Mind: Ruler or Ruled?

By Christopher Snipes Dixon

Our minds are such sophisticated instruments; when operating in our service the mind has the ability to manifest marvels, such as the vehicle your reading these thoughts through. However, when the mind is our master it has the ability to do harm; through distortion of ourselves and our environment. For example, a horrifying story reported from Colorado to you in North Carolina (a distance of 1,720 miles) has the ability to influence your perceptions and therefore your interactions with others (or vice versa). This shows the mind’s ability to obscure reality rather than to contribute to it. Through thorough study of the mind, we can make sure to reap its benefits while discarding its costs. We can eventually even be able to summon it at will and dismiss it as our practice deepens.

The Four States of Mind:

  1. Association – referred to as the monkey mind. Like a monkey swinging from branch to branch the mind in this state swings from object to object, thought to thought. Ex: “It’s hot in here. I have a presentation in 15 minutes. I hate my job; I can’t wait to get home and relax. This weekend Cory has a basketball game. I hope he signs with Duke; I can’t stand State’s campus. I can deal with UNC’s, good school. Damn, my phone is ringing and it’s Jeff, always being anxious before a presentation. Probably wants to see if I heard about what happened in Colorado this morning. 10 minutes, alright I need to log off and get to the conference room.”
  2. Contemplation – the thought process is focused into a straight line. Ex: Albert Einstein figuring out the theory of relativity. A to B to C. With A being the starting point and C being the accomplishing of the objective. Math, Science, Strategy, Logic, etc.
  3. Concentration (One – Pointedness) – the mind is like a needle’s point, only one thought is present (an object looked upon, a mantra, chanting, etc.)
  4. Cessation – anything said about this state is truly a corruption. Convergence of Knower, Knowing, and Known (Subject, Object, and Verb [The Relating Process]). All logic breaks down. Reality is no longer obscured by definitions of itself; it is rather experienced directly.


  1. I am the ruler. I am that which governs. I ensure order. I am judge, jury, and executioner. It is not wrong to break the law; it is wrong being caught breaking the law. In some form or another, whether through a morally ambiguous friend or movie, we have heard or seen this statement in action. There is some truth to it, especially when applied to our practice. Enter any neighborhood and what do you see: a neighborhood watch sign. Enter any place of economic importance and what do you see; security. How are laws enforced in society? They are enforced through a police presence. If you want to guard against an intruder or if you want to maintain a certain authority over an environment; first and foremost, you must have a presence and that presence must be alert.Likewise if you want to have authority over your thoughts and not vice versa, you must maintain alertness over the content that crosses your consciousness. If you are not alert, the intruder may do as he pleases with your belongings and may come as he pleases (triggering more thoughts, emotions, tensions within the body). If you are alert, the intruder must come and go or be put into your service due to the lack of opportunities to take advantage of you (associations come and go revealing the Knower; contemplation and concentration is placed in your service).
  2. So long as it is dark outside will the diamond not be seen, but with first light the diamond stands out from the weeds.
    If you continue to persist in your efforts (when you think you are failing; just return to the practice, no condemnation needed on your part) you’ll eventually begin to experience your mind without content; a diamond of immense value. The fourth state of mind: cessation.


As you begin bringing awareness to your present moment do not worry yourself if you are not experiencing the fourth state of mind: cessation; rather, enjoy studying yourself. Begin noticing your thoughts and emotions, and label them “thoughts” and “emotions”. As your practice improves notice when your mind makes associations, contemplates, and/or concentrates. Notice how this effects your breath and your body. In time you will begin to experience gaps or moments of cessation of mind, and with it you’ll begin to gain mastery over your mind, your body, and your environment.

Is there anything separating the three?

Who has become the master?

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