After sailing in Greece since the beginning of July, we arrived back home in Oslo yesterday.
Today we went downtown to see the area struck by the terror attack and most importantly the memorial place covered with more flowers than I have ever seen in my life.
Strangely the air was filled with calmness and warmth where one could expect confusion and revenge. Sadness yes, but carried by a foundation of love – for those who lost their lives, for the democracy they championed and for our national integrity. I am proud to be a Norwegian. May this horrific event forge a companionship stronger than ever.
In these days of healing there are of course some elements that we could do without. There are those who seek to score political points, those who will use the events to peddle their ideologies and those who will try to solicit PR in the wake of sorrow. Like the staff in the Church of Scientology in Oslo that I met close to our own Ground Zero. They were there on a recruiting mission via The Way to Happiness Foundation – as if a moral code is what the people of Norway need the most right now. The usual practice for the church is to ensure any such event would be used to bolster their image. Knowing that the church actually works hard to support a power hungry cult leader makes such exploitation of willing staff a disgrace.
In times like these I honor those who give unconditional help, those who give without thought of reward.
41 thoughts on “Back home; In Oslo”
Hi Geir. We can indeed be proud of how we are honoring the memory of the fallen so far. Hopefully those young Danish people who came from the CoS will learn something positive from that experience. I’ve heard about some Scientologists whose Volunteer Ministers experience made them notice that there was something wrong going with Management – the push for PR over results, the lying, and so on.
Does OSA know how “out-PR” this actually is? Norwegians are committed to more openness and tolerance in response to the attacks, but almost everyone I speak to are angry with Scientology as a whole because of this exploitation of the attacks. Doesn’t OSA care that they are creating bad PR for both the CoS and independents by doing this? Are they just blindly going by the playbook, will the income from potential recruits outweigh the self-harm, or are they earning money on TWTH pamphlet printing?
I think they believe that they are always right as long as they follow policy. Anyone objecting must obviously be wrong.
Glad to have you back here 🙂
Geir, nice tribute including the meaningful photo. And I really like that you are proud to be a Norwegian.
It’s great to have and love one’s dynamics!
Oops, as usual on a new post thread, I forget to check the notify of follow-up comments box. Doing it now…
My impression of Norway from my last year’s visit is still quite fresh in my mind. The parades in celebration of the National Day were memorable. I loved the simplicity, sincerity and the enthusiasm of the people at that occasion. Here you can see them in the background of happy Vinaire (Bergen, Noway, May 2010)
Has the Church of Scientology ever engaged in charity work? Did Hubbard ever engaged in any charity work with no thought of any return in his mind? These questions have arisen in my mind at times.
What about the Free Scientology Center or the Volunteer Minister’s Program? These were begun a bit before my time and I don’t know much about their history at all, except that they haven’t been any significant part of the picture for decades. But you were wondering about “ever.” And from what I’ve gathered these were at least attempts by LRH to create charitable programs – without any return in mind, apparently (even though any good works will automatically fall under PR and that point could always be made about any sort of charity).
I would like to see a group utilizing Scientology without reference to Scientology or to the group itself – giving Without thought of reward or any sort of PR, goodwill or anything else. Pure Giving.
Okay, and that could prove a point if they did. But it isn’t to say that “promotion” necessarily disproves what might in fact be true charity, is it? There are non-Scn charitable organizations that fall in that category too, obviously. Actually (and again I’m speaking out of little knowledge on the matter, I admit), I thought the VMs pretty much also fit (past tense of “fit”) that category, choosing for themselves their own neighbors or friends, largely, to help out with the use of Scn tech. Maybe in other cases they were to leave their card before they left – but again, that wasn’t the primary purpose and, in many or most cases, I would doubt it was the most cost-effective or A to B way to go about promotion.
(I’m obviously not talking about the so-called goodwill tours of PT! But I get that you knew that.)
My impression of LRH’s intentions and the early groups and individuals (and in general even all the later ones, for that matter) was that there was in fact a basic desire to give without thought of reward except in the sense of the overall dynamics. (I for sure don’t agree with the argument that everything anybody [not just Scn’ists] ever does is ultimately for “selfish” purposes alone.) The simple purpose of “help” was my own idealistic purpose and I bet it was yours too, and many others’ – and I think it was forwarded and “allowed” by the Church in the early decades, with no strings attached.
I’m convinced that LRH himself sincerely intended to help mankind and worked inordinately hard to do so, above and beyond what he would have had to do just to “profit” in whatever way or ways – and even if he did have other than 4th dynamic purposes in mind as well (he had other strong dynamics too). And also, even if he did at whatever point go off the rails himself in his “strategies” to achieve those purposes, that VM program he initiated was supposed to have been a grass roots movement to make a difference on the planet. I’m sticking up for him when I think he should be (and he deserves that), even though it might not always the case, believe me. (Well, that’s a lot of 2 cents worth. :-))
I can only speak from my own experience : I have never seen in the Church of Scientology a charitable stunt that was not calculated to a)bring in people and/or b) bring about a more favorable image of Scientology. It was always 1) What reward do we desire (Product)? 2) What do we have to do in order to get that (Action)? 3) What do we have to market to accomplish that action (BE)? It was never I) What do people need? II) How do we give them just that?
I do agree, calculating in the extreme. I was mainly responding to “Did Hubbard ever engaged in any charity work with no thought of any return in his mind?” and I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.
(God, what a pleasure it is to work this “light-weight” thread compared with the heavy-duty, hard-labor task it was with that last one of over 1,000 comments!)
Yes, this thread is much easier.
I have no evidence at hand that LRH was engaged in any charity without thought of reward. Do you have eny links or resources to back up your belief?
No links or anything, and I did want to make clear that it was only my sense of things and what I “picked up” back in the 80’s. I remember getting even less of a sense of what the Free Scn was all about, except that it was supposed to give auditing to those who couldn’t afford it. Both of these programs were supposedly more active in the 70’s.
I was thinking maybe someone else would have something concrete to add. It’s a good question (from both of our standpoints) and I’m gonna see if I can find anything and let you know.
It would be good to shed some light on this either way.
My thought exactly – shed light either way. And I haven’t overlooked the fact that I was young and naïve back in the 80’s.
Will keep you posted on any findings. Besides, this might give me a chance to “flow power“ (hope that’s still a good admin term in your book) to the illustrious Geir Isene. :))
I think LRH’s entire life could be viewed as a charitable contribution to the welfare of Mankind.
As for individual contributions by Scientologists, there could well have been many, but we wouldn’t know of them if they were not trumpeted for PR purposes, would we?
And if there are groups doing charitable work quietly without declaring themselves as scientologists, how would we know, if they didn’t announce it?
YOU are a good and helpful person and so project that. Maybe you could tell of a time when you were on staff and your organization devised a campaign of public outreach to help people without there being a commensurate straining to make Div. 6 stats?
Valkov and Chris, I see LRH’s life overall just the way you do – a charitable contribution to the welfare of Mankind. And there’s no doubt in my mind at all that individuals and groups have done many charitable things. These weren’t the specific points in question. Vinaire first put out the question of whether LRH or the Church EVER did anything charitable and Geir indicated he knew of no concrete evidence of such. That was when I thought of the VM pgm as a possible good example of it. See my post near the bottom of the page with LRH quotes about that pgm and I’d be very interested in what relevant data you may have! (It should be posted by the time you see this post.)
Chris, you’re absolutely right in implying there was never any such campaign of public outreach in our day, without it being related to stats. And I am in total agreement with both you and Geir about the cringe-worthy, self-serving calculating behind any apparency otherwise. But since the question was with regard to “ever” I was looking back at my early days and thought of the VM pgm and also the Free Scn Center.
P.S. to you both – look over the whole thread from Vinaire’s comment on, and mine at the end of the page quoting LRH. I’d be very interested in what both of you may have to say from there!
I’m puzzled by your parameters. What might be an example of a charitable group that operates in that way – pure giving without thought of PR, goodwill or anything else as reward?
Doctors without borders? Transparency International? Various Buddhist groups? The All World Gayatri Pariwar.
Geir, thank you for your article. This came through on my Twitter feed recently, and I thought it expressed it all perfectly, reinforcing what you say in your article here:
“@postpacific: I am heartened by the streets of Norway today. He wanted a revolution of hate. We responded with a revolution of love.”
LOVE to everyone in Norway, hugs, more love, and a huge thanks to the Norwegians for showing the world how best to respond to something like this – not with hate, but with love, not with repression, but with more democracy.
When I was 16 years old, I was lucky to be on a family vacation in the mountains north of Tokyo, by coincidence right around the time of the O-Bon Festival,which I knew nothing about at that time.
For 3 days and nights there was a little carnival-like setup in the woods, very small, but with entertainments and snacks for children and adults, such as games and archery practice. There are traditional dances.
Their were many lanterns strung around. Traditional music was softly played.
The atmosphere was remarkable. There was a quiet serenity and sense of peace and reverence, and there was a living presence there.
Much later I learned the BON or O-BON was a Buddhist festival honoring those who had gone before. It was a time for family reunions but in this case it was believed the spirits of those who had gone before returned to visit their ancestral grounds, to commune and be communed with.
Recalling those nights in the mountains, I well believed those ageless spirits were there, I could almost see them and could certainly feel their bright spiritual presence around me.
This festival is a good thing, and is now observed and adopted by many wherever Japanese people live.
I’ll post a couple of videos. Here’s one:
Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (盆?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
Yes, I believe it was the traditional Japanese celebrating “Bon” and the Irish-Japanese celebrating “O’Bon.” (bad Chris coming out – hahaha!)
And there was cosmopolitan cuisine served, prepared by the the world-renowned Hindu-Irish-Italian Chef, Ravi O’Lee.
Just a quick on this, Geir, just picked out this part as a quote :
“… as if a moral code is what the people of Norway need the most right now.”
Touche – Bull’s Eye !
Yes, I’m also proud to be a norwegian thes days …
Valkov, lovely post. Nice contribution to the flow.
Well, Geir, continuing our discussion about the Volunteer Minister program – it didn’t take long to find a pretty authoritative article right in Wikipedia, with quotes from LRH himself. The first quoted paragraph below backs up the concept I originally got for at least one purpose of training as a VM, aside and separate from any additional purpose as an FSM or recruiter there might have been:
“According to Hubbard, the objective of the program is to ‘put basic Dianetics and Scientology technology into view and into use at the raw public level.’ The Church of Scientology has compiled instructions on how to use Scientology methods to resolve personal issues into a book, The Volunteer Minister’s Handbook. In Hubbard’s words, ‘this book will be broadly distributed on Scn and non-Scientology lines, bought by the man on the street. He’ll use some of the data, produce some miracles, save a marriage or two, rescue some kid from drugs, help his next door neighbor who’s upset because her child’s failing in school and couldn’t care less, plus brighten up her yawning of Spring and teach him to study, and handle Aunt Martha’s dizziness with assists.’”
However, the article does go on to quote LRH on how the program was also to be used as a whole system for recruitment:
“‘As the benefits of the Volunteer Minister program begin to spread throughout the society, a rank and file of people that have been helped will begin to accumulate. These people will begin to feed into missions and Churches of Scientology from wherever the Volunteer Minister has been at work.’”
So, I guess I won’t be able to point you in the direction of a greater respect for LRH’s personal charitability (and I bet you would have been glad for that – who wouldn’t, as regards such a significant person in our lives?). But I’m not sure either of us can rest our case yet, in terms of it being beyond any reasonable doubt that LRH ever did or did not exercise true charity. (The defense rests. )
P.S. Possibly the best “evidence” anywhere would be the anecdotal stories of people who observed first or even second hand, LRH’s personal use of Scientology or even any not-generally-known direction he gave for its use in a charitable way.
Below is what I believe is LRH’s rationale for his single-mindedness in promoting Scn and his apparent “uncharitability.” I actually copied it from a comment made by a poster (Watchful Navigator) on Marty Rathbun’s blog, who stated it was from “Study Tapes transcript p154 (sorry I don’t have a date or name for the lecture.”
I well remember this part of the lecture and how struck by it I was when I first listened to it:
“Now, if you looked around, you would find out that there aren’t on earth at the present moment enough auditors to give enough sessions to enough people to make any significant gain in the society at large in the next century. The mathematics are all against it.
“If you never made one more auditor, if we just took the auditors we
had at this particular moment and everybody audited hammer and
tongs, seven-and-a-half hours a day for the next ten years or something like that, you add it up and you compare it to the world’s population and you get a drop in the bucket. It’s a discouragingly small amount.
“And if we never trained another auditor, the auditors that had been trained would have long since gone by the boards before they even got through–halfway through the population of New York City. You see, the mathematics are dead against it.
“Don’t think that you, with your auditing, cannot make a change in the society. You certainly can, you certainly can, but you would be making a — actually, a ‘rico’ and a ‘pobre’ society. In other words, you’d be making the society of the rich and the poor, the aristocracy and the slaves, and so forth. You wouldn’t help but do that, because of course you could pick out people here and there and put them into terrific condition and never fix it up so they’re ever backed up, see?
“Well, they–oh, yeah! They’ve got a big zone of influence, that’s for sure! And they’ll get things done, that’s for sure; but let me assure you they would not, all of them, be tempered by the peculiarities that I suffer from which is that man should be free. Not even after you’d audited them would they suffer from that peculiarity uniformly, let me assure you. It just wouldn’t be done.”
P.S. I meant to tie in the above quote with my previous post as regards LRH’s double intention for the VM program, which was for it to not only help individuals at a grass roots level – charitably caring about their immediate needs – but for it to be part of the forwarding of Scn in terms of reaching ALL individuals, i.e. caring about the more far-reaching needs of people as a whole, an ultimate charity.
P.S. I meant to tie in this post with the one above giving LRH’s stated duel intention for the VM program – a charitable means of helping individuals with their immediate needs on a grass roots level; and at the same time, a means to help ALL individuals with their more far-reaching needs, an ultimate charitable endeavor. That’s my interpretation so far and not everyone interprets it that way, I realize, which is why it would be great to get additional relevant data about him personally or about his actual part in related church policy or activities.
On the other hand, there may be no such “hard evidence” and we will have to rely on an overall sense of it based on a look of the whole picture – a high level of Looking, I would say. And it might even come down to simple knowingness, and why not? Know is higher than Look on the scale. And as regards some things, science and logic (both at Look) are not always workable routes to the truth. Personally, I haven’t yet reached a total certainty about it with either Look or Know. So I’m still listening…
If the overall intention was the ultimate charity, would we not also find some minor examples of pure charity on the part of LRH ?
Yes, it’s hard to imagine otherwise. That’s why “I’m still listening,” like I said. Hoping maybe Valkov or someone else who knows a lot of “stories” might have some data.
(Hey guys, I’m dying’ here…”Dog Day Afternoon.”)
I just don’t get your frameof reference. What did Jesus or Buddha ever do that was “charitable”? Do not in fact Christian and Buddhist organizations exist by receiving charity from others?
Didn’t LRH audit a lot of people for free? Do not standardly trained auditors in fact give to others of their skills in daily life, without asking anything in return?
Perhaps we are thinking with different definitions of “charity”. I think many people live lives of “charity”, of contributing to others whatever they are able to contribute. I think many scientologists have done so too.
The LRH reference to charity that I remember was that “Charity is a good thing. It helps the giver by giving him a sense of superiority.” I believe this may have been on the “Money Tapes.”
The LRH that I am familiar with was not much a fan of charity except for on the receiving end. It was LRH who thundered “Free Service Equals Free Fall,” and made it firm church policy.
The frame of reference for this thread? Gluttonous appetite of the Church of Scientology for exploitation of any situation such as the terrorist attack in Oslo, New York City, and hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, to fuel church expansion. Of this I was a participant both as public and as staff. Is there real charity on the part of individual Scientologists? Well yes, I think this is the the normal activity of a Scientologist — just not the Church as a corporation.
That is not meant by me to be a final statement on LRH’s attitude toward charity, just a comment.
P.P.S. Sorry about the near double posting on the P.S. – I got interrupted by a “Server maintainance” flash on my screen and it didn’t seem like the first post “took”.
That so many idealistic young people were caught up in the horror is in itself a national tragedy, I hope Norway succeeds, where the u.s. has not been able, in using this deplorable episode to strengthen the internal values of toleration & mutual respect for which you are known around the world.
Thanks for a fitting and touching post. There were so many remarkable things I noticed in the aftermath of this horror: first and foremost the incredible strength and courage of the young people who survived. What they went through in those 2 hours watching their friends being murdered around them is just unimaginable. Yet they employed guile and cunning to survive and try to help their friends. Secondly, it was amazing how literate and intelligent they were, even on front of TV cameras. Most spoke English better than the average resident of Crawley where I live. Third, the obvious and palpable determination of ordinary Norwegians to remain true to their freedom and democratic ideals.
As to the sadly predicatable efforts of the CofS Norway to use the tragedy for PR purposes, I am only surpised that there any members left there to do this. Having said that, I do wonder whether some survivors could actually benefit from some light straightwire or dianetics to relieve the trauma.
I am sure some of the survivors could benefit from some auditing. But alas, that is not what the CoS is doing – they are hovering among those who pay their respect to the deceased to try to recruit them.
Just read this from Dalai Lama on facebook:
The practice of altruism is the authentic way to live as a human being, and it is not just for religious people. As human beings, our purpose is to live meaningful lives, to develop a warm heart. There is meaning in being everyone’s friend. The real source of peace amongst our families, friends and neighbours is love and compassion.
I follow him on twitter and get my daily uplift 🙂