Dear Friends,

The map is not the territory (1) is a concept I have loved from the first time I was introduced to it. It was the psychologist Alfred Korzybski who distilled the idea. He postulated that that an abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself, e.g., the pain from stubbing your toe on a rock is not the rock; one’s opinion of a political leader, favorable or unfavorable, is not that person; a map of Africa is not Africa itself, a metaphorical representation of a concept is not the concept itself; and so on.

A specific abstraction or reaction does not capture all facets of its source—e.g., the pain in your foot does not convey the internal structure of the rock, you don’t know everything that is going on in the life of a politician, etc.

Creating abstractions or “maps” for places, situations or people is useful in that they help us to navigate the “territory” or get to a destination, or connect to others but we must remember that maps are not the whole picture, they are not the territory itself.

Maps offer different approximations of realty and not reality itself. We are constantly mapping and finding ourselves in territories that we then map. From time to time we distinguish maps from territory and glimpse reality in its most unfettered state before the mapping starts again.

For the process of meditation and or initiating meditation states we also use maps. We sit down, quieten our minds, we close our eyes in order to enter the inner territories of our consciousness. During each sitting we use maps to shed  maps, ideas or beliefs about ourselves to experience the territory/reality of our being. 

Explorers of this realm, yogis, gurus, and students of contemplation report experiences of timelessness, limitlessness, selflessness and transcendence. The speak about non dual reality and feeling whole or at one with all there is. 

There’s a memory or knowing of that feeling of feeling whole or home that calls me and so I gather maps, create new maps to find my way to this land of home, all the while remembering that the map is not the territory.