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.
Who's afraid of the big bad church...?
by Phil Spickler
5 Dec 1999
I was recently awakened from my winter's hibernation by the sound of
one hand clapping. Whilst crawling out of my den, I was somewhat blinded by
rays of bright sunshine and a blue sky, which reminded me that this was
California and not my normal location near the Arctic Circle.
One of the things that I really like about Zen (as distinguished from
Zen Buddhism, which in some corners would be considered an oxymoron) is the
wonderful attitude that Zen folks have about the one called Buddha and all
the millions of words that are attributed to him and to all the icons and
iconography that have appeared over the last 2500 years or so, and about all
the things that folks in Buddhism as a religion and other religions take
seriously. A casual look at books concerning Zen and its history will
easily reveal what I'm talking about as the reader comes to hear expressions
such as "If you see the Buddha, kill him," which for me is one of the most
profound statements of the possibility of enlightenment and where it must
come from that exists in verbal form at this time.
But much of the lore and history of Zen is filled with outrageously
humorous and anecdotal tales that can cause one to leap out of the normal
intellectual figure-figure of daily existence to a burst of humorous
understanding that can last a lifetime if so desired.
So as you can see, this is a possibility that goes well beyond the
worship-state normally found and encouraged in religious movements, and would
never lead to the life-and-death battles that come from those -ologies and
-isms and their offshoots that firmly and fixedly believe they possess the
one and only answer to humankind's (and possibly the whole universe's)
One favorite tale, allegedly true, in Zen history took place some
centuries ago during a very cold winter, possibly in the north of Japan or
China, when the abbot of a monastery returned to find that all the wooden
carvings and statues that depicted the Buddha that had been carefully painted
with gilt and many other things, which had become objects of worship, had
been used to make a fairly large fire in the great hall of the monastery, and
that one monk in particular was busily feeding what remained of these
religious artifacts onto said fire. So the story goes, the abbot ran up to
this monk, clapped his hand on his shoulder, spun him around, and cried out
something to the effect of "You're burning the statues of our Lord Buddha --
all of the most revered possessions of our monastery that exist for purposes
of worship! How and why could you possibly do such a terrible thing?" The
monk looked him straight in the eye with a very clear gaze, and said, "The
monastery was very cold and needed heating."
Many years ago, circa 1958, my wife and I were working at the
Scientology organization in Washington, D.C., and it came to pass that my
wife, who had quite a theatrical background in both serious theater and
comedy, gathered together a small band of fellow staff members, and using
some days-off time went about creating a humorous, somewhat musical, offering
concerning Scientology. This was during a time when things were pretty
serious at the organization, with very low gross income and a very cold
bitter winter in the Washington, D.C. area.
Anyway, this little musical was intended as something to evoke laughter
and raise spirits, and was eventually presented to the staff and L. Ron
Hubbard. It wasn't long after that it became apparent that Ron was enraged
at the idea of anything about himself and Scientology not being treated with
extreme seriousness, if not reverence; and there was quite a bit of
retaliation and invalidation in the direction of the folks that had produced
It foreshadowed the L. Ron Hubbard who was to appear by the late '60's
and early '70's to create ethics policies and other directives that would
forbid anyone in the Church and its organizations from ever openly (or
otherwise, for that matter) saying or doing anything that would poke fun at
his overbloated ego or some of the comic figures he developed, such as the
one known as The Commodore or the one that put together, as a musical
director, that really strange creation in a long-playing record known as The
Power of Source, etc. etc. etc.
One of my greatest joys in leaving the Church was that it made it
possible to laugh myself silly over all the things that had eventually
become, as Ron put it in the policy letter called Keeping Scientology
Working, a "deadly serious business."
It is interesting to note that while Ron was a Dianeticist, before
Scientology, he looked forward and expected others to be quite high-toned and
to interact with him on a person-to-person basis, which could include even
tones like anger and antagonism directly in his face. Later on, anyone
daring to get truly above fear in connection with the Commodore might turn up
as a missing person, or spend long hours at hard labor or any number of
unpleasant retributions for daring to take the Commodore's name in vain, let
alone talk back to him.
Now I'm sure you'll agree with me that any individual or group that
can't get above fear in connection with something or someone else is in a bad
way, and this of course was one of the problems that the Hebrews suffered
from in relation to Jehovah. Jehovah, like Ron (or is it the other way
around?) bashed the heck out of anyone who failed to treat him with utmost
serious respect and worshipful attitude, and kept smiting the Jews, over the
millennia, in an effort to prove through enforcement that they'd better
hearken to him.
To that extent, and somewhat in this century, Ron and his mad monks
have, to whatever degree they could get away with it, attempted to keep
Scientology and its followers in line with the same old tricks that Jehovah
used and then at first the Catholics put into place after they, with the help
of St. Paul, claimed that although Jesus was a Jew, he really started another
religion which others than himself came to call Christianity. And so, in
that great tradition of keeping the faithful in line with force and threats
of dire future, the Catholics, with heaven and hell, excommunication, and
physical torture, managed to keep that dark age alive and well even in the
middle of a supposedly secular democracy called the United States of America.
Anyway, what I like about Zen is that, if I do want to draw a picture
of the Buddha sucking his thumb and groveling in a pigpen, it's actually a
statement about what truth and awareness and freedom really are, rather than
an insult to one of the great non-founders of what is supposedly a
non-religion. And if I should meet someone claiming to be the Buddha, or
attempting to speak for the Buddha, or even the Buddha hisself, I shall, if I
feel like it, attack without hesitation and with deadly intent.
When this level of freedom (if ever) is reached regarding Scientology
and its founder, we can then start talking about Clears, OTs and freedom.
Also I'd like to start closing off this amazing drivel by making an
annual appeal to any and all who hear this to know that right here and now is
the spiritual universe, and right here and now is the material universe. Now
through meditation or cognition or just downright leaping to the idea, you
want to get to where you can hold those two notions at the same time and not
find them in any disagreeement with each other, and in one fell swoop you
will have freed yourself from the illusion and the delusion that there is a
That's a Christmas present; and for New Year's, I should like to say
that as was previously mentioned by one of the worthies that writes to this
list, entities are a lot like little kids who do things to try to get your
attention. And I'd like to say I think there's some truth in that, and that
some of them are also like great big kids who are trying to do a lot more
than just get your attention, but that at any point in time you can realize
what YOU must be being in order to have entities bothering you in the first
place. And then of course if you stop being that, you won't get bothered
anymore; but if you continue being that, handling entities becomes endless,
and in fact, you get like someone who ends up with little children all the
time, which is to say, you become crazy.
Well there, I've said that and I'm glad, and maybe I won't open my big
fat mouth again 'til after the New Year, unless of course the world and
everything in it comes to an end, in which case I hope to meet everyone and
continue this trialogue in the other place.
Love and best wishes and happy holidays,