The following first appeared in the private email list IVy-subscribers,
which was available to all those who subscribed to the
printed magazine, International Viewpoints.
An antidote to success stories, Parts 1 and 2
by Phil Spickler
13 Jul 00
Greetings, fellow Listers and IVy-subscribers --
As a follower of the Middle Way, I'd like to propose that we maintain
balance in connection with the flood of success stories that have recently
graced the electronic outlook by offering herein a failure story, and I hope
others will find some of their best failures to add to this, 'cause although
success stories are fine, I personally have heard enough of them over the
years to (a) always give thanks that someone is pleased with their results,
but (b) I'm somewhat jaded in this department, and bored by repetition;
whereas failure stories are scarce and in high demand, and are usually quite
interesting, if not downright unique.
And although failure has gotten a bad name (don't ask me why), it
still has a proper and noble position as a part of life, and sometimes even
results in a learning experience.
If people tried to hang onto their failure experiences as hard as
they do their success experiences, they'd soon see that failures vanish just
as readily as successes -- the agreements about time certainly play a part in
Anyway, one of my favorite failures was an experience with L. Ron
Hubbard that more or less took place around 1976; and although that's a
quarter of a century ago, roughly, the experience was memorable, the failure
complete, and each time I've hauled out this story to tell it, most of those
hearing it have usually enjoyed it as a hysterical/historical moment.
I may have to tell this story in two installments, lest I wear out my
readers and my faithful scribe; so this evening's adventure will mostly set
the stage for the grand event.
And so the story begins. Once upon a time, in the 1970's, in a
country called USA, a chap named Phil happened to have a Scientology mission
located in a lovely area about 40 miles south of the city of San Francisco.
Phil in those days was enjoying a great deal of success in spreading the word
of Scientology and having a happy staff and lots of people participating in
the activities of said mission.
This was a time that preceded the arrival of the Dark Ages when the
Church of Scientology, with the help of the GO (Guardian's Office) and the
Sea Organization, started the reigh of terror that ultimately resulted in the
sad condition of discredited unhappiness that just the word "Scientology"
brings to the minds of so many.
But enough of that! In the early '70's us Scientologists with
missions were having a lot of fun and helping a lot of people. One of the
staff at our mission was good friends with the then-quarterback of a football
team called the San Francisco 49ers. The team that year was losing most of
their games, and the quarterback was in big trouble, and it looked like he
would soon be removed from his position. Well, after a little bit of
auditing and a little bit of information, the team and the quarterback turned
around in such an extraordinary way that they came within one game of going
to the SuperBowl.
This created quite a sensation in this part of the world, and as a
result a great deal of positive press came out regarding yours truly and
Scientology, and what seemed to be a succession of miracles regarding
changing losing to winning. As you can see, dear reader, this failure story
was preceded by a giant success story.
And in the next installment of this exciting adventure, I shall
complete the success story (in those days, miracles of this proportion were
routine, so no big deal), and get into the really interesting and main
subject of this memoir, which is the Great Failure.
And so, hoping to keep you on the edge of your seats until the next
installment, I remain, your humble historian --
Phil Who Was
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same. . ."
-- Rudyard Kipling, "If"
And so it came to pass that the story of the recovery of a former
star quarterback and his football team was spread far and wide, resulting in
many diverse folks beating a path to the door of my humble Scientology
mission seeking miracles for themselves and their families, and also desiring
to know more about Scientology and Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard.
Around this time, which was the early 1970's, there was a magazine by
the name of _Psychology Today_ which was experiencing a high degree of
national prominence and popularity. Well, to my surprise, one of their
senior writers and editors made an appointment to see yours truly, and after
we had chatted for some time about psychology and Scientology and other
subjects, this chap decided that he wanted to get some auditing, and wanted
to know if I could be his auditor.
And so we struck a deal in which I agreed to give him a short series
of sessions, and I think we may have even gotten started that very day.
Well, after about 10 hours or so of auditing, he paid me a visit between
sessions and asked if it would be possible to do an interview with L. Ron
Hubbard which would appear in one of the coming issues of _Psychology Today_.
To shorten this story so that we can get to the Great Failure part of
it, I'll just say that in the next few weeks and through the Guardian's
Office it was arranged for this chap to go to the Mediterranean, where the
Flagship was located, and over a series of some days do an in-depth interview
with Ron Hisself. It had been further agreed that Ron would have final
editorial say-so over what got printed and published -- a very unusual deal
for a magazine to strike with anyone. The size of the article was predicted
to be somewhere between 7 to 10 pages, making it the feature of the month,
and the cover of the magazine would reflect this.
Well, in those days, the location of Flag and Ron was supposed to be a
great secret, and anyone going there had to go through all kinds of security
before being escorted to the actual location and had to promise that they
would never reveal the location after they left. This was rather amusing,
since to anyone but loyal Scientologists the actual location of the ship and
its Commodore could very easily be found out, and was widely known, at least
in the Mediterranean area.
Well anyway, our senior editor agreed to all the terms and
conditions, had his bags packed, his tickets purchased, and was going to
leave in about a week's time. And now begins the story of the Great Failure.
One afternoon I got a call from the U.S. Guardian's Office in Los
Angeles, from the then-Guardian for Promotion (or PR), to inform me that the
long-planned and carefully crafted interview and article for _Psychology
Today_ had been cancelled. No deal -- no interview -- please inform writer
and senior editor for _Psychology Today_ "plan has been cancelled."
This news more or less on the eve of what I considered a triumph came
as a great shock. I'll have to admit to you, or anyone reading this, that I
didn't just say, "Thank you for telling me that -- have a nice day," and hang
up the phone. Instead, I picked my shattered remains up off the floor,
picked up the phone, and said something to the effect of "What's going on??,"
thinking that possibly L. Ron Hubbard had suddenly died or become so
seriously ill that he was unable to do the interview.
The Guardian Officer I was speaking to, who was an old friend, said,
"All I can tell you is that Ron, the Old Man, is off-lines." This was very
hard for me to accept, as I imagined myself trying to explain this to the
chap from _Psychology Today_ and him saying to me, "What do you mean, he is
'off-lines'?" And so I continued in talking with this fellow from the
Guardian's Office to implore him to give me some information which in a weak
moment I pledged to keep secret. But all I could ever get from this fellow
was the same thing, which is to say, "Sorry, but all I can tell you is, he's
And so begins the great failure. I now had the unpleasant task of
contacting a chap with whom I was having a very good relationship
(pc/auditor), as well as a friend, and both of us were greatly looking
forward to a very successful interview and article that could and would do
wonders to clarify what Scientology was all about and the marvels that it was
capable of producing when properly handled.
And so the sense of failure deepened, and in truth, when I finally
did inform this chap of what was going on, he in turn became extremely upset,
ARC broken if you will, and pointed out that the plans for the article in the
particular month that it was slated to occur were also being crashed and
crushed in a very arbitrary fashion and couldn't I possibly give him a better
reason than I had for the "Why" of this. In truth I had to confess to him
that it was a big a mystery to me as it was to him, but that the bottom line
was No Interview.
So there's the great failure, which at the time contained a great
mystery. One bright note was that the ARC break with my pc got very well
handled, and he continued to have some excellent wins with Dianetics and
Scientology, and to his lasting credit did not use his disappointment to
strike out against the group or an individual that had caused it.
This tale ends with the following. Some years later I was finally
able to find out what had happened to L. Ron Hubbard. There had been a
security alert sent in to the Flagship that stated that the police of some
Mediterranean country were going to raid the Flagship and arrest and imprison
L. Ron Hubbard, and that upon hearing this Mr. Hubbard stuffed a suitcase
with 1 million American dollars and fled the area, eventually landing near
New York City in the borough of Queens, where he stayed holed up and
incognito for some many months. The proposed raid on the Flagship never
occurred, but Mr. Hubbard was jumpy in those days because there were a number
of groups around the world that wanted his scalp for one reason or another --
none of them, of course, as much as he would have had you believe.
Well, when I finally found all this out, I had quite a chuckle, since
it took all the mystery that had been around for those years out of the
picture, but I think one of my valences was left with the thought, "What a
way to run a church!"
I propose that there will be written one more posting on this subject,
which might be called "An antidote to the antidote," that will be more in the
realm of pure philosophy concerning success and failure, those twin
imposters, and what that's all about. And so until we meet again --
The Phil That Was