A few years ago, the “Golden Age of Knowledge” (GAK) was released by the Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center (RTC), David Miscavige, and the management of the Church of Scientology. This consisted of newly edited editions of all the basic books, a mass of Ron’s lectures now on CD with transcripts and glossaries, the Congresses, on CD with transcripts and glossaries, and eventually, the Advanced Clinical Congresses (ACCs) on CD with transcripts and glossaries (all collectively now known as “The Basics”). In addition to the fact that this material was now more readily available (no more reel-to-reel tapes as the only source for many of the lectures, and no transcripts), they were billed as being available in a much broader array of languages.
According to the information given out by Miscavige at the GAK release, the basic books had never been edited properly, and had in fact been, in some cases, considerably altered by others. I happen to have 1979 editions of all these books and more, and I can attest that some of the original edits were quite bad. Others seemed perfectly fine. (One peculiarity about this release was that word came down later that older releases of the books should be destroyed. I take exception to this. If they could be badly edited in the first place, they could likewise be badly edited with GAK as well. I would encourage anyone to keep your older editions around. There is some suspicion in the Independent Field about some of the edits which were done for GAK.)
On the plus side, having this material available (particularly the ACCs) is a boon to Scientology. Some of these lectures hadn’t been heard in decades since they were originally given by LRH. And I have no doubt that LRH wanted them all fully available in a form which was readily accessible to Scientologists. There are Scientologists who, up until the GAK release, had no idea of the timeline of discovery of the Tech, or even the timeline of the books they routinely saw for sale in their Church bookstore. One has to wonder how they imagined all this Tech came about, or if they ever thought about it at all.
Along with the books and CDs themselves, courses and extension courses were also released. This, too, was a bonus. This would put some discipline in on learning this material. According to many of the people subsequently doing these courses, they appear to be of great benefit. The wins are many, as they usually are when studying LRH material. Many have reported that doing these courses has sped up their progress on other parts of the Bridge. Another bonus. (Many in the Independent Field might argue that such success stories are likely coerced. While this may be true, it’s likely that many experienced real gains by reading, studying and listening to this material. I would advise this: don’t invalidate a student’s gains. You wouldn’t do so for a PC. Afford students the same courtesy. And if you’re someone who has experienced gains from this material, remember that if it’s true for you, it’s true.)
And now we come to the dark side of GAK. First, it appeared at the time that every Sea Org member in the world was instantly recruited to become a reg for Basics packages, no matter what their actual post. Flag, which had ignored me for a quarter century, sent at least four Sea Org members to my house to pressure me to purchase Basics packages, despite the fact that I was a freeloader. Apparently, my freeloader debt was a minor issue compared to the need to move volumes of Basics packages quickly. Mine was not an isolated case. I’ve heard from many other people who have more than one, and sometimes many Basics packages sitting around gathering dust. I have an extra set myself, if you’re interested in purchasing one. Needless to say, the pressure to purchase these was enormous. There was a tremendous push to purchase these things to get them into every library in the world as well. Considering the number of “extra” sets gathering dust, I have to assume that all the libraries who needed or wanted them must have copies by now. (There is widespread agreement in the Independent Field that many of the sets sent to libraries were simply resold or discarded by them as unwanted. How true this is planet-wide is unknown.)
The point here is that these sets were fairly expensive, and Scientologists were crush regged to purchase them, regardless of the circumstances. One has to ask how many Bridge services were forgone in favor of Basics purchases. This was an unwise and detrimental use of money better spent elsewhere on the Bridge. Particularly when Scientologists were regged to purchase many sets they would never use or be able to rid themselves of.
And now we come to the real crime with regard to the Basics and GAK. The Basics instantly became a prerequisite for other Bridge actions, including the OT levels. While a hatted PC or OT is always preferred to one who is not, this is clearly a Tech additive. It acts as a hidden additive on the checksheet of every course or action it is a prerequisite for. According to the promotion by the Church, doing the Basics full time takes eight weeks. Part time would be much longer.
Let’s return to the idea that, upon the departure of Ron in 1986, the subject of Scientology was workable and complete. Let’s ignore the existence of the lectures from the Basics for the moment and concentrate strictly on the books. The basic books, regardless of how well or poorly they were edited, were for sale in 1986. And as needed, these books were selectively required by LRH on certain courses for certain specific reasons. Nowhere did Ron designate that all basic books be gotten through as a prerequisite for any other course or Bridge action. Yet after GAK, all the basic books and lectures became prerequisites for significant portions of the Bridge.
If you don’t comprehend the significance of this, then grab a current (2012) copy of Advance! Celebrity, Source, The Auditor, or any other org magazine. Flip to the section of the magazine when they detail graduations and completions. Count up how many students have completed Basics courses versus the actions which would normally be the bread and butter for those orgs (Briefing Course for SHs, OT levels for AOs and Flag, OT VIII for the Freewinds, etc.). You’ll find that nearly every course room everywhere has been turned into a Basics academy. As a particularly significant example, look at AOLA. AOLA is not particularly known as a training org. They do deliver some training necessary to make solo auditors. But primarily they deliver OT levels. Yet current Advance! magazines show that AOLA appears to be delivering mostly the Basics. It’s the wrong action for an advanced org, forced on it by the need to handle what is now a tremendous backlog of people on their way to or in the middle of their OT levels, who must now catch up by doing the Basics line-up.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with studying the Basics. There’s everything wrong with making them prerequisite for everything else under the sun. Here’s what should have happened instead. If the PR from the Church is true, and the Basics actually do speed up other Bridge actions (and if this was found to be valuable button), then the study of the Basics could have been offered by Class V orgs and Missions as a therapeutic action, apart from the Bridge. If the speed-up button wasn’t valid, then surveys could have discovered some other buttons which would result in people wanting to purchase and study the Basics as a separate action. They could be delivered in volume by Class V orgs and missions, where such actions belong.
One other point. At the GAK unveiling and since, a promotional point has been made that the book plus the lectures surrounding it equal “full conceptual understanding“. This is a subtly invalidative statement on two levels. First, it implies that, if you studied the book alone before, you simply didn’t get it because you didn’t listen to the lectures as well. Despite the fact that you applied standard study tech under the supervision of your supervisor. It also invalidates the book as a standalone source of the Tech. Despite the fact that Ron never demanded you listen to the lectures in order to understand the book he wrote.
Now the question: If you were an SP and you wanted to stop or significantly slow the progress of Scientologists up the Bridge, what’s one way you could do it? How about a slew of courses never called for by LRH, but inserted as a prerequisite to most parts of the Bridge?