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Most people coming to a Reiki training already have an overview of what Reiki is and it`s history from looking it up on the Internet, and some may also have read a book on it.

The root of Reiki is in personal evolvement, and came from Dr Usui`s personal journey of self discovery where he was looking to decide what is the meaning of life. Dr Hayashi, a naval officer, went to Dr Usui for help in introducing Reiki healing into his first aid approach in the Japanese navy. So he had a very different motivation and for people who became his pupils the emphasis became physical healing.

It was Dr Hayashi who taught and initiated Mrs Takata. Through Mrs Takata Reiki spread throughout the West. Over the past decade it has fragmented into 3 main approaches:

Personal Development, self awareness, enlightenment (the root of original teachings).

Professional Therapy (Complementary Therapist addition).

New Age Philosophies.

If we look at any philosophy, any religion, we can easily see how, over time, they all have become fragmented. A classic example is the Christian religion. The underlying message gets added to and often distorted. This always happens because of how groups of people and individuals tend to add new information onto their existing framework of understanding events or life itself. In other words people tend to squeeze new information into what they already believe. This means that looking at anything with a fresh eye is difficult. It makes it hard for anyone to recognise a whole new way of seeing things.

The differences become the focus, and so the core message is often smothered and ends up being used to justify beliefs that were never part of the original. Now, that doesn`t mean that all added beliefs do not have value, it is just, I think, important to what is the original and what is added.

So, my aim, my focus, is to strip it all right back to fundamentals, to the core system. Sure I could discuss the variants, the different models, and if anyone wants to flag up something they have read and ask me to give my take on it I will. Also individuals may find they choose to adopt a particular framework that they feel comfortable with. That is their choice and that can be done by building on the firm foundations of the core values.

Reiki history in change

Reiki history is not changing but the information we have about Reiki and it's founder Dr Mikao Usui is more direct now. Thanks to the work of Reiki Masters like Frank Arjava Petter, William L. Rand and many others we today get a more complete and factual information about Reiki. The facts and new information about Reiki in Japan is also helping the understanding of Reiki, it's history and methods.

Reiki history in the western world
A couple of years ago we only had Mrs Takata's version of the Reiki story. This version is still widely taught although there seems to be many points in her story that cannot be verified. When Mrs Takata brought Reiki to the western world after Word War II she had to modify and westernise the Reiki history to better suit the times.

Hawayo Takata 1900 - 1980

Reiki comes to the West

Hawayo Takata was born 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 eventually married the bookkeeper of the plantation where she was employed. In October of 1930, Saichi Takata died at the age of thirty-four leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two daughters.

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 she travelled to Japan, where her parents had moved to, to deliver the news. She also felt she could find help for her poor health in Japan. Here she came in contact with Dr Hayashi's clinic and she began receiving Reiki treatment.

Mrs. Takata received daily treatments twice a day and got progressively better. In four months, she was completely healed. Impressed by the results, she wanted to learn Reiki. In the Spring of 1936, Mrs. Takata received First Degree Reiki (Shoden). She worked with Dr. Hayashi for one year and then received Second Degree Reiki (Okuden).

Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii in 1937. She was soon followed by Dr. Hayashi who came to help Mrs Takata 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 death on December 11th 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters. These original twenty-two teachers then taught others. Reiki has spread rapidly in the West and East and is now practised in all parts of the world. There are now thousands of Reiki Masters and from there many people practising Reiki throughout the world.

Chujiro Hayashi 1878 - 1940

Dr Hayashi has played 2 important parts in Western Reiki. Number one is that he is probably the originator of the hand position system used here in the West. Number two is that he initiated Mrs Takata to Reiki Master which brought Reiki to the West.

An ex-naval Officer in the Japanese Navy and a Naval Doctor who graduated Navy School in December 1902. He started his Reiki training with Usui Sensei in 1925, 47 years of age. It is believed he was one of the last Reiki Masters trained by Usui.

Following his first training he left the Usui school and started a small clinic in Tokyo named "Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai", which had 8 beds and 16 healers. Practitioners worked in pairs of two to a bed giving treatments to patients.

In his clinic he changed the way Reiki sessions were given. Rather than have the client seated in a chair and treated by one practitioner as Usui Sensei had done, Hayashi Sensei had the client lie on a treatment table and receive treatment from several practitioners at a time.

In addition, he developed a new method of teaching Reiki that he used when he travelled. In this method, he taught both Shoden and Okuden (Reiki I&II) together in one five-day seminar. Each day included two to three hours of instruction and one Reiju.

Usui Sensei 1865 - 1926

Mikao Usui was the originator of what we today call Reiki. He was born on August 15th 1865 in the village of 'Taniai-mura' in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture Kyoto.In his younger life he experienced much adversity, lack of money, no security or regular employment. He seemed not to attach importance to material things and was regarded as something of an eccentric. At some point Usui became for a while a Tendai Buddhist Monk, or Priest, (maybe what we in the west call a lay priest) but still having his own home, not living in the temple. This is called a 'Zaike' in Japanese: a priest possessing a home.


Usui Sensei was interested in a great many things and seems studied voraciously. He studied traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, numerology and astrology,and psychic and clairvoyant development. Usui also took Zen Buddhist training in 1922 for 3 years. Many different spiritualist/healing groups were in existence then, and one of these - attended by Usui - was 'Rei Jyutsu Kai'.This group now consists of psychics.clairvoyants and the most spiritual monks and nuns in Japan.


The Roots of Reiki

Usui's system was rooted in Tendai Buddhism and Shintoism. Tendai Buddhism (a form of mystical Buddhism) provided spiritual teachings, and Shintoism contributed methods of knowing and working with the energies. The system was based on living & practising the Mikao Usui's spiritual principles; that was the hub of the whole thing.


Mikao Usui was wondering what the ultimate purpose of life was, and set out to try to understand this. After some time he finally experienced an enlightenment: the ultimate life purpose was 'Anshin Rytsu Mei' - the state of your mind being totally in peace, knowing what to do with your life, being bothered by nothing. Doi says that with this revelation, Usui researched harder, for three years, trying to achieve this goal.


Usui was looking for a way of knowing one's life's purpose and to be content, and despite all his exhaustive research, he could not find a way to achieve this state. The monk's advice prompted him to go to Mount Kurama and to carry out a 21day meditation and fast. We now know that Usui Sensei carried out a meditation called 'The Lotus Repentance', which comes from Tendai Buddhism. Usui carried out the meditation and, according to his memorial stone, he experienced an enlightenment or 'satori' that led to the development of Reiki. This 21 day meditation has become the explanation on how Reiki came about but really this doesn`t truly reflect all the factors - he performed this meditation five times during his lifetime, and Usui's system wasn't something new that came to him in a flash of inspiration, but a system evolved from many existing traditions and Usui had - over time - simplified yet deepened our human relationship with this universal energy.


How Usui Taught


The teachings were given one-to-one, and they varied according to the students' needs. There was no single system that was passed on in a standard way. There were various levels, which could be described as first, second and Master levels. The spiritual teachings were:

  • Life teachings Mystery teachings Deep mystery teachings

Students would go to Usui Sensei's home. He taught from home. They would spend 1-2 days with him and then went away to do the work. They would record their thoughts, feelings & insights in a notebook and then this was reviewed with him when they went to see him again. He would deal with their queries and their questions.

What is the Reiki Energy?

What is it to be human? [Meditation exercise]

How would we imagine the universal energy would communicate, interact with the physical form?

How would we best commune with the life flow with Reiki energy?


Chakra system

Hand placements

Preparing for a Reiki `treatment`

`Self Treatment`

Core self actualisation: self awareness

5 Reiki principles:

Dr Mikao Usui believed that in order for anyone to practice reiki and transfer healing energy to others, they must have first taken responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. He developed five principles which he taught to his students as strategies to apply to life:


Just for today, do not be angry
Just for today, do not worry
Just for today, be grateful
Just for today, work hard
Just for today, be kind to others.

The study of how we engage consciously with Reiki and learn how to realistically adopt these principles into our life, is a lifetime engagement with learning about what makes us tick and how to be self-aware. I do touch on this briefly at Level 1 and a bit more at Level 2. I also provide some material to assist with this self awareness. Just be open to it is the major step. People work at there own pace, need and desire. I have a mountain of material for when somebody is ready to look deeper. Just the acknowledgement and desire is all that is expected at levels 1 & 2, with the main in depth focus kicking in at the Master`s level.

Work on developing your intuitive potential.

Mikao Usui's original system did not focus very much on the treatment of others, and any instruction on treatments would not have involved slavishly following a set of ‘standard' hand positions that you had to apply to everyone you treated. Usui's method was simpler and more elegant.



There are 7 main chakras. These positions are based on the Eastern traditional healing methods which cover major energy centre's and relate to meridians, acupuncture points and chakras. If you imagine our nervous system and how all our nerve endings for the body can be traced to and from the central nervous system in the spine, you can get an idea of how these traditions visualise chi energy, the biological life force, interacting to and fro from the `spiritual`(non form, non dual) to the physical. Hand placements are mainly where the hub of each chakra (energy type) is - which are around the head and torso. However, if your intuition draws you to a particular area (hand, knee, feet for example) then go with your intuition. That way you have both a system of hand placements that will become automatic (and so freeing up your intuition) and the freedom to follow your intuition.

The energy interaction with our physical body affects us physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. When Usui treated and or gave tuition to individuals he did not deliberately focus/use the Chakras consciously. He would not have called the energy points Chakras as this is an Indian word for energy points. Neither would he have used the word Meridians as this is the Chinese word for energy points. He would have encouraged students toward understanding their relationship with the universal life force by consciously choosing to commune with it as part of their day, not just ritualistically, but naturally. He would have held it in his essence as a way of being. His whole life was a search for personal evolvement and connection, consciously, with the universal energy.


As Reiki came over to the West it came into a cultural tradition that did not have at its root the understanding of the energy within us being so affected by and affecting the energy around us and throughout the universe. Reiki`s `spiritual` base was diluted by Dr Hayashi`s emphasis on the physical body. It was brought to the West by Takata who was taught directly by Dr Hayashi who also was closely involved in helping her set up her practise in Hawaii. A combination of Hayashi`s emphasis on the physical, and the fact that Western culture did not include an acknowledgement of energy as recognised in the Eastern cultures, resulted in the physical becoming the emphasis and using Reiki for physical healing.


The Western attitude has tended to look to bring nature under control - as opposed to working with nature. Western culture sees the body as very mechanical. This occurred through bodily dissection and the science of medicine etc. this taught us a great deal but sadly also discounted any energy related interaction with the universe - our bodies are separate and mechanical. This narrow view is gradually changing and more and more of the medical profession is realizing how the body is affected by a person`s mental, emotional and `spiritual` state. Even the way they dismissed evidence by a derogatory use of the term `placebo effect` has started to be seen in a different light. They are now recognising that the placebo effect is actually evidence of the power of intent - both in creating illness and recovery.


At the same time we have the New Age movement which started to use Reiki as an add-on to their beliefs. Many `New Age` people practice Reiki. However a good percentage of people who teach Reiki have adorned it with extras such as crystals, smudging, etc. Whether or not any of these extras are valid within themselves is not the point. The point is they did not form part of Usui`s original method of connecting with the Universal Energy. The danger is that the add-ons become the focus, rather than a mere facilitator.


Remember that whilst Reiki is profound that does not equal complicated. Keep it pure, keep it simple.

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