What Do The Reiki Symbols Mean?

June 11, 2009  
Filed under Reiki

I received an email the other day asking me to “explain, exactly, each line used in the Reiki kanji.”  I thought this was an interesting, and unique, question. Of course, the answer will greatly depend on the Reiki Master/Teacher being asked, and which Tradition they follow.  With that said, here are my own answers:

First off; the Cho-Ku-Rei. This is a symbol, and not Kanji (unlike Hon-Sha-Ze-Sho-Nen which is a combination of five kanji characters, and the Dai-Ko-Myo).  Some Reiki symbols are made up by, and/or borrowed from, various Reiki Masters: such as Rand did for the Karuna Reiki.  The vast majority of the symbols used in Karuna (if memory serves, there are about 20 symbols used in the Karuna method) are the same symbols other Reiki Masters “drew” before him.  At any rate, it’s more correct to refer to the Hon-Sha-Ze-Sho-Nen and Dai-Ko-Myo as a jumon (meaning: a mantra or an incantation) written in kanji.

Symbols and images come for the deths of human experience and serve the purpose of revealing to us the deepest aspects of a reality that we cannot reach by any other kind of knowledge.  Psychoanalyst Carl Jung explains how we establish the basis for a dialogue with the inner self through the use of symbols and images that our conscious mind can respond to.  The Reiki symbols help us do just that: establish a dialong/channel to the Reiki energy.

Back to the Cho-Ku-Rei.  Japanese poet and philosopher, Masahisa Goi (1916-1980) writes about the Chokurei (one word) in his work, “The Future of Mankind.” Goi explains the Chokurei as such: “In the beginning, the Great God took his body, his light, and divided it into various rays of light. He then functioned 7 rays of light to operate as the ower source of human beings.” Goi refers to those rays of light as “Chokurei” (direct spirits from God). Goi goes on to say that the Cookurei is “the image of God working in this world of mankind.”

As for the Hon-Sha-Ze-Sho-Nen and Dai-Ko-Myo: The lines used to write the kanji cannot be defined in a literal sense.  As an example, Dai-Ko-Myo is a Zen expression of ones true nature, or in Eastern philosophical terms, ones true Buddha nature.  In the framework of Reiki, Dai Ko Myo would be the connection of ones true nature to the light, or Reiki source — Dai (meaning “great”) and Ko Myo (meaning “bright light”). The term “bright light” in this context refers to Enlightenment.

The Tibetan Fire Serpent, which is a variation of the Raku, is “drawn” (for lack of better word) during Attunement, starting at the top of the head and “wrapping around and along” the spine, with the concave portion of each curve circling aorund each chakra. Again, this is a symbol: not kanji.

Since the Reiki symbols were originally handwritten and passed down from Master to student, variations in the way the symbols are drawn do exist.  Regardless, you cannot break them down line by line to describe what they mean.  It’s like Zen: If you can describe it, then it’s not Zen.

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