For many years, decades actually, I practiced a form of meditation aimed at "going within." Meaning, within some supposed realms of consciousness distinct, and higher than, the physical world.
This practice was part of a Sant Mat teaching. As Wikipedia says:
The basic teaching of contemporary Sant Mat, as described by its Masters, is that everything lies inside us and that God is within. The outside world is only an image or a reflection of the inner reality.
So, in pithier terms, what's outside of us is worthless crap; what's inside of us is precious divinity. This world-denying notion is found in many other religious, mystical, and philosophical systems.
The big question is whether seeking reality "within" makes sense.
If this life here on Earth is the only living we're ever going to do, then ignoring the Big Wide World outside for a Tiny Narrow World inside our head is pretty damn stupid.
Regardless of how you feel about this question, you should read Shyam Dodge's "Excerpt Mine Eyes: Contemplating the Roots of Spiritual Escapism." Great writing, and great analysis of inner-directed truth seeking. Likely I'll be returning to the Yoga Brains site.
Here's some excerpts:
This reverence for the human capacity to see with the eyes closed may be the root contemplative experience underpinning the vast web of ontology, cosmology, and epistemology spun by philosophical systems like Vedanta. The Vedantin trusted experience and therefore used it as the ground for philosophical analysis; elaborating from such subjective experience he (for it was always a he in Vedanta) crystallized truths about the nature of consciousness and objective reality.
...When Socrates closed his eyes awareness did not go away. More importantly, he still saw. This was a mystery to him. As it was a mystery to the Vedantins. They imagined that there must be more than one world—a deceptive world of the eyes and another (truer) internal one. The invention of the soul may have its origins in our capacity for self-reflection, and even more significantly our ability to dream with our eyes closed.
Rendering themselves ostracized by both Hindus and Buddhists the Carvakans maintained that inferences based upon self-reflection were shoddy at best when it came to synthesizing ontologies. We now know that even in dreamless sleep the brain is still operating, it is still alive. When we sleep the body does not enter a state of complete suspended animation. When we dream it is a function of the brain, not an action of consciousness independent of biology. In fact, our capacity for awareness is not isolatable from body, world, or brain. It appears that the Carvakans, after all, were correct. (I discuss many of these ideas in greater depth here.)
...But there is another question nagging me at the edges of this reimagining (a feeble attempt to reconstruct the origins of our ocular-distrust): Why this valuation? Why choose to believe that the world experienced inside is the realer one?
A cursory review might say that we are natural solipsists, that our own experience of the world is more real to us than the world itself. Psychologically it is easier to believe than the alternative—the world is bigger, badder, and stronger than us and we are at its disposal rather than the other way around. There are reams of psychological speculations about this very quality of the human animal that could support this assertion. Attending this tentative observation is another, simpler explanation: in one version we are saved from death, in the other we are doomed to it. Most of us will choose the former, the one that says our dreams are reality.
...The world behind our eyes is just as valid–and much more comfortably numb than the world of our everyday life. It is to die before you die and become, for all intents and purposes, a Buddhist zombie. Detachment is a recipe for the Walking Dead—or at the very least a world of the blind. The modern meditator, then, is very close to the classic dissociative who finds internal means for isolating themself from pain (psychically one must become a blind-orphan to do this—without a father or a mother, simply awitness who has inverted their gaze).