History of the Usui System of Reiki
There is not a great deal known in specific detail about the origins of the system of Reiki. That may well be the reason for the variety of stories that have been created in our most recent past to “fill in” the gaps so to speak.
The Australian Reiki Connection would like to acquaint its members and website readers with the basic and factual history that can be accounted for rather than the many myths that have been creatively developed overtime.
This information is derived from a number of sources:
The Mikao Usui memorial stone - carved on granite block in 1927 by his students. This can be viewed in Tokyo today and is often visited by Reiki practitioners from around the world. The text is in old Japanese (pre-1945) An English translation by Japanese monk, Hyakuten Inamoto, (translation can be found at bottom of this page)
Japanese teachers such as Hiroshi Doi (member of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai – traditional Japanese Reiki society).
Hyakuten Inamoto (Japanese monk and Reiki teacher).
Japanese books by and about students of Mikao Usui.
Hawayo Takata’s students (upon validation).
In 1865 Mikao Usui (1865-1926) was born to a merchant family of samurai ancestry, descended from the Chiba clan.
Mikao Usui married Sadako Suzuki (?-1946) and they had a boy, Fuji (1908-1946) and a girl, Toshiko (1913-1935).
There is little known of Mikao Usui’s life. He is spoken of as a humble man with a spiritual nature who brought together a number of elements from his understanding of the world to create the system of Reiki.
In 1922 Mikao Usui climbed Mt Kurama and practiced an austerity training culminating in a deeper or different understanding of his spiritual practices. In the past it has been quite common for lay people to complete such austere mountain trainings in Japan.
The beginnings of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai were started by Mikao Usui in Tokyo. It was set up to cater to naval officers and other lay people. A number of teaching centres were set up around the country.
Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a retired naval officer and surgeon, began his studies as a Reiki teacher with Mikao Usui in 1925. It is thought that he may have written a hand position manual for Mikao Usui in order to support students who were less energetically competent in relation to their intuitive abilities.
Mikao Usui died of a stroke in Fukuyama. The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai claim that there were at least 11 students studying Shinpiden (what some call the Teacher or Master level in the West) when he died. Toshihiro Eguchi (1873-1946) and Kaiji Tomita, students of Mikao Usui, became well known as practitioners and were both authors of books on healing. Toshihiro Eguchi is said to have taught approximately 500,000 students.
Chujiro Hayashi practiced under the auspices of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai until 1933 when he opened his own centre. The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai continued to run teaching centres.
Chujiro Hayashi (1880-1940) is credited with running the first actual commercial healing centre where people would come for healing and practitioners would work on them. Two practitioners worked on the one person.
Chujiro Hayashi wrote that he had taught 13 Reiki Masters by 1938. From 1936-1938 Hawayo Takata, an American born Japanese woman studied with him and became one of these Reiki Masters. Other students of his were Chiyoko Yamaguchi (1920/21-2003) and Chujiro Hayashi’s wife, Chie (no longer living).
Chujiro Hayashi’s teachings were from the latter period of Mikao Usui’s life. Chujiro Hayashi’s influence on the system helped develop a more technical and clinical approach due to his medical background. Mikao Usui was NOT a doctor.
Hawayo Takata (1900-1980) took the system of Reiki back to Hawaii, USA and set up the first non-Japanese Reiki clinic. It seems that what she taught technically was in line with her teacher’s teachings. She did not teach the chakra system and neither did Chujiro Hayashi. Instead, her diary relates that she knew of and taught about the hara method. Her historical knowledge of the system on the other hand varied according to the time and occasion it was told in.
Chujiro Hayashi died in 1940 with his wife continuing to teach in his place.
From the mid -1970s until her death in 1980, Hawayo Takata trained, in total, 22 students to teach the system of Reiki as she knew it.
The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai which developed during Mikao Usui’s lifetime continued to exist in Japan throughout this time but had dwindled in size from its larger national reach in the late 1920s/early 1930s. This included an hiatus in activity during the Second World War. A list of past Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai Presidents: Juzaburo Ushida, Kanichi Taketomi, Yoshiharu Watanabe, Hoichi Wanami, Kimiko Koyama. Masaki Kondo is the current President.
After Hawayo Takata died her students began to set up their own practices and create Reiki groups and associations. Debate began over what was the true system of Reiki. A group called The Reiki Alliance standardized the Western system and taught what they called Usui Shiki Ryoho. Hawayo Takata’s granddaughter was their head and the term ‘Grandmaster’ was created by this organisation to, in their eyes, reflect her position. This term had not been used in the system of Reiki in either Japan or the West previously.
Barbara Weber Ray, another Reiki Master of Hawayo Takata, began her own system calling it The Radiance Technique and claimed to have the only true teachings. These teachings appear to be influenced by her New Age beliefs. From these teachings a number of other schools have also developed, such as the Seven Level System in Australia, which is not acknowledged by The Radiance Technique. Such systems consisting of seven levels are not considered by ARC to be Usui System of Reiki and therefore students of these schools are not eligible for ARC membership.
Some students of Hawayo Takata, such as Iris Ishikuro and her student Arthur Robertson, drew New Age concepts into the system of Reiki during the 1980s. The freeing up of any structure to the system occurred. This meant that individual myths and schisms easily developed and spread with some making outrageous claims including statements that the system of Reiki came from Tibet and Atlantis. Some practitioners began channelling information from spirits and guides and including these practices as elements of the system of Reiki. ARC members are requested to differentiate these add-ons from the Usui system of Reiki when dealing with clients and students.
Although ARC widely accepts membership from Reiki practitioners throughout the globe who meet the membership criteria, there are certain standards relating to the practice of the Usui System of Reiki that need to be retained. For that reason ARC does not accept membership from Reiki inspired practices that have developed since the 1980s ARCs standards are in no way related to, or make assumptions about, the efficacy of any of these practices.
In the 1990s, research into the system of Reiki brought more factual information to light from sources such as the Memorial Stone, books by Mikao Usui’s students and other media which have provided a gradual opening of information from a few traditional Japanese practitioners. There is also only limited information available from the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai at this point in time. The vast majority of Reiki taught in Japan today has come from the more modern forms of Western influenced Reiki.
Today in the West there are a variety of teachings available to the prospective Reiki student. ARC focuses on the teachings, either through Japan or the West, that are based in the tradition of Usui Reiki; that which can be traced back to the teachings of Mikao Usui.
USUI MIKAO'S MEMORIAL STONE:
This is a translation of Usui Mikao's memorial stone by Japanese Reiki Teacher and Buddhist monk Hyakuten Inamoto. The memorial stone was erected by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai in Japan one year after Usui Mikao's death.
Reiho Choso Usui Sensei Kudoko No Hi
Memorial of the merits of Usui Sensei, the founder of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho)
That which is attained within oneself after having accumulated the fruits of disciplined study and training is called 'Toku' and that which can be offered to others after having spread a path of teaching and salvation is called 'Koh'. Only with high merits and great virtues can one be a great founding teacher. Sagacious and brilliant men of the olden time or the founders of new teachings and religious sects were all like that. Someone like Usui Sensei can be counted among them. Sensei newly founded the method based on Reiki of the universe to improve the mind and body. Having heard of his reputation all over, people crowded around to seek his teachings and treatments. Ah, how popular it is!
Sensei, commonly known by the name 'Mikao', with an extra name 'Gyohan' is from Taniai-mura (village) Yamagata-gun (county), Gifu-ken (prefecture). He is descended from Chiba Tsunetane. His father's name was Taneuji, and was commonly called Uzaemon. His mother was from the Kawai family.
Sensei was born on August 15 of the first year of Keio (1865 A.D.). From his youth he surpassed his fellows in hard work and endeavor. When he grew up he visited Europe and America, and studied in China. Despite his will to succeed in life, he was stalemated and fell into great difficulties. However, in the face of adversity he strove to train himself even more with the courage never to yield.
One day, he climbed Kurama-yama and after 21 days of a severe discipline without eating, He suddenly felt One Great Reiki over his head and attained enlightenment and he obtained Reiki Ryoho. Then, he tried it on himself and experimented on his family members. The efficacy was immediate. Sensei thought that it would be far better to offer it widely to the general public and share its benefits than just to improve the well-being of his own family members. In April of the 11th year of Taisho (1922 A.D.) he settled in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo and set up the Gakkai to teach Reiki Ryoho and give treatments. Even outside of the building it was full of pairs of shoes of the visitors who had come from far and near.
In September of the 12th year (1923 A.D.) there was a great earthquake and a conflagration broke out. Everywhere there were groans of pains from the wounded. Sensei, feeling pity for them, went out every morning to go around the town, and he cured and saved an innumerable number of people. This is just a broad outline of his relief activities during such an emergency.
Later on, as the 'dojo' became too small, in February of the 14th year (1925 A.D.) the new suburban house was built at Nakano according to divination. Due to his respected and far-reaching reputation many people from local districts wished to invite him. Sensei, accepting the invitations, went to Kure and then to Hiroshima and Saga, and reached Fukuyama. Unexpectedly he became ill and passed away there. It was March 9 of the 15th year of Taisho (1926 A.D.), aged 62.
His spouse was Suzuki, and was called Sadako. One boy and one girl were born. The boy was named Fuji and he succeeded to the family. Sensei's personality was gentle and modest and he never behaved ostentatiously. His physique was large and sturdy. He always wore a contented smile. He was stout-hearted, tolerant and very prudent upon undertaking a task. He was by nature versatile and loved to read books. He engaged himself in history books, medical books, Buddhist scriptures, Christian scriptures and was well versed in psychology, Taoism, even in the art of divination, incantation, and physiognomy. Presumably sensei's background in the arts and sciences afforded him nourishment for his cultivation and discipline, and it was very obvious that it was this cultivation and discipline that became the key to the creation of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho).
On reflection, Reiho puts special emphasis not just on curing diseases but also on enjoying wellbeing in life with correcting the mind and making the body healthy with the use of an innate healing ability. Thus, before teaching, the'‘Ikun' (admonition) of the Meiji Emperor should reverently be read and Five Precepts be chanted and kept in mind mornings and evenings.
Firstly it reads, Today do not anger, secondly it reads, Do not worry, thirdly it reads Be thankful, fourthly it reads, Work with diligence, fifthly it reads, be kind to others.
These are truly great teachings for cultivation and discipline that agree with those great teachings of the ancient sages and the wise. Sensei named these teachings 'Secret Method to Invite Happiness and ‘Miraculous Medicine to Cure All Disease'; notice the outstanding features of the teachings. Furthermore, when it comes to teaching, it should be as easy and common as possible, nothing lofty. Another noted feature is that during sitting in silent meditation with Gassho and reciting the Five Precepts mornings and evenings, the pure and healthy minds can be cultivated and put into practice in one’s daily routine. This is the reason why Reiho is easily obtained by anyone.
Recently the course of the world has shifted and a great change in thought has taken place. Fortunately with the spread of this Reiho, there will be many that supplement the way of the world and the minds of people. How can it be for just the benefit of curing chronic diseases and longstanding complaints?
A little more than 2,000 people became students of Sensei. Those senior disciples living in Tokyo gathered at the 'dojo' and carried on the work (of the late Sensei) and those who lived in local districts also spread the teachings. Although Sensei is gone, Reiho should still be widely propagated in the world for a long time. Ah, how prominent and great Sensei is that he offers the teachings to people out there after having been enlightened within!
Of late the fellow disciples consulted with each other about building the stone memorial in a graveyard at Saihoji Temple in Toyotama-gun so as to honor his merits and to make them immortalized and I was asked to write it. As I deeply submit to Sensei's greatness and am happy for the very friendly teacher/disciple relationships among fellow students, I could not decline the request, and I wrote a summary in the hope that people in the future shall be reminded to look up at him in reverence.
February, the 2nd year of Showa (1927 A.D.Composed by: Ju-sanmi (subordinate 3rd rank),Kun-santo (the 3rd Order of Merit)Doctor of Literature Okada Masayuki
Calligraphy by: Navy Rear Admiral,Ju-yonmi (subordinate 4th rank), Kun-santo (the 3rd Order of Merit),Ko-yonkyu (the distinguished service 4th class)Ushida Juzaburo
Translated by Hyakuten Inamoto
Mikao Usui Memorial Stone