It’s called “Terra Cognito” – Latin for known territory. The island is an insane little place in an ocean of sanity.
Leaving Terra Cognita, the rock of knowledge we all know so well, happens when we see that sky-high piles of ideas can only ever tell us more about…ideas. It happens when we discover its shoreline – the minds’ edge and limitations. It’s a venturing away from the island of our imagination, the terra infirma on which our manufactured hopes and dreams were built. It’s a walk taken now gingerly, now reluctantly, now with abandon, along the edge where mind-generated knowledge is touched by profound being.
Here, we are invited by our Self, to meet our Self
One of the most useful things about all this amassed mental construct called knowledge is that even as it’s accumulated it produces a longer and increasingly varied shoreline. Indeed, twenty-one centuries of Thought have produced a very long beach! One which more and more people – usually through suffering – are now enabled to reach. It’s a beachline a few of us are driven to more or less willingly by some deep need to find real happiness, or truth, or god or reality or love – all words about an underlying need for connection and real relationship which we’re missing.
Indeed, in our exploratory wanderings along this beautiful shore in the shadow of those towering Terra Cognito mountains, we’ve found evidence of our Self: a seashell with white and gold veins hints about creation; a piece of whithered white driftwood tells us about the universe; a glimmer of something fleetingly glimpsed, known, and somehow lost or misplaced is now…glimpsed again. And we can’t forget it, right? We cast are eyes out on this Sea of Unknowing. And mumble something like “what is that?”
It is here – and only here – that we take off our sandals, stop walking the shoreline, and step – or are pushed – into the mystery beyond words, beyond the concepts-about-concepts. We step away from the minds constant production of a discribed and measured and valued mind-sense of reality; we step off into the unknown and uncharted. We pause, lingering with a vague notion that perhaps the answers to our deepest longing may yet be found in knowledge, in our repeated and known experience. In a mind stuffed with beliefs about beliefs and served up to us all with our childhood pablum.
Still we pause. A few more steps are taken anyway, all the while turning and casting our eyes back on that island of comfortable certainty we inhabited for so long (perhaps to recall, with some small satisfaction, those few pleasures and unending pains we left in those marbled halls) It seems tramatic, it feels dramatic – just talk to anyone who has moved away! But it turns out that the Sirens on the Island were all our own invention. And that, looking back, we can see and truly appreciate the mind’s beauty and utility, like all of our amazing senses. But that is only seen when we don’t live there anymore.