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 broadens our view of reality.
It’s as if, standing on top of a mountain, we shift from a zoom lens to a wide-angle lens. Now we can appreciate the broader panorama – our former perspective still included, but accompanied by much that had been hidden. And that which was hidden makes the view extraordinary.
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