Reiki is a hands on healing modality that was created at around the turn of the century by a Japanese Buddhist lay priest by the name of Mikao Usui. The word Reiki is a translation of the Japanese Kanji characters "Rei" and "Ki". In modern times, the Kanji characters have been updated and a new more moderate translation of the Kanji has surfaed. The original or older Kanji characters translate roughly (it is almost impossible to translate Japanese into English as English is a romance language and Japanese Kanji are pictograms representing a language) into a system described as spirit based, Divine in Origin. The newer characters give a more benign explanation, just equating the energy as that of "universal life force energy" or ULFE. ULFE is the energy that everything is made up of - our bodies, food, water, air, everything in nature, etc. Practitioners of T'ai Chi Chuan and QiQong cultivate ULFE or Chi (Ki) when performing these other ancient forms of exercise and Chinese medicine.
As a teacher and practitioner of T'ai Chi and QiQong for almost 25 years and a Reiki Master Teacher and Practitioner of almost 10 years, I am very much more drawn to the original Kanji characters translation. That Reiki comes from the Divine, the source of all that is, the Creator, the I Am, Universal Intelligence, or whatever the Divine means to you whether it be God/Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, etc.
The original characters for "Rei" translate to "the deliberate action of bringing rain" (Heavenly power) down to earth and the characters for "Ki" translate to the asterisk-like figures of "rice" - the staple food of human life, the other lines are the aura of the rice. So "Rei" is Spirit and "Ki" is energy. We can think of Ki as being our personal energy and Rei-ki as the action of the energy of Heaven or source uniting with our personal Ki or energy.
This is another bone of contention in the Reiki world. Many people feel that the newer translation or Reiki's source is strictly universal life force energy is correct while others like myself feel this falls far short of what the real source of Reiki is. As no one really knows what the source of Reiki is or how it works I think we all just have to decide for ourselves what we feel is correct for us. Just like the discussion yesterday about whether receiving intuitive "hits" as we call them (the act of receiving "information" while doing a Reiki session (some call this a psychic ability) is a part of Reiki or something that occurs when someone is channeling Reiki because they are psychic and that it is not Reiki, while some (like myself) feel that it cannot but be a part of Reiki as it only happens when one is channeling Reiki either for someone else (or on rare occasions) for oneself.
Whatever you believe the source of Reiki is - Divine in Origin or ULFE - Reiki is a miraculous gift given to the world, at a time when humanity is screaming for help and answers. I am eternally and humbly grateful to Dr. Usui for his "Method to Achieve Personal Perfection" or Usui Shiki Royho".