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Reiki History

 
Understanding Reiki:  Origin of the Term "Reiki"


Last Updated: Dec. 8, 2000 Return to Mr. Doi's Book
Modern Reiki Method for Healing
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Here is a translation of Chapter 3: "Reiki History" of Japanese Reiki Master Mr. Hiroshi Doi's 1998 book 'Iyashi no Gendai Reikiho' (Isbn. 4-9006631-34-7c0077) or "Modern Reiki Method for Healing", translated by Yukio Miura, Kyoto, Japan and Emiko Arai, Vancouver, Canada - Mr. Doi has given me permission for me to print this. 

Please note that this current chapter was revised in Mr. Doi's English version.  For a literal translation of the memorial see this web page.

- "Mikao Usui", the founder of Reiki 

As the story of the founder, Sensei Usui himself, is passed on as semi-legendary, it is not known much in detail. Especially when Reiki-ho went overseas, many stories were created while spreading from it's base of the United States. The trustworthy record is the epitaph of “Sensei Usui” in Bodhi temple (Tokyo). This was built in February in 1927, the following year after his death, by some of his over 2000 pupils. The following is its interpretation into modern days by myself.

Virtue is what you obtain naturally through cultivation and training and, merit is to spread and carry out the instruction and salvation. The great founder is someone with great virtue as well as great merit. From ancient times, every person who started a new theory or religion were considered that way. Sensei Usui should be one of them. 

Sensei started “the technique to improve your mind and body based on Reiki in the universe.” An enormous number of people from everywhere came to him to learn the remedy or for the treatment. It was prosperous.
Given name of Sensei was Mikao and his pen name was Gyoho. He was from Taniai-mura, Yamagata-gun, Gifu-ken and his ancestor was Tsunetane Chiba (a military commander from the end of Heian era through the beginning of Kamakura era). His father was Tsunetane and usually called Uzaemon and his Mother was from Kawai family. Sensei was born on August 15, 1865. He studied under adversity from childhood and his academic ability was extraordinary.

When he grew up, he visited the western world and studies in China. He didn’t succeed in his life as much as he deserved and often lived in poverty being out of luck, but still continued to train himself.

One day, he started fast in Mt Kurama. On the twenty first day of the fast, he felt the great Reiki above his head and reached spiritual awakening and realized Reiki Ryoho. He tried this remedy on himself and his family and it brought an immediate result. He hoped “to spread this power to share the joy with as many people as possible instead of keeping it within his family.” In April 1921, he moved to Aoyama-Harajuku in Tokyo and established the society to spread and perform Reiki Ryoho. The place was filled to overflowing.
In September 1923, a severe earthquake occurred and a huge fire broke out in Kanto area and numerous people injured. Sensei treated the sufferers in everywhere day after day. People he saved were uncountable. This is the brief statement of his relief work at this disaster.

In February 1925, he moved and expanded his exercise hall in Nakano. His fame by then was extraordinary and invited to all over the country. Responding to the invitations, he went to Kure, Hiroshima, Sakga and then to Fukuyama. At an inn in Fukuyama, he passed away from an illness at the age of 62.

His wife was Sadako from Suzuki family and they had one son and one daughter. The son’s name is Fuji. And inherited Usui family.

Master was a person of generosity, modesty and faith, big build and always had a smile on his face. When he coped with something, he was strong-willed, patient and prepared. He was very versatile and loved reading. He had a thorough knowledge of history, biography, medical science, Buddhism and Christianity, psychology, magic, physiognomy and so on. It is clear that all his knowledge was on the base of his training, and the training was the key to realize Reiki Ryoho.

After all, the main purpose of Reiki Ryoho is not only to treat sickness but also to stay healthy in mind and body and to enjoy the happiness of life. Therefore learn the teachings of the Emperor Meiji and recite the five admonitions in the beginning and the end of each day when you teach other people. 

The five admonitions are 1. Do not loose temper today, 2. Do not worry, 3. Be thankful, 4. Work hard, 5. Be kind. These are very important when you train yourself and are used by the sages from ancient times. Sensei considered them as the technique of bringing happiness and the miraculous medicine and indicated the clear purpose of teaching. His instruction was developed to be easy to understand and it is simple. What you do is to sit straight and pray everyday to be pure and healthy in mind and its essence is to reflect it on your daily life. This is the reason Reiki Ryoho is easily accepted.

Nowadays the aspects of life dramatically change and so does the philosophy. If Reiki Ryoho gets wide spread, it will be a big help to save people from immorality. It will never be just for the treatment of sickness.
There are already over 2000 pupils of Sensei. Some in town gather and work at the society following his will and some out of town try to spread it on their own. In spite of Sensei’s death, Reiki Ryoho must be wide spread and passed on for ever. How remarkable of Sensei to spread what he obtained on his own.

His pupils came to a decision to build a monument in the graveyard of Bodhi temple at this opportunity and we are requested for the epigraph. We deeply admire the work of Sensei as well as respect their unity and took the honor to compose the summary of his life. We sincerely hope that he and his work will be looked up at in all times.

February, 1927
Title by the Emeror: Chairmanof literature. Composed by Doctor of Literature, Masayuki Okada, 
Written (calligraphy) by Juzaburo Gyuda (Ushida)


- His pursuit in life and awakening at Mt.Kurama

Sensei Usui studied under adversity and broadened his view by going to the western countries and China several times. As a result he was called a person of free will, and experienced a variety of occupations such as public servant, office worker, industrialist, reporter, politician’s secretary, missionary, supervisor of convicts and so on.

As he faced both sides of life and society through his experiences and continued his study of life, he started to search for “the greatest purpose of life”.

As a result of his devotion to his studies he came to the conclusion that “the ultimate purpose of life is to accept your fate and live in peace”. It means that “Know your fate and accept it and maintain the peace of mind and not to worry”. Fate is indicated as destiny you cannot control. In other words, “though it is necessary to try as you are, leave the rest in the hands of Providence and obtain the peace of mind". This is what is considered as Sensei Usui’s first spiritual awakening.

Spiritual awakening is to know truth and reach eternal joy and there are steps to reach there. The first awakening is an intellectual awakening with your consciousness. In this stage, “it is understood in head and not a true awakening”. A true awakening is an intuitive understanding by Shinga (soul, higher-self) and to complete the unity with truth. Sensei Usui went into Zen practice and trained himself for three years searching “the way to reach the state of mind of accepting our fate and living in peace” for true awakening. After all the training he could not attain spiritual enlightenment and asked his teacher of Zen practice how he could attain a true awakening from now on”.

The teacher responded immediately, “Die one time”. As Sensei Usui was advised to “die” from his only hope for his agony for spiritual awakening, he decided that “this was the end of his life.” And started fasting on Mt. Kurama. It was in March 1921. At midnight after three weeks, he felt a great shock in the centre of the brain as if being struck by lightning and went unconscious.

It was at dawn when he became conscious after unknown hours, it is said that he was filled with a refreshing feeling like he never felt before. When he felt the great shock in the brain, Reiki in the universe pierced his body and mind and resonated with Reiki in his body, and he felt the unity with the universe and completed his search of true awakening.

On the way down the mountain in high delight, he pealed his toenail on a rock and he put his hand on the toe by reaction. The pain was removed in an instant and it was healed immediately. This was the beginning of healing sickness and he eventually developed the technique of giving this ability to numerous numbers of people after his continuous hard study. 

On top of that Sensei Usui was naturally selfless and open-minded, he became able to attain a state of perfect self-effacement anytime anywhere.

In April 1921, he developed the teachings and the system of instruction and established Usui Reiki Ryoho Society, and he started healing sick people in mind and body by Reiki Ryoho as well as giving away the healing ability through open sessions. He continued guiding and providing the purpose of Usui Reiki Ryoho Society which is not only to improve the healing ability but also to maintain health of yourself and others as well as to improve happiness and prosperity of home, the society, the nation and the world,  thereby improving yourself.
 

- Followers of Reiki in Japan

At this time Sensei Usui was renowned all over the country and admired as “the pioneer of restarting Hands-on Healing” from other generations. The number of people saved by this Reiki power is said to have been several hundred thousand or over a million. It is on record that there are more than two thousand people who obtained Reiki Ryoho from Sensei Usui. Very few of those were allowed to learn all three steps of Sho-den (the entrance), Oku-den (the deep inside), Shinpi-den (the mystery). At present only three of those have been found who are Juzaburo Gyuda, Rear Admiral, ?? Taketomi, Rear Admiral, Chuzaburo Hayashi, Commander. The two admirals took a leading part for spreading Reiki Ryoho inside the marine.
Mr. Chujiro Hayashi (1879 – 1941) received the last secret of Reiki Ryoho and became an expert in 1925 after his retirement and he worked actively at a Reiki Ryoho clinic he opened in Shinano-machi, Tokyo, following Sensei Usui’s will. He may have been the last person whom Sensei Usui taught Shinpi-den (the secret) considering that Sensei Usui passed away in 1926. The clinic had eight treatment tables and sixteen of Reiki Ryoho performer and each a patient was treated by two performers.

- Expanded Reiki worldwide through internationalization

There was a woman named Hawayo Takata (1900 – 1980) who had recovered from sickness miraculously by Reiki Ryoho at Sensei Hayashi’ clinic. She was a second generation American of Japanese descent born in Hawaii and in 1935 she came back to Japan as a widow with her two little daughters after she was diagnosed that her days were numbered with an incurable disease. She went to Sensei Hayashi’s clinic through her doctor to receive the treatment and she gained health after two months and completely recovered after eight months. She was deeply impressed with it and worked at the clinic for a year afterwards as Sensei Hayashi’s pupil before she went back to Hawaii with her daughters. She received Shinpi-den when Sensei Hayashi visited Hawaii in 1938 and started her Reiki clinic. She concentrated mostly on treatment until few years before her death at the age of eighty when she started attunement. For those few years she trained 22 teachers. These 22 Masters (teachers) trained by Sensei. Takata spread Reiki all over the world and over a million people received attunement with little over a decade and the number continues to grow.

In August 1980, four months before Sensei Takata passed away, Sensei Takata and her 22 pupils established American Reiki Society. At present this society has been spread into two groups.

One group is Reiki Alliance Society established in 1981 with Grand Master Phyllis Furumoto who is a grand daughter of Sensei Takata and the other is Radiance Technique Society established in 1982 with Dr. Barbara Ray of cultural anthropology as the president. (These two are recognized as a big organization and now there are some small to mid size groups.)

Outside of the United States, it spread to Canada, Britain, Australia, Germany, Singapore, India and so on. In India, a group of Osho adopted it from Ms. Furumoto’s group and spread it as Osho Reiki. There are indications of it spreading in Taiwan and Korea through Japan.

In late 1980s, Reiki was imported back in Japan as well and is spreading.

Anyhow, Reiki became as it is now internationally owing to the three masters - Sensei Mikao Usui, Sensei Chujiro Hayashi and Sensei Hawayo Takata. I believe I have included enough stories of them for your knowledge though there are numerous episodes and legends of each written around the life of Sensei Usui’s awakening at Ms. Kurama.

- Reiki re-introduced to Japan

While even the name of Reiki was not known well until recently in Japan, it spread quickly along with the New Age Movement since early 1980s in the western world. In the late 1980s it came back to Japan as a new healing technique.

A book called “The Reiki Factor” by Dr. Barbara Ray was published in the United States which defined “Reiki is science and a technique of using the light of source of every existence (Life Energy)". A New York based journalist Ms. Mieko Mitsui translated and introduced the book to Japan as “Reiki Ryoho”. When Ms. Mitsui gave the seminars as the first Japanese authorized Reiki teacher all over the country, many people participated and it became like a boom. I consider the role Mr. Mitsui performed at this time in Japan very valuable for Reiki recognition.

- My personal history of Reiki

I was one of the first people who received attunement from Ms. Mitsui. I have been interested in spiritual world and the universal energy and went through Bahsharl, Shirley McClane and Sai Baba, and I found myself absorbed in healing techniques. From my memory, I can list over 30 techniques I learned such as Nishino Breathing technique, Shinmeikan Healing technique, SAS Shin-ki-ko, Genkyoku Kiko, Crystal Healing technique, Kihodo Healing technique, Hypnotic Kiko technique, Osteopathy, Energy Balancing technique, Astral Healing technique, SMC Silba Method, Natural Vibration technique, Seiki-ho, Doki-ho, Balance Therapy, Multi-dimension Body Work and so on.

At the time I met Ms. Mitsui I was searching for my own healing technique by uniting each techniques I had learned.

Although I was skeptic before the seminar, I realized some changes after taking <Level 1 & 2> such as feeling powerful, becoming healthy, tending to think positively and also the things around me started going smoothly. On top of those things, an idea flashed across my mind that “everything I learned until now is all united in Reiki”. Wondered if Reiki has a stupendous power within. Wondered if every thing is already united harmoniously. 

I decided to study Reiki in deeper levels to confirm my instinct. However as Ms. Mitsui was authorized to perform attunement up to <Level 2> and she could not reply to those who wished to learn the higher levels.
At that time, there was no one who could perform attunement of higher levels of <2> in Japan. It was possible for us to take seminars in the United States, but you were required to be familiar with the language on a certain level according to Ms. Mitsui. She mentioned of a possibility of inviting a teacher over to Japan for a certain number of applicants. (It did not come true.)

Meanwhile, a seminar arranging company of Japan invited Reiki teachers who did not belong to the same group as Ms. Mitsui, and started holding seminars named Usui Reiki. Those teachers had no limitation or conditions like the ones from the big societies and started performing and training attunementS as the company requested. And now there are many masters (teachers) born and Reiki-ho are seen in magazines and on the internet.

- Combining Traditional Reiki and Western Reiki

When I found out that I could not learn more than <Level 1 &2> from Ms. Mitsui, I started seriously considering of visiting the United States. In the meantime, I gathered as much information as possible for “the possibility of existence of Sensei Usui’s pupil in Japan”. In result I found out that Ms. Kimiko Koyama ran Usui Reiki Ryoho Society which was for members, and inherited this tradition since the establishment as the fifth president. I lost no time becoming a member of the society through someone and learned from Ms. Koyama. I was amazed how different it could be from the western style Reiki of Ms. Mitsui yet coming from the same root.

While I practiced Reiki-ho I learned from Ms. Mitsui and Ms. Koyama, I came across my third teacher. You may have heard about Alpan who learned from Sensei Bagwan in India and proposes Neo Reiki in Tokyo which is a unity of the eastern and the western Reiki. My third teacher is Manaso who learned from Sensei Bagwan together with Alpan and teaches Neo Reiki with meditation in Kansai area of Japan and organizes “tours for Reiki learning through swimming with dolphins”. I learned entire Reiki-ho from the beginning at his school and again realized its prominence. I became certain about my instinct that “Reiki-ho harmoniously contains every things I learned”.

Around this time, some valuable materials regarding traditional Reiki or Sensei Usui as well as the western style Reiki spontaneously came to me and gave me the answers to the questions I had. When I suffered very minor damage even though I happened to live near the seismic centre of Hanshin Earthquake, I felt as if I was given a mission for living.

So I studied again what I learned from my three teachers, aiming at the unity of traditional Reiki and the western style Reiki. To be specific, I re-examined the eastern and western Reiki-ho as “a technique to heal mind and body” as well as “a technique to raise your spirituality”. I constructed what I call “Gendai Reiki-ho” avoiding being mysterious, leaving unknown things as they are, and with a motto to pass on the effectiveness with the actual proofs. Also, I tried to make the techniques as simple as possible so that they can be used easily in daily life.

Although I did these for myself, I happened to have a chance to give a Reiki-ho seminar to two experts (Mr. Makoto Yoshimi, Mr. Tsujimi) and since then more and more healing experts and people through them came to my seminars.

Fortunately this system received support from many people involved in healing, the Senseis I performed attunements on took a leading part and established “Gendai Reiki Healing Society” to spread the system.
Ever since I have come to know many people who are grouping together to return to the original sprit of Sensei Usui’s remedy being dissatisfied with the western style Reiki, or trying to spread their own theory for the unity of the eastern and the western Reiki.

Neo Reiki mentioned earlier is also a new style of Reiki-ho based on the purpose of uniting the western and the traditional Reiki, on the other hand there are people who pursue Sensei Chujiro Hayashi’s idea which was the starting point of the western style Reiki. Although Sensei Hawayo Takata was the person who brought Reiki Ryoho to the United States, Sensei Hayashi had already tried to modernize Reiki based on his global view as a former naval cadet, and it seemed that he had transformed Sensei Usui’s Reiki into his own style when Sensei Takata learned it from him.

Human & Trust Institute (Huminori Aoki, Chief) in Suidobashi, Tokyo has been spreading Reido Reiki, the unity of the eastern and the western at their clinic and have specialized in Reiki for almost five years. At the institute, Hayashi’s style of healing is firmly established, this is one of the 'two healer' treatments “the upper half and the lower half of the body”, while the other treats “the right half and the left half of the body”, in the principles of Yin and Yang, and both healers unite at the centre (the spine on the back) in the end.

There are some people who are trying to connect the power of esoteric Buddhism through Reiki-ho at Mt. Kurama where Sensei Usui had the revelation to Tendai Buddhism.

Cosmo Bright based in Ohtsu City in Shiga are spreading Shinden Reiki which consists of three sections such as “Reiki Overseas, Japanese Reiki, Route to Sensei Usui” and includes Old Shinto as well as the techniques of esoteric Buddhism aiming to reach the root of Reiki energy.

It is not a matter of right or wrong but which way you take for yourself. I believe that many of enthusiastic Reiki Senseis will make progress in the unity of the eastern and the western in various ways.

- Reiki-ho, now and future

The western style Reiki is sophisticated and practical as it has come back after growing on its own from the origin of Usui Reiki Ryoho. On the other hand, the traditional Reiki emphasizes the way of consciousness for raising spirituality and the techniques of self-training for developing ability.

When the truth gets widely known, the idea will spread that “attunement is just a beginning and the real ability is to be developed on your own” not as understood now as “the ability is developed by attunement”.
Let me point out the two remarkable events in these few years for Reiki healers.

The first thing was that some enthusiastic Reiki teachers put some prohibited symbols openly to the public as well as the techniques of attunement (with figures) in some magazines. Needless to say, this brought about the arguments both for and against the measure. (I hear a similar thing happened abroad in the past.)
I think the merits and demerits of the incident offset each other. The merit is the possibility of stopping the tendency of making money hand over fist by misusing the secret.

There are some teachers who exist to gather many participants with big advertisement for only one seminar.
The demerit is that the secret has been cherished and indiscreetly revealed to people with no concern. It was as if that Goshintai, an object of worship believed to contain the spirit of a deity and housed in a Shinto, was dragged out to public.

Though showing the symbols to the public is not a great deal concerning the essence of Reiki-ho, this action can be considered thoughtless. I avoid criticizing it, as I am not familiar with their real intention. They will face the responsibility of the result at the end.

This incident will distinguish and screen those Reiki masters (teachers), those who only know the techniques and cannot pass on the spirituality will be omited.

The second thing was the establishment of Reiki One Healing Society. Reiki One means that Reiki is unified based on Sensei Usui’s principle. The society is for anybody who considers Reiki as lessons of love and peace regardless of the school or personal belief for the purpose of sound development and to spread widely.

Mr. Huminori Aoki of Human & Trust Institute runs the society as the chair man, many people joined from different schools at its recent start in October 1997, and started a newsletter at the end of the year and held seminars in Kyoto and Tokyo.

I hold “Gendai Reiki Interchange Meeting” every month myself at a place I opened in Ashiya City last spring for casual gathering for anybody interested in Reiki and I hope that there will be more and more of these type of activities.

Let me predict the following five prospects for Reiki-ho in Japan.

1) Unity of the eastern and the western Reiki-ho as well as the original systems based on Reiki will progress.
2) The number of incomplete seminars will decrease and the number of regular gatherings by masters (teachers) will increase. 
3) Interchange between spreading groups of Reiki-ho as well as between teachers will be accelerated.
4) The number of Reiki healing clinic will increase.
5) The number of “true user of Reiki energy” who develop Reiki healing ability and spend daily life following the wave of love will increase.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at  Contact Me.    I will try to answer them all.

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