THE “REAL” STORY ABOUT MIKAO USUI, THE CREATOR OF REIKI AND HIS ORIGINS
After a long and grueling several years of a major illness from which part of my recovery was a contract I made with myself that I would do daily Reiki self-treating for 1 hour minimum a day and healed it, I made another contract with myself to read every Reiki book I could get my hands on for the rest of my life. I felt like if I have the capacity to make other people Reiki, then I really need to know everything there is to know about Reiki!
As a result, I am at 55 books and counting. In my reading (and my connections with many very high level Reiki Master Teachers all over the world) I have come to know so much more about the REAL origins of Reiki and its creator, I feel I could be considered to be somewhat of an expert on the topic – the definition of an expert being someone who has studied a subject for 5 years. I’ll going on year 10 shortly.
I am writing this article because it has come to my attention that there are local teachers out there in 2013 still telling their students the Christian story about the origins of Reiki. The creator of this myth died in 1980 and it was debunked after her death. I find it astonishing and incomprehensible that any Reiki teacher in this day and age would not know this. Obviously someone is not doing their homework and as a result is giving out false and possible harmful information to their students and the general public.
The original Christian story was perpetrated by the last person in what I call the original “Reiki Triune” of larger than life teachers, Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Japanese national living in Hawaii just before Pearl Harbor. She was trying to establish a Reiki healing and teaching practice in an area of the world where many of her students and clients were white Western Europeans or Americans. At this time, T’ai Chi, Qigong and even Feng Shui were not on the radar of most of non-Asian individuals, so imagine how a tiny little Japanese woman in Hawaii teaching about and doing a Japanese Buddhist hands on spiritual healing system with Shinto (the ancient national religion of Japan that venerates nature spirits and departed loved ones, and Shugendo (a form of Japanese Shamanism) would have been received.
It is said that she created the “Christian story” because in Japan it is traditional for someone to make up a parable to get across a sacred spiritual truth. If you’re not familiar with the story here is how it goes:
Mrs. T (as I like to affectionately call her) said that Usui (the creator of Reiki) was a Christian teaching in a Christian school in Japan and one day his students asked him if he believed everything he read in the bible, to which he replied “YES”. Then they ask him if he also believed that Jesus could heal with his hands and again he replied “YES”. So they ask him to show them how he did this and he said he couldn’t and the story goes that right then and there he quit his job and vowed to find out how it was done and come back to tell everyone. I’m sure the details defer from teacher to teacher but this is the gist of it.
Supposedly he went out on a trek all over the world looking for the system of how Jesus healed with his hands, going to China, all over Japan, India, and Tibet or so the story goes, even supposedly coming to the US and studying theology at the University of Chicago. There is no record of anyone who has a name even closely resembling his ever studying at that University at that time.
It is possible that Usui, at some point in his life did travel to some of these places (possibly even Europe) because he worked for a Japanese diplomat who is said to have traveled to some of these places also – Usui was supposedly his bodyguard. Usui studied martial arts (his family was of ancient Samurai descent) and was said to be very highly accomplished and respected martial artist in his day.
The story goes that he found the instructions in ancient possible Sanskrit texts about how to do this but couldn’t make it physically work, so he decided to go on a traditional 21 day fast and meditation (Lotus Repentance Meditation) atop a very sacred mountain in Japan (Mt. Karuma) and hopefully get some guidance. He took 21 stones with him to mark the days and at the end of 21 days nothing had happened and he had just thrown the last stone off the side of the mountain when he saw a very bright light coming at him at very high speed and knew he could duck and let it pass him by or allow it to strike him. He chose to allow it to strike him and it is said to have hit him the middle of his forehead (third eye chakra) knocking him unconscious. It was then that all the secrets of the system were revealed to him in what is called an “enlightenment moment.” There are 4 miracles that supposedly happened as he came off the mountain which I won’t go into here.
What’s interesting is that he did not go back to the school he supposedly taught at the reveal this information to his students, instead he went into the beggar section of Tokyo and begin healing beggars for free (another story around this also with a lesson).
In truth, Usui was born in Japan around the end of the 19th century to an ancient Samurai family of Buddhists and as is traditional, was put into a Buddhist monastery at the tender age of 4, where he was also taught Japanese Qigong (Kiko) and martial arts (grappling and swordsmanship to name a few) along with the Buddhist teachings (some say he family were Pure Land Buddhist, some say Tendai Buddhist). He is buried in a Pure Land Buddhist cemetery (see “This is Reiki by Frank Arjava Petter for information on this).
In his short life he held many jobs including the aforementioned, such as prison guard, industrialist, and quite possibly as a lay Buddhist Priest (Zaike) or even as a Shinto Priest, to name of few. From all that I have read about him in books and manuals by other teachers, Reiki is actually a compilation of all the many and varied subjects he studied in his life (Western and Chinese Medicine, religions of the world, Buddhism (possible both Pure Land and Tendai) Zen Buddhism, Kiko and much more. It is said at one point he wanted to discover the secret of achieving Satori (a state of being where no matter what is going on around you, you are peaceful and calm, you know what your life’s purpose is and are doing it).
Trying to find the method of achieving Satori is said to have been the real reason why he did actually perform the 21 day fast and mediation on Mt. Kurama (possible several times). On his memorial stone erected a year after his death by some of his followers, the story of one such fast and mediation on Mt. Kurama is immortalized and is said to have actually happened (the enlightenment moment with the white light). There is even a newspaper or magazine article written by Usui himself where he clearly states that he created the system and had the enlightenment experience (“This is Reiki” – Frank Arjava Petter).
Dr. Usui’s original system (he was awarded an official doctorate by the Meiji Emperor for his work in healing it is said thousands of people after the worst earthquake to hit Tokyo in recorded history, at that time) was about self-actualization, not a healing modality. He originally taught his system to those seeking enlightenment but it was later tweaked into the “hands on healing” modality most of us know it as today through the machinations of Japanese Naval Officer named Dr. Chujiro Hayashi (the 2nd figure in the Reiki Triune) who as a Western Medical Doctor turned Reiki into a formalized healing system for his and his Naval Officer buddies benefit right before the War.
Dr Usui died of a stroke in 1926 while out teaching and doing healings in the Japanese countryside one day. Dr. Hayashi opened a healing clinic and wrote a large manual with prescribed hand positions to treat specific illnesses. Many people think of Hayashi as Usui’s predecessor but there is another group of Reiki Practitioners that you never hear of that still carry on Usui’s original teachings in Japan – the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai – a secret Japanese Reiki society. The United States government outlawed the practice of Reiki in Japan after WWII and it went underground.
The Gakki has an elected president of its closed and secret society, although due to the efforts of the men and women who in the last 10 years or so from outside of Japan (mostly American and Western European Reiki Master Teachers and Practitioners they are leaking out more and more information as to the real origins of which I am writing of here.
These teachers and practitioners went to Japan to get the real story and have brought back amazing discoveries about all that I mentioned. Pictures of Usui’s ancestral home and town, 100+ year old documents and manuals he signed or wrote, interviews with 100+ y/o Buddhist nuns who actually studied with Usui and MUCH MORE.
If you want to read up on the latest information about Reiki and Usui, I highly suggest you read “This is Reiki” by Frank Arjava Petter and Tadao Yamagucchi’s book (his mother was taught by Hayashi and he is now touring Japan and I think the US and Canada teaching as Hayashi taught) “Light on the Origins of Reiki”.
The newer Reiki books coming out today are reflecting all this new knowledge brought in by Frank, and people like Chris Marsh, James Deacon and I believe William Lee Rand of the International Center for Reiki Training in Michigan.
Patricia Penner, Usui & Karuna Reiki ®Master Teacher, Crystal Reiki Master and Crystal Healer, Heart-Light-Reiki, LLC www.Heart-Light-Reiki.com