Thank you, especially to Gregory Bateson and Milton Erickson for one of the insights that changed my life—language shapes perception. How we talk about something or someone creates the context for discovering and relating to it’s mystery.

The reality of someone or something can be too big, too complex to fit into just one word or phrase. How then do we talk about what we see and experience? Our own reality can also be so very big and complex; how are we to come to some understanding? Enter the use of metaphor to conjure up a likeness to the essence and the experience—giving us insight; a way to hold the reality. More than that, we can play with metaphors to explore more and deeper levels of significance.

Her voice was music.
His skin was like silk.
The moonlight is liquid silver.
The planet is an organism.
Earth is our mother.
Life is war.
God is an earthquake.

Metaphors can be praise, insult, homage, freedom, even a prison.

The great mystics use metaphor to communicate their experience of the Divine Other and Creation. Meister Eckhart tells us that “God’s ground and my ground is the same ground…1 Teresa of Avila described the soul as a crystalline castle with many rooms where God resides at the center.2 Ibn Arabi tells us that: My heart can take on any form: a meadow for gazelles, a cloister for monks…I profess the religion of love; wherever its caravan turns along the way…3

When your mind turns to matters of ultimate reality, how do you describe these to yourself? What images and words come to mind? Or might it be a song? a sculpture? colors on a canvas? something in nature? An event?

And if your mind never turns to matters of ultimate reality, what metaphors might shed light on that state of affairs?

1Meister Eckhart: Mysticism of the Ground | UnbornMind Zen

2Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle The Interior Castle Index (

3From Poem 11 of the Tarjuman al-ashwaq, translation by Michael A Sells. Homepage of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society (MIAS)