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The Fairytale of Reiki

When I tell this story to people, some get uptight and angry that such overt lying took place within teachers we trust and love. So I’ll tell you the moral of the story before I even begin to save you the feelings of anger and disappointment if you are hearing this for the first time.

Reiki teachers are human, have egos, personalities, and agendas. Don’t believe everything your Reiki teacher tells you (including me). Trust you own experience of Reiki, your own journey. Separate your relationship with Reiki with the people who bring it to you. You may go into a shop and buy a pair of shoes, you love those shoes but then find out the person in the store who sold it to you was a drug dealer. Do you throw away the pair of shoes in disgust? Maybe you do, but it’s your loss – what has the shoes and your love for them got to do with the person who sold them to you?

Ok, weird analogy, but bear it in mind as we travel through my little story. The moral of the story is “find your own relationship with Reiki, it is bigger than the humans who bring it to you”.

The following story is what I was told when I trained in Reiki 1 in 1992 –my teacher John Veltheim was rather sceptical of its truth, but it was the only one we had, at least until Frank Arjarva Petter kindly did the proper research (Reiki Fire, 1997).

Remember also that Takata was teaching in Hawaii where there was a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment fresh from the Second World War, and America at the time was not particularly open to Eastern religion, certainly not to the extent it is now. She may also have been deeply influenced by the Christian religion herself and created this story as she herself preferred it to the facts, who knows?

Whatever her reasoning, Takata changed the history of Reiki and told it as a Christian story:

Usui was a Christian Monk who taught in a Christian school. One day one of his students asked him when he would teach them the healing ways of Christ. This triggered a deep and ongoing search in Usui for the truth – as he believed the ability Jesus Christ had to heal was true. He went on a search around the world – including Tibet and America, and studied with several different sages and gurus trying to find the answer before finally going to Mount Kurama for a 21 day meditation. During this meditation, on the 21st day, he was given the symbols, and Reiki was activated in him.

As he descended the mountain, he came across a woman who had twisted her ankle, he placed his hands over her pain, and it disappeared, he realised he had been given this power to heal others.

He ended up in the beggars quarters in Kyoto where he set about healing the lepers so they could go out and work and get back into the world, but he found many came back to begging – when he asked them ‘why?’ they answered ‘it is easier to beg than to work’. Usui realised that healing others was not enough; people had to want to self-empower and heal themselves, and so he began teaching people to do Reiki for themselves. He would gather people who wanted to learn Reiki and he would attune them, they would continue to sit with him through the different levels, and he would attune them up to teacher but only when he felt they were ready.

This story is now seen as fictional and has all but disappeared from the Reiki rhetoric. I am retelling it here not to be difficult or controversial, but to remind you that the stories and philosophies around Reiki are simply that. They are concepts told to you and may or may not hold true.

Another factor I want you to consider is timelines – Hayashi met Usui in 1925, and Usui died in 1926. Hayashi had all of one year’s experience with Usui’s Reiki philosophy. Most of you reading this will already have many years more than that. How accurately did Hayashi understand Usui’s system or insight no one will know, but I would suggest you hold this lightly. This is not to say Hayashi did not come into his own deep understanding, and by the time he passed on the system to Takata, already had 10 years’ experience and was running a Reiki clinic – but what he passed on was his own development of Reiki, not necessarily Usui’s original understanding of it.

Takata, as we have seen, changed the history and we have no idea what else. Again, I am not saying this as a judgement, but simply a fact. Every teacher flavours Reiki with their own philosophy. And this is something important to bear in mind. When you ask your teacher about Reiki, their answer will always be their opinion, not the actual truth.

As I researched this story and reminded myself of dates, I also took a look at my own teachers’ history and found that they were actually very new to Reiki teaching when they taught me. They graduated around 1989, and they taught me Reiki 1 in 1992. They themselves only had a few years’ experience under their belt but I remember taking their words as absolute gospel, in fact until I dug around for dates to write this article, I had the impression they had been teaching for decades! This does not change my deep respect and gratitude towards them, not at all, but it does validate the importance of following your own heart and path.

Reiki is universal life force, it is absolute, eternal, we are made of it, as is everything else. It is not a particular vibration or something that can be measured or understood. The teaching of Reiki is another story; it comes with techniques, opinions, process and lineage. But don’t confuse the process with the actual thing itself – that would be like confusing the bucket that contains water with the actual water. Or the shop assistant selling you shoes as being the shoes themselves.


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