The following article appeared in the now defunct Reiki Magazine International February 2007
However hard we try as a species, however, many teachers come along and point us in the right direction; it seems that we find it really difficult to evolve beyond our primitive tribalism. We might have made fantastic technological and intellectual strides forward over the millennia, but emotionally we still act like little children a lot of the time. Just like kids in the playground, as nations, we fight over territory. We argue over whose game it is; whose ball it is and who is on whose side. The trouble is that, unlike children we end up killing each other and destroying the lives of generations in our assertions of power and authority over others. Or in our less aggressive moments, we fall out with each other and then stop talking to each other, sometimes for decades, until commonality of purpose brings us back together.
The great sadness in this, of course, is that fundamentally the desire to make the world a good place for everyone undermines much of human activity but we just keep getting it wrong. We seem to think that aggression and bullying tactics can win the day. We think that if we force our views hard enough on those that disagree, they will realise the error of their ways and come around to seeing the sense of our way of things.
Even within the world’s great spiritual and religious traditions that have held up a beacon of hope for the suffering of humanity, there have been many failures. Wars have been fought between one religion and another. Individuals condemn one another and express hatred towards people of other faiths simply on the basis that the other faith is not the same as their own.
What has all of this to do with Reiki? A lot actually. What is truly amazing about this very special system of spirituality and healing is that it recognises no national borders, no religious divisions, no political allegiances and no cultural or social hierarchies. What Mikao Usui created around 100 years ago is one of the great hopes for the liberation of humanity if only we can make sure that as a practice it too does not descend into factionalism and dysfunctional protectionism. There have been moments over the years when this seemed likely, but as a global practice, Reiki is growing up with astonishing speed.
An indication of the maturing spirit of global Reiki was reported on in the last issue of Reiki Magazine International. It was truly heart-warming to see Rob Roelants article on the coming together in Australia of two of the Reiki communities most important figures; Phyllis Furumoto, the lineage bearer of Usui Shiki Ryoho and Ranga Premaratna, the lineage head of Reiki Jin Kei Do.
There are of course differences in approach, philosophy and the fundamental orientation to the practice of Reiki between Usui Shiki Ryoho and Reiki Jin Kei Do. Some would say that these differences do not matter of course and that there needs to be a focus on and celebration of that which binds such disparate groups together – their shared early historical roots for instance. It is a sentiment that I would only partly agree with. Of course, there is a strong need to celebrate commonality of purpose in helping to heal the world and all the suffering beings within it. There is also a need perhaps to reflect on the personalities that have helped to shape and direct both traditions and what they as individuals have contributed to our inherited Reiki method, but we also need to have awareness and a respectful acknowledgement of the differences too.
Sweeping differences under the carpet and pretending that they are not there is I think a mistake. I think that the lesson of the Australian National Reiki Conference is that we can put those differences on public display and each tradition can celebrate the other’s commitment to their own agenda within this practice of Reiki.
In this, we are simply being mindful of the existence of these differences and appreciating that these differences actually have meaning and value for the other. We are not focusing on them to bring them under scrutiny or to argue over them, we are just acknowledging that they are in part what gives that other tradition value to its many adherents. When we can love another, when we can appreciate another tradition or person or group or tribe for precisely those things that make them different, then we are making evolutionary progress of a spiritual kind. This is now it seems to me starting to happen more and more in some sectors of the global Reiki community.
My Reiki Master, Gordon Bell has often used the analogy of Reiki being like a glass of clear liquid to which each group or individual can add their own flavouring or colour. It is an analogy which holds a great deal of truth I feel. This is really where the true heart of Reiki is. This flexibility within the system is testament to the profound wisdom of Mikao Usui in developing this incredible method that we have come to know and love as a part of our individual journeys back to wholeness. What we have in the Australian Conference is a celebration of that essential shared clarity at the heart of both practices. Each of course, does have a very different flavour. Each has a very different colour, but each in standing shoulder to shoulder on the platform is acknowledging the great work that the other is doing in bringing healing to the world.
As Faye Wenke; one of the Conference attendees and Reiki Master within the tradition of Reiki Jin Kei Do noted “…it was a privilege to experience the feeling of diversity and yet acceptance of the lineages of Reiki present. Hearing Phyllis and Ranga share touched me deeply, opening my heart to more understanding.”
Faye’s appreciation of both traditions and the warmth that flowed between them was not uncommon. Reiki Master Jim Frew, another attendee and sometime contributor to this magazine commented to me that he considered the conference to have been an outstanding event on many levels. Not only was it the very first time that two lineage bearers presented lectures one after the other at such an event, but also a great variety of speakers were in attendance discussing and presenting on a range of subjects that had relevance to Reiki practice in both traditions.
Both Phyllis’s and Ranga’s addresses covered their own personal journey’s with Reiki and touched on their earliest childhood influences that ultimately brought them to this profound spiritual and healing practice. As Ranga has not often spoken in public on his approach to and journey with Reiki, his contribution drew quite a lot of attention from the assembled attendees. For many the Reiki Jin Kei Do approach to Reiki is not something they would have previously been particularly familiar with. Phyllis, as an experienced speaker on the subject of Reiki always draws a great deal of interest at such events and this is testament to the love that is felt for her in her role as head of the lineage of Usui Shiki Ryoho.
As Jim Frew noted, it was perhaps unfortunate that Hiroshi Doi could not also be persuaded to have attended. Hiroshi Doi is the lineage bearer of Gendai Reiki Ho (a blend of Japanese and Western Reiki) and the only visible and vocal manifestation of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai in the world. The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai was the organisation set up by some of Usui’s students soon after his death to carry on his work. I would add that it was also possibly unfortunate that Tadao Yamaguchi could not have attended as the lineage bearer of Jikiden Reiki – another branch of the Hayashi tradition. What an event that would have been! Perhaps this will happen sometime in the future.
What we have now though is a giant leap forward for the practice of Reiki around the world. Reiki Australia needs to be commended for their foresight and courage in running such an event and actually taking the lead in moving the practice of Reiki forward in this manner. Although the Conference must have major implications for the practice of Reiki in Australia it is also significant for the rest of the world in helping to dismantle the walls that primitive human tribalism is so ready to construct as a barrier between us all.
In moving closer together and sharing a purpose, Ranga and Phyllis have also demonstrated with great clarity the strength that there is in unity and in coming together and the pointlessness of not proffering the hand of common cause. Reiki is a great equalizer.
Even as individuals, we can find that there really is no distinction on the level of energy. When we get together with other practitioners and experience the energy for ourselves, we don’t find ourselves commenting ‘Oh that felt like Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki’ or ‘that treatment felt SO Jin Kei Do’ or any other variant of discriminatory judgementalism. Reiki is simply Reiki and Reiki practice is simply Reiki practice. It is people that have problems in relating to oneness – oneness never has a problem in relating to our illusory separateness.
Rolf Holm commented beautifully and succinctly on this very point in his column in the last issue of Reiki Magazine International and I think that this bears repeating here:
“After the initiations, you find each other in the practice of Reiki. There, all the differences that seem so clear and important in society fall away. Once detached from social rank and distinctions, people appear to be equals in the Reiki practice, in the energy. Their hearts open up, love flows…”
So it is that where-ever you look in the wider world of Reiki, traditions are recognising each other’s right to assert their existence and determine their own course. More and more, love and respect are replacing factionalism and ego-driven protectionism. Of course, the journey to a totally harmonious Reiki community is not yet complete. There are those who, for whatever reason are determined to stamp their own brand name on Reiki regardless of the wishes and concerns of others. There are those who are more concerned with dissension and forcing others to a particular view of the way things should be than they are with harmony, co-operation and promoting healing. But things change. Swing a pendulum hard enough one way, and it will inevitably swing back the other way and then settle in the middle – it is simply the way of things – the universe asserting its right to bring order and balance to all things.
Reiki has come to be a dominant force in the lives of many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people’s lives. It is not a minority practice anymore. It is a powerful spiritual force in almost every country on the planet. If we celebrate our commonality and if we can celebrate our differences at the same time, Reiki really can change the world. Indeed, it already has in so many ways. As religions continue to fight each other, as political groupings still scheme and plot and overthrow each other as one ethnic group asserts its power over another with the sword, Reiki is bringing people together. People that the media would have us believe are our enemies because it is politically expedient to see them this way; through Reiki, we are finding out that they are in fact our dearest friends.
My only wish for the future of Reiki is that it not be allowed to be ambushed by minority interests and by protectionist agendas. Let us continue to come together in a spirit of universal love and compassion. Let us continue to learn from each other. Only then can Reiki truly realise its full potential as the greatest gift of an extraordinary human being, the like of which the world so rarely sees. We are all the spiritual descendants of Mikao Usui and it is up to all of us to cherish the priceless jewel that he has left to us for the sake of our children and all future generations.
Many blessings and namaste.