Palms of Reiki



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 What is Reiki?

    Reiki (pronounced Ray-key) is a combination of two Japanese words rei and ki meaning "universal life energy". Also Known As: Chinese refer to the life force as chi or qi. Hindus call it prana. Greeks know it as pneuma. Japanese refer to it as ki.

    Out of energy everything is created, from your body to the mountains and deserts. Universal Life Energy is the life force or living energy that sustains the life of everything, including organs, cells, tissue, and blood. As a spiritual entity the life force is considered our connective flow to the source.

    The Usui System of Reiki Healing is a palms-on healing practice. Reiki is an ancient laying-on-of-palms healing technique that uses the life force energy to heal, balancing the subtle energies within our bodies.  The result of receiving Reiki is a balanced physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being.

    History of Reiki

    There are a number of different versions of how Reiki started. You can find them dating back to the start of time. This is due to the fact that Reiki is a form of energy healing and energy healing has been practiced all over the world by different groups of people. Sometimes that art form has been lost and othertimes it is only practiced in a small community. Below is a more common version of the story of how Mikao Usui rediscovered Reiki and how it eventually spread to the West. Other versions can be found on the web and more indepth research is underway by a number of different people. The reason is that there is little formal documentation regarding the story as told below. As for my views, I don't think it really matters what the story is behind how Reiki came about as much as knowing that it works.

    The Story

    An Eastern History of Reiki
    Robert Jefford, May 2009

    Although Reiki is relatively new to the West, its origins stretch back in an unbroken spiritual lineage to the founder Shaka Nyorai (Sakyamuni Tathagata).

    Mikao Usui re-discovered the system of Reiki in Japan at the end of the 19th Century. Mikao Usui was primarily a Shingon Buddhist, although he studied many religious systems of his day. Through Mikao Usui’s teaching life, he taught many people Reiki. They passed this system to their own students and it has now been taught to millions of people worldwide.

    However, what many people do not understand is that not all forms of Reiki are the same. The actual content of the Reiki system known in the West today contains only a small fraction of Usui’s original Reiki system. This is partly due to the changes that were made by Hayashi and many Reiki teachers in Japan consider Mrs Takata’s Western Style Reiki,not to be aligned with Mikao Usui’s methodology.

    With the sheer number of teachers in the West and largely due to the oral tradition by which Reiki was first promulgated in the United States, perhaps Reiki can be more likened to a great ‘Chinese Whisper’. The oral tradition of the Takata style prevented the use of written manuals, so students and teachers had to rely on their memory.

    As a result, in a few short years, the system became more and more fragmented. Teachers tended to add or remove elements so changing the teachings from their original form. It became harder and harder to find an authentic source of Reiki. However, in the early 1990s discoveries began to be made of original Reiki teachings. Knowledge of Usui’s memorial was brought to the west. Many missing links were revealed, including the discovery of a living Reiki tradition in Japan and Reiki techniques that the Reiki Gakkai (Reiki Learning Society) was teaching. Further to this, a number of Usui’s notes and manuals were also brought to light. These discoveries became widely available to Reiki teachers who then attempted to piece together some of the previously unavailable teachings with what they had already.

    As a result, much of the way Reiki was taught in the past changed. The following history is sourced from these findings.

    The Life of Mikao Usui – The Re-discoverer of Reiki

    Mikao Usui was born in the village of Taniai, now called Miyama-cho,in the Gifu Prefecture on 15th August, 1865. His ancestors had lived there for eleven generations. His ancestry dated back to the Chiba clan, once an influential samurai family. Significantly for his life, his family followed the esoteric Buddhism of the Tendai sect. At the age of four he was sent to a Tendai Monastery to receive his primary education. Mikao Usui had three brothers, one named Sanya, another named Kuniji, while the third name is unknown. He also had an older sister called Tsuru. His father’s name was Uzaemon and his mother came from the Kawai family.

    Born as a privileged member of a class-based system, Mikao Usui was educated accordingly. At the age of 12, Usui began martial arts training, studying ‘Aiki Jutsu’ and ‘Yagyu Ryu’ and attained a high degree of proficiency. Usui spoke many languages and became well informed on medicine, theology and philosophy. Usui’s memorial states that from the beginning he was outstanding and outshone his fellow students, knowledgeable in history, medicine, Buddhist and Christian scriptures and Waka poetry.

    Usui was born during a period of major change. The1868 Meiji restoration, under the Meiji emperor (born 1852 – died 1912), brought in a regime of rapid social, military and industrial modernisation. The country had been re-opened up to Westerners by the previous regime and following the treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1858, some of the first Western arrivals had been Catholic and Protestant missionaries. Japanese people were officially banned from Christianity until 1873. Westerners taught students science and medicine among other subjects.

    The missionaries first set up centres in Nagasaki and Kanagawa. The most influential centre for spreading Christianity through Japan was in Yokohama, under the influence of Rev. James Ballagh. There grew a frenzy of westernising every aspect of life. In every area of social and political life, men with some knowledge of science were promoted to high position. Every ambitious young man wanted to read the West’s ‘horizontal writings’ and men with the ‘new knowledge’ were almost idolised. Young people, many pupils of missionaries, were sent abroad to study subjects such as law, mining, music, chemistry. The motto of the era, Meiji, meant ‘Enlightenment’.

    Usui’s father, Uzaemon, adopted the progressive political views of the new regime. Usui greatly respected his father and was very influenced by the national obsession to Westernise.

    As an adult, Usui lived in Kyoto. He married Sadako Suzuki and had two children, a son named Fuji and a daughter named Toshiko. He continued his spiritual studies, becoming involved with a group named ‘Rei Jyutsu Ka’. This group had a centre at the base of the holy mountain, Kurama Yama, north of Kyoto.

    An ancient Buddhist temple, Kurama-dera stands on the 1,700 ft mountain with a large statue of Bishamonten (Guardian of the North), one of the Four Directional Guardians. This central image is flanked by Senju Kannon on one side and by Son-ten on the other, in the form of an old man. The temple houses many artefacts that are part of Japan’s National Treasure. Built in 770 AD, the temple originally belonged to the Tendai sect, however, by 1945, it had become home to an independent Buddhist sect that also worshipped the Shinto deity Son-ten. As a place of spiritual reknown, Kurama is a place of prayer to which the famous as well as the unknown are drawn. Usui is said to have gone to this area to meditate often.

    While living in Kyoto, it is said that Usui deepened his meditation studies and undertook lengthy retreats to further his spiritual development. Sources say that he trained in Shingon Buddhism. He is also thought to have undertaken the position of a lay Tendai priest (Zaike) and is said to have adopted the Buddhist name of Gyoho. He also invested considerable time and money studying and collecting Buddhist scriptures. He especially studied Buddhist healing techniques and invested enormous amounts of money collecting old medical texts. Usui had good political and academic connections and had many contacts in various countries seeking out texts. In Bombay merchants following the silk route through Tibet to China were given gold to find hidden Buddhist healing texts from these two countries.

    Usui did much of his research in Kyoto, as it was home to many large and extensive Buddhist libraries and monasteries with collections of ancient texts. Usui perservered in collecting, studying and practising using these texts, becoming an advanced practitioner and master of meditation. As a result, he became respected as a Buddhist teacher with a following of devoted students. They met regularly with Usui teaching from the texts that he had been collecting. The group practised rituals to avert new diseases that were ravaging Japan, as well as practices for healing every type of illness.

    The Usui memorial states that he did not begin teaching his system of healing until 1922, however other sources state that he began teaching long before this. Mariko Suzuki, who was a cousin of Usui’s wife is said to have begun her training with him in 1915. Other people trace his system of healing back to the late 1890s.

    The Usui Memorial states that one day Usui made a decision to undertake an an intensive meditation retreat on Mount Kurama, performing the practice of "shyu gyo". It was after this that he gained his insight into healing. According to a number of sources including the memorial stone, a great energy appeared above his head and he was empowered with the Universal healing energy. Using all he had learnt before and his degree of spiritual training, he put together a system of healing which became known as Usui Shiki Ryoho.

    After much thought and contemplation, it was his decision to share these teachings. It is said that he exchanged his knowledge, techniques and ideas with people who included the founder of Akido, Morihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi, founder of the Omoto religion. Usui first practised Reiki on his family and friends. Next he offered Reiki to Kyoto’s lower class district. Because Kyoto is a spiritual centre, the people in the streets were taken in and cared for. So Usui opened his home to many and with unbounded compassion brought them Reik. This also gave him the opportunity to perfect and refine what he was teaching. He continued to hold regular classes for his growing number of Buddhist followers.

    What Usui taught to each person may have depended on the individual student’s level of understanding and ability. His earlier teachings were perhaps less formalised. There were teachings that used mantra and kotodama and teachings that used meditation methods. The practice of healing was central.

    In April 1922, Usui moved to Tokyo where he worked as the secretary to Shinpei Goto, at that time Mayor of Tokyo. Usui opened a Reiki clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama, where the Meiji Jingu shrine had been built in 1920. He began to set up classes and teach his system of Reiki. Many students are said to have come to study with him.

    Usui’s Students

    Usui’s memorial states that his teachings reached to over 2000 people during his lifetime. From these students it is said that 22 reached the teacher level of Shinpiden.

    Many of these began their own clinics and founded Reiki schools and societies. By the 1940s there were about 40 Reiki schools spread all over Japan. Most of these schools taught the method of Reiki that Usui had developed. Some of his more well-known students, though not all of them reached teacher level, who received the teachings, include:

    Chujiro Hayashi
    One of Usui’s 22 teacher students, Hayashi studied with Usui for just 10 months before his death in 1926. Hayashi, a retired naval officer and surgeon, was 45 when he came to study with Usui.

    Harue Nagana

    Imae Mine

    Juzaburo Ushida

    Kaiji Tomita
    Said to be a student but not teacher. In 1933 he wrote Reiki to Jinjutsu – Tomita Ryu Ryoho (Reiki and Humanitarian Work - Tomita Ryu Hands Healing). The book was re-published in 1999.

    Kanichi Taketomi

    Kozo Ogawa
    Ogawa opened a Reiki clinic in Shizuoka City. He was involved in the administration of the Reiki Society (Reiki Gakkai). He passed on his Reiki work to Fumio Ogawa, his relative

    Mariko Suzuki

    Tendai nun and cousin to Usui’s wife. Mariko studied with Usui from 1915 until his death in 1926. She is said to have preserved a collection of his papers from 1920, including his meditations, teachings, poetry, and precepts.

    Masayuki Okada

    Sonoo Tsuboi

    Tendai nun. Said to have studied with Usui from 1920 to 1926.

    Toshihiro Eguchi
    Close friend and student of Mikao Usui. Eguchi was said to be one of the most prominent of his students and to have taught thousands of students before World War Two. He published a number of books on healing, including Te No Hira Ryoji Nyumon (Introduction to Healing with the Palms).

    Hoichi Wanami
    The fourth president of the Reiki Gakkai (1883 – 1975)

    Yoshiharu Watanabe
    The third president of the Reiki Gakkai, died 1960

    Tendai nun. Said to have studied with Usui from 1920 to 1926.

    Usui’s fame grows

    On 1st September 1923 at 11:58am, the Kanto earthquake hit the Kanto plain and devastated Tokyo, Yokohama and surrounding areas. Most of the central part of Tokyo was totally destroyed by fire made worse by high winds. Tokyo’s wooden houses burnt quickly as they collapsed from the quake. Nearly 700,000 homes were partly or completely destroyed. Estimates put the death toll between 100,000 to 140,000 people. The quake hit at midday, just when the city charcoal fires had been lit to cook lunch. This resulted in fires sweeping through the city: around 40,000 people were burnt to death in one go in Honjo ward when a tornado of fire swept through their chosen place of safety. Over 50,000 people suffered serious injuries. The water and sewage systems were destroyed along with the telephone and telegraph systems. Re-building the city took years.

    In response to this catastrophe, Usui and his students offered Reiki to countless victims. His clinic became too small to handle the throng of patients, so in February 1924, he built a new clinic in Nakano, outside Tokyo. His fame spread quickly all over Japan and he began receiving invitations from all over

    the country to come and teach his healing methods. Usui was awarded a Kun San To from the Emperor, a very high award given to those who have done honourable work. Soon his fame spread throughout the region and many physicians and healers rushed to come and learn from him.

    Usui became very busy, very soon, travelling throughout Japan to teach and give Reiki attunements. This started to take affect his health. He had a series of mini-strokes from stress. Usui left for a teaching tour in the Western part of Japan. Finally, on 9th March, 1926, while in Fukuyama, he died of a fatal stroke at the age of 62 years.

    His body was cremated with the ashes being placed in a Tokyo temple. Students from the Tokyo Reiki society erected a memorial stone at Saihoji Temple, which lies in the Toyatama district in Tokyo.

    The Reiki Gakkai – Usui’s Original Reiki Learning Society

    While his tombstone states that Usui founded the Reiki Society, the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, and acted as its first president, it is likely it was actually founded after his death by Jusaburo Ushida (1865 – 1935). Naming Usui as the first President would have been done out of respect for him. The Gakkai was open to people who had studied Usui’s Reiki and still exists today. Ushida was the author of the Usui Memorial.

    The Gakkai’s six presidents are:

    Juzaburo Ushida – 1865 – 1935
    Kanichi Taketomi – 1878 – 1960
    Yoshiharu Watanabe (unknown – 1960)
    Hoichi Wanami – 1883 – 1975
    Kimiko Koyama – 1906 – 1998,
    Masayoshi Kondo – 1998 - date

    During World War Two, the Reiki Gakkai disappeared from public view, moving its headquarters so as not to be detected as part of the Japanese peace movement. In peace time, the Reiki Gakkai regrouped and continued its teaching. The Reiki Gakkai continues to work today, basing its teachings upon Usui’s inspiration.

    The Reiki Gakkai teaches techniques to enhance the student’s ability to develop spiritually, to heal the self and others and to increase the practitioner’s awareness of subtle energy. Instruction is given in a very structured and methodical way with the emphasis on the complete mastery of each technique and practice before moving to a new level.

    Ranks within the Gakkai are based on the student’s ability to radiate Reiki and their level of competence with techniques. Shoden (first degree) is composed of three levels, these being the Sixth, Fifth and Fourth. A student goes from proficiency rank 6, beginner level, progressing once they have proven each level’s requirements.

    A student might take up to 10 years to reach the 3rd proficiency rank (Okuden). Here, the student learns more advanced healing methods. Below are the Ranks levels in the Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.

    Proficiency Rank 6 – Shoden Level
    Proficiency Rank 5
    Proficiency Rank 4
    Proficiency Rank 3 – Okuden Zenki, Okuden Keoki and Shinpiden Levels
    Proficiency Rank 2
    Proficiency Rank 1

    The levels are Shoden, Okuden Zenki (first part of the second degree) and Okuden Koeki (second part of the second degree) and Shinpiden (teacher level or Sensei). At each level, additional techniques are given. Reiki is seen as a way to reach higher levels of spiritual consciousness. Healing is seen as a ‘by-product’ that occurs from connecting to the student’s ‘True-self’.

    When a student has mastered Okuden Koeki and the collective Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai Shinpiden teachers feel the student is ready, they may vote for the student to receive Shinpiden (teacher training). There are currently only six Shinpiden level teachers in the whole Reiki Gakkai. Precisely how a student is chosen to receive training or when Shinpiden is actually taught is not presently known outside the Gakkai.

    As a closed Reiki society, the Gakkai do not encourage contact with foreigners and all members are asked not to discuss the details of their training with those who are not members. The Reiki Gakkai has around 500 members and is still based in Tokyo. Students come every week to practise and will chant the Reiki Principles, recite Waka poetry and practise Hatsurei-ho. Each week Shinpiden Senseis give students Reiju, a blessing, but not an attunement. These regular Reiju (blessings) act to purify and open the student’s energy channels.

    Today, variations of the teachings of this Reiki movement exist under other names, these include: Gendai Reiki (Modern Reiki Healing Method), Usui Reiki Ryoho and Japanese Reiki Method.

    Hayashi’s development of the Reiki system

    Hayashi opened a Reiki clinic in Tokyo. His changes included replacing some of the format of Usui’s teachings. He introduced a new system of attunements which used symbols and mantras, and created a system of ‘degrees’. Hayashi also developed a more complex set of hand positions that were suited to use in clinics. In 1931, Hayashi broke away from the Reiki Gakkai. Some sources say he was asked to leave because he had made such major changes to Usui’s system. In 1938 Hayashi wrote that he had trained 13 Reiki teachers. Some of the students who trained with him were Tatsumi, Hawayo Takata, and Chie Hayashi, his wife.

    Hayashi’s Reiki clinic maximised the energy flow of Reiki by having several people work on one client at a time. Hayashi encouraged practitioners to come to his clinic by giving First degree empowerments in return for a three month commitment as unpaid help.

    He would then offer the most promising students the Second level in return for a further nine months’ commitment. After this, students had the chance to receive the teaching level or third degree. Two years later, having had an apprenticeship in the classroom with Hayashi, students were taught the attunements/initiations and were allowed to teach Reiki. Hayashi passed his knowledge on to Mrs Takata who was responsible for bringing Reiki to mainland America. Hayashi passed away on 10th May 1940. Some people say he died of a self-induced stroke, whilst others say that being an honourable military man, that he performed ‘seppuku’.

    Where Hayashi’s methodology differs from Usui, some teachers prefer to use the name ‘Hayashi Reiki’. Hayashi was a student of Usui for only a period of 10 months before Usui died. To place this Reiki style in perspective, here is an overview of his life and his style of Reiki

    Chuijro Hayashi was born in 1879. He graduated from naval school and was a commander in the imperial navy where he trained in Western Allopathic and Eastern Chinese Medicine. In June of 1925, Hayashi received his teacher’s training from Usui. It is said that Chujiro Hayashi was a Methodist Christian, a fact confirmed by Mrs Yamaguchi, one of Hayashi’s Shoden/Okuden students. Others state that he was a Soto Zen practitioner who used Shinto practices. He may well have been both, Japan was a melting pot of numerous religions and spiritual ideals. Being a Christian, some say that Hayashi did not gain the complete transmission of Usui’s Reiki system.

    Hayashi was said to be initially involved with the Reiki Gakkai but left the society as a result of a dispute with the then chairman, Kanichi Taketomi. Hayashi took over and continued to work at Usui’s Reiki clinic, which was called the Usui Memorial Clinic. Hayashi renamed the clinic calling it ‘Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu Kai’ or ‘Hayashi Reiki Research Society’. Many of his former students and colleagues left Hayashi’s school because of the changes he had made to Usui’s original teaching style.

    Hayashi continued teaching his style of Reiki, a style which was compatible with his religious beliefs. Before his death on 10th May, 1940 he had attuned 13 students to the teacher level, including Mrs Takata in 1938. Some of his students include:

    Chei Hayashi, Chujiro’s wife, she continued to run his clinic and later became the second President of the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu Kai.

    Chiyoko Yamaguchi, as a 17 year old, Chiyoko studied Shoden and Okuden with Hayashi in 1938. Mrs Yamaguchi taught her own branch of Reiki, later called ‘Jikiden Reiki’ in Kyoto, Japan.

    Tatsumi, trained with Hayashi from1927 – 1931 to become a teacher. He learnt a series of hand positions formulated to cover specific acupuncture points and areas of energy flow over the body. His training finished due to a dispute over the changes Hayashi had made to Usui’s system.

    A new student to Reiki will often encounter considerable confusion regarding Reiki lineage and styles. The title ‘The Usui System of Natural Healing’ or ‘Usui Shiki Ryoho’, used by Reiki teachers in the west actually indicates the style of Reiki transmitted by Mrs Takata and Dr Hayashi.

    Mrs Takata’s Reiki – Usui Shiki Ryoho

    Mrs Takata’s Reiki style is perhaps the most well-known and wide spread system of Reiki in the world today. As a student of Hayashi, Mrs Takata brought her adapted system of Reiki to mainland America at the beginning of the 1970s. Over a 10 year period, she took 22 Western students to the teacher level of her system.

    The 22 teachers taught by Takata:

    Kay Yamashita (sister of Hawayo Takata) before 1976

    Virginia Samdahl 1976

    Ethel Lombardi 1976

    John Harvey Gray October 1976

    Beth Gray (Official Certificate states 1979)

    Dorothy Baba 1976

    Barbara Lincoln McCullough 1977

    Harry M Kuboi April 1977

    Fran Brown January 1979

    Iris Ishikuro 1979

    Phyllis Lei Furumoto April 1979

    Barbara Weber (Ray) September 1979

    Bethel Phaigh October 1979

    Barbara Brown October 1979

    Wanja Twan October 1979

    Ursula Baylow October 1979

    Paul (David) Mitchell November 1979

    George Araki 1979

    Shinobu Saito May 1980

    Patricia Bowling (Ewing) September 1980

    Mary McFayden September 1980

    Rick Bockner October 1980

    Many of these students went on to be prolific teachers of Reiki, including Phyllis Furumoto (The Reiki Alliance) and Barbara Weber Ray (The Radiance Technique) among many others. As a result of the efforts of these and other teachers that followed, Reiki spread around the world within a few short years. Today there are millions of Reiki practitioners and their teachings are largely based on what was passed on from Mrs Takata.

    Hawayo Kawamura (Mrs Takata’s maiden name), was born on 25th December 1900 in Hanamaula, Kauai, Hawaii. She married Saichi Takata on the 10th March 1917. They had two daughters, one of whom was Alice Takata-Furumoto, the mother of Phyllis Furumoto.

    Her husband died in 1930 and her sister in 1935. Mrs Takata became ill due to overworking herself, both to cover her grief and to provide for her family. Hawayo Takata decided to go to Japan to visit her parents and let them know of her sister’s death.

    In Japan she began to seek treatment for her health problems. It was decided that she needed an operation. Just before this operation she heard the voice of her dead husband, saying that the operation was not necessary and that there was another way. She asked her doctor if there were any other treatments and he suggested approaching Hayashi’s Reiki Clinic. Hawayo Takata received daily treatments at Hayashi’s clinic for four months. Her symptoms completely disappeared.

    Mrs Takata began to study the first degree with Hayashi on 10th December, 1935. She studied Reiki 1 with Hayashi for a little over one year. In 1937, Mrs Takata received the second level, Okuden, in Hayashi’s system. Shortly after this, she returned to Hawaii. A few weeks later, Chujiro Hayashi visited Mrs Takata with his daughter and stayed until February 1938. It was during this time Hayashi Sensei made Mrs Takata a teacher of Reiki and awarded her with Shinpiden level.

    The title ‘Reiki Master’ was not used by Mikao Usui. It is important to note that both Dr Usui and Dr Hayashi issued Reiki manuals and allowed their students to take notes to record their classes. Mrs Takata was the 13th Reiki teacher created by Chujiro Hayashi but she was not announced as his only successor.

    Mrs Takata ran Reiki clinics between 1940 and 1970, and initially taught many classes in Hawaii. She then retired from teaching until the early 1970s when she began teaching Reiki in mainland USA.

    She passed away in December of 1980, having created 22 teachers in what she termed the Usui System of Natural Healing or Usui Shiki Ryoho. At this time Takata’s teachers believed that Mrs Takata was the only living successor of the Reiki tradition and that all Usui’s and Hayashi’s teachers and students had either died before or during the Second World War.

    The original teachers created by Mrs Takata also believed that what Mrs Takata had taught them was exactly the same in practice as Hayashi’s and Usui’s Reiki. This belief would strongly influence the way Reiki was taught in America between the late 70s until approximately 1993. Until that time, ‘Japanese’ styles or other lineages of Reiki were largely unknown to Western Reiki practitioners.

    Although Mrs Takata’s system of Reiki has now been found to be significantly different to that of her predecessors, much gratitude and acknowledgement is given to her. For Mrs Takata’s actions in spreading Reiki have had far reaching benefits to humankind. Perhaps, without her, the system of Reiki may have remained unknown, except to a select few in Japan.

    Reiki Styles – Japanese Reiki, Dr Usui’s Original Reiki Teachings

    The Spiritual Precepts

    Do not bear ANGER

    For anger is Illusion.

    Do not be WORRIED

    Fear is Distraction.

    Be true to your WAY

    And your BEING.

    Show COMPASSION to yourself and others

    Because this is the centre of Buddhahood.

    While the Takata (or Western) Reiki tradition is a simple yet effective way to combat illness and relieve the stresses of daily life and has flourished in the West for some 30 year, the deeper spiritual practices and techniques of the

    Japanese tradition had remained behind closed doors.

    Japan’s cultural and spiritual traditions have little interest in outsiders.. Even today, Westerners are referred to as ‘Gaijin’ or ‘Western Barbarians’. This view has kept many of the esoteric arts from the West. That some of the Japanese Reiki methods have come to light, is largely due to the actions of Kimiko Koyama (1906 -1999) who, before she resigned in January 1998, was the then president of the Reiki Gakkai.

    The Reiki world discovered that Reiki was still flourishing in Japan and that the style of Reiki in Japan was considerably different in practice to that of the West.

    A great deal of effort had been put in by Western Reiki teachers searching for the roots of Reiki. They questioned and probed and found many inconsistencies. Usui had initially taught his teachings only to his Buddhist followers. However he later began teaching a form of Reiki that was suitable for people of all faiths and none. As many new, non-Buddhist, students began to learn Usui’s methods, the teaching changed and evolved.

    So that Reiki would become more widely acceptable to the very conservative, post ‘Pearl Harbour’ Christian Americans, Mrs Takata decided to change many facts concerning its development. Takata’s desire for Reiki’s popularity became realised. Mrs Takata ‘propagated’ what she called ‘The Usui System of Natural Healing’. Her system, while completely valid and proven, has little resemblance to original Japanese Usui methods. Many Japanese techniques were removed. It is these techniques that are now being introduced to the West.

    Reiki was exported back to Japan in its Western form with Western Teachers teaching Reiki to the Japanese. As a by-product, internal politics developed regarding what was Reiki, who had the ‘right’ version and who was who in the Reiki world. As new documents surface and Japanese practitioners step forward to give their views, the historical tradition becomes clearer.

    For many Western-taught Reiki practitioners, the most usual question is: is there any difference? The simple answer is ‘yes’. Reiki Ryoho teaches a variety of energy enhancing techniques, enabling the Reiki practitioner to consciously generate and direct greater amounts of healing energy. It includes a variety of meditations, Chi Kung style exercises and many practices for spiritual development. Reiki Ryoho teaches 18 of Usui’s techniques for healing.

    Many of the Japanese techniques accompany specific practices. A large foundation to Reiki practice is the use of Mantras, Mudras, Kotodama and empowerments (not reiju) to create a direct connection with the Reiki energy.

    Students have the opportunity to receive a direct transmission in the authentic Reiki System.

    Moving from Tendai to Shingon: Part of Mikao Usui’s Spiritual Path

    Mikao Usui had been raised as a Tendai Buddhist in a Tendai Buddhist family. However, Usui converted to Shingon and the following helps to explain why. Shingon and Tendai are both part of the esoteric Buddhism tradition.

    Around 1900 Usui fell ill as a result of an epidemic sweeping through Kyoto. During his illness, he had a life-changing near-death experience and had visions of Mahâvairocana Buddha. This caused him to reassess his life and study healing as taught by the Buddha. When he was better, he began to talk about his experiences with his family and the family priest. Rather than being supportive, they were outraged at his claims of seeing enlightened deities, and asked him to leave the temple.

    Usui was determined to answer all the questions the vision had aroused in him. In his search, he met a Shingon Bonze, Watanabe. Watanabe recognised Usui’s tremendous potential and accepted him as a student. Becoming a Shingon Buddhist and converting led to alienation from his outraged family. Usui was removed from the family ancestry, being seen as a traitor to his ancestors. Relatives, even today, will refuse to speak of him, saying that it is against the will of their ancestors. His daughter is said to have written a clause in her will that her father’s name should never be spoken in her house.

    Shingon, following the Yogacara attitude, emphasizes oneness between the material and the pure, idealized Buddha world. “All” is seen as the pure worlds of the Buddhas. The vision of the Buddha World is kept in mind, while all else is burned away; and the practitioner is united with the transcendent aspects of Mahâvairocana. All things, and everyone, are viewed in their essence form as a Buddha. Tendai Buddhists do not judge the world to be real or illusionary, but suspend all judgement of any form, imagined or real, of reality, having an inherent Madhyamika attitude regarding reality.

    The Tantric practices and rituals were brought back to Japan by Kukai, the founder of the Shingon School in Japan and Saicho, the founder of the Tendai School. The Shingon school had the more profound effect on Heian

    period Japan. Some of the monks of Mount Hiei, the centre of the Tendai sect, felt inferior to the monks trained by Kukai on Mount Koya. This was partly due to the fact that Kukai had spent much more time than Saicho in studying the esoteric teachings in China; and had received the full transmission of the Vajradhatu and Garbhadhatu lineage. Saicho had only received the transmission of the Garbhadhatu in his respective esoteric school of Buddhism.

    Kukai originally shared his much more complete knowledge of the teachings with the Tendai monks including Saicho. In the early days (circa 816 CE), it became normal for Tendai students to study the teachings of Shingon as well on Mount Koya. Kukai even responded to Saicho’s request for Abhiseka rites (energetic spiritual initiations) to be performed for him as well as receiving many additional teachings.

    However Saicho and Kukai had a disagreement, apparently over sacred documents that Saicho had borrowed, and refused to return. Kukai then declined to be further involved with Saicho, so Tendai students lost the opportunity to learn from Kukai and the Shingon sect. As both streams continued to evolve, the Tendai sect focused more importance on devotion as symbolized by the Lotus (as well as a deep focus on the teachings of the Lotus sutra), while Shingon focused on the Dainichi-kyo Sutra. Shingon, however, also focused on many aspects of the Lotus Sutra. Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra is part of the daily practices of the sect. Yet the two sects have many differences of interpretation. The word used for both the Tendai and Shingon sects is “Mikkyo”, which has the connotation of a “secret teachings”. Mikkyo does not so much mean privileged, however, it denotes oral instruction and/or teaching that is transmitted personally from Master to disciple.

    The Shingon sect emphasised healing and healing as relating to Yakushi Nyorai . As far as has been discerned, this strong emphasis on healing did not take place within the Tendai sect. At times Shingon practices were carried out on behalf of the Emperor, the Emperor’s wife, and other dignitaries of the court. The Emperor’s wife was actually healed through these practices, and as a result, entire temples, such as Toji in Kyoto, were built to help carry out and spread these practices within Shingon. This is the probable reason, along with the response of his Tendai priest, that Mikao Usui began to study and embrace the practices of Shingon It was here he found the ground from which to draw, to help him re-discover Reiki. A way to heal the imbalances, physical and otherwise, and address certain difficulties that had beleagured him during his life.




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    Mikao Usui