The Scientology Money Project

Aaron Smith-Levin on Freeloader Bills, the State of Clear, and the Clear Cognition

In a fascinating and wide raging interview with Jeffrey Augustine, former Sea Org member Aaron Smith-Levin discusses the topics of Scientology’s controversial Freeloader bills, the Clear Cognition, and other topics.

Companion documents for this interview:

Aaron and his wife’s Freeloader Bill totaling $129,344.27 itemized on an Excel spreadsheet. Note: You must download this document on Scribd to view it as an Excel spreadsheet:

Petition to reduce Freeloader Debt by removing Non-Bridge courses:

3 replies »

  1. Dear Jeffrey, WOW. Wonderful interview. It got me to thinking about several things.
    One is about the Freeloader’s bills. I was never in the Sea Org but was on staff at WISE twice and both times left before my contract was up. In both cases I had a Freeloader’s bill for several thousand dollars for staff training. The first time I was pretty freaked out and paid it right away using my credit card. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to continue on my Bridge unless I paid the debt.
    The second time, I was much older—in my late 60s and had given up on the idea that I would ever have enough money to get up to OT8 so that the threat that I wouldn’t be able to continue on my Bridge didn’t hold much weight. Also I was broke and had run out of credit. WISE (actually it was Hubbard College—I had been a course supervisor) turned my bill over to a collection agency within 3 months of my leaving. I was shocked by this, because at the time (still being a believer) I was trying to figure out how I could repay it on a monthly basis from my social security (which was small). I subsequently declared bankruptcy.
    I just wanted to say that in my experience, the Church is very aggressive about collecting those debts and is really vicious about it. Perhaps this varies from org. Perhaps Sea Org members have more sympathy for one of their own.
    About the Clear cognition. I am a Clear and had the Clear cognition in session in late 1979 and it was huge!!! It was a mind blowing moment. I am still amazed that Hubbard developed a system that could lead individuals to that cog. It was pretty fantastic.
    That said, my life as a Clear was NOTHING like Hubbard described in Dianetics and I spent 34 years wondering why. I went down all those rabbit holes that Aaron talks about: PTS, Mus, lack of basics, false data or maybe I hadn’t really made it. I was sure there was something wrong with me and was assured my next level would handle it.
    I’ve been out about five years now and have a theory about why going Clear is not necessarily a good thing. I got this understanding from my reading about Buddhism.
    Buddhism is about reaching Nirvana but also includes the concept of taming the ego. Scientology is nothing if not ego driven. Attaining Nirvana without taming the ego is dangerous. In Scientology, the ego is beefed up, not tamed. You are God, you can do anything, you are responsible for everything, you can command the physical universe. Humility is ridiculed.
    So, going Clear, from my experience is wonderful but not for long. You will soon be at the gates of Hell.
    Going exterior was a very powerful experience. I went exterior on the old Communications course, which I don’t think exists anymore—not as an introductory service. Anyway, going exterior convinced me that I was a spiritual being and could exist outside my body. I still treasure that realization and it was one of the things that convinced me that Scientology was IT. It cemented my devotion.
    My devotion lasted for 34 years through the desert, the gates of hell and the heights of enlightenment, always giving Hubbard the benefit of the doubt. That is until 2009 when I started caring for for an OT8 who was completely insane.
    That experience opened my eyes to the BIG LIE. The BIG LIE was that the spiritual freedom that Scientology sells doesn’t exist. And if spiritual freedom does exist, one wasn’t going to get there by following Hubbard. His path had led him to a kind of Hell on earth and that was where I was heading.
    Leaving wasn’t an overnight thing. It’s taken awhile but I’m finally back on my feet and doing well in my dotage and working on my memoir. I think that keeps me sane.
    I hope this interview gets more play. The “Hubbard as Buddha” story line doesn’t get talked about much but it was part of my understanding and did give Hubbard’s words a kind of mystic weight that was profoundly manipulative. I was shocked to learn after leaving that Buddha taught about leaning into pain, rather than trying to erase it, which is the basis of Scientology.
    Anyway, I want to thank you for this excellent interview and all that you and Karen are doing to get the truth out there.

    God bless,
    Lady Squash (screen name)

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