Going Clear
Author:Lawrence Wright

THE AVON RIVER WAS traveling down the east side of Corsica when Hubbard gathered his crew and read them a new revelation. Nearby, in the north of Corsica, there was an underground space station, he said. He even provided the coordinates. There, a secret doorway would open by a palm print on the lock—but only one person’s hand would do the trick. Hubbard smiled suggestively, without saying whose hand that would be. The rock face would slide open, revealing an immense cavern harboring a mother ship and hundreds of smaller craft, all fueled and ready to go.

The space station would remain undiscovered, however. Word arrived that the Royal Scotman had run into trouble with the port authorities in Valencia, where Hubbard had hoped to make a permanent base. He furiously abandoned the expedition and ordered the Avon River to make haste to Valencia before the Royal Scotman was forcibly expelled from the Spanish harbor. The crew was bitterly disappointed that they would miss uncovering the space station. “If there’s time, we’ll come back,” Hubbard promised.

After making amends with the port captain in Valencia, Hubbard threw a party to report on the Mission into Time. He was loud and affected, in what Eltringham privately called his “full pantomime mode.” Such moments made her cringe. She hid in the back of the crowd. She genuinely revered Hubbard, but when he was strutting in front of his acolytes, he could become comically self-important, a parody of himself. His eyes rolled, his body language was inappropriate and weird, and his hands flew around meaninglessly in odd directions. Sometimes he spoke with a British accent or a Scottish brogue. In her opinion, his performance was ridiculous, but also disturbing. If the man she regarded as a savior was a “nut case,” what did that say about his teachings? What did it say about her, that she idolized him while at the same time harboring these illicit feelings of shame? No one else seemed to share these warring perceptions. She felt very much alone.

Hubbard regaled the crowd with the story of his romance with the temple priestess in Sardinia when he was a Carthaginian sailor. “The girl would say, ‘Hey, how are YOU?’ and all the other guys didn’t stand a chance for a while. If you’ve got enough war vessels and you’re making enough dough, girls usually say this.”

He said he had recently remembered a secret passageway into the temple. “Missions were sent ashore to survey and map the area to see if they couldn’t discover this old secret entrance to the temple.” If they found it, that would prove the truthfulness of his past-life recollections, what he called the “whole track memory.”

“And now,” he said, “I’m going to call on Hana Eltringham to tell you whether or not it was a positive result.”

Mortified, Eltringham stood in front of her colleagues and ratified Hubbard’s findings. “We did find the tunnel,” she said, mentioning a ditch that the missionaires had found, which had a tile base. “So that was totally proven and accurate.”

THE ANTICIPATION SURROUNDING the release of OT III was intense, so when Hubbard finally made it available to a select group of Sea Org members, in March 1968 aboard the Royal Scotman in Valencia, a thrill radiated through the entire crew. The saga of Hubbard’s research in Tangier and Las Palmas led them to think that this was the breakthrough that would lead to the salvation of the planet. They—the Sea Org—would be the vanguard of this movement, newly empowered by the revelations that Hubbard promised.

In a lecture aboard the ship, Hubbard said that in researching OT III, he had uncovered two “incidents”—which, for him, meant implants—that prevented thetans from being free. Incident One was a kind of Garden of Eden fall from grace that occurred four quadrillion years ago, which is when Hubbard dates the origin of the universe. Before Incident One, thetans were in a pure, godlike state. Suddenly, there was a loud snap and a flood of light. A chariot appeared, trailed by a trumpeting cherub; then darkness. This incident marked the moment when thetans became separated from their original static condition and created the physical universe of matter, energy, space, and time (MEST). In the process, they lost awareness of their immortality.

Incident Two is central to the OT III saga. This one took place seventy-five million years ago in the Galactic Confederacy, which was composed of seventy-six planets and twenty-six stars. “The world we live in now replicates the civilization of that period,” Hubbard said. “People at that particular time and place were walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute.… The cars they drove looked exactly the same, and the trains they ran looked the same, and the boats they had looked the same. Circa nineteen-fifty, nineteen-sixty.”

A tyrannical overlord named Xenu ruled the Confederacy. “He was a Suppressive to end all Suppressives,” Hubbard told his followers. Xenu had been chosen by a kind of Praetorian guard called the Loyal Officers, but they realized that their leader was wicked and they decided to remove him. Xenu had other plans, Hubbard said. “He took the last moments he had in office to really goof the floof.” Xenu and a few evil conspirators—mainly psychiatrists—fed false information to the population to draw them into centers where Xenu’s troops could destroy them. “One of the mechanisms they used was to tell them to come in for an income-tax investigation,” Hubbard related. “So in they went, and the troops started slaughtering them.” The preferred method was to shoot a needle into a lung, paralyzing the thetan with an injection of frozen alcohol and glycol. The frozen bodies were packed into boxes and loaded onto space planes, which resembled the DC-8 jetliner. “No difference—except the DC-8 had fans—propellers—on it and the space plane didn’t.” In this fashion, billions of thetans were transported to Teegeeack, the planet now called Earth, where they were dropped into volcanoes and then blown up with hydrogen bombs.

Thetans are immortal, however. Freed from their corporeal incarnations, they floated along on the powerful winds created by the explosion. Then they were trapped in an electronic ribbon and placed in front of a “three-D, super colossal motion picture” for thirty-six days, during which time they were subjected to images called R6 implants. “These pictures contain God, the Devil, angels, space opera, theaters, helicopters, a constant spinning, a spinning dancer, trains and various scenes very like modern England. You name it, it’s in this implant.” The implant included all world religions and “a motion picture studio” complete with screenwriters.

Xenu didn’t have much time to gloat over his victory. Some Loyal Officers remained, scattered around the galaxy. There was a civil war, and within a year, the Loyal Officers had captured Xenu and locked him up in an electrified wire cage buried in a mountain. “He is not likely ever to get out,” Hubbard said.

Because Teegeeack was a dumping ground for thetans, it became known as the Prison Planet, “the planet of ill repute.” The Galactic Confederacy abandoned the area, although various invaders have appeared throughout the millennia. But these free-floating thetans remain behind. They are the souls of people who have been dead for seventy-five million years. They attach themselves to living people because they no longer have free will. There can be millions of them clustered inside a single person’s body. Auditing for Scientologists at OT III and above would now focus on eliminating the “body thetans”—or BTs—that stand in the way of spiritual progress.

More than individual salvation was at stake. Hubbard said that the Prison Planet had been civilized many times in the past, but it always arrived at the same end: utter annihilation. No matter how sophisticated mankind became, there was a trigger implanted in the imprisoned thetans that led them to blow themselves to pieces before they could escape their fate and go on to higher levels of existence. The goal of Scientology was to “clear the planet” and save humanity from its endless cycle of self-destruction.

Hubbard never really explained how he came by these revelations. “We won’t go into that,” he told the crew, saying only that he was fortunate to have somehow escaped the cataclysm so many eons ago. “You are the chosen,” he told them. “You are the Loyal Officers. We made the agreement way back when that we would all get together again. This time no one is going to stop us.”

Eltringham and two dozen Sea Org members had the honor of being the very first group to view the OT III materials. They went in one by one to read the documents. When she came to the part about the Loyal Officers, Eltringham immediately understood that this was what Hubbard had been talking about: she instinctively felt that she had been among them. At the same time, the account seemed incredible to her, bizarre and completely unfathomable.

Her task now was to take the materials into her cabin, along with an E-Meter, and audit herself to discover and expel body thetans. Once they were exposed and confronted, Hubbard promised, they would take flight, “lickety-split.” She began each day with a session, but she couldn’t locate any BTs. At the end of the week she turned in her folder and asked for help. She went through review auditing, but it was no use. She began to worry that she was unauditable, what Hubbard called a Dog Case or a Degraded Being—someone who had committed so many misdeeds as to be beyond help. It was all her fault.

Despite the fact that he was only fourteen, Quentin—LRH’s heir apparent—was among the first to be initiated into the OT III mysteries. Everyone on the ship knew what was happening, and people would hover near the cabin where the materials were held to see the expression on the faces of those who had been exposed to it. When Quentin emerged, he was pale, and he threw up violently. After that, he was never as sunny as he used to be.