Knowing About Your Mind Helps You Move Forward on Your Spiritual Journey

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Author Stephen Covey tells the story of riding a subway one morning. There was a father whose kids were jumping around like maniacs. Covey grew irritated and angry as he watched these out-to-control children and this detached father. Finally, he confronted the dad. In an indifferent kind of way, the dad looked up and said, “Oh, you’re right, I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess I don’t know how to handle it either.” Knowing that changed Covey from a harsh judge to a compassionate human being. The mind, because it is judgmental, often takes us to places we should not go. Why is this?

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Our guide on our journey to know ourselves better, Dr. Meletios Webber, writes:

In fallen humanity, the mind and the heart have been alienated from each other. The heart has been almost entirely hidden from view, or at least obscured. The mind has started to function on its own, separately from the heart…The mind is a very good and valuable tool, but it does not have the strength of character to be independent…Estranged from the heart, the mind has set up an independent operation; it begins to act with a sense of independence which, if unchecked, ultimately brings ruin and destruction to everything it touches. In its independence, the mind ultimately brings ruin and destruction to everything it touches.

Why is the mind destructive?

It operates as the great defense system we need to process all the information we receive. However, in so doing, the mind is:

  • self-centered
  • judgmental
  • fearful of attack

The mind:

  • expects and assumes the worst from the world, from other people, and ultimately from God.
  • measures everything against its usefulness to the mind’s story of the self, the ego.
  • attempts to replace the real center of being, the heart, with a center of its own creation.

The two aspects of the mind that have great impact on your spiritual life

  1. The mind is judgmental. It loves to label people. It deals with people as a threat or challenge. They are “too small, too fat, too good-looking, too proud, too sinful, too unfriendly, too different, etc.” You label people and then justify your dismissal of them. “You have your label – I have summed you up – now go away.”
  2. The mind’s “dualistic thinking.” “The mind lives in a realm in which everything that is known has to have an opposite. “Up” must have a “down,” “good” must have a “bad.” The energy of the mind consists in comparisons…[your] experience with [my] experience, this word with that word. The mind sees everything in contrast, valuing differences and ignoring identity.”

So, as needful as the mind is for your spiritual development, it is not enough. It must be transformed and “reigned in” by your heart (which I’ll address in the next post).

Think of a time when you judged someone wrongly or thought of them as “useful” or not. How has your “dualistic thinking” impacted your spiritual life? Share below. 

Dr. K