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The Map and the Territory

A helicopter, blades whirring, sits in a grassy area next to the last parking lot before the closed gate in Upper Park. At first it looks like the young men are rescuing someone, but it soon becomes apparent they’re playing rescue games.

the territory ahead 1I sit overlooking the marvelous volcanic gorge. With all the rains in California, the hillsides are incredibly green, dotted with orange poppies and blue lupines. Though it’s a Saturday morning, few people are on the trails, although looking up canyon, I can see some folks about a mile away.

It’s one of only two days you can drive into the canyon beyond town. But here’s a police helicopter making dozens of trips up to the ridge behind me. It’s so annoying that when it flies directly over, I wave it off.

Recently a so-called meditation teacher, who apparently makes a living from that shtick as many people do these days, wrote to me and said, “I think it is useful to have a map even if it is an imperfect one. It’s like having a GPS unit giving you directions while driving, it’s a useful tool.”

That kind of thinking by a self-described spiritual teacher attests to the fact that if someone charges you for teaching meditation, he or she is stealing your money and not teaching you anything.

The whole point of meditation is setting aside the map of experience and knowledge completely, so that one can enter the healing and spiritually deepening territory of the infinite unknown.

There is no map into the unknown; if there were, it would still be the known.

The meditation teacher has a group called “The Consciousness Explorer’s Club.” That sounds interesting, but it turns out what he means by it is mapping the territory of human consciousness, and thinking that will lead to freedom.

The map is the known, which is made by thought. Setting aside the map, which includes words, images and concepts, is essential to renewal and growth.

The evolution of ‘higher thought’ gave the human brain the capacity for cosmic awareness and conscious communion with the sacred. Then why is it that thought is the greatest impediment to unmediated awareness?

That, I submit, is greatest and most pressing riddle on this planet. Religion, which literally means ‘to restrain,’ has become the source of the most calculated non-restraint in the history of humanity.

Men shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is greatest) blow themselves up in an airport at the heart of Europe, killing ordinary citizens in a ‘war’ the West declared after 9.11. There were a few hundred such madmen in 2001; there are a few hundred thousand now.

And yet even so-called progressive voices in America, echoing the extremists on the right, call for “more radical military action to crush the militants — essentially the deployment of infantry.”Militant Islamist fighter waving a flag, cheers as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province

The truth is that America and the West need the enemy of the Islamic State, which is why we have done so much to create it. Psychologically, emotionally and commercially al-Qaeda/ISIS is convenient. They are a perfect excuse to externalize evil, and believe we can thereby exterminate it. That is, until it comes a little too close to home.

We know this territory all too well, and all the maps in the world, which is to say all the knowledge in the world, cannot lead us out of it.

Today in Argentina, President Obama used the right analogy in the wrong way, after taking his victory lap and vacation with his wife and daughters in Cuba. He said, “We must not reduce the antibodies we have to fight terrorism.”

But the West, led by America, has replicated the virus until it has invaded the entire body politic of the world. We have created a trillion dollar industry that has given hundreds of thousands of jobs to contractors and consultants, without realizing that this very approach has grown the disease exponentially.

Externalizing evil increases evil. If we really want to defeat terrorism, we have to end the ‘us vs. them’ mentality of jihadists in the Middle East and warmongers in the West.

The domination of the brain by thought is the source of the darkness of man. The light of insight only comes between thoughts, and when thought is completely still.

Then one can live in the world without being broken by it. Then one can act in the global society without being sucked into the vortex of its darkness and deadness.

Martin LeFevre

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