In this essay, I draw on the experience of the seminar (On Time) to explore. For me, it is important not to 'post mortem', to approve or disapprove of this or that element of the seminar; but to go on to something further. My theme is the 'information field'. This was brought up during the seminar but never discussed. Many of the sessions offered some form of special access to the field. I hope that we made use of this.
I like the saying of Paracelsus: "God makes use of me but I also make use of God."
The design of the seminar was based on combining thinking with experiences. Thinking by itself is sterile. Experiences by themselves turn into dreams. Only by their active combination in our own individuality can they bear fruit.
Gurdjieff: "Take the wisdom of the East and the knowledge of the West and then search.".
The Information Field
The term 'information field' is barely defined. In what follows we have to make use of many common expressions put into quotation marks because we will be using them in a slightly unusual sense. The information field can be called the 'realm of form' and carry with it the meaning of 'information' as 'putting form in' (as David Bohm suggests). The information field 'generates' and 'transmits' form.
An artist creating a painting is a means of bringing form into the world of pigments and canvas. An organism brings form into the world of chemicals. Relative to form, the world of 'stuff' or matter is formless and inchoate. If form is wholeness, then matter is brokenness.
Those who know of Edward Matchett's work will recognised what I am calling the 'information field' as media. 'Matter' is much the same as his matter term. Between the realm of form and the realm of matter, operates the realm of energy. When energy acts to bring form into matter, David Bohm spoke of it as 'active information'. When energy acts to decrease form, we speak of 'entropy'. Active information is 'syntropic'. Energy both builds and destroys. To bring a new form into matter, the old forms must be destroyed. The artist has to break open the tubes of paint and mix them up.
In terms of 'hyle' or the prime stuff postulated by Bennett, matter is actual hyle, form is virtual hyle and energy is sensitive hyle. The relation between actual and virtual is sensitive.
Whenever an action takes place, it involves a 'body' made of matter, an energy or 'fuel' and a 'message'. The word 'message' is used to imply connotations of 'instruction' or purpose. The transmission of a form is a 'command'. In the human world, the generation of forms is called 'thinking'. It is now generally considered that everything existing participates in 'computation', which can be taken as equivalent to the thinking of the human realm. Note that this does not mean that other entities 'think' in a human way Goethe speaks of 'Nature thinking'. Computation does not necessarily entail the kind of consciousness we associate with ourselves.
Every quality of energy entails a corresponding 'body' or 'vehicle' and a corresponding intent or form. Thus, when a command is brought into realisation, the energies involved bring with them their own characteristics. The 'same' energy can work through different organisations of matter or 'instruments' , and the 'same' form can work through different energies.
To bring a form into realisation, is an act of thought. Thinking is the selection and combination of 'available forms'. Its simplest operation is in an act of attention. This implies that in our thinking we are free to move in the information field. This does not entail that we can act effectively. We need sensitive instruments, or organised energies to bring about significant change.
We have not defined what a 'form' is. It is the non-actual content of any existence. It is the old idea of the 'name' of something. We use this word because it suggests a form that does not necessarily entail something actually existing. But this is to view the information field from the perspective of thought.
There is always a question of 'how many' forms there are, which can never be resolved. Every form defines in its own way what 'one' means. Any combination of forms can be 'one'. Relative to thought, the information field can be viewed as 'undifferentiated wholeness'. This means that it is 'void' in the sense of being beyond current articulation by thinking.
One interesting image of the information field is that of a 'silent communion'. Thinking breaks the silence. But, only by breaking the silence is anything accomplished. Every act of communication depends on the prior reality of the information field, but obscures it.
We also have to take account of modifications in the information field. One model of this is, that whenever any form is 'downloaded' into matter, there is a corresponding 'back action' into the field. The action of energy goes in both directions. The event is recorded in eternity (see below). However, what this 'record' consists of may be impossible to visualise. We may suspect, however, that what is thus recorded exists in a state not subject to space and time.
We have spoken of the forms that are 'available'. For example, to thought. This availability is subject to energy. Energies are limited according to time, place and circumstances. It is they that determine what can be 'spoken'. A group of people can meet but be unable to speak about certain realities because they do not have the energy, or 'use it up' in more familiar areas.
Time is the condition of actualisation. In this respect, the information field is the realm Bennett called 'eternity'. Eternity is often taken to mean 'lasting for ever'. The important thing, however, is that what is in eternity is not subject to actualisation; though it might be subject to some other operation. Here we come to energy. The meaning of energy we want to use is similar to Aristotle's definition: passing from potentiality into act. To apply energy is to engage in an action which, in physics, is measured as energy x time. If we can associate thinking with 'act', then we have the quasi-sequence: act, action, actuality. Act comes from what is possible; action comes from available energy and actuality is a result. Action marries together form and matter.
Now, it is difficult to speak about the 'sequence' of operations, since more than actualisation in time is involved. For that reason, we bring into our discussion Bennett's concept of hyparxis. Hyparxis is defined as 'ableness-to-be'. It can be identified with action. Hyparchic action is able to change the content of the information field. This is not a change in time. It is a change in 'inner time'. Eternity is subject to the operations of hyparxis. That is why hyparxis is associated with the human sense of 'will' and 'choice'.
Hyparxis combines what is actual with what is virtual, thus defining a 'present moment'. We have the sense that the present moment is more than what happens. St. Augustine did not see the present moment as a tiny instant, but as copious. "It is any direct encounter with the world, in the reality-filled action" (Wolfgang Schad).
In its lowest level of operation, it is simply recurrence: the same kind of event (a 'form') happens again and again. Not only do we find this in the purely mechanical world, as in a pendulum; we can also see it at work in our own lives. If we look honestly, we will see ourselves repeating the same kind of experience over and over again. We do not have the 'ableness' to break out of the circle. Hyparxis thus both binds and liberates.
We tend to regard our experience largely in a 'matter' sense, as a set of separate items. Thus, when we 'feel good' or full of energy and purpose, we imagine that the down-side of this is eliminated, or is 'elsewhere'. However, it is still there in a virtual sense, in eternity as a potential, and will come again. As Phyllis Laursen might remind us, 'light and darkness are one'. To see that this is so requires an act of hyparchic integration.
Liberation is associated with the suspension of recurrent actualisation, making possible the actualisation of something new. To understand means to see (be able to think) this new form in a way that we can actualise.
If we accept the idea of the information field, how does this help us live? We first have to see how we can participate in the field in an active way. This is a question of consciousness.
Active participation has two arms to it. Firstly, we have to suspend recurrent actualisation. If we do not do this, then events are 'locked in' to past experience. Suspension makes matter available. This can mean the 'matter' of our brains. Bennett described an archetypal form of this suspension as the 'separation of sensitivity from consciousness'. Secondly, we have to 'invoke' the information field to bring new 'virtuality' into our present moment. In tradition, this is prayer. We must be active towards our mechanicality (matter) and receptive towards the field (form).
Thus, the two arms of active participation are discipline and prayer.
A third consideration can now be mentioned. It is to learn how to 'bear' the energies involved. Energies are always poised between involution and evolution. Conflict is the basic mode. To 'bear' the energies means to grasp a state of being in which conflict is suspended, the clash of involution and evolution creating new life. This is not the same as resolving conflict by external means.
This leads us to a fourth consideration. Action is transformative when it involves the whole of us. If we have any energy 'left over' to observe or comment on what is happening, we are divided and will be 'made' to recur.
We can again refer to Matchett's work and his expression 'Making Media plus Matter Meaningful in time delta-t'. 'Making' refers to the action of energies, meaning to thinking and 'time delta-t' to the 'hyparchic moment' when we act all at once.
The Feeling of Time
A mystery is the asymmetry in our experience between past and future. This may be a key feature of all that lives. Wolfgang Schad speaks of a 'prospective potency' drawing on an undetermined future. It is this that is able to balance disturbances, heal injuries and redress privations.
For a living being, the past and the future are partially aligned with matter and form, respectively. Instead of being at 'right angles' and completely independent, they are 'askew' (imagine a cross in which the vertical line - between Form and Matter - is inclined to the right, while we take the horizontal axis as time past and time future - from left to right). Thus, we see the future as full of potential (more like 'form') and the past as mere actualisation (more like 'matter'). Bennett spoke of the dimensions as if they were experienced by a higher level of intelligence. For this higher level, it is perhaps the case that past and future are equal in terms of form and matter. Thus, he claimed that the past could be changed; but only through an action involving this higher level. (In Christianity, a moment involving the higher level is called a 'kairos': see below.)
Writers such as Denis Saurat and P. K. Dick have glimpses of this. We can find them saying that 'all time', both past and future, originated with Christ. In this view, time goes backwards from Christ and forwards from Christ. This is also the 'time of prophecy'. It 'explains' the view of Simone Weil, for example, that the Greeks had 'intimations of Christianity'. It is not that the Christian thinkers made use of Greek ideas, but that these ideas themselves were 'informed' from the future in which Christ existed.
For ourselves, we might suppose that any strong action, any hyparchic integration, becomes in itself a relatively new 'origin of time'. It is an act that Bennett called 'synergic', which requires willing co- operation between different levels.
Message from the Pope
John Kirby handed me an extraordinary message picked up on the internet emanating from the Pope! It read:
Vatican City, March 11, 1998. Continuing with the catechesis of preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000, at today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, John Paul II spoke on salvation fulfilled in history.
The Pope noted that in the face of the disciple's impatience to know the moment of the coming of the Kingdom of God, which they understood in an exceedingly earthly and political manner, Jesus invites them to "rely on God's mysterious plans ... Only after the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are they able to understand the deeper dimensions."
"Jesus speaks of 'times' ('chronoi') and of 'moments' ('kairoi')". In the ordinary course of time, God makes special interventions, conferring on "particular times a very particular saving value. It is precisely these 'kairoi', God's moments, that man is called to discern and by which he must allow himself to be called ... The time of Christ's coming is invested with a fundamental importance."
Throughout her history, the Church has experienced periods in which her missionary activity has been less effective, and favourable times in which "the Good News finds benevolent welcome and conversions are multiplied ... Those who have a special responsibility in evangelization are called to recognise these moments to better take advantage of the opportunities offered by grace."
The Holy Father recalled that Jesus entrusts to his disciples "the work of spreading the Gospel throughout the universe." Despite their human frailty, they will have the strength of the Holy Spirit to become "authentic witnesses of Christ.". He concluded: "That very power of the Holy Spirit will produce new wonders of grace in the work of the evangelization of peoples."
I think that the seminar On Time offered a step towards the next event, which is to concern 'communication with higher intelligence'.