eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format |

W. G. Indunil Philip Shantha


Buddhist psychology and Japanese Naikan therapy have deep historical connections. However, there has been a lack of research in religions studies comparing Naikan with its original Buddhist background. Therefore, this paper explores the relationship between Buddhist psychology and Naikan therapy. Naikan is a kind of contemplative therapeutic practice that was developed by a Japanese Buddhist practitioner named Ishin Yoshimoto. He applied it to clinical psychology as a mental treatment method, and it can be practiced by anyone without any religious beliefs or background. The word Naikan is originally derived from the term vipassanā (looking inside) meditation, which comes from Buddhism, which was taught by Buddha. In Japanese psychology, Naikan therapy focuses on prompting deep thinking about one’s past experiences through interpersonal relationships. Introspection has been developed as a treatment method by clinical psychologists for various mental illnesses in the field of Japanese psychotherapy.


Childs, Margaret H. (1987) “The influence of the Buddhist practice of Sange on literary form: revelatory tales”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies1, 14.

Cullen, Margaret (2011) “Mindfulness-based interventions: an emerging phenomenon”. Mindfulness (Springer).

Deathrage, Seymour and G. Olaf Boorstein (1982) Buddhism in psychotherapy: two essays. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.

De Silva, Padmal (1990) “Current psychology: research & review”. Buddhist psychology: A Review of Theory and Practice 9, 3, 236-254.

Emiko, Haruki. (2005) “Fundamental of Nikan Theory”. Psychiatry Association in Shanghai 6, 372–374.

Gomez, Luis O. (2003) “Psychology”. In: Robert E. Buswell, ed. Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 2: 678–692. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Harding, Christopher. (2014) “Japanese psychoanalysis and Buddhism: the making of a relationship”. History of Psychiatry 25, 154–170.

Harding, C., F. Iwata, and S. Yoshinaga (2015) Religion and psychotherapy in modern Japan, 157–160. Routledge

Hayes, Steven C., D. S. Kirk, and G. W. Kelly (2003) Acceptance and commitment therapy: an experiential approach to behavior change. New York: The Guilford Press.

Hardacre, Helen (1984) Lay Buddhism in contemporary Japan: Reiyukai Kyodan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 133.

Huang, Xinwen, Xu, Aibing, (2007) Naikan therapy and relationship with Zen thoughts. Journal of Yancheng Teachers University, Humanities and Social Sciences Edition 3, 83-84.

Jones-Smith, Elsie (2012) Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: an integrative approach. Los Angeles: Sage.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2004) Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation for everyday life. New York: Hyperion.

Loewenthal, Kate M. (2000) The psychology of religion: Ashort introduction. Oxford: Oneworld.

Kitanishi, K. and A. Mori (1995) “Morita therapy”. Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 49, 245–254.

Kirishimoto, K. (1985) “Self-awakening, psychotherapy for neurosis: attaching importance to oriented thought, especially Buddhist thought”. Psychologia, 28, 90–100.

Maeshiro, Teruaki (2009) “Naikan therapy in Japan: introspection as a way of healing introduction to Naikan therapy”. World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review 4, 1, 33–38.

Maeshiro, Teruaki and Zucheng Wang (2011) Naikan Therapy (Chinese version). Beijing: People’s Publication.

Nyanatiloka Thero (1987) Buddhist dictionary. Manual of Buddhist terms and doctrines. 4th rev. ed. Nyanaponika Mahathera, ed. Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. (1st ed.1952.)

Ozawa-de Silva, C. (2002) Psychotherapy and religion in Japan: the Japanese introspection practice of Naikan. London: Routledge Press.

Ozawa-de Silva, C. (2007) “Demystifying Japanese therapy: an analysis of Naikan and the Ajase complex through Buddhist thought”. Ethos 35, 4, 411–446.

Ozawa-de Silva, C. (2010) “Secularizing religious practices: a study of subjectivity and existential transformation in Naikan therapy”. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49, 1, 147–161.

Ozawa-de Silva, C. (2015) “Mindfulness of the kindness of others: the contemplative practice of Naikan in cultural context”. Transcultural Psychiatry 52, 4, 524–542.

Rahula, Walpola (1967) What the Buddha taught. Sri Lanka: Buddhist Culture Center.

Rhys Davids, Carolinme (1924) Buddhist psychology: an inquiry into the analysis and theory of mind in Pali literature. 2nd ed. London: Luzac and Co.

Ryback, David, Akira Ikemi, Toru Kuno, and Yoshihiko Miki (2001) “Japanese psychology in crisis: thinking inside the (empty) box”. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 41, 4, 124–136.

Suzuki, Daisetz T. (2002) Buddha of infinite light: the teachings of Shin Buddhism, the Japanese way of wisdom and compassion. New ed. Boston and London: Shambhala.

Thierry Jean Roboüam, S. J. (2013) “How Ajātaśatruwas reformed: the domestication of “Ajase” and stories in Buddhist history by Michael Radich (review)”. Monumenta Nipponica (Sophia) 68, 1, 99–101.

Tirch, D. Laura, R. Silberrtain, and R. L. Kolts (1968) Buddhist psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. New York: Guilford Press.

Usami, Osho Noriyuki and Reiunken Shue Usami (2010), Living vibrantly with peace of mind tradition and practice of Senkou-bou Shin Buddhist temple, Japan: Oriental Ink.

Yoshizawa, K. (2008) “The religious art of Zen Master Hakuin”. Noman Weddel 13.

Zhang,Yingbo. Chen, Jun. Wang,Zuchen. (2010) Application of Naikan therapy and development. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61–63.

Back to Issue