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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Addiechi

The True History of Reiki

Usui Reiki Ryo-ho was founded by Mikao Usui Sensei, who was born in 1865. Usui Sensei left his hometown located in the Gifu prefecture at an early age. Throughout his life, he engaged in a variety of occupations. As he went from one life experience to another, he kept pondering the purpose of life.

At the end of his long quest, he came to the conclusion that the purpose of life is to attain the state of Anshin Ritsumei. To attain Anshin Ritsumei is to understand that a human being is given life by the Universe to fulfil a mission. The Universe that gives us life would never wish illness or misfortune on us. Thus, we must trust Universe. No matter what life may bring, the human being who has attained the state of Anshin Ritsumei will remain unperturbed while fulfilling one’s mission in spiritual peace. With this understanding, Usui Sensei strived to attain Anshin Ritsumei; he practiced Zen at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto for three years. (Yes, Usui Sensei was Buddhist. He wasn’t Christian as Western-style Reiki teaches).

In spite of his efforts, he was not able to achieve the spiritual state that he longed for. Resolving to “do or die”, he went on fast on Mount Kurama. Finally, he felt the vibration of his own being resonate with the universal vibration, and he experienced oneness with the Universe. He attained the state that he had been striving for. Usui Sensei knew intuitively that this powerful vibration of resonance with the Universe had been called Reiki since times immemorial. He realised that Reiki is the vibration of guidance of the Universe, and that the only way to experience health and happiness is to live in resonance with Reiki.

On his way home from Mount Kurama, he encounter many situations in which he experienced healing, and he realised that the Universe has given him the ability to heal. Healing, just like his experience of cosmic oneness on Mount Kurama, was made possible through resonance with Reiki.

Hoping to pass his ability on to many people, Usui Sensei created a discipline which he called Usui Reiki Ryo-ho and established the Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai in Tokyo in April 1922. He gave treatments and held public Usui Reiki Ryo-ho seminars. The Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai continues to keep Usui Sensei’s tradition alive. Records indicate that Usui Sensei had over two thousand students and conferred Shinpi-den status on twenty-one of them.

Chujiro Hayashi, a naval surgeon and Captain who was the last Shihan certified by Usui Sensei, left the Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai after Usui Sensei’s death and set up his own practice, the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai -this is the origin of Western-style Reiki- and opened his own clinic in Tokyo. Hayashi conferred Shinpi-den status on thirteen students including his wife and Hawayo Takata. After his death, Mrs. Hayashi became the second president of the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai. However, after her death nobody took over so the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai disappeared.

Hawayo Takata, a Japanese American who was living in Hawaii, developed an incurable condition at one point of her life and went to Japan for medical treatment. She was referred to Hayashi Sensei’s clinic where she received Reiki treatment over several months and she got cured. Takata Sensei studied with Hayashi Sensei for one year and received Oku-den qualifications. She returned to Hawaii and opened a Reiki clinic there. When Hayashi Sensei visited Hawaii in 1938, Takata Sensei received Shinpi-den qualifications from the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai. She became the first “Reiki Master” in the world (by that time there were “Shihans) and the founder of Western-style Reiki. In the last few years of her life, she trained twenty-two Reiki Masters.

In 1981, one year after Takata Sensei’s death, twenty-one of the twenty-two Reiki Masters trained by her, under the leadership of Phyllis Furumoto, Takata’s granddaughter, founded the Reiki Alliance and Usui Shiki Ryoho. Phyllis Furumoto became the next Grand Master after Takata Sensei.

Anthropologist Barbara Ray, who chose not to be part of the Reiki Alliance, founded the American International Reiki Association, which was later renamed Radiance Technique.

Takata Sensei’s school has led to the creation of the two largest groups among the many different Western-style Reiki lineages existing in the world today. In addition, there are many independent Western-style Reiki Masters who represent the free line of transmission. They offer Reiki teachings in various modified forms for very low fees. Due to these low fees, the free line has spread all over the world. Because these free line does not belong to a particular lineage, Reiki Masters who belong to the free line refer to their practice as “Usui Reiki”. We might say that their teachings and practices are a mixture of “wheat and chaff”.

In Western-style Reiki, it has been said that Usui Reiki Ryo-ho, the practice founded by Mikao Usui Sensei, has disappeared when in fact, it still exists and it continues to preserve the tradition of Usui Sensei’s teachings. However, the Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai holds no seminars for the general public. Usui Reiki Ryo-ho is practiced only by the Gakkai members and their families. It is important to highlight this because some Western people are claiming to be “Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Masters”. There are two points that can clarify this: 1: the Gakkai doesn’t teach Usui Reiki Ryo-ho to non-Japanese people, and 2: the title conferred by the Gakkai is “Shihan” not “Master”.

Hiroshi Doi Sensei became a member of the Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai in 1993. He learnt Usui Reiki Ryo-ho from Kimiko Koyama Sensei, the 6th President of the Usui Reiki Ryo-ho Gakkai, and received the Shinpi-den status. After receiving the permission of the Gakkai, he founded Gendai Reiki Ho which is not a new Reiki-ho system, it’s just a new way of practicing the discipline of Usui Reiki Ryo-ho, a way which is suitable for modern day people and which can be taught to non-Japanese people too.

To summarize: We can find two Reiki styles: Japanese Reiki and Western-style Reiki. Japanese Reiki is still alive and if you are non-Japanese you can learn Gendai Reiki Ho. Of course, there are differences between Japanese and Western-style Reiki, which will be explained in another post.

*This text is based on Hiroshi Doi Sensei’s “Gendai Reiki Ho Introductory Seminar Manual”.

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