Imagine you have a desire to move to California. You are given a map from someone you trust. So you follow the map for a long time and, to your surprise and dismay, you find yourself in Detroit. This is not good and is sometimes even tragic! We work so hard to get some place we really want to go to and end up far from the desired goal.
The alphabet is a map to language that creates words. Words are cognitive maps, metaphors that represent concepts, beliefs, and concrete objects in the external world. Example: Think of the word “tree”. Most likely the word “tree” will bring to your mind a picture of a specific tree. If each one of us were to draw our tree, there would be similarities, but it is unlikely that any would be identical. Your cognitive maps are unique to you.
“The map is not the territory” (Alfred Korzybski). A map only represents a specific territory. When you look at any map, the blue lines represent rivers, the black lines represent highways, and the blue circles represent lakes. However, the blue lines are not actually the rivers, the black lines are not actually the highways, and the blue circles are not actually the lakes. The lines are not the things that are represented. The menu at a restaurant is not the meal, is it? You don’t go into a restaurant and cut the plastic pictures out and eat them, do you? The pictures are maps to the meals; they are not the meal.
The external world stimulates the maps that are already established in our minds. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you ma prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:12 New American Standard Bible).
The Romans verse is speaking to those of us who believe in Christ and have been born again. The renewing of your mind takes place when distorted, inaccurate cognitive maps are redesigned to align with the truth of God’s Word.