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The Museum of Vestigial Desire

On Introspection

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

Looking within is an abstraction. Surely, we cannot really look within ourselves. What we imagine and construe as our inner world is in fact just thoughts. Maybe a different kind of mental plane. But thoughts nonetheless. What do we associate with the act of introspection? Can we change the association? Can the notion of seeing blankly — searching for stimulation be introspective? Do we have to close our eyes? Closing our eyes supposedly helps us be immersed in our own minds fully, but is that true? One of the most enchanting forms of introspection that I have practiced and read about is the simple act of looking into the eyes of a friend. Even a child looking intently into our eyes can be lead to a revealing moment.

Introspection means to periodically have such revealing moments. Revealing in which way? Revealing about ourselves. Any moment that helps us to know more about ourselves can be called an introspective moment. Because knowing about ourselves is such a tricky problem. We have to devise strategies that allow us to defeat our narrative-producing mind. What is wrong with narrative? Narrative-bias forces us to believe a story just because it’s there. Often our real attributes have not been discovered yet, so narratives about them do not exist. Our mind connects disparate fragments in our consciousness and labels them as events. These events might not exist as distinct strands otherwise. Why does our mind do this?

Our mind does this because it is mounted inside a meaning-making machine (our brain). It feeds us meaning constructed on the basis of meaningful-events. These meaningful-events show us as specific kind of persons based on our actions and reactions. But all of this is fictive. It is based on circumstantial evidence.

We need to be careful to keep distance from this fiction. If we believe it, we get more lost in the labyrinth of our mind. We are then further away from knowing ourselves with any clarity.

Many pressures act on us. How we behave depends on how we navigate these pressures. So we cannot depend on any analysis of our behaviour only to fathom ourselves. We need to consider our intent and a wide range of settings to fathom ourselves.

Who am I? This is indeed a very tricky question. We need to make peace with this question not being answered absolutely. And learn to live in ambiguity — forever in the pursuit of an answer.

But we can only have revelations and glimpses. Not a lucid vision. We can be friends with ourselves. But even what we know of our friends is based on glimpses and revelations that we piece together to furnish entire stories. A life of self-friendship is something that we can look forward to. Not be strangers anymore.

Stepping into a self-friendship is as close a proximity with ourselves that we can hope for while still living in the social world and not withdrawing completely. And that ought to be enough for us.

tags: eyes

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