(NOTE: The FAQ section has been updated and included in the Reiki Level I Manual.)
How would a layman know that a particular Reiki Practitioner/Master Teacher is good for h/him?
In the same manner in which one would know if a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any other professional is honest and reputable; get a referral from someone you know and trust. At the very least, conduct your own interview with the practitioner. Above all, trust your own instincts. You will know if h/she has your best interest at heart and is a "good match" for you.
How can a Master ascertain that the person coming for a Level II degree course has been attuned in the First degree?
This is something I have to deal with each time a person comes to me for the Karuna Reiki Studies. When I became registered with the Center for Reiki Training, I had to sign a form agreeing to abide by their guidelines. One of which is that I only offer the class to those who have had Reiki Master training. Even though I request a copy of the Master/Teacher certificate, in all honesty, unless they can prove their lineage, I have no way of knowing for sure that the person did indeed complete the course. At best, all I can do is provide them with my own lecture notes for the Usui Master/Teacher level and attune him/her to the Usui Reiki symbols along with the Karuna symbols... to be sure. It's really a matter of trust.
Can Reiki I, II & III degrees be given simultaneously or should there be a gap between them?
It is my own personal belief, based on experience, that there should be a minimum of three weeks between Level I and II, and at least six months between Level II and Master/Teacher Level. However, in this day of "instant gratification" not many people are willing to wait any length of time between each level. Too many want the attunements done all in one weekend, or even one day. A "Reiki cocktail," in my opinion, does more harm than good, for the student and especially for those he/she will be teaching.
Who is entitled to receive the Master's degree?
All are "entitled" to receive the Master's degree. It's our birth right. However, I do not believe that the Master's degree should be handed out sans the time and effort it takes to learn Reiki (i.e. all three attunements in one day).
Some Reiki groups profess the secrecy of the symbols, while others openly publish them in a book. Which is correct?
Both are correct. The Reiki symbols are, and should be, considered sacred, not secret. At one time there was a need to keep the symbols secret, to keep Reiki an oral tradition, just as there was a time when religious symbols had to be kept secret. If a Reiki practitioner wants to publish the symbols in a book or on the Net (which they are doing), then so be it. Unless one has been attuned to the symbols, they're useless. Liken it to publishing the alphabet. You can see all the formations of the letters, but unless you know how what to do with this "tool," it's useless knowledge. However, once you do know how to use the alphabet those same letters can become, as they say, "mightier than the sword." At any rate, all Reiki symbols have been openly published, both in hard copy and electronically, so they are no longer secret. As long as it doesn't cross the line and become profane.
How long do the Attunements last?
The attunements remain with you for the rest of your life, and beyond. They cannot be removed, by anyone, at any price. I have had people tell me that "something evil" was placed inside their aura during the attunement... that they received a "bad" attunement and are willing to pay to have it removed. And, of course, there are those who are more than willing to cash in on the opportunity to "remove the curse." It's been said that "What the mind can conceive, and believe, it will achieve."
If one has severe a skin problem or any infectious diseases, is the healer prone to catching that disease, if s/he heals by touch method?
Unless the Healer is immune to the disease, or skin problem, absolutely. To believe elsewise would be foolish. We are, after all, physical human beings and as such we are prone to the same illnesses as everyone else. Being a Reiki healer does not mean that you will never be ill, or that you are automatically immune to any infectious diseases... we just like to think so.
A large number of Masters call themselves a Grandmaster? Who is a grandmaster?
ALL Reiki Masters have the potential to become "grandmasters," over time and with experience. We all have the potential to become "grand-masters" at whatever our area of expertise is.
Who is a grandmaster, with regards to Reiki?
Apparently, anyone who proclaims him/herself to be one. The titles "Grandmaster" or "Lineage Bearer" were not and are not in use in the Usui Shiki Ryoho, or Usui Kai as it is now called. Consequently this title was never passed on to Mr. Chujiro Hayashi as is currently believed in the west, which means that it was never passed on to Hawayo Takata, nor could it have been passed on to Takata's grand-daughter, Phyllis Furumoto. Yet Phyllis is claiming herself to be Grandmaster, Lineage Bearer, and rightful heir to the Usui system of "Reiki" -- as if anyone could claim soul ownership of Universal energy. However, this is her choice... so be it.
There's an interesting letter written by Carell Ann Farmer, who was the fourth Master initiated by Phyllis Furumoto, posted on the Web regarding the origin of the Grandmaster title. She was also present at the first Masters meeting in 1982 and at the meeting to form the Reiki Alliance in 1983.
As an aside; according to the Traditional Japanese Reiki teachings, Takata's Master/Teacher certificate was notarized in Honolulu and registered by Hayashi on February 21, 1938 and does not confer the title of Grand Master. It simply gives Takata the right to practice and teach the system in the USA. It in no way gave Takata control of the system. In any case, Hayashi was not Usui's chosen successor.