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What is the History of Reiki?

Author: William Lee Rand

Copyright © 1990-1999, The International Center for Reiki Training, email center@reiki.org

 


Usui
Shiki Ryoho: The Usui System of Natural
Healing



Ancient Origins



The Development of Usui Reiki



Dr.
Mikao Usui


Dr.
Chujiro Hayashi


Hawayo
Takata





Mrs. Takata Talks about Reiki (transcript)







Usui Shiki Ryoho:

The Usui System of Natural Healing


Reiki In Japan

The Usui Shiki Ryoho Gakkai





Dr. Usui started
a Reiki organization in Japan soon after rediscovering Reiki. 
He was the first president.  After he died, he was followed
by a succession of presidents:  Mr. Ushida, Mr. Iichi Taketome,
Mr. Yoshiharu Watanabe, Mr. Toyoichi Wanami, Ms. Kimiko Koyama and
the current successor to Dr. Usui as of 1998 is Mr. Kondo.   
Contrary to what has been said by some in the west, there is no
"lineage bearer" or "Grandmaster" in the system
of healing started by Dr. Usui, only the succession of presidents
listed above.  While Dr. Hayashi was a respected Reiki master,
he was never in charge of the Usui system of Reiki.


Reiki is a
generic word in Japan, and is used to describe many types of healing
and spiritual work. It is not exclusive to the system of healing
based on Dr. Usui's method. The system of healing that evolved from
Dr. Usui's method is called the Usui System of Natural Healing or
Usui Shiki Ryoho.


Reiki in the
West


After coming
to the west, the Usui System of Natural Healing has evolved over
time. In its current state, it is much more organized and structured
than the simple, flexible, intuitive method practiced by Dr. Usui.
The following is a description of the evolution of the Usui System
of Reiki.


During his
mystical experience on Mt. Kurama, Dr. Usui received the ability
to do Reiki treatments, the Reiki symbols and the ability to pass
Reiki on to others. Later he added the Reiki Ideals and the idea
that one needs to receive compensation for a treatment. Dr. Hayashi
added the standard hand positions, the three degrees and their attunement
processes. Mrs. Takata added the fee structure previously mentioned.
The required waiting periods between classes were added by several
of Mrs. Takata's Masters after she passed on.


After Mrs.
Takata's transition, a few teachers began making changes in the
way they taught Reiki. Most of the changes were beneficial, and
included the addition of knowledge and healing skills the teachers
had learned from other systems or had acquired from inner guidance.
However, some changes were restrictive, making it more difficult
for students to progress. Some took the Third Degree and divided
it into several small parts, calling each new part a new Degree
and charging additional money. Often, the fact that they had modified
the Usui system was not mentioned and when their students became
teachers, they began teaching what they thought was pure Usui Reiki
when in fact it was not. In this way, many varieties of Reiki have
developed with some thinking they have the only authentic version
of Reiki when actually what they are teaching is a modified form.








Ancient Origins


Speculation
based on knowledge of other ancient healing systems has led to a
plausible hypothesis that may shed some light on the pre-Usui origins
of Reiki. There is a Tibetan Buddhist healing technique called the
Medicine Buddha. It involves the laying-on of hands similar to Reiki.
The ability to do Medicine Buddha healing is transmitted to the
student through an empowerment given by the teacher similar to a
Reiki attunement. There are other spiritual lineage's in Tibetan
Buddhism involving the transmission of ability or value through
empowerments. Since Tibetan Buddhism is the only form of Buddhism
that uses empowerments, it is likely that the Reiki Dr. Usui rediscovered
was formerly a Tibetan technique that had been lost. It is known
that a spiritual lineage of this type may stop due to the failure
of the teacher to pass it on. The lineage may then resume hundreds
or thousands of years later when a monk or spiritual seeker receives
instruction and empowerment during a mystical experience. Perhaps
this is what happened to Dr. Usui. Perhaps he had been a Reiki Master
in a past life and this gave him the determination to seek the healing
power again. Perhaps the lineage had come to an end only to be started
again when Dr. Usui's Reiki was reactivated during his mystical
experience.







The Development
of Usui Reiki


The
following three passages trace the story of Reiki as researched
by William Lee Rand.  A more detailed explanation can be found
in his book,  Reiki, The Healing Touch.










Dr. Mikao Usui


Dr. Mikao Usui,
or Usui Sensei as he is called by his students in Japan, is the
founder of the Usui System of Reiki. He was born August 15, 1865
in the village of Yago in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture,
Japan. It is thought that he entered a Tendai Buddhist school on
or near Mt. Kurama ("horse saddle mountain") at age four.
He also studied kiko, the Japanese version of qigong,
which is a health and healing discipline based on the development
and use of life energy. The young Usui found that these healing
methods required the practitioner to build up and then deplete his
own life energy when giving treatments. He wondered if it were possible
to do healing work without depleting one’s own energy. He went
on to study in Japan, China and Europe and ended up spontaneously
receiving Reiki during a meditation practice on Mt. Kurama.



Usui Sensei had an avid interest in learning and worked hard at
his studies. He traveled to Europe and China to further his education.
His curriculum included medicine, psychology, and religion as well
as fortune telling, which Asians have long considered to be a worthy
skill. It is thought that he was from a wealthy family, as in Japan
only the wealthy could afford to send their children to school.
Eventually he became the secretary to Pei Gotoushin, head of the
department of health and welfare who later became the Mayor of Tokyo.
The connections Usui Sensei made at this job helped him to become
a successful businessman. Usui Sensei was also a member of the Rei
Jyutu Ka, a metaphysical group dedicated to developing psychic abilities.


In 1914 Usui’s
personal and business life was failing. As a sensitive spiritualist,
Usui Sensei had spent much time meditating at power spots on Mt.
Kurama where he had received his early Buddhist training. So he
decided to travel to this holy mountain, where he enrolled in Isyu
Guo, a twenty-one-day training course sponsored by the Tendai Buddhist
Temple located there. We do not know for certain what he was required
to do during this training, but it is likely that fasting, meditation,
chanting and prayers were part of the practice. In addition, we
know there is a small waterfall on Mt. Kurama where even today people
go to meditate. This meditation involves standing under the waterfall
and allowing the waters to strike and flow over the top of the head,
a practice which is said to activate the crown chakra. Japanese
Reiki Masters think that Usui Sensei may have used this meditation
as part of his practice. In any case, it was during the Isyu Guo
training that the great Reiki energy entered his crown chakra. This
greatly enhanced his healing abilities and he realized he had received
a wonderful new gift - the ability to give healing to others without
depleting his own energy!


Please refer
to Reiki, The Healing Touch, by William Lee Rand for a detailed
description of Reiki and how Dr. Usui rediscovered it.









Dr. Chujiro Hayashi


Dr.
Hayashi was a retired naval officer. He received the Reiki Master
initiation from Dr. Usui about 1925 at the age of 47.



Up to this point, the Usui system of healing consisted of the energy
itself, the symbols, the attunement process and the Reiki ideals.
This was what Dr. Usui had received during his mystical experience
on Mt. Kurama. Dr. Hayashi went on to develop the Usui system of
healing. He opened a Reiki clinic in Tokyo and kept detailed records
of the treatments given. He used this information to create the
standard hand positions, the system of three degrees and their initiation
procedures.





Reiki comes to
the West. Hawayo Takata was born at dawn on December 24th, 1900, on
the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Her parents were Japanese immigrants
and her father worked in the sugar cane fields. She worked very hard
as she was growing up. She eventually married the bookkeeper of the
plantation where she was employed. His name was Saichi Takata and
they had two daughters. In October of 1930, Saichi died at the age
of thirty-four leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two children.

In order to
provide for her family, she had to work very hard with little rest.
After five years she developed severe abdominal pain, a lung condition
and had a nervous breakdown.



Soon after this, one of her sisters died and it was the responsibility
of Hawayo to travel to Japan where her parents had moved to deliver
the news. She also felt she could receive help for her health in
Japan.


She took a
steamship and was accompanied by her sister-in-law. After informing
her parents of the death of her sister, she entered a hospital.
It was found that she had a tumor, gallstones and appendicitis.
After resting several weeks, she was ready for the needed operation.


On the operating
table, just before the surgery was to begin, Hawayo heard a voice.
The voice said, "The operation is not necessary. The operation
is not necessary." She had never heard a voice speak to her
like this before. She wondered what it meant. The voice repeated
the message a third time even louder. She knew she was wide awake
and had not imagined the voice. It was so unusual, yet so compelling
that she decided to ask the doctor. She got off the operating table, 
wrapped a sheet around herself and asked to speak to the doctor.


When the doctor
finally came, she asked if he knew of any other way that her problems
could be helped. The doctor knew of Dr. Hayashi's Reiki clinic and
told Hawayo about it. This was something she wanted to try.


At the Reiki
clinic, she began receiving treatments. She had never heard of Reiki
before and did not know what it was. Using their Reiki hands the
practitioners could sense what was wrong with Mrs. Takata. Their
diagnosis very closely matched the doctor's at the hospital. This
impressed her and gave her confidence in what they were doing.


Two Reiki practitioners
would treat her each day. The heat from their hands was so strong
that she thought they were using some kind of equipment. She looked
around, but saw none. Seeing the large sleeves of the Japanese kimono
one of the practitioners was wearing, she thought she had found
the location of the equipment. She grabbed the sleeves, but found
nothing. The startled practitioner wanted to know what she was doing
and when she explained, he began to laugh. Then he told her about
Reiki and how it worked.


Mrs. Takata
received daily treatments and got progressively better. In four
months, she was completely healed. Impressed with the results, she
wanted to learn Reiki. However, it was explained that Reiki was
Japanese and that it was intended to stay in Japan. It could not
be taught to an outsider.


Mrs. Takata
talked to the surgeon at the hospital and convinced him to ask Dr.
Hayashi to allow her to learn Reiki. Since Dr. Hayashi wanted to
teach Reiki to another woman besides his wife, and since Mrs. Takata
was so persistent, he decided that she should be the one. In the
Spring of 1936, Mrs. Takata received First Degree Reiki. She worked
with Dr. Hayashi for one year and then received Second Degree Reiki.


Mrs. Takata
returned to Hawaii in 1937. She was soon followed by Dr. Hayashi
and his daughter who came to help establish Reiki in Hawaii. In
the Winter of 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki
Master. She was the thirteenth and last Reiki Master Dr. Hayashi
initiated.


Between 1970
and her transition on December 11, 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two
Reiki Masters. Below is a list of the Reiki Masters she initiated.
This is the list she gave to her sister before she passed through
transition.



    George
    Araki

    Barbara McCullough

    Beth Grey

    Ursula Baylow

    Paul Mitchell

    Iris Ishikura (deceased)

    Fran Brown

    Barbara Weber Ray

    Ethel Lombardi

    Wanja Twan

    Virginia Samdahl

    Phyllis Lei Furumoto

    Dorothy Baba (deceased)

    Mary McFaden

    John Gray

    Rick Bockner

    Bethel Phaigh (deceased)

    Harry Kuboi

    Patricia Ewing

    Shinobu Saito

    Takata's Sister

    Barbara Brown




The original
twenty-two teachers have taught others. In the decade since Mrs.
Takata experienced transition, Reiki has spread rapidly in the West.
It is now practiced throughout North and South America, Europe,
New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world. There are now
an estimated 50,000 Reiki Masters with as many as 1,000,000 people
practicing Reiki throughout the world.



Unless otherwise noted the text above is reprinted from Reiki the
Healing Touch by William Rand. Permission is granted to reprint
portions of this text if original source is cited: Rand, William.
Reiki, The Healing Touch. Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, 1991.

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