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    What is Reiki?

    February 2008 | Filed under Level I Reiki

    Reiki is a very simple and easy to learn healing technique that dates back thousands of years. The ability to facilitate healing derives from knowledge and practices that are passed from master practitioner to student, who in turn becomes a master practitioner. The Reiki method for healing body, mind and soul, as it is taught today, was developed in Japan, by Mikao Usui, in the early 1900s.

    In order to understand Reiki we need to be aware of indigenous healing traditions that exist alongside and pre-date Reiki. The word “Reiki” was originally used in the East to define a set of precepts, or affirmations, which became the heart of all Reiki teachings. While Reiki is not a religion, it is very spiritual in nature since it uses the life force energy to heal, harmonize and balance the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual levels of the body. The energy used in Reiki is far older in concept than any religious philosophy. There is no dogma, and nothing you must believe in order to use this particular healing technique.

    In the West, Reiki is taught primarily as a healing technique with little, if any, emphasis on the spiritual aspects as it was originally intended. The word “Reiki” is broken down into two separate words – “Rei” and “Ki.” Rei has several levels of meaning, the most widely accepted interpretation is “spiritual” or “universal,” meaning that it is present everywhere. Ki is life force energy. Therefore, Reiki is often described in the West as “spiritually guided life force energy,” or “spiritual knowledge.”

    If you were to describe the old form Reiki kanji in story form, you would say: On the earth stands a shaman (medicine man, healer) with his arms raised against the sky. From the heaven the rain comes down with lifesaving energy consisting of three parts: Light, Love and Wisdom. The shaman acts as a channel for this energy. Likewise, the Reiki Master acts as the channel when s/he attunes the student and the Reiki Practitioner becomes the shaman when s/he channels the energy during a healing session.

    However, in the Japanese language, Reiki is not broken down into two totally separate words. It is, as it needs to be, taken together and in the context of its use, which in this case, it’s an adjective that describes the set of precepts. The word “Reiki” is used in Japan to describe many types of healing and spiritual work. In Chinese, the same 2 kanji used to represent Reiki are pronounced differently but have a similar meaning. In Chinese, Reiki is called Ling chi.

    Excerpt from Chi-gung: Harnessing the Power of the Universe, by Daniel Reid: “Ling chi is the subtlest and most highly refined of all the energies in the human system and the product of the most advanced stages of practice, whereby the ordinary energies of the body are transformed into pure spiritual vitality. This type of highly refined energy enhances spiritual awareness, improves all cerebral functions, and constitutes the basic fuel for the highest level of spiritual work.”

    The Reiki Precepts
    The precepts, or Reiki Principles, are the heart of all Usui Reiki teachings. When Reiki was first taught in the States, the original precepts were somewhat skewed to fit our society at the time. To this day, many Reiki Masters teach the Westernized version of the principles as taught by Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata gives the following on her audiotape, “The History of Reiki, as Told by Mrs. Takata” (Vision Publications, transcript page 11).

    Just for today, do not anger.
    Just for today, do not worry.
    We shall count our blessings and honor our fathers and mothers,
    our teachers and neighbors and honor our food.
    Make an honest living.
    Be kind to everything that has life.

    The Reiki Principles as Taught by The Reiki Alliance

    Just for today, I will not worry.
    Just for today, I will not be angry.
    Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings.
    Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
    Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

    These are just two examples of how the original precepts were altered (or interpreted) in the States, by Takata, and henceforth. As to the origins of Usui’s Reiki Principles, the book Kenzon no Genri (Principles of Health), by Dr. Suzuki Bizan (March, 1914) may have been the inspiration behind his five principles (known in Japan as the “Gokai”). A quote from the book: “Kyou take wa ikarazu osorezu / shoujiki ni shokumu o hagemi / hito ni shinsetsu.” One translation of this would be, “Just for today, do not get angry, do not feel fear, be honest, work hard, and be kind to others.”

    The original precepts, as written by Usui Sensei, are included in the Reiki Level I Manual.


    “It’s the repitition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” - Charles M. Bristol

    NEXT LESSON: Understanding The Precepts

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