The following first appeared in the private email list IVy-subscribers,
which was available to all those who subscribed to the
printed magazine, International Viewpoints.

To know, or not to know -- a possible cure for aging
by Phil Spickler
29 Jun 00

Hello --
       I just finished laughing at "myself" for about the last 10 or 15
minutes.  Believe me, it wasn't easy at first.  I spend so much time
seriously asserting this "myself" that even me, the creator of "myself,"
starts to take my creation quite seriously.  And of course, not content with
that, I spend quite a bit of time attempting to get others to be serious
along with me.

      But lately, at least a few times a week, I like to sit down, sometimes
with a mirror to look into, and start laughing at this comic creation.  It
usually resists for a little while, and even puts on a show of being insulted
(if you can believe it), but after awhile, me and it get laughing together,
and in no time at all I gain a release, albeit temporary, a relief from the
"orful" pain of being myself.

        This is high on my list of recommended activities for anybody that's
involved in a heavy-duty agreement with the passage of time.  And of course
you have nothing to fear from doing this, because, believe you me, taking
yourself seriously and attempting to get others to do the same is always just
around the corner.

      I was looking over my alfalfa patch, which by the way is coming along
beautifully, and right on the edge of it, grazing contentedly, were a few
unicorns (I had the urge to say "unicorn" with no "s," but my fact-checker
assured me that that would not be correct English).  Anyhow, I wandered over
their way, and one or two of them looked up from grazing, and I said, "Hey,
are you real?"  And one of them got a big smile on her face, looked back at
me, and said, "Hey, are YOU real??"  Some hours later I found myself sitting
in front of the fire talking to the cat, who said (in the female of an
avuncular way), "How many times I gotta tell you, don't mess with unicorns,
with or without 's'!"

        On a slightly different topic, the famous Service Fac Contest is
about to close at midnight, June 30, wherever you happen to be in the world,
so there's still time to enter some of those beauties that never made it into
the contest.  The winners of the contest will be announced around mid-July
(you can't rush unicorns and cats, who are acting as the impartial judges for
the contest).

        Moving on now to Not-know and Know and how that might connect up with
aging or becoming old.  I'll carry on in case there's a few people who
haven't already and completely cognited on what's to come, plus I like to
beat my gums, which is an expression in the United States for talking a lot.

        It seems to me that the big thrust here on Planet Earth, and possibly
elsewhere, is in the direction of knowing.  Now, a great premium is placed on
the quality and quantity of knowing or knowledge that any given individual or
group possesses, and except in the case of university philosophers, with a
very few exceptions, the knowledge or knowing that is most highly prized is
of the pragmatic kind, the kind that makes thermonuclear bombs possible, that
makes it possible for airplanes to fly and computers to mysteriously send and
receive e-mail, and for people to make people saner and clearer, etc. etc.

       When you're dealing with a survival species like humankind -- please
let's not sneer all at once -- humans really are OK, they're just being what
they're designed to be, and doing a darned good job at it.  But before I
completely digress and start slugging poor old Ron Hubbard for portraying
human beings, of which he was one, so badly, let's continue with the subject
at hand and perhaps I'll take a few more whacks at Ron later in this

        So anyhow, being pretty much survival-oriented, almost all humans
collect an enormous amount of data that they feel will enable them to survive
longer and better, and they gain this knowledge over a period of many of the
years of their lifetime.  And even though a lot of this information is quite
negative and quite limiting, it becomes fixed and rigid simply because, at
one point in time or another, it was decided or postulated by the person or a
group that it would aid future survival.

       And so, as people grow older, unlike young people and beautiful youth,
they become greedy and mistrustful.  They have all kinds of fixed ideas about
what to do to keep others from taking advantage of them, and books full of
information about what can't be trusted and why it shouldn't be.  They add to
this great storehouse of inanity long lists of all the things they should
never again take a chance doing or being; and they become obsessively
concerned with the length of their stay here on Earth rather than its
quality.  And there goes idealism and adventure right out the window.

        They become wise in the ways of the world, so to speak, and are quick
to be offended, and quick to attack, legally or otherwise, any source deemed
to be offensive.  They concentrate on obtaining large amounts of MEST in the
form of money and property so that they can adequately protect and defend
what they've now turned themselves into.  They've now gotten old long before
their time, and need to protect and defend the fragility of such a beingness.

      Contrast all that I have said to this point with the young or youthful
person, who hasn't had the years to gain all this knowledge and experience.
Yes, youth is a wonderful thing -- young people feel like immortals; they
often act like it, and sometimes die quite rapidly and often willingly
because they have not descended to simply seeing how long they can last.
Young people are beautiful idealists, sometimes in spite of what we older and
wiser folks try to do to their heads.  They aren't holding on to or clinging
very much to anything; they haven't learned to be suspicious and mistrustful
and horrifyingly defensive.

       They can easily envision great causes, and give their all to such
things, even if it means the loss of their lives.  Yes, they don't look
before they leap, and yes, they are terribly vulnerable; but they're also
terribly alive in a way us older folks can only envy and wish was still the
case for ourselves.  Their bodies, of course, help make a lot of this
possible, because they are growing and developing and are filled with
youthful spirit and vigor.

       And so here we have the contrast between the young and the old, and a
lot of what's different between them is simply to be found in the character
of their knowledge and information.   The younger the person, the less
information and knowledge they have, and the fewer fixed postulates and
opinions have been put in place regarding life and all its horrible dangers.
And that has a lot to do with why they look so young and beautiful.  Older
and old people have, to some fair degree, faces and bodies that reflect  the
large number of fixed opinions and postulates and can't-have and
can't-experience, and mustn't-be and mustn't-do and mustn't-have, etc. etc.,
all written into their faces and forms.

       In understanding this, one has an opportunity to do the sort of thing
that is promised in numerous religious philosophies, including Scientology.
In fact, Dianetics, Scientology's big brother, pointed out that it was
possible to undo historically the tendency to make fixed postulates about
life experiences that thereafter deny to the person the ability to newly and
freshly experience life in the present moment.

       Buddhism and its numerous exercises, particularly Zen, aim at a return
to the innocence of youth, and with it the expansion of the spirit and the
diminuendo of the little crooked survival person.  The Christians speak of
being reborn.  It's a very old idea in many shapes and packages, but it all
comes back to the idea that one can reverse the vector of inflowing knowledge
and experience and recover that wonderful state and ability, namely, to
Not-know: to re-cover one's sense of innocence and to not fear being taken
advantage of by the world and other people, because with that recovery of
innocence comes not just the sensation of immortality but the actual
experience of the real thing.

       Even small and tentative steps in the direction of not-knowing versus
knowing will, I promise you, turn back the time clocks and bring a glow and
lightness to one's self, spiritually, that is a major feature of being young
or youthful.  This is a wonderful idea -- you can do it at home, no charge,
and it permits you the magnificent possibiliby of making new postulates,
forming new opinions and new decisions about life that fit the moment, rather
than all those ones that were based on some point in time when life and/or
other people caused you to feel that you had been hurt.

     Oh well -- as the song goes, "If this isn't love, then the whole world
is crazy."  I look forward to seeing you in your cradles.  I remain,
      As ever,
       Foul-mouthed Phil