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Auditing is defined by the Church of Scientology as "the application of Dianetics or Scientology processes and procedures to someone by a trained auditor. One formal definition of auditing is: The action of asking a person a question (which he can understand and answer), getting an answer to that question and acknowledging him for that answer."
Some auditing actions use commands, for example "Recall a time you knew you understood someone", and some auditing actions use questions, for example "What are you willing for me to talk to others about?"
"Auditing" in the context of Dianetics or Scientology is an activity where a person trained in auditing listens and gives auditing commands to a subject, who is referred to as a "pre-clear", or more usually as a "pc". Whilst auditing sessions are confidential, the notes taken by the auditor during auditing sessions, and kept in the "pc folder(s)", are potentially subject to scrutiny by several staff members, especially if the pre-clear is later upset or having difficulty. The pre-clear never gets to see their own pc folder.
Auditing involves the use of "processes," which are sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor. When the specific objective of any one process is achieved, the process is ended and another can then be used. By doing this, the subjects are said to be able to free themselves from unwanted barriers that inhibit their natural abilities.
Charge is that which prevents the pc from thinking on a subject. Prevents him from thinking on a subject or getting rid of a subject or approaching a subject. Sum it up to handling a subject. Charged.
Scientologists state that the person being audited is completely aware of everything that happens and becomes even more alert as auditing progresses.
One of the great truths of Scientology is that INCREASED AWARENESS IS THE ONLY FACTOR WHICH OFFERS ANY ROAD OUT.
The auditor is obliged by the church's doctrine to maintain a strict code of conduct toward the preclear, called the Auditor's Code. Auditing is said to be successful only when the auditor conducts himself in accordance with the Code. A violation of the Auditor's Code is considered a high crime under Scientology policy.
The code outlines a series of 29 promises which include pledges:
According to the religion researcher Hugh B. Urban, both current Scientologists and people who have become disaffected with Scientology generally agree that auditing can trigger personal insights, and cause dramatic changes in one's psychological state. The recalling and expression of old hurts in response to the auditor's questions may feel like an unburdening, followed by a period of elation, as though a weight had been lifted off the practitioner's shoulders.
Most auditing sessions employ a device called the Hubbard Electropsychometer or E-Meter. This device measures changes in the electrical resistance of the preclear by passing a small electrical current (typically in the range from 50µA to 120µA) through the preclear's body by means of a pair of tin-plated tubes originally much like empty soup cans, attached to the meter by wires and held by the preclear during auditing. These changes in electrical resistance are believed by Scientologists to be a reliable and a precise indication of changes in the reactive mind of the preclear.
In the early days of Dianetics and Scientology the auditor had to be very intuitive to figure out what to get the preclear to recall or talk about. The E-meter changed that. It became a requirement to only run processes that reacted on the E-meter and equally crucially, to determine when to stop running a particular action. As a repair tool, the auditor can also call out a list of possible difficulties and relevant phrases will react on the E-meter, again guiding the auditor to any difficulty.
HCO Bulletin 3 December 1978
One of the governing laws of auditing is that you don’t run unreading items. It doesn’t matter what you are auditing. You don’t run unreading items. And you don’t run unreading flows. You don’t run an unreading anything. Ever. For any reason.
Auditing is aimed at reactivity. You run what reacts on the meter because it reacts and is therefore part of the reactive mind. A read means there is charge present and available to run. Running reading items, flows and questions is the only way to make a pc better. This is our purpose in auditing.
- L Ron Hubbard
Hubbard claimed that the device also has such sensitivity that it can measure whether or not fruits can experience pain, claiming in 1968 that tomatoes "scream when sliced." When presented in the press, this research was used to ridicule Hubbard although Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose had earlier demonstrated an apparent power of feeling in plants. (See also the Cleve Backster experiments.)
Scientology teaches that individuals are immortal souls or spirits (called Thetans by Scientology) and are not limited to a single lifetime. The E-meter is believed to aid the auditor in identifying ingrained memories ("engrams", "incidents", and "implants") of past events in a thetan's current life and in previous ones. In such Scientology publications as Have You Lived Before This Life, Hubbard wrote about past life experiences dating back billions and even trillions of years.
Back in 1950, at the very end of his book "Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health", Hubbard talks about a bridge from one plateau of existence to another, higher plateau. The technology in this first popular book was difficult to apply to a wide variety of cases, requiring intelligent and intuitive auditors.
The aim was to make the processes structured in such a way that one could take a new person and walk them through standardized steps, one after another, to cross the bridge. By 1952 there was Standard Operating Procedure for Theta Clearing.
Processes, and what was Standard Operating Procedure, changed so rapidly that when somebody was trained as an auditor they were almost immediately out of date with the latest procedures.
Fast forward to 1970 and the Standard Operating Procedure had made way for the Classification and Gradation Chart. This chart, first published in 1965 and revised in 1966, 1968 and 1969, had the steps of the bridge plotted out from a beginner at the bottom to the highest states attainable at the top. On the left side of the chart you find auditor skill levels and on the right hand side are pre-clear grades and OT (Operating Thetan) levels.
The 1970 version of the chart is entitled “Classification Gradation and Awareness Chart of Levels and Certificates”. By 1974 the above title had slipped down a little to make way for “THE BRIDGE” as the top line, with “TO A NEW WORLD” underneath in a smaller font. A more recent (circa 2008) chart is entitled “THE BRIDGE TO TOTAL FREEDOM” and subtitled “SCIENTOLOGY CLASSIFICATION GRADATION AND AWARENESS CHART OF LEVELS AND CERTIFICATES”.
For Scientologists, their position on the Bridge confers status, especially for auditors of Class IV and above, and people who are Clear or better still OT III and above. People who only go up the right hand side (processing side) of the Bridge have less status than those who are also auditor trained.
For each Grade on the Bridge there is a definite ability gained, explicitly stated on the chart.
Grade 0: Communications Release. Ability to communicate freely with anyone on any subject.
Grade I: Problems Release. Ability to recognise the source of problems and make them vanish.
Grade II: Relief Release. Relief from the hostilities and sufferings of life.
Grade III: Freedom Release. Freedom from the upsets of the past and ability to face the future.
Grade IV: Ability Release. Moving out of fixed conditions into ability to do new things.
These abilities are “guaranteed” in the sense that the pc has to attest to having achieved them. Whilst it is the job of the auditor and case supervisor to ensure that there is adequate evidence that the pc has made case gain, it is ultimately down to the pc’s statement of attainment of that ability. This can be problematic because professional auditing is expensive; the pc may feel under financial duress to complete a Grade as soon as possible. Also, the higher states on the Bridge are more prestigious, so the pc may feel they want to “go OT” as soon as possible, failing to realise that they will actually benefit more on the correct Grade than by (falsely) going up the Bridge too fast.
For each Grade on the Bridge there is a list of processes that the auditor will systematically work through. Below are typical processes for each Grade, but they have been carefully picked because they are easy to understand without knowing any Scientology terminology. They are also short. Some processes have a set of 6 commands that that are run one after another.
Each Grade is targeted at a specific area of potential difficulty a person might have. The working theory is that if the subject matter is not “charged”, in other words if it is not causing any difficulty, then it will not read on the E-meter, and therefore will not be run.
The above processes demonstrate a key aspect of Scientology processes. The question or command can be quite vague, and it is up to the pre-clear to find an answer. It is absolutely forbidden (by the Auditor’s Code) for the auditor to interpret the preclear’s answer or discuss it in any way.
A typical brief insight into an auditing session would be like this
This would be continued until the preclear has a realisation about something in their life and feels good about it.
Now the same process, but not run according to Scientology procedure.
A Case Supervisor can check how well an Auditor and pc are doing based on the amount of Tone Arm action that occurs in the sessions.
HCO Bulletin 25 September 1963 Scientology I to IV
"Now that it has been established fully that a pc’s gain is directly and only proportional to Tone Arm Action,
the question of how much Tone Arm Action is adequate must be answered.
These are rough answers based on direct observation of pcs after sessions.
Tone Arm action is measured by DIVISIONS DOWN PER 2½ hour session or per hour of auditing.
TA action is not counted by up and down, only down is used."
|Amount Per Session||Session Rating||PC Reaction|
|25 Divs||Excellent||Feels wonderful|
|20 Divs||Good||Feels good|
|15 Divs||Acceptable||Feels "Better"|
|10 Divs||Poor||Slight Change|
|5 Divs||Unacceptable||No Change|
|0 Divs||Harmful||Gets Worse|
—Hubbard, L.Ron, Adequate Tone Arm Action
The Scientology and Dianetics auditing process has raised concerns from a number of quarters, as auditing sessions are permanently recorded in the form of handwritten notes in preclear folders, which are supposed to be kept private. Judge Paul Breckenridge, in Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong, noted that Mary Sue Hubbard (plaintiff in that case) "authored the infamous order 'GO 121669', which directed culling of supposedly confidential P.C. [Preclear] files/folders for the purposes of internal security ". This directive was later canceled because it was not part of Scientology as written by L. Ron Hubbard. Bruce Hines has noted in an interview with Hoda Kotb that Scientology's collecting of personal and private information through auditing can possibly leave an adherent vulnerable to potential "blackmail" should they ever consider disaffecting from the church. Jon Atack's book "A Piece of Blue Sky" asserts that preclear folders have indeed been used for intimidation and harassment.
In 1965 the Anderson Report, an official inquiry conducted for the state of Victoria, Australia, found that auditing involved a form of "authoritative" or "command" hypnosis, in which the hypnotist assumes "positive authoritative control" over the subject. "It is the firm conclusion of this Board that most scientology and dianetic techniques are those of authoritative hypnosis and as such are dangerous. ... the scientific evidence which the Board heard from several expert witnesses of the highest repute ... which was virtually unchallenged - leads to the inescapable conclusion that it is only in name that there is any difference between authoritative hypnosis and most of the techniques of scientology. "
As of 2011 auditing is considered a spiritual practice by the government of Australia.
Scientologists[who?] have claimed benefits from auditing including improved IQ, improved ability to communicate, enhanced memory and alleviation of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Licensed psychotherapists[who?] have alleged that the Church's auditing sessions amount to mental health treatment without a license, but the Church disputes these allegations, and claims to have established in courts of law that its practice claims only to lead to spiritual relief. So, according to the Church, the psychotherapist treats mental health and the Church treats the spiritual being.
If we processed a specific type of aberration, we of course would be in the field of mental healing, and so forth. But long ago we actually discovered that we must not process specific aberrations, which takes us out of the field of mental healing.
It is quite fatal to do this because in the first place it's an evaluation for the case. In the second place, it's a negative type process; you're condemning the individual for hitting girls. Doesn't validate the individual at all. Do you follow? And if carried on very long, does not result in the betterment of an individual. All we're interested in is the spiritual betterment of the individual ...
A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated that the E-meter "has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function." As a result of this ruling, Scientology now publishes disclaimers in its books and publications declaring that the E-meter "by itself does nothing" and that it is used specifically for spiritual purposes.
Note: HCOB refers to "Hubbard Communications Office Bulletins", HCOPL refers to "Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters", and SHSBC refers to "Saint Hill Special Briefing Courses". All have been made publicly available by the Church of Scientology in the past, both as individual documents or in bound volumes.