Reiki, and the Unseen Force of Life An Interview with Reiki Master Steve Gooch
Reiki, and the Unseen Force of Life
An Interview with Reiki Master Steve Gooch
VOWW’s Country representative in Egypt Marwa Adam
Steve Gooch is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and Reiki Master. He is also the founder of Reiki Jin Kei Do UK and the creator of the global video-arts project; ‘12seconds for Peace’. He is famous for his book ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom’
His career as an artist began with an honours degree in Fine Art from England’s prestigious Bath Academy of Art where he quickly became known for his skill as a printmaker. His passionate engagement with the practice of Reiki, lead him to be the first Reiki Master to bring Reiki to central England in the mid 90’s.
For our readers who are not familiar with Reiki, Reiki is a Japanese method of spiritual healing. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive.
Steve, it is a real pleasure to be interviewing you on the site of Voices of Women worldwide that aims at empowering the voiceless, and spreading peace; a message that coincides with that of the Reiki Method I believe. Let us sail smoothly in your world of Reiki, and spirituality.
Marwa Adam- Q 1: Steve, Buddhism and you; tell us how did the story begin?
Steve Gooch: That’s a long story really, but in a nutshell: I spent most of my life, from my early teens onwards, with a profound sense that there was something ‘bigger’ in the universe than the physical/visible world around me. I didn’t call it God. I didn’t really have a name for it or even a concrete concept of it. I was just aware that there was something…. some force out there, that was intelligent and gentle and loving and seemed to permeate everything. I was acutely aware of this force from a very young age. In my 20’s, I felt a need to find out what this force was. To discover if this was God and what the true nature of this Divine energy was. I read and studied so many different traditions: Kabbalah, Druidism, Wicca, Sufism, Shamanism, Hinduism, New Age Spirituality, Taoism. I was voracious in my study and practice. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t really get around too was Buddhism. I don’t know why…it just didn’t register with me over those years.
Then I got involved in Reiki and I learned during my first Reiki class that Reiki was deeply rooted in and owed its origins, in large part, to Buddhism. During the Reiki class as a consequence of the attunements that I received, I could feel this amazing heat and energy pouring from my hands. This was direct proof for me that Reiki worked, that it was real. That it had nothing to do with whether I believed in it or not. It was manifesting right there in my hands. I made the logical connection that if Reiki worked, and it surely did, and Reiki came out of Buddhist teachings, then there must be some truth in Buddhism. So I committed right there and then to find out more about this amazing philosophy and teaching from the Buddha.
During the lunch break in the class, I went out and found a New Age bookshop and I bought two books that interested me. One was a weighty tome on Druidism, which I was very much involved in at the time and the other was Sogyal Rinpoche’s ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’. All these years later, I have still not read that book on Druidism, but the ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ resonated with me so deeply and just made so much sense to me. It was at that point that I committed to Buddhism as my path.
Marwa Adam- Q 2: Reiki is commonly called ‘Palm Healing’ based on the idea of ‘unseen life force energy’ Can you explain more this concept entailed in Reiki Method?
Steve Gooch: I don’t really like this label ‘palm healing’. Reiki is much more than that. Reiki is a way of life, a spiritual method for healing on all levels, whether the palms are used or not. Reiki is a for me, like my best friend, it is there to comfort and console at all times. It is a divine, intelligent energy, the very stuff that the universe is made from and from which it emanates. It is loving and compassionate and eternal and omnipresent. Is this God? A manifestation of God? I like to think so, but who knows? To be honest the question doesn’t interest me anymore. What I know is that Reiki is the guiding force in all creation. It is imminent in everything. You could say that it is God’s unconditional love, manifesting in the world. And when you connect deeply with this energy, you start to see and feel that you are not separate from it but a manifestation of it, and all that exists in the physical world, is also a manifestation of it. That everything is not only interconnected but that they are one and the same. We see in Buddhist teachings and other teachings, and in the Abrahamic faiths, the idea that the universe/God created matter. Created physical reality. That the one then became two. And so on. Thus the idea of duality. But duality is an illusion. Duality exists because we feel disconnected from what and who we truly are. When we go beyond that notion of duality and connect with our true nature, we realise that we are simply expressions of the one Divine force. We are an expression of that Divine/God force. God is not only in us but we are in fact an expression of God. Part of God. God is not outside of us somewhere else. So Reiki is also an expression of God/the Divine energy. It is the very substance from which created matter is formed.
My Reiki teachers expressed it this way: imagine a bowl of water with ice crystals floating in it. Each chunk of ice has a sense that it is separate from all the other chunks of ice. Individual and disconnected but living in the same physical world of water. The reality is that each chunk of ice is no more than a condensed form of all that exists. And as it melts (goes on its spiritual journey) the realization emerges that it is, in fact, a part of all creation. That there is nothing separate from it. Finally, it merges with the rest of the water and realises that duality was an illusion and the state of Oneness is the only reality.
I have a sense that I have missed your question here so let me say this: The Reiki method is used for healing all over the world. It is used in a therapeutic context for many ailments and physical problems. Reiki is constantly attempting to bring the individual to a state of perfection – to true healing – taking them back to a realization of their Divine source. To be a perfect human being, it is necessary to get rid of all physical problems, mental problems, emotional problems. I am not saying that Reiki makes us perfect, but this is its goal and we can get so far along that path with Reiki. It rebalances us on all levels. It gives us a sense of deep relaxation, of love and protection as we start to heal on all levels as we head in the direction of the realization of our Divine source and connection to all that exists. So yes it is a healing method, but it is much more than simply a therapy for getting rid of some physical or emotional problem. This in a sense is the least of the method, but at the same time, it is its greatest expression.
Marwa Adam- Q 3: When was the starting point of your life journey with Reiki?
Steve Gooch: My life was heading down hill rapidly back in 1995. Everything was a mess on all levels and I didn’t know which way to turn. I was at rock bottom and without hope. Then one day, I read a one-page article on this thing called Reiki in a magazine in the UK called ‘Kindred Spirit’. This article really grabbed my interest as at the time I had a vague interest in alternative therapies and had toyed with the idea of getting into this field as a career direction. So I decided to go and do the first level of training. At the time I was unemployed and had very little money. The cost of the course was not great, but it took me three months to save the money for it. The class was also four hours’ drive away and I had nowhere to stay when I got there and could not afford a hotel. It all seemed pretty hopeless and I started to wonder if it was really worth it. The day before I was due to go to the class, I was walking in my home town and basically trying to talk myself out of going. I could do other things with that money – why waste it on a Reiki class which was probably a waste of time anyway. How was I going to get there? Where would I stay when I did get there? I was about to give up and cancel my place on the class when I looked up and in front of me was a huge billboard on the side of a building. And right across it in very big letters, it simply said: “The magic is closer than you think!”. And that was it. I knew right there and then that I had to go. I contacted my Reiki teachers and they agreed to let me use the flat that they had at the top of their house during my stay. I then borrowed my ex-wife’s car and drove the four hours to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the north of England for the class.
I was very nervous during the class. I remember right at the start, that we were invited into the living room at the home of my Reiki Master’s where they taught the classes, and asked to sit down. Well, there were eight of us in the class plus Gordon and Dorothy Bell – my Reiki teachers. There were not enough chairs for everyone so I sat on the floor next to Dorothy, feeling very alone and deeply disconnected from any sense of self-worth at that time. Dorothy then asked all of us to say why we had decided to attend a Reiki class. She went around the room, and everyone there gave an answer. There were some who practiced other forms of alternative healing such as NLP or reflexology or massage and they wanted to extend their range of therapeutic interventions. Everyone gave a really good answer and I was starting to panic. I was panicking because I didn’t have a good answer to give her when it got to my turn. I was impressed with what everyone else was saying, and I just couldn’t give a good answer like that. I was not even really sure why I was there myself anymore. Then it got to my turn and I just looked up at Dorothy from my position on the floor at her feet and said: “I’m just here for me.” Dorothy smiled and looked at me and said “Yes, that is the reason for learning Reiki. It is for you.” I felt so relieved!
Marwa Adam- Q 4: Steve, you have accomplished the amazing task of introducing the lineage of Reiki Jin Kei Do to Egypt, Sudan and the Baltic state of Lithuania. How could you do this especially in countries like Egypt, and Sudan where freedom of expression is still struggling against religious extremism?
Steve Gooch: You have to have a lot of faith and trust in Reiki. You have to deeply realise that Reiki is Divine and that it is an expression of God/the Divine force from which everything comes. When you have this trust, you realise that there is no fundamentalist anything anywhere in the world, no government powerful enough, to deny the spread of Divine energy. Reiki is intelligent. Reiki knows what is needed and where it is needed and how it is needed. It guides you. It brings to you those that you personally can help. It brings to you those that are ready for what it is you are teaching. It creates the circumstances for you to engage with Reiki meaningfully for others and for yourself. Nothing can stop this, certainly not religious extremism which is based on hate and anger and deep egocentric needs to control others. This is the antithesis of Reiki. The antithesis of God’s will. And as such, it is very weak and out of control and incapable of preventing the spread of something as powerful as Reiki, which after all, as the stuff from which all created matter manifests, is the most powerful energy there is. Nothing can stand in its way, least of all the hatred of fundamentalists and the dictates of governments. So I just go about my business delivering Reiki teachings to those who want them in the absolute certainty that there is nothing to fear. If I was ever in a position where my teachings would cause a problem for me or others, then the energy itself, would create the circumstances so that the teaching did not take place at that time. Reiki always protects.
I recently discovered that just as I have left Saudi Arabia to move to Egypt, that there is a big crack-down there by the government on what they erroneously refer to as ‘sorcery’, and that includes all the good work that is done through using this Divine energy for the betterment of others. Again, this energy has guided me away from that place and just at the right time. There are no coincidences. I simply was not meant to be in that place any longer.
Teaching Reiki in places like Egypt and Sudan is helping to bring this Divine energy into the lives of many. Sudan certainly, like Saudi Arabia, is a place filled with fear and anger. It is palpable. More so in Saudi Arabia actually, but it is there in Sudan too. The people need to feel connected to the rest of humanity and the world around them. They need that Divine, soothing, loving energy in their lives. Because they are not getting it from the people who govern them. Their lives are tainted by fear and apprehension on all levels on a daily basis. Egypt is a wonderful country full of so much amazing diversity and so much love and spontaneous friendliness, yet there is still an underlying sense of apprehension that things might not turn out too well. Egyptians are eager to learn and understand and also feel their deep connection to the Divine, just like people everywhere search for this. I love teaching Reiki in Egypt and I love showing people the deep connections between Reiki and their religious convictions, whether it is Islam or Christianity or something else. They all have the same source which is God/the universal energy field or whatever you want to call it. It’s all the same.
As I said religious extremism, is a manifestation of hate and anger and a deeply egocentric need to control and dictate how the world should be. And as such, it is very weak and transitory in nature. This is an abdication of truth and an abdication of our connectivity to God. Thus it is not a match for Reiki and the truth which is much more powerful than the ‘idiosyncratic’ ideologies of these out of touch people.
Marwa Adam- Q 5: It is said that Reiki can cure many disease. Does this apply to acute illness and fatal diseases such as cancer for instance?
Steve Gooch: There is nothing that Reiki cannot heal. It is the most powerful energy in existence. It is a God’s love manifesting in the world. Nothing can stand in its way. But this doesn’t mean that Reiki will necessarily heal anyone’s physical or mental problems. Reiki, as I said, is trying to bring each person back to a state of perfection, to a realization of their connectedness to everything in existence. But on that journey, there are many obstacles, many lessons. Many problems that we have to solve. These exist because they are there to teach us something. We have the opportunity to grow and to become better people as a consequence of whatever life throws at us. Nothing happens to us by accident. Everything has a reason and a purpose, even serious illness. Reiki is able to help us complete a journey out of our condition, our illness if we have learned what we needed to learn from it. For instance, when we are a child we might play with matches, and when we do there is a good chance we will burn ourselves. When we feel the pain, which is a negative thing, that pain teaches us something: don’t play with matches. If there was no pain, we might do it again and burn the house down or harm ourselves very seriously. The pain, the illness, the life-threatening condition is there for a reason.
My Reiki Master, Dorothy Bell lived her life with Parkinson’s Disease. This is a very debilitating condition that can really ruin your life. Dorothy had Reiki and it never cured her, but what it did teach her and I remember her telling me this very clearly, is how to live a happy and wonderful life within the context of that illness. Her journey was not to be free of the condition, as much as she might have wanted this, but to realise that happiness and freedom are not dependent on something outside of us but is dependent on our own state of mind.
Reiki can heal anything. But it cannot always heal everyone. It is about whether that person is ready to be healed or not. To give another example: I had someone come to me back in 1998 that had very severe osteoarthritis. She was almost in a wheel chair and the doctors had given up on her. To cut a long story short: she had many treatments from me and then learned Reiki herself. Eventually, after she had completed the second level, she went back to the hospital for a routine blood test. The doctors told her that there was no sign that she had ever had arthritis in her life. It was a miracle! Miracles happen with Reiki. That woman went on to being able to run around the garden with her grandchildren, wear high-heel shoes again, drive her car and do everything that she wished, just as others do. The arthritis vanished. Reiki can do this. There is nothing to fear in any physical condition. There are no incurable conditions Just find out what it is trying to teach you and learn the lesson. Reiki will help you through that process.
Marwa Adam- Q 6: What about the psychological scars left after tragic experiences? To what extent can Reiki interfere to heal emotional wounds?
Steve Gooch: Reiki is excellent for working on emotional and mental issues. I had a student on my very first Reiki class, almost 20 years ago, that told me of a time some years before when she was involved in a very serious car accident. She nearly lost her life. As a consequence of that, every time she drove past that same spot where the accident had happened, she used to lock up with fear. She would sweat and shake and relive that experience of being in that crash. This happened every time without fail and there was nothing she could do about it.
Through learning Reiki and applying Reiki to that situation and to her fear, she reached a point where one day she drove past that same spot and for the first time in many years, she didn’t even notice. She went right past it and then realised that she had not felt all the fears and anxiety that the crash had embedded in her. The fear had gone.
I had another student who was deeply lost in grief as a consequence of her 19-year-old son being killed in a car accident whilst he was on holiday in Spain with some friends. She did not want to express this grief at all. She felt that she needed to lock all of this pain inside because she didn’t want to let her son down. She wanted to be strong and carry on with her life for him. I told her she could not do this and there was no way she would be able to resist the Reiki energy. Reiki was stronger than her determination and she should think about this before she had the treatment. She decided to have the treatment but was determined that she was not going to let this pain out.
I didn’t even get my hands fully on her before the flood gates opened and all the pain and tears flooded out. She went through a profound healing process after that. Reiki truly transformed her and she went on to learn it for herself and used it to help many others.
The key is to be willing to change and to grow and to heal. She was, but she thought the way to do that was to deny her pain and to carry on with her life. Sometimes we have the right intention but we choose the wrong path. Reiki will guide us back to the right path.
Marwa Adam- Q 7: In one of your editorial articles you mentioned the following: “Sitting here in a café in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria, the UK, my Reiki students and colleagues back home and Reiki Jin Kei Do UK seem the world away.”
Alexandria is a city that is defeated by severe crimes against its beautiful cultural heritage, yet it has always been a source of inspiration, and creativity for many writers starting from Lawrence Durrell, and Cavafy. What does Alexandria constitute and represent in the busy world of Steve Gooch?
Steve Gooch: I love Alexandria. I love its hustle and bustle. I love its immense history and at the same time, its parochial quaintness. It is a place on the edge of the Mediterranean, and it is filled with huge creative energy. There is something really alive about Alex. Something that is bursting with tense explosive creativity. You can feel it all around the place. Maybe it gets that from its proximity to the sea. The sea changes everything. Water keeps things alive. But Alex also feels like it is in a deep slumber right now. Overlaid with the history and the mistakes of the near-past. It may not be in its hey-day right now but Alex has had many hey-days and I am sure it will have more.
Personally, I feel at my most creative in Alex. I can tap into that deep well spring of energy that permeates that city’s fabric. It is so powerful there. Reiki is the source of that creative energy also. It is that creative energy. God created in the beginning, and all of us are creative beings, springing from that Divine creative process. In Alex, that feeling is strong, but slumbering for most people.
I love the cafes and the sea…the waves and the wind and the blue sky there. The clouds and the storms. It is a place where you can feel alive if you can step outside of the everyday concerns that hold us all down and keep us from connecting with the world and its essential nature. Alex is a wonderful place. It will be great again in the future, I am certain.
Marwa Adam- Q 8: Following your FB posts, I remember coming across your invitation to Reiki community fellows to support someone who went in a coma. Is it about gathering your strong unseen force of life to support someone who seems to lack it?
Steve Gooch: I don’t recall this specific instance now, but no, it’s not really about gathering life force energy. There is nothing in a sense to gather. In Reiki, we act as channels or conduits for the energy, which is limitless. The energy is drawn from all around us, from the universe, the universal energy field. The person receiving the energy, is not being given anything, however, they are drawing the energy themselves. It’s a bit like a pipe that connects to a limitless reservoir. The pipe is the Reiki practitioner. They do not have any influence or say in how much water is drawn into the bucket, they just facilitate the process. The person in need of the water makes that decision, though with Reiki this is on a subconscious level. So when Reiki practitioners come together, either physically or energetically, to support someone, they are allowing that person to draw on healing energy from multiple sources. The Reiki gives them what they need at that point in their life’s journey.
Marwa Adam- Q 9: Steve, you are perfectly well known for your book Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom’ that has been celebrated as a powerful source, and reference book in the circle of Reiki. Tell us more about the message you wanted to convey when thinking of starting the process of writing.
Steve Gooch: The process of writing this book was an interesting one. Way back on my 2nd Degree class, as I marveled at the extraordinary teachings that Gordon and Dorothy were giving me, I could not believe that at that point, no one had written a book on the subject. I sort of thought that maybe I could write it and toyed with the idea a little. I asked Dorothy about why a book had never been written and she pinned me with her eyes and said: “Steve, Ranga Premaratna is writing a book about these teachings.” Ranga Premaratna is the current lineage head of Reiki Jin Kei Do. Well, as a 2nd Degree practitioner, there was no way I could possibly entertain the idea of writing a book on the Jin Kei Do teachings if the lineage head was writing one! Of course, he knew the subject a lot more than I did. So I dropped the idea. Ten years went by and I decided that I would write a book on the lineage teachings. I had sort of forgotten that conversation with Dorothy back in 1996. So I wrote the world’s first book (and still the only book in the English language) on the lineage of Reiki Jin Kei Do. When it came out, I phoned Dorothy and suddenly remembered that conversation with her from my 2nd Degree class. I asked Dorothy if she remembered it, and she said she did. I knew right there and then that she had known, all those years previously that I would go on to write the book.
Basically, I wanted to bring the lineage teachings to a wider audience. To introduce this profound system of Reiki to the wider world. The unique aspect of Reiki Jin Kei Do is that it has access to teachings, that no other lineage of Reiki possesses. It has within it the most critical originating material, going right back to the Buddha, that Reiki was originally drawn from. So the lineage is not only capable of passing on the modern therapeutic aspects of Reiki, that all Reiki practitioners know, but the much older spiritual material from which the system was developed. And these teachings are very profound, very deep. I wanted to bring a flavour of the true depth of the Reiki system to a wider audience. Reiki is not just a hands-on healing system, it is a profoundly spiritual personal development system that has its origins with the Buddha and a critical meditation practice that he passed on to his disciples that have led to the development of the modern day Reiki system.
Marwa Adam- Q 10: Contemplating the current affairs for moments is quite enough to realize that the world seems to be losing its mind, and compassion. Do you think that Buddhism meditation and Reiki can help the world overcoming clashes of religions, civilization, and wars?
Steve Gooch: Yes, they can. There is no doubt of this. There was a study done many years ago, where a group of meditators were asked to focus on the wellbeing of a particular town somewhere in the south of England. During the time that the meditators, based all around the world were focusing on that location, the crime rate dropped dramatically in that town. When the experiment was over, the crime rate returned to its normal level. Meditation is healing. It is an energy-based system very closely aligned to the practice of Reiki. They are like two sides of the same coin. Meditation, as well as Reiki, brings a deep sense of calm and peace to the practitioner, and this can influence the world around. I tell my students, that if they come across an advanced spiritual practitioner, of any faith or philosophy, you will find that you feel a deep sense of peace just by being in their vicinity. They seem to generate an aura of peace and wellbeing and calm around themselves. This is as a consequence of their spiritual practice. But they do this spiritual practice for themselves, to make themselves better people. As a consequence of working themselves, the world around them benefits just because they are in it. They give off this healing, compassionate energy that influences others.
But the world is in a mess and this has always been the case. It is a different mess today to the one it was in yesterday and to the one it will be in tomorrow, but it is in a mess. And this is down to the egocentricity of so many people, and their desire to shape the world according to their own personal understandings of how it should be. We live in a dual existence. For all the good in the world, there must be bad in the world. For all the positive, there must be negative. You cannot swing a pendulum and expect it to rest at the apex. It must find a balance somewhere in the middle, and for a middle to exist at all, you need both extremes. The one defines the other. The only way out of this confrontational existence, constantly balanced by positivity and compassion and love, is to end the illusion of duality entirely. When we realise that we are being buffeted backward and forwards by our clinging to duality and the tides of our own emotions, which have their source in our egos (one of the main supports for the belief in duality in the first place), then we stand a chance to realise oneness. When can see the interconnected and interdependent nature of all existence, then and only then will the problems of the world disappear. In the meantime, those of us working with positive energy must continue our work to counterbalance the negative work of those hell bent on destruction and death and evil in the world.
Marwa Adam- Q 11: Do you have a vision of how the magic hidden power of spirituality can spread the voice of rationale and peace in a wounded planet that suffers from hatred and violence?
Steve Gooch: I think I have sort of answered this above but let me say that we should all focus much more on our own state of wellbeing and health. When we solve our own problems, address our delusional thinking, work on our physical condition, become calmer, more loving and compassionate, then we have so much more to give to those in need. When we focus outwards, without addressing our own inner needs, we have very little to give and can often give inappropriately. Compassion, not checked by wisdom can be a dangerous thing and cause much damage in the world, so it is vital that we balance our outer work of helping others, with our inner work of working on ourselves.
Too many people in the world, miss the point of spiritual or religious practice. It is to connect us to our hearts, deeply and profoundly. This is where God lives. It is a direct expression of God. It is the seat of God’s unconditional love. We need to develop our connection to the loving energy that sits here. It is the balance point between our earthly existence and aspirations, and our more spiritual leanings. It is the point of balance that the pendulum comes to when it has finished swinging between the two opposing apexes. And when we get to rest at this point, in the heart, we realise deeply that the truth of existence is simply to love. Love is the goal and it is the way of travelling. When we simply engage with religious or spiritual dogma, we are achieving nothing, going nowhere. We get lost in the ritual, the dogma and totally miss the point of it all. Live simply and connect to the heart. This is the answer to life’s problems. When we do this, we feel compassion and love for others and we develop our wisdom and so can go out and help those in need: alleviate their suffering and provide them with comfort and service. There is no greater goal than the expression of love and compassion in the world.
Steve, I would like to thank you deeply for sharing with VOWW the spiritual journey of your life, and for spreading the beauty of spirituality wherever you go. I would like also to seize the chance and invite all VOWW members, and people everywhere to consider the noble ideas of Reiki to be integrated as an integral part of their life path.
A Senior Translator, Interpreter, and Editor
An Academic Researcher. A Master’s Degree in the Realm of Translation and Cultural Studies
Representative of Voices of Women WorldWide Located in New York and A Member of The Board of Advisers