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.’
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.
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.
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.
Our 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.
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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.’