By Mark Shreffler

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day - quite a talented and experienced auditor who did the Class VIII course with LRH on the Apollo.  The theme of our conversation concerned the comment Ron made on the “What is Scientology” tape - later edited to be used on the TRs course under the name “Scientology and Effective Knowledge.”

 He said, “Greater simplicity is greater communication.”

 It’s a simple statement with far reaching applications.  I remember getting letters from Ron and I think in all the years we corresponded I never got one longer than three paragraphs.  And it seemed that the more important the message, the shorter the comm

I remember one of his replies to an origination I wrote after 7 months on the TR’s pilot (back in ’79).  We had been putting in 14 hour days and producing more student points in that courseroom than any continent in the world - but we were not getting any products.  Videotapes went to him and the next day the cramming orders would come back.

Everyone on the pilot was an org staff member except me.  I was there because I had the good fortune at the time to be on the Flag Dianetics internship, and after Ron called for tapes from us he called a halt to all crew auditing.  (We were the ones auditing the crew!)  There were ten interns, and he ordered us to another course room to get our OTTR0  and TR0  “Flat, Flat, Flat!” 

After a couple of months had passed the number on that pilot went from 12 to 200.  About then the CO of the ITO  (International Training Org) discovered I was a “Public Person” and ordered me out of the course room.  I was very polite about it but refused to leave.  I told him that if LRH orders me out, I’ll go.  Ron was the one who ordered me ON to this pilot, and by god I’m going to STAY!

I only had to spend one night in the courseroom as they told Ron about this and he said, “Let him stay!”

We rolled on, week after week and month after month, getting no products and finding out just how far in to our heads we had grown.  Of course, you don’t know you’re in a hole if you have lived there your whole life!

The first mission sent in was canceled and Ron rolled up his sleeves and sent in The Man to get products out of this group.  That’s when I met Dan Koon.

Thank god for Dan, but that’s another story.  Suffice is to say that when you are being sucked through 100 meters of twisted garden hose, as some of those word clearing sessions seemed,  it’s at least comforting to know that the man in charge has been through it before you, and he turned out fine!

One day I’d had enough and I wrote a letter to Ron.  It was more of an outpouring of exasperation and frustration and yearning and confusion and a list of everything that had “befallen us” since day one of the pilot.  I just needed to get it off my chest, and who would understand such a comm? It was a ten page letter, small writing, on foolscap.

I put it in the box on the sup desk marked “Comm for LRH,” and I felt much better.

The next day we were buried in our activities and the course room suddenly rippled to silence.  I looked up to see a Missionaire approaching Joray Tibbet’s desk.  Our supervisor noted her approach and turned to greet her.  By this time the course room had gone dead still because this Messenger had presence.  Who is she?  It wasn’t just the gold braid and thick lanyard and the officer stripe and her ribbons.  She could have come in sweat clothes and caused the same effect.

Her ARC was HUGE.

Everyone heard her say, “Joray, do you have a student here named ‘Mark Shreffler?’

200 sets of eyes turned to me.  Joray replied, “Yes, Sir.  He is the one sitting over there that everyone is looking at.”

The Messenger said, “May I speak with him for a moment?”

“Yes, Sir.  Of course.”  It was a pilot. after all, or it would not have been allowed.

The Messenger walked through the courseroom and towards my table.  Mind you, this was a battle-grizzled room of various tempers and tone arm positions, but as she passed through the room the students stood as she went by.

Obviously, I was on my feet from the time she left Joray.  She was beautiful.  Gracious.  Kind. Professional.  She said, “You must be Mark?”

“Yes, Sir.”  I said. 

 “I have a letter here for you from The Commodore.”

 She presented it.  I accepted, and said, “Thank you very much for bringing it to me.”

 She replied, “It is my pleasure.  Will there be a reply?”

 Holy crap.  I’m supposed to read this right now, in front of all my fellows, and expose the winging I had made the day before to LRH?

 But there was her smile, and her amazing granting of beingness. I fumbled the letter out of its square envelope and read it’s content.  Finished, I looked up to her and said, with incredible relief, “Please tell Ron for me that he will have compliance.”

She replied, through her beautiful smile and with such gracious manner, “I’m sure he will be pleased.”

She turned on her heel and walked out of the course room.  Those who had stood, remained standing.  All eyes again shifted to me.  I had already taken my seat and was busy experiencing my floating TA.

Joray (we called her “Red” because of her amazing hair) said, “OK, Shreff, tell us what the letter says or noone will get any work done!”

I snapped out of my pleasure moment and told everyone to have seat, because they surely would not understand this letter if they did not know to what it was referring.

I went on for ten minutes recounting the content of my letter, giving as many details as I could recall.  There were many gasps and side comments like, “He said that to RON?”  and “Jesus!” But everyone pretty well agreed that it had been a full accounting of the hours and the food and the this and the that and the wrack, wrack, wrack and so on. We all shared the same reality.  I finished the summary of my comm, and then opened Ron’s Letter.

Mind you, in my letter and after my tirade and my venting I ended off with the one thing that I needed to know:  “What do you want from me?  Whatever it is, I’ll do it.  But I need to know.”

Everyone was hanging on the moments as I paused over the letter, and then read the entirety of it’s content - which I will share with you here:

“Dear Shreff,

“All I want from you is standard TR’s.



The entire course room was motionless for 5 seconds, and then went in to ACTION.  It was like a theta bomb had been dropped, and we were completely energized.

It was this tale I recalled when Mary Freeman, my CL VIII friend at the Coeur D’Alene center in Utah, commented about what she used as a stable datum for people to just get their ethics IN and restore Cause.  It is a simple action:

“STOP COMPLAINING. Even in your head.”




a reader
+1 # a reader 2013-03-26 02:59
WOW. Talk about theta bomb. This is one. Outstanding. Thank you!
calvin b. duffieldI
# calvin b. duffieldI 2013-03-26 07:45
Shreff, the resounding impact of simplicity
Bang! Got it!

Thank you too!

ML, Calvin
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 09:24
You are most welcome! Shreff
Tom M
# Tom M 2013-03-26 09:35
Great story Shreff. Golden times. But who was the messenger?

ML Tom
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 21:50
Hi Tom,

Dan asked me this as well. Her name was "Sir." Long Blond hair held back her Officer's cap. 5 feet 7ish. I was a deer in the headlights as it was, unfortunately, long before my TR's were passed! This was a few months in to the pilot when we thought we'd been there forever and we weren't half done! Glad you enjoyed the tale, Tom. Shreff
Dan Koon
# Dan Koon 2013-03-26 13:12
Great post, Shreff. Who was the messenger who delivered the response? Just curious.
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 21:52
You bet! Thanks for stopping by, George! Shreff
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 21:55
Hi Dan,

I didn't think to ask, my friend. In fact, I have a number of friends who kept their passing videotapes as well, but I didn't do that either! I just kept the pleasure moments.
# george 2013-03-26 14:39
Another great story Mark, thanks.
steve spargo
# steve spargo 2013-03-26 16:51
Great story Mark. Inspirational in its simplicity. Thanks.
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 21:57
You're welcome, Steve. And thank you for all you contribute!

Jim Logan
# Jim Logan 2013-03-26 18:32
I came on that course as a Sup right after that Messenger arrived (I'm pretty sure it was Melanie Murray and Andrea Lewis as her Second).
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 22:00
Those names ring bells. I remember well the fingernails one of them had! They were very knowledgeable techies, but in the end we were not getting product. That's when Dan came in. Were you there at that time? You remember Craig Ferriera was in Qual at that time. He was an excellent cram off. Shreff
Jim Logan
# Jim Logan 2013-03-27 00:53
Craig and I and a few others had a band, rehearsing in the FH Boiler room. We got a tape to LRH, and he liked it, told us to get him another one when we got our "chops" in shape.

Craig and I were close. We worked together closely for a number of years.
Jim Logan
+2 # Jim Logan 2013-03-26 19:06
P.S. There is an HCOB that was put out with a summary of tons of the LRH comments on the videos and this whole Mission on TRs. It's a long bulletin, and it covers all the points found and handled. Invaluable for a Sup on TRs and again, just doing the TRs per the HCOB, was the denouement of the entire thing. I have a copy somewhere back in Canada, but don't have the date. (If someone does then please post it here.)

The words cleared, concepts grasped and then DO THE DRILLS. Nuttin' like it.
Mark Shreffler
# Mark Shreffler 2013-03-26 22:03
Amen, brother.
Sapere Aude
# Sapere Aude 2013-03-26 22:20
Great story! Thank you for passing it on.
# Espiritu 2013-03-26 23:48
When you get back to Canada, please post that reference if you can. It sounds great!
Jim Logan
# Jim Logan 2013-03-27 16:07
Yes, I'll post it. Sorry about not having it to hand. It is a compilation of the LRH comments/critiques of the TRs videos being sent up. That may be the title of it too, LRH Critiques of TRs, or something similar.
# leontina 2014-03-06 17:03
Jim,did you ever find that HCBO? I would love to read it,remembering those countless hours we spent on getting it right.It's been 35 years now but my fond (and sweaty) memories of my 7 months on the pilot are still vivid!
# Espiritu 2013-03-27 00:04
Wonderful story and thank you for telling it. People who discovered Scientology after LRH dropped his body may not realize how he truly cared about every single being, and or know that he always answered every single letter he received. Somehow! Thanks for giving newer people an better idea about what Ron was (is) like.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 16:56
LRH cared a lot. He had 4 staff answering his letters in accordance with his instructions- I knew them and saw the confidential issues. I remeber one thing particularly that showed his caring. A staff member was in love with a girl and went psychotic when she married another man. He started sticking his fingers into electric sockets until he collapsed. The Guardian's Office had him offloaded and put into a psychiatric hospital in the USA. LRH heard about what they had done and ordered them to have him extricated from the hospital and brought back to the Apollo. When he arrived back LRH C/Sed his case daily ensuring that he was brought back to sanity. He was given a simple job for a while after he was sane again and then chose to leave the Sea Org.
# Thoughtful 2013-04-05 16:59
Thanks Ralph for mentioning that. I know LRH wrote explicit orders for how letters to him were to be handled. This was called the SO #1 Line. In it's latter years, it was run by Ray... I forget her name. Dan Koon would know. She also knew LRH personally, I believe. DM of course knocked this line out or otherwise perverted it's purpose. Do orgs even have the SO #1 line anymore?
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 17:17
It was run by Alethia Taylor when I was there. A wonderful devoted lady. Rae was one of her staff if I recall correctly.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-06 02:29
Rae Chase is the name that just came back to me.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 17:21
Probably but it is now a letters to DM line I think. Personal replies from DM are expensive.
Briana Volta
# Briana Volta 2013-04-05 11:49
I hate to tell you this, but, during the time you were writing to Ron, Ron wasn't answering such letters.

Others handled his mail. He didn't see it.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 17:05
He had so much mail that there was no chance that he could answer it all personally. 4 staff members were needed full time to deal with the volume. However his personal staff did foreward some mails to him as is quite evident from what Mark has posted. When I attested Clear I sent him a thank you letter and received a simple handwritten reply. He wrote in green ink.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 17:28
To add a bit - many Scientologists sent him a letter every day. I remember one who wrote him daily telling him everything that happened during his day. He spent at least an hour writing it and it was 10 to 20 pages long. Every day. I saw him writing it on many occasions. LRH was brilliant but answering hundreds of 10 page letters a day is a bit much to expect.
Ralph Hilton
# Ralph Hilton 2013-04-05 16:42
That does sound like Melanie Murray. I think it was Jorae Tibbits who was the sup but I might have the wrong spelling. It wasn't Andrea Lewis as her second but I forget the name. I don't recall Dan Koon being there??? Melanie was one of the few in the CMO at that time that had ARC. I'd love to know how she is doing now. I remember going out ice skating with her and a few friends after course one night. I hope she is doing well.
Ronnie Bell
+1 # Ronnie Bell 2013-04-12 01:39
I still have a lot of correspondence from LRH. In my earliest days in Scientology, I know that the letters were actually from him, and signed by his hand. Later on, not so much.

Once, I even got an origination from him, which came totally by surprise. Normally, I'd only get an answer after originating a comm to him, but one day I got a letter out of the blue from him. Gotta dig it out and see what it was he asked me.
# leontine 2014-01-10 19:23
Hi Mark,
I just got out my group photo from the TR's and Metering course:23 Jan-17 May 79 (and we thought we were nearly done!)... and there you are! I came from the Munich org in Feb or March and graduated in September as No. 16,which is kind of funny because I should not have been there either!I had only joined staff in August and came having had no auditing at all and not even the required study courses.But somehow that got overlooked and as I was a good student I was able to stay in the end.
I remember the endless hours on TR 0....faces morphing into past life images,nodding off,endless word clearing( I seemed to recall Latin and ancient Greek best for all the former monks and nuns),eating my first cream cheese bagel and putting on weight,sweating!!! and then all these beautiful people from all over the world.LRH's comment on my first video tape:"you sound like a Prussian drill master" !.
Even though I am no longer involved with Scientology it is an important part of my biography and my spiritual search and I honor this experience as such.
I hope you have had a good life since those days!I greetings from your old course buddy

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