Thanks to Scientology

I would like to express my gratitude to Scientology and what I have learned from my 25 years as a Scientologist. Since it is now 9 years since I left the organization and 12 years since I completed the highest Scientology level, OT 8, I can calmly reflect on what gains I got from it. There are many years since I stopped considering myself a Scientologist. I am of no religion, of no particular faith. I am somewhat anarchistic at heart, not believing in any set methods and always trying to look at simpler truths. The scientific method is perhaps the most successful of human methodology, but even that has its limitations.

Lighthouse: Dedicated to my mother, Turid Isene

Some Scientology gains are short, fleeting, impermanent. Some are more lasting, and some have grown stronger over the years. The short-lived gains are uninteresting. The lasting gains have helped me throughout my life.

Perhaps my most fundamental gain from Scientology is leaving Scientology. Graduating with a sense of simplicity and on a quest for ever more simple solutions. It has taught me to trust my own senses, to reflect on my own actions and personality and to self-correct. A self-scepticism based on a healthy doubt and interest in finding out deeper truths. I am calmer from Scientology and much better at not giving a fuck about stuff that really doesn’t matter. Life is less serious.

An interesting tidbit is that I used to have nightmares. Several times per month I would wake up from one sweating. During just a few days, when I did OT 8 back in 2006, they completely disappeared and for 12 years I’ve had none. Given that I would have no nightmares only 1 out of ten months before, the probability that it is pure luck that I didn’t have one since is less than picking out one particular particle of matter in the whole observable universe. So I can with confidence say that this was a gain specifically from OT 8.

I am currently learning how to “Lose without a loss” – to be able to lose in a situation and not carry on a loss afterwards. And I’m getting quite good at it. It’s incidentally an exercise that will ultimately help me when I die, as that is the ultimate loss in life.

Scientology is a polarizing subject. Most people who care to discuss the subject view it as a black-or-white proposition. It quickly degenerates into a good vs bad, either-or, Republicans vs Democrats, Cowboys vs Indians or US/them discussion (pun intended). I view it differently. There are good and bad in everything, and while the Church of Scientology is a fascistic cult, I have gotten invaluable gains from my years studying and applying the subject. Maybe I could have gotten the same or even better elsewhere. I wouldn’t know. I only know what I did get, and I’m grateful for that.

Snowflakes are dancing

I have been a serious contributor to the HP Forum for the past 15 years, having contributed software, prototyping and ideas for a number of calculator models – especially the HP-41. The Forum is a part of the HP Museum – a resource dedicated to Hewlett Packard’s range of calculator products.

Lately something interesting happened, something that validates the OnePageBook “And?”. I got banned from the forum with this message:

A few weeks back, I referred to the “Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License“, twice. That got one of the moderators on the forum all riled up. He didn’t ban me but was fuming. Then, when another member posted his reimplementation of the Brainfuck programming language, I replied that he would get in trouble with the moderators for posting that. Now THAT got me banned – with the message above. The moderator then went postal and started manually deleting all my close to 600 contributions to the forum, missing only 8 posts along the way.

Now this wasn’t the first time the moderator had blown up. He has a history of being toxic with escalating conflicts with users in public. While that moderator has some clear anger issues, the root cause is that the forum owner, Dave Hicks has kept him as a moderator, even after a major debacle back in 2015 when the moderator went full frontal on another major contributing member. There has also been several deletions of whole threads of work – just because someone was offended by some words in there.

Snowflake n.
A very sensitive person. Someone who is easily hurt or offended by the statements or actions of others.

Don’t be a snowflake.

All this made me realize that I cannot trust posting any serious contributions to that forum. Who knows whan another random moderator would go batshit and start deleting my work.

I tried my best to resolve this back channel, but the moderators kept ignoring my messages. Then I was suddenly unbanned, but my posts were put in a censorship queue. Every new post were to be reviewed by a moderator before it got posted. A post where I criticized the forum owner got blocked. It included a message I sent to Dave just before:

As I posted in one of the queued posts, I cannot trust posting anything of value to this forum anymore. And with all my contributions permanently gone and with the level of censorship going on, there is no reason for me to remain. I saw Dave’s rant about Thomas and account deletions, but since I have basically been deleted from this forum, I would like to let you off easy: Rather than facing a few hours of work to retreive my posts, you will now go ahead and permanently delete my account and all the remaining posts of mine – along with the moderator thread discussing me. I am not mad or angry. I am not even disappointed. But as I said, Dave has lost my respect and I cannot trust the forum. I request the deletion of my account in accordance with GDPR. This is final. There is no regrets or need for any cooling period. Please send me an e-mail to g@isene.com confirming the action. If I ever want to join the forum again, I will do so with a fresh account.

Dave then went on the forum saying I had been “mad at him since 2015”. While that is untrue, it only confirms my decision.

So, what can I learn from this? First of all, integrity trumps snowflakes. Secondly, it has helped me exercizing enjoying debacles. And thirdly, I should remember not to be too terse or succinct in my communication as it could be interpreted as harsh or angry – when I am really just trying to be efficient. Maybe more emoticons would help?

Alternative places to discuss HP calculators:

Podcasts: Mental training, failing and getting to know Geir

Got rolling with podcasts. Brendan and I have done a few and released two so far. One is about mental training, the other about the benefits of failing. You can listen to both here: https://www.a-circle.no/podcasts

What do I do to help Mankind’s Plan B? What programming language would I save for posterity? How often do I cook dinner? Vegan much? What’s my worst side? Today Brendan decided to do one where he fired a long list of (revealing) questions at me. No preparations. Just quick answers from the top of my head, or deeper inside. You can listen to it here:

Letting go (of the horse)

It’s called Equine Assisted Coaching or Coaching with Horses.

In Ibiza, there’s one amazing woman, Gouwe de Waard, who is doing coaching together with Tanit – a horse. I guess the outcome of the coaching is unique for each and every one. For me it was a special exercize in letting go.

I got into the area together with Tanit. I’m comfortable with all kinds of animals, horses included. And so I started out establishing a connection with her. As I tried to communicate in a few dozen ways, Tanit was hell bent on eating. She ate, and ate, and ate and really seemed to not give a shit about me. In trying to communicate, the problem came down to the fact that I was trying. Whenever I tried to get her to move her head or look at me or call her toward me, I was pulling or pushing – but very gently. But that was enough for Tanit to lose interest in connecting with me.

It was when I finally let go – fully didn’t care – fully went fuck it – then she came over to me and stood beside me looking the same way I did. It culminated in several serene moments when we both stood there looking at each other or looking the same way. An amazing experience that confirmed to me the power of fully letting go.

Thank you Tanit. And thank you Gouwe.

What am I doing?

“If you have a purpose of helping others, then why are you helping people that only help themselves?”

That’s a good question. One that I’ve been asking myself lately. There are some definite pros to helping athletes and others who compete. The results are easily measured and so clearly visible. A placement, a rank, a medal. And my contribution can be discerned. But to help someone win competitions implies helping them to focus – on that specific result, to the exclusion of almost everything else. This is the essence of Two Lengths of the Pool when applied to people who compete. To help people focus on competitive results is to help people become more egotistical. Because so many other parts of life and empathy need to go ta make place for that top position. For glory. For The Win.

I help all kinds of people – from athletes to housewives. And that is why I have come to ask myself this question. Because I can compare so many people I’ve helped. And while helping an athlete win gold is really fun, helping someone with a purpose to help others is far more rewarding in the long run – for the person I help. If the person wants to win a competition, I have to help him become more focused, more egotistical. If the person wants to help others, I have to help him to open up and become more empathetic.

This is the moral dilemma inherent in the question. But it’s not quite a rhetorical question, as maybe a balance is needed?