I'm a long-time daily meditator. I did the closed-eyes introspecting thing almost every morning for over forty years. During that time my practice was focused on "going inside."
Good question, one which I never gave much thought to during my true-believing spiritual phase. The guru I followed used those words going inside a lot, so I assumed they meant something.
Now it seems to me that reality doesn't have an inside and an outside.
I've given up the goal of concentrating on the interior of my cranium, which many meditators believe leads to an experience of wholly other-worldly phenomena -- divine lights and sounds, that sort of thing.
Over on the Yahoo RadhaSoami Studies Group (I used to be a member of Radha Soami Satsang Beas), I came across a posting called "How deep inside your self can you go." It starts out by conveying the standard dogma of what it means to go inside.
How deep within can you go is the fundamental question to all who do meditation. It means how deep have you gone. To what level have you transcended your mind from your body. Do you know your own Soul. or after years of trying you can only guess!
When we ask these simple questions the forum wall goes mute! Why? It is because no one ventures that deep within them self. And no one knows how deep anyone can go. There is no way of knowing even with intuition how deep a person has achieved and how much a person has uncovered at all. WE cannot tell from any outside means who has and who has not.
Well, I have several disagreements with what's been said here.
First, it isn't true that "all who do meditation" seek to go deep inside their own self or consciousness, transcending the body.
Buddhist meditation usually involves paying attention to one's body and/or the outside world. Following the breath, either by mindfully observing inbreaths and outbreaths, or counting breaths, is a core Buddhist meditative practice.
Second, the soul is a hypothesis of only certain religions and spiritual philosophies. Most Buddhists and Taoists don't believe in a disembodied soul -- an immaterial drop of consciousness, or whatever, that is separate and distinct from our physical nature.
Third, the author of this piece assumes that it is possible to "go inside" even though he/she admits there's no way of knowing whether anyone has been able to do this. How could there be, if the deepest inside of us is totally transcendent from the outside?
The notion of going inside is strongly dualistic. As noted above, it presumes that some part of us is capable of experiencing a level of reality that is utterly detached from the physical body and material world.
Neuroscience tells us that there is no distinction between "inside" and "outside" in human consciousness. Meaning, we have no direct contact with reality. All of our experiencing occurs through the brain, which filters, processes, and otherwise manipulates raw sensory perceptions in complex unconscious ways.
So the idea that it's possible to detach one's consciousness from the brain is just that: an idea. And ideas are produced by the brain.
I like how Alan Watts looks upon our human situation in his book,"The Wisdom of Insecurity."
For among the things that give man pleasure are relations with other human beings -- conversation, eating together, singing, dancing, having children, and cooperation in work which "many hands make light."
Indeed, one of the highest pleasures is to be more or less unconscious of one's own existence, to be absorbed in interesting sights, sounds, places, and people. Conversely, one of the greatest pains is to be self-conscious, to feel unabsorbed and cut off from the community and the surrounding world.
...The meaning of freedom can never be grasped by the divided mind. If I feel separate from my experience, and from the world, freedom will seem to be the extent to which I can push the world around, and fate the extent to which the world pushes me around.
But to the whole mind there is no contrast of "I" and the world. There is just one process acting, and it does everything that happens. It raises my little finger and it creates earthquakes. Or, if you want to put it that way, I raise my little finger and also make earthquakes. No one fates and no one is being fated.
...For the mind must be interested or absorbed in something, just as a mirror must always be reflecting something. When it is not trying to be interested in itself -- as if a mirror would reflect itself -- it must be interested or absorbed in other people and things.
There is no problem of how to love. We love. We are love, and the only problem is the direction of love, whether it is to go straight out like sunlight, or to try to turn back on itself like a "candle under a bushel."
I'm certainly no Christian, but I think this supposed saying of Jesus contains quite a bit of wisdom. Our "enlightenment," whatever that may mean, is to be directed outward -- toward other people and the world.
We shouldn't hide away within ourselves, which isn't even possible, because there is no "within" and no "without." It's all one. Whatever the heck it is.