Unmapped Geography


I wonder if dogs know where they are.

There are amazing stories of dogs tracking their owners' progress across continents. And most dogs will come home for dinner. So a dog knows where it is in relationship to food and people. Simple logic says its so. A dog knows when it is not home.

But do dogs know continents? Do dogs have concepts for Canada and Alaska?

I was watching a show my TiVO picked up called "Outdoor Magazine" and there was a town up north where they let all the domesticated dogs run free. The dogs were rooting around in the snow. These were regular old dogs like we have down here in the lower 48, not some special breed of hearty husky sled puller. Just regular old golden retrievers and yellow labs. And I wondered to myself - does the retriever ever think, "Damn, it's cold up here all the time. Maybe I should get myself south where it's warmer?"

Do dogs name places? Would they do it by how they feel somewhere, or the available abundance? Like, "Garage of Many Places That Need Pee", or "Road of Chasing Rabbits", or "Tree That Smells Like Cat", or "Where The Ground Was Cold But They Made Me Sit Anyway," or "The Vast Open Dearth of Milk Bones".

What is Saskatchewan in dog talk? Do they know they're there, and not in New Jersey?

When I got my dog I spent quite a bit of time in dog training class, learning how to be a good dog owner. Much like child-rearing, the science of training dogs has changed over the decades. The current theory is that dogs have poor short-term memory, but ok longer term memory. But I wonder how much sense that makes. Because if dogs had poor short-term memories, how do they learn to "sit" after you push their butts to the ground six times? Clearly, they have some short-term comprehension, otherwise you'd never get them to lie down or give you their paw. You'd teach, "sit", sixty times, and the dog wouldn't get it, and then sometime later it would have worked it out in its doggy subconscious, and the longer-term memory would kick in.

Or maybe not.

Every dog owner knows when a dog is acting "guilty" because it has done something it has been asked not to. When I was in dog training courses the trainers tried to rationalize that behavior in terms of owner reaction. If the dog appeared "guilty" it was because the dog was reacting to subtle ques in the owner's behavior. Yet how many dog owners have come home to find their usually outgoing pooch in an oddly subservient position, only to discover the mess some minutes later? An animal with no short-term memory or ability to reason cause and effect does not exhibit such a behavior.

So, we're wrong.

People don't know everything, and in fact we know very little about what's going through the minds of the animals we choose to live with.

Which makes me think: does a New Jersey dog ever dream of moving to Seattle? Do Alaskan dogs ever yearn to go Canadian?

Nobody knows. I've never gone over world geography with my dog. Our mutual landscape is: living room, backyard, park, street. Everything else she knows she's picked up from the Animal Channel, and as a result I suspect she would like to take up residence wherever there are alligators and Jeff Corwin.


Time is confusing. Musicians know it. That's how they invent fugues and rounds. These things are perfectly clear outside of time, but they seem like knots when you exist temporally. This is one:

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream.

Priests and shamen assure us that time does not exist. It is an illusion of the ego which impresses its will upon the world, and that's what we get to do here -- impress our will. Along with it we've dragged along the concept of one thing happening before the other. In "reality", all things for all time exist at once. It's the connectivity between everything that gives us the idea the industrial revolution happened before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. For surely Neil could not have taken his giant leap were it not for the invention of metal fabrication and the internal combustion engine. These things are connected. We invent the temporal aspect to them.

So they say.

So they say that things we do now will change the past as well as the future. That sounds silly. But when I was young I knew it was true. I saw the past changing all the time. One moment there was a billboard somewhere, days later there was a twenty-year old building where the billboard was.

When I asked my parents about it, they assured me there never was a billboard where the building was. But I remember struggling to read it, and their enthusiasm at my being able to identify the numbers in the "10,000 Pipers" champagne ad printed there.

But then it just wasn't there and a building was, as if I'd never learned that a one followed by four zeroes was a number called ten thousand. If they hadn't taught it to me reading that billboard, then how did I learn it? Was it a dream?

Maybe it was.

Merrily merrily merrily.

There is a book called, "A Course in Miracles". Through the best of my abilities I have divined the purpose of the book is to unstick one in time, sort of the way it happened to Billy Pilgrim in "Slaughterhouse Five". The difference between coming unstuck in fictional time and coming unstuck in real-life time is that real life is non-trivial, volitional, and necessarily brings one closer to the essence of the soul, and so to all souls. This is a form of music. Interlocking vibration creates our reality. So to change it, sing a different song.

The book is conveniently divided into 365 lessons. Do one earnestly each day for a year and you will become unfettered by time. You will become, as Richard Bach suggests, a messiah.

The lessons consist of stories you tell yourself every day, and an explanation for the story. For instance, one day you will spend an hour telling yourself, "My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts."

The rationalization for this is that you don't spend your time ruminating about things you will think, but rather, things you have thought. And you will realize after telling yourself on the eighth day, "My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts," that you're living in the past.

"I see nothing as it is now," you tell yourself on the ninth day, because you're thinking about what you have thought, not what you will think.

"These thoughts mean nothing."

"My thoughts mean nothing."

On the 235th day you will say to yourself, "God in his mercy wills that I be saved."

Then, "I rule my mind which I alone must rule."

"Now I would be as God created me."

"On my decision, all salvation rests."

And on the 240th day, "Fear is not justified in any form."

Fear is not justified in any form.
Fear is not justified in any form.

I realize I'm jumping ahead to August 28th. It's important to become unstuck in time to tell this to yourself. It's important to say to yourself on August 23rd: "I am in danger nowhere in the world."

I am in danger nowhere in the world.
I am in danger nowhere in the world.
I am in danger nowhere in the world.

You say this to yourself after August 21st where you spend the day saying:

This day is God's. It is my gift to him. This day is God's. It is my gift to him. This day is God's.

I am living in the past. My thoughts are taking me backward. Fear is not justified. The day is the Lord's. My days are gifts to him. I will judge nothing.
I will judge nothing.
I will judge nothing.
I will judge nothing.

Let every voice but God's be still in me.
Let me remember God created me.
Creation's gentleness is all I see.
Let all things be exactly as they are.
Let me not bind your Son with laws I made.
Let me not bind your Son with laws I made.
Let me not bind your Son with laws I made.
My true identity abides in you.
Let my world not obscure the sight of Christ.
I will not hurt myself again today.

I will not value what is valueless.

...yet though he tries to keep its halo clear within his vision, still must he perceive its tarnished edges and its rusted core. His ineffectual mistakes appear as sins to him, because he looks upon the tarnish as his own; the rust as a sign of deep unworthiness within himself. He who would still preserve the ego's goals and serve them as his own makes no mistakes, according to the dictates of his guide. This guidance teaches it is error to believe that sins are mistakes, for who would suffer for his sins if this were so?

On December 28th you say to yourself, over and over:

God's answer is some form of peace. All pain is healed; all misery replaced by joy. All prison doors are opened, and all sin is understood as merely a mistake.
Father, today we will forgive your world and let creation be your own. We have misunderstood all things. But we have not made sinners out of the holy Sons of God. What you created sinless so abides forever and forever. Such are we. And we rejoice to learn that we have made mistakes which have had no real effect on us. Sin is impossible, and on this fact forgiveness rests upon a certain base more solid than the shadow world we see. Help us forgive, for we would be redeemed. Help us forgive, for we would be at peace.

Say these things to yourself and become unstuck in time. Become a messiah. Become forgiveness. Become unafraid. He who is unafraid does not judge. He who does not judge does not bind God to physical law. All is forgiven, always. There can be no transgressions upon he who will not be transgressed upon. Time is the construct that has taken us from God.

Ask your church - why would anyone believe such tripe? Who are these people who write such a book? Where are their stone churches? Where are their services? Where is their heaven? Do they have no hell? Where are their cruise missiles and condemnation of others? Where is their division between the sinful and the holy? Where are their inspired leaders? Where is their willingness to assure peace through unending violence? Where are their Crusades and their tribunals? Where is the day of judgement?

There must be something wrong with a philosophy which juxtaposes the satanic "there is no sin" and "I am obscuring the sight of Christ," with "I am God's creation." How can evil not be punished? How can good not be rewarded? Where is the clear delineation between what we know is right and what we know is wrong? There is something obviously devient in a philosophy which attempts to base itself on peace rather than fear of retribution. It's not to be believed.

How could anyone?

I know. I tried. It's really, really hard.

Row row row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily merrily merrily merrily,
Life is


When I was a child I saw ghosts and lights that danced in the sky. There were places not far from my own home that had been constructed at the hands of supernatural powers. Any group of us could levitate a table or each other simply by laying on hands and repeating, "Mary Worth," over and over.

The fact we did it makes it no less easy for me to believe it was the fabrication of undeveloped minds. A part of me filters my senses. Makes judgements upon them. This happened -- this did not.

When I tried to catch the football on a snowy day, and it jammed my ring finger so it became swollen and unbendable, that happened. I felt it for days. When Eric kicked the football and it rose into the sky and never came down, that didn't. It came down somewhere, we just didn't see where it went.

When Bobby Noone snuck out of his house one summer midnight and saw the flying saucer in the park, that didn't happen even though we played in the ring of dead grass afterward. When I almost fell off the roof of his garage and an invisible hand grabbed my wrist and kept me from going over, it was friction between the roof tiles and my sneakers, even though I had the mark on my wrist to show how hard the grip was.

There are a lot of things I don't believe because a part of me thoroughly enjoys this construct. It doesn't like the idea another could be erected in its place. And so when my own mind assured me during a session at the Monroe Institute, that other people had shared my private dreams, had existed along with me within the comfortable blue world behind my sleeping eyeballs -- I felt myself torn to bits. It's logic. A personal domino theory of total disassembly of the self. If your dreams are real to other people as well as you, then there must be a physics to them, and if there is will our math apply? And if it doesn't, how can we find it? And what does it do to invalidate or validate the learning we've done that excludes such phenomenon? And how do we throw out the bits that exclude shared dreams and keep everything else? The ancients tossed such behavior into a bucket called "the occult", mixed it in with evil, and warned everyone away from it. The vehimence with which they insisted it didn't exist, validated its existence.

Because how can something be evil which does not exist?

Fear makes us see what it wants. It protects the nominal, co-experienced reality we call everyday life.

It is only through the dissolution of fear that we'll ever see what's really there that has been built by God. And what does that mean for everyday life?

And why should we care?

All of these things happened and when they did I felt like a creature in an unknown geography. I have no name for the dream land I've known since birth where it's possible to fly and objects move by force of will. I don't know where it is, or if it is a "where". If there are other such places with unmapped borders and uncalculated physics.

But I do know I was there. I know others were there with me and can relate their experiences just as if we'd taken a trip to Mall of America.

If I tried to explain Antarctica to my dog she'd sit and listen long enough to determine no food was involved, and then move away, not understanding a word.

Perhaps it is the same with time and the ego and the dreamspace. No matter how hard we try, it's a geography that doesn't involve the parameters we comprehend. It's not somewhere, somewhen. Nothing falls. Nothing adds. The explanation comes in a language in which none of us will ever have a vocabulary of more than twenty words. And in that language we can do little more than bark.

My dog doesn't know where Antarctica is, yet I have been there and I share life with her. The dog has little use for that information. There is no explanation of it that would net her a double helping of dinner or a faster run in the park. All she knows is I'm not home for a while, and then I am home again. If I brought her to Antarctica and then back home, she'd have no way to explain to anyone, even another dog, what had happened to her. I know she thinks, but the unknown geography of humanity is not important to how she exerts her will upon the world.

Unlike my dog, I know the unmapped geography is there.

Well, I'm pretty sure.