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Reiki 101


The Essential Background Guide


Below is a reproduction of extracts from an e-book copied from James Deacon’s REIKI PAGES at http://www.aetw.org. James has created an excellent website with a lot of good information about the Reiki that came from Mikao Usui. The Essential Background Guide has been produced by James to give an overview of the history of Reiki and its introduction into western countries.


Could readers please note the copyright and reproduction rights notices that come with this article.


These extracts are exactly as can be found on the REIKIPAGES website apart from updating the information about which of Hawayo Takata’s original 22 Reiki Masters have now passed on.  


This posting is one of many about Reiki that can be found in the Reiki section of the Information centre of this website.




The Essential Background Guide

Copyright © 2003/5 James Deacon
[Version 1.05]




Copies of this E-Book may be distributed WITHOUT CHARGE to anyone you wish. It may also be distributed WITHOUT CHARGE in printed form providing it is done so in its entirety (including end-pages). Permission is NOT given to add to, subtract from, or otherwise modify this document in any way, shape or form. [See foot of document for further details re: Use of Materials from this E-book]








The Essential Background Guide

Copyright © 2003/5 James Deacon
[Version 1.05]


What is Reiki ?


Essentially, "Reiki" (the proper Japanese pronunciation is somewhere between "Ray-Key" and "Lay-Key") is a term used to refer to a system of healing and self-development created by Mikao Usui (respectfully referred to as: Usui-Sensei) in Japan in the early part of the 20th Century.


While commonly referred to simply as "Reiki" or "Reiki Therapy", the system of healing and self-development is more formally called "Usui Reiki Ryoho" - that is: "Usui Reiki Healing Method" or "Usui Reiki Treatment"


Reiki Therapy was introduced to the West under the title: Usui Shiki Ryoho (Usui-style Healing Method [/Treatment])


At different times, various expressions of the system have been known as:

-     Usui Do (the 'Do' refers to a spiritual or philosophical 'path', or 'way')

-     Usui Teate ('Teate' - means 'treatment', 'therapy' or 'hand-healing' )

-     Usui Reiho (Spiritual Method) [some people seem to think Reiho is a contraction of 'Reiki Ryoho']


Simply stated, Reiki Therapy can be said to be a synergistic combination of 'spiritual healing' and 'energy healing' techniques, and self-developmental practices.


While the system has been influenced by spiritual and therapeutic discipline, practice and ideals found within Shinto, Buddhism (and possibly Taoism), Reiki itself has no specific religious affiliation.



Reiki - a generic term


Of latter years, however, the word 'Reiki' has, it seems, achieved generic status.


Much as the word: 'Biro' has, in many places, come to mean any ball-point pen, or: 'Hoover' is used to refer to the vacuum cleaner in general - no matter what particular form or style or manufacturer - so, the word: 'Reiki' has (erroneously), at various times, been applied to all manner of forms of 'energetic' healing.


It has been used to refer to the hands-on practices of certain South American Shamans, to forms of western Spiritualist Healing, to high-level Chinese Chi Gung healing practices (and has even been cited by some as the means used by Jesus, Buddha, and many other religious figures to enact healing miracles).


Admittedly, many people - having undergone Reiki training - have taken the essential phenomenon that is at the very core of Reiki Therapy and successfully integrated it into various spiritual, cultural and esoteric belief-systems and practices.


This has resulted in the manifestation of numerous viable and effective new 'styles' of Reiki, or what at least may be referred to as 'Reiki-derived' or 'Reiki-influenced', therapeutic modalities and systems of personal development.




Reiki - Energetic Radiance


However, technically, the term "Reiki" is properly solely used to indicate the therapeutic and self-development system created by Mikao Usui (i.e. 'Usui-Sensei').


More specifically, the name "Reiki" identifies the wonderful therapeutic energy radiance, or phenomenon, which lies at the heart of this natural healing system.


The "Rei" part of the name is often translated as "Universal*", and in essence, it refers to something Spiritual or Sacred, and can mean "Soul".


"Ki", is often translated simply as "Life-Force Energy", yet also implies 'Spiritedness' or 'Feelings'.


Thus, depending on ones perspective, Reiki can be understood as: "Universal* Life-force Energy", "Spiritually-influenced life-force Energy", or even as "Charismatic Healing Radiance".


* 'Universal' in this sense, originally being a contraction of: 'the Universal' - an alternative (and intentionally less religious) term for 'the Divine', 'Numinous', 'God''.



Reiki - a gentle therapy


Reiki is a gentle, yet profound, non-invasive therapy, which can facilitate stress-reduction and relaxation, support effective immune-system function, enhance the body's self-healing mechanisms, and replenish and nurture vitality.


Reiki can be effectively used in combination with other therapies - both allopathic and 'alternative' - and has been shown to effectively stimulate the relaxation response.


Rather than acting solely on a physical level, Reiki is holistic in its effect - eliciting a healing response across the entire spectrum of ones being - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.


It can prove beneficial in the resolving of physical disorders, nervous conditions and emotional issues, and help nurture a greater sense of balance, well-being, and wholeness in ones life.


The gentle Reiki phenomenon has no negative side effects, and does not require any concentration on the part of the client.



The Reiki Principles


Central to the Reiki system of wellness and self-development, is a set of 5 guiding Principles or Precepts - referred to in Japanese as the gokai.


These principles - affirmed morning and night, and kept in ones thoughts throughout ones daily activities - are intended to assist in transforming ones attitude to life, and bring the soul/self into balance, enabling one to respond with compassion in all situations.


There are many slightly different translations of the Reiki gokai, yet they all express the same sentiment.


One version reads:

"The secret method of inviting blessings, the spiritual medicine of many illnesses:


Just for today ...
(1,) Do not rise to anger
(2,) Do not succumb to worry
(3,) Express Gratitude for all your blessings
(4,) Apply yourself diligently
(5,) Manifest compassion to all beings


Mornings and evenings sit in the prayer position and repeat these words out loud and in your heart, for the improvement of body and soul… "



Reiki - Receiving Treatment


The person receiving Reiki treatment remains fully clothed, and sits in a chair, or reclines on a therapy couch - whichever is most comfortable. The only participation required is a desire to let oneself relax and be open to the positive effects of the Reiki healing energy.


In its simplest form, treatment is given primarily by means of a structured series of touch-based interventions at specific points on the body (- a process sometimes referred to as 'laying on of hands').


The Reiki session usually lasts between 45 minutes and I hour, during which time, the recipient may experience heat, or become aware of tingling or pulsing sensations, as the healing Reiki energy radiates from the therapist's hands and begins to effect positive change, and restore balance, throughout the recipient's whole being.


The therapeutic influence of the Reiki treatment continues to manifest for some time after the session ends. For this reason it is desirable (where possible) for the recipient to take things easy for a day or so, in order to gain the full benefits of their Reiki session.



How does Reiki work?


While there are various theories as to how Reiki might work, there is no clear answer to this - all that can be said for certain is that it does.


Dis-ease, dis-harmony, un-wellness is believed to occur due to disruptions/inhibitions in the flow of vital life force within our being.


Many believe that the specific radiant energy-pattern which we call Reiki, emanating from the practitioner's hands, simply assists the body to 'correct' and re-balance the flow of our life force, thus returning us to a state of wellness and generally enhancing the quality of our experience of our life.



Reiki Training & Attunement


For people wishing to learn to work with Reiki directly, training is commonly (though not always) structured in a series of three Levels or Degrees.


The ability to 'do' Reiki is not something that is learned in the normal sense.

Rather it is something which is activated or awakened within the individual through a process of Initiation ( also referred to as an 'Attunement')

This Initiation or Attunement - the central focus of each Level or Degree - involves a special energetic transfer technique whereby the Reiki Teacher ('Master') essentially 're-patterns' or 'recalibrates' the student's etheric field & subtle energy centres.


To use an I.T. analogy, its a bit like having someone who possesses a very specific program, which enables them to interact and work with the Reiki phenomenon, download a copy of that program into your being, thereby enabling you to also interact and work with the Reiki phenomenon .



Level 1 Reiki


At Level 1, the Initiation/Attunement opens the student to the flow of Reiki (some would say: opens them to the awareness of the flow of Reiki).


Traditionally, in Usui Shiki Ryoho, the 'outer' focus of Level 1 Reiki is on hands-on therapy at a purely physical level [both for self-treatment and for treating others].


However, the 'inner' focus of Level 1 is about learning to become 'a clear channel' for Reiki.

Level 1 is about learning to 'let go and let the energy flow' - about learning to 'step out of the way' - learning to override the desire of ones conscious mind to interfere in the therapeutic process, and instead, simply let the Reiki phenomenon 'happen'.


The attitude should be one of almost Zen-like, compassionate, detachment:
"Sitting quietly, 'not doing', not seeking after outcomes, Reiki Flows. If healing happens, it happens, if it doesn't, it doesn't - either way it's no concern of mine."


Developing this attitude early on will greatly enhance the quality of ones journey with Reiki.



Level 2 Reiki


Where Level 1 opens the student to the (awareness of the) flow of Reiki the Level 2 Initiation/Attunement deepens the quality of that flow.


Having developed the attitude of 'compassionate detachment from outcomes' at level 1, the Level 2 student is provided with a number of symbolic tools enabling them to 'set' intentions - and broaden the scope of their therapeutic interventions.


With Level 2 training, the student is introduced to three sacred symbols, and is instructed in their use as a means of:
-     enhancing the effectiveness of physical level treatment (both hands-on and
-     non-contact - i.e. in the clients aura)
-     carrying out treatment at deeper psycho-emotional levels
-     and performing 'distant' or 'remote' treatments - i.e. for people not physically
-     present.




Level 3 Reiki


Level 3 is commonly referred to as the 'Master' level, but is more properly the 'Teacher' level, being the level at which the practitioner will manifest the ability to impart Initiation/Attunements to others.


This level's Initiation/Attunement brings yet a greater deepening of connection to the Reiki phenomenon.


The practitioner is introduced to a fourth sacred symbol - the Master symbol, and is instructed in its uses, including its significance in the Initiation/Attunement process.


While many people will choose to progress to Level 2 (- with its deeper energy connection and expanded healing techniques -) and eventually to Level 3 (the 'Master' /Teaching Level), Reiki Level I training will provide all the basic awareness required to practice this special therapeutic art - primarily for self-healing, and also for treating others - family, friends, pets - even household plants.


For those attuned to it, the phenomenon that is Reiki can, amongst other things, be utilised as a form of body-centred meditation. It can also, especially at the higher levels, prove an invaluable tool for spiritual growth, having a subtle yet profound effect on ones personal development.



Reiki's Founder


Mikao Usui (Usui-Sensei) was born on the 15th of August 1865 in Kyoto, Japan, in what is now the prefecture of Gifu.

He is believed to have been sent to a Tendai Buddhist monastery school in 1869.


At the age of 12 began martial arts training. He would progress to the highest levels of proficiency in his particular art, achieving his 'Instructors Licence' in his 20's


In his late 30's Usui-Sensei married Sadako Suzuki. It is known that they had at least 2 children: a son, Fuji (born 1908) and a daughter, Toshiko (born 1913).


It is said that in March 1922, as a result of undergoing arduous spiritual discipline (shugyo) on Kurama Yama (Mt Kurama) near Kyoto, Usui-Sensei experienced the phenomenon that is Reiki, and gained an intuitive understanding of how to work with Reiki as a medium for healing and self-development.


Originally Usui-Sensei did not have a formal name for his system, simply referring to it as 'the spiritual medicine of many illnesses' (Apparently he did not call it 'Reiki')


In time it came to be known as Usui Do, or Usui Teate, and eventually Usui Reiki Ryoho.


In April 1922 Usui-Sensei opened his first Training Centre in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo.

His 'motto' for the training centre was: "Unity of self through harmony and balance".


His reputation grew rapidly, and people came from far and wide to study with him.


In fact the demand for training became so great that in February 1923, Usui-Sensei had to move his Centre to larger premises in Nakano, outside of Tokyo.


On the 9th of March 1926, in Fukuyama town where he had gone to meet with his creditors, Usui-Sensei died as a result of a stroke (he had apparently had several previous ones).


After Usui-Sensei's death, some of his students formed the "Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai" (Usui Reiki Healing Method Learning Society/Association), posthumously honouring Usui-Sensei by naming him as the first kaicho (president or chairman) of the society; and in Feb 1927, they erected a memorial stone commemorating his achievements in a graveyard at the Saihoji Temple, Tokyo.


The following month, a family tomb (containing some of Usui-Sensei's remains) was erected on the same plot as the memorial by his son, Fuji Usui.




Reiki in the West


The person responsible for introducing Reiki to the western world was Mrs. Hawayo Takata, a Hawaiian-born American citizen of Japanese parentage.


Having been cured of an illness by Reiki while visiting Japan in 1935, Hawayo Takata (Takata-Sensei) herself underwent Reiki training (both first and second degrees) from retired Naval Officer and Doctor, Chujiro Hayashi (Hayashi Sensei), before returning to Hawaii (in 1937) where she set up her own Reiki practice.


In 1938 Hawayo Takata received her certification from Chujiro Hayashi as a Master of the Usui Reiki system of healing, and with it, the authorisation to teach the art of Reiki to others.


It was in the early 1970's that Hawayo Takata brought Reiki to mainland America.

In a relatively short time, the gentle healing art of Reiki - or Usui Shiki Ryoho (Usui Style Healing Method) as Takata-Sensei called it - became very popular, with numerous people seeking treatment and also seeking to learn the art for themselves.


While over the years she had trained numerous students, it was not till 1976 that Hawayo Takata conferred the first Reiki master certification on one of her students.


Virginia Samdahl is formally recognised as being the first of 22 people who would eventually receive certification as a master of the Reiki system from Hawayo Takata before her death in 1980.


(However some sources now suggest that one of Takata-Sensei's own sisters: Kay Yamashita, was the first person on whom Takata-Sensei actually conferred Reiki mastership)




Takata-Sensei's 22 master-level Students:


These are the people who received certification as a master of the Reiki system from Hawayo Takata. However, one of the 22, Beth Gray, was not actually initiated to Level 3 by Takata-sensei herself, but by one of the other master-level students - John Harvey Gray.


-     George Araki (Deceased)
-     Dorothy Baba (Deceased)
-     Ursula Baylow (Deceased)
-     Rick Bockner
-     Patricia Bowling Ewing
-     Barbara Brown (Deceased)
-     Fran Brown (Deceased)
-     Phyllis Lei Furumoto [Takata-Sensei's granddaughter]
-     Beth Gray (Deceased)
-     John Gray (Deceased)
-     Iris Ishikuro (Deceased)
-     Harry Kuboi
-     Ethel Lombardi (Deceased)
-     Barbara McCulloch (Deceased)
-     Mary McFadyen
-     Paul Mitchell
-     Bethel Phaigh (Deceased)
-     Shinobu Saito
-     Virginia Samdahl (Deceased)
-     Wanja Twan
-     Barbara Weber Ray
-     Kay Yamashita [Takata-Sensei's sister] (Deceased)



The term: Reiki Master

The term Reiki Master is possibly the source of greatest confusion for new or would-be Reiki students.


Ask a number of different Reiki practitioners the question: "What is a Reiki Master?" and probably the most common answer you will get will be something along the lines of: "someone who has received the master level Reiki attunement."


However, Takata-Sensei said that in order for a person to be considered a 'Reiki Master' it was not enough to have received Master Level attunement and to know how to carry out the attunement process for all three levels:


You have to have taught at least one class and thus have actually attuned at least one student...

In relation to Reiki, the original Japanese term: sensei which is translated - very loosely - as: master, does not imply 'one who has mastered the art of Reiki', (nor for that matter, one who has achieved some form of exalted status - though many would have you think so!)


The word: sensei is actually a term of respect, which first and foremost means: 'teacher' and refers to someone who is part of a Teacher - Student (Mentor - Student) relationship


Translating: sensei as 'master' is simply akin to the way in which a 'school-teacher' is sometimes referred to as a 'school-master'.


And, as is the case with a school-master, ideally a Reiki-master is someone who (as well as having received the relevant attunements) possesses a good understanding of their subject, has a strong desire to help their students develop their own potentials, has respect for their students, (as well as eliciting the respect of their students) and also has the ability to inspire their students and to draw the best from them.


Reiki after Hawayo Takata


The first meeting of the majority of Reiki masters took place in Hawaii in April 1982.


At the meeting, it emerged that Takata-Sensei had taught each master somewhat differently, including (so it seemed) teaching slightly different versions of a couple of the sacred Reiki symbols to different masters. These revelations were the source of considerable upset amongst the masters.


One outcome of this meeting was a decision that the masters who were present at this meeting would all start using the same forms of the symbols.


Gradually, after Hawayo Takata's death, several of the Reiki masters she had certified began to modify elements of - or add new elements to - the way in which they practiced Reiki, and also, the way they taught it to their own students.


These modifications were essentially a matter of personal preference, and the results of experimentation with independently evolved techniques, and practices 'adopted' from other therapeutic disciplines.


Many of the other masters, who continued to teach Reiki exactly as they themselves had learnt it, considered the modifications and new additions to be less than positive developments.


And so, in 1983, at the next meeting of Reiki masters (which now included a number of new masters*) held at Barbara Brown's home in British Columbia, the decision was made to form an association - the purpose of which would be to preserve the integrity of the Usui Shiki Ryoho, as presented by Takata-Sensei.


This association, for Reiki masters only, would be known as the Reiki Alliance.


*Phyllis Lei Furumoto was the first to begin initiating new Reiki masters - she had already initiated four Masters between Feb.1981 and the first Reiki master meeting in April 1982.


The Title of Grand Master


The Reiki Alliance acknowledged Phyllis Lei Furumoto as Takata-Sensei's successor as 'Grand Master', and 'Spiritual Lineage-Bearer' of Usui Shiki Ryoho.


However, prior to this, the term "Grand Master" had no meaning in relation to Reiki.


Takata-Sensei's Certificate, received from Hayashi-Sensei in February 1938, certainly makes no mention of this term.


While admittedly stating that Takata-Sensei was: "..at this time the only person in the United States authorized to confer similar powers on others..." , it clearly designates her status as being: "...a practitioner and Master of Dr. Usui's Reiki system of healing..."



Growth of the Reiki Alliance


The Reiki Alliance continued to grow steadily but slowly over the years.

Up until 1988 almost all new masters had been initiated by Takata-Sensei's granddaughter and acknowledged successor, Phyllis Lei Furumoto.


However, in 1988, Phyllis decided that to permit a number of other, highly experienced, masters (ones who had a minimum of 3 years [later increased to 5 years] experience in teaching Reiki at first and second degree level) to begin initiating their own students to master level.


Master level training would involve a minimum of 1 year's apprenticeship.


The fee for Reiki Master training and initiation was $10,000. Aspiring Masters were asked to make two commitments: to honour Reiki as an oral tradition and to make Reiki their sole source of income.


From this point on the Reiki Alliance grew rapidly, becoming a global association with masters in at least 50 different countries across the five continents, with somewhere around two-thirds of all masters residing in Europe.


Currently the role of Grandmaster, or as it is now termed: 'the office of Grandmaster' is held jointly by Phyllis Lei Furumoto and Paul Mitchell.



The American Reiki Association, Inc.


The American Reiki Association, Inc. was founded in 1980 by Barbara Weber Ray and Takata-Sensei.

It is now known as The Radiance Technique International Association, Inc. (TRTIA).


The TRTIA rejects Phyllis Lei Furumoto's claim to be Takata-Sensei's successor.


It is maintained that Usui Reiki had never been passed according to a lineage defined by one's ancestors and family. Rather, the process has always been one of non-familial succession, and that Barbara Ray is Takata's successor.


Several of Takata-Sensei's master-level students joined Barbara Weber Ray's Association - though not as many as sided with the Reiki Alliance.



'Independent' Reiki Masters


The term: 'Independent' Reiki Masters was coined to refer those masters who did not belong to either the Alliance or the Association, but rather preferred to 'go their own way'.


As mentioned, several of the Reiki masters certified by Takata-Sensei had begun to modify elements of - or add new elements to - the way in which they practiced Reiki, and also, the way they taught it to their own students.


These modifications were essentially a matter of personal preference, and the results of experimentation with both independently evolved techniques and practices, and ones 'adopted' from various other therapeutic disciplines and / or from diverse spiritual, cultural or esoteric belief-systems.


Iris Ishikuro was the first master to abandon the practice of charging the $10,000 fee for Reiki master-level training and initiation. (She also 'adopted-in' elements from the 'Johrei Fellowship' Religious group.)


Others soon followed suit, many charging a fee in the region of $300 fee for Reiki master-level training and initiation.


Many began to reduce the 'waiting time' between the student receiving each of the three levels of training and initiation.


Yet others still, began to add extra symbols, or increase the number of levels or degrees in which they taught Reiki.


In some cases, the degree of modifications, abandonment of imposed requirements, and introduction of independently evolved techniques, and practices 'adopted' from other therapeutic disciplines resulted in the recognition of several clearly identifiable new 'styles' of Reiki.


Over time, some of these new styles actually evolved to the point where they have almost ceased to be recognisable as being forms of Reiki at all.

Several of the newly evolving styles also began making claims as to how their style or system was more effective, their initiations or attunements more powerful, their system's 'energy' (/energetic phenomenon) of a better, purer, or 'higher vibrational' quality - and so on.


However, the general consensus is that in an absolute sense, all such claims are unfounded.


Just as the various new styles came into being (and further new variations are still being created) as a result of personal preference and personally perceived effectiveness, so too the merits and benefits of any one style over another is purely a subjective one.


While 'style x' may prove to be highly effective for 'person a', 'style y' may prove better suited to 'person b', and so on.



Some examples of newer styles of Reiki, and Reiki-derived systems of Wellness and Self-development:


The Radiance Technique

Developed by Barbara Weber Ray


In 1983, Barbara Weber Ray published the first-ever book on Reiki in the western world, entitled: The Reiki Factor.


Barbara, while originally teaching Reiki as a three-level system, later claimed that from 1978 - 1980, while studying extensively with Takata-Sensei at Takata-Sensei's home in Iowa she was the only Reiki master to be instructed in: "... the entire, intact Seven Degrees of the Usui System of Natural Healing..."


Barbara Ray (she dropped the 'Weber' some time ago) teaches this seven-degree system as The Radiance Technique ® (TRT® ).


It has also been trademarked as: 'The Official Real Reiki' ®, 'Authentic Reiki' ®, 'The Official Reiki Program' ®, 'Radiant Touch' ®, & 'Real Reiki' ®.



Raku Kei Reiki


Raku Kei Reiki - known as "The Way of the Fire Dragon" - is the creation of Reiki master Arthur Robertson (deceased) - a student of Iris Ishikuro.


Arthur, who had apparently travelled in Tibet, claimed Tibetan origins for Reiki, stating that the name was actually derived from the term Raku Kei.


According to him, the Reiki system was based on Tibetan teachings concerning an ancient system of self-development, rediscovered by Usui-Sensei in certain obscure Tibetan sutras.


Arthur Robertson introduced several new symbols into his Raku Kei system, including a symbol known as the 'Anthakarana', a Tibetan 'Master symbol', and 'the Fire Serpent' symbol [See: www.aetw.org/symbols.html ] and a further calligraphic symbol: the 'White Light' (originating with the Johrei fellowship) is believed to have been introduced by Iris Ishikuro.


Raku Kei Reiki also incorporates the use of certain mudras (- a Sanscrit term for mystical hand gestures); however, the particular mudras used in Raku Kei Reiki are of Japanese origin rather than Tibetan.



Usui/Tibetan Reiki


Usui/Tibetan Reiki is essentially a combination of Reiki as taught by Takata-Sensei and elements of Raku Kei Reiki. It makes use of both the standard Usui Reiki symbols and some Raku Kei symbols.


To this mix has been added: symbol meditations, Reiki psychic surgery, and the use of 'crystal grids'; as well as the concept of a 'healing attunement', which unlike a normal Reiki initiation/attunement, does not awaken the permanent Reiki ability within the individual, but rather is believed to enhance the healing process.


Some teachers of Usui/Tibetan Reiki also include a practice of Qi Gung-like moving meditation.

In Usui/Tibetan Reiki, the third degree/level is divided into two parts: Advanced Reiki Training (ART), and Reiki Master/Teacher.


Students also learn a meditation process for meeting one or more Reiki/Spirit guides.




The importance of Reiki Lineage

Because Reiki is an ability conferred via initiation, each practitioner should (theoretically at least) be able to trace their lineage back from teaching master to teaching master - right back to Usui-Sensei.

In Usui Shiki Ryoho and also in some of the more recently evolved Reiki styles, considerable emphasis is placed on awareness of ones lineage and each student is provided with lineage details as a matter of course.


Unfortunately - human nature being what it is - a small number of practitioners seem to view issues of Reiki lineage as really being issues of prestige.


For example, it is not unheard of for a Reiki practitioner who has fewer links (teachers) in the chain between themselves and Usui-Sensei, to adopt an air of (completely unfounded) superiority in regard to those with a longer lineage chain!

Possibly due to such Reiki snobbery, many Reiki practitioners do not consider lineage to be of any importance, and frequently have no idea of their own Reiki lineage at all.

However, there are at least a couple of reasons why lineage-awareness is of importance.


Firstly, lineage awareness is a matter of Respect. In acknowledging their lineage a practitioner is acknowledging the teachers in that lineage – their 'Reiki forebears', as it were.


And secondly, with all the various different styles of Reiki in existence (and with further new variations still evolving - as existing styles meet and merge, and adopt-in techniques, practices and conceptual frameworks from other therapeutic modalities and esoteric belief-systems) the more aware a practitioner is of their own specific lineage in the 'Reiki Family', the more they can come to understand the various influencing factors which have shaped the teachings they themselves have received.



The original Usui Reiki Symbols


While in the very early days, no symbols were actually used, Usui-Sensei later introduced FOUR symbols to his system.


Takata-Sensei taught that the Reiki symbols are sacred and as such should be kept secret - not shown to the uninitiated. To this end, her students were required to memorise the symbols and were not permitted to keep written copies of them.


Takata-Sensei believed that the symbols should be treated with respect - even the practice sheets used by students in her Reiki classes had to be disposed of respectfully, rather than simply crumpled up and dumped in a bin.


While the four symbols used in Usui Shiki Ryoho and Usui Reiki Ryoho are still considered by many of us to be Sacred (or at least, of Sacred significance), ever since the symbols were first published in the book "The Challenge to Teach Reiki" (1992), by A.J. MacKenzie Clay, the belief in the need to keep them secret is no longer generally considered relevant.


None the less, many people who have just begun (or are considering beginning) their path with Reiki may not wish to actually be shown the symbols [something difficult to avoid these days, it seems] or learn about them outside the context of their Level 2 & 3 Classes.


For this reason, the symbols are not shown in this document. [They can however, be found at: www.aetw.org/reiki_symbols.html ]


As stated, in Usui Shiki Ryoho and Usui Reiki Ryoho, only the four Usui symbols are used. However, as seen, since the early 1980's, several Reiki practitioners have developed their own personalised 'styles' of Reiki - some adding modified versions of the original four symbols, or incorporating symbols from other spiritual/esoteric systems, and also adding new, 'channeled', symbols from numerous diverse sources.



Reiki goes back to its roots


Over the years following Takata-Sensei's death, the number of Reiki practitioners grew exponentially, with Reiki spreading to the U.K., Europe and many other places around the globe.


Hawayo Takata's teacher, Chujiro Hayashi, had committed suicide in 1940, and after that, partly, one assumes, as a result of Japan's entry into the war, Takata-Sensei is believed to have lost all contact with other Reiki practitioners in Japan.


[However, in one of her recorded talks, Takata Sensei states that fourteen years after Hayashi Sensei's death, she made a return visit to Japan and met with his wife Chie, who was also a Reiki Master]


The general concensus amongst Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki practitioners was that the practice of Reiki had actually died out in Japan, and that (up to 1976) Takata-Sensei had been the only remaining Reiki Master alive.


However, in 1985, thanks to the efforts of a New York-based journalist named Mieko Mitsui, it was discovered that this was not the case.


While living in New York, Mieko had become an 'Instructor' (Level 3b) in Barbara Ray's Real Reiki, (as it was then being called).


In 1985 she decided to go back to Japan to see what she could discover about Reiki's origins. While there, she started teaching classes in the first two levels of Reiki. [Due to the nature of the training structure utilised in the Barbara Ray's style of Reiki, Mieko - as an 'Instructor' (Level 3b) was, at the time, only permitted to initiate practitioners to the Second Degree level ] She was also responsible for translating Barbara Ray's book: "The Reiki Factor" into Japanese.


In the process, Mieko could be said to have been single-handedly responsible for sparking the revival of public interest in Reiki as a medium for Healing and Spiritual Development in Japan.

It was Mieko Mitsui who first reported to the somewhat stunned 'Western' Reiki community that, contrary to previous belief, the Art of Reiki had never actually died out in Japan at all.



Reiki in Japan


Mieko Mitsui spoke of a privately printed book, "Usui Reiki Gakkai" (said to be an academic text written by a mathematician at Meiji University, Tokyo) which supposedly talks about Reiki and a man named Usui.


Apparently Mieko herself actually received some training from a Japanese lineage Reiki Master: Goro Myazaki, who had been a student of Usui-Sensei's friend & student: Toshiro Eguchi.

She also reported that she had tracked down the home of Usui-Sensei's son's family, but that they refused to speak to her about Mikao Usui.

Mieko Mitsui's initial discoveries have, over the years, inspired other Reiki practitioners to carry out research into both the origins of Reiki, and also into its current surviving forms of expression in Japan.


For example, the German-born Reiki master, Frank 'Arjava' Petter has written a number of books on his research into the history of Reiki in Japan.


One-time 'Sannyasin' (i.e. disciple of the Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - AKA: 'Osho' - 1931-1990 ), Frank, and his Japanese wife Chetna, began teaching western style Reiki in Sapporo, Japan in 1993.


On discovering that Frank and Chetna were offering 'master' level training and attunement, a great many Level 2 Reiki students (most, if not all of whom, one assumes, had been attuned by Mieko Mitsui), sought them out.


It seems to have been primarily via several of these students that the Petters gradually began to uncover snippets of information concerning Japanese Reiki, leading them to make contact with the wife of Usui-Sensei's grandson and later, a couple of individuals who, so we are told, had received Reiki training around the time of WWII.


It could be said that Frank and Chetna's research in to Reiki survivals in Japan took over from where Mieko Mitsui's research left off.


It was Chetna's mother: Masano Kobayashi who translated the inscription on the Usui Memorial at the Saihoji Temple (written in old the old form of Japanese kanji-characters) into modern-day Japanese, enabling Frank and his wife, Chetna, to produce the first (known) English version of the Memorial inscription.


Other western Reiki practitioners, including an English Reiki master named Chris Marsh, and a British-born Canadian: Dave King, have supposedly made contact with a number of Usui-Sensei's original students - including, so it is claimed, two Tendai Buddhist nuns - who, at ages in excess of 100, are still alive and well and sharing their memories of the early days of Reiki.


As more information began to emerge concerning the early days of Reiki in Japan - and also concerning its survival and development over the years, it gradually became obvious that there were numerous subtle yet none-the-less significant differences between what was now being referred to simply as Japanese Reiki and Western Reiki ( i.e. the system Takata-Sensei had learned from Hayashi-Sensei in the late 1930's.)


For example, Mieko Mitsui had stated that Japanese Reiki (as is the case with Barbara Ray's Reiki system) had more than the standard three levels found in Usui Shiki Ryoho as taught in the west be Takata-Sensei..



Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai


And, not only was the practice Reiki alive and well in Japan, but so, it seemed, was the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Method Learning Society/Association) - the society formed by a number of Usui-Sensei's students soon after his death in 1926.

As mentioned previously, the students had posthumously honoured Usui-Sensei by naming him as the first kaicho (president or chairman) of the society. The second president, and one of the founders of the 'Gakkai was one Rear Admiral Juusaburo Gyuda (also known as Ushida).

The current president of the 'Gakkai is a Mr. Masayoshi Kondo.

Between Gyuda (who held the office from 1926 to his death in 1935) and Kondo (1999 to date) there have apparently been four other presidents: Kanichi Taketomi; Yoshiharu Watanabe; Hoichi Wanami; and Kimiko Koyama.

[Though it has been suggested that the current Gakkai (and some question if in fact it currently exists at all) might actually be a recently 'restablished' society - in much the same way that, in the West, long-defunct esoteric orders have been re-established by those with no direct connection to the originals]


It seems, at one time there were more than 80 branches of the 'Gakkai, though at present there are only 5, with a combined membership in the region of 500 people.


Members are all apparently given a Reiki manual entitled: Reiki Ryoho No Shiori or: 'Guide to Reiki Ryoho'.

Current membership of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai is, so we are told, intentionally limited, and is by invitation only...


However, it should be pointed out that the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai does not actually teach Usui-Sensei's original system of Spiritual Development, but rather has, from its inception, taught what is essentially a significantly different system of energywork, which the Gakkai founders consciously evolved, based on Usui-Sensei's original work.





It also emerged that the form of Initiation/Attunement process which was a core feature of Usui Shiki Ryoho, was something that had not even been a part of Usui-Sensei's original system.


Rather, Usui Sensei had utilised an open-ended, accumulative process of empowerment/attunement known as reiju. The Japanese term reiju implies: 'to confer / receive a Spiritual Gift'.


Apparently, students would attend training meetings on a regular basis, and at the end of every meeting, during a meditation session, would receive reiju to further deepen and strengthen their connection, and develop the quality of their experience of the phenomenon that is Reiki.


It was also discovered that Usui-Sensei had taught his students several developmental exercises and meditations to help deepen and strengthen their ability to work with Reiki.


And, it transpired, it was not just in regards to Reiki practice that there were significant differences between the 'Japanese' and 'Western' lineages of the Art.



The 'Story of Reiki'


As part of the process of making an 'emotional connection' with new or prospective students, Takata-Sensei would commonly recount the 'Story of Reiki'. In fact, this story was one of the primary elements of the Level 1 Reiki class.


This story was essentially an account of what had motivated Usui-Sensei to seek out an effective method of healing, his initial experience of the phenomenon that is Reiki on Mount Kurama, and the response that his gift of healing elicited from those he sought to share it freely with.


Added to this was an account how Takata-Sensei herself had come to be involved with Reiki and her own experiences as a result of sharing the gift with others.


However, it transpired that several central details in the story concerning Usui-Sensei as told by Takata-Sensei were at odds with the version of the story as it was understood amongst the practitioners of Japanese lineage Reiki.


When it was discovered that several specific details of Takata-Sensei's version of the Reiki story could at best not be substantiated, and in some cases could actually be 'proved' to be inaccurate, many Western Reiki practitioners felt some what disheartened, yet others perhaps even felt, in some vague sense, betrayed.


And of course there were a great many who - having previously recounted the 'Reiki story' with reverential attitude - could suddenly not disassociate themselves quickly enough from this 'misrepresentation of the facts'.


However, the important point which had been completely missed by the greater majority of these practitioners was that the 'Story of Reiki' was not meant to be a concrete, factual, 'history'. Rather it was first and foremost a 'teaching-story' - a parable to engage and teach the Heart.


And, as is the case with all good Teaching Stories, what was important in the sharing of the 'story of Reiki' was the inner meaning - the moral - the essential truths regarding human nature that it sought to convey.


In almost every culture, it is a common feature of the Teaching Story that 'factual' details are freely modified - especially if it is felt that such modifications may help enhance the hearer's 'emotional connection' with the inner meaning of the tale.



Different styles of Japanese Reiki


Just as, in the West, numerous Reiki masters have made changes to Usui Shiki Ryoho as taught in the Takata-Sensei lineage - so too, it seems, Japanese Reiki Masters have not been adverse to modifying Japanese lineage Reiki as apparently taught by the 'Gakkai.

Some examples of Japanese Reiki styles:


Gendai Reiki Ho


As its name suggests, Gendai Reiki Ho ('Contemporary Reiki Method') is a modern system of Reiki.

Created by Hiroshi Doi, who tells us that he is a member of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, and studied with the former 'Gakkai president, Mrs. Kimiko Koyama, Gendai Reiki blends western Reiki with what Doi claims to be the teachings and methods used by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai - as well as concepts and practices from other therapeutic modalities.

It should be pointed out that the majority of information currently available concerning the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai comes from Hiroshi Doi.


Hiroshi Doi was one of the first people in Japan to learn Reiki from Mieko Mitsui.


Hiroshi Doi's school, the Gendai Reiki Healing Association, teaches four levels of Reiki: Shoden (Beginners Level), Okuden (Inner Teaching) Shinpiden (Mystery Teaching) and Gokui Kaiden (Highest Level).

Vortex Reiki

Developed by Toshitaka Mochizuki, another student of Mieko Mitsui. Toshitaka apparently also received tuition from Masters in Japan whose training history is partly Japanese.


Apparently, some of the information presented in Vortex Reiki is attributed to an obscure Japanese book entitled "The Secret of How to Take Care of Your Family Members" by Takichi Tsukida.

[Note: The "Traditional Japanese Reiki" system (created in Canada in 1995 by Dave King) was apparently based on Mochizuki's Vortex Reiki.]


Jikiden Reiki


Jikiden is the Reiki method taught by the late Chiyoko Yamaguchi (- student of Chujiro Hayashi -) and her son Tadao Yamaguchi, who is Director of the Jikiden Reiki Kenkyu Kai (Jikiden Reiki Association). [ChiyokoYamaguchi died Aug. 19th 2003]


Jikiden Reiki is presented as comprising the exact system that Chiyoko Yamaguchi was taught by Hayashi-Sensei in 1938, along with additional information gleaned by Tadao Yamaguchi in interviews with some Hayashi-Sensei's other surviving students.





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Date of original posting : 28th October 2008

Date of last update : 11th September 2012