On Maps and Terrain

When the map and the terrain disagree, trust the terrain.

2 replies on “On Maps and Terrain”

Thanks for sharing this great saying. Google says it may be a Swiss Army “aphorism” (wonderful new word for me!). It echoes Master Linji and of course The Buddha. My mind is abuzz with many parallels in contemporary life. Thanks, Shannon, for this piece of gum – LOL! Something to chew on. Ha ha.


Dear Sharon, hello!

It’s actually an adaptation by a quote from Audobon. He said something like, “If the [bird identification] book and the bird disagree, trust the bird.”

I was thinking about all these Buddhist maps of consciousness; for me they often don’t match my actual experience, you know? Sometimes they do… but sometimes they super don’t. And I think some people feel they need to ignore their own data in order to fit in some kind of mold.

So the thing I’m trying to say is, if someone tells you “this is what your experience is like” but your experience (ie, the terrain) isn’t _actually_ like that, trust your experience.

We can get into trouble, of course, if we _only_ trust our experience. Do you remember, someone in the After Buddhism and Beyond course said, “Trust yourself first, but don’t trust _only_ yourself.” That seems like a healthy middle way to me, you know?

Happy Wednesday to you! And thanks for writing. :)))


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