The following article was published on and was written as a promo for an online workshop that I ran on the now defunct Healing Garden website in May 2007
Reiki. Considered by some to be a hands-on healing therapy and by others as a profound practice of spiritual development with the potential to lead the adherent or practitioner to the realization of enlightenment. Reiki is in fact, both of these things.
The system as we know it today was first developed in Japan in the early part of the 20th Century by a lay practitioner of Tendai Buddhism; Mikao Usui. Usui’s focus in developing his system was to create a set of tools for practitioners to engage in the process of self-healing and thus to ultimately achieve enlightenment. Usui’s original system was very much embedded within the discipline of meditation. The word Reiki is made up of two Japanese kanji ‘Rei’ and ‘Ki’ which when combined roughly translates as ‘spiritually guided life force energy’.
In developing his system, Usui incorporated profound metaphysical symbols that he personally utilized in a meditation on the holy mountain of Kurama, not far from his hometown of Kyoto. This widely reported 21-day meditation retreat in which Usui utilized an ancient meditation practice called ‘Buddho’ (first passed on from the historical Buddha to his student Avalokiteshvara – the Bodhisattva of Compassion) lead to him achieving the state of ‘satori’ in which he gained a glimpse of enlightenment.
It was one of Usui’s last students, the naval captain Chujiro Hayashi that took Usui’s system of spiritual development and stripped it down and transformed it into the popular and hugely successful hands-on healing therapy that we know today.
As a healing therapy, Reiki involves the transfer of energy from the Universal Energy Field, channeled via the practitioner, to the recipient. In this way, the energy enhances and boosts the natural healing capacity of the recipient and brings their being on all levels (mind, body, spirit) to a much more healthy state of balance. Reiki will help to remove blockages that are inhibiting the state of health. Reiki is wisdom and compassion and knows exactly what is needed on a healing level at all times. The practitioner acts merely as a channel for this healing energy but in the process of giving a treatment, also receives a treatment themselves.
On a more profound level, the system of Reiki can be used as a guiding set of tools and techniques for the practitioner to engage with on their own personal journey of self-discovery. Within one tradition of Reiki, that of Reiki Jin Kei Do, there is a philosophic orientation towards the development of compassion and wisdom with Reiki so that in developing oneself spiritually, the practitioner has so much more to give in a healing context. If one wants to heal the world, then it is important to heal oneself first. This approach to Reiki involves a great deal of meditation including an engagement with Usui’s own practice of the Buddho at higher levels within the system.
Whatever way one approaches the system it is true to say that Reiki is making a profound impact not only on the metaphysical community but on the world at large. It is the fastest growing therapeutic system in the world today and shows no signs of slowing up. Reiki works well with all other forms of therapeutic intervention, whether that is alternative/complementary or traditional Western medical approaches. It will help to shorten the time it takes to heal and boosts the recipient’s immune system.
Reiki is a discreet practice that has no connection to other New Age and metaphysical systems. Although it has been modified in recent times by many practitioners and teachers in the West, in its pure form it does not contain any elements of other healing systems or involve itself with connecting to or invoking angels, spirit guides or other higher beings. Reiki is a very simple method that has never needed any of this extraneous input but does work well regardless of the additions made to it by its many adherents.