Rediscovering a “lost” version of OT1

I don’t doubt that New OT1, which was released in 1984, is better preparation for the following two OT sections than the earlier versions of OT Section 1. It’s a much longer level that gives a preOT some experience of solo auditing on the meter in a formal session. When I audited this level at AOSH ANZO in 1988 I noted that soloing gave gains of the same magnitude as I had got from being audited by HGC auditors, even though I had very little prior experience as an auditor.

But the 21 July 1968 release of Operating Thetan section 1 has its own value too. It addresses a different area, and consists of 13 simple processes done off the meter while observing things out in the world. Its stated end phenomenon of freedom from inability to identify self in relation to others and the physical universe has long interested me because it goes straight to a key characteristic of what might be called the autistic case. In my opinion, this is a subset of what Hubbard (1951) called the wide-open case; or what Stephens (1979) characterised as the must know personality.

Compared to most people, we have a soft-edged sense of our identities; the boundary between our selves and our world is not as obvious as it seems to be for some. Our minds have no evident boundary, but extend at least as far as we place our attention. We tend to be more aware of ourselves as thetans than as humans of a particular age, sex, nationality etc. One of the best expressions of this came from Barbara McClintock:

“The body was something you dragged around. I always wished that I could be an objective observer, and not be what is known as ‘me’ to other people.”

Since I was already far beyond OT1 on the ‘bridge’, it seemed safe to run these processes and observe any changes they could still produce. So six weeks ago I solo-audited the 1968 OT1 exactly as laid out in LRH’s handwritten instructions.

The biggest win came on the fifth process. An artificial boundary that I had been setting up between self (safe) and not-self (dangerous) vanished, and I felt relaxed about whether the people I saw were part of me or separate beings. I had been doing this action while walking around the campus where I work, and on the way back to my office was surprised to find people greeting me with smiles or approaching me as if I’d suddenly become visible to them.

The next day I ran some of the later processes of the level while waiting for a flight at Adelaide airport, and noticed that other people are not necessarily full of wrongnesses. It brought back the F/N of the previous day, and I had a marvellous flight, exterior and watching the sea below as if it was within my own mind while simultaneously feeling at ease with the other people on the plane. I continued on to Kingscote – it was an even more pleasant town than I’d remembered from previous visits, and the board meeting that I was attending was great fun. These are positive and stable gains of the kind that I had always expected from the OT levels.

I would emphasise that no-one who is not yet Clear should try to run these processes as they require an ability to look at present time without a reactive mind in the way. I’ve not found any other accounts of people who have gone back and run the “old” OT1 after doing the current lineup of OT sections, and it would be interesting to know if anyone else has had successes from doing this. Above all, these processes should not be allowed to become “lost tech”.


Classification Gradation and Awareness Chart of Levels and Certificates. June 1970

Hubbard, L.R. (1951) Science of Survival.

McClintock, B. Quoted in Keller, E.F. (1983) A Feeling for the Organism.

Stephens, D.H. (1979) The Resolution of Mind: A Games Manual.


I wrote the above text two months ago, but had been hesitating to post it. I don’t want to encourage anyone not yet clear to experiment with processes that may confuse them.

But after the contemptuous dismissal of this same version of OT1 yesterday by Headley and Ortega, it seems more important to make the point that no knowledge that can benefit even a minority of those who apply it should ever be discarded.


Sensory overload and Unimportances

Axiom 58 of Scientology states:

Intelligence and judgment are measured by the ability to evaluate relative importances.
Corollary: The ability to evaluate importances and unimportances is the highest faculty of logic.

One application of this axiom that L. Ron Hubbard developed is the objective process of Education by Unimportances, which used to be on the Student Hat course.

“To teach someone a subject just have him select out the unimportances of the subject. He will start to think everything is important but coax him on with affinity, reality, communication and good control and he will eventually come up with something unimportant, that is, you are teaching him how to drive a tractor. He will find the coat of paint on the crank unimportant. You acknowledge and ask him to find something else unimportant. Keep at this, repeating it and repeating it, and eventually “allness” will start to disintegrate. He will select down to the most important controls of the tractor and the next thing you know he can drive a tractor! He won’t have a craving to know anxiety and won’t be nervous at all. You are teaching by de-evaluation of importance”.

As well as its use in education, this little process could be of use to autistic people in dealing with the sensory overload that can occur in environments with many confusing sights and sounds competing for attention. This is because we don’t automatically filter or ‘censor’ perceptions – if someone is speaking within earshot, we can’t avoid hearing them, for example. The reason may be an attitude of fearfulness: as if it might be risky to dismiss any incoming sensory data as unimportant. Sensory overload can lead to mental confusion, mistakes and even extreme misemotion such as anger or tears, sometimes called a ‘meltdown’.

I wondered if the process of Unimportances might be a remedy, at least for some people. It’s many years since I’ve had any problem with sensory overload but I can easily turn on the phenomenon if I want. Would spotting unimportances in present time turn it off?

I tried this out one day in a shopping mall, a place as autism-unfriendly as its designers could make it. To begin with it was a cavernous space in which sounds reverberated from all directions. Hard shiny surfaces were all around. And worse, it was filled with multicoloured signs and shop windows all competing to call attention to themselves, and with people all moving in different directions and talking at once.

So I sat down on a bench and passively opened up to all the sights and sounds until they made me feel uncomfortable and disoriented. Then I began running ‘spot something unimportant’, conceptually rather than verbally, as a repetitive process.

This remedied the disorientation and discomfort in a few minutes. A few more minutes and I was starting to get some theta perceptics. I was looking through the thin painted or laminated colours of the shop fronts and signs to the unfinished concrete and steel, dirt and cabling behind. The mall owners expected customers to consider this tawdriness as unimportant, and so pretend not to be able to see it. But now I was just fascinated to be seeing through (in both meanings of the phrase) their game.

Maybe this would be workable for others, maybe not. It’s just a suggestion for further consideration.

As a sidelight, it might also be pointed out that for many years the Church of Scientology has been running this process in reverse on its students and staff. To force them under threat of punishment to treat all LRH writings as equally (and infinitely) important stymies their ability to think with the data and apply it intelligently.

“It is interesting that a person who has never selected out the importances of Scientology, or any subject… has a history of being punished within an inch of his life.”


Hubbard, L. Ron (1975) Dianetics Today (Publications Organization: Los Angeles). ISBN 0884040364

The saxophone watsonia

There’s a peculiar Watsonia cultivar that has been around in Australia for a century or more, but whose origin is unknown. Those who speak of it at all call it the saxophone watsonia because the flowering stems become curved down and then up again in their development, forming a J-curve like the tube of an alto or tenor saxophone.


A perennial, dormant in summer and flowering in spring. Corm flattened, to 5.5 cm diam. Basal leaves 3-4, to 47 mm wide, non-glaucous green with thickened brownish margins. Stem leaves much smaller. Flowers begin in early October. Spike J-curved, with numerous short branches. Bract peracute, scarious with a green base, 20-24 mm long, exceeding internode. Bracteole shorter, bifid. Perianth mauve-pink. Tube 15-24 mm long; basal part 10-15 mm, distal part funnel-shaped, 5-9 mm. Lobes elliptic, obtuse, usually apiculate; no callus or mark at base. Outer ones oblanceolate, 26-29 mm long, 12-14 mm wide; inner obovate, 28-32 mm long, 15-16 mm wide with slightly undulate margins. Due to crowding, lobes may depart from normal aestivation with some inner lobes overlapping the outer. Stamens equilateral. Seeds very shortly 2-winged, 9-10 mm long, pale brown.

Named cultivars of perennials like watsonia are normally clones, but the saxophone watsonia is a line consisting of at least two genotypes. I have two accessions that have shown consistent phenotypic differences when grown side by side over 13 years.

  • Smaller plant (accession 34): Leaves to 63 cm long. Perianth mauve-pink, RHS 75A; tube 14-17 mm long. Anthers 9-10 mm long, dull yellow. Style branches equal or exceeding stamens. Capsule cylindrical, obtuse, 13-16 mm long. Provenance – a fete at St Jude’s Anglican Church, Brighton SA.
  • Larger plant (accession 35): Leaves to 79 cm long. Perianth a slightly cooler and darker mauve-pink, RHS 74D; tube 18-24 mm long. Anthers 12 mm long, purple. Style shorter than stamens, spreading between them. Capsule broad-fusiform, acute, 16-18 mm long. Provenance – Reids’ Nursery, Wodonga.

Judging from its leaf and flower characters, saxophone watsonia is a derivative of W. marginata, which often produces distorted flowering spikes in the wild. The other parent is likely to have been W. borbonica. I haven’t found it easy to use W. marginata as either parent in hybridisation, but the existence of the saxophone watsonia implies that such crosses can occur.

The Watsonia ‘Curviflora’ mentioned by Pescott (1926) may possibly be this plant; he noted that it had light magenta flowers on a stem “curved laterally”, and that it was bred in Australia. This name had been published as a nomen nudum by Schomburgk (1871), but with a question mark and was dropped from his next Botanic Garden catalogue in 1878.


Pescott, E.E. (1926) Bulb Growing in Australia. (Whitcombe & Tombs: Melbourne).

Schomburgk, R. (1871) Catalogue of Plants under Cultivation in the Government Botanic Garden, Adelaide, South Australia. (Government Printer: Adelaide).


This blog is a place where I’ll post occasional raves on subjects that interest me and may possibly attract another reader or two.

For the benefit of the search engines, I’m interested in plant taxonomy especially Iridaceae and Centrolepidaceae; breeding garden varieties of Watsonia; autistic culture; evolutionary theory that goes beyond genetic reductionism; Scientology; the politics of autism; Buddhism; and debunking junk science. Also (since I get paid for it) in applying botanical science to government policy on weed management as part of land management.

Some of my heroes and role models are: Lan CaiHe, ER Eddison, Padmasambhava, GK Chesterton, Agnes Arber, L Ron Hubbard, Vladimir Nabokov, HuiNeng, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Barbara McClintock, Olaf Stapledon, FaZang, Michael Polanyi, Aldous Huxley, Alfred Russel Wallace, John Coltrane, Emily Bronte, Simon Conway Morris, Pierre Bonnard, David Bellamy, Dennis Stephens, Michael Faraday, Lewis Mumford ….

I’m passionate about the need for our society to rediscover some intellectual roots. Mechanism and reductionism just won’t cut it anymore, but neither will a return to mysticism or superstition. By intellectual roots I mean knowing something real as a starting point for learning, and knowing how we know it: I’d call these things metaphysics and epistemology, if such words were not too oldfashioned for today’s hiphop-style academics.