Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the links with L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology and The Master

I was very surprised to find out that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead, reportedly from a heroin overdose, which is completely tragic and sad. He was a talented and engaging actor. He has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks, because I am reading a book called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.

The excellent book is based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists and it’s a very incisive book, certainly controversial. As you may know, Phillip Seymour Hoffman recently played Lancaster Dodd in the movie The Master, which many people compared with L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.

Hoffman was quoted as saying: It’s not a Scientology movie. It’s something else,” according to writer Rachel Dodes.

The interviewer went on to ask: “But you do see the similarities though, right? “Auditing” versus “Processing” — the techniques to rid people of traumatic life experiences—the disdain of non-believers, the likeness to Scientology’s Sea Org, the fact that it takes place in 1950, the year Dianetics came out, etc.”

And Hoffman replied: “Sure. If people are going to be that literal about it then they are. But it’s not something to be taken literally or my character would be called L. Ron Hubbard. People do this all the time. Films are like that all the time. They are inspired by things but they are not those things. Every season there are films like that. But because it’s around that thing people are paying attention to it.”

But hang on a minute Hoffman, surely you’re having a go at us? Everyone who saw the movie and who knows the scantest amount about Scientology would know that it shares many similar themes. Even the director Paul Thomas Anderson has admitted this. According to Newsweek journalist David Ansen, “Anderson freely acknowledges that this flamboyant character—a self-described author, sea captain, physicist, and philosopher—was inspired by L. Ron Hubbard.”

I was not aware that the director and one of the lead actors were trying to distance themselves from the fact that this is so obviously based on L. Ron Hubbard. But this does not surprise me. There have been multiple reports in the media about Scientology’s heavy-handed approach to litigation and copyright issues.

Does anyone remember the Time magazine article on Scientology where they said:

“Strange things seem to happen to people who write about Scientology.”

Journalist Ansen wrote that director Anderson, “gets a bit stressed when the subject comes up”, and said that Anderson found  himself “much more defensive and protective of [Scientology] than I would have thought.”

If you read the book Going Clear and you watch the movie The Master – you can see that the writer has strayed just far enough from the real story to avoid copyright issues. The more I learn about L. Ron Hubbard – the more I see that the character of Lancaster Dodd is based on him.

Hubbard is a fascinating character. No, I am certainly not a Scientologist and I have tried to read some of Hubbard’s books and I thought they were the most confusing, offensive, dribbly pieces of rubbish I had ever tried to comprehend. I had an almost visceral reaction to his actual texts when I tried to read them. In fact, I also thought that anyone who could get through one of his books must be quite stupid, which is obviously not true since we know that some of the world’s most powerful people are Scientologists.

However, I do find weird religions interesting. I find ‘new’ religions fascinating. How can this man who lived his life in the 20th Century have influenced so many millions of people? How did he ‘tap into’ something that was so bizarre and unconventional and yet so widely followed and accepted. That deserves investigation.

My investigations into Hubbard are blowing me away to some extent.

I was equally fascinated when I found out that The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith by scrying – a practice where he saw words and impressions on a stone in the bottom of a hat and yelled out the words to his secretary, who wrote them down. Sounds wacky, eh? Not to the now 15 million Mormons worldwide. I assume that all of them would believe that Smith’s story is true – otherwise why would they have left their old religions and joined him?

To summarise, Smith believed that a spiritual being Smith called Angel Moroni came and spoke to him directly in 1823 – that’s less than 200 years ago. This angel basically called him to begin a new religion. Then it happened again.

A ‘being’ came to Hubbard too. Hubbard also claimed to get his teachings and advice from an angel he called The Empress. This was in the 1940s and 50s and 60s – so very much within living memory. I would assume that if you were a follower of Scientology, then you would believe that Hubbard was on to something, that this angel was in fact, real and true.

Hang on – so are angels coming down to earth and bestowing new religions on man in this day and age? Yes, they are – and there is the proof. It doesn’t matter at all if you don’t believe in Angel Moroni or The Empress of Hubbard’s – the fact is that literally millions of people on earth do. Millions and millions. They believe this stuff. Doesn’t that make you curious? Worried? Cautious? Shouldn’t you get to the library right now?

Did out your old books – delve deeply – ask questions and discover.

Weird shit happens all the time so turn off Game of Thrones and live the real magic.

It’s everywhere when you start looking. And it’s going to blow your mind.

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