The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 4

Have You Lived Before This Life?

It isn't a matter of believing or not believing you have lived before. It's a matter of remembering or not remembering you have lived before.
-- from "Have You Lived Before This Life," L. Ron Hubbard{1}

If the prenatal theories of Dianetics appeared startling to some, Scientology had something even more radical to offer -- past lives -- presented not as a matter of conjecture but as a matter of certainty. In addition to "remembering" their life in the womb, Scientologists can "remember" the past lives of their immortal thetan or spirit, which is said to have lived in many bodies before ours. Hubbard used to believe that this thetan had existed for 74 trillion years, but he now believes it's longer.{2}

One Scientologist claims he fell out of a spaceship 55,000,000,000,000,000,000 years ago and became a manta ray fish after having been killed by one.{3} This thetan, which is said to be one-quarter to two inches in diameter{4} and blind or dimsighted at first,{5} would look for a new body after each death, sometimes following a woman who looked like she might become pregnant.{6} Some thetans, however, had to go to "implant stations" to get a new body, and since there were more thetans than bodies, some of them had to queue up for as long as 22 million years just waiting.

Scientologists believe that the past lives and deaths of their thetans are the cause of some of their problems today. For example, Hubbard thought it possible that someone suffering from psoriasis (a skin disease) may have contracted it from the remains of the digestive fluid when the person (or his thetan) was being eaten by an animal in one of his past lives.{7}

If a person frequently clenches his jaws, or suffers from a pain there or in his tooth, it could be a vestige from the days that his thetan was in the body of a primeval clam which was having trouble opening and closing its shell.{8} Hubbard said that if the pain in the jaw was associated with a fear of falling, then the clam might have been picked up by a bird.{9}

Hubbard believes that millions of years ago many of us were this same primeval clam, which he calls a "Boo-Hoo" or "Grim Weeper," and if a Scientologist walks into an auditing session and finds that he can't cry, Hubbard said it may be "because he is about to be hit by a wave, has his eyes full of sand, or is frightened about opening his shell because he is afraid of being hit."{10}

The auditor may try to cure him by making him "run the Boo-Hoo,"{11} that is, by getting him either to "imagine that his eyes are in his mouth looking out" or to go through the physical motions of crying so he "connects" with the Grim Weeper or Boo-Hoo.{12}

Hubbard himself doesn't claim to have been a clam, but he does claim to have lived in ancient Rome a couple of thousand years ago, where he picked up a formula for feeding non-breast-fed babies.{13} He has since passed this formula on to his followers in one of his many chatty newsletters.

Scientologists spend a great deal of time during their auditing sessions reliving and resolving their past lives. One Scientologist was said to have gone into a state of grief when she realized she had been her father's lover -- before she was born.

Another Scientologist was concerned because his wife was now living with another man who had once been her husband -- in one of her previous lifetimes.{14}

A Boston cab driver and part-time Harvard student discovered during an auditing session that his current headaches started when he was a Roman Centurion in 216 B.C., during the Battle of Cannae.{15} He believes that someone from the Roman Burial party, mistakenly believing him dead, tried to kick his helmet back onto his head.

Despite this insight he still has his headaches, but this hasn't shaken his belief in Scientology. His faith didn't falter even when one of his Scientology friends, after spending hundreds of hours in the group getting rid of all of his engrams and becoming a "clear," moved to Albuquerque and committed suicide. He attributed the suicide not to Scientology, but to living in Albuquerque.

Hubbard has devoted a special book called Have You Lived Before This Life: A Scientific Survey just to past-life case histories of Scientologists. The preface of this book also contains the names and addresses of the people who took part in the experiment so that the cynical could check its facts.

The names listed, however, were not those of the preclear who had relived the experience, but those of the auditor who elicited the stories from them -- and all auditors are advanced, dedicated and believing Scientologists.

Strangely enough, few subjects in this experiment thought they had ever been famous in their past lives, except for one British man who was uncertain whether or not he had once been Lord Nelson. (The details of his death, without even a passing reference to his good friend Hardy, suggest that he was not.)

A few people, however, believed that they had been animals before being humans in this life, and elsewhere, Hubbard told the story of a "psychotic" girl who recovered after she worked through an earlier life as a lion who ate its keeper.{16} Hubbard also said that some intelligent dogs or horses might have once been generals or ministers of state who were taking it easy for a life or two to cure them of their ulcers.

Most of the Scientologists who relived their past lives believed that they had once been plain people, or very often space people, and for plots, their histories read like a type of science-fiction sadomasochism. Many of the preclears believed that they had lived on other planets, and that the most unimaginably terrible things happened to them during "wars between worlds and celestial travel between universes whose existence was not even suspected before Hubbard's time," said the Australian Inquiry.{17}

One preclear remembered that when he was in another life and was five years old he was "already on the lookout for brothels," by fourteen or fifteen had learned all about "sex and homosexuals," and by sixteen had killed his father, baby, and captain, breaking up the body of the last, before finally being taken away to the "Zap machine" where he was decapitated and his arms and body placed in a space coffin.{18}

One man remembered that when he was in another life he was a Roman soldier who strangled his wife with a cord, killed a slave, was beaten across the face with the handle of a chariot whip and then was himself killed by a lion in an arena.

Accounts of other past lives included: one man who accidentally stabbed his pregnant wife in the stomach with clippers, thereby killing his baby; one who intentionally raped and killed his wife; and one who somehow accidentally killed his twelve-year-old daughter with a pitchfork when he caught her having intercourse.

A sexually neurotic woman who refused to open her legs during childbirth, so that her baby had to be born while she was lying on her side, traced her problem back to another life in which she claimed to have been tortured and killed by being cut with a knife "down the center of her genitalia."

Throughout Hubbard's book on other lives there is a strange repetitive theme of torture or excision of the eyes, a theme that can also be found in some of Hubbard's other writings. One person said his eyes had been burned out with a hot iron brand before he had been stretched on the rack; another said his head had been clamped into a metal frame and his left eye blinded with a hot instrument (and also his ear drums pierced); another said he pushed a needle through each of his eyeballs into the frontal lobe; and a fourth said that red hot irons had been thrust into his eyes while he was chained to a cross.{19}

Just as a preclear's life in the womb was painful, so was his life before. A preclear may spend as many as fifty-five hours on just one past life, and often undergoes a great deal of mental anguish in reliving it.{20} Throughout the book there are statements that people had "convulsive body movements," cried a great deal "at the loss of her body" (in other words, her death), or protested that "I can't go on."{21}

But go on they must. The preclear must obey his auditor when the auditor tells him to "be in that incident," and then asks him, "what part of that incident can you confront?" The preclear must then repeat the story over and over again, lifting a new detail each time, discarding portions of the story that don't fit, and establishing with the E-meter the exact date that the past-life incident allegedly occurred.{22}

Although the preclear sometimes views this whole task with something less than enthusiasm, Hubbard was so elated with it that he wrote of his plans to write a sequel to this book, which was to be called Where Were You Buried?{23} He asked his auditors for help on this project by checking their preclears for recent deaths and then going to the place of burial and locating the grave and or getting the copy of the death roll from an official source.

That this book never appeared may be attributed to a number of things. Perhaps Hubbard was too busy with his other books and projects. Maybe the auditors thought that such experimentation on a preclear was cruel. Possibly the preclear refused to "confront" the incident or give his permission for the data to be disclosed. And finally, maybe when the past lives were actually checked out by going to the grave or official source, they were found to be fantasies instead of memories.

Contents | Next | Previous | Index

Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [39]
{2} how long thetan around [93]
{3} man who was fish [8]
{4} size of thetan [17]
{5} vision of thetan [171]
{6} following pregnant woman around [261]
{7} psoriasis [25]
{8} toothache and jaw ache [25]
{9} pain in jaw and fear of falling [155]
{10} why preclear can't cry [9]
{11} running the Boo-Hoo [142]
{12} how to run it [9]
{13} Hubbard formula for babies [261]
{14} 2 cases of love in past lives [261]
{15} Boston cab driver [277]
{16} Lord Nelson, girl eaten by lion [8]
{17} quote on celestial travel [261]
{18} next 6 cases [8]
{19} all eye cases [8]
{20} spending 55 hours on past life [8]
{21} pain of reliving past life [8]
{22} how they work on past lives [8]
{23} book on burial [42a]