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The Territory Is Always Unknown

There is a type of movement that we don’t know about, and yet which is happening all the time. This isn’t movement as we usually understand it, which is movement between point <A> and point <B> on the map, but rather it is a movement that takes us from point <A> on the map to a destination that isn’t defined, a destination that isn’t actually on the map. This type of movement, which we can call Type II movement, is where we ‘move away move away from the map’, in other words.



To say that we are ‘travelling to an unknown destination’ doesn’t mean that we’re going somewhere that we don’t so far know about but which we will know about when we get there. That type of movement isn’t taking us away from the map, obviously it’s not taking us away from the map because we’re bringing the map with us! The whole point of what we doing here is that we bringing the map with this. We are ‘transforming the unknown into the known’ wherever we go. Type II movement is movement away from the map where we don’t bring the map with this; anything else is glorified Type I movement (i.e. it is the movement from a known origin to a known destination). Departing on a journey from the known to the unknown is therefore a very tricky thing because of the huge tendency that we have to ‘collapse’ the unknown into the known, which means that we don’t actually get anywhere (not in terms of Type II movement, anyway).



The thing about Type II movement is therefore that we don’t acknowledge it in everyday life. We don’t usually recognise that there is such a thing – in fact it would be a perfectly fair point to say that we never recognise it! We never recognise it because as at the same time as it happens we automatically correct for it and bring ourselves back to the known again. What we’re doing therefore is that we are interpreting ‘Type II change‘ as error; we are interpreting Type II change as error and then we are correcting for it and so the  net result of this operation is that there is no Type II change. The only type of change we see as meaningful is Type I change, the only type of movement we are at all interested in is Type I movement.



Type I change is what we might call directed change; Type I movement is a movement that takes us towards our goals, is a movement that ‘fulfils our purposes’. It will come as no surprise therefore to learn that this is the only type of change/movement that we are interested in. It is no surprise to learn that the only type of journey that we value is the journey that takes us towards the fulfilment of our goals – this is after all the direction that leads to success and the glorious realisation of our dreams,. Why wouldn’t we value it, therefore? This is the road we all want to travel down – it’s the road that we absolutely can’t wait to travel down. We are very impatient to travel in this particular direction and we want it to happen as quickly as possible. The worst thing in the world – as far as we’re concerned – is not to be able to progress in this direction stop that would be what we call ‘failure’, and failure is the worst thing ever.



So although we are talking about two types of movement, for the world we live in there is only the one type. The other type doesn’t count, the other type is just ‘going wrong’. A very big problem arises when we think that there is only one type of movement that’s possible for us however, and it’s a problem that we are not at all able to comprehend. It’s because we are not able to comprehend this problem that makes it into such a very big problem! The root of this ‘problem’ (which is a rather inadequate term for what we are talking about here) is that Type I movement, which is the movement between point <A> and point <B> on the map, isn’t really any sort of movement at all. It’s hallucinatory movement.



This is what we find such a hard thing to understand; this is what stops us from seeing that when the only type of change that’s on the table is Type I change then we are in very serious trouble. As far as we’re concerned the journey from <A> to <B> is very real and very meaningful, and so this type of change is all we need to know about. So what are we missing? What can’t we see? The problem with the movement between point <A> and point <B> on the map is that it’s only movement in terms of the map. It’s a movement on the map but the map isn’t the reality (or ‘the territory) and so it isn’t really a movement at all. The difference between the map and the reality is that the map contains nothing that is radically unknown whilst the reality contains nothing but the radically unknown! Very obviously there’s nothing unknown in the map – the fact that the map has been mapped means that it is known…



The map is a description and the way we get know the world is by describing it to ourselves; just because we have described a territory for ourselves doesn’t make the territory itself known hwoever. We think that it does but it doesn’t. The territory is never known; the territory can never be turned into a description. The territory can never be turned into a description because the territory is always unknown. The reality we think we understand is always unknown; as Krishnamurti says, our understanding is always old (i.e. the map is always old) whilst reality is always new. If reality is always new then how can we know it? How can we ‘know’ what we have never encountered before?



Type II movement, as we have said, is movement away from the map and so what this means is that Type II movement is ‘a movement towards reality’. This then means that Type II movement is the only type of movement that is actually real. It means that Type II change is the only type of change; Type I change isn’t any sort of change at all, therefore. We might think that something is happening, but it isn’t! Type II movement is the movement towards reality and yet we resist it with everything we’ve got. We resisted at every turn. We give it no value whatsoever; there is – in fact – nothing that is less interesting to us than this. If you start talking about the movement away from the known and towards reality then people will walk away from you mid-sentence…



As far as we’re concerned our fulfilment and future happiness and all other good things lies in us moving towards the attainment of our goals. We believe this in all seriousness; we believe that in all good faith. Our entire cultural and personal thrust is in this direction. We aim at something and then we deliberately or purposefully move in that direction. We most emphatically don’t see our fulfilment and future happiness as lying in the direction of moving away from the map. We have confused ‘the known’ with ‘the real’. We prefer the known because it’s known – we prefer the known because we know about it. We prefer the known because that’s all we believe in, all we care about. We reject the radical unknown at every turn because we have labelled it as <error> and the one thing we are never going to do is look for our well-being and happiness and freedom in <error>!



There aren’t really ‘two types of movement that are possible’ therefore – there is only the one. There’s only the one type of movement and that is the movement away from the map, the movement away from the known. The other supposed type of movement (which is a movement that takes us towards an own goal, a known destination) doesn’t exist because the known doesn’t exist. The ‘map’ doesn’t exist. Clearly it doesn’t exist – it’s only an abstraction that we have created in our minds. Type I movement is the movement that takes us from point <A> on the map to point <B>; we could also say that it is the movement from one idea to another, the movement from one concept to another. Ideas are projections of the thinking mind however and so we’re not really getting anywhere in actual reality.



There is only one type of movement that is possible but it’s not actually ‘the movement from the known to the unknown’, as we have said – it can’t be because ‘the known’ doesn’t exist! All there can ever be is ‘the movement from the unknown to the unknown’. This type of movement (which David Bohm calls ‘the holomovement’) is the only type of movement there is. This is ‘the movement that takes us from an unknown origin to an unknown destination’ and it is this movement that is calling us every single moment of their lives. It is also the movement which we resist and deny every single moment of our lives…







Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.
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