Reiki History – Does It Matter?

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"WHAT?", you ask incredulously. "How could reiki history NOT matter?" And privately you think I must have  a screw or two loose to even suggest it.

But look a bit closer…..

Reiki Energy Is Not Defined By WHO, WHAT, WHY OR WHEN

reiki history | reiki kanjiHow CAN it be?

Reiki Is Universal Life Force!

It is the life that is in everything. It is the pure positive energy of well-being.

It IS true that the FLOW of reiki can be limited by the hands that "hold" it, but the energy itself can not be diminished, no matter whether those hands are western or eastern, deserving or undeserving.

Reiki is no less potent, in the hands of a sceptic, than in the hands of a spiritually evolved being, and it cares not a jot for history.

That's not to say that history, or where and how things began, isn't of great interest. Of course it is. Many entertaining yarns have been spun in the name of history.

And there was certainly some spinning going on with the reiki story.

Two Versions Of Reiki History

Did you know that there are two completely different versions of how Dr Usui re-discovered reiki?

How did you get to be so lucky?

You get to choose between: the western version, which is a delightful and drammatic story, attributed to Mrs. Hawaya Takata; and the Eastern version, which is also a delightful, but more down-to-earth, tale.

Or you can take on a little of each if you prefer. I certainly can't say which one is closer to the truth. Since all the original players have left the game, is there anyone who really knows that for sure?

And again, I ask you, does it matter?

Could A Story Ever Change The Quality Of Reiki Energy…

Which is unlimited, exists everywhere, and is in everything? Or, does a story only change your point of view?

What do I mean?

Well, would it matter to you if reiki was only discovered a week ago?

Would that change what reiki is?

What if you found out that Mikao Usui was five years old when he re-discovered this form of healing, would that make a difference to how you view, or think about it?

Would it put you off, if you were told that he was a thief, or that he was an intergalactic timelord? Would you value the idea of reiki more if Dr Usui was a professor, or a close friend of the emperor?

It's Interesting To Note That…

The eastern version places more emphasis on Usui's good character and honourable nature. The western version, however, highlights achievements and 'doing'; like Dr Usui's status as the Dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, which, by the way, there's no evidence for.

Now, at the risk of disappointing you – I'm truly sorry about that – I'm NOT going to tell either of the stories here. I'll leave that for your reiki master, but I will give you…

The Commonly Shared Basic Facts

Dr Mikao Usui

Dr. Usui And The Re-Birth Of Reiki

  • Hands-on healing did not begin with reiki. It was practiced well before Dr Usui's time, in other countries as well as in Japan, though it was not called reiki and did not have the same format.
  • Dr Mikao Usui (b. 15 August 1865; d. 9 March 1926) was the founder of Usui Reiki, which is the basis of all reiki courses taught today. He was born in a village called Yago (some references call it Taniai) in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, Japan.
  • Dr Usui was a keen student of metaphysics and spirituality, which included the study of different religious practices. I presume these studies gave him a doctorate, because he was not a medical doctor. He studied in Japan and also travelled to other countries to broaden his knowledge, though there is disagreement about which countries he visited.
  • The birth of reiki. Sometime in the latter half of his life, Dr Usui took part in a 21-day meditation and fasting retreat. This was on Mount Kurama near Kyoto, Japan, and it is where the history of reiki began.
  • During his fast he had a moment of enlightenment, or 'satori'. I like to think of it as an energetic download from Source Energy. Regardless of the form that this took… whether a bright light struck his forehead; or standing under a waterfall opened his crown chakra; or the meditation and fasting process allowed a clearer connection to his Higher Self… he ended up with a new healing ability that he named Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Usui Reiki Ryoho – The First Reiki School

  • This enlightening experience, combined with his research on an ancient method of healing with the hands, led him to set up the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkei (which translates as Usui – Spiritual Energy – Healing Method – Society).
  • This organisation, now known as Usui Kai, still thrives in Japan.
  • The First Reiki Clinic: After an initial time 'testing' his new healing skill, in April 1922, Dr. Usui opened a reiki clinic in the Harajuku-Aoyama area of Tokyo. News of his abilities soon spread, and he had many people come to him for treatment and to learn his system of healing.
  • Natural disaster in 1923: Following Tokyo's horrendous earthquake in September, 1923, Usui's healing abilities were in even greater demand. This prompted him to build a larger clinic in Nakano, outside Tokyo, which was completed in 1925.

Passing On The Reiki Teachings

  • Usui dies in March 1926. Unfortunately Dr Mikao Usui died suddenly the following year, reportedly from a stroke, leaving a group of 16 (possibly 20) reiki masters (shinpiden or shihan) to carry on his work.
  • The role of president of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkei passed from Dr. Usui to one of these highly respected masters, Mr. J. Ushida. He was succeeded by Mr. Lichi Taketomi; Mr. Yoshiharu Watanabe; Mr. Toyoichi Wanami; Ms. Kimiko Koyama; and Mr. Kondo, who became president in 1998. No one seems to know where the title "Grand Master" came from but it is doubtful that it was ever used by Usui or any of the Japanese Reiki groups.


Dr Chujiro Hayashi | Reiki Master-teacher

Dr. Chujiro Hayashi – Reiki Spreads To The USA

  • Chujiro Hayashi (b. 15 September 1880 d. 11 May  1940) was another student of Dr Usui's. He was a retired naval officer and medical doctor, and it is thanks to this enterprising gentleman, that knowledge of reiki spread to the west.
  • Following in his teacher's (sensei's) footsteps, Dr. Hayashi taught reiki in three levels: Shoden (or first degree) which had four parts; Okuden (Inner Teaching, second degree) which had 2 parts; and Shinpiden (Mystery Teaching), which had assistant (Shihan-Kaku) and venerable teacher (Shihan) parts. These equate to the basic, advanced, and master levels in western reiki.
  • Like Usui-sensei, Dr Hayashi included manuals in his reiki training. He did, however make a few changes: the client's treatment position was changed from sitting to lying; and he introduced a complex set of hand positions for treatments, rather than using the previous system of intuitive hand placement.


Hawayo Takata | Reiki Master-teacher

Mrs. Hawayo Takata – Reiki Flourishes In The West

  • One of Dr. Hayashi's students was a Japanese-American lady, from Hawaii, Mrs Hawayo Takata (b. 24 December 1900; d. 11 December 1980)
  • Mrs. Takata studied for several years with Dr. Hayashi, in Japan, before returning to her homeland. She was initiated as the first "western" Usui reiki master in 1938. With Dr Hayashi's assistance, she established reiki treatment and training in Hawaii.
  • Hawayo Takata made a few changes of her own by simplifying Hayashi's hand positions; and introducing a higher fee structure for the training. She created the oral tradition for passing on knowledge, by stopping the manuals and mostly not allowing anything to be written down. She may also have been the one to introduce the Usui master symbol.
  • Reiki embraces Western civilisations. It was from Mrs Takata, and her 22 understudies, that Usui reiki spread to countries like America, Australia, New Zealand and England.


Rev Beth Gray  | reiki Master-teacher

Rev Beth Gray – Reiki In Australia And New Zealand

  • John and Beth Gray, were two of her students. They were the first caucasians to become reiki masters (1973).
  • It was Rev Beth Gray (b. 11 April 1918; d. 13 May 2008) who brought this system of healing to the lands "down under" (Australia and New Zealand).


Barbara McGregor | Reiki Master-teacher

Barbara McGregor – Devoted Reiki Master

  • Barbara McGregor, the founder of the Usui Rei-ki Network International; and founding editor of the WellBeing Magazine in Australia, spent five years in appreticeship to Beth Gray and became a Usui reiki master in 1990.
  • And that's how it came to me, in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1992, approximately one hundred years after it all began! 


Modern Ways of Teaching Reiki

I completed Barbara McGregor's basic course in the Reiki Method of Natural Healing, in August of 1992 and took the advanced course in November. (This part I AM sure of!) Seventeen years later, I completed the Chikara-reiki-do master course online.

The reiki course format and rules have changed a bit in the west, since I was first introduced to it.

Some things have "lightened up" a bit – like the issue of the symbols being kept secret. Although some masters still adhere to the somewhat strict teachings of Hawayo Takata, there are others who have added elements of their own, or have softened the training a little.

At the other end of the scale from Mrs Takata, are reiki masters who are brave enough to offer reiki master training online. This opens up the possibility of learning reiki, to thousands of people who previously couldn't afford the training, or couldn't get to classes.

It's worth remembering that even though different reiki masters have added their own material, the character, form and power of Dr Usui's method still lies at the heart of reiki teachings today. And no matter what we call it, it's still the life force of the Universe!


So, back to the question about whether reiki history matters.

I understand that we are all a product of our past. I could not have become a reiki channel without the line of people that came before, and I respect them and their stories.
There's no denying that these stories are fascinating.


From the perspective of healing yourself or others, where you've been (i.e history) will always be less important than where you are now, and where you want to go.

Where you've spent the last X years and what you've done in that time is only of interest in that it has brought you to this point. Focussing on the past will never help you to get to where you want to go. (It's a law of attraction thing)


Isn't it more important to look at reiki now, and where we can take it in the future, than getting too hung up on where it has come from?

If it works for us now, do we have to know all about its origins?

While the history of reiki is educational and entertaining, it's not vital to the understanding of this awesome force for healing, or the use of it. In other words, it doesn't really matter!

Thanks for joining me today.


Go Here Next: Reiki Symbols And Meanings Honourably Revealed
Or check out the reiki courses online



Reiki Training
Usui Shiki Ryoho, levels 1 and 2 training with Barbara McGregor
Chikara-reiki-do reiki master training


Frank Arjava Petter, Reiki Fire, (Lotus Press) ISBN: 0914955500

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2 Responses to “Reiki History – Does It Matter?”

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  1. david thompson says:

    My name is David Thompson and I too was initiated into Reiki at level 1 by Barbara McGregor in London in 1995. After which I then continued during the next 5 years with further attunement’s in Reiki with 3 other masters one of which was Shimara Kumara with whom I was again attuned at both level 1 & 2. I then went on to Reiki Master attunement, and finally, Karuna Advanced Reiki Master which was in 1998.
    I became disillusioned with Reiki when it was quite obvious that it had by and large become a gravy train to be ridden by some of the ‘Masters’.
    Added to those feelings were my experience of a truly harrowing divorce from my wife who I loved immeasurably which resulted in me being cut of from the energy and so I stopped practicing Reiki which was some time around 2001. And I haven’t really practiced since that time as I still feel disconnected from the energy may be as a result of Chakra damage due to extreme emotional trauma?
    Anyway, back to my Reiki healing hey days. At that time when I was being opened up by the universal force, remarkable gifts were given to me such as, well, that would be my ego trying to take control again…
    But let me close by saying this, something which your Master’s may not have made you aware of: once you start your Reiki journey at level 1. everything that is not part of your path and which the universe feels is not right for you shall be taken away regardless of whether you want it or not. so be aware, second, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with things you may witness within the Reiki community, don’t become judgmental as i did, learn to be open to your experience. Third and final; do not make the mistake i did which was to allow any astounding gifts from spirit to go to your head as that is your ego fighting for its own existence. remember, the gifts do not belong to you, they are only on loan and can be taken away just as quickly as they were given.
    My name is David Thompson and I share loving kindness with you all

    • Thanks for your input David Thompson.

      I’m sorry to hear that you went through such a painful relationship change after learning reiki. That can’t have been easy.

      It often happens that change (big or small) follows reiki training, but I have come to understand that this is because we are vibrational beings. It is not the Universe, or God or anything else taking away what we have, or depriving us of what we want, or saying what’s right or wrong for us. It is simply due to a vibrational shift.

      As we grow and expand vibrationally (learning reiki is one way of doing this) we shift out of alignment with some aspects of our lives, and they simply cannot stay in our lives. There is no punishment, or reward in this. It is just about the energy. Sometimes the shifting energy brings people, places and things into our lives, to line up with who we have become ( as energy beings). Sometimes, the people, things and places fade out of our lives. The changes are not always as dramatic as yours.

      And wasn’t it a blessing that you had the skill of reiki to heal the pain of your divorce? When change comes after doing reiki training, it’s logical to blame the change on reiki. But what if we have that backwards? What if your Higher Self knew what was coming and encouraged you to learn reiki so you would be able to heal yourself? It’s something to think about isn’t it?

      In joy and synergy


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