Reiki (pronounced ‘Ray Kee’) is often translated as Universal Life-Force Energy, but a more accurate translation is Spiritual Energy.
The word is divided into two parts:
REI translate as sacred, soul, or spirit, the wisdom and knowledge of the universe. It stands for the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe. The wisdom that comes from God (or the Source) who knows our needs and difficulties and who support us as we meet, overcome and heal them.
Ki is the term given to the Life Force Energy that flows through all living things – people, animals and plants – and which is present, in some form, in everything in our world.
Reiki is a safe, gentle holistic system that balances all aspects of the body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Originating in Japan, Reiki as a healing system has been used and taught in the West since the late 1930s. Originally founded and taught by Mikao Usui in Japan, it is believed to have come to the West from a lady called Hawayo Takata (1900-1980). While visiting an aunt in Japan in 1935 she went to a clinic run by Dr Chujiro Hayashi (1879-1940) to be healed of a serious illness. Dr Hayashi ( a naval commander) had been a student of Mikao Usui. After Ushi’s death he had opened his Reiki clinic the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu Rai. Hawayo Takata was so impressed with the success of the treatmentthat she received here, that she begged to be able to learn Reiki and Dr Hayashi eventually agreed to teach her. She lived with his family and worked for free at his clinic in exchange for learning the first and second levels of this healing system. She then returned to Hawaii 1937 and opened up the first Reiki clinic in the West .Dr Hayashi and his family then visited her in Hawaii and passed on the final level of teachings to her before returning to Japan in 1938. Mrs Takata continued to teach Reiki and run her clinic in Hawaii. She also travelled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada teaching the first and second levels of Reiki but it wasn’t until the 1970s that she began teaching the final level of teachings, the Third Degree, which she called the Reiki Master, so that others could pass on the teachings after she died. By the time of her death she is said to have taught 22 Masters and it is through them Reiki has spread.
Until the 1990s Reiki was taught in a very traditional manner with the master orally teaching the student and closely supervising their practise.Being a totally oral transmission has lead to us having a varied history of Reiki’s original teachings. It now seems highly unlikely we will ever have a totally accurate account of Mikao Usuis’ life or his healing systems, for even though contact was made with his original students, all well over 100 years old, they were unwilling to reveal the whole story, because of the prevailing culture in Japan of keeping information they consider sacred away from outsiders eyes. It was originally taught that Dr Mikao Usui, the founder, was a professor who taught in a Christian seminary. One day a student asked him if he believed in the Bible stories of Jesus’ healing and if he did then when would they be taught to heal? He then realised he could not teach healing and dedicated the rest of his life to finding out how Jesus and the Buddha had been able to heal. This original story about him teaching in a Christian seminary was challenged and no proof could be found of a Dr Usui teaching in any Christian seminary. It is likely this Christian element was added to make the history of Reiki more acceptable in the West because during the Second World War the Americans fought the Japanese from 1942 till 1945. ( The English and Allied Forces fought the Nazis from 1939 to 1945 but America only joined in after the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1942.) and anything coming out of Japan was for many years rejected.
What we do know from researched facts is that Mikao Usui was born into a Samurai family in Taniai-mura in Japan on the 15th August 1865 and that he began to study Buddhism at the age of four, when he was sent to the local monastery school run by Tendai Buddhist monks. During his years of schooling he learnt among other things Buddhist meditation techniques and also traditional Buddhist healing practices. In adult life he had many different jobs, including a position as a government officer, a business man, a journalist and for a time he was secretary to the Mayor of Tokyo. For a while he is also said to have worked as a missionary, although where and to what purpose is unclear, but this may simply be a reference to his charitable work in prisons. Although he is refered to as a Buddhist priest, in effect he was a lay Tendai priest called a zaike, so he lived a relatively normal life with a wife and children.
Although he is often refered to as Dr Usui, there is no evidence currently available that he was a qualified medical doctor, so the reference may just be a mark of respect.
As part of his lifelong study of Buddhism, he would have been working towards achieving Satori, the state of Spiritual Enlightenment, and his memorial confirms the experience of mystical enlightenment on Mount Kurama near Kyoto. He appears to have begun teaching some aspects of his healing system in 1915 and to have become widely known as a healer as early as 1917.
Apparently, after advice from one of his Buddhist teachers, he decided to undergo shyu gyo, a strict spiritual discipline involving meditation and fasting for 21 days, until he either died or became enlightened. On the last morning of his fast he experienced ” a great Reiki over his head”, which enabled him to become enlightened, and to acquire the ability to access healing energy (Reiki) and to pass that ability on to others. Usui then spent the few years before his death on 9th March 1926 practising and teaching his healing system-Usui Reiki Ryoho, or Usui Spiritual Energy Healing Method. During this time he passed on his knowledge to others so that the teachings could continue. His memorial states: ” If Reiki can be spread throughout the world it will touch the human heart and the morals of society. It will be helpful for many people, not only healing disease, but the Earth as a whole”. His wishes have come true, perhaps even beyond what he could have envisaged, as there are now millions of people around the world using Reiki.
I first encountered Reiki when I went for a Reiki healing while very sick in the early 1980s. I was so impressed with my treatments that I also requested to be taught Reiki. I had previously encountered spiritual healing methods using the laying on of hands as a young person attending the Enmore Spiritualist Church and then years later, when in my thirties, at the Wednesday night “Healing Service” run by Cannon Glennon at St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. This service advertised only on a billboard put out half an hour before the service was always packed out. The regular church notices made no mention of the service and it was not on the board telling of regular services out the front, it seems it was only allowed to continue because of the money from the collections all of which ended up in church coffers. At one point Cannon Glennon asked the church administrators if the “Healing Ministry” could have one of there many empty spaces to allow for 24 hour access to prayer support for those seeking it. When this was rejected he sought a loan to allow the purchase of a healing centre, when this was denied the congregation of the Wednesday night Healing Service asked him if they could donate towards the purchase of a healing centre. Two wooden boxes were then placed out during the service and within a couple of weeks enough money had been raised for the purchase at auction of the old Catholic Convent near Prince Alfred Hospital. Called ” Golden Grove” it still functions today, staffed by volunteers, as a centre providing accomodation and support for people visiting Sydney for medical treatment. Does this form of healing by the laying on of hands work, well all I can say is my grandmother, who by this late stage of her life professed to no longer have any belief in God was healed at that Wednesday night service after two little old ladies from the congregation prayed for her while laying their hands on her shoulders. That night I had driven onto the pavement outside the church and supported her as she hobbled painfully inside. Diagnosed by a specialist doctor, after xrays, as having had the calcium come out of the bones in her hip socket changing its shape, she was only able to walk very short distances befofe the pain became to great to go further. The week following she walked unaided into the healing service from my car parked a block away. She then returned to her voluntary work at Smiths Family which as I was working during the day involved walking up to the railway station down many stairs, catching a train to the city, a bus to Crown St. and then walking down to Smiths Family where she spent the day sorting clothes for people in need, before repeating this exercise in reverse on the homeward journey. Yes I believe healing through prayer and spiritual based practises can happen and does, although I need to add that the healing that takes place does not always lead to a physical cure as it did in this case. Healing can be spiritual, emotional or mental. on which level and to what extent healing takes place is decided by a “Higher Power”. It being way beyond the person who is doing the laying on of hands, as they have no knowledge as to what will best help the person on their lifes journey.