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Discovery and Development of Reiki

Author: Anja Heij

"The more we care for the happiness of others,
the greater our own sense of wellbeing becomes."

The Dalai Lama

The traditional story of the discovery of Reiki
is as historically correct as the biblical report of the life
of Jesus - it is molded and adapted to suit the needs of a lot
of people.
What really matters is this:
A Japanese Buddhist, Dr. Mikao Usui, went fasting and meditating
for 21 days on the holy mount Kurama in 1914. During this period
he experienced a satori, a realization of enlightenment. He describes
his discovery as follows: "While I fasted I touched an intense
energy and in a mysterious manner I was inspired (I received the
Reiki energy). As in a coincidence it became clear to me that
I had been given the spiritual art of healing. Although I am the
founder of this method, I find it hard to explain all of this
more precisely."

About Reiki Dr. Usui writes in his manual: "My Usui
Reiki Ryoho (ryoho means 'healing method, therapy') is an original,
it's nothing like this in the world. So I would like to release
this method to the public for everyone's benefit and hope for
everyone's happiness. My Reiki Ryoho is an original method based
on intuitive power in the universe. By this power, body gets healthy
and enhances happiness of life and a peaceful mind."

Usui uses the word 'intuitive' to describe this energy, because
this energy seems to have its own intelligence which guides it
to where it is needed: to body parts or life issues which need
healing. He worked several years on the development of a system
to teach and pass on his Reiki to others. The Reiki Ryoho he taught
consisted of:

  • meditation techniques

  • breathing exercises

  • spiritual cleansing

  • the reciting of spiritual poetry

  • the Reiki principles

  • regular empowerments which gradually opened up the student
    for Reiki, later on the attunements were introduced

  • hands-on healing with several techniques

  • distance healing

  • also the breath and the eyes were used to heal with

  • later on symbols and mantras were introduced

The techniques he used were all very simple to apply. He taught
in regular group meetings. For those who had difficulty with
developing an intuitive style of working he later on introduced
symbols and mantras to help them focus, and a manual with hand
positions to be used with several symptoms. Usui himself usually
used his intuition to sense which body parts needed healing
after having treated the head of the patient first.

Dr. Usui spent the rest of his life teaching and giving Reiki.
He strongly desired to help improve people's lives by freeing
them from illness, emotional and mental suffering. He founded
a Reiki training school in Tokyo and a Reiki society named the
Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, of which he was the first president.

Mikao Usui

One of his students was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a
retired Japanese navy officer, who became Reiki master in 1925.
Where Dr. Usui mainly used intuition to decide which body parts
needed healing, Dr. Hayashi as a military man preferred a more
organized way of treating. He developed a set of standard hand
positions to make sure that all important areas of the body
were covered. Hayashi opened a clinic in which groups of students
treated patients with Reiki.
One of Hayashi's students was a Japanese American woman, living
in Hawaii, Mrs. Hawayo Takata. In 1938 she became a very dedicated
Reiki master and brought Reiki to the western world.

From that time on you get two main streams of
Reiki: one in Japan of course with much more emphasis on the
meditative and spiritual side of the system, and a more western
orientated form with emphasis on the symbols and attunements.

In Japan it is common to spend several years of meditative practices
to enhance spiritual growth, and to regularly study in groups
of like-minded people under guidance of a master/teacher. This
is a great way to gradually raise your frequency/vibration,
develop your intuition and open up more fully for universal
life-force. Doing so you will gradually become a Reiki channel.
In the west however we want all things fast, easy and more individual.
So here symbols and attunements became much more important and
several meditative and spiritual practices were left out. You
can see attunements as a shortcut to the raise of your vibration
and symbols as a focus on a certain aspect of the energy; so
with symbols and attunements you can immediately go to work
with the system.

The Reiki system as traditionally taught in the west consists
of attunements, symbols and mantras, learning the standard hand positions,
learning hands-on and distant healing techniques for self and
others. Several schools include information on (balancing) the
chakras and the spiritual background of diseases, but those
are Reiki.

The last years information on the Japanese way of learning Reiki
has become available, and several western masters have decided
to include the original meditation and breathing techniques,
as well as the spiritual cleansing and blood cleansing techniques
in their courses

The last twenty years Reiki has become very popular.
For many people it is difficult to accept that great spiritual
truths are and work amazingly simple.

This is also the case with Reiki and it has lead to a confusing
amount of 'new' Reiki branches. All these Reiki's are based
on the original Usui Reiki Ryoho, but masters have added new
symbols, new or altered attunement techniques, more levels,
new ways to work with the Reiki or included techniques from
other modalities. They may state that they have received channeled
information about their workings from archangels, ascended masters
or other high spiritual beings. They may claim to have discovered
other healing rays as well, to also attune you to several stars
and planets, and/or that their Reiki is higher vibrational,
faster healing and closer to source. Several founders of Reiki
branches have trademarked their system.
There definitely are very interesting add ons in reiki-land,
but the good old simple Usui Reiki works very good. All attunement
techniques work. New symbols focus on a specific part of the
all-encompassing energy, may therefore 'feel' different, and
they are worth working with if you like, but they do not supply
a higher vibration than the Usui symbols. After all it is the
energy itself which does the work, not the symbols.
If you wish to work with a simple yet complete system which
requires a minimum of knowledge you may be very happy with traditional
Usui Reiki Ryoho.
If you wish to give more conscious direction to your healings,
your life, your magick, then one of the Reiki branches with
more symbols and additional techniques may very well suit your

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