human mind

The Process of Introspection

A thought is any modification of the mind, such as perception, inference, imagination, memory, feeling, or emotion. Even though every single experience is unique in itself, all experiences are based on the same ingredients of thought., They are: subject, object, action located within space and time. Introspection helps us to understand the anatomy of thought. No human experience can occur without these five elements.

Introspection is a form of meditation that penetrates into the web of our normal experiences and their core elements. Our mind uses interconnected layers of perception, memory, imagination, filtering, and reasoning to create the basics of the normal experiences of life. These basic functions then interact with each other to deliver the incredibly rich and complex lives that we each have. 

Introspection begins by separating and then identifying individual basic functions, and eventually deconstructing them to get to the core elements. This is a long and challenging process, but is extremely effective when performed correctly for extended periods of time.

girl reading GIF

Mind is like a Movie

We pay attention to the moving pictures on the screen while listening to the sound from an appropriate distance at an appropriate volume.” In other words, a proper perspective is required to experience a movie. If you’re too far or too close to the screen, the movie loses its essence. Similarly, all the experiences of life require the proper perception.

Introspection, however, is the process of breaking out of that proper perception. We move from watching the movie comfortably on the couch to examining the DVD in the player to figure out how it all works. This “ruins” the movie experience, of course, but for those interested in understanding the underlying truths, there’s no better way than to explore the mechanisms.

Two chinamen visiting Europe went to the theatre for the first time. One of them occupied himself with trying to understand the theatrical machinery, which he succeeded in doing. The other, despite his ignorance of the language, sought to unravel the meaning of the play. The former is like the astronomer, the latter the philosopher.” – Arthur Schopenhaue

The actual practice of introspection has several different versions that all end up at the same place. One is to seek the source of the self or identity through asking “Who am I?” Another is to seek the Infinite and all-pervading, or that which has no opposite and thus cannot change. And a third is to seek the original causes of experience.

In all forms of introspection, we start with where we are in our everyday life and experiences. We start with our normal state of mind. Then we work back (or in) to uncover not just the core elements of everyday experiences, but also the causes of those core elements.