The History of Reiki
In the late 1800's a Japanese man called Dr Usui discovered a remarkable healing energy called Reiki and introduced it into the world through his teachings in the early 1900’s. His name was Dr Mikao Usui born in the village of Taniai-mura, Kyoto, Japan in 1865.
The origin of Reiki is hard to define as there is still much debate around it’s true history. Up until a few years ago we only had one version of the Reiki story that came from Mrs Takata which she brought to the ‘West’ after the Second World War. This particular adaptation is still going strong but it is thought that after bringing Reiki to the West she felt the need to adjust and ‘westernise’ the history of Reiki in order to suit our understanding and acceptance and there are details in this version that cannot be substantiated.
However it is apparent that Reiki survived by means of Mrs Takata even though much documentation had been lost during World War 2 when the Reiki Clinic in Tokyo was taken over in occupation. Yet, more and more factual information about Reiki is coming to light after more translations from the Japanese written language are becoming available. Two Reiki Masters in particular, Frank Arjava Petter and William L Rand, have compiled and written about this new information and thanks to them and others, we are able to continually move forward with our knowledge. This information includes Dr Usui’s additional positions for treating specific conditions.
THE TRADITIONAL REIKI STORY begins in the mid 1800's with Mikao Usui who was Principal and a Christian Minister of Doshisha University in Kyoto Japan. One day in discussion with his students about the healings of Jesus, they asked whether he believed in the Bible's stories of Jesus' healings. Usui answered that he did and in response the students asked him to demonstrate the method by which Jesus healed. Unable to demonstrate or answer these questions he resigned from the University and began a 10-year quest to find and learn the skills.
Dr Usui studied the Bible and the Christian Scriptures but nowhere could he find the information he was seeking. He approached the Christian authorities in Japan who told him that no such healings were talked about or written.
Knowing that there were striking similarities between the healings of Buddha (Gautama Siddhartha, 620 - 543) and in the life of the historical Jesus, Usui then sought the information through Buddhist teachings, the Path to Enlightenment. He entered several Buddhist Monasteries and began to study and after a further period of time discovered that all focus seemed to be on the purification of the mind rather than the body. Mikao Usui then travelled to the United States where he stayed for seven years. In that time he studied at the University of Chicago and became a Doctor of Theology. He also studied Sanskrit, which is the ancient scholarly language of India and Tibet.
Back in Kyoto 7 years later, Dr Usui visited many other Buddhist Temples where more scriptures were available for study but still the Buddhist monks seemed indifferent to his questions on the healing of the body. Soon after he entered a Zen Monastery and became good friends with the Zen Abbott who was interested in Usui's search of this particular healing method. He gave Usui the opportunity to study in his monastery outside Kyoto where he studied in earnest more of the Buddhist Scriptures, and Sutras in Japanese. In the early 1900's more ancient Sanskrits were found depicting the travels of St Isa, who many scholars thought was Jesus himself, and in one of these Sanskrits Dr Usui found texts describing the healing formula that he could now read in their original Sanskrit. It did not however give instructions on how to activate the energy; it is thought that the obscuring of such information was intended to prevent such powerful material falling into the wrong hands. So although Dr Usui had finally found what he as looking for, he didn't how to activate the formula and would therefore not have the power to heal, however the Sanskrit intimated a test of a three week period of prayer, meditation and fasting to find the answer and so he chose his meditation site to be Mt Koriyama in Japan.
Dr Usui's Mystical Experience on Mt Koriyama
When he reached the top of Mount Koriyama he came to a place facing east where he collected 21 stones so that by throwing one away each day he would know exactly how many days he had meditated and prayed. In the early dark hours of the 21st day he was filled with a deep sense of failure and disappointment in the realisation that nothing was going to happen having received no signs whatsoever. At this very low point he prayed to God to show him a sign and at that precise moment saw a projectile of light coming toward him. His first response was to run away in fear but then he thought again. He decided to stay and accept the consequences and receive the answer to his prayer, even if it meant his death. The light struck his third eye and in an altered state of consciousness he saw in front of him millions of rainbow coloured lights eventually turning to white and finally the Reiki symbols appeared in each light as if on a screen. As he saw each of the symbols appear he was given information on how to activate their own specific healing energy and they stayed long enough for him to remember each one. When he woke from his trance like state it was bright daylight and he felt so excited because he knew that he had been given the first Reiki attunement, the psychic rediscovery of an ancient healing method. Despite having fasted for 21 days he felt rejuvenated and well and began his climb back down the mountain to tell his wonderful news to his friend the Abbott.
Mikao Usui left Mt Koriyama knowing how to heal as Buddha and Jesus had healed. Walking down the mountain he experienced what is traditionally known as the four miracles. First, he stumbled and hurt his toe and instinctively sat and put his hands over the pain. His hands became hot and the torn toe healed. Next, he reached a house that served food and drink to pilgrims at the bottom of the mountain. He asked for a full meal, not wise after a twenty-one day fast on water, but ate it without discomfort. Thirdly, the innkeeper’s daughter was inflicted with toothache, and placing his hands on the sides of her face he healed her pain. When he returned to the monastery he was told that the Abbott was in bed with an arthritic attack and whilst relating his wonderful story he also healed the Abbott.
Usui named the healing energy REIKI and took the method into the slums of Kyoto. He spent several years giving healing in the town’s beggars’ quarter where in the culture and ethic of his time people with deformities, missing limbs or with apparent diseases were supported by the community as beggars. After healing each of these people he asked that they start a new life, but after a time he found the same faces returning. He began to see people that he thought he'd healed back begging on the streets instead of making an honest living. The people themselves were angry because with their diseases healed, they could no longer make their way as beggars and would now have to work. Saddened and discouraged, Dr Usui left the slums
Usui’s experience in the slums is used to justify the high price of Reiki training today, the premise being that people would not appreciate the healing because they did not pay for it.
Dr Chujiro Hayashi
After leaving the slums Mikao Usui became a pilgrim, taking Reiki on foot through Japan, lecturing and healing and in this way he met Chujiro Hayashi, a retired naval officer still on reserve status. Dr Hayashi was also deeply clairvoyant and psychic. He worked alongside Dr Usui for many years and in 1925 received his Reiki Master’s training from Usui at the age of forty-seven and became Dr Usui’s successor when he died in 1926 having made sixteen or eighteen Reiki Masters.
Chujiro Hayashi went on to train teams of Reiki practitioners, both men and women, including sixteen Masters in his lifetime. He opened a healing clinic in Tokyo, where healers worked in groups on people who lived at the clinic during the time of their healing. It was at this clinic that Dr Hayashi met Madam Hawaya Takata in 1935.
Madam Hawaya Takata
Madam Takata was born in 1900 and died in 1980. People say she looked much younger than her years. She was a Japanese American who lived in Hawaii from parents who were Japanese immigrants. Once out of school she was offered a servants job at a large and wealthy plantation owner’s house. She lived at the plantation for the next twenty-four years becoming a housekeeper and then bookkeeper, a position of great responsibility. She met and married the plantation’s accountant in 1917 and they had a happy marriage with two daughters.
In 1920 her husband died of a heart attack and she was widowed at the age of 32. Over the next few years, widowed and with two small children to raise, she developed nervous exhaustion and severe physical problems. She was also diagnosed with gall bladder disease that required surgery but had a respiratory condition with breathing difficulties that made the use of anaesthetic dangerous for her. Her health deteriorated and she was told that without surgery she would not live, but that surgery might also cause her death. Madam Takata took the news to her parents who had returned to live in Tokyo and leaving her two children with them, entered the Medical Hospital in Akasaka.
She rested in hospital for several weeks and then was scheduled for surgery. By this time she was also diagnosed with appendicitis and a tumour as well as gallstones. The night before the surgery she heard a voice saying “the operation is not necessary”, this voice was said to be the voice of her husband and she heard the same voice say to her on the operating table the next day while being prepared for the anaesthetic. She asked the surgeon if there was another way by which she could be healed. The doctor told her of Dr Hayashi’s Reiki Clinic. The surgeon’s sister who had been healed by Hayashi’s healers and had taken Reiki training took her there that day.
Mdm Takata lived at the clinic and was completely healed in body mind and spirit in four months. She asked to be trained in Reiki but at first she was refused. Hayashi did not want the practice of Reiki healing to leave Japan at that time, eventually he relented and she joined the teams of healers that worked at the clinic and in 1937 Madame Takata received Reiki 2 and returned to Hawaii. She had lived in Japan for two years. Madame Takata opened her first Reiki clinic in Kapaa, Hawaii and was very successful in her work.
In 1938 Dr Hayashi visited Takata in Hawaii and they lectured and toured together through Hawaii. She received her Reiki 111 training and he announced her as a Master/Teacher and also as his successor. He insisted that she not give the training away without charge. He also told her that when he summoned her, she was to come to him in Japan immediately. In 1939 she opened her second healing centre in Hilo. In 1941 Mdm Takata awoke one morning to a vision of Dr Hayashi standing at the foot of her bed. She knew this was the summons and took the next available boat to Tokyo. When Mdm Takata arrived at the Reiki Clinic, Chujiro Hayashi, his wife and other Japanese Reiki Masters were present. Being a gifted spiritual and clairvoyant man he told them of his vision of a great war that was coming and that all involved with Reiki would perish and the clinic would be closed. He feared that Reiki would be totally lost to the world again and therefore had made Mdm Takata, a foreigner, his successor. He also told them that as a Naval Reserve Officer he would be drafted, and that as a healer and medic he would not take life. Consequently In May 1941 in the presence of his students, Chujiro Hayashi stopped his own heart by psychic means and died. The Great War he predicted was World War 11 and Reiki was indeed no longer available in Japan. The clinic was taken over by the Occupation and his wife was no longer able to operate it as a healing centre.
Mdm Takata was the means by which Reiki continued. She had brought it first to Hawaii, then to mainland United States and finally to Canada and Europe. She lived to be 80 years old. She trained hundreds of people and in the last ten years of her life from 1970 – 1980, she initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters.