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The History of Usui Reiki and the Reiki Principles

Mikao Usui was born on 15th August 1865 in Japan in the village of Taniai, Miyama- Cho district of the Gifu province, near the present-day Nagoya. Little is known about Mikaoʼs mother Sadako Usui. His father Uzaemon Usui owned a retail business sell- ing rice, grains, miso, salt, timber and charcoal and was one of the wealthiest people in Taniai. His grandfather had owned a sake brewery. Mikao had one older sister and two younger brothers.

Use Sensei, Founder of Usui Reiki

Mikao Usui (1865-1926)

Usuiʼs ancestors appear to have descended from the samurai clan of Tsunetane Chiba. His family were Jodo Shu (“Pure Land”) and Tendai (“Lotus School”) Buddhists. Mikaoʼs education began in Taniaiʼs temple school at the Jodo Shu Buddhist Zendo-Ji temple.
As a young man, Mikao moved to Tokyo. His spiritual training included a Japanese form of energy work called Kiko which involved meditation, breathing and moving exercises similar to the practises of Tai Chi and Chi Kung, as well as techniques for healing through the laying on of hands. Further training included Shugendo (a blend of shamanism, Daoism, Buddhism and Shinto), Zen and Tendai Buddhism. Important spiritual groups and movements that are likely to have had an influence on Usui were the Omoto Kyo, the Kurozumi Kyo and the Konkokyo.

His career path included working as a journalist, in prison ministry, as a social worker, as a missionary for a Shinto group and as the private secretary to the states- man Baron Shimpei Goto (1857 – 1929). In this position, Usui travelled abroad extensively and met many influential people. These contacts helped him set up his own business. He married Sadako Suzuki and in 1908 their son Fuji (†1946) and in 1913 their daughter Toshiko (†1935) were born. After modest success, his business started to decline around 1914 and finances became tight. The resulting crisis inspired Usui to reconnect more deeply with his spiritual aspirations.

Around 1919, Usui started a meditation retreat in a Zen temple in Kyoto that lasted three years. In March 1922, he decided to climb Mount Kurama, a sacred mountain near Kyoto and spend 21 days fasting and meditating to accelerate his spiritual opening. Towards the end of this retreat, Usui had a profoundly transforming spiritu- al experience. He described it as a great light entering through the top of his head, filling his entire being with light and attuning him to an energy that he decided to call Reiki.
As Usui descended from Mount Kurama, the legendary “four miracles” are said to have occurred: he stubbed his toe and it healed instantly as he placed his hand on it; he ate with comfort a full meal after a long fast; he healed a womanʼs toothache and he freed the Abbot of a Zen monastery from arthritis. From that time on, he found his healing abilities to be greatly enhanced without depleting his own energy when treating others. He was filled with joy and gratitude for his new gift and soon went on to initiate others into Reiki and to teaching the healing techniques he developed.

A month later, in April 1922, Usui moved to Tokyo and founded his Usui Reiki Healing Method Society (Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai). On 1st September 1923, a devastating earthquake hit the Kanto area and destroyed several cities including Tokio. Usui and his students offered all the help they could and soon the word spread and Reiki came to the attention of many. It is said that due to the vast amount of people suffering, Usui treated at least five people simultaneously at any time. The desperate need for more practitioners and teachers prompted Usui to initiate as many into Reiki as he could.

Chujiro Hayashi, Reiki Master

Chujiro Hayashi (1880-1940)

Before his death on 9th March 1926, Mikao Usui had taught Reiki to over two thousand students and had trained twenty Reiki teachers (Jap. Shihan). Usuiʼs death in Fukuyama, Hiroshima prefecture, was caused by a stroke whilst travelling. In the year 1925, Usui initiated Chujiro Hayashi (*15 Sept. 1880, † 11 May 1940), a medical doctor in the Navy, as a Reiki teacher. Not long thereafter, Hayashi opened his own Reiki school and clinic (the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai) in Tokyo.

In 1935, Hawayo Takata (born on 24 Dec. 1900), a Japanese woman who lived and worked in Hawaii, came to Tokio for surgery. She heard of Hayashiʼs Reiki clinic and chose to have treatment there instead of undergoing the surgery. Following her full recovery, Takata decided to study Reiki with Hayashi. She returned to Hawaii in 1937. In 1938, Hayashi visited Takata in Hawaii to help her complete her Reiki Master & Teacher training, to give talks and to help establish Reiki there. On 11th May 1940, Hayashi committed suicide in his villa in Atami. Several speculations have been made as to why, but we do not really know why Hayashi chose to end his life.

Hawayo Takata, Reiki Master

Hawayo Takata (1900-1980)

During World War Two, the Japanese government associated all spiritual and humanitarian groups, including those practising Reiki, with the peace movement and forced them to work underground. After the war, the American occupying power made all alternative healing methods illegal in Japan for the benefit of modern Western medicine. These were the darkest times for Reiki. At the same time, in the years following World War Two, Takata took Reiki to the USA mainland and Canada whilst keeping Honolulu as her base. At the same time as Reiki almost disappeared in Japan, it began to flourish in the USA.

By the time of her death on 11th December 1980, Takata had initiated 22 Reiki Masters. It wasnʼt before the early 1990ʼs that Western and Japanese Reiki practi- tioners began to communicate and share their developments since Usuiʼs and Hayashiʼs deaths.

The Five Reiki Principles for Happiness and Spiritual Healing

Kyo dake wa – Just for today
Ikaru na – Do not be angry
Shin pai suna – Do not worry
Kan sha shi te – Be grateful
Gyo-o hage me – Take responsibility and fully do what you’re here to do
Hito ni shin setsu ni – Be kind to others

Below is the most popular version of the Reiki Principles used in the West

Just for today I will let go of anger.
Just for today I will let go of worry.
Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.
Just for today I will do my work honestly.
Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing.

Reiki is more than just another healing technique, much more. The practice of Reiki can unfold into a spiritual path of great depth and beauty. Being a channel for the energy essence of Divine Love is not a state that one would enter for the length of a treatment and then go back to “normal”. Being a channel for Reiki affects every moment of our lives, every perception, every choice and every action. As the practice of Reiki unfolds into a spiritual path, we flow Reiki not just from our hands but also from our hearts, our actions, thoughts and feelings.

The Reiki Principles (Jap.”Gokai”) provide a valuable guidance for attuning everyday life to the Universal Life Force Energy.

Just for today I will let go of anger.

Anger is often a response to a feeling of powerlessness or of being out of sync with our environment, our life purpose, our Spirit. Letting go of anger is not suppressing it. Feel the feeling and as soon as possible, get the message, take action and let the emotion go. Unreleased anger drains people’s energy badly and makes it less easy for their bodies to maintain good health.
In adults, anger is also fuelled by the illusion that we wouldn’t create what we experience in life. The causes for the experience are projected onto the outside and thereby one gives one’s power away to mere triggers and mirrors. Letting go of anger begins with welcoming it as a reminder to reclaim one’s power and take responsibility for one’s experiences.

Just for today I will let go of worry.

To worry is to invest some of one’s mental-emotional energy into possible results that one does not want. Worrying about your past is futile since the past is gone. Worrying about your future is unhelpful because it channels one’s energy into the creation of unwanted results. Letting go of worry begins with remembering that there is a divine or universal purpose in everything. Accept the choices you have made in the past and preserve the learnings. Reclaim your energy by releasing the feeling that things could have or should have been otherwise. When thinking about your future, invest your power of expectation into thinking of possible positive results.

Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.

The attitude of gratitude and the focus on the positive in our lives are the keys to experiencing abundance. Abundance is much more than just the availability of lots of things and money. It is a natural state of trust and joy. It is the realisation that all is being provided for since all is an expression of Divine Love.
When we feel thankful for what we are, have and do, we will magnetically attract abundance of every kind into our lives (karma and other factors permitting).

Just for today I will do my work honestly.

“Work” in this context means more than just work. It refers to what we practise and cultivate,our path, including our thinking and feeling. The meaning of “doing my work honestly” expands to being honest with myself and everyone else in my life. It means that I “walk my talk” and that I’m willing to learn what I need to learn.
True harmony can unfold only in a climate of honesty. Denial and lies create conflicts which consume tremendous amounts of peoples’ life energy. Honesty with oneself means to listen to one’s Spirit and to be true to it even when it tells us things we don’t want to hear because we imagine unpleasant consequences.
Honesty is the basis for any mastery. Two contemporary masters describe spiritual mastery as “a level of consciousness that knows no conflict with the Divine” (Sogyal Rinpoche), “but is aligned with the Divine so that one’s own choices are Divine choices.” (Caroline Myss). Honesty is necessary for consciousness to be able to evolve. Imagine that every thought of yours was a suggestion to your unconscious mind and a prayer to Spirit – what would you be thinking?

Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing.

This Reiki Principle can be understood as a variation of the Sacred Truth that “all is one”. The interconnectedness of all that exists (and even all that doesn’t exist) is a scientific fact today. All of our thoughts, feelings and actions affect everything else. When we show love and respect for the world around us then we create a world of love and respect that much more.

Just for today…

Each Reiki Principle begins with these three words. “For the rest of my life I will…” could be an overwhelming commitment. “Just for today…” reminds us that all commitments are to be renewed daily, that every new day, in fact every new moment presents us with choice. The idea is not to wake up to a “higher reality” only to fall asleep again in “higher habits”.
“Just for today…” is a call to live in the present and that means to make one’s choices in the present.

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