Friday, June 26, 2015

Self-Reflection - Looking at One's Self

Last time, we went over the 4th Paramita of Effort and how it relates to the concept of our karma

The Law of Cause and Effect teaches us that the more good seeds we plant, the more happiness we will reap. 

Doing good, consistently and on a regular basis, accumulates the momentum required toward acquiring the happiness that we want in our lives. 

It is important to keep in mind which of the Six Paramitas we choose to focus on. That way we can actually find the opportunities to practice that virtue in our daily lives. 

Shakyamuni Buddha taught that by focusing on just one of the paramitas with all our hearts, we end up doing all of the other five virtues.

To review, the Six Paramitas are:

1.) Generosity - Giving wisely to others

2.) Discipline - Keeping our promises

3.) Patience  - Watching our temper

4.) Effort - Working hard toward doing good

5.) Self-Reflection - Looking at one's self

6.) Wisdom - Practicing the Law of Cause and Effect

The 5th Paramita of Self-Reflection means to take a look at ourselves very intently. We review carefully our various thoughts, words, and actions. We focus from within and search inside for who we really are. It can also be called as contemplation

Original Photo by taufiq hussien available on

Etched onto the ancient Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi are the thought-provoking words: "Know Thyself." ... A wise passage, but in what way or how exactly do we come to access knowledge of ourselves?

On the one hand if we are overanalyzing our shortcomings too much, we may punish ourselves harshly for things that don't really matter. But on the other hand if we are overflowing with self-confidence, we may be making mistakes or harming others in ways we don't know.

So how do we become aware of our own blind spots and aspire higher toward serious self-improvement... all in a balanced, steady way?

Before we begin self-reflection, we should try to calm down.

Next we should concentrate on what's been troubling us as well as what's been happening to us lately.

Then it's a good idea to examine what kind of environment we are in currently. What kind of people or influences are surrounding us?

Lastly and most importantly, how are we choosing to respond to the events occurring in our lives?

There are many, many ways to approach and practice Self-reflection.

Think of your mind like a room in your home. Is the room in your mind messy or neat? Maybe both?

Original Photo by Christopher Gollmar available on

If we leave a room really messy often, it becomes hard to find important things. Like your keys before a very important meeting at work or say the day of a final exam at school for example.

You could go to the normal spots to check for them, but what usually happens if they are not there? Sure, you can go digging randomly around the room, but in your desperation you may forget where you've already been. Things begin to get frantic and you go around in circles.

Actually, the best way to find anything in a messy room is to try to clean up the room first. 

Original Photo by Christopher Gollmar available on

As you calmly start to put other things away where they belong, suddenly your keys become more likely to appear.

Photo (Color Corrected) by Jillian, original available on

Self-Reflection is the virtue that encourages us to take a deeper, more serious look around what's in our mind.

Before tackling life's difficulties, are there bad habits stored somewhere within us that we don't need anymore? Have some of our positive traits been forgotten and left to collect dust in the corner of our minds?

Without understanding ourselves and our past well, we will repeat the same mistakes again and again only to get more and more frustrated. We become lost and unaware of the choices we made in those moments. Because if too many things are still troubling us from our pasts, it's hard to move forward, isn't it?

When everything gets bad and we fly wildly out of control, life only seems to get harder for us.

Pure Land Buddhist teacher Kentetsu Takamori describes such a situation within a short poem. It is loosely translated as follows, "You kick your plate of food from its foulness in disgust, but who will clean up the mess?"

Instead of reflecting sensibly and seeing an unfortunate event clearly, we often seem to react quickly with our first impulse. Foolishly, we fail to realize the impact of our reckless choices made in haste.

The present is the key to both the past and the future.

It's of course good to be "in the now" as they say, but gaining from the experiences within the now and being able to put them into practice in your future is best.


If You Are Caught Up in the Here and Now, You Lose Sight of the Future

The great swordsman Chiba Shusaku (1794–1855) went fishing one night with several of his followers. They set out with torches, heading farther and farther to sea in search of fish, until they lost all sense of direction. Which way was the shore?

Shusaku himself grew flustered and had a series of torches lit while he peered in vain into the gloom. 

Original Photo by Bloody Marty available on

As they roamed the sea with mounting panic, the last of the torches burned out. The situation seemed hopeless. But lo and behold, as darkness settled in, there in the distance was the outline of land, looming darker still. The men whooped in relief and joy.

Days later, Shusaku recounted the incident to a fisherman friend of his. The friend said smilingly, “That wasn’t like you. You should know that you can’t see the shore with torches. Torches are used to light up your immediate surroundings. If you want to see into the distance, they only get in the way. When we want to look far off, we douse them on purpose.”

As long as you rely on torches, you cannot make out the distant shore.

Photo (color-corrected), original available on

If you are caught up in the here and now, you cannot look ahead into the future.”

(Something You Forgot Along the Way, p.103)


So when we notice our anxiety flaring way up in that moment, how can we restore ourselves?

The simplest advice: take a deep slow inhale using your stomach muscles. Then exhale. Repeat as needed. Of course, this can be a very challenging piece of advice to remember in a difficult time, but it is a skill that can be learned from practice and experience. When we face a crisis, it is good to maintain healthy breathing.

So we're breathing consciously, and now our immediate attention is needed toward a very troublesome event. Even if it seems we don't have much time, we can still take a brief moment for Self-Reflection.

Try taking a quick walk and getting some sunshine outdoors. We can grab a cold glass of ice water or get a healthy snack to restore our energy. Stress can rapidly deplete our body's energy levels. Another helpful idea could be laying down and resting our eyes and our mind for a few minutes. Find a quiet atmosphere.

Whatever we need takes to cool down... once we feel more centered, then we can have a better check on reality.

Once we find that rare moment's peace within the eye of our mind's storm, we can contemplate on the nature of ourselves with a heart that strives for a gentle honesty of itself. This is how we come to know ourselves better. 

Self-Reflection gives us the opportunity for growth, patience, and maturity.  *And the time we make for Self-Reflection will reward us with insights that guide toward wiser choices.*

By first understanding our own needs, opinions, and ideas, it makes it a whole lot easier for us how to express ourselves. Then we can stand to benefit even more from seeking the further advice and help of our family, friends or support groups.

Usually the first thing we do whenever we see people we like, especially if they look sad, is ask how they are doing. We wish to know if they are feeling alright or not, because we care about them.

But how often do we stop to ask ourselves the same question? It's easy to ask someone else what's on their mind, but it's a different matter entirely when you're asking YOU the questions:

Hey, how am  I  doing?

 What feelings am I experiencing right now?

 What kind of thoughts am I having?

Is what I'm thinking lately constructive or destructive?


Could I have improved my actions in some way?

Am I just reacting here or am I seeing things clearly?

Does what I'm doing, right now,
reflect the person I want to be?

What positive condition or support can I find right now
 to help me make the best, healthy choice?

If I already know the right thing to do,
what's stopping me?

As this asking-within process becomes more routine, then the importance of surrounding ourselves with good conditions and avoiding bad conditions becomes more apparent.  

Diving deeply within, we see that pressing problems in our life are really nothing more than challenging reflections of ourselves and our karma at that present moment. These problems actually help us to see the elusive form of who we are. Realizing full well how we are behaving in difficult situations allows us to grow and change in dynamic ways we never thought were possible before.

In Buddhist philosophy, we all start out by learning and practicing the Law of Cause and Effect. These are the ABCs of Buddhism. We have to know very well that our present state is the result of our past actions. And what we decide to do from that present state forward is what determines our future.

But when times are going really well, we think we know the Law of Karma already and become satisfied with our lifestyle and our conduct as is. That's when the mind of conceit can emerge within us.

Without a regular, moderated, and steady approach toward our own mindset, we become self-absorbed with a "me-first" attitude.

When we do a lot of internal work, we have a tendency to reach a point where we think that our journey is pretty much complete. As we are, we must have made it to being semi-perfect already. We compare our own awesomeness to what others have done with their life. That's when we'll often jump at the chance to correct or counsel others because it makes us feel and look good.

However, what other people need is encouragement, not criticism or improvement. Finding and correcting the mistakes of our own attitude and conduct should be our focus.

Don't worry so much about everyone else. Buddhism reminds us again and again, just look at yourself. 


Your Fly Is Open, Too

Observe the Behavior of Others and Correct Your Own

Back in the early postwar era in Japan, when cars were scarce, everyone got around by bus or train. One day I found myself riding on a nearly empty bus. I picked a seat, sat back, and relaxed. Across from me sat a distinguished-looking man in his fifties whose fly, I couldn’t help noticing, was unbuttoned. (This was in the days before zippers came into common use.) I contemplated what to do, but of course he had to be told. I slipped over beside him and quietly let him know the situation, man-to-man. Some men might have taken offense at being told such a thing, but not he. After a momentary look of surprise, he thanked me politely and gave a rueful smile as he covered himself with the magazine he’d been reading and did up his fly.”

“Relieved, I returned to my seat, planted my feet on the floor, folded my arms, and looked around again. Lo and behold, the distinguished-looking man across the way got up and came over to sit beside me. Wondering what on earth he could want, I tensed with expectation as he brought his lips to my ear and murmured with a smile, “Your buttons are undone, too.”

With a start, I reached down and realized he was right... 

Photo (cropped), original by Alex Proimos available on

My cheeks burned in embarrassment. To cover my confusion, I gave a rueful smile and thanked him.

The proverb has it, “Observe the behavior of others and correct your own.”

I was made to realize then that even such apparently obvious sayings must never be taken lightly.”

(Unshakable Spirit, p.25)


Buddhism places its emphasis 

on fixing one's own self 

rather than judging

or wanting to "fix" others.

Growing up, our parents should have taught us that when we did something really good, we should feel awesome about it. "Great job!"

But other times when we did wrong or hurt someone, they should have corrected our errors in an assertive, yet soft way.

It is so much healthier to use positive reinforcement and avoid negative reactions as much as possible. This applies to misbehaving adults in our lives as well. Haven't you noticed the more something is forced or stressed on someone, the less likely the person will want to do it of their own good will?

The best we can do is to be consistent with our own conduct and exemplify the beneficial attributes we wish to bring out in others.

Are we being a good teacher or a bad one for others to follow? (Note: This can be really hard to spot!) Sometimes the things we despise in others the most is present in some way within us as well.

Buddhism encourages us to open our heart through Self-Reflection. The teachings guide us to not spew anger or shut down whenever we don't get our way.

We should Self-Reflect first before opening our mouths or taking action.

This level of conscience requires growing up and assuming responsibility.

Of course we should feel good about our own accomplishments, but even better, we need to take time to recognize and have gratitude toward all those people who helped us along the way in big ways or little ways. When's the last time you said, "Thank you very much," with all sincerity?

And in those times when we are at fault, we should try to correct those wrongdoings as soon as possible. We have to make the effort and apologize to those we have harmed. When's the last time you said, "I apologize for what I've done. How can I make things better?" It's tough to do this!

Self-Reflection is a huge challenge we have before us everyday to maintain a healthy balance between celebrating our strengths and improving upon our weaknesses.

In Buddhism, we are actually encouraged as best we can to have gratitude *for the people who cause us trouble.* Why is that?

"If we learn to open our hearts, 
including the people who drive us crazy, 
can be our teacher."

-Pema Chödrön

It seems impossible at first. But the more we practice forgiveness and patience in adversity, the more our suffering can heal inwardly.

The Law of Cause and Effect teaches that blaming others or seeking revenge only brings more harm upon us.

Even laughing at our enemy's misfortune and calling it "their karma" is a complete misunderstanding of how Buddhism works.

Original Word Art by BK available on

If our intentions are negative and spiteful toward a negative person or event, we will receive negativity in our own future. It's because what matters most is what is in our mind.

Sure we shouldn't beat ourselves up after someone else has hurt us. Of course, the other person doing wrong to us should correct their behavior. If they continue to do us direct harm, then you may want to consider distancing yourself from that person. But it is ultimately up to you to make that kind of decision to stay around or not. No one can convince you but you.

For now, just know that forcing any kind of change upon others doesn't work.

This next story from the book, Unshakable Spirit, tells us the only way is to be the change


Change Yourself, and Others Will Follow
The Samurai and the Horse

When the Zen priest Bankei (1622–93) was still an acolyte, every night he would sit in meditation. One morning after meditating he was resting by a stable when a samurai came along to train his horse. As Bankei looked on idly, it became apparent to him that the horse was out of sorts, and balking at its rider’s commands. The samurai yelled at the animal and beat it.

Bankei shouted, “What do you think you’re doing!”

The samurai paid no attention, but only whipped the animal all the harder. Bankei kept on shouting, until finally the samurai dismounted and walked over to him.

“You have been scolding me for some time, I believe,” he said quietly. “If you have something to teach me, I am willing to listen.” His words were exceedingly polite, but it was clear that depending on what kind of answer he received, he might erupt in anger.

Without hesitating, Bankei told him, “It is foolish to blame only the horse for failing to listen to you. The horse has its own reasons. If you want it to listen, you must encourage it to do so. To do that, you must start with yourself. Do you understand?”

This was a humble and intelligent samurai, for he nodded, bowed, and left. Then, with a change of attitude, he remounted his steed. Sure enough, the horse too was now a changed creature, and docilely obeyed his every command.

Original Photo by Mary Harrsch available on

People constantly blame others for their own faults, and find no peace. The essential thing is to take an honest look at oneself and correct one’s own attitude. Do that, and others will change too. Your home life is guaranteed to be happier.”

(Something You Forgot Along the Way, p.173)


The best we can do to help someone else is to improve ourself and demonstrate the change through our own improved attitude and behavior.

Each individual just has to come around from the error of their own ways in their own time.

And we don't need to focus on fixing others, 
because there is always plenty of work 
to be done on ourselves. 

By practicing self-reflection
and focusing on our own improvement, 
we can learn to thrive and grow
from more experiences.

Whenever bad things happen, our first impulse can be to lash out at whoever or whatever is causing us pain. But Buddhism challenges us to rise above the other person's attitude or what they've done wrong.

Instead of revenge or retaliation, let's self-reflect using the following questions when we are in a time of adversity.

"How can I grow 

and rise above 

this terrible situation?"

"Have I ever done 

something even remotely similar 

like this to someone else?" 

Let's say there is somebody who we think is really spoiled, lazy or way too selfish. We should then reflect on ourselves. Have I been spoiled, lazy or selfish ever? As soon as we find a trace of that behavior within ourselves, we are more lenient and kind to the other person and are able to maintain better harmony.

Our perception shifts entirely when we do this. We find the commonalities we have with others, rather than false notions of comparison or superiority.

Here's another example for Self-Reflection. You feel another person is too stubborn, way too conceited, and never apologizes for anything. Think of the next question.

"Have I ever exhibited

 some of these traits 

to other people

at least once?

Our pride is one of our biggest challenges, largely because it remains unseen.

But through Self-Reflection, we have the choice to reflect first and then actively project the best positive choice we want out into the world.

** If we only see the flaws in others, 

that shows our understanding in Buddhism 

is very shallow. **

These days we often think that letting someone else have their way is a sign of weakness on our part. We seem to be the one who is "losing" at that moment.

Yet actually the more powerful person is the one who has the ability to overcome their selfish desire and yield to another. Giving in requires a lot more mental stamina to do than getting what you want.

Instead of declaring our own right-of-way, let's consider yielding to someone else. Kindness is thinking of others rather than always giving to the self. Think of how kinder the world would become if we all initiated this principle first.

Giving more than taking is what brings us more happiness, and Self-Reflection is what helps us see more opportunities for generosity.

The compassionate choices we learn from our Self-Reflections then make others happy as well as guide us toward the lasting happiness we want to create in our lives.

The Six Paramitas will lead us on a journey of self-discovery to see our own imperfections. Only by trying to do the most good does this become clear.


On Self-Reflection

Everyone makes mistakes.

Whether we put our mistakes 

to use depends on how deeply

we reflect on our actions. It is

desirable to reflect until the 

tears come.

(Something You Forgot Along the Way, p.##)

Self-Reflection helps us see when we're wrong. And it helps us gain the courage to apologize and say that we were wrong to someone else. 

If we don't take the time to look deep enough, we won't even realize that we're wrong. And if we don't realize our mistakes, we will continue to repeat them and hurt others the same way.

This brings us to a more difficult Self-Reflection question.

What's worse doing evil intentionally...

 ...or doing evil unintentionally?

Let's think about this one for a moment.

Our first guess is to say that intentional evil is obviously the worst of the two.

But is it?

Imagine you have the flu, and you know it's the flu because you just came from the doctor's office. You're tired of being stuck at the house all the day which has too many piling mountains of used tissues. So even though you know you are highly contagious, you decide that you want to go to a movie theater. You laugh in the crowded theater, but as you laugh you are spreading germs.

But then one time as you belly laugh too hard, you hear your own cough and are reminded of the flu. You start to feel guilty and you begin covering your mouth with a napkin. On the way home, you even pick up a surgical mask to wear so that you don't spread your infection to anymore people.

The person who knows he is sick will takes preventative steps to keep from infecting others.

Original Photo by Swerz available on

On the other hand, a person who is sick and DOES NOT KNOW they are sick will go around infecting everyone without a moment of remorse or guilt.

They don't even know they have a flu, so they cough and sneeze as hard as they want without covering it. They spray their saliva and phlegm everywhere into the air proudly into people's faces without a single care. They don't know about the harm they are inflicting.

Original Photo by CDC Public Health Image

We self-reflect based on the teachings of Buddhism. It's like our check-up that guides us toward the truth. The teachings, conveyed correctly, help us gently become more aware that we have a biased way of evaluating ourselves.

Only through Self-Reflection can we know that we're in a negative or toxic mood in the first place. Once we see it, then we can adjust ourselves so we don't spread our infection and hurt others from our condition. The more we observe and learn about how contagious or toxic our actions can be, the more responsible we become by taking preventative measures. 

We turn to the Law of Cause and Effect for guidance, because it is unwavering, universal truth. It tells us simply and clearly how we should stop evil and do good.

We've learned about some good things we can do in earlier posts, so what are some of the negative things we should stop doing?

We should refrain from committing the Ten Evils, which are taught in the sutras. Doing these negative actions will only bring us more and more misfortune.

Ten Evils

Each of the Ten Evils can be put into one of three groups: Karma of the Mind, Karma of the Mouth, or Karma of the Body.

Karma of the Mind can be further classified as Imperceptible Karma, because our thoughts can't be observed by others. Even though each thought is invisible, it is still stored in the form of invisible karmic power within us. Surprisingly, we receive karma from all of our thoughts, even the ones we cast aside. 

1.) Desire - Thoughts that want more and more

2.) Anger - Thoughts that rage when we don't get what we want

3.) Envy/Ignorance - Thoughts that crave what another has acquired for themselves or despises others with intense hatred

Karma of the Mouth can be classified as Perceivable Karma, because it can be heard by others. Everything we say is also stored as invisible karmic power within us.

4.) Lying - Saying things that are not true in order to harmfully deceive and get what you want

5.) Double-Tongue - Telling one person one thing and then telling the other person something completely different for one's amusement or gain

6.) Flattery - Praising someone for the sole purpose of winning the person over so they will perform our desires

7.) Bad Mouth - Using bad language and insults to put others down so that we can feel good about ourselves

Karma of the Body can also be classified as Perceivable Karma, because it can be seen by others. Every movement our body makes is stored as invisible karmic power within us.

8.) Killing - Taking a human life is an extreme act, but so is the killing of an animal. If we eat meat, we are actually ordering someone to kill a living being for our consumption. Even though we receive nutrition, taking the life of a living being, no matter how simple it may be, is still wrong. The animal didn't want to die for us.

But even vegetarians are killing other living beings. In order to grow vegetables, pesticides are used that kill insects. Some vegetarians have been known to become violent and attack those who do eat meat in defense of their cause.

** True Pure Land Buddhism teaches that eating or not eating meat is not the main issue to dwell on, but to observe deeply and continually what kind of mind we have in our daily life until we discover the purpose of life for ourselves. ** 

Whether you are a carnivore or a herbivore, you may still have angry thoughts that attack others in your mind. Such thinking is dangerous because failure to recognize our own capacity for terrible thoughts can be disastrous. Left unchecked, it can lead to the murder or injury of fellow human beings.

That's why it's important to always keep Self-Reflection in our heart.

9.) Stealing - Taking what belongs to someone else and using it as if it was one's own. The mind that takes a little will begin to take more and more. Even taking someone else's pen or using another person's paper without permission is wrong.

10.) Adultery - Lusting after someone who is married or in a serious relationship disrupts a promise between two people who have made to each other. Only anguish and hardship can come to oneself from this kind of selfish interference. Don't let envy or desire make this lewd action seem appealing, even if it is glorified by Hollywood.


Although we may think that we are now on our very best behavior because we don't perform any of the seven evil acts of the mouth and body, we are still frequently concealing the other three evils of desire, anger and envy within our minds.

In Buddhism, the mind is most important because it is the source of the mouth and body.

Let's say that you poured a lot of red ink at the source of a fresh water spring high up in the mountains. That red color would then trickle down all the rivers and eventually accumulate in the lakes of the valleys as well.

Original Photo by Esad Hajdarevic available on

Rather than looking only at what we say and do, looking at our mind is the most important thing. One bad thought can gradually corrupt us into performing many evil acts in the future.

Meditation can be a means of Self-Reflection. We can try to meditate to see our nature on our own and see what we come up with in the process.

Some say that how we sit or a certain amount of breaths is required for the right kind of meditation. That's not so important. Seeing ourselves honestly and implementing the change we learn in our lives is what matters.

Practice a way of Self-Reflection that works for you and keeps you happy and healthy. Meditation techniques are really nothing more than suggestions or guidelines to help you achieve and maintain a balanced, conscious approach to your life.

When looking within what's most important is seeing yourself as you really are in way that inspires and encourages kindness to others and personal growth.


Look to the Essence, Not the Form

“One of Shakyamuni’s main disciples, Sariputra, was doing seated meditation in a peaceful and secluded mountain spot when Vimalakīrti, a sage whom he had always admired, happened along and asked him what he was doing. As the answer seemed obvious, Sariputra was put out and answered, with irritation, “I’m meditating!” 

Original Photo by Mutiara Karina available on

Perceiving Sariputra’s distraction, Vimalakīrti retorted, “You call that meditating? If by ‘meditation’ you mean only sitting without moving, you might just as well say the trees around you are meditating, too.” In this way he pointed out that Sariputra was following only the outward form of meditation, having lost its true spirit.

When we pursue the outward form while neglecting the inner essence, the result is always pitiful.”

(Unshakable Spirit, p. 160)


Here are three other suggestions besides meditation that you can help with Self-Reflection.

1.) Reflect on kindness as you wake up and go to bed.

In the morning, get up a little bit earlier and plan your day for a few minutes sitting peacefully. Think of how you can practice kindness. What do you need to feel good, so that you can be helpful to others?

In the evening, review your whole day slowly in the evening for a few minutes. What were the highlights? What were things you could have done better?

2.) Freely write down your challenges and share them with a trusted friend or family member.

Journal your thoughts and write down any intense feelings or the events that you are facing. Working things out on paper can sometimes give insights into your blind spots.

3.) Calmly take in your past.

Form a timeline of your whole life and reconcile all the events, both happy and sad, that have happened to you along the way. Learn from the past and decide where you want to go in the future.


There are countless other methods and ways. However we decide to do it, the ability to do sincere Self-Reflection regularly begins an enormous ripple effect. 

Nelson Mandela, who fought against racial separation and apartheid in South Africa was jailed for 27 years. Later he triumphed by leading a movement for social reform and even rose to become president of the country.

Original Photo by South Africa The Good News

In an interview after his presidency, Mr. Mandela was quoted as saying,

"One of the most difficult things is not to change society - 

but to change yourself." 

All people who have changed the world first strived for something greater inside themselves.

We must all gain the courage to look within. 

If our hearts are closed to who we are and how we are behaving in our daily life, we can't see any benefits to changing.

Self-reflection is all about keeping our vulnerable channels open to receive, so that we can grow from what we perceive. Without this, our progress is limited and we can't learn.

"The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none."

-Thomas Carlyle

We are human, and we will make mistakes. All the time. Self-Reflection makes it possible for us to recognize and improve upon our less than proud moments.

By nurturing ourselves but still maintaining an analytical perspective on our behavior, it teaches us over time and experience, both how to be more forgiving and how to move on from the mistakes others commit against us.

As we continue to dive within who we are, we come to realize that we can't really know everything there is about ourselves on our own. One model in modern psychology seems to support this notion.

Two famous U.S. psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harrington Inghram, put their minds and their names together to form what's now famously known as the Johari Window.

The Johari Window is a psychological group exercise that explores the known and unknown relationship between the self and others. Luft and Harrington investigated knowing who we are by looking through a window divided into four categories.

1.) The first category on the left is called the Arena. This is our public self, what's known to us and what others know about us. 

2.) The second category, on the top right, is the Blind Spot. It represents all the things that others know about us but we ourselves don't know. 

3.) The third category, bottom left, is called the Façade. This is what we know about ourselves but what others can't see. 

4.) In the fourth category, bottom right, is the Unknown. According to the Johari model, there is a part of us that always remains a mystery to ourselves and others.

Diagram (edited), original available from

If we are indeed on a journey to find out who we really are, how can we know ourselves at all, if parts of who we are always remain unknown to everybody? 

Psychology helps us explore three of the four windows, but it cannot penetrate the realm of what is unknown to the others AND the self

Buddhism teaches us that there is a way to come to know that great unknown, the full 100% of who we are. We can realize our True Self and our purpose of life with certainty in this lifetime. And we will at last know where that True Self is going in the afterlife.

Knowing who we are completely is essential in attaining absolute happiness. Without knowing who we are, we can't really be happy.

But the only way we can make earnest progress toward this grand, once-in-a-lifetime achievement is to listen to the teachings of Buddhism earnestly. This is why Self-Reflection remains important.

Listening well to the Dharma means putting its lessons into practice diligently. It means we must think deeply on ourselves and try to do as much good as we possibly can. Along the way, we stumble and see more and more of our flaws that remained previously invisible.

The aim of a wise person is to see and know one's self as it really is
and still continually strive toward growth. 

This leads us to the 6th Paramita of Wisdom, which is improving ourselves by practicing of the Law of Cause and Effect. Whereas Self-Reflection can be seen as the coming to an awareness of the best course of action, Wisdom is actually knowing how and when to implement the change.

Wisdom is said to contain the practice of the other five paramitas combined

Generosity + Discipline + Patience + Effort + Self-Reflection = Wisdom

Practicing the Law of Effect deeply is what moves us forward on the path. In the next post, we will explore the Paramita of Wisdom through an explanation of the Law of Cause and Effect of the Three Worlds.