Welcome, friends, to Scientology Mecca. That is, Los Angeles.
When you live here, or even if you don’t, you tend to have encounters with people who are Scientologists. These folks don’t necessarily tell you they claim L. Ron Hubbard as a guru, but instead may engage you in looping, leading conversation in order to ultimately, if you let them, make you feel inadequate, to cause you to wonder if perhaps you are less than; if, just maybe, you’re searching for something.
Could it be you don’t know you’re searching for it?
Case in point: I was called for jury duty last spring. During the pre-trial selection one man asked the judge to be excused based on the fact that “the individuals in the case are their own jury, Your Honor, and I don’t believe in a system where I make a decision that someone else has already made.”
I thought, Yeah, okay, whack-job, and the Judge dismissed us for a short recess. Outside, the guy lit a cigarette and walked up to me looking at the vending machine choices.
“You wanna know why I don’t believe in a jury trial?”
“Sure,” I said, unsure. I am nothing if not polite.
“Do you know where your mind is?” he asked.
“Yeah, you think your mind is in your head, don’t you?”
“Um, maybe. I guess so.” I took a small step backward.
“Okay,” he said, “I want you to picture a cat. A cat, okay? You got it? You got the picture of a cat?”
“Yes. I can picture the cat.”
“Now, where is the cat?” he asked, looked at me intently, and dragged on his cigarette like it was true love.
“The cat is… in my mind?”
“Yes, you can see the cat, right? But where is the cat? Where is your mind?”
He lit another cigarette. “… And if you believe that your mind is everywhere and nowhere, you can understand that you can do anything. Anything you want.”
Like die of lung cancer? I thought.
“See, I’m a Scientologist and have been for many, many years. I know what the mind is. The court system exists because people don’t have any awareness of their own minds.”
We were called back inside. The guy was dismissed. I thought about cats.
I have a friend; let’s say his name is “John.” John and a visiting pal from high school thought it would be fun to go to the Scientology Center, to get on the inside and take one of their advertised Personality Tests, with these tag lines promoted around town: “Your personality determines your future” and “If you are not happy with life, you can find out why.”
John and friend were put into separate rooms and given, first, aptitude tests, which consisted of many mathematical and logic-based questions. John thought these tests were easy.
Then he took the personality test. It included constructions like:
[I believe that I create my reality.]
[I believe that I create my reality, but that other realities intersect with my reality.]
[I believe that there is an outside force which is in charge of my reality.]
This test had fifty questions. Down at around question #40 appeared:
[A triangle has three sides.]
John pondered the idea for awhile, trying to unlock its mystery. He put a little question mark next to the statement.
Later, John met with a “representative from the church,” a youngish guy in a white dress shirt and blue uniform suit pants and jacket, like all the other people working at the center. The representative told John that he’d analyzed John’s report and that John was showing signs of serious depression. The guy asked John how he was feeling. John said he was feeling quite good, actually.
“Well, your report shows that you’re pretty unhappy. It also shows you as coming in low on the ‘awareness’ scale.”
John listened quietly.
The representative continued, “So, you might not even know that you’re depressed. Why don’t you tell me something that you want in your life, something you’d like to see happen.”
John said that he was really feeling happy and content with everything that he had.
But the representative insisted that John was sad and in denial and wanted things in life and was, therefore, probably a little bit bitter. They went back and forth, disagreeing for awhile, when John noticed that the representative was becoming somewhat frustrated with him, probably since he insisted he was feeling pretty good. The representative went out and brought in another suited-up representative who looked over John’s test results and then told John that Scientology had done so many wonderful things for him in his life, and now he was living an improved, before-only-dreamed-about existence. John asked for an example of one thing Scientology had done for the man, but the second representative said there were so many things he couldn’t think of just one.
At home, John put the printout of the test on the refrigerator. He had scored below the average in every category except “certainty,” where he was way up at the top of the scale. Strangely, the test results were inaccurately represented in a line graph, where the score in the “happiness” category was linked by a line to the “confidence” score, then linked to the dot in “awareness” and so on. John knew the results should have been shown in a bar graph. The line graph, however, depicted him as a personality failure. He had basically flat lined except for that spike in “certainty.”
He shuddered. If he had chosen to put on the blue suit, he probably would have felt really sure about his decision.
This case involves “Beth,” who has been looking for work in the city. She set up an interview at a marketing firm recently and arrived on time and dressed up. The interview was conducted in a small office. Beth was immediately put on guard by the Dianetics poster in the front room, dooming all who enter by the reds and yellows of an exploding volcano. But she’s a curious girl. And she needed a job.
About five other people were waiting for the same interview. A man with orange hair handed each candidate a form as he explained that the interview would begin with some tests for, you guessed it, aptitude and personality style. The form was, he said, a simple agreement to take the tests, but as Beth read over the finer print, the form was in fact a disclaimer releasing all liability from the organization in case an individual “reacted poorly” to the test questions or results and wanted to sue. Beth did not sign her full legal name. Just in case.
She was a bit offended by the “aptitude” test which had questions that seemed to be around eighth-grade level. Beth has a degree in mathematics. You would think they would have pre-screened her resume.
The personality test was more fun. She wondered what the accurate Scientologist answer was for each question. Number twenty-three on the personality test read: Mark one answer only. #23: A triangle has three sides.
In Scientology, the triangle actually becomes two triangles defined as an upper triangle, representing “knowledge, responsibility, and control,” and a lower triangle, which represents “affinity, reality, and communication.” But Beth was not a Scientologist and felt a little irritated. She likes rules and the rules said to “mark one answer only.” She left it blank anyway, thinking it was a misprint. The interview was weird. She was not offered the job.
I’ll admit it, the triangles sound wholesome, maybe even intelligent in their simplest forms, but a little more context for your opinion, dear reader:
A friend of a friend had just broken up with an incredibly jealous boyfriend. She theorized that part of his insecurity was because he had been raised strictly Scientologist and couldn’t deal with her independence and occasional flirtiness. One morning before the break-up he called her, very upset about a horrible, horrible dream he’d had. He was sure he was going to lose her.
She coaxed him into sharing the dream, which he was reluctant to recount–it was so disturbing! With sad and shaking voice, he told her that in the dream they had arrived at a party where there were only men, naked men. He watched as she was approached by one of these naked men carrying a tray of hotdogs. And the tray, positioned conspicuously at waist level, held one special penis-in-a-bun just for her.
This dream may have nothing to do with Scientology, but it sure is funny.
Lastly, we can consider the Scientologist celebs, including Linda Blair and Lisa Marie Presley. What are we to make of this list? How did each star answer the triangle question? And why have so many of their careers taken an eventual turn toward infomercials? (Folks, I’m sorry to report, Beck is one too.)
In the end, it’s up to you. Maybe you are searching for a free personality test at a $500.00 value. Can you picture a cat? Where is the cat? And what about this triangle? Mark your answers below.