Metaphors for the mind

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Mental Environment

"Who you are is not the mind. You want to keep that window clean and clear. You want to learn to use the mind as the beautiful vehicle of communication that it really is and that it is meant to be. It is the perfect servant. It should never be the master. And it makes a very poor god." [1]

A Tyrant

"The mind without a true ruler will try to rule itself, and it makes a very poor guide in this respect. Indeed, it becomes more of a tyrant, and it is abusive, arrogant and self-deprecating all at the same time." [2]

A Child

"It is like an orphan child who must fend for itself until it finds a safe parent or guardian." [3]

A House

"The mind must be free. It is as if your house were stuffed to the ceiling with all the possessions you have ever owned--everything--and you had not thrown away anything. It is all in there, things great and small, filling your every room and hallway. And you say, "Well, I want to bring new things into my house, but there is no room. I want to create a new feeling and atmosphere in my house, but there is no space for it." Everything is cluttered, and your house becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Your experience of being in it is imprisoning, and you find yourself spending all of your time maintaining all of these possessions." [4]

"Your mind is like the house that you live in, in the world. It is filled with whatever you put there. It is the place from which you look out into the world. It is your shelter and your protection. It is the place where your spirit generally abides. However, if your house becomes too cluttered and too uncomfortable, Knowledge will not abide there. Then, you will find that you are living in a relic of your own past. You will feel like you are a museum keeper, someone who is taking care of old things." [4]

Fresh Concrete

"The thinking mind must constantly be stirred by new experience and by adaptation to new experience and new understanding in order to be vital and capable of learning. It is like stirring concrete. If you do not keep stirring it and adding water and new things to it, it hardens. And once it hardens, it can only be broken. People who are learning and living The Way of Knowledge are constantly being renewed and refreshed because they are close to life, and they are close to Knowledge. Their thoughts change, grow and evolve. Their ideas change, grow and evolve. Their conclusions change, grow and evolve. They can do this because there is something greater. There is Knowledge, the dynamic force of life within you, within the world and within the Greater Community as well. Knowledge brings you to the edge of life where you have to learn and adapt, communicate and contribute. This keeps you young, alive and close to the heart of life. Your mind, then, becomes constantly relevant to the present and is able to prepare for the future." [5]

The crew on a voyage

"Your body is the physical vessel, adapted to its environment, a marvelous instrument if it is guided properly. It can sail the whole world if it has a wise captain and an able crew."[6]

"Your crew are your thoughts and emotions, what the mind produces to direct the body. Here you have a functional crew or a dysfunctional crew, a faithful crew or an unfaithful crew, a competent crew or an incompetent crew. And their competence or incompetence will determine how far this vessel can go, what it can withstand in the winds and waves of the world and how well it can adapt to the presence of other ships and the hazards therein. Then there is the captain. The captain is you. It is even greater than your mind, for you are greater than your mind, for the mind is the crew. You are the captain." [6]

"The mind is a magnificent organizer and vehicle of communication. But it must be wisely directed and employed for a real purpose. Having a mind is like flying a plane. The plane is always going off course. You have to keep it directed where you want it to go." [7]

“Learning how to clear the mind and to quiet the mind can sometimes seem to be a great effort because the captivation has already occurred. Somehow you got swept downstream, and now you have to go downstream and find yourself and pull yourself out of the water because you got washed away! And though the current may be strong, you must pull yourself ashore.” [8]



“When you begin to listen inside of yourself, you hear the chaos of your own thinking and begin to feel your discomfort. If you are patient and observe these things without running from them, you will pass through them because they cannot keep you from what lies beyond. What keeps people from being free is not their external circumstances. It is their own mind and their own thoughts. They are prisoners to their thoughts. They cannot stop watching their thoughts. It is as if you were watching a movie on a screen and you could never tear yourself away. The screen then becomes ever more real to you, for you have no contrast. You have no experience to remind you that it is just a movie you are watching. As a result, it has greater and greater impact upon you, and you become a more captive audience with every moment.” [9]

"When you are learning the way of stillness, which produces an environment in which Knowledge can emerge within you, you realize that the mind is constantly thinking, constantly moving, distracting you, taking you away, and so forth. You find here that as it is doing this, you are actually within your mind, for your reference point is still in your mind, and so wherever it goes, you go. In practice, you are trying to bring yourself back to a position of objectivity and observation, but the mind takes off, and it takes you with it. It goes here, there and everywhere. It thinks about things that are grand, and it thinks about things that are ridiculous, and it imagines all kinds of scenarios—little dramas in which you then find yourself. It is like a television that is running all the time. So, in spiritual practice, how do you deal with the television running all the time? Here you set a certain focal point for yourself. It is like tuning the television into one kind of frequency or channel. You have to learn to do this, and only practice will enable you to do it. You have to have a focal point, and your mind has to have a focal point as well. In the Steps to Knowledge program, there are many different focal points that are introduced." [10]

"People are so frightened and so driven and so compulsive, they cannot be still for five seconds. They close their eyes to begin meditation, and their mind is like a wild animal—going everywhere, like all the channels of your television running at once, going from here and there and everywhere." [11]

"Knowledge will guide you, simplify your life, give you the freedom to be quiet and give you escape from your personal mind. Who wants to be with a chatterbox all the time? Who wants to be governed by little thoughts all the time? My goodness! That is like being stuck watching reruns on television twenty-four hours a day!" [12]


  1. Deepening Your Spiritual Practice (November 1, 2008)
  2. Steps to Knowledge Continuation Training, Step 6
  3. Greater Community Spirituality, Chapter 14: What must be avoided?
  4. 4.0 4.1 Greater Community Spirituality, Chapter 13:What must be unlearned?
  5. Living The Way of Knowledge, Chapter 2: The Four Pillars of Life
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Ship (12/28/13)
  7. Marshall Vian Summers, Campfire Chat, June 21, 2014
  8. Steps to Knowledge Continuation Training, Step 23
  9. Wisdom from the Greater Community Volume One, Chapter 20: Inner Listening
  10. Wisdom from the Greater Community Volume Two, Chapter 5: Working with the Mind
  11. The Journey to a New Life, Chapter 9: Courage and the Will to Prepare
  12. Wisdom from the Greater Community Volume One, Chapter 35: Achieving Peace