The Status of Naikan Therapy around the World: Difference and Universalit
The 3rd International Congress of NAIKAN Therapy Symposium



Cultural Differences between Japan, China and South Korea and the Status of Naikan Therapy in the Respective Countries

?Presenting a brief consideration to the gThree Questionsh?


Teruaki Maeshiro

Yamato Naikan Institute

I. Introduction

It has long been known that the Naikan method, originating in Japan, was developed out of mishirabe, which has been inherited in a group of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism. It is also widely known that Buddhism was introduced from India to China, South Korea and finally to Japan; this suggests that these three countries, i.e., China, South Korea and Japan, have historically shared Buddhism as a common culture.

Interestingly, however, one of the focuses of this Symposium will be differences between these countries in interpreting the Three Questions asked in the Naikan method. In fact, there are obviously various cultural differences between these countries, even while sharing Buddhism as a common ground. As a symposiast, I will briefly discuss the subject assigned to me, with such cultural differences in mind.


II. Difference between Mishirabe and Naikan

Asked how Naikan was distinguished from mishirabe, Ishin Yoshimoto, the founder of the Naikan method, replied gI shifted the emphasis of Naikan from ehaving a sense of uncertaintyf to ehaving a sense of guiltfh (Yoshimoto, Ishin, Introduction to Naikan, 1983, p. 56). He also explained the reason for the shift: gAwareness as a real sinner entails a deep, deep self-reflection. When a sinner becomes aware of being a sinner, the eye of the truth opens. To feel a real sense of uncertainty, we should start from a training for becoming truly aware of sins.

Therefore, I shifted emphasis from the conventional oneh (Yoshimoto, Ishin, Introduction to Naikan, 1983, p. 57). As a specific approach to this purpose, the Three Questions, which had not been practiced in mishirabe, were established in the Naikan method. Thus, it can be said that these Three Questions are the critical difference between mishirabe and Naikan.



III. Specific Episodes that Reminded Me of Cultural Differences

1. One Chinese student studying in Japan experienced a Naikan training in Japan. After this training, he was pleased that his relations with Japanese people improved. However, when returning to China for a short holiday stay, he found his relations with Chinese people worsened, and he felt sad about this. Learning this story from him, I wondered if this was attributable to cultural differences between the two countries.

2. One day a Korean Naikan participant visited me. He requested an interpreter because he did not understand Japanese. When I proposed, for an interpreter, a Korean student studying in Japan, who was younger than him, he declined to accept it. In the end, he was satisfied with another candidate who was older than him. It seemed that the culture of respecting seniority was still highly influential in South Korea. According to him, even smoking is not allowed in the presence of elders. It was therefore not acceptable for him to have a younger interpreter on the occasion of Naikan practice, in which he expressed the inside of his mind. Are there any customs in the countries such that elders cannot confess his/her shames in the presence of younger people?


IV. Purpose of Naikan

According to Ishin Yoshimoto, gthe purpose of Naikan is removing a sense of self-centeredness and eliminating the eselff that adheres to the eIfh (Yoshimoto, Ishin, Forty Years of Naikan, 4th Edition, 1972). Takao Murase, a specialist in Western psychology, argues that the purpose of Naikan is ensuring gWhere id was, there egenuine consciencef shall be,h borrowing Freudfs words (Murase, Takao, Naikan: Theory and Cultural Relationship, 1996). How would Chinese and Korean specialists respond to these ideas? I am looking forward to hearing their views in the Symposium.