Hi! Some of you might recall me as the high school student who went on an excursion to the London C of S, read the Fundamentals of Thought and the Problems of Work, and posted about those experiences on these forums. Honestly, I thought that would probably be the end of it -in my years of Scientology watching, I've learnt a considerable amount of things that have absolutely no application to real life whatsoever. I suppose it's a microscale version of what many of you ex's must be feeling. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have come to value my experience in a very new way. I was reading David Allen's Getting Things Done, with no prior context about the writer whatsoever. After about 20 pages, I thought that he really was spending some serious time hyping the book up in the introduction. By the time I had reached 60 pages, I had googled "GTD Scientology". I went on and finished reading the book, and in truth, found much of it quite helpful and practical. Clearly, GTD is not comparable to the Problems of Work, for instance. I only now really reflected on it and wondered how I came to Google "GTD Scientology" in the first place. Looking back, a few things stood out: 1. The long hyping up in the beginning, and the implied promise of "higher states of XYZ" was the very first thing that caught my attention. At the time I shrugged and assumed that's just American self-help books for ya - they probably all work that way. Still a bit odd. 2. This concept of Mental RAM sounded eerily familiar. The basic premise of both Dianetics and parts of GTD is incredibly similar: remove all the "white noise" in your head. David calls this "mind like water", Ron would frame the same idea as the state of "clear" or, more specifically, "being in present time". David figures you achieve this by dealing with all your accumulated "stuff", while Ron would give them the more sci-fi name "engram". Now, what this stuff/engram is made up of and how it is dealt with is certainly different, and Ron's methods are considerably more complex and expensive. Reading up on the subject, what unites the two is the New Age idea of "negative thoughts" that ought to be removed. David Allen reformed them into something more practical and - perhaps - less untrue, while Ron went full blown with it and then decided to invent some stuff to keep the OTs happy. 3. The 6 Horizons. David Allen likes to divide work into 6 distinct horizons. "Ground" is concerned with your immediate problems, "Horizon 1" is the level of projects, Horizon 2 is your areas of responsibility, H3 is the way H2 changes, H4 is about how your environment/organisation is evolving, and Horizon 5 is your ultimate purpose on the planet. Why are you here? What are your values? I read this and I could not help but find this incredibly similar to Hubbard's 8 dynamics of life. Though once again we see this same trend: GTD focuses on work and narrows down the scope (6 horizons of work) while Hubbard claims it to affect all of your existence (8 dynamics of life). David Allen is also much happier to admit that most things fall in-between these, and they are ultimately just a useful framework. 4. The proverbial language. David Allen justifies his bottom up approach with a little proverb: "you don't care where the ship is headed to if it's full of water. I believe you should first get the ship working so that it is moving as efficiently as possible - wherever it is headed - before steering it." (not a verbatim quote; just my recollection). Seriously, that follows the exact same formula I see LRH implement time and again. You make up something that makes sense in principle, but fail to in any way demonstrate that the proverb is in any way applicable. 5. The wish to present things as "laws". Near the end of the book, Allen even says he wanted to pick concepts that worked "like gravity". This idea of universal applicability really struck a creepy chord in me. Now, this is the point where I firmly felt there was something behind this. There are no direct links between GTD and Scientology. However, David Allen is a minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA, pronounced "messiah") which is certainly a cult, even if seemingly not a destructive one. I checked their websites and found the shop. From what I learnt in studying Scientology, I knew a cult is at its most blatant at the top. So, "Advanced studies" I opened and... yep. 300$ lectures, upgrade kits to previous materials, fancy cover graphics, the lot. Talk of strange creatures, mystic travellers, John Roger claiming to be the reincarnation of both Buddha and Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. (Since LRH claims to be the reincarnation of Buddha, too, I suppose that would make JR the reincarnation of LRH, too!) I don't intend to draw too close a parallel between the two authors, however: David Allen is much more open to people adapting the system to their needs, and actively encourages his readers to shop around and research the topic of productivity. He quotes others liberally and acknowledges people who helped him along the way. What's missing is this wish to present the author as the one true source of all things true. This makes sense, too, since Allen is not the leader of his cult, but rather a mere minister in a church he doesn't want to involve in the book. Whereas Hubbard's express purpose was to write books that would rope people into his Church - this difference in purpose is very clear, and the reason I am much happier to accept that many GTD principles are in all likelihood perfectly innocent and workable, although some of them definitely have some New Age fingerprints on them. So, why does this make me appreciate my experiences in the study of the Scientology religion? I have often seen people float around the idea that exposure to Scientology is a "vaccination" against cults. I personally felt that was a little optimistic - until this experience. Just 50 or so pages of text that is intended to be perfectly secular but happens to be written by a person immersed in a New Age cult tripped off the alarms. I still wouldn't consider Scientology an all purpose vaccination against all cults. What it is, however, is an excellent introduction to a New Age cult at its most blatant. From what I have read, it appears that David's other more "advanced" GTD books have more MSIA influence on them. I think I might well give them a pass, but if I do end up reading them: I am quite thoroughly prepared. MSIA is a far less dangerous beast than Scientology for two reasons: firstly it doesn't appear nearly as destructive, so even if the miracle happens and I do somehow get roped in, all I am likely to lose is a stack of money and some time. Secondly, and more importantly, it is a far greater jump from my personal beliefs, as a lifelong atheist; a resume of being a reincarnation of Jesus and Buddha is a lot less impressive when you consider both to be insane or fictional at best and scam artists at worst. This was a bit of a long post, but I hope somebody got something out of it. I certainly enjoyed writing it, as it let me put these thoughts to rest in a formal way. It's the same satisfaction of writing something bothering you out of your head and onto a screen that GTD uses for tasks, really.