Saved message From: (Anjana Khilnani) Date: Thu, Mar 16, 2000, 8:20am (EST+10:30) To: (Tracy) Subject: History of Reiki.
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Let me narrate the story of Reiki as told by Mrs. Takata who brought Reiki to the West. The story is only based on Takata's account and should be assimilated as only that. In reality, Reiki is more than 2500 years old, and may have been re-discovered by Usui Mikao who named this healing energy as Reiki. But the story by Takata makes an interesting reading : -  

History of Reiki , or Usui Shiki Ryoho: The Usui System of Natural Healing.

Reiki is a generic word in Japan, and is used to describe many types of healing and spiritual work. It is not exclusive to the system of healing based on Dr. Usui's method. The system of healing that evolved from Dr.Usui's method is called the Usui System of Natural Healing or Usui ShikiRyoho. Since no written Reiki information from Dr. Usui or Dr. Hayashi has been found, the only source of information on the Usui System of Reiki comes from the verbal instruction Mrs. Takata passed on to her students.The Usui System of Natural Healing has evolved over time. In its current state, it is much more organized and structured than the simple, flexible, intuitive method practiced by Dr. Usui.

The following is a description of the evolution of the Usui System of Reiki.During his mystical experience on Mt. Kori-yama, Dr. Usui received the ability to do Reiki treatments, the Reiki symbols and the ability to pass Reiki on to others. Later he added the Reiki Ideals and the idea that one needs to receive compensation for a treatment. Dr. Hayashiadded the standard hand positions, the three degrees and their attunement processes. Mrs. Takata added the fee structure previously mentioned. The required waiting periods between classes were added by several of Mrs. Takata's Masters after she passed on. After Mrs. Takata's transition, a few teachers began making changes in the way they taught Reiki. Most of the changes were beneficial, and included the addition of knowledge and healing skills the teachers hadlearned from other systems or had acquired from inner guidance. However, some changes were restrictive, making it more difficult for students to progress. Some introduced their own symbols and calling it a new version of Reiki and charging additional money. Often, the fact that they hadmodified the Usui system was not mentioned and when their students became teachers, they began teaching what they thought was pure Usui  Reiki when in fact it was not. In this way, many varieties of Reiki have developed with some thinking they have the only authentic version ofReiki when actually what they are teaching is a modified form.  

Ancient Origins:

As mentioned above, all current information about the history of Reiki and its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui, originate from the story Mrs. Takata passed on orally to her students. According to this story, Reiki was something Dr. Usui had rediscovered and therefore, it must have existed before. No written records are known to exist about Dr. Usui's experience.  
Speculation based on knowledge of other ancient healing systems has led to a plausible hypothesis that may shed some light on the pre-Usui origins of Reiki. There is a Tibetan Buddhist healing technique called the Medicine Buddha. It involves the laying-on of hands similar to Reiki. The ability to do Medicine Buddha healing is transmitted to the student through an empowerment given by the teacher similar to a Reiki attunement. There are other spiritual lineages in Tibetan Buddhism involving the transmission of ability or value through empowerments.
Since Tibetan Buddhism is the only form of Buddhism that uses empowerments, it is likely that the Reiki Dr. Usui rediscovered was formerly a Tibetan technique that had been lost. It is known that a spiritual lineage of this type may stop due to the failure of the teacher to pass it on. The lineage may then resume hundreds or thousands of years later when a monk or spiritual seeker receives instruction and empowerment during a mystical experience. Perhaps this is what happened to Dr. Usui. Perhaps he had been a Reiki Master in a past life and this gave him the determination to seek the healing power again. Perhaps the lineage had come to an end only to be started again when Dr. Usui's Reiki was reactivated during his mystical experience.  

The Development of Usui Reiki  

The following three passages trace the story of Reiki through biographies of its founding teachers as told by Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to the West.  

Dr. Mikao Usui

Dr. Mikao Usui was born in Japan in the mid-nineteenth century. As he was growing up, he heard stories about the Buddha. He was impressed with the Buddha's quest for enlightenment, even though the Buddha, having been born into extreme wealth, did not lack any material need or pleasure. Dr. Usui was fascinated by both the Buddha's desire to help others and the unusual metaphysical abilities he received after achieving enlightenment. He also noted that the Buddha was said to be able to heal physical illness and that many of the Buddha's disciples acquired healing abilities by following his teachings. Dr. Usui looked at the people around him and saw that there were many who were unable to lead happy productive lives because they were sick so often or had physical disabilities. Feeling compassion for them, he wondered if it would be possible to acquire the ability to heal physical illness in the same way the Buddha had done. After pondering this question for some time, he came to the conclusion that if this kind of healing was possible in the past, then it must still be possible. If only one could learn how. With this thought in mind, he set out on a quest, determined to learn the secret of healing so that he might help others.
He began talking to Buddhist teachers and priests, asking if they knew how to heal the sick. Apparently, the ability to heal the body was either held as a secret Buddhist technique by a few spiritual groups or had been lost through disuse. Consequently Dr. Usui was unable to find anyone that could heal the sick. Dr. Usui traveled throughout Japan, studying at Buddhist temples and asking questions about healing. The priests and head monks he talked to always had the same answer. They stated that they used to know how to heal the body, but this information was lost long ago when they began focusing on healing only the spirit. They stated that the spiritual side was more important and that was why they focused only on this part. Thus, they had lost the ability to heal the physical. He was allowed to study the sacred writings at each temple and occasionally he would find something about healing and would copy the information into his notebook. During his travels, he became friends with the abbot of a Zen monastery and was invited to stay and study. The abbot also had an interest in physical healing and encouraged Usui in his quest. Wanting to read the sacred books in their original language, Dr. Usui learned Chinese and eventually Sanskrit. It was in the Indian sutras, that he discovered a formula for contacting a higher power that could bestow healing. Dr. Usui had now found the information he had been looking for, yet it was only a formula; simply knowing the formula did not give him the ability or understanding to heal. He talked to the abbot about this. It was decided that all he could do now was to follow the practices in the formula. So he traveled to the holy mountain of Kori-yama where he fasted, meditated, and followed the directions in the formula for twenty-one days.
On the mountain, he set out twenty-one stones in front of him and each day he threw away a stone. On the twenty first day, after tossing away the last stone and still not having received the healing power, he stood up. It was night, the darkest part of the night, just before dawn. As he looked out toward the horizon wondering what to do next, he saw a point of light coming toward him. As he looked at the light, he realized that the light had consciousness and that it was communicating with him. He realized the light had the healing power he was looking for and if he was to receive what the light had to offer, he must allow the light to strike him. However, he was told that the light was so powerful that if it did strike him, it might kill him. He was given the opportunity to decide. Would he risk death to obtain the healing ability for which he had searched so long? He decided the ability to heal the sick would be of such great value that it would be worth risking death to receive it. The beam struck him in the forehead, knocking him unconscious. Rising out of his physical body, he was shown beautiful bubbles of light filled with colors. In the bubbles were symbols. As he contemplated each symbol, he received an attunement for that symbol and knowledge on its use. In this way, he was initiated into the use of the Reiki healing power.
Dr. Usui practiced and taught Reiki throughout Japan for the remainder of his life. Before his transition around 1930, he gave the Master attunement to sixteen teachers one of whom was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi.  

Dr. Chujiro Hayashi  

Dr. Hayashi was a retired naval officer. He received the Reiki Master initiation from Dr. Usui about 1925 at the age of 47. Before Dr. Usui died, he asked Dr. Hayashi to accept the responsibility of preserving Reiki so that it would not be lost as it had been in the past. Dr. Hayashi accepted this responsibility. Up to this point, the Usui system of healing consisted of the energy itself, the symbols, the attunement process and the Reiki ideals. This was what Dr. Usui had received during his mystical experience on Mt. Kori-yama. Dr. Hayashi went on to develop the Usui system of healing. He opened a Reiki clinic in Tokyo and kept detailed records of the treatments given. He used this information to create the standard hand positions, the system of three degrees and their initiation procedures. Dr. Hayashi sensed a great war coming, and knew that most of the men would be called. In order to make sure Reiki would be preserved, he decided to pass the complete teachings on to two women: his wife and Hawayo Takata.  

Hawayo Takata  

Hawayo Takata was born at dawn on December 24th, 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Her parents were Japanese immigrants and her father worked in the sugar cane fields. She worked very hard as she was growing up. She eventually married the bookkeeper of the plantation where she was employed. His name was Saichi Takata and they had two daughters. In October of 1930, Saichi died at the age of thirty-four leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two children. In order to provide for her family, she had to work very hard with little rest. After five years she developed severe abdominal pain, a lung condition and had a nervous breakdown. Soon after this, one of her sisters died and it was the responsibility of Hawayo to travel to Japan where her parents had moved to deliver the news. She also felt she could receive help for her health in Japan. She took a steamship and was accompanied by her sister-in-law. After informing her parents of the death of her sister, she entered a hospital. It was found that she had a tumor, gallstones and appendicitis. After resting several weeks, she was ready for the needed operation. On the operating table, just before the surgery was to begin, Hawayo heard a voice. The voice said, "The operation is not necessary. The operation is not necessary." She had never heard a voice speak to her like this before. She wondered what it meant. The voice repeated the message a third time even louder. She knew she was wide awake and had not imagined the voice. It was so unusual, yet so compelling that she decided to ask the doctor. She got off the operating table, pulled out her I V's, wrapped a sheet around herself and asked to speak to the doctor. When the doctor finally came, she asked if he knew of any other way that her problems could be helped. The doctor knew of Dr. Hayashi's Reiki clinic and told Hawayo about it. This was something she wanted to try. At the Reiki clinic, she began receiving treatments. She had never heard of Reiki before and did not know what it was. Using their Reiki hands the practitioners could sense what was wrong with Mrs. Takata. Their diagnosis very closely matched the doctor's at the hospital. This impressed her and gave her confidence in what they were doing. Two Reiki practitioners would treat her each day. The heat from their hands was so strong that she thought they were using some kind of equipment. She looked around, but saw none. Seeing the large sleeves of the Japanese kimono one of the practitioners was wearing, she thought she had found the location of the equipment. She grabbed the sleeves, but found nothing. The startled practitioner wanted to know what she was doing and when she explained, he began to laugh. Then he told her about Reiki and how it worked. Mrs. Takata received daily treatments and got progressively better. In four months, she was completely healed. Impressed with the results, she wanted to learn Reiki. However, it was explained that Reiki was Japanese and that it was intended to stay in Japan. It could not be taught to an outsider.
Mrs. Takata talked to the surgeon at the hospital and convinced him to ask Dr. Hayashi to allow her to learn Reiki. Since Dr. Hayashi wanted to teach Reiki to another woman besides his wife, and since Mrs. Takata was so persistent, he decided that she should be the one. In the Spring of 1936, Mrs. Takata received First Degree Reiki. She worked with Dr. Hayashi for one year and then received Second Degree Reiki.
Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii in 1937. She was soon followed by Dr. Hayashi and his daughter who came to help establish Reiki in Hawaii. In the Winter of 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki Master. She was the thirteenth and last Reiki Master Dr. Hayashi initiated.
Between 1970 and her transition on December 11, 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters. Since Mrs. Takata experienced transition, Reiki has spread rapidly. It is now practiced throughout the world.