We all know the tale of Aladdin, who found the magic lamp that poured forth a powerful genie when rubbed, that would grant his wishes.
The egoic human mind is like that lamp. It may lie dormant for a time, but when it is rubbed, (encouraged or threatened) it pours out in a great flood. Sometimes mind manifests with incredible creativity and intelligence. Just as often it crackles with toxic judgments, comparisons, desires and negativities. The mortal conscious mind has been referred to as the monkey mind, leaping from tree to tree and in constant motion. Recently I heard one gentleman refer to the mind as "A monkey, a drunken monkey, a drunken monkey stung by scorpions." Though that is funny, there isn't anything funny about the mind that is uncontrolled, undisciplined, allowed to go where it will.
The brilliant spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle writes about ego and the mind a lot, and with deep insight. He says:
"The insanity of the collective egoic mind, amplified by science and technology, is rapidly taking our species to the brink of disaster. Evolve or die: that is our only choice now."
Back to the genie. He is limited in some ways, and must do the bidding of the person holding the lamp. And that person had better have the right requests to make! There are many dreadful jokes floating around regarding the outcome of making the wrong wishes. Genies and minds can be very literal. The ego mind does not want to be in the present moment, because it has no power there. There is great quiet in the moment now, and mind doesn't tolerate quiet. It fears losing it's grip on it's human, and thereby it's very existence. Tolle also suggests that egoic mind is actually a separate entity, like an alien parasite, that sucks the life and the meaning out of a being by the simple action of never shutting up and permitting the miraculous present moment.
There is hope. There is a deeper level of mind, the soul mind, the mind of spirit. This mind is the one that is an expression of an infinite intelligence, the essence of our soul self. We can speak with this mind and ask it's assistance. Since it is of the Divine, it is more powerful by far than the ego mind. It has the potential to be still. Stillness is the essence of now, the essence of soul, the essence of God.
This is where spiritual practice comes in. My spiritual teacher and Father, Master Zhi Gang Sha, teaches that words have energy, frequency, and light, and that by proper use can actually raise our own frequency and awareness. There are countless mantras in the spiritual and religious disciplines of the world, and all carry their own meaning and importance. Sometimes it is just a sound, designed to create a feeling or to replace the monkey chatter. Sometimes it is the name of a saint or buddha, or words that vibrate different parts of the body. The point is that with mindful (haha) intention and a good mantra, we can put the genie back in the lamp.
I have chanted for years, it is a habit so ingrained that it feels strange when I am not chanting. It's funny though, even after all this time when I let down that guard, here comes the ol' monkey. I don't think it may ever fully go away, but I keep at it.
The western mind has a difficult time with stillness. It is almost impossible to achieve, except for long-time seasoned meditators, or very high level spiritual beings incarnated on the earth. The road to what is known as Tao Emptiness is a long one, but one way to come closer to the Tao is to chant high level mantras while in meditation, keeping the being centered and the mind on the one thing, chanting the mantra with the awareness in the lower abdomen. After a time, it is home. Quiet. Dark and yet radiant, in company with the One. Vibrant with presence. When the first outer world thought comes in it feels so alien and intrusive that we want to run right back to the precious place. We can't stay there though, we have things to do, beings to serve, duties of house, home and temple. It is not the same though, after emerging from the infinite. We are one shade lighter, one smile calmer and more peaceful. In time, we walk as peace.
Learn such self-discipline that the mind is used as a tool, and a powerful and wonderful one it can be! You can talk to your mind, "dear my mind, I love you. You are powerful to sit in my lower abdomen, clear, clean, healed, open, filled with light, still. You can serve at a high level there. Do a good job. Thank you." Like the genie, it must do your bidding.