Ant's Scientology Story Part V
Congresses - Conferences - Conventions
SCIENTOLOGY HAS STRESSED the importance of communication, and there is a lot to be learned about communication, especially when applied to a complex thing like life. One of the forms of communication used has been meetings going over a few days. In the 50s, where Ron was the main speaker we called them congresses.
When I came into Scientology in '54 a tradition was already established of holding congresses twice a year. I understood that before my time they were four day congresses, arranged around a weekend, but what I met was Saturday and Sunday Congresses. I do not remember how many I went to, probably five or six. All in London. As far as I remember they were held alternately in London and in Washington DC. That is to say, Ron was present alternately in London and Washington D.C. When Ron gave a congress, all his lectures were recorded, and flown to the other Congress holding city, and the congress there was made around playing these LRH lectures. The lectures were published. It is possible that you can get hold of copies (I have seen as mp3 computer files, easy for most to listen to1). And they are worth hearing. Ron was an excellent speaker
The congresses I attended were held either in the Royal Festival Hall (their smaller hall) or the Royal Commonwealth Hall, and we made our own arrangements for meals (and accomadation). In a sense they were the high points of the Scientology year, and it was somewhat astounding that Ron was able to give three, four or five hour long lectures of high quality (you ought to hear at least one). And apart from lecturing Ron gave demonstrations (I can remember one where he demonstrated the CCH processes), and gave auditing to the whole audience.
There was a new subject for each congress. I remember well the Radiation Congress, for Ron said that he had been experimenting with mocking up radiation, and had done so too close to his body, which had negative effects on his body, and it was noticeable to me that he had swollen lips, which I attributed to this. Some of the Congress titles were: Games Congress (August/September 1956) London Congress on Human Problems (October 56), London Congress on Radiation and Health (April 57), Freedom Congress (July 57, Washington, The Clearing Congress (July 58, Washington,)2, London Clearing Congress (October 58)
Looking back in 2009, I would think that fifty years ago, the 50s was the high point of Scientology. We did not realise it at the time. I think the general attitude was in the direction of the future being the glorious time. But things have deteriorated since then. If you want to glimpse those times, including the philosophy (outlook on life) you are fortunate in being able to hear those lectures by Ron as they were recorded.
The 60s and 70s
Ron Moved to Saint Hill Manor in Sussex England in about 1959 and about that time we stopped having congresses. I can remember that when I worked at Saint Hill there was a project for preparing "Congress packages" to be sent out to Scientology organisations, so they could continue to hold congresses. This would include lectures of Ron from earlier congresses. I never heard of these being produced, probably because of the common occurrence of some new project coming up and staff being taken off the partly finished project.
So my memory of the 60s and 70s, where I was a staff member much of the 60s, was that there were rather barren of interesting events. What events that did occur were what I would call (looking back) rather suppressive, being local events, ordered by central management to get more customers, not at all in the tradition of the 50s. In one notable little one (an evening event) I remember in Copenhagen in the early 70s, the doors were locked afterwards, and you could not get out before you had seen a registrar and signed up and paid a deposit for a service! Far out of agreement with the high toned, enthusiastic and free conferences of the 50s. (In that event I some how managed to get out without buying anything).
The writing of this article so far has been a struggle. I had to do it. Rolf had set a deadline. But it was something like doing a difficult Scientology process. Long comm lags (fiddling around with the red volumes, and listening to lectures, even going out for a walk). However, like a well run process, it seems to have ended with something of a cognition. The large Scientology events in the 50s, Congresses (and Scientology as a whole), were marked by curiosity and interest. The larger Scientology events in the 60s and 70s (and Scientology as a whole) were marked by enforcement. One can have viewpoints as to whether this was true, and as to (if true) why. Here is my viewpoint. In the early 50s Ron set for himself enormous goals (and nomenclature associated with those goals). They were based on his knowledge at the time. His understanding increased. But as he would not (perhaps could not) change those goals (which others had adopted and made their stable data) enforcement became necessary in an effort to achieve those goals. Also factors like age, and having run himself or been run on experimental procedures which damaged him, probably had an effect. We are out from under the enforcement hierarchy we inherited from him (made worse by others) so we are able to get back to the desire and curiosity atmosphere of the 50s. Probably some of us need to clear a few ARC breaks, and traumatic events associated with the Hubbard Hierarchy (and the idea of "being a Scientologist"). A good idea to do that if there is something there. Additionally, to get the curiosity of the 50s going again, I would suggest listening to the 50s Ron, especially his congress lectures. There you have hope and interest, enthusiasm, and many wise words.
Fri Scientology events3
There were a lot of people who broke away from the "Church" of Scientology or were thrown out, around the year 1983. Shortly afterwards a couple of conferences were held in Switzerland. I went to the second of them. I was met at the train station by Tom Frøkjær who drove me almost to the location. The actual conference centre was held up a mountain, where there was a long single track road to it (open for one way traffic for half an hour at a time), but we went up in a cage of a rope railway. There was snow around the place, though I did not notice the cold.
The surroundings, and accommodation were marvelous. There was a joy of meeting friends who had also left the church, but there was also an air of dissension. David Mayo was there and spoke. Unfortunately he disclosed an incident that supposedly occurred while he audited Ron, where Ron had wanted to exteriorise, and thought he had to an open sky, but they went out and to his disappointment found it was cloudy. Apart from the indiscretion of disclosing session data, it seemed odd to me, because I had heard Ron say in a lecture that a person may exteriorise for the first time out of present time. At any rate the disclosure created ill feeling. RONS Org was present at the conference, and there was also (my perception) ill feeling in some quarters because they appeared to be trying to create a monopoly, or to proselytize (enforce joining them).
The man who organised the two conferences (quite a brave man, the last one at least was sumptious, and it was a gamble that it would pay for itself) did not want to continue, So Per Schiøttz in Denmark offered to house a conference a year later.
Kollekolle is a conference centre on the edge of a large lake north of Copenhagen. The conference was announced as being for all Scientologists who had left the church. I (as reporter for the Danish magazine, Uafhængige Synspunkter) was in contact with Per Schiøttz and his wife at his centre near to me. I knew therefore that although the conference was being advertised as covering all outside of the "Church", in fact it would be a RONS Org conference. I knew that some of those attending expected an ecumenical conference, so I therefore made an arrangement with Vita Leland, that we could hold an informal get together at her rather spacious flat, closer in to Copenhagen, on the Monday after the weekend conference, for those interested.
It was a two day conference with lectures centred around RONS Org and the informal Monday meeting went off well, even with one person travelling back and forth between the group at Vita's and the RONS Org group.
Rons Org conferences
After this RONS ORG conferences were held, mostly in Germany I think. I was not invited, and got to hear about them after they had happened. However later I did get to hear and attend. The first time it was rather secretive (I think for fear of the "Church" interefering) and I was met at Munich station and taken by car to the conference site. I attended two or three more conferences in Southern Germany. All these conferences were very well organised, living on a conference site with meals and even entertainment proveided. There were also translation facilitess between German and English available (some times similtaneous, some times with a translator standing by the speaker translating phrase by phrase). At one of these Ken Urquhart was opening speaker, and the rest of the programme had two lectures (talks) at the same time, giving a power of choice. The more recent RONS Org conferences (I think in Russia) I have not been to.
Fourth annual International Conference in Metapsychology
This was in 1990 and was the only conference outside of Europe that I have attended. It was done in a hotel/conference site, and had a number of different speaker and was well done, as were the other conferences) Afterwards there were more informal meetings, where Sarge Gerbode, the founder of Metapsychology was picking some peoples brains in order to evolve a "bridge" for Metapsychology.
In a fairly early copy of IVy I wrote an article encouraging the idea of conferences, and Terry Scot in England took up the idea, making one day conferences in North and South England. These later were just limited to the London area, and were led by Ewa and Michael Manius, with the help (as is always the case) of a band of helpers. They were one day conferences, with five to eight different speakers, and a buffet lunch, and the optional possibility of an evening meal. On the day after (Sunday) there was an informal meeting, mostly for those from abroad, in the Manias' own home. These conferences went on for something like ten years (I don't remember exactly, and don't have a record).
Open Space Conferences
We have had about four conferences in Denmark, the last being this year. They are two day affairs, where we have partly used the Open Space (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Space_Technology) principle, ably compered by Flemming Funch. Generally speaking we have had about equal numbers coming from Denmark and abroad, and I invited (especially) foreigners to my flat for the day after (also last time Tuesday).
Last Year an Open Space conference was held by Caspar de Rijk, at his spacious premises south of Berlin.
As a closing remark, I would emphasise that whole day (or two day) meetings are not the only form available, and I would encourage initiative in arranging smaller meetings. It is fun to meet fellow (Ex-) Scientologists, in a small group, in relatively relaxed surroundings, perhaps just once, perhaps as a monthly or yearly event.
Next time in this series I will get back to my last period as staff in the London HASI, another rather futile attempt to be a field auditor, and perhaps get round to my first Saint Hill (England) staff years.
[ This was written in 2009 for the Magazine IVy 104]
1. In doing the research for this article (which involved dipping into the Red Volumes where LRH lectures are noted. Including Congresses), I happened to start listening to Ron's last appearance at the Games Congress, Washington DC, August/September 1956 (which Congress appears to have gone over three days). It is a demonstration of the process SCS (on a body, the process can also be run on an object). It is an hour long demonstration and it was so interesting that it was very difficult to stop listening and get on with this article. You might think an auditing demo is a serious, perhaps dull, affair. This is high toned, with a buoyant preclear, Ron joking as well as giving data and an audience laughing. I recommend it. I might even lend it to you if you ask nicely and send me a few thousand dollars! Ron in high humour but nevertheless giving good advice to auditors.
2. Six lectures of this are available as a video in color and are well worth seeing - they give some of the basics of auditing, and the films were played on Sundays at the HASI London as a free introduction to Scientology. My research has taken me a bit away from my own Scientology story, dealing with some things that went on in the background of what perhaps was the Golden Age of Scientology, though I did not have the background or awareness to appreciate it. Fortunately Ron saw to it that his lectures were recorded in highest possible quality at the time, insisting, I think, on Ampex recorder, and large loudspeakers when playing back (tape recording was relatively new in the early 50s).
3. In Denmark we called the individuals who broke away from the Church "Splinters" (and the movement the splinter movement). And the movement the Fri Scientology movement. In Denmark the word "fri" meant legal, and just before that time there was much talk in Denmark about "fri abort" which meant legal abortion.