nothing can be Truer? And from this viewpoint that I choose, do I choose to embrace all I can possibly permeate, or just some of it?
The basic concept of the Ethics Conditions require these clarities and choices. Hubbard's expression and interpretation of the concept muddied these clarities and choices badly. But before continuing with my criticism, I will state my opinion that Hubbard's grasp of the basic concept (beneath the muddying) is one of his several undoubtedly major contributions to spiritual awareness and responsibility, to freedom from untruth.
He muddied the practical application of his development of Ethics and his concept of control in four major ways:
1.He tied Ethics unambiguously to a scenario of war, conflict, fight, opposition, to total defeat or total victory, to the Triumph of Good or the Triumph of Evil. In doing so he elevated the ordinariness of human behavior, the everyday irresponsibility and goofiness and spontaneity of Life lived by not well-educated beings, quite unnecessarily, into elemental and galactic drama. His Ethics Conditions are full of the noise of war: Enemy, Treason, Confusion, striking a blow.
2.He forced his Ethics system on us, his followers, in such a way that it often focused our attention on things of lesser importance (but with all the urgency of warfare) while introverting our attention on created internal problems of no actual importance. For example, we assigned each other Conditions based on statistics. The statistics counted material things. Yes, the material things did in theory express desired improvements in conditions, all for a supposedly spiritual goal - the clearing of planet Earth. In practice, though, we all scrambled to 'make it go right' on our statistics by madly focusing on the materialities we had to count in order to show a statistic that would not lead to lower Conditions. The materiality became the importance, replacing the spirituality.
Yet the materiality is fleeting, inconstant, subject to change, fluctuation, disappearance, and manipulation. It's the spiritual that's important, lasting, worthwhile, satisfying, and what we all wanted to contribute to. Our noses were constantly rubbed on the materiality, and we had to look inside ourselves to find out what was so wrong with us that we could not scavenge enough of the materiality which Hubbard permitted to ascend all else.
For sufficiently violating any other Hubbard rule, for creating extra work for another that annoyed him or her, or for any reason upsetting someone with power to take it out on another, we had to do the lower conditions, search within ourselves for reasons for our unworthinesses, and humiliate ourselves by performing penalties.
3.As a result of 2., we forced ourselves to become material as opposed to spiritual. We programmed ourselves to become robots scrabbling for things to count on our stats, or scrambling to avoid offending a senior's whatever. And we pretended to each other that this was the Real Game, that we were the Elite. It takes a Real Fool to swallow his own repeating self-congratulations.
4.Hubbard, and we his followers, institutionalized his Ethics system. We made it rigid and unflowing. The faster we became as beings at using it for good result, the more its rigidity slowed us down. The more it slowed us down the more we felt we were out-ethics.
Aware and responsible beings can change their viewpoints quickly. They can recognize their errors and correct them immediately. They can shift from effect to cause in a flash.
In many instances of alleged out-ethics in the days of 'heavy ethics', the mistake of one did lead to difficulties for another. In reality, the person making the mistake and those troubled by it could make their adjustments quickly, and get on with things. In practice, however, all had to slow down while the perpetrator's body had to go through the acting-out of the Conditions' steps, then write them up, then get them approved.
The spiritual practice of self-discipline thus became a drudgery tied to the speed of the body and the speed of the organization. The ethical being, in following the formal ethics procedures of the group, put himself in 'Treason' to himself.
As Hubbard's organization grew, the use of Ethics became often an institutional substitute for being present, addressing, handling, communicating. Thus we could label a spiritual being who was disoriented, or upset, or learning, or just plain different, as an 'enemy'. He wasn't an enemy; he could, if addressed with honesty and respect, change his ways, learn something, and be better and happier. But no, he had to assume the false mantle of enemy, and do his formulas and his penances, and work his way laboriously back into the machine. We could assign each other lower conditions as an administrative make-believe that we were being effective and competent.
We sacrificed our spiritual magnificence, we butchered our spiritual self-respect, we shredded our spiritual dreams, we shattered our spiritual connections.
I posed the question, a while back, 'Are the dynamics of behavior amenable to a simplistic and militaristic system of ethics?'
I suppose that any ethics activity must depend firstly on the demands and the opportunities of the moment, secondly on the general quality and character, and the wisdom of the leadership at the moment, and thirdly on the extent of the leadership's capacity to exteriorize.
To clarify, if necessary: the demands of the moment may be extremely and vitally urgent, or merely routine. The opportunities of the moment may open up possibilities for great good or ill. The leadership may be strong, weak, skilled, clumsy, clever, slow, loving or hateful (and so on). What the leadership encompasses in its understanding may range from the immediate situation only, to the situation in its past, present, and future, to the whole universe of which the situation is a part, or to whatever includes that whole universe, or to the entirety of existence.
The more limited the time and space and the greater the urgency, the more immediate has to be the consideration of individual and group ethics. The broader the scope, the more freedom that the individual members enjoy to satisfy their own sense of personal ethics, and the less reason leadership has to interfere with that sense (and the greater the danger of so interfering).
These guidelines can apply to the individual alone (the individual's highest intelligence being the leader) and to any group of any size. Hubbard's system clearly infers them; its practice usually neglected them.
As regards Hubbard's leadership, my opinion is that he provided a core of deep and certain sanity (as deep as has been provided by any other), and he allowed the great power of his sanity to fuel his human weaknesses and vanities.
One of Hubbard's products was an extremely introverted third dynamic. His group developed a core of sanity (perhaps as great as has any group on Earth), and it allowed the power of that sanity to fuel its human weaknesses and vanities.
There are observations worth making:
When the circumstances were right, Hubbard's Ethics system could work very effectively.
Hubbard created his Ethics system at least partly out of his own inverted 8(th.) dynamic.
Hubbard is a being big enough to operate out of the 8(th.) dynamic, inverted or not, and to so operate on a planetary scale.
Hubbard has the potential to act hugely out of a true 8(th.) dynamic.
I, for one, expect him to.
©2000 Kenneth G. Urquhart
More to Come!