… maps of meaning …

Maps, the symbolic depictions of relationships between different elements, be they objects, regions in space, or ideas in conceptual domains, serve as orientation devices. Though it’s worth remembering Korzybski’s point, ‘The Map is not the territory.’

Earthrise, Dec 1968

Earthrise, Dec 1968

Given the complexity of global problems, there’s a dire need for charting the increasing expansion of specialised knowledge, diverse traditions and experiences, into a wider context. Since the poetic image of our planet rising in space did not grip the hearts of a critical mass, we need theoretical overviews to dispel confusions, and explore how all the seemingly disparate comprehensions of the world we live in can work together in a more intelligent and unified way.

Ken Wilber is a great proponent of an’ Integral Theory,’ bringing together many fields of knowledge and methodologies, scientific and spiritual, in an attempt to show how all these partial truths can be reconciled and be mutably enriching. This 1.5 hour talk  is brilliant, and eminently worth listening to.

In his AQAL  map  (You can press – 1MB free – and get a screen resolution)  Wilber integrates various developmental ideas, which may remind of Abraham Maslow and Carl Gustav Jung, to name but a few mapmakers before him.  In the above talk Wilber describes developmental tipping points in recent history, which apparently needed only a small percentage of the population, the 10 percent who could embrace the new value, to bring about a collective shift in consciousness.

He’s expecting another tipping point to emerge soon. Fresh conceptions can bring more truth and more love to our actions, more consciousness, more skill to deal with complexities, and more compassion to every dimension of human knowledge and activity.

I hope you’ll find the time to listen to Wilbers talk, and maybe further study his work.

Fazal Inayat-Khan  Photograph by Ashen

My former Sufi teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan, (image by Ashen) also felt strongly that new conceptual maps were required. His aim was to integrate transpersonal aspect into the field of psychology. During a summer school in 1990, a few weeks before he died, he sketched the following cosmology on a flip chart and invited us to play with it.

Fazal's Cosmology

The graph depicts three worlds, the natural Cosmos, the finer Psyche, and the yet finer Pneuma (spirit,) differentiating the function, structure and content of each world.

How these three dimensions can relate to an individual is set into the same framework.

For me, this playful ordering made perfect sense, and, in a kind of epiphany, helped me to clarify the tremendous importance of the world of the imagination, and how it is held together by meaning. It also gave me new ideas about time. These days I like to call the Psyche the changing room.

Barn, group room, smallerOur small group that day was encouraged by Fazal to replace terms and use our own words in this presentation, according to our own understanding. He was this kind of teacher. I dearly miss this wonderful friend, the community and the place.

Does this cosmology, this orientation device, corresponds in any way to your understanding and experience? And I’d be curious know if you feel inspired to change or move words around.

*       *        *

On the ‘OTHER’ page of this site (see top bar) you can find a PDF link to an article I wrote on the imaginative function based on ideas of the great Muhyi-d-Din Ibn ‘Arabi. The article is called ‘Science of the Heart.’


Filed under Blog

14 responses to “… maps of meaning …

  1. We recognize maybe those whose mental landscapes resemble our own. But all these links. I got confused, left a comment at the “Other” post. Let that be a lesson to me, regarding my own links and linking and such. Map, papyrus leaf, to card, labyrinths. But there (at the Other) I said I’ve been reading a bit on Artificial Intelligence recently (AI). They (the AI folks) claim we don’t know yet what intelligence is, how it works. If that’s so, how can we know what consciousness is, or how it works? Yes, I’m inspired to move words around. Likewise, I’m not sure we know what meaning is. Do we?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Joe. Saw the comment on the Other page. Did you see the link (ha, ha, links) on top that leads to the PDF ‘Science of the Heart.’?

      This is part of my reply to you comment on the Other page:

      Re: AI – will try to type out that other article I mentioned, ‘Body Electric.’
      Re: intelligence. We don’t really have a fitting definition, other than that it may relate to vibrations, aestethics, beauty, like something coming together in symphony, harmony, which gives us meaning, or from which we create meaning, innumerable variation of it, ove which we fight wars.

      Consciousness – ha – not this, not that, single, singular, yet breathing through all and everything. Just muttering 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joerubin27425@gmail.com

    Blessed are we that we yearn for maps of meaning! It is a heart-wrenching search. We wander around hoping to glimpse Utopia. An integrative theory relying on ideas such as by Maslow and Jung appears to me as analogous to a statistical meta-analysis, mixing and combining things together but the heart is not fully satisfied. The conscious thoughtfulness by a single person as Ann Frank, in her diary, is on sounder ground about the nature of reality. Alfred Korzybski (1879 to 1950) was a Guru who had a Dedicated Mission to Improve Mankind, is what I wrote to review the book, “Manhood of Humanity; the science and art of human engineering”. Whatever ways we go forth with our efforts, we find our world hyper-dimensional and no predictive model would, in reality, help us. This leaves me with a higher level of certainty about particulars and provides some comfort. Taking a warm drink is often rewarding. Listening to Beethoven’s last String Quartets is inspiring and enlarging. And, going for a good night’s sleep is Lotus Land.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, the heart is never satisfied. A good night’s sleep in Lotus Land can be most nourishing 🙂
      And it’s natural to re-order our subjective reality with each new day, shifting or adding the landmarks of our experience to achieve a fresh coherence.


  3. Joerubin27425@gmail.com

    Post-Script: I never had any intent to devalue the creativity of Ken Wilber and the importance of Fazal Inayet-Khan. I also admire your growth understanding “the world of imagination.” Albert Einstein has said that “Imagination is better than facts,” and this has been proven experimentally in later years when techniques of scientific investigations became more readily available.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joerubin27425@gmail.com

    Ashen, I have looked up The Mind World that you mentioned in today’s post. I am so greatly pleased with the progress you have made integrating the ideas of H. I. Khan and with others such as C.G. Jung! I believe I saw some relevance of the Sutras of Patanjali, as was translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Here, concepts and terms deal with clarity of consciousness. The analogy is the absolute stillness of water in a deep pool that permits a reflection of absolute reality, an example being from the primal atom to the greatest magnitude, Book One, Sutra 40. My particular book with translation and commentary has 263 pages, so I have given only a glimpse of what I am thinking about..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ashen – would you happy if I forward your CoM message on to Nuria and Rabia in the good ‘ole USofA and their circle; plus to include in the email to the Sufi Gathering folk, which I”ll be sending tomorrow. Fantastic, re Fazal. I’m looking at his image of ‘Between Mystery and Knowledge’ in this instant, and giving thanks. Love to you. Zohra xxx


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, the world is becoming a complex place. We are making things complicated the way we are working and living, whereas it is time to change the lens and look from a different prism to solve the problems confronting us. Indeed the solutions need multi disciplinary approach and no one field can solve the problem which has multiple dimensions. Medical science is cannot suffice the need to solve all the health problems with its surgical and medicinal power, it is requiring the spiritual and natural healing process to address of this most complex and life threatening diseases facing mankind.

    Maps of meaning are wonderful perspective to change the paradigm in the way we look at the problem and adopt the methodologies to mitigate and find truly meaningful solutions.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Inese Poga Art plus Life

    Couldn’t agree more with this theory. I am seeing time as a dimension of energy. I was very surprised reading this. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A fascinating post, Ashen.

    Liked by 1 person

Thanks for visiting. Feel free to respond and, or, share the post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s