Sea Organization Museum

Scientology Sea Organization Marks 56 Years of Service to the World

This Saturday, August 12, marks the 56th anniversary of the day Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard brought into existence the Sea Organization, elevating it from an idea to a reality via a directive to all Churches and Missions as “a permanent establishment within the official Scientology network.”

The Sea Organization—so-named from its origins aboard a ship piloted by Mr. Hubbard with a crew of dedicated veteran Scientologists—retains its mission, albeit largely land-based now, to navigate the rocks and shoals of an imperfect world.

The eminent scholar Frank K. Flinn (1939 – 2015), professor emeritus of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, rightly drew a parallel between the Sea Org and the venerated religious orders of the past such as those in Buddhism and later on in Christianity.  Membership in these orders was voluntary and those who chose to join the monastic brotherhood or sisterhood swore lifelong vows of devotion and dedication. Indeed as Dr. Flinn points out, the symbolic billion-year contract signed by all Sea Org members harks back exactly to the Vow of Infinite Compassion one takes to become a novitiate in Mahayana Buddhism, wherein one resolves “to abide in each state of woe for numberless eons; and so I will help all beings to freedom.”

But there the parallel ends. The Sea Organization is no cloistered haven sequestered from the madding crowd, but an active 24/7 crusade at the core of our religion playing an active role not only in virtually every aspect of the ministry and expansion of Scientology, but ready at a moment’s notice to travel to any trouble spots on Earth where guidance or a helping hand is needed.

These are the Jedi Knights of our religion, trusted with the highest positions in our senior churches, willing to take on any task, operating at a stellar level of integrity, dedication, ethics and efficacy, and viewed with respect and admiration by lay Scientologists. Mr. Hubbard—himself a true Renaissance man, proficient as a best-selling author, photographer, explorer, humanitarian, educator, master mariner and more—expected Sea Org members to likewise excel at whatever job they took on.

And, like, Mr. Hubbard, Sea Org members are often called upon for a myriad of diverse tasks, not all of which are necessarily in their wheelhouse, but all of which must be performed professionally and effectively. 

Sea Org members are routinely entrusted with the administration and management of Churches of Scientology around the world, including ensuring that 100% stellar and standard service and help is delivered to each person seeking it, keeping Church policies in place, and making sure that Scientology materials are readily available. This last includes meticulous translations of Mr. Hubbard’s millions of printed and recorded words into dozens of languages while verifying that nothing is lost or altered in the translation.

Much of what the Sea Org does is not immediately visible to the average parishioner, but its presence is felt in every Church building, every auditing (counseling) session, every chaplain patching up a marriage, every person reaching for help for a loved one.

In times of emergency or danger the Sea Org can be counted on to persist until the situation is under control. An episode Inside Scientology on the Scientology Network shows examples of the way the Sea Org works. The Freewinds—the Sea Org religious retreat and humanitarian vessel in the Caribbean—received a distress call one night. Captain Mike Napier tells how a storm was brewing and a local fishing boat was reported missing. He describes how the lost vessel would be invisible to radar because it was small and made of wood. As it became later and later, other ships gave up the search. But, he says, part of the Sea Org member’s training includes persisting until you get the job done.

They figured out every possible variable and started the ship into motion. “I gave one rudder command and we found them, out in the middle of nowhere. That was just raw intention and making it go right.”

Sea Org members are tireless. They have one purpose, and one alone, and that is to help. There is a point above doing things for personal gain or even personal conviction—and that point is Duty: seeing there is a job to be done and realizing that you are the one to do it, no matter how tired you are, no matter how inconvenient it may be right now, no matter how impossible it may seem to complete. 

As one Sea Org member put it, “’You need to rest’ some people tell us. ‘You need to look more to yourself,’ others say. It is true, as Mr. Hubbard wrote in The Way To Happiness, that you need to “take care of yourself.” However, once one’s basic needs are seen to, I consider that by taking care of this fragile world, we are taking care of our greater selves, as life is a highly interactive activity in which our actions affect the lives of everyone else.”

And so it is that members of this religious order take responsibility for a far wider sphere than themselves, for they have learned to confront more, and thus see more, and as Mr. Hubbard has said, “As one’s ability to confront increases, his level of responsibility increases.”

This particular Sea Org Anniversary is special to me because my daughter is a Sea Org member. She says, “It’s meaningful to have a group of people who care more about others than themselves. I feel safer in this world knowing there are people out there who think enough about their fellow man, that they do what they do and go the distance they go to help another human being, who possibly will never know or meet this individual who is working day and night to help, help and help some more.”

My daughter, the Sea Org member, is the hardest working, most dedicated person I know.

She is also the happiest.