third eye drops #151 – The Map Is Not the Territory with Jeremy Johnson

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Jeremy Johnson has written on a variety of esoteric and philosophical topics for outlets likeReality Sandwich and Evolve and Ascend. His latest work, the book Seeing Through the World, is a deep dive into the work of intellectual mystic Jean Gebser.

In this mind meld, we rap about mapping the impossible, untraditional concepts of time, and the religion of the future.  


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As you may have noticed, one of my go-to quotes is “the map is not the territory.” It’s a beautifully sharp, concise reminder of a pervasive human flaw– No matter how in love with a system we are, it’s just a map. It does not capture reality itself.

I believe I first heard Robert Anton Wilson say the phrase, but after a few clickity clacks, I determined that it actually originated with Alfred Korzybski, a Polish-American scholar whom, apparently RAW was a fan of. After studying Korbynski’s work extensively (via his Wikipedia page for about 20 seconds), I came across a gem that made it pretty clear where Koybsynski’s head was when he came up with that phrase–

“no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain’s responses to reality.”

That point is highly relevant to this mind meld. In it, we talk a lot about the ideas of Jean Gebser, a philosopher, scholar and creative who made some truly intriguing structural maps of human consciousness. Gebser’s system describes how our consciousness is constantly transforming and undergoing a process of “mutation.” These notions influenced a lot of highly respected intellectuals– Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson to name a couple. It also harmonizes a lot with the ideas of C.G. Jung as well.

Gebser’s work is attempting to map what, to must of us, seems completely invisible– The flow and evolution of human consciousness. His map may not be the territory, but it’s an incredibly intriguing, useful guide to one of the chief mysteries of existence.

Bring a pen on this one, my friends, because Jeremy is a wealth of knowledge on this topic. In fact he wrote an entire book about Gebser, so he does get somewhat technical at times. He’s definitely a big-brained boy.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Frances Gaffney
    April 15, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    What an interesting, substantive conversation! There are many maps and all roads lead to an awakened state. This is as it should be and as Jeremy said, we must abide in humility. What I appreciate most about Gebser is how he didn’t simply follow a map but charted a new course. What courage it took to proclaim that he was not writing about philosophy but about a mutation!

    I appreciate that Michael asked, and that Jeremy was willing to talk, about his own meditative practice which seems to boil down to simply being present. I don’t have a practice but I do remind myself often of the concept of Wu Wei, or acting without exertion. Perhaps we must simply allow the mutation to happen keeping in mind that there will probably be another mutation after this one.

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