Exploring Mikao Usui Reiki Teachings Part I
“Everything in the Universe possesses Reiki without any exception.”
– – Note from a student of Usui-san *
Many people claim to be in the direct lineage of Usui-san and that they are teaching the “true” teachings of Mikao Usui. But is this possible? This is an interesting question since it is said that Mikao Usui taught different students different things depending on their spiritual progress.
Usui Sensei had no standard curriculum, and the length of time of the training depended on the spiritual progress of each student. It is said that he gave one-on-one lectures mainly on the right mental attitude needed for spiritual advancement based on his own experience.
– Hiroshi Doi
This means that different teachers are teaching different aspects of Usui-san’s teachings and these will relate to the teacher’s own personal understanding, as well as the particular teachings given by their Reiki teacher, their teacher’s teacher, and so on. For example, one teacher might focus on a clinical hands-on healing method, and another teacher may emphasize the spiritual aspects of Mikao Usui’s teachings. These different “ways” with Reiki indicate each teacher’s own personal interest. In addition, Reiki students will gravitate to the teacher who speaks to their own spiritual understanding and “way.” One is not better than the other, just a different way. In addition, each practitioner’s unique contemplation, practice and experience of the tools they are given is much deeper than lineage and teacher, as it consists of a simple and direct experience of Mikao Usui’s teachings, which is for me, his real heritage.
Despite these differences related to each Reiki teacher and practitioner’s uniqueness, it is also interesting to think about what Usui-san, himself, had in mind.
… although the style may still exist, it is difficult to know in many cases what the founder’s original intentions were, how he expressed himself to his students, or if the style has indeed changed over the centuries. What prompts or handbooks still exist may mean very little to the uninitiated and sometimes even to the current teacher himself.
– William Scott Wilson
In this article I’d like to take a look at the tools Usui-san left behind and see what clues about his teachings we can find hidden within these tools.
To understand better Usui-san’s tools I’d like to attempt to see them from a late 1800s to early 1900s perspective, rather than a modern Japanese outlook. Taking a historical perspective is an important way we can try to see things with his eyes so we can more deeply investigate the clues he left behind.
Usui Reiki Ryoho
The common name used for Mikao Usui’s teachings is “Usui Reiki Ryoho.” Reiki = True Self
Ryo = to cure or heal
Ho = method or dharma or teachings
“Usui Reiki Ryoho” can be read as: Usui’s teachings (dharma) to cure and heal one’s True Self. The name describes a healing system to rediscover your True Self and doesn’t say anything about hands-on healing. The name itself provides the clue that it is only through discovering our True Self that we can start to do hands-on healing on others at a much deeper level.
Mrs. Takata also pointed out that Reiki starts with rediscovering the “energy” of the True Self. Mrs. Takata’s diary, dated Dec 10th 1935 says, the “meaning of ‘Reiki’ Energy within oneself, when concentrated and applied to patient, will cure all ailments – it is nature’s greatest cure, which requires no drugs. It helps in all respects, human and animal life. In order to concentrate, one must purify one’s thoughts in words and to meditate to let the true “energy” come out from within. It lies in the bottom of the stomach about 2 inches below the navel. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, concentrate on your thoughts and relax.”
Here she is saying that Reiki is the energy within oneself, she even calls it the True Energy, which lies at the bottom of the stomach. She is emphasizing that we need to concentrate and meditate to let the energy come from within.
By looking at these clues we can see the importance of Reiki as a method of rediscovering our True Self before we even could think of helping others. The Gakkai in Japan also concurs:
“First we have to heal our spirit. Secondly we have to keep our body healthy. If our spirit is healthy and conformed to the truth, the body will get healthy naturally.”
– Reiki Ryoho Hikkei, a manual handed out by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai
“If you can’t heal yourself how can you heal others?”
– Reiki Ryoho Hikkei
From these clues we can see that we must start with the self in order to rediscover the True Self, and this is the ultimate healing journey.
The Precepts and the Meaning of Healing
Reiki is a system of healing, but what is “healing?” To “heal” doesn’t mean only to physically heal yourself but most importantly to heal your heart/mind. Fortunately, Usui-san left us the precepts, central to the system of Reiki; they show us the real meaning of healing. The following version of the precepts is from the Usui memorial stone, a translation found in Hiroshi Doi’s manuals.
Just for today:
Do not be angry.
Do not worry.
Do what you are meant to do.
Be kind to others.
It makes sense that Usui-san may have given different students slightly different versions of the precepts to support their spiritual progress and understanding. For example it is said that Usui-san also taught this precept: “Do not bear anger for anger is an illusion.” Of course, for someone who didn’t have a deep spiritual understanding of what the word illusion was all about, Usui-san would have adjusted the precept to that person’s understanding, making it simpler and more accessible.
Within the precepts, whatever version we may be contemplating, Usui-san is pointing to the heart/mind element. He is not saying anything about a physical issue, and helping others is the last precept. First he states that we need to heal ourselves of our anger and worry, because these are obstacles that prevent us from helping others. And what does helping others mean? Healing them on a physical level? If that were the case Usui-san would have pointed this out in the precepts as well. No, he is pointing towards helping others to get rid of their anger and worry, and to find their True Self.
In other words the precepts are pointing out Anshin Ritsumei – spiritual peace, or enlightenment. Anshin means “peace in your heart/mind”, and if we have found peace in our heart/mind then we can start to help others find this peace in their heart/mind. This is the ultimate kindness. This is the ultimate healing. This is our True Self. In the below quote, Hiroshi Doi offers us some insight into how the concept of Anshin Ritsumei fits into Usui’s teachings:
Usui Sensei personally selected, from among qualified Okuden Koki level students those who possessed a high level of spirituality, and offered them further instructions at Shinpiden level. Shinpiden students were selected to receive Usui Sensei’s direct private teachings and learn how to aim for Anshin Ritsumei.
There are many different translations of the precepts; again one is not better than the other, just a different way of looking at it. Ultimately, the precepts are there to help point out the way to ultimate healing: the path to our True Self.
Importance of Dedicated Meditation Practice
In order to be the best Reiki practitioner/teacher we can be, we must dedicate ourselves to a daily practice. What might this practice be? According to Hiroshi Doi, the meditations of Joshin Kokyu Ho and Hatsurei Ho are some of the most important elements within Usui-san’s teachings.
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.
– Quote from a student of Usui-san *
This quote helps to explain why Usui-san put meditations like Joshin Kokyu Ho and Hatsurei Ho within the system of Reiki. The more we practice them, the stronger our Reiki will become. In fact, Hatsurei Ho literally means, “generating a greater amount of spiritual energy.” Therefore we can see Usui-san was pointing out that regular practice of this meditation would generate a greater amount of spiritual energy. In turn we can use this energy for helping ourselves and others to rediscover the True Self.
By simply trying these meditations once we do not get anywhere; we need to practice these meditations on a daily basis. Through regular practice with these meditations, Usui-san was pointing us again back to the precepts. As a result of our dedicated meditation practice, we will begin to let go of our anger and worry and become more compassionate to ourselves and others.
I’d like to conclude with a quote from my most esteemed Japanese teacher:
The spiritual level of the practitioner directly reflects the effect of Reiki. In a sense, the more you are enlightened, the more the effectiveness of Reiki enhances.
The more you practice Reiki for saving others, the brighter your innate light shines to drive away clouds covering your mind. I think this is the quintessence of Reiki.
– Takeda Ajari
by Frans Stiene
About the Author: Frans Stiene is founder of The International House of Reiki and feels honoured to teach a traditional Japanese form of the system of Reiki in a down-to-earth manner while still encapsulating the deep spirituality of the system. He is also a Reiki researcher and author.
**This article appeared in The Reiki Times, the official magazine of the International Association of Reiki Professionals.