Naikan Therapy was developed by Yoshimoto Ishin, a practitioner of the Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism in Japan in the 1940s. Naikan means “inside looking” or “self introspection.” It is more reflective than Morita Therapy, but also is very structured. It has had great success in working in prisons with inmates. It is based on reflecting on three questions: (1) What have I received from …. ? (2) What have I given to ….. ? (3) What troubles and difficulties have I caused …. ? It does not ask the fourth question, which would be, “What troubles and difficulties has …. caused me?” In the West this is the source of the controversy about Naikan Therapy. In the attached article I discuss Naikan Therapy and some of its controversies.
Morita Therapy was developed by Shoma Morita in the early part of the 20th century. It has similarities to the Western cognitive behavioral therapies and to mindfulness therapies, but has its own distinctive character. Many people say it is based on Zen ideas, but Morita himself denied this. It does reflect many Japanese cultural ideas about how to heal psychological disturbances. The attached article discusses Morita Therapy in comparison with some Western psychotherapeutic ideas.
Introduction to Self-Cultivation
Self-cultivation is an East Asian idea that has much in common with psychotherapy. It can be said that the purpose both of East Asian “Ways” (see endnote #1 in the Introduction to Self-Cultivation PDF), such as the Way of Tai Chi or the Way of Zen and of Western psychotherapy, is to cultivate or train the self or some aspect of the self. Self-cultivation in Japanese and Chinese is expressed in the characters 修行 (shyu-gyo), which mean cultivating or training the self (see endnote #2 in the Introduction to Self-Cultivation PDF). The ways of doing this self-cultivation are very different – The Way of Tai Chi is through body forms in the practice of cultivating chi (vital energy) and the Way of Zen is through Zen meditation while the way of Western psychotherapy varies according to the style, including talk, behavioral, relational, experiential, somatic, analytical, art, individuals, families, and groups.
A basic purpose of Western psychotherapy is to train a person so that they make fundamental changes in their behavior and self. An example is a person with an anger problem. In psychotherapy the person trains their mind so that their anger is no longer a problem. The East Asian ways of self-cultivation also have as part of their purpose mental training. Applying the East Asian ways of mental training can be very helpful for psychotherapeutic mental training.
This is a series with two focuses. Focus One is about aspects of East Asian self-cultivation. Focus Two is about various applications of East Asian self-cultivation to Western psychotherapy. Each focus will be further discussed in separate blog posts, posted at various times.
This first post in this series discusses the basics of East Asian self-cultivation. This post has two PDF files – the first this “Introduction to Self-Cultivation with Endnotes” and the second “East-Asian Self-Cultivation: To Continue and To Repeat Gives You Strength.”
Cross-cultural relationships present many challenges and mysteries. How can members of a couple understand what is going on? How can they handle these challenges and mysteries? This short article proposes some ways that couples can understand and work with what happens in cross-cultural relational life. It is important that a person accepts their partner as they are, gives up on trying to change them, and finds a way to meet in their relationship. If people in cross-cultural relationships are to meet in their relationship, they need step outside of their habitual ways of dealing with relationship challenges and mysteries. They need to think outside the box of their habits and cultural learning and look for new perspectives on how to handle relationship challenges and mysteries. Included in this article is a simple exercise that points to the need for thinking outside the box that is a person’s habits and learning.
A book chapter in Mathers, D., Miller, M., & Ando, O. (Eds.). (2009). Self and no-self: Continuing the dialogue between Buddhism and psychotherapy. London: Routledge, pp. 45-55
A short essay based on the theme of negotiating in cross-cultural situations – the need for speaking to the other person’s values and setting your own values on the side temporarily. This is a true story that happened in Cambodia in 2007.