This is a very short publication (only 22 pages). However, what it lacks in length is makes up for in its bizarre nature. The author attempts to interpret the Bardo Thodol – the Tibetan Book of the Dead – in Scientology terms.
Berner’s text is not dated, but it probably originated during the early years of Scientology when ordinary Scientologists were still encouraged to contribute (although the copyright always belonged to the Church of Scienotolgy. They wrote books which were sold at Scientology orgs alongside Hubbard’s works.
However In 1983, all such publications were banned and suppressed This included Berner’s odd text After Scientology had been transformed into a ‘religon’ (in order to avoid US tax) Hubbard declared himself to be “Source”. Ron was now the one and only valid source of ‘religious’ revelation.
Today, linking Scientology to Tibetan Buddhism is one of those ‘mixed practices’ which Scientology forbids. However , Hubbard recommended the book on in the full-page forward (you can read this after the break).
Hubbard’s comments are general – so general you doubt he even bothered to read the thing – but he recommended it nonethless.
Some backgound – and as South Park famously stated, “this is what Scientologists really believe“.
Scientologists believe that their true nature is that of ‘thetans’ – they are immortal, omnipotent beings who can create their own universes. However, in the act of entering into their creations in order to amuse themselves, they forgot who they really were. They became trapped in mortal bodies.
Worse yet, according to L Ron Hubbard, the thetans of planet Earth are inmates on a prison planet. When their bodies die, their ‘souls’ are forced into an ‘implanting station’ (there is one on Mars, apparently) where their minds are once again controlled by means of implanted false beliefs to insure that they continue to think that they are just mortal bodies, and never realise that the they are immortal Thetans.
L Ron Hubbard’s ‘research’ revealed the only way to escape this version of reincarnation with your previous memories intact, and eventually recover your thetan nature – the practice of Scientology.
Many Scientologists will sincerely deny the part about the prison planet – because they have not reached the level of OT3, where this secret teaching is revealed. This is because very few can afford OT3, let alone complete all the nonsensical, but nonetheless demanding, ‘study’ required to ‘qualify’.
There are (very superficial) similarites between this story from Scientololgy and the journey described in the Bardo Thodol. Wikipedia tells us that,
The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, in the bardo, the interval between death and the next rebirth. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in or has taken place.
You leave your body, and remain in an intermediate state until your memories are wiped, and wiped, are your are reborn. The Scienotlogy version has an implant station on Mars to load you up with mind-controlling lies, but Berner decided to overlook that.
Berners’ input in to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s pioneering English Rendering appears to be minimal. It’s billed as “A Modern-day interpretation of the Tibetan book of the dead”, but all he seems to have done is substitute some Scientology terms for the Lama’s original words, when they can be shoehorned in – for example, ‘confronting’ and ‘willingness to be responsible’.
I suppose we have to remember the period during which this was published. It’s not dated at all, but any book about Scienotlogy not by Hubbard was banned on the 21st of February 1983. It was likely published well before that time, during the period when Hubbard himself attempted to link Scientology to Buddhism in order to support its sudden conversion from a rigerous science to a ‘religion’ for tax aviodance purposes.
The covers of issues of Scientolgy’s “Advance” Magazine from the 70s, in the image below, illustrate this.
Berners motive for publishing his work is probably related to an awful poem by Hubbard entitled “Hymn of Asia”. In it, Hubbard claims to be the reincarnated Buddha. Maybe Berner was trying to support this attempt to stake out even the most tenous claim to religious status for Scientology.
This might be worth a future post 🙂