The History of Reiki
The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system.
- Robert C. Peale
The Japanese like many ancient cultures used word of mouth to pass their history and practices down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, this led to a great deal of knowledge and wisdom being watered down and lost. Many people involved with Reiki believe that the techniques we use today for healing were first used in India by Buddha and later by Jesus.
Others look back even further to the civilisations of Mu and Atlantis for the birth and development of Reiki. Of course, without written proof we can only speculate how humanity learnt to harness and develop the universal life force.
Dr Mikao Usui
Founder & 1st Grand Master
What we can be certain of and confirm is that it was rediscovered at the end of the nineteenth century by Dr Mikao Usui.
Until comparatively recently apart from the tomb of Dr Mikao Usui in Tokyo, there has been very little material evidence of his life and work. Most written accounts on the history of Reiki declare that Dr Usui was a Christian monk who lectured at Doshisha University in Kyoto. One day a student asked Dr Usui if he believed the teachings of the bible to be true. Could Jesus walk on water and heal people by touch. Audaciously he questioned if Dr Usui himself could heal the sick like Jesus.
Usui had to admit that this was beyond his capabilities. Embarrassed at being asked such questions and unable to demonstrate an answer, the story goes on to say that Doctor Usui immediately resigned his post and began a personal quest to discover how he could heal in the way that Jesus had. The legend becomes even more doubtful when it recounts how Dr Usui decided to begin his search for the secrets of healing like Jesus, in America – namely the University of Chicago.
Reiki Master William Rand has been able to disprove the legend of Dr Usui’s search for enlightenment in America. Chicago University has no record of Dr Usui ever attending as a student. Furthermore, there is no record of Dr Usui ever attending or lecturing at the Doshisha University. This work by William Rand confirms what many people believe. The history of Dr Usui’s life had been changed and coloured to suit western society. Logically there are far too many holes in the legend.
The Life of Dr Mikao Usui
Mikao Usui was born into a family that had been practising Zen Buddhism for eleven generations. As a youth Usui developed a fascination for all things Western. However, he never travelled outside Japan. After leaving school he went on to study allopathic medicine with several western allopathic physicians who had graduated from Yale and Harvard University.
When a cholera epidemic spread through Tokyo, Usui was struck down with the disease. During his hospitalisation as he was close to death he had a spiritual experience. This inspired Usui to study the ancient teachings of his ancestors. He joined a Zen monastery and began reading the ancient Sanskrit and Sutras.
After many years of study Usui found references to an ancient form of healing. Further study revealed methods, formulas and symbols that detailed exactly how to practice and master this art of hands on healing. However, although he had the technical knowledge to practise healing, he lacked the wisdom to turn the teachings into reality. He needed the key to turn on and activate the power. Usui decided to seek the final piece of the jigsaw through meditation.
Taking leave from the monastery, Usui set off for the holy mountain of Kurama. When he reached the top, he picked up twenty-one pebbles and placed them in front of himself. He sat down and began his meditation. Each day he threw away one pebble. For twenty-one days he prayed, meditated, sang and read the Sutras.
On the last day as he prayed he ask God to show him the light. Suddenly, a bright light appeared in the sky and came rapidly towards him, hitting him on his forehead, at the third eye chakra. Usui was knocked unconscious, and whilst in this altered state he saw a vision of the same symbols he had earlier found in the Sutras.
This vision was the confirmation Dr. Usui needed. He now knew that he had found the keys to the ancient form of healing used by Buddha and Jesus. When Usui regained full consciousness, he proceeded to return down the mountain. On his descent, he stubbed and cut his toe, he instinctively placed his hand on the toe and the bleeding and pain stopped.
On arrival at a nearby village he stopped to eat and rest. He was able despite having fasted for 21 days; eat a healthy meal without any stomach pain. The girl who served Usui the meal was in great pain suffering from a toothache. Usui asked if he could place his hands on her swollen face, she agreed, and he was able to ease the swelling and the pain. Rested, Usui returned to the monastery. On Arrival he found his friend, the Abbot in bed suffering with severe arthritis. Once again Usui was able to alleviate the pain and suffering. Usui called this gift from God – Reiki, the Japanese word for universal life force.
These experiences became known as the four miracles. Having demonstrated his knowledge and new ability to heal the Abbott advised Usui to take this special gift into the slums of Kyoto to heal the beggars. He was reminded that it is not enough to heal the body; it is of equal importance to heal the spirit and mind also. This lesson was brought home to him very abruptly seven years later. Having spent the time giving Reiki to beggars in the slums of Kyoto to get them working, he found them returning to him with the excuse that it was easier to beg.
Usui had forgotten a basic doctrine. Mortified he retreated to meditate once again. This time he was enlightened with the five principles of Reiki. The rest of Usui’s life was spent healing, teaching and developing the Usui Shiki Rhoyo method of healing. Usui had nineteen major students who were all either western allopathic or traditional Japanese in their practice. He knew he would have to develop a method that could be understood and accepted by any religion or culture. Reiki was fashioned by Usui to have no dogma or religious beliefs attached to it. This made Reiki universal.
Tenno, the Emperor of Japan honoured Usui’s work by awarding him a doctorate. By the time of his death in 1930, Dr Mikoa Usui had initiated all nineteen of his students to the level of Reiki Master/Teacher. Dr Chujiro Hayashi was chosen as the next Grand Master. It is important to note that Dr Usui taught all three degrees together. Dr Usui was cremated, and his ashes placed in a Zen Monastery in Tokyo.
Dr Chujiro Hayashi
2nd Grand Master
Upon the death of Dr Usui, Hayashi took over the role of Grand Master. He was responsible for training a further sixteen Reiki Masters and creating a set formula for training.
Chujiro Hayashi was born into an upper class Japanese family, and was a qualified physician and retired Marine commander.
He set up a clinic near the Emperors palace in Tokyo called Shina No Macha. Each day his students held healing sessions at the clinic, or visited people in their homes in they were unable to travel.
Hayashi went on to write many report on the systems he had developed to treat various ailments. Special diets were incorporated into his treatments to assist the healing process. Probably his greatest advancement for Reiki was to discover the importance of whole body treatment and how the universal life force would go wherever it was needed to heal. Providing of course you applied the full body treatment. This was needed to remove any emotional or physical blocks.
Madam Hawayo Takata
3rd Grand Master
Hawayo Kawamuru was born on the Island of Hawaii on 24th December 1900. At the age of seventeen she married Saichi Takata.
They had a happy marriage with two daughters. Tragically, her husband died at the young age of thirty-two. After thirteen years of marriage Hawayo Takata was left to raise two small children on her own.
The stress and pressure of the situation took toll on her health. Within five years of her husbands’ death she was diagnosed to be suffering from nervous exhaustion. Her health deteriorated to the point where she required surgery for a diseased gall bladder. However, she was also suffering from respiratory problems that meant the use of an anaesthetic during surgery could kill her.
This was an extremely depressing and trying time in her life. Unfortunately there was more pain and suffering to come when her sister died. As her parents had returned to live in Tokyo, it was Hawayo Takata traditional responsibility to bring the news to them in person.
After her arrival in Japan, she sought help at a hospital in Akasaka. It was discovered that she now had a tumour and appendicitis to add to her diseased gallbladder and respiratory problems. Her weight dropped dramatically and her doctor advised her to have immediate surgery.
That night as she lay in bed she heard a voice saying, “The surgery is not necessary.” The next day as she was being prepared for surgery she heard the voice again saying, “The surgery was not necessary, ask - ask.” Takata asked the surgeon if there was another way she could be healed and he told her of the Reiki clinic run by Dr. Hayashi. The surgeon had a sister who had been there herself and had recovered fully from an illness.
Madam Takata went to the clinic and received treatments regularly for four months and was completely healed. She decided that she also wanted to learn Reiki and set up her own practice in Hawaii. Against all tradition, she was eventually able to persuade Dr. Hayashi to allow her to work and train at the clinic for twelve months. At the end of this time it was felt that she had earned the privilege of receiving the second degree in Reiki – the advanced practitioners’ level.
In the summer of 1937 Madam Takata returned to Hawaii and set up her own Reiki clinic. She spent her time healing and teaching Reiki. Dr Hayashi visited Madam Takata in February 1938 and invited her to become a Reiki Master. He said that she had gone through tests and had lived up to the Reiki Ideals and principles. She was the first woman and the first foreigner to be given this honour. Hayashi returned to Japan.
At the beginning of 1940 Japan was close to war with America. Dr Hayashi was aware he would be called up to fight. As a man of healing and peace he decided the only honourable thing to do was to precipitate his transition. He put his affairs in order. Madam Takata woke up one morning and saw a vision of Dr Hayashi at the foot of her bed. She realised she must travel immediately to Japan. On arrival in Japan she met with Dr Hayashi and he explained his decision to leave this world. They spent many days planning the future.
When Hayashi was satisfied he had safeguarded the future of Reiki he called all his students and friends together. At this point he declared Madam Takata his successor and the third Grand Master of Reiki. Dressed in traditional Japanese attire he lay down and allowed his spirit to leave his body. Madam Takata installed as the next Grand Master returned to Hawaii to continue her teaching and healing.
This is when the history of Reiki was changed to portray Dr Mikao Usui as a Christian. Madam Takata realised that the American people and the Western world in general would hold certain bigotry towards the Japanese. So soon after the War it would be impossible to promote a method of healing with its roots firmly in Buddhism and Japan.
Madam Takata went on to train a further twenty two Reiki Masters before her death in December 1980. There were two Grand Masters installed to continue Takata’s work. Phyllis Lei Furumoto, the granddaughter of Madam Takata and Dr Barbara Weber. This partnership was to run for only a year until for personal reasons they split up to continue the work separately.
Phyllis Lei Furumoto
4th Grand Master
The Reiki Alliance was formed by Phyllis Lei Furumoto, while Dr Weber set up the A.I.R.A. (The American International Reiki Association).
Unfortunately, like many special things in this world the human ego has taken hold. There are now several different associations throughout the world all fighting amongst each other; each claiming to have the only correct way of teaching Reiki.
There is even a system of Reiki now being taught in eleven degrees. The latest rumours of an application to Copyright © Reiki seem to show how far this wonderful gift from God can be tainted.
There is only one Reiki. No-one has the right to claim it as their own, it belongs to humanity and the universe. Our only wish for the future of Reiki is that instead of fighting and bickering everyone involved with Reiki can again come together in the true spirit of healing.
Let’s share our experiences and skills so Reiki can be accepted universally as a natural treatment for the mind body and spirit. We need to work together to promote this cause. It is vital in our increasingly harsh and violent world that we change the whole psyche of humanity.
Together we can bring this gift of healing to the world. We need Reiki practised and used in every hospital and clinic in the world. Let’s spread the word positively. Let’s make a difference. Let’s make Dr Usui, Dr Hayashi and Madam Takata Proud. Let’s honour their work and their memory. Let’s live and internalise the Reiki Principles.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
- Helen Keller