I’d like to tell you about two OT8s I know. For those unfamiliar, OT8 (Operating Thetan Level VIII) is currently the highest level that anyone can achieve in Scientology. (Higher OT levels have supposedly been written, but by LRH’s orders are not to be release them until the Church has reached a certain size. One would think that if DM was altering the tech the way Marty and his crew say he is that he’d find a way to release OT9 so he could make more money, but that’s an argument for another day.)
According to Scientologists, OT8s are the most able beings on the planet. The Church doesn’t talk about what powers they are supposed to possess; in keeping with LRH’s “tech” on using mystery as a sales tool*, their only description is purposefully vague: “Handles the primary reason for amnesia on the whole track**.” Nor will they hear about OT8, or any other OT level, from other Scientologists, because they are forbidden to talk to anyone, and I mean anyone, about what happens while doing these levels. (Nor would other Scientologists want to hear it – LRH told his flock that hearing about higher levels from other people can inhibit one’s own ability to achieve that level. Now that’s salesmanship.) Anyway, status is very important to Scientologists; the higher the level you have achieved, the more status you have, and most lower-level Scns regard OT8s with deference, respect, and admiration that sometimes borders on awe.
So now… the story of the OT8s.
One – we’ll call him John – is a model of success. He is affluent, he heads up a large and profitable business, and he has (from all outward appearances) a fantastic family life, with a long-term happy marriage (she’s also OT8) and healthy adult children. He has donated huge sums of money, plus his Scientology fees, and still lives well, with a big house and a handful of expensive, flashy cars. All this, plus he’s always well turned out and he acts like a gentleman. I don’t know if he has any supernatural powers, but to my way of thinking he’s the model of an able being.
The other guy, who we’ll call Bob, is a bit of a fuck-up. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I genuinely like him. But he’s not particularly good at his job; in fact, he’s been taken off post*** a few times. His wife (an OT, but not OT8) has the temper of Stalin and rules over him like Caesar over Rome. He’s not particularly well-off, he smokes like a chimney, and he dresses like a schlub. Again, he’s as kind as can be, and if he didn’t reek of cigarette smoke and spend all his time doing Church services, I’d probably hang out with him a lot more. But if you met him, you’d probably come away with the impression that he’s a loser. A very nice loser, but a loser nonetheless.
How could a “technology” that works so well create such different end products? I imagine some Independents would blame David Miscavige for “screwing up Bob’s case”, but these two both got to OT8 during the Miscavige regime. If we’re to believe LRH, then Bob clearly didn’t learn the tech properly. But why then was he allowed to proceed up to OT8? Shouldn’t his problems have been caught years before, at earlier levels?
The answer lies in what the two of them have in common: The willingness to give money and time to Scientology. Both have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to OT8, and both have donated much more (millions of dollars from John, tens of thousands from the less-successful Bob) to the Church. But at the end of the day, Scientology isn’t about spirituality. It’s about money. Scientology isn’t a religion, it’s a business.
Here’s what’s true to me: Even if they had never set foot in a Church of Scientology, even if they had never heard of L. Ron Hubbard, John would still be a success and Bob would still be a loveable fuck-up. They’d just have more money in their pockets and more time on their hands.
* Mystery as a sales tool: “If we tell him there is something to know and don’t tell him what it is we will zip people into…the org.” — L. Ron Hubbard, HCO PL 25 June 1978, COME-ON DISSEMINATION
** Whole track: Scientologists believe in past lives, and “whole track” – short for whole time track – refers to all of a being’s lifetimes.
*** Taken off post: In a Scientology organization or business, if someone does poorly at their job (“post” in Scientologese), they aren’t necessarily fired; instead they may be taken off their job and transferred to another one better suited to their abilities. This is actually one of the more sensible aspects of Hubbard’s “administrative technology”.