ILM - Immediate Learning Method
ILM - introduction by Anthony Blake
Immediate Learning Method (ILM - referring to the Arabic word 'ilm' or knowledge) developed out of Edward Matchett's work on the primacy of Media in creative work. Media was Matchett's term for the spiritual and trans-creative reality that informs all meaningful work. He later saw that the spiritual media were reflected or mediated in tangible ’ media’, such as that of music. He concluded that, by listening to music in a meaningful way, it could serve as the informing source for any investigation. Working with him, we agreed to call this method neural education. Later, we adopted the term ‘ILM’ as a name for the more complete method that neural education seemed to be drawing us towards. ILM has come to feature in the DuVersity Event Design that we write about in a companion piece to this introduction.
"We should know that these impressions are like pieces of understandings which rest on God, the Absolute background behind. These are like parts only out of the Whole. We should here see that God, or the Absolute, is permeating each and every such impression of ours." Shivapuri Baba
Meaning is fundamental in Matchett’s work. His central 3-M equation says: ‘Make media plus matter meaningful’.
Meaning is taken as a given that each of us has and seeks to increase as best we can. It does not require us to have a conceptual model in order to work with it. It is inherent in our understanding of the world combined with consciousness of ourselves and the way we act. Meaning is our very reality.
Meaning implies that there is always far more than we know, feel or understand. For some, this is a spiritual reality and this spiritual reality is seeking to come into us. Matchett called this ‘media’ to suggest that this was a source of information that could enhance, increase and deepen our sense of meaning. In a more neutral sense, it corresponds to David Bohm’s speculations on active information. Bohm took the notion of ‘informing’ as to ‘put the form in’ and active information meant an informing from the depths of creation. The more active the information, the less it is associated with physical energy. This means that it has hardly any entropy associated with its transmission. Hence, it can be likened to a pattern.
What we do know, feel or understand is something that Matchett generally called ‘matter’. It is what is relatively fixed. Our thoughts are like that. To have something of ‘media’ brought into ‘matter’, so that the latter is transformed, is to increase meaning. In a simplistic way, media is the ‘unknown future’ and matter is the ‘known past’. At any moment, the boundary between the known and the unknown can shift.
Following the way of meaning entails that we are constantly engaged in a shifting interface between media and matter. It means to be ‘thinking’ rather than just having thoughts.
There is a general concept of listening to the spiritual voice within us. What is noticed by most people is that this voice tends to be so quiet we cannot hear it! Hence the need for a ‘mediated’ kind of listening.
The crude way of doing this is to have another person do it for us. Hence we have gurus of all persuasions who seek to guide us or explain spiritual reality to us. The more advanced can do this without any verbal transmission at all, simply by their presence. However, unless we ourselves are putting ourselves into the action, we cannot benefit. We have to ‘be there’ in order to be subject to the spiritual informing.
Matchett realised that music could serve as an intermediary for us. It already bridges the worlds of matter and media. By joining with music we could ‘become teachable’ as Joseph Rael, an Amerindian shaman, would say. There are ways of using music in many traditions, such as in chanting or zikr. Matchett’s insight was that simply by listening — and to almost any kind of music — we could arrive at the same result. The music need not be devotional — as it is, say, in Qawalli — but could be techno, classical or even verbal in form.
The appropriate way of listening is established by linking to meaning in every moment. It is not an emotional response to any particular style of music, nor is it expected that the music does anything to the listener. ILM, as it came to be called, is totally divorced from the current use of music to meditate or relax. Indeed, relaxation in the ordinary sense is not desirable.
The listener and the music come into a form of dialogue. In doing so, the listener is moved along the path of meaning. What he or she needs becomes apparent in the music. In general, music is far more rich than the thinking that goes on in us, or any discipline that we can specify. It can connect us with the flow of reality that is inherent in ourselves and in the world - or the information field - that we can only experience by playing our part. This part requires our responsible attention.
We have found that anyone, given that he or she is centred on following a line of meaning, can benefit immeasurably from this method. The inherent discipline is severe but easy. It is not to indulge in any state, nor to seek habitual satisfactions, nor even to ‘listen to’ or ‘exercise attention’. Holding to meaning, he or she embarks on a creative journey: to accept everything that emerges, as it comes, as specifically relevant to the intent he or she carries.
It is useful to use a notebook and write as the music plays. But writing is only one option. Two people can dialogue together. Whatever is done, is not done as a response to the stimulation that the music appears to give. It remains our own work.
This way of listening requires of us a participative kind of consciousness — in contrast with the observing kind we are most used to. In this kind of consciousness, we do not separate ourselves from what we are conscious of. We are in it and of it. The subject does not separate from the object — not least because there is no object.
We can be highly conscious but not separate. It is much as it is when we are in deep concentration. In the extreme, this is called ‘samadhi’ in the Hindu tradition — when subject and object are merged. This is not because we fall asleep but because we have transcended the division. We might mention such practices as the ‘Naturalist’s trance’ as described by Tinbergen, Lorenz and E. O. Wilson. The naturalist rests his gaze in a certain area and, in a relaxed but heightened state, waits to see. The discipline is similar to the ‘waiting on God’ described by Simone Weilwhere we put ourselves under a need — for the exactly right translation of a text, for example - and wait until this is revealed to us. All that we are required to do is to suspend what is habitual or mechanical. But the crux is that we have to really ask for what is needed.
In listening to music in neural education we have to listen with the whole of ourselves. This meant not to be caught up with the tunes, or our feelings or with the rhythm setting ourselves moving. All such things are superficial. This was known in circles using the Qawalli devotional music mentioned earlier. There would be monitors watching out for people indulging themselves. To avoid such tendencies, Matchett often used music unfamiliar to the audience.
Participative consciousness is also the correct mode for dialogue, which is also a way ‘through meaning’, as David Bohm pointed out. Dialogue is also open-ended, non-directive and begins where problem-solving leaves off. In dialogue, music is replaced by the other people.
What brings into the present moment of the action is a question. A question must connect with real need or it is just a thought. A real question of this kind is not closed and finite but opens up in every moment to something new. A real question suspends habitual reactions. People need not have the question in words at all.
Such a question serves to invoke what is needed. It can be close to prayer. Hence Matchett often introduced neural education in the following way.
First of all, the participants were asked to appeal to what was sacred for them. The exercise began ‘In the Name of . . . ‘ whoever the sacred Name might be for that person. Then, they were to ask: ‘Let me be where I should be. Let me be who I should be. Let me doing what I should be doing.’ Many people found themselves transported to another place and encountered other beings. For others, it was simply a matter of entering into a different mode of experience.
The question and the invoking and the asking are all features of consciousness. People cannot enter into neural education in a passive way. But we are not used to distinguishing passivity from receptivity. Receptivity is an act of will, as much as an affirmation is.
The asking of a question also features in Bennett’s model of creative thinking. This model is based on his versatile picture of four kinds of mental energies.
The ‘asking of a question’ is to separate consciousness from sensitivity. The word ‘separation’ may arouse associations of being split up into bits. It is not like that. The separation of consciousness from sensitivity means to have consciousness as well as sensitivity, instead of the two being mixed up such that consciousness is lost. ‘Separation’ means to have sensitivity and consciousness.
The sensitivity then acts like a display screen, much as we have monitors attached to our PCs. Consciousness allows us to see the meaning of what is on the screen. But this meaning depends on what our purpose is.
With the ‘separation’ of consciousness and sensitivity comes an opening up of the link between the automatic and the creative. The automatic repeats the past while the creative is ‘from’ the future. Both ‘go by themselves’. Both are perfectly natural, but we call the automatic mechanical and the creative spontaneous.
The consciousness sets the direction of the process — that is why we can ask for help or pose a question. It does not provide what we need.
Reverting to music, we can see that it is both automatic and creative — we can put on a CD that mechanically reproduces the music but also hear the composer at work, enter with him into the process of receiving media.
Bandwidths of Meaning
We are now used to talk of ‘bandwidths’ of information but we can also think of ‘bandwidths of meaning’. Music has a very large bandwidth of this kind. This entails that it can resonate with all kinds of meaning signal emerging in ourselves.
Meaning resonates with meaning. That is why a conversation with someone who knows something can enhance us. He is not simply ‘telling’ us things but the faint signals of meaning we have in us are somehow amplified and brought to the surface. A similar effect is felt when we read something that inspires us — and yet feel that we knew all this already!
The high bandwidth of music enables it to produce resonance with a multitude of meaning signals. Meaning seeks meaning — in contrast with ‘memes’ that seek only to replicate themselves at the expense of others — to transmute and evolve. When we listen to music in the mode of neural education the meaning signals that are just below the surface of consciousness can emerge into the light.
This might explain how it is that a piece of music, created by someone else at some other time and place, can even so exactly address the need we have right now. The precision of the match stems from meaning seeking meaning. This is ‘self-organisation’ at its core. It probably underlies all that we call ‘thinking’ — which is misunderstood if we take to be the doing of a thinking agent. A creative person is likely to realise that he does not ‘think’ as such but only participates in thinking.
Because we have become so conditioned into the idea that we are agents that do things it can be hard to understand why neural education should work at all. One of the reasons for the word ‘education’ in its name is that it can educate us into a different understanding of ourselves.
The following commentary was written by Steve Mitchell in 1997 and provides a useful perspective.
ILM is a practice which is concerned with developing the facility for entering an information field [a term derived from David Bohm] on its own terms and acclimating, to some extent, within that environment without forcing particular or specific interpretations upon what appears in that field. It is a way of allowing yourself to be acted upon by an environment which you yourself have invoked.
We often assume that we approach new experiences or information fields 'with an open mind', that is, with no preconceptions or predisposition toward the experience. In fact this is a nearly impossible state, and instead, in approaching a new experience, we tend to look for or create elements within the new experience which correspond as closely as possible to the elements of our past experience. Our entire range of experience then begins to take on a homogenous quality, each event linking to the next in clear ways. Instead of seeing the world differently, we see it as more of the same, still treating each sameness as an important insight and validation.
New information or experience is instantaneously or eventually distorted until it 'fits' our pre-existing view of the world. ILM is an attempt to circumvent this instantaneous coding of experience (making it an object immediately), and allow the experience or information to code itself within us.
ILM can be first used in relation to artistic media, i.e., music, film, art, dance, architecture and games. It appears initially to be more problematic with media which rely primarily on words and speech, but with some practice, the orientation of ILM can also be employed in these verbal areas.
ILM begins with the understanding that one has made the decision to participate in an interaction with a distinct field of information (be that an individual, a piece of music, a film, or a stone on the floor) and a deep trust in that decision. In addition, one must accept the responsibility for this decision itself and one's place in relation to it.
In a very real sense, what happens next is simple: one invites this field within and allows it to act upon him or her, without judgement. This involves a very particular kind of patience, or waiting.
The philosophy of waiting includes the development of the ability and discrimination to allow a decision to unfold within oneself unhindered. Discrimination, in this sense, has to do with choosing a direction in advance (i.e., 'Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.'), not with sorting information or experience as valuable or useless, good or bad, as it happens. Discrimination has more to do, then, with how one chooses to use the information, than with some idea of objective value.
This suspension of judgement, even of processing in the usual sense, is a definite action, which is at first perceived as a non-action. This action lies at the core of ILM, which asks us to bear the manifestations of interaction with the information field we have chosen, whether 'good' or 'bad', 'positive' or 'negative'.
It must be stressed that this orientation is not simply a mindless submission to the experience or information at hand, though submission is a part of it. ILM involves a participation which is particularly non-invasive, and must be discerned in the moment; it entails entering into an exchange of mutual respect and interest. In some sense, the freedom from judgement and processing allows us to experience the particular event more fully, at the same time that it insures that the event enters us relatively undistorted.
Perhaps, as we enter and allow the event to develop unhindered, we may begin to see the appearance of systems within a completely different sphere of reference, i.e., the sphere of the particular field we have invited.
It is after the experience or dialogue itself that we have a responsibility toward the exchange of discerning what actually happened, and putting this condensation of the event (not simply the 'experience') into a form, which may be written, visual, gestural or conversational. This can be seen as an act of translation, from one sphere (the field itself), through a second (the individual), and into a third (common experience).
"Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period & value to Six Thousand Years
For in this Period the Poet’s Work is Done, and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concive’d in such a Period,
Within a Moment, a Pulsation of the Artery." William Blake, Milton
Matchett received his inspiration for neural education from listening to rap and techno music. In such music he registered a beat that seemed to him to be aligned with the very beat of creativity itself. In his conception of creativity, media and matter combine to make meaning ‘in time dt’. The instant of time designated a quantised act of creativity — ‘in this Period the Poet’s work is done’. .
A useful way of thinking about creativity is that it takes place at a very fast rate. The ‘slower’ the mind, the less able it is to be creative. The simplest effort to register experience at a faster rate than normal shows how invigorating it can be. For example, take visual perception. Nearly all the time this is collapsing back into registration of objects and the actual movements of which it is composed are filtered out. A slight suspension of the fixation on objects and the visual field becomes more intense and full of meaning. This may well be how a painter sees.
The same thing applies to our thinking. All the time this is collapsing back into thoughts — usually very few in number — and the living process from which they emerge is being forgotten. In listening to music, we can learn to register each instant of sound and hear in a quite different way. The closer we get to the instant, the richer the field of sound becomes. We do not lose sight of the architecture of the music at all. It is not for nothing that modern composers have been drawn into exploring the depth of single notes.
By having music as a support, we can be drawn into a consciousness of a faster rhythm in ourselves that is always there but rarely experienced.
The ‘collapse’ into a world of objects and thoughts we spoke of is much the same as the collapse of consciousness into sensitivity we spoke of earlier.
Matchett claimed that neural education was an easy way of creativity. This is perfectly true, only it entails the kind of simplicity spoken of by T. S. Eliot that ‘costs not less than everything’. All that is asked for is for us to ask! If we are full of the idea that we are beings who do things, and imagine ourselves to be the source of creativity, then we are blocked.
Studies of creativity have drawn attention to the recurrent pattern in which insight only arises when we have exhausted all other avenues and ‘given up’. This is a crude way of approach. We can learn to ‘give up’ our misconceptions right from the start and do not need to be exhausted to do so. The practice of giving of ourselves is all important.
As we mentioned in our article on structural communication, we found in studies of reading that for the most part most people were easily caught up in their reactions to what they read, which obscured recognition of the process going on in them. It is not for nothing that Matchett spent considerable time in teaching the practice of self-monitoring. This meant to attend to what was going on internally while engaged in a task. Matchett realised that the nature of this internal process largely determined what we could do. No matter what the excellence of the method being applied, if it did not take into account what was happening in the person, it could be entirely useless.
Needless to say, many people found it offensive for their internal state to be challenged! Others realised that this was just common sense. We would not trust a nuclear plant to a drunkard — but we seemed to be willing to do much the same as this when it came to design and organisation. Without an acknowledgement of the relevance of honesty, sincerity, alertness, meaning, etc. any creative process was adrift.
Others still could not appreciate the value of adding on yet another demand. How was it that having people monitor themselves — an additional task — could improve their performance? Here again we encounter the all-important step of separating consciousness from sensitivity. It is only this that allows self-monitoring to take place. Then it is easy.
Everybody has conscious energy, but it can be more or less organised. It is organised by participation in creative process. For example — in neural education or ILM. The only way to accomplish this is just to start — today!
ILM is based on a feeling similar to that of Bennett’s ‘universal field F of communication’ that is there ‘all the time’. In dialogue, our attention is attracted towards the exchanges of words between people. But, in some of our discussions, we have intimated that the internal listening involved in the process plays a major part. It is easy to see that people have to listen to each other and even listen to themselves. What is not so easy is to see that there is already something there, whether people are speaking or not. This is portrayed in that wonderful piece of music by the American composer Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question. While the strings softly intone the ‘voice’ of the universe, a trumpet asks a question, to be imitated and mocked by despairing human voices. The strings represent the universal field.
‘Before’ two people speak together, they are in communication. This is not telepathy, which is a red-herring in this business. They are not communicating thoughts such as they might put into words. They are communicating in meaning. They are communicating the ‘possibility of communicating’. They already share in the same language and this language itself is ‘present’. But they also share in much more.
The information field is beyond purpose, rather as Kant spoke of Nature as ‘purposeless purpose’ in his Critique of Practical Reason. When it comes to music, we can immediately feel something of this sense of ‘purposeless purpose’. Matchett’s term ‘media’ is excellent in avoiding any belief in an anthropomorphic deity. Even though people make music, they find that music contains more than they put in. For this reason, music has been taken as a point of departure for the exploration of ‘neural education’ and. now, ILM. We have found that it is perfectly possible to tune into the ‘media’ aspect of music and become ‘informed’ in a way that renders our thinking more creative. Our role is to ‘bridge the gap’ between the two spheres of communication: the universal and the particular; the implicit and the explicit; the given and the fabricated. In doing this, we discover ourselves!
The universal field, or media, or inner music is to be found in dialogue. It has been there all the time. It expresses itself whether we meet together or not. When we realise this, the process of dialogue becomes ‘spiritualised’ or brought into contact with our willing and non-willing. The combination of willing and non-willing is the path of meaning. Meaning is, therefore, more than making sense of what we know. It is a creative path in its own right. Dialogue attracts into itself influences from the universal field.
You may have listened in awe to the sounds of Nature. And not only felt a communion of spirit as the Romantics did, but a sense of an awesome intelligence, a wisdom not only of countless aeons of evolution but of an ever active intelligence embracing you in its presence. You can take your place in this great dynamical whole of information. Nature is not only a wonderful ecology of matter and energy, everything serving everything, but also where everything is informed of everything by everything. What you may not believe is that this transcends the usual limitations of space and time. A recording made at one time can ‘speak’ into another time. Technology gives us a bridge between moments - but Nature has its own technology, far more subtle and advanced than ours! It carries memories and visions in a way that is faster and more precise than any computer system. Because of the wealth of interconnected information we usually only register all this as a feeling.
But, we can get this into our thinking!
All you have to do it is to enter into the nexus as a participant and not as an observer. Your own purposes and needs are taken care of: but you have to play your role. Nothing in Nature is just passive - being acted upon. Everything has its own will and you must will also as a human naturally does. You must bring the highest intent and the greatest sense of need you can.
Simone Weil, in her essay ‘Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies’, says:
"We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them. Man cannot discover them by his own powers and if he sets out to seek for them he will find in their place counterfeits of which he will be unable to discern the falsity. . .
"In every school exercise there is a special way of waiting upon truth, setting our hearts upon it, yet not allowing ourselves to go out in search of it." 
Silence is the most immediate way but this takes some getting used to. You can begin with the sounds of Nature. Go into the wood and hear the wind in the trees. Listen to the thunder. Hearken to the voices of creatures. Do not do this passively but with intent. You are a human with creative work to do and you should concentrate on what is needed and be prepared to learn. Make you best shot at what you need to accomplish and then go into Nature and listen to what is being communicated in you. Your task is to be ready.
Nothing will come to those asleep.
Take your note-book and set yourself to write to yourself what you need to know. This may not be what you want to know, and may not be as complete and explanatory as you would wish. What will come to you will be precisely that which is most meaningful in that moment. You will be lead into different perspectives, new starting points and powerful ideas. Sometimes, you will be ‘told’ very precise things to do, and you may not ‘understand’ at first why. You will not stay still. You cannot clutch at answers and make them fixed - or you will fall asleep. Just when you are ‘finishing’ new indications will arise.
A total awareness would access the unique media message of the moment. The way of silence is hard. Instead, you can go for total activity on every level. If you try to be silent, you may find yourself asleep! The condition of complete activity brings you into the whole.
The movements of Gurdjieff are an example of this approach. They are complex and demanding exercises that engage the whole of the self. Gurdjieff says that man is a trinity - but this is usually taken in a narrow psychological way. The three ‘centres’ of man are really tuned into matter, meaning and media so that when the whole of a man is engaged, he is the 3-M equation at work.
All the time, we are subject to rapid impulses, which are the sources of the ‘many-I’s’ that Gurdjieff described in various ways. From one perspective, this play of impulses keeps us down to a mechanical level. From quite another perspective, they are signals from the universal field. Whenever we shift our rate of response, changes ensue in our state and understanding. It is as if we surf on the surface of the sea of impulses and, usually, know nothing of its depths.
In ILM, we plunge into the waters. We have to undergo a radical change of attitude. Often enough, people will be unable to make this shift unless it is inspired by the force and persuasion of someone they admire. This is the role of a ‘teacher’. The teacher is there to help us take the plunge. He or she goes in and out of the waters to try and show what might be possible. It is no good if we wait for them to emerge from the depths carrying new insights. We have to learn to do what they do for ourselves.
Responding in a fast way to impulses takes some getting used to. A useful picture can be made, based on Gurdjieff’s idea of ‘inner octaves’. He says that, between the notes of any given octave we can find a whole ‘inner octave’ and, between the notes of this octave, yet another whole octave; and so on. So we might imagine the sea of impulses as extending down into faster and faster regions of smaller and smaller intervals.
The faster impulses we touch as we go deeper can be seen as more intelligent. Hence, the recommendation that we listen in the smallest possible interval of sound. The smaller the interval, the greater the power of it. Another model to further explain the process derives from Bennett’s symbol of the material and spiritual influences upon man.
The circles represent different degrees of realisation (seeing/making real). The largest sphere touches on the smallest instant and the greatest intelligence. Our ordinary minds only exist within the first sphere. This is where we ‘know’. Speculatively, we can extend the concept to include a sphere of realisation in which creation is happening in every moment. For such creation to be possible, the ‘instants’ must approach vanishing point. Hence some such crazy notion as the intelligence of God expressed as a quantum fluctuation.
Looked at from this perspective, the rapidly changing and chaotic form that dialogue takes is an indication of its creative potential. Only, we have to learn how to be in a sphere of greater realisation. Similarly, we can ‘eat’ the music of the spheres only if we are able and willing to do so. The tendency of our minds is to ignore that which is freely given in every moment and to follow our own dictates instead. Only when the mechanisms break down does something of another order have a chance to make an impact on us. The difference between realising ILM and not is very small.
ILM depends on tuning into the given ‘universal field F’ (Bennett’s terms) or ‘media’ (Matchett’s terms). As we have implied, this field or media is not some separate entity detached from actual phenomena. The use of music is based on its facility to bring access to the field into our common presence. We have also mentioned that ILM can begin with natural sounds, as well as specially created musical sounds. This leads us to look at the possibility of accessing the field through natural phenomena per se.
One way in which this is already developed is in the method of naturalist trance that we mentioned earlier. The approach is to enter a contemplative state of stillness while focusing attention on a ‘window’ of nature. Sitting quietly in the wood, for example, the naturalist rests his gaze on the scene before him. He takes a region which may be only on the scale of a metre, and waits to see what can be seen. The mode of attention he cultivates is monadic. Everything within the given scene is accepted as it appears and there is no specific focus. In this state, things can ‘suddenly appear’; because it enables details to show themselves. In the ordinary state of ‘looking’ the attention is already primed to select what is already known.
The naturalist’s trance, then, becomes a way of discovery. It does not exclude what the naturalist may know from his studies, but does not allow this to dictate what is seen. It is possible for him to become more and more aware of fine detail, of phenomena at smaller and smaller scales. But it also, quite simply, gives him a chance of seeing things on the usual scale of observation which might otherwise be missed.
This monadic state of ‘waiting’ is contrary to the prevalent scientific impulse to structure and experiment. It renders the naturalist capable of surprise. Even people with little prior experience of this can find, with a little patience, that things appear to them and strike home with an energy and significance that they never encountered before. It is as if to ‘see for the first time’. It is humility in action, because the assumption that one already knows what is to be seen, or that it is all much the same, is suspended. In its own way, it is a form of dialogue - with nature. In his book Biophilia E. O. Wilson gives a vivid description.
"In a twist my mind came free and I was aware of the hard workings of the natural world beyond the periphery of ordinary attention, where passions lose their meaning and history is in another dimension, without people, and great events pass without record or judgement. . . I focused on a few centimetres of ground and vegetation. I willed animals to materialize, and they came erratically into view. . ."
An underlying assumption in ILM is that creation is here and now in progress, involving us whether we like it or not, and whether we are aware of it or not. A parallel assumption is that if we can become aware of creation in creation now then this makes a difference. We can only become aware of creation is we are a willing part of it. This lands us in a lot of uncertainties. The qualitative difference between the view that what is going on is ‘just’ a proliferation of combinations of things that already exist or are in operation already, and the view that novelty is real, is sometimes elusive. The very consciousness that gives us a power to invoke creativity is also the major means of blocking it off.
The philosopher Whitehead was adamant that ‘creativity’ was inherent in reality. He also suggested that the intensity of ‘novelty’ might fluctuate in time. This may be a feature of music and a significant aspect of the ILM experience.
In a purely subjective sense, creativity is what it means to us. Objectively, what counts are results. Here we must take account of our understanding of scientific method since the philosopher William Whelwell. He argued that it did not matter how we came to generate a new idea or hypothesis; what counted was what could be deduced from it and tested. This meant that for the most part all that went in to generating a new idea was obscured from sight as being subjective, personal or merely psychological. This divorce, though very useful, failed to take into account how certain new ideas’ were ‘known’ to be right before they were even tested. For example, Maxwell saw that a fourth equation of electro-magnetism was needed — even though it entailed a then revolutionary concept of an electrical current in free space. How was he able to know this?
One kind of answer is that what is involved is a shift in perception. There is not so much a new mental concept as a new act of seeing. Many scientists confess — though usually in private these days — that what is essential in their work is to come into a direct experience of what they are studying, as if to ‘become’ it. This is as extraordinary a shift as any reported in the writings of Castenada, but is hardly ever reported in that way to avoid any taint of ‘mysticism’. Scientists like everyone can have spiritual experiences, but what is most remarkable are the shifts in perception that occur in their work.
Creativity includes, for us, the meaning of a shift in perception that gives us more or less direct access to something previously only known indirectly by inference. It is not so much that different objects appear to us but the way we perceive itself changes. What is very small or very big becomes accessible — as indicated in the classic text of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras — or distant things or past things, etc.
10,000 years ago
We have referred to dialogue a number of times. According to Patrick de Mare, this must have been a common feature of collective life more than ten thousand years ago, when people lived by hunting and gathering rather than by farming. Something happened with the rise of agriculture that had a major effect on the human mind, attaching it to permanent objects, fixed institutions and social hierarchies. Language became a superstructure detached from sensation and action eventually to become increasingly a means of tyranny and control.
Because some cultures preserved a way of hunting and gathering right up to until very recent times, we can catch some glimpses of the archaic mentality of our ancestors. There is a growing feeling that this mentality may represent a superior intelligence to our own. When such people used words, the words were what the things were and not just arbitrary sounds of indication. The philosopher Emilios Bouratinos speaks of a ‘self-releasing consciousness’ that was based on three aspects of the early way of life.
1. Continuous movement. From season to season. In following game. Such people were always active and with ‘no fixed abode’.
2. Continuous scanning of the environment. Thinking as an elaboration of sensing.
3. Continuous collaboration. Synergies between people were integral to the way of life.
These three factors constitute a major insight into what we have been calling ILM.
First of all, there is the need for movement and acceptance of continuous change. Realisation in movement is very different from coming to a conclusion or an answer. What can happen in the ‘flow’ cannot be held in any fixed state. That is why when people sit down to remember an insight that came to them during some action or process, they find it has disappeared! As William Blake knew:
"He who bends to himself a Joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise."
Secondly, consciousness develops through scanning the environment. The Greek word syneidesis that we might translate by the more Latin ‘consciousness’ gives us two roots: ‘syn’ — ‘together’ or ‘more’ — and ‘eidos’ — ‘species’ or ‘idea’; and has the meaning of ‘seeing together the diverse in their order’. Scanning the environment is neural education. It is to be ‘actively receptive’.
This factor can also mean the ‘seeing through to what is really there’. It is not meant as an aggregation of superficial experience. The ‘Mother’ who was the companion of Sri Aurobindo reported:
22 April 1970 "There is a region with many scenes of nature, such as fields, gardens, etc., but they're all behind nets. There is a net of one color, a net of another color... Absolutely everything is behind nets, as if one moved about with nets. But the net isn't fixed; the color and form of the net depends on what is behind it. And this is the means of communication. It's fortunate I don't speak to anyone, you know, because they would say I am losing my mind. And I see that WITH MY EYES OPEN, in broad daylight, if you can imagine. For instance, I am in my room - I am here, seeing people - and at the same time, I see one scene or another, shifting and moving, with that net between me and the scenes. The net seems to be - how can I put it? - what separates the true physical from the ordinary physical."
The third factor of collaboration refers us back to dialogue, though it was probably more than verbal exchange and included taking action together. Taking action together brings into effect a synchronisation essential for a group consciousness.
It is the three elements together that constitute ILM, which we can now render as ‘Intelligence-Liberated through-Meaning’. The Latin based word ‘intelligence’ suggests the meaning, as Bohm has pointed out, of ‘seeing or reading between the lines or the things’. The Greek equivalent of intelligence euphyia has the two roots ‘eu’ — or ‘good’ — and ‘phyesthai’ — ‘to grow’ and means ‘to grow well (in harmony with nature)’.
ILM is at the moment a promise for the future. The integration of movement, listening or scanning, and dialogue plus action seems far removed from where we are now. However, research is in hand and can be read about in our companion article Event Design.
The ultimate aim of ILM is to follow in the line of the researches opened up by the Mother (see above) and pierce the veil of perception. Our first description of Matchett’s ‘media’ as spiritual’ may have misled, because the usual associations of that word tend towards the ‘non-physical’. As the Mother implies, the spiritual is the truly physical. What we take to be the physical world is, in comparison, a dream. The highest purpose of ILM is to waken from the dream. At the limits of what we call physicality another order of reality shines through. So, we may learn to ‘accelerate’ ourselves into an awareness of the ‘nets’ the Mother indicates.