A mind palace is a mental space used for storing a sequence of visual memory cues. It was know in ancient Greece 2500 years ago and well used by Roman orators. Imagine a series of spaces, like the rooms in a palace, and then place visual representations of the things you want to remember in them. When you visit the spaces and there the memories are.
While it might be fun to design and create fancy palaces, that turns out not to be very useful. It is much easier to use places that you ready know. The house you grew up in. The route to school. A favorite walk in the woods. The house you live in now. Any series of rooms, or locations, that is already well ingrained in your brain by frequent use.
The images that are placed in the palace, should also be simple, personally meaningful, and emotionally or energetically charged. These are qualities that naturally make something easy to remember. They are also qualities that make any ceremonial or meditational tool effective in general, the qualities that align attention with intention.
The intellectual human mind likes to create structures to play in. Spaces where words and ideas are elaborated and strung together, theories are forged, and information collected. Lives and societies are ordered based on those structures. The ego mind also likes to embellish and enhance, to create more complexity and detail. This makes it feel accomplished.
Spirit, however, is simple. Source is beyond form and all embellishment. It simply IS. Embellishment, although sometimes beautiful, makes something more uniquely individual and thus further removed from Pure Being.
Creating palaces, mental or physical, is a creative movement, a flow outward from Source. Returning to Source is served by going deeply into a single idea, e.g. Being, Love, Presence, Compassion, reaching for Essence. Ramana Maharsi’s teaching was simple. Keep asking “Who AM I”? There is a place for both exploring how Life flows out into the world and for breathing back inwards to Source. Different tools serve each flow.
The mind, like the body, is an aspect of the temple of my Soul, part of what allows my Self to be human and live in the world. The mind can be a baroque palace, or a zen tea house, or both. Which one helps you to remember the Spirit that inhabits it? Which helps you to create in the world? In a mind palace the key thing is the information or idea that each picture inside the palace represents. The palace is a container two steps removed. Similarly our own mind is a container for holding ideas and information. It is an expression of Essence, not Essence itself.
The mind is important, but Essence is what is most important. It is prior to, and foundational for, all its forms and expressions. Exploring the expressions can lead us back to Essence, or distract us from going deeper. Forms are helpful on the spiritual path when they are personally meaningful, energetically/emotionally powerful to you, and helpful in focusing your attention on the Essence which they embody.
Spiritually we are here to learn to Be, to remember the Essence behind all the pictures in the palaces of our mind, as well as the palace itself. Thinking is part of the creative outward flow. We are not here to search out the secret of the universe, or to build a better palace. We are here to remember what is inside and underneath it all: Source. You already Are. Source expresses through you, as through everything. You are That.