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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cross-mapping: What are its Limits?

Cross-mapping: What are its Limits?

Exploring the common tendency to seek cross-mapping, especially common among folks exploring the early territory of Second Tier, variously named Teal or Yellow. Cross-mapping is the new crossword puzzle hobby!

If like me you're bumping up against some challenges, here are some insights that might amplify your understanding, as they did mine.

We start with the understandings that "the map is not the territory" and that a territory can usefully be mapped in many ways. For example, a section of land that's a city: we can map the topography, the transportation system, the neighborhood names, the parks, etc. 

The separate maps are very useful, depending on your purpose. Those maps can also be cross-mapped, because they are maps of the same territory, the land. The layers of maps visible in Google maps shows this kind of cross-mapping.

However, when we're talking about cross-mapping of systems of thought, of conceptual frameworks, then it's too easy to assume the territory is the same, and seek our fun in cross-mapping. But then we get bogged down, halfway through the crossword puzzle, with pencil in hand, and conclude that we don't know enough to complete the cross-mapping. 

What if the challenge is really that the territory which SEEMS the same in both systems, is really too different to permit cross-mapping? What if both frameworks SEEM to be for example about the development of consciousness, but they really are about different territories within that broad arena? 

Cross-mapping is extremely useful, besides great fun. Cross-maps advance human understanding very significantly. So we who love it, do it often, and don't give up easily. 

I'm suggesting that when a particular cross-mapping attempt is tooooo challenging, we take a step back and assess: Am I just missing something, should I try harder, do I just lack the skills? Or are these really SUCH different territories that no useful cross-map will be forthcoming even if I try for years, or get help from others to try for years?

When a cross-map attempt is started but not working, those observers of the attempt who know both territories look at it and kinda squint. Hmmm, this glass slipper doesn't fit; this integration feels awkward, forced; things are being called similar which aren't. That's a clue that the territories are actually too different.

An example might be that trying to cross-map the transportation system of a city onto the religions of the inhabitants; it just might not work. 

I address these musing to many of us studying Terri O'Fallon's Stages model, and trying to cross-map that with several other systems/frameworks around "the development/maturation of human consciousness." We're having challenges, but seem to be assuming those are due to our own limitations of skill. 

I'm now thinking: maybe that's not the source of the challenges. What if the territory of consciousness is so vast that there are territories within it--even within a named arena like "development"-- which are simply not cross-mappable?  

So we might give up on trying to advance human knowledge by producing that particular cross-mapping. Wouldn't it be more generative, more usefully advancing of human knowledge, to seek to identify whether we're looking at a difference in territories, rather than reduce them to being regarded as only differing maps of the same territory?

What do you think?

P.S. I cite this historical example of how cross-mapping attempt led to the useful, generative awareness that the territories were indeed too different: Ken Wilber started developing his framework of the development of consciousness with "concrete, subtle, psychic, causal, nondual" at the apex. Then it became clearer to him and many that those referred to a territory they called STATES which were differentiated from the territory called STAGES. The Wilber-Combs Lattice was one attempt to cross-map those. 

Then Terri O'Fallon came along and added another dimension to that two-dimensional cross-map indicating that the territory was even more complex, and that the Lattice itself was an insufficient attempt at cross-mapping. (My interpretation of what she said.)

So at this point we have three named, discretely mapped territories: states, state-stages, and structure-stages. And cross-mapping attempts continue.

My ending comment is that by all means I encourage us all to persist in attempts at cross-mapping when we feel called. And at some point, if challenges abound, we could step back and consider whether the territories are different. How might we advance human knowledge by identifying them rather than by producing our desired cross-map?


by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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