‘The Philosophy of TROM’ by Dennis Stephens

This is a new edited transcription as discussed in a previous post.

You can download the 79Kb pdf file from this link

TROM is an acronym for The Resolution of Mind, the title of Dennis Stephens’ book and the system that he presented there. The subject of scientology fits almost entirely within TROM, the two subjects are almost fully consistent. The ony exception in Stephens’ opinion was Axiom 31 of scientology, which posited that goodness and badness are only relative and subjective. Hubbard’s view in 1954 when he wrote the axioms was that we have no objective criteria to judge right from wrong – just social agreements about rules that differ between societies.

Stephens’ position was that life contains an intrinsic standard of right and wrong, or good and bad, conduct; and that this can be confirmed by experience. He explained this in terms of constructive ‘life goals’ such as know, create, enhance or love; and destructive ‘non-life goals’ such as trap, degrade, compete or exploit. And the difference between a life goal and a non-life goal is not a matter of opinion. To begin with, non-life goals oppose the basic purpose of life: To Be. And if used in the therapy of TROM they will not erase, but only generate more emotional charge, mental mass and uncomfortable sensations.

To the extent that a person bases their life on non-life goals they will suffer. And to the extent that a society adopts non-life goals it will decline.

‘The Supermarket Paradox’ by Dennis Stephens

This is a new edited transcription of a talk by Dennis Stephens as discussed in a previous post.

You can download the 81Kb pdf file from this link

Stephens recorded this as background information to Level Three of TROM, and in particular to resolve an apparent paradox that people may encounter as they improve their ability to simultaneously view ‘then’ and ‘now’.

There are various theories about how memory works. How am I able to re-experience scenes from over sixty years ago with all perceptics in three dimensions, full colour and detail: familiar scratches and blemishes on plastic toys, pages of books, the smell of the old schoolroom, the grain of floorboards, our cat’s lank black fur, my first sight and taste of icecream while an electric clock ticked in Grandma’s kitchen, or the Queen’s coronation broadcast on BBC shortwave? These scenes represent more information than a lifetime of high-resolution DVDs. Where is it all stored, or is it stored at all?

The most naive explanation is that it’s physically stored in the brain as molecules or intercellular connections, as if a brain was a vast RAM chip. Yet no plausible mechanism for the permanent, integrated recording of multiple sense channels on this scale has been proposed. Stephens raises the further objection that this would involve an infinite recursion since a person’s own body, including their brain, is an element within each remembered scene.

Dianetics introduced a more sophisticated approach, attributing memory to mental image pictures that are automatically recorded and filed independently of the body as a linear timetrack like the tape in a Turing machine. This might be analogous to an external hard drive that everyone carries around in an invisible back-pack. Stephens shows the difficulties with this theory too. How can we see these past scenes from external viewpoints in addition to looking through our own eyes, and find things in them that we did not notice at the time?

The conclusion is that we don’t carry personal libraries of memory recordings. We just have the ability to perceive whatever we put our attention on, whether this is in present time or in the past. As C.S. Lewis wrote (in The Dark Tower, about 1938) “when we remember, we are not simply getting the result of something that goes on inside our heads. We are directly experiencing the past.”

On transcribing Dennis Stephens’ lectures – The Exclusion Postulate

This is the first of an occasional series of posts where I’m presenting some new, edited transcriptions of Dennis Stephens’ Supplementary TROM Tapes.

All that is known to exist of Stephens’ research notes consist of his published book and about 20 cassette tapes, most of which were not widely known until transcribed by Pete McLaughlin in 2012.

A few aricles by Stephens were published in 1994 and 1995 by International Viewpoints, who had his agreement to edit the spoken text into a more concise and formal style; it seems that due to fading eyesight he had to supply copy as audio and was unable to check proofs. The Supplementary TROM Tapes were recorded from late 1992 to late 1994, perhaps with a view to their eventual publication. They are mostly informal chats addressed to Greg Pickering, who had already edited The Resolution of Mind for publication, with digressions from his prepared notes. He frequently repeats statements several times and occasionally spells out a word to make sure the listener can duplicate it, corrects mistakes by leaving the incorrect phrase ahead of the corrected one or flicking the on-off button. A push-button cassette recorder didn’t provide much facility for tape editing!

Dennis grew up in the East End of London (Tottenham and later Edgware) and so his accent was basically East Ender although not Cockney. In 1957 he settled in Australia. Judging from these tapes he didn’t adopt many Australian idioms; for example, he still refers to Wellington boots instead of gum boots. But he picked up our Australian habit of flattening vowels: compared to the more musical sound of educated English, Aussie vowels tend to converge toward an indeterminate “uh”. So it may be hard for American listeners (for example) to catch all he says. Cairns might sound like ‘Cannes’, or cleft stick like ‘cliff stick’.

In these new transcriptions I’ve endeavoured to capture all the content that Stephens intended, as if editing them for hard-copy publication in a journal by:

deleting corrected phrases to leave the correction
deleting stumbles
deleting repetitions
reorganising sentences and correcting grammar where necessary

The original audio can be found online at Tromology and Tromhelp.

In a letter tape of 6 May 1993 to Greg Pickering, Stephens said that the lectures The Unstacking Procedure, The Exclusion Postulate and Dissociation should be published for use by students on Level Five. By 16 November 1993 he’d reconsidered and told Terry Scott that the Supplementary TROM tapes should not be made public, at least at that time. However, in another tape to Scott on 19 January 1994 he said they are essential for students on Level Five, and would also be valuable for scientists interested in the logical basis of TROM.


The Exclusion Postulate by Dennis Stephens

You can download the 223Kb pdf file from this link

This lecture is about much more than its title suggests, and is Stephens’ major statement about the nature of postulates. He adopted L. Ron Hubbard’s non-standard usage of ‘postulate’ for a causative thought since English lacks a precise word for this. A postulate in this sense is a mental act, a decision such as “Apples must be known” or “All crows are birds”, directed as an intention or goal to bring something into existence, take it out of existence or relate it to something else.

The first big idea he presents is that postulates limit the possible and thereby define the reasonable, with a discussion of what we really mean by “reasonable” and why games are inherently unreasonable.

Then comes the defining law of this universe, that it’s possible to know anything that has been brought into existence to be known but nothing that has not been brought into existence. Consequently it’s futile to try knowing something that doesn’t exist, or not-knowing something that does. A thing cannot both exist and not exist simultaneously.

Next (and we’re still only up to the ninth page), Stephens explains the two other laws that apply to postulates but not to perceived objects within this universe.

Then follows the definitive explanation of how games become compulsive, in terms of double-binds or false identifications. The mechanism of exclusion postulates is not introduced until near the end, in a discussion of the practicalities of running Level Five of TROM.

Force or free will

The surest way to mess up someone’s mind is to force them to do something that they already want to do. Or to forcibly prevent them doing something that they don’t want to do. Either way, they have to make an intolerable choice between submitting to force, or acting against their own will.

This is the essence of insanity, this is a double bind. As L. Ron Hubbard said in one of his better moments, fundamental aberration is the enforcement of basic truth.

But the converse is also true. If your mind is doing things outside your control, for example bringing up unwanted images or emotions, the solution is to do deliberately and consciously whatever the mind has been doing automatically. This will bring that automaticity under control so it can be used, or not, as appropriate. If someone is haunted by an unpleasant memory, they need to recall that memory by their own free will until its apparent power over them vanishes.

‘The Resolution of Mind’ by Dennis Stephens

I would like to present another public domain edition of The Resolution of Mind by Dennis Stephens.

You can download the 600Kb pdf file from this link.

Dennis Stephens (1927 – 1994) was one of the first dianetic auditors in England, where he worked with L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s and contributed to the development of scientology in that period. He later acknowledged Hubbard as “the man who took psychology out of the brain and gave it back to the people.” His other major influence was the mathematician George Boole, “the man who took logic out of the esoteric.”

Stephens developed Hubbard’s dianetic techniques for viewing the past under control of a therapist into a simpler procedure that he called timebreaking. Timebreaking is done solo because a person must take responsibility for their own mind if they are ever to become cause over it. Many of us who have found timebreaking valuable had the benefit of previous experience with dianetics and scientology, but Stephens intended this technique to also work for people with no knowledge of these sciences.

His second breakthrough was to extend Hubbard’s ideas on game theory and goals. In his opinion, research in scientology went astray in a search for the opposing goals and identities that form the core of the mind. Stephens realised that the basic goal package had been there all along in the two basic abilities of life stated in Hubbard’s first axioms of scientology: to create things to be known, and to know things that have been created. He then used Boolean algebra to analyse the structure of games that arise from opposing and complementary goals; I have found this theory to be workable and valid.

In several ways the life of Stephens was a contrast and complement to that of Hubbard. Stephens’ goal in life was to know, rather than to be known. He was passionate about learning and finding the truth, but didn’t give a shit about becoming rich or famous. His childhood in the semi-slum neighbourhood of Tottenham had taught him a disgust for capitalism and a desire to find “a better way”. He founded no group or movement, he never claimed to be the source of all wisdom, but quietly wrote up his discoveries for anyone who might find them useful. And he expected users of his system to think for themselves, take responsibility for their own progress, and make new discoveries.

Stephens’ system is known by the acronym TROM from the title of this, his only published book. It is available at several places on the web as noted below, as are his other research notes which he recorded as audio tapes in the last years of his life. I’m posting this edition as one more source of The Resolution of Mind, hoping that many others will pass it on – in any medium, in English and other languages. It began as my working copy, with typographical errors from earlier editions cleared up to make reading easier. I have also arranged the four addendum sections in chronological order, added a table of contents and used a font that I hope readers will find easy on the eyes.

Other editions of The Resolution of Mind are available as free downloads from:




Further reading

Boole, G. (1854) An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. (Macmillan: London). This is the original Boolean algebra.

Hubbard, L.R. (1956) The Fundamentals of Thought. (HASI: London). This summarises Hubbard’s version of scientology at the time when he and Stephens were working together. The discussion of postulates and games is very relevant to TROM.

Hubbard, L.R. (1957) 18th Advanced Clinical Course. A year on, and Hubbard was considering a theory of how memory works very similar to the one Stephens later adopted.

Turing and Dianetics

On December 24 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II finally pardoned the late Alan Turing for his ‘crime’ of being gay. After helping to shorten the Second World War by his work in breaking the codes used by the German military, Turing was persecuted by the British police and courts until he suicided in 1954. His overdue pardon had been in preparation for months during 2013, and it would be cynical to assume that the British Government chose to announce it on Christmas Eve in order to minimise public attention. Too, too cynical, even though the first rule of insecure authority is ‘never apologise, never admit a mistake’.

One of Turing’s most original ideas was a thought experiment that is now known as the Turing machine. This was an imaginary computer with unlimited memory capacity in the form of a tape carrying a linear sequence of symbols past a read/write head. At any moment only one symbol is in contact with this head, which may alter it and/or move the tape back or forward in a way determined by the symbol. The data symbols can therefore function as commands and encode a program of unlimited complexity with each command directing the machine to the next one in logical sequence even if this is physically located some distance away on the tape.

This was in the 1930s, before the technology to build a working digital computer existed. But it is no exaggeration to call Turing a founder of the computer age, since the Turing machine was the forerunner of all digital computer CPUs. However complex these have become, they still use linear programs that are loaded as input data. From the Turing machine came the concept of a stored program computer, in which input data could also act as instructions to the machine.

The early stored program computers developed in the late 1940s influenced Hubbard’s model of the human mind in dianetics. Dianetics is an empirical science of the mind, and it addresses the mind’s contents as reducible to a single linear time track (Hubbard, 1963) analogous to the tape in a Turing machine. It stresses the importance of action phrases: verbal content in past incidents that the mind interprets as instructions to move on the time track. For example, a painful past incident that contained the phrase “go away” would be abandoned whenever the person tries to contact it. On this model the contents of the mind may be considered as a stored program that can be modified – debugged, in fact – by an appropriate therapy.

The analogy with digital computers can only be taken so far. The mind is not linear, of course. It is more like the Buddhist metaphor of a three-dimensional net of diamonds where each gem reflects every other one. But the linear model first proposed by Turing has been very useful over the last 60 years in understanding the mind. First because the simple techniques of dianetics are workable in therapy, where a somatic can be traced back in time along an arbitrary chain of incidents to its basic occurrence. And secondly because it was a necessary step toward more sophisticated models of the mind – as a network (Gerbode, 1988), or a universe (Stephens, 1979), in each case indexed by the linearity of time.


Gerbode, F.A. (1988) Beyond Psychology: An Introduction to Metapsychology.

Hubbard, L.R. (1963) The Time Track. Saint Hill Special Briefing Course Lecture 293, 16 May 1963.

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

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.

Only one thing happened

This is a reminiscence about Ian Tampion, who worked with L. Ron Hubbard at Saint Hill in the mid-1960s. Ian and his wife Judy had been among the first to complete the Clearing Course and OT sections 1 to 4, and they returned to Melbourne in late 1968 to re-establish a Scientology organisation there. At first they held regular Sunday evening meetings with a presentation and/or a tape play at their home in Hawthorn.

One of Ian’s talks that I remember from that period was entitled Only One Thing Happened.

He said that when several people observe the same incident, each one has their own perception and understanding of what happened. They all saw this incident from different viewpoints, they noticed different details, and they may have differed widely in their background knowledge and ability to observe. To hear their accounts you might even wonder if they were talking about different incidents.

They may consult together and arrive at a consensus, the kind of broad agreement glossing over contradictory details that we call reality. A consensus can be workable, it may give an adequate understanding of the actual incident. But it will never be the same thing as that original incident.

Consensus approximates truth, but it's not the same thing

Consensus approximates truth, but it’s not the same thing

For example, several witnesses to a car crash might have differing accounts of it when they give evidence in court. The court may make a reasonable decision based on consensus and balance of probabilities; but it cannot know with certainty and precision what actually occurred.

Ian made the point that an objective reality exists out there in the world before anyone observes it and generates their own mental image of it. There can be many views, but only one thing happened. This can be a stable datum if others try to shake your reality and convince you that their view is the only correct one. Or, ‘truth is the exact time, place form and event’, as Hubbard wrote.

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

L. Ron Hubbard’s greatest gift

In his youth, L. Ron Hubbard posed the question of what Life really is. And he spent his life researching, not just to answer the question but also to work out all the ramifications of that answer.

A first fruit of this line of research was a practical science of the mind that he called Dianetics. In turn, the first application of Dianetics was a therapy that required practitioners and organisations to enable its delivery. But even Dianetics itself has much broader applications to the sciences and humanities, as Hubbard outlined at the end of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. He made it plain that the therapy of Dianetics for individuals was just a first step toward a much broader body of knowledge that could be applied to all the sciences and other areas of human activity. This would be the bridge to a new civilization.

Parallel to his work on Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard was researching knowledge itself. What is knowledge, how do we know things, and what is the source of our knowing? From 1951, he called this subject Scientology – the study of knowledge. His findings can be read in the Logics and Prelogics, the Axioms of Scientology and later the Factors. He stressed that Scientology was discovered, not invented. Students can cognite on its principles because these are inherent in every being. He also wrote that the emphasis should always be on the subject of Scientology – not on its organisations or persons.

The gains available from training and processing in Dianetics and Scientology are among Hubbard’s gifts to humankind. But an even greater gift is the knowledge itself, and the changes that it can bring to the cultures of our planet. So far we have hardly begun to work out the application of Scientology to any of the sciences or humanities.

What you do with the data and the knowledge is entirely up to you. L. Ron Hubbard gave the fruits of his research to all of us – to beings everywhere – with the reminder that this knowledge was inherent in us from the beginning.