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 The History of Reiki Re-opens

Date last changed: April 18, 2006
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(Sources: "Iyashi No Te" by Reiki Master Toshitaka Mochizuki; Also Usui-Do Shihan Dave King and Melissa Riggall) 

There are many interesting versions of the history of modern day Reiki, from it's discovery (or rediscovery as some believe) to it's current state of confusion.  The wave of updated information seemed to take on momentum in 1996.

At that time, shedding a different light on the origins of Reiki was the first modern book written in Japanese, by a Japanese Reiki teacher. The book is called "Iyashi No Te" (Heal of Hand, or Healing Hands) and is authored by Toshitaka Mochizuki, head of the Vortex Reiki school in Tokyo., and was published in October, 1995. Although Mochizuki originally learned Reiki from Western sources (including Frank Arjava Petter), he also had a connection of sorts into the original Reiki society, Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, via his colleague Takahashi, who is a member.

Mochizuki attributes some of his historical information to an old Japanese book whose title translates to "The Secret of How to Take Care of Your Family Members" by Takichi Tsukida. I do not know if this book is in print, and there are many things about Reiki that the Japanese would prefer to keep to themselves for the time being (I can't say as I blame them seeing how much Reiki has been altered). Some of these things I have learned and will honour for now. Others seem to be out in plain view in Japan, for all to see, anyway.

One version of the history of Reiki indicates that the founder, Mikao Usui, taught Reiki to at least 17 people. One of these was another healer at the time by the name of Toshihiro Eguchi. Eguchi studied with Usui Sensei from 1921 to 1926.  Through his students one form of  Reiki has continued on in Japan (We now know there are other lineages). Eguchi reportedly taught thousands of students before the war, including Goro Miyazaki. Miyazaki taught a person by the name of Mitsui who in turn taught Takahashi. 
Reiki Anecdote
I first learned of Mochizuki and his book from a Japanese student I was teaching in the spring of 1996.  My student said he was in the airport near Tokyo and had purchased a book on Reiki.  He was on his way to Vancouver to learn English and from what he read of Reiki during his flight he was greatly interested in the training.  When he arrived in Vancouver, he immediately wrote Mochizuli to ask where he could take training in Vancouver.  Mochizuki visits Vancouver each year with a group of Japanese who attend psychology workshops run by a University of British Columbia teacher at a BC resort in Nelson.

Mochizuki mailed back a clipping of one of my Reiki ads from a local magazine and the student used this to contact me. With the help of my student and friend Emiko Arai we were able to translate parts of the book, especially the history section near the beginning. 

Takahashi and the author, Mochizuki, are part of a group of 10 Japanese Reiki masters who come together to teach monthly Reiki classes in Tokyo. When I talk about the Japanese Reiki masters, it is this group that I am referring to . In 1995 Dave King was invited to attend a class as an observer.  There are usually about 40 students, with a 4 to 1 master to student ratio. Taught in a classroom setting, Reiki levels one and two are presented over a weekend for a fee of about 60,000 yen. Level three and the teacher or master levels cost 90,000 yen and 150,000 yen respectively.  These seem to be standard fees In Japan.

According to the history in the book, Usui, born in 1865, made his discovery and then spent the next seven years working in the lower class district of Kyoto.  Kyoto is a religious centre and a former capital city, and apparently in most Japanese towns and cities, people on the street are taken in and cared for, and each family looks out for it's own. So the story about Usui working with the beggars may have been stretched a bit, or just misunderstood in the West. Since I first had this book translated it has been verified by Hiroshi Doi that this is not a correct story. Also, since that time I have learned from Dave King that according to Hayashi student Tatsumi-san, Usui Sensei experienced his "Reiki" energy in 1914.  Usui student Tenon-in said Usui did live with his young family in an outer district of Kyoto near Mount Hiei until 1922.  This may have been the lower class district mentioned.

Although Mrs. Takata said Usui was a Christian monk, the Japanese claim that he was a member of a spiritualist group named "Rei Jyutsu Ka".  This too may not be correct according to some Japanese Masters.  Anyway, This group had a centre at the base of the holy mountain, Kuramayama, just west of Kyoto. They have since left this site and another group occupies it now.  It is positively known however that there used to be a branch of the Tendai Buddhist sect at Kuramayama, with their main temple on Mt. Hiei just outside Kyoto. The Japanese believe that Usui Sensei experienced his high energy state on Kuramayama.

Yama translates to mountain, and Kurama translates to horse saddle. There are several shrines on the mountain, including one at the top and one near the bottom. One shrine at the bottom is a very large statue of the Amida Buddha with it's base placed well below ground level. Steps lead down to the base where one can sit and meditate. This may have been one of Usui's meditation sites, although there can be a lot of people visiting there. The URR Gakkai reports that Usui sensei received his special connection at the top of Kuramayama. 

In the city of Kyoto, there is also a well know library with religious and theological works from around the world. The Japanese do not think Usui would have needed to travel far to do his research.  Melissa Riggall, a Western Reiki master researching Original Reiki, said she found a hanko of Usui's on the borrowing card of an old book she was researching. 

In 1922 Usui Sensei moved his school to Tokyo. The Japanese believe that when Usui taught you, you would have just stayed with him till you got it all; therefore you became a teacher yourself. They feel that he may not have required a process or ritual (like an attunement) to pass on the Reiki energy.

In 1925, a retired naval officer (and doctor) by the name of Chujiro Hayashi (at the age of 47), took training from Usui Sensei. A Canadian Reiki teacher named Dave King spent some time with one of Hayashi's surviving masters, Tatsumi-san, in 1995 and 1996. He was allowed to trace copies of the four Reiki symbols in Hayashi's handwriting,  he learned Tatsumi's attunement process and received training in the highest levels of the old Usui and Hayashi system. 

From the original Hayashi training and the Vortex Japanese group, Dave discovered 7 old Eguchi hand positions, which stopped at the midsection of the body. (Eguchi was Usui's senior student).  Hayashi however switched to a  two practitioners-to-a-client style that he used in his eight bed clinic.  The hand positions they used would have varied. 

Usui Sensei taught a couple of other naval officers by the name of Juzaburo Ushida (also pronounced Gyuda) and Kan'ichi Taketomi who went on to head the Usui Reiki Ryoho society.  The society teaches that Usui Sensei may have only laid hands on wherever the person had pain. Since the Japanese had rediscovered and were using the ancient art of Chinese acupuncture (and acupressure), the hand positions and techniques seem to evolve around the body's energy channels and pressure points.

The Japanese do not name the Reiki symbols the way we do. They call them symbol number one, symbol number two, symbol number three and symbol number four. The names used inthe West are actually the mantra you chant, and the symbol is the yantra you draw and visualize to focus on the specific energy you are working. The 3rd symbol, known as the connection or distant symbol, is actually Kanji and if you look up the words in a Japanese dictionary you will find it's original form. Just overlay each of the parts to get it's final form. The same can be said for the number four symbol. Of course, in the Japanese language, everything seems to be context oriented; so there are many version of the word "Rei" and "Ki". You won't find the number one or number two symbols there. But the number two symbol comes from a symbol in Japanese Buddhism, and the number one may have as well. (See this page for samples of the original forms).  I later learned that the symbols are found in old Tendai Buddhism forms originating in Chinese Taoism, which was Usui Sensei's source.

In the summer of 1996, Melissa Riggall visited Tatsumi, and was able to learn that Usui taught five Buddhist nuns as well as the three naval officers and nine male associates. (later she discovered additional students who had trained with him).  She also learned Usui Sensei was sent to a Tendai monastery at age 4 where he remained for several years. (there is at least one in his home village of Taniai).

It was thought he apparently used to meditate in the Kurama Yama power spots regularly, however Tenon-in said he would go to Mt. Hiei (also called Hieizan) which was much closer to his Kyoto home, and often remain there for days.. He also studied Japanese qigong (called ki-kou in Japan) to a very high level and did qigong projection healings.  Tatsumi placed the time of Usui Sensei's experience on Kurama Yama as 1914

Tatsumi thought that he was the last of Hayashi's students that were given the complete system as sensei (the level was called Shichidan). He never created teachers of his own and only shared teacher level information with Melissa and Dave King, promoting them both to Shichidan. Some of his grandchildren were attuned as practitioners. He had heard of Mochizuki but had never communicated with him.

Tatsumi-san showed Melissa a stack of notes that Hayashi had left with him, and that he had written as part of his learning. These will not be taken out of Japan and were to be deposited in a shrine on Tatsumi-san's death.

On October 3, 1996, Melissa sent me an e-mail to inform me that Tatsumi-san had recently passed away. We are fortunate that at least 2 western Reiki Masters were able to meet with him and learn some of his knowledge of the origins of Reiki.

Since this time, Melissa did extensive investigation into the notes and the sources they lead to. This knowledge is presumably available at some point to the students of Usui-Do Eidan training.  Sadly, Melissa made her transition on on March 12, 2003. Click here for a memorial page.

The revised version of "Iyashino Te - Cho Kanton" published in 2001 contains an entire story on Usui Sensei in a manga or cartoon format.  The book also has several photos including one of Admiral Ushida and a group photo of Usui Sensei and many of his students and family.

If you have comments or suggestions, contact me and I will try to answer them all.

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