"I disagree. This isn’t a candidate for a koan because the tree falling in the woods puzzle is merely a semantic problem based on two definitions of “sound”. If you adhere to the definition that it’s a physical phenomenon of alternating expansion and compression of the molecules of a medium you will say that there is a sound. If you believe the subjective definition that there can only be a sound if there is a sense organ present then you will say there isn’t. This is a language problem that can be solved in the left hemisphere where both language and reasoning reside. You could meditate forever on this and not get any understanding of your true nature. "
Ah, but I disagree more. :)
The question of a tree falling in the woods is not semantic in nature, it is metaphysical and epistemological. If I accept that the world exists as it is, as I experience it, that it is knowable by me then the only answer I can select is that sound is a physical phenomenon of alternating expansion and compression of the molecules etc. The sound of the tree falling is not subject to my awareness of it, it happens anyway because of the physical laws of nature.
If I believed otherwise, if I had a subjective definition of sound, I would be stating that in fact the world is not as it is, that it is subject to me being present to perceive it. Now, I know the world keeps on going each night when I go to sleep. Though I am unconscious during sleep, there are trees making sounds, for a variety of reasons. The world as I know it does not end or stop when I am not there to make sure it keeps going. LOL!
It is a major question about the nature of the metaphysics and epistemology you have accepted!
As to my own nature, that isn't something I can delve into without reason as a guide to ordering the events I've experienced and my general knowledge base. I can't turn my mind off and 'find' my true me. What would be my guide? Some spontaneous conflagration of something that will burst forth and say 'This is YOU Joy, revel in your nature.'.
I do believe in introspection, evaluating my emotions, my thought processes, my experiences but I need some basis for even beginning to know how to order them, sort them, categorize them, to make any sense. I need some framework into which I can put all that I experience and learn and with that framework I can then give some level of importance to all aspects of my life, decide what is important and what isn't. That is a part of the job of philosophy, it is a tool so that a person is able to 'rank' everything they perceive and apply reason to it all.
I believe that what you call meditation may be something that I call introspection, and I don't believe that it requires a suspension of reason to accomplish real work. Yes, it's necessary to be free of doing some particular brainwork to introspect, introspection is something I do when I have the luxury of a bath uninterrupted by my kids, or when I'm doing domestic chores that are mostly automatic. It is during times like these that I sift through what I've experienced, the questions or emotions events raise in me and try to put some order to them.
For example, sometimes I can read something here on SOLOHQ and I have an immediate emotional reaction, either agreement or disagreement, but some strong feeling that I can't immediately identify a rational reason for. I will not reply to that message in that emotional state until I have worked through the 'why' of reacting that way to it. I call that introspection and sometimes, it does turn up some contradiction in my own premise, while other times I simply work out the chain of reasoning that makes me agree or disagree. However, I know that for myself, a strong emotional reaction is something to be examined and so I do. It is reason and logic that will help me validate whether my response makes any logical sense.
Back to learning of my own nature, only reason can do that for me. I know what I value and why. I know how much work I'm willing to put into some aspect of myself. For example, I've learned I'm simply not a morning person. Nope, no way, not me. I've stopped trying to fight it, not because I had some inner inspiration that told me it was okay not to be a morning person or that it was simply my nature. I came to that conclusion based on the fact that sleeping in is the only chunk of time I get to be totally alone, quiet, aware but still reasoning and introspecting. I felt guilty for a while that I didn't get up and make coffee (based on various cultural and personal issues that didn't make sense :), but ultimately I reasoned that those particular feelings about making coffee were not important enough to me to give up the time I get to myself in the morning. And I have a wonderful husband who is a morning person and doesn't mind making the coffee. *grin*
Had it been otherwise, I would have to re-evaluate the situation and see how important getting up to make coffee was to me and my family. It turned out not to be important and so everyone is happy.
Every aspect of my life is governed by such thought processes. Every choice I make is based on some hierarchy of what is important to me and what is not. I weigh everything in regards to time, effort, and ultimate productivity. All my choices have a reason and the time I get to make those choices and weigh them is the time I spend introspection, with reason in full force not in abeyance.