NAIKAN – THE PRACTICE OF A BUDDHIST PYSCHOTHERAPY

Paul Koppler, the founder and guardian angel of the Waldhaus Retreat Centre, Nickenich, an hour from Bonn, Germany and I were talking over lunch last week about the practice of Naikan Therapy. We have a mutual friend, Franz in

Austria, who has been a Naikan therapist for more than 25 years leading Naikan retreats, often every other week.

Naikan Therapy enables people to take total responsibility for their feelings, perceptions and views in matters of a relationship, and to transform their attitude towards another person. It is truly a Buddhist therapy.

Naikan means in Japanese inside looking and was founded by Ishin Yoshimoto in 1953.

A participant sits a seven day Naikan retreat. He or she is provided with a small room, pen and paper, and only leaves the room to go to the toilet and shower. The Naikan teacher goes to the room daily, perhaps two or three times, to listen to the person’s reflections. The participant has three questions to reflect on and has nothing else whatsoever to be committed to.

The Three Questions

  1. What have I received from __________ ?
  2. What have I given to __________ ?
  3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused __________ ?

These questions apply right up to the present time in the retreatant’s life. The person generally takes the most important person in their life and explores the relationship within the context and discipline of the three questions. The practice enables the person to come to a realistic view of the relationship and the necessary give and take required.

Naikan helps the individual take full responsibility for their attitude, motivations and enables him or her to recognise the support and care that the other person has offered. The practice is to end the problems in the relationship due to seeing the other primarily or equally at fault.

1. What has the person given me? The retreatant might list all the details of what the person in his or her life has offered, shared or sacrificed going back as far as possible. One becomes mindful of all the little things. The more the recollection of tiny details the better. Everything is important.

2. The other side of the equation. What have I given to the person? What am I offering currently? Make the details specific.

3. What problem and difficulties have I caused or am I causing this person? This is the hardest question. We are used to believing that the other person must change for any kind of relationship to work. We might think that what we say or do is not such a big deal. The retreatant becomes mindful and writes down with total honesty all the problems and difficulties he or she has caused in the relationship right up to the present time.

One person might choose their mother, father, siblings, partner, neighbour, boss, friend, pet, or a job or the area where one lives or a possession, such as money, a home or a car.

One person asked Ishin Yoshimoto, the founder: “Why don’t you allow a fourth question? What are the problems and difficulties the person has caused me?

The founder replied: “There is no need for you too go into this question. You know already.
”If you have a major issue going on with somebody, then take a day out and give yourself totally To these three questions. You might change into the person that you want the other person to be!

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY




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