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The History of Reiki
We can effect great and lasting change in our lives, thereby promoting inner healing.

A Search to Rediscover Reiki

Dr. Usui rediscovered Reiki in the late 1800's. His desire to learn the great mystery of how Jesus healed and why there were not more healers in the world lead him on a journey that lasted 28 years. The story has traditionally been passed down as an oral history. Over the past few years there have been many discoveries that have lead us to believe that the "traditional history" that has been passed from master to student for many years contains some fact and a great deal of fiction. However, since it is the traditional history, it is the one I pass down to my own students.

It is said that Dr. Mikao Usui was the dean of a small christian school in his native country of Japan. It was during a conversation with his students when he was asked if he believed in the literal translation of the bible. More specifically, they wanted to know if he believed in the miraculous healings Christ performed. When he replied that he did, his students asked him why then, if Christ had said, "You will do as I have done and even greater things", how come there weren't more healers in the world. They then asked him to teach them the methods that Christ had used.

Dr. Usui could not do this. As such, bound by his traditional Japanese honor, he resigned his post.

The Journey Begins

Determined to find the answers to this mystery, it is said he journeyed to the United States to study theology at the University of Chicago. He spent 7 years in the United States earning a doctorate in theology (so the story goes). However, he did not yet understand how Jesus performed the miracles talked about in the Bible. He traveled to Northern India and Tibet, because he believed that Christ had studied in these countries. He learned Sanskrit, the ancient, sacred language of the Hindus. He studied the Tibetan Lotus Sutras as well. By this time he felt he had a significant understanding of the intellectual answers behind the mystery of how Christ healed. However, he still lacked the empowerment.

Dr. Usui returned to Japan, to focus on Buddha. He knew that Buddha had performed many of the same miracles as Jesus. When Dr. Usui questioned the Buddhists, they said they did not believe that the healing of the body and spirit were always directly related. They believed the body and spirit were separate and their primary concern was healing the spirit.

Dr. Usui's journey led him at last to a Zen monastery. He asked the head monk, "Do you know how to heal the body?" The monk answered, "Not anymore." The monk explained that so much emphasis had been placed on healing the spirit that they had forgotten the body. However, he believed that it was certainly still possible. Dr. Usui asked to be admitted to the Zen monastery in Tokyo to study with this monk.

He spent several years at the monastery, studying Sutras and the teachings of Buddha. Much to his dismay, he still did not find the answers he was so desperately searching for. When he would ask the Monk for guidance, he was always directed to meditate - that in meditating he would find the answer within. It was through meditation that Dr. Usui was guided to learn Chinese. As he studied Chinese, he found what he thought was the empowerment for healing. When he told the monk of his findings, they decided that he should travel to Mt. Kuri Yama and fast and meditate. During this time, they felt sure he would receive enlightenment and clarity.

So, Dr. Usui did just that. Once on top of the mountain, he arranged 21 stones in front of his place of meditation and for the next 21 days he fasted and meditated. Each morning he would take one of the stones and throw it over the side of the mountain. However, much to his dismay, on the morning of the 21st day, he awoke having received no enlightenment.

A Rainbow Offers Enlightenment

Before throwing the last stone off the mountain, he prayed and asked that he be granted the confirmation he was so looking for. As he threw the stone over the side of the mountain, a light appeared to be headed right for him. He had the choice to run, and still have no answers - or to stay, let the light hit him and perhaps receive enlightenment. He opted to stay. It is said that the light exploded into a rainbow of colored bubbles (gold, white, blue, violet).

Each bubble contained a Sanskrit character that he had learned in the Tibetan Buddhist Teachings. He heard a voice say to him, "These are the keys to healing. Learn them; do not forget them and do not allow them to be lost." When he "had them", he awakened, gathered his things and excitedly began to run down the mountain. Within that first day Dr. Usui experienced five miracles.

· The first was that he felt no light-headedness or exhaustion from his fasting.

· In his haste running down the mountain, he stubbed his toe. He reached down to check the bleeding and as he did so, the bleeding and pain stopped immediately.

· When he reached the bottom of the mountain, he opted to stop for food. He ate ravenously and had no adverse reaction.

· A girl with her head bandaged had served him his meal, and when he asked what was wrong, she explained she had a terrible toothache. He offered to put his hands on her face and within a few minutes the swelling and pain began to disappear.

· The fifth miracle occurred when Dr. Usui arrived at the monastery. He found his friend, the monk, in great pain from arthritis. While he shared what had occurred on the mountain, he began to place his hands on the monk and very quickly, the pain disappeared.

The monk was truly amazed. The monk advised Dr. Usui to meditate on what to do with this newfound gift of healing. Dr. Usui was directed to go the Beggars Quarters in Tokyo and work with the beggars. He spent seven years there, working from morning until night and many miraculous healings occurred.

Discovering the Importance of Giving Back

However, one afternoon he came upon a beggar who looked very familiar. The beggar confirmed that he had been one of the men Dr. Usui had worked with many years before and had indeed been healed. He had even left the beggars' quarters, gone out into the world, gotten a job and had married. But, he soon realized that taking care of himself was hard work. It was much easier to be a beggar, so he wouldn't have to be responsible for himself.

It was at that moment that Dr. Usui realized that there had never been an "exchange of energy" for his services. He knew that if people did not give back for what they received, they would place no value on themselves or the service that was given. During meditation he received the Five Spiritual Principles of Reiki.

He realized the importance of giving back and accepting responsibility for oneself. By living these Spiritual Principles, one would effect changes in his own life and healing. He also realized that through living these principles people began to experience a change from the ego self to the God self. Reiki is a gift of unconditional love and is from the heart. When we live from the heart, we truly experience the fullness of life. The heart is the gateway to Love - love of the self, love for others, unconditional love at its best!

Teaching Reiki to Others

Dr. Usui taught a total of 16 teachers. One of them was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. It is said that Dr. Hayashi was asked to ensure that Reiki's teachings were preserved. He opened the first Reiki clinic in Tokyo, prior to World War II. It is also said that Dr. Hayashi is responsible for breaking Reiki down into the degrees as we know them today.

As the war approached, he decided to teach two women as he was concerned that if all who were Reiki were called into war, Reiki could possibly be lost forever. One of these women was his wife; the other was Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Japanese/American woman living in Hawaii. She was the child of Japanese parents, but had been born in the United States. At the age of 35 she found herself a widow with two small children. She was caring for her aging parents, had suffered a nervous breakdown and it is said, she was suspected of having cancer. She was lying in an operating room, awaiting surgery, when she heard a voice tell her 3 times that the surgery was not necessary. She asked the surgeon if there was any other form of treatment that she could use. He suggested she go to Dr. Hayashi's clinic.

She began daily Reiki sessions and after a few months she was completely restored to full health. In exchange for one year of service in his clinic, Dr. Hayashi trained Mrs. Takata. She returned to Hawaii and in 1938 Dr. Hayashi visited her and at that time, through training, made her a Reiki Master. It was during a dream one night some time later that Dr. Hayashi came to Mrs. Takata telling her that he needed her immediately in Japan.

Mrs. Takata packed her belongings and journeyed to Japan to find Dr. Hayashi in perfect health, yet he had his Naval uniform laid out on the bed. He told her that the war was impending and having spent so many years healing, he could not possibly don a uniform and kill. He asked her to carry on the Reiki tradition and bestowed her with the Grand Reiki Master title. Dr. Hayashi had trained 13 Reiki Masters.

Mrs. Takata traveled to Europe, Canada and the United States teaching Reiki. She died in December 1980, leaving 22 Reiki Masters to carry on the tradition. There was a split in the Reiki tradition after Mrs. Takata's transition, originally to three different groups. Today there are in excess of 50 different schools of Reiki. I do not believe that any one is any better than the other nor do I believe that you must be of one lineage or other to be "true" Reiki.

I believe Reiki lives in the heart of each and every one of us and it is up to us to take the path that is right for us. We must accept responsibility for ourselves, our health and our choices. As such, we are empowered to accept our own healing, through the resources that God provides for us. Reiki is one such resource.

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