“The “concept” of self-reflection is one which is endorsed by nearly everyone – religious leaders, therapists, politicians, scientists, etc… Most people would say that self- reflection is a “good idea” just as most people support the good ideas of “love”, “peace”, “justice” and “healthy living.” But it is in method and practice that ideas become realities and it is here that we must define and evaluate self-reflection. How do you actually reflect on yourself? What is the method for examining one’s life?

What is Naikan?

“Man need only divert his attention from searching for the solution to external questions and pose the one, true inner question of how he should lead his life, and all the external questions will be resolved in the best possible way.”

– Leo Tolstoy

Naikan is a Japanese word which means “inside looking” or “introspection.” A more poetic translation is “seeing oneself with the mind’s eye.” It is a structured method of self- reflection that helps us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the fundamental nature of human existence. Naikan was developed by Yoshimoto Ishin, a devout Buddhist of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan. His strong religious spirit led him to practice mishirabe, an arduous and difficult method of meditation. Wishing to make such introspection available to others, he developed Naikan as a method that could be more widely practiced.

Naikan: A Practice of Gratitude,
Self-Reflection, and Attention

Find out more @ The Todo Institute

2 thoughts on “Naikan

  1. Oh, you forgot the most important part!

    Naikan reflection is based on three questions:

    What have I received from ______?
    What have I given to _______?
    What troubles and difficulties have I caused _______?

    These questions provide a foundation for reflecting on relationships with others such as parents, friends, teachers, siblings, work associates, children, and partners. We can reflect on ourselves in relation to pets, or even objects which serve us such as cars and pianos. In each case, we search for a more realistic view of our conduct and of the give and take which has occurred in the relationship.

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