Part 1 History of Reiki
More information has come to light over the last few years that give a good understanding of the History of Reiki. The Reiki we know as Shin-Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho was ‘discovered’ by Mikao Usui after attaining enlightenment after a mountain retreat on Mount Kurama in March 1922. He started this fasting as a preparation for death. He did this for 20 plus days and felt a powerful energy shock on his forehead and became unconscious. He was in this state for a few hours however when he came back to consciousness he felt surprisingly fresh and energised more than he had before. Reiki energy had entered his body and soul and had the realisation that ‘The Universe is me- I am the Universe.’
Usui sensei was born on 15th August 1865 in Taniamura, Yamagata-gun, Gifu. He had various careers including a secretary to a statesman that gave him many experiences and a perspective of the world from many angles. He enjoyed travel in his youth and all this led him to reflect on the question ‘What is the purpose of life’. He studied many different subjects including Buddhism, Psychology and Christianity to name only a few. After much study he came to the conclusion that ‘The ultimate purpose of life is to attain An-Jin-Ryu-Mei – the state of complete peace of mind.
All this led him to study Zen Buddhism and eventually to his trip to Mount Kurama.
After his enlightenment he ran down the mountain and stubbed his toe, after laying on his hands he found the pain disappeared and his toe healed. From this he started to lay hands on others and found this started to heal friends and family. This led him to systemize this as the Reiki we know today. He set up his own institute ‘Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai’ when he moved to Aoyama-Harajuku in Tokyo. From there he started conducting workshops and teaching people.
Reiki spread widely and when Japan was hit with the Earthquake in 1923 the need for Reiki at this time was obvious with many thousands injured, so Reiki became extremely popular. Usui sensei died in 1926 after three strokes, it is reported that he was giving Reiju at the time. It is thought he knew he was going to die so initiated 20 Dai Shihans to ensure reiki continued after his death.
One of his most prominent students was Chujiro Hayashi sensei and when he was 47 in completed all levels of Reiki (Shoden, Okuden and Shinpiden) – this was just prior to Usui Sensei dying. He was a naval officer and a medical doctor and practiced Reiki in Shinano-machi Tokyo. He taught Reiki in Osaka as well as Tokyo and included Hawayo Takata who was a Japanese American born in Hawaii who really started the spread of Reiki to the West and the rest of the World. Hayashi sensei provided reiki classes in Hawaii for 5 months between October 1937 and February 1938.
Hawayo Takata became interested and started to learn through a correspondence course with Hayashi Sensei in Tokyo. This is thought to be an exchange of letters and through her enthusiasm she received approval to travel to Tokyo around December 1935 to learn. She trained for 6 months and it is thought she was approved as a Shihankaku when she left Japan. She taught 50 people Shoden whilst still corresponding with Hayashi Sensei.
In July 1937 she went back to Japan and completed her training and was given approval to be a Shihan. Hayashi Sensei then arrived in Hawaii where in 5 months he taught a total of 350 students. Hawayo Takata coordinated his visit and continued the workshops after he left.
The second World War did cast a shadow over Reiki and it took Hawayo Takata 40 years to resume the activities to promote Reiki in Hawaii. She began training teachers around 1978 and by 1980 when she died had taught 22 of them.
Reiki spread quickly when it went to mainland America and from there to the whole world.
Part 2 – Jikiden Reiki
In the early 1990’s Reiki was ‘reintroduced’ to Japan but taught by Western teachers, so in affect from the Hawayo Takata lineage and not direct from Chujiro Hayashi sensei.
Jikiden Reiki began its journey after Chiyoko Yamaguchi’s Uncle Wasaburo Sugano who received Reiju from Hayashi Sensei and becoming a Reiki practitioner treating family, friends and colleagues. Chiyoko lived with the family and was treated like his daughter. Sugano was a major contributor on making Reiki popular and he asked Hayashi Sensei to hold a workshop in Ishikawa, on the proviso that there would be more than 10 attendees.
In the family Reiki was practiced daily and Chiyoko was always impressed and felt better after been treated. She rarely needed to see a doctor so was always keen to learn herself, her Uncle supported this but only after she graduated from school. She was only 17 when she attended the workshop of Shoden and Okuden on 13th March 1938. She was nervous and excited and was one of the younger attendees alongside older men in formal attire. She noted the 3 rows of 6 Zabuton (Japanese style cushions) on the floor and was asked to sit on them.
The coordinator running the event then explained the Reiju and how it was done. Noting that the room would be darkened and students should sit in Seiza posture with eyes closed placing hands in Gassho. There was to be no talking or leaving the seat until after Reiju.
Hayashi sensei then entered the room and the room was dark. He started by reciting the Gokai and the students repeated line by line 3 times. They were then given Reiju first by Hayashi Sensei and then the others. Chiyoko estimated there were 3 Shihans but wasn’t sure as it was dark and each Reiju took around 5 minutes. There followed the Reiki Mawashi. Hayashi Sensei then went on to explain the theory of Reiki before practice on others and feeling of energy. So this was Chiyoko’s first experience of Reiju and Jikiden Reiki follows that same format today.
With the reintroduction of Reiki to Japan it was the Westernised Lineage Reiki been taught. However a few people tried to trace the origins of Reiki in Japan but the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai is closed to the general public and the original teachings not passed down. So it was difficult to see how the original form of Reiki taught be Usui sensei and Hayashi Sensei could be learnt.
Tadao and Chiyoko were using Reiki every day unaware of the popularity of Reiki and that people were searching for information. In 1999 Chiyoko was mentioned in a book written by a famous teacher in Japan and had a massive impact on the Reiki community. There was a fascination that they had discovered someone taught directly from Hayashi sensei and still practicing daily after 65 years. After the publication of the book Chiyoko was visited by prominent Reiki teachers who recommended running workshops that replicated those held by Hayashi sensei. After overhearing a conversation that ‘Reiki was no big deal’ Tadao was told the content of the workshop they had attended he was amazed at how far removed it was from the Reiki spirit he held. It made him realise how important it was to pass on the original Hayashi sensei teachings. It was then decided to start the Jikiden Reiki Kenkyukai and workshops.
Reference – ‘Light on the Origins of Reiki’ by Tadao Yamaguchi (Lotus Press 30/9/07)