Reiki Ryoho is a Japanese art developed in the early twentieth century by Usui Sensei. Its aim is to maintain or restore balance and to provide spiritual well-being. With Shinto, Taoist and Buddhist roots, it is based on the transmission of Ki (vital energy) through the hands. It is a simple and natural method that improves health, relaxes and deepens the spiritual practice. It is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is classified as energy healing therapy by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Reiki Ryoho is a discipline that can be practiced by anyone and does not require or endorse any particular religious belief. It does however incorporate the spiritual component common to all faiths.
On a therapeutic level, Reiki is used with great success to strengthen the body after or during a severe illness, it is used also for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression or stress. Reiki sessions are suitable for all kinds of ailments, illnesses or diseases. Reiki is especially recommended during recovery processes, oncological processes and intense emotional situations. Reiki helps to reduce pain, it relieves discomfort and it removes the effects of stress. Reiki serves as an emotional support in cases of loss and depression, and it significantly reduces anxiety.
Although it is well known as a therapy, Reiki is primarily a personal practice; a set of techniques which promotes wellness and develop a path of inner growth. The Spiritual path is known as Usui Reiki Ryoho.
Usui Reiki Ryoho
The method of Reiki consists in five main elements, five practices:
1. Gassho Meditation
2. Gokai (The five principles)
4. Reiju (Initiation)
The teachings of Reiki are divided into 3 degrees known as 'Reiki levels' in the West. These degrees are called Shoden, Okuden and Shinpiden in Japanese. The last degree can be divided into two more levels.
- During the Shoden course (first level of Reiki), we study the origins and basis of Reiki, we receive Reiju (initiation), and learn self-treatment as well as how to do Reiki to another person. We practice Gassho (Meditation) and Gokai (Reiki Spiritual Principles), two of the most important pillars of the Reiki practice.
- During the Okuden course (second level of Reiki), we delve into the Reiki practice; Okuden literally means 'deeper level'. We review Shoden teachings, we receive Reiju (Initiation), and we discover how to work with our past, and how to prepare the future. We learn the Reiki symbols along with the Kotodamas (mantras). The Reiki symbols and the Kotodamas were introduced in the method of Reiki by its founder, Mikao Usui Sensei, in order to help practitioners to feel the energy and deepen their Spiritual practice.
- The Shinpiden degree is the conclusion of the training transmitted from teacher to student. The person having this training will receive the knowledge to start teaching Reiki to others.
Reiki, The secret art of inviting happiness
KYO DAKE WA (Just for today)
IKARUNA (do not be angry)
SHIN PAI SUNA (do not worry)
KAN SHE SHITE (be grateful)
GYO O HAGAME (do your duties)
HITO NI SHINSETSU NI (be kind to others)
Mornings and evenings sit in the gassho position and repeat these words out loud and in your heart.
For the improvement of mind and body.
Usui Spiritual Healing Method (USUI REIKI RYOHO)
The founder, Mikao Usui
Usui Sensei (founder of Reiki Ryoho))
The history of Reiki starts with a Japanese Buddhist monk named Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei).
Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei) was born on August 15th, 1865, in Taniai, in the department of Gifu, Japan. His family belonged to the Tendai Buddhist sect. At the age of four, he was sent to a Buddhist monastery of the same philosophical lineage, where he began his studies in primary and meditative practices. It is believed that later on, he studied literature and theology. In his youth, he married Sadako Suzuki and had two children with whom he lived in Kyoto and Tokyo.
He devoted himself to the study of Buddhist Sutras. His dedication and commitment led him to be regarded as a scholar and a highly respected Buddhist teacher. He learned Chinese and Sanskrit to study the more reliable texts. He dedicated himself to learn the art of healing that could be used and understood by all people, regardless of background, education or religion.
Usui Sensei had many different jobs throughout his life: journalist, prison official, social worker, private secretary of the politician Shimpei Goto... Eventually, he became a priest Tendai Lego, called zaike. This implied that he could continue to live with his family without having to live in the temple. When he became zaike, he adopted the name of Gyohan.
Usui Sensei lived his life seeking for spiritual realization. He was a great admirer of the work of Emperor Meiji, and he was greatly influenced by Shintoism. Usui was a very spiritual person. After his youth he decided to go deeper into his spiritual path. It is known that he spent at least three years in a Zen monastery before founding the Usui Reiki Ryoho (Reiki). Life in zen monasteries is very humble and discipline is very strict. The aim is to be at peace, to reach the Anshin Ritsumei (complete state of peace and tranquillity). Years passed and he did not feel fulfilled. In 1922, he decided to make a retreat of fasting and meditation in Kurama.
Kurama Yama is a sacred mountain in north of Kyoto, where the ancient Buddhist Kurama-dera (temple) is. The temple of Kurama was built in 770 AC and belonged to the Tendai Buddhist sect. Later, it became part of an independent Buddhist sect. Still to this day, Mount Kurama is considered as a place of great power as many scholars, monks and Reiki practitioners go to on a pilgrimage to pray and meditate.
Usui spent 21 days in Mount Kurama meditating and fasting. In March 1922, he received a great spiritual energy and reached the Satori.He decided to share his experience with the world. "This is the revelation of the universe to share my experience with as many people as possible. Through the laying on of hands as the starting point of this practice, I will convey the purpose of life: Anshin Ritsumei." (Usui Sensei)
In April 1922, Usui Sensei founded the Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Reiki Society) in Tokyo, and of which he was the first president. This Reiki Society is still active today. It has had six presidents after Usui:
. Jusaburo Ushida (1865-1935)
. Kanichi Taketomi (1878-1960)
. Yoshiharu Watanabe (? -1960)
. Hoichi Wanami (1883-1975)
. Kimiko Koyama (1906-1999)
. Masayoshi Kondo (current president)
The method of Usui Sensei was known as Usui Reiki Ryoho. When it entered to the West, most non-Japanese students would end up calling the method just ‘Reiki’.
On September 1st, 1923, Kanto earthquake devastated Tokyo and its surroundings. There were more than 140,000 deaths and many wounded people. The emperor, who had heard of Usui and his disciples, asked for help. They gladly collaborated transferring Reiki to everyone they could. Mikao Usui was honoured by the emperor with the Kun San To, the most prestigious award given to those who created honourable work. Usui began to be widely known and sought after. Many people started asking him to teach them Usui Shiki Ryoho (Reiki). He spent the last years of his life constantly travelling around the country.
Usui Sensei became ill and died at the age of sixty-two on March 9th, 1926. His remains rest in the cemetery of Saiho Ji Temple in Tokyo, where there is a large commemorative gravestone with its engraved history. His mausoleum has become in recent years a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Reiki practitioners from around the world. In his notes, Usui Sensei claims to have instructed seven hundred pupils, but on the inscription of the tombstone his followers assert that he instructed two thousand disciples. Many of them created their own Reiki clinics and schools, more than forty in 1940.
Historical Context & Influences
For a deeper comprehension of Reiki Ryoho, it is important to know the historical and religious context in which it was born.
In 1867, two years after Usui Sensei was born, Muthusuito became emperor of Japan, and he later had a great impact on Usui’s life. After Muthusuito died, in 1912, he received the name of Emperor Meiji. The Meiji era is remembered in Japan as the National Revolution (Meiji Restoration) during which important changes took place. Indeed, the Meiji Restoration marked the dissolution of Japanese feudalism and the forging of a new, modern state. Emperor Meiji established that eras would last only one reign (the Meiji era) and moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo). He also reinstated Shinto as the official religion of Japan.
Emperor Meiji learned poetry, and he began writing waka (short poems) at the age of eight. During his lifetime he composed approximately 100,000 poems in which one can notice a spiritual man with pacifist ideas. Meiji’s poems were recited in every Reiki Ryoho class, and his philosophy was also taught by Usui Sensei during Reiki classes.
Reiki Ryoho is the result of Usui Sensei's work, knowledge and spiritual practices. Usui Sensei was Buddhist; therefore the influence of Buddhism on Reiki Ryoho is unquestionable. Actually, when asked about the purpose of Reiki Ryoho, Usui Sensei replied: "Reaching the Anshin Ritsumei", which is a Buddhist concept that means 'a complete state of inner peace'.
As said before, Usui Sensei was born Buddhist Tendai and died being Buddhist; however, the influence of Shinto in his teachings is as big as Buddhism's. Usui Sensei was a great admirer of Meiji's work and as well as of Shinto religion. The main elements of Reiki Ryoho are both Buddhist and Shinto elements: meditation, purification rituals, poems, Ki (life force energy), and Gokai (The Five Spiritual Principles).
The third main influence on Reiki Ryoho besides Buddhism and Shinto is Taoism. In order to be able to understand this influence, one needs to go back a little further in history. Taoism affected Japanese culture mostly as a result of its formative influences on Zen Buddhism, although some other religious-magic Taoist practices entered Japan in the sixth century along with other borrowings from China . The notion of Tao expresses the essential unity of man and nature, and the goal of Taoism is to harmonize man’s life energy with the Tao, or Universal Spirit (the same as in Reiki Ryoho). The values of Reiki Ryoho are identical to the values of Taoism:
- Respect and care of nature.
- Serenity and harmony.
- Pursuit of spiritual development as an objective of life.
- Developing vitality and fullness as a life goal.