Going Louis Theroux on Your Ass, by @robinsanderson
By Robin Sanderson
At the SCA we’re constantly taught to be inquisitive, and strongly encouraged to discover new
For the past few months this quest to discover has taken me down some, shall we say, interesting
Enter a bare faced messiah and a giggling guru.
The bare faced messiah is a Mr. L. Ron Hubbard.
Don’t worry, I’m not a Scientologist.
In fact, for a portion of my younger life I was engaged in strongly opposing Scientology (unrelated
to the Anonymous “Project Chanology” movement). On numerous occasions I met with Bonnie
Woods and her husband Richard. Bonnie is an ex member of the Church of Scientology, and a
vocal critic of the organisation. She famously won a High Court battle against the Church,
something that not a lot of people manage to do because of its financial power and its
outrageously litigious nature.
These details are for a story I can tell another time.
And I don’t want to get sued.
Hopefully you get the picture that I’m suspicious of organisations offering to sell you a “piece of
blue sky” (an actual L. Ron Hubbard quote).
But as a supposed inquisitor extraordinaire, I felt it my duty to reevaluate a subject I had previously
been antipathetic towards.
I sought out a Scientologist I knew, who, for the purposes of this story, will go by the name of
Henry. Henry offered to talk me through what Scientology had done for him.
My bullshit alarm was all the way up to 11, but I asked myself whether I was being intolerant and
needlessly obstinate in the face of an opportunity to discover. I wondered if my previous criticism of
Scientology was built on naive, youthful fervour.
So I said to myself that I would keep an open mind, if only to prove to myself that I could form an
opinion by experiencing both sides of the story.
I sat down with Henry to watch an introductory DVD on Scientology.
I’ll cut to the chase. It was fricking laughable.
Where do I start? The corny, overblown CGI graphics. The phony, sphincter puckering “acting”. It
was completely devoid of any emotional sophistication or intelligence. And I haven’t even started
on the “theories” yet. I won’t start lest I never end.
Early into the viewing, tittering to myself internally, I tried to take a sly photo of the CGI madness on
the TV screen. I accidentally left my flash on, and Henry went into a paranoid meltdown, believing I
was engaging in some kind of religious espionage. Well, to be fair, he wasn’t far wrong.
After trying to convince him that I would take it seriously, shortly thereafter the word “BULLSHIT”
erupted from my mouth as the narrator explained one of L. Ron Hubbard’s fantastical theories that
he invented whilst swimming in a quagmire of psychiatric drugs and baloney pulp fiction.
Henry and I both quickly agreed that Scientology wasn’t for me. Lucky for Scientology, I figured.
But I wasn’t going to stop at just one wacky baby boomer spiritual movement, was I?
Next, enter the giggling guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, leader and guru of the Transcendental
I was immediately more wary of this organisation because I am inclined to be sympathetic to it.
“Dangerous”, I thought. “That’s how people get sucked into cults”.
Having done extensive research, I came to the conclusion that it was benign and certainly not
fitting the description of a cult. Sure, there were a few disaffected TM’ers on the web who mainly
sounded like sulking bed wetters, and the whole Yogic flying thing is a bit “different”, but everything
else seemed broadly positive.
Also, four people I have the deepest esteem for are proponents of Transcendental Meditation: Rick
Rubin, Russell Simmonds, Lena Dunham and Jerry Seinfeld.
That gave me the permission to go exploring.
I went to an introductory meeting in a small room inside a handsome building in Victoria. About 15
well adjusted, totally non whack job adults had convened, and we discussed what we wanted and
expected. My first impressions were that I found it a tad bit creepy and embarrassing that all of us
were looking for some kind of spiritual and mental trickery that could elevate us amongst mere
mortals. How selfish and unenlightened, I thought.
A beautiful young woman who I felt I recognised, perhaps as an actress, told us she wanted to
start TM again after practicing for much of her childhood. I wondered if her somewhat blank, aloof
demeanour was related to her hypothetical profession, or because TM had turned her young brain
into mush. Or maybe it was because she was sick of me checking her out.
Certainly the woman who was running the induction seemed to have a brain of mush. Totally
spaced out. This didn’t seem a good sign.
I hesitated at this point and questioned whether it was wise to continue.
I looked inside myself, and in there I saw Jerry Seinfeld talking back at me “Really?!” he was
saying, in that manner he uses to express withering condescension. Was I really going to chicken
out at this stage?
I didn’t chicken out.
It’s only been a month and a bit since then. I had four lessons teaching me the meditation
technique. Only once did I feel someone trying to nick my wallet out of my pocket whilst I was deep
in meditation. So generally I trust them. And after that, you’re left to get on with it yourself and
meditate twice a day in your own home.
And that’s all there is to it really.
I won’t bore you with my personal experience of the act of meditation because that’s kind of
beyond the point. If you’re interested in trying it, then I would say try it for yourself. There’s nothing
The most important lesson surely is that my desire to be inquisitive has taken me to some places I
might never have been.
And when I leave the school, I can say:
“I tried to join two cults because of SCA”
Put that quote on your website Marc.