The True Origins of Reiki


In preparing to reprint Reiki–Path to Transformation, Volume 1, Hands on Healing, I came across an article entitled The True Origins of Reiki by Steve Gamble with quotes from Usui (pictured above) as located by Japanese Reiki expert, Hiroshi Doi. From there I read William Rand’s interesting interview with Hiroshi Doi for yet more background. Then I came across Usui’s own manual available on the internet, and part of Hayashi’s (pictured below), all of which I recommend.

Chujiro_Hayashi Today as copies of Usui’s and Hayashi’s original writings have come to light and have been translated from Japanese into English, we find that some mythical elements entered into the Western taught history of the Japanese healing system that we call Reiki and of its founder, Mikao Usui. All that we in the West knew of Reiki until recently came from Hawayo Takata, who brought it first to Hawaii and then to mainland United States. Her students and their students then spread it throughout the world, some making changes in the original Japanese form. We now know that some of what Takata told us of Usui’s background and Reiki’s origins was fictionalized. Perhaps it was ‘gussied up’ to make it more acceptable to a Western audience during and after World War II because of distrust of the Japanese with whom we were fighting. 

takata Takata (pictured left) also turned Reiki into a lucrative teaching and healing business. The financial aspects, the ego’s appeal to the term ‘Master’, coupled with a fast time frame to attain the title may have tainted the Western practice of Reiki from what was a purer spiritual practice in Japan. And yet, without the ability of people to learn and teach quickly, it may not have been so widely disseminated.

Nonetheless, despite the fallacies in Takata’s story or the problems of ego and conducting it as a business, Reiki’s power and beauty to heal body, mind and spirit remain. As we now read some of Usui’s own words, we can be led to honor the deeply spiritual basis for Reiki and get this wonderful modality back on track as a the powerful spiritual practice it truly is. 

While Takata always taught that Reiki healed mind, body and spirit, it seemed to me that more emphasis was placed on the body, perhaps because she herself was healed through Reiki treatments. Very little emphasis or time in the training was placed on meditation and spiritual development. Whereas, we now understand from Usui’s own words that Reiki is first and foremost meant to heal the mind and spirit first and then the body would follow in becoming strong and healthy. Consequently, spiritual development was strongly emphasized by him.

What is Reiki? 

Quoting Usui, “Everything in the Universe possesses Reiki without any exception.” By the term ‘Reiki’ he meant universal life force energy inside everyone and everything. He also referred to this as the pure light that we are. Reiki was “a label meaning connection with the light or universal energy within.” It is through coming into oneness with this universal energy that gives Reiki its power and what allowed him also to offer healing to others.  “We humans hold the Great Reiki that fills the Great Universe. The higher we raise the vibration of our own being, the stronger the Reiki we have inside will be.”

Everything in the universe is produced and developed by the magnificent Reiki that fills the Great Universe. Humans are a microcosm that takes the Great Spirit from macrocosm; everyone holds a part of this Great Reiki in his body. Therefore, we must always try to cultivate spirituality so that we can receive as much Great Reiki of the Universe as possible…your committed training brings about the unification with the Universe…they effortlessly work as the absolute limitlessness. This is the true nature of being human.”

The Natural Law of the Great Universe and each human spirit as a small universe must be constantly united and exist as One.” 

This sounds a bit like Jesus who said “the Father and I are One.” Reiki as taught in Japan was about learning to come into resonance with the universal energy. As Usui said “The Universe exists in me, and I exist in the Universe.” 

The story that Usui spent years searching for a healing method is incorrect. In fact, he said “I have never studied any methods for disease treatment.” Rather it was coming into full resonance with the Universe at the conclusion of his 21 day fast that the healing energy came as a thunderbolt.

But while not searching for a way to heal physically, Usui was searching for the meaning and purpose of life. Intellectually, he concluded that the purpose was to become happy, and to him happiness meant the attainment of the state of the peaceful mind. But he was dealing with anger and fear. Consequently, he entered a Zen buddhist temple in Kyoto and studied Zen for three years. However, this did not give him the true experience of having a peaceful mind. 

“We humans are given life and a mission from the Universe. When it gives us life and a mission, it can never impose illness or misfortune on us. Regardless of what happens in life, we should trust the Universe and keep a peaceful mind state in order to accomplish our mission. This is the purpose and meaning of life.”

Doi says that Usui “thought that he would not deserve to live any more if he could not attain the meaning of life. So he climbed Mt. Kurama for meditation and fasting with the readiness to die. 

He gradually felt that the Reiki inside him and the Reiki surrounding Mt. Kurama were vibrating with each other and the vibration became stronger day by day. At midnight of the 21st day, a thunder-like shock hit him on the top of his head, and he lost consciousness. Then in the pre-dawn hours, he woke up to find himself filled with an amazing refreshment he had never felt before. “I am the Universe, the Universe is me! The universe exists in me, and I exist in the universe. Light exists in me, and I exist in the light.” 

x,7Elwf0000.jpg.pagespeed.ic.OqaOknhOGA Usui also taught that Reiki was a method based on intuitive power among the universe. Reiki as traditionally taught in Japan involves a spiritual awakening that is intellectual at first, but needs to be followed by a true awakening, which is an intuitive understanding by Shinga (Soul/Higher Self). This then needs to be unified with truth. The objective was to find the inner light within and then bring the soul into perfect resonance with it.

Usui said that healing power was given to him by accident during fasting and that he did not know the true essence of Reiki. Reiki symbols were not part of the experience. In fact, Usui did not even use symbols himself, but rather developed the symbols later to help his students, who were originally members of the Japanese navy, to focus. Focusing on the symbols and chanting their names were considered training wheels, but the object was to go beyond them. The symbols had no power in themselves.

Usui wrote about developing the ability to heal, “I have a hard time explaining exactly. I realise that I’ve received the ability of healing accidentally when I felt the air in mysterious way during fasting…I was not taught this method by anybody nor studying to get intuitive power.”

Finally, Usui taught to apply one’s hands in administering Reiki without any control of the mind. Relax, open the mind, trust the universe, and just allow the energy to flow. Take the mind and ego out of the process. However, I have personally found that directed thought and intention with a clear image of wellness accompanied with a peaceful mind, gratitude, love or joy, has had powerful results with my clients.

Further Misconceptions around Mikao Usui and Reiki

  • Usui was not a Christian, but rather a Buddhist of a Shinto related sect
  • He held a variety of jobs, but he was not a professor of a university in Kyoto, Dean, President or Doctor, or graduate from any university. Therefore, Takata’s story that he was a principal of a Christian school and challenged by a student as to why Christians were not pursuing the example of Jesus to heal, is false. However, the story that he tripped coming down Mt. Kurama after meditating and found that he had healing ability in his hands following his peak experience there, is true.
  • Usui had about 2000 students, and 16 masters. Hayashi and Takata were great grand masters of Reiki, but Hayashi was not his appointed successor, nor the president of the Gakkai, and neither was Takata. This chart comes from Gamble’s article, and page 183 of Doi’s book. 
  •  Reiki Fire by Frank Arjava Peter.
  •  The True Origins Of Reiki taken from Part 7 of Shopping for Spirit.
  •  Hiroshi Doi: Iyashino Gendai Reiki-ho, A Modern Reiki Method of Healing. Fraser Journal Publishing, Canada, Copyright 2000.

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to and  are included with the content.

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