It’s so easy to get off on a negative track, isn’t it? Our thoughts can gather momentum quite easily. One negative thought attracts another, each one inching the viewpoint a little further until we are filled with conviction and lots resentment, anger and judgment about “the way it is.”
If we add to this internal dialogue a real conversation, in which we articulate our negative perspective to another person, the viewpoint can strengthen even more. And if that person responds by validating our viewpoint and commiserating with our plight, we can really get dug in deep.
Most of us have tricky little lawyers in our minds. They live there, ever-ready to create a defense on our behalf, to paint a convincing picture of our innocence and victimhood, to make obvious the wrongdoing and shortcomings of others. These lawyers are very experienced, competent and hard-working and they’re hard to resist.
So in order to counteract their bias and heavy-handedness, we need to cultivate “ITS”, Impartial Truth Seekers, who have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with truth. Their job is to scout around for the facts and details that our lawyers conveniently disregard. With them on the scene, we stand a much better chance of seeing clearly and deeply.
One of the ways to summon ITS is to do Naikan. What have you received? What have you given? What troubles and difficulties have you caused? Though our lawyers will try to dissuade us from this inquiry, our ITS will honor our efforts and reward us with a generous dose of compassion, humility and gratitude.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 25 years.