The style of Reiki I was taught by my Master/Teacher, Leza Mclean, was Usui Shiki Ryoho, and I will write about the history from this aspect. There are lots of books and websites which outline alternative ways of learning and practising Reiki.*
Mikao Usui (1865-1926)
Mr Mikao Usui was a learned scholar who taught philosophy at a Christian college in Kyoto. He was challenged by a student asking if he believed the stories in the Bible that Jesus could heal and if so why they were not being taught how to do the same. Usui did not know how Jesus healed, and so he decided to search for the answer. Usui toured Japan, America and Europe where he learnt a lot of languages and researched the Christian Scriptures and Buddhist teaching. On his return to Japan he stayed in a Zen Buddhist monastery, which was situated at the base of Mount Kurama.
While Usui stayed at the monastery he came across some ancient scripts, which gave information about healing but not how it was done. The Abbot advised him to go up Mount Kurama to meditate and fast for 21 days. At the end of the 21 days he was struck by a great light, and saw the sacred symbols, ones he had seen before but not understood, and came to an understanding of the symbols, and received a spiritual empowerment and enlightenment.
In Usui’s haste to return to the monastery he stubbed his toe (he wore only open toe sandals) causing a lot of pain. Instinctively, he bent down to hold his foot which then stopped bleeding and the pain went away so he was healed. On reaching the bottom of the mountain he asked for some food at an Inn as he had had only water for 21 days. It was the Innkeeper’s daughter whom Usui then treated for an abscess on her tooth and her swelling went down and the pain subsided. Back at the monastery he was told the Abbot’s arthritis was bad so he treated him with his hands and the pain went away. He then realized he had discovered the healing power for which he had been searching.
Usui then spent many years healing people in Japan. In 1921 he opened a clinic in Tokyo and began to teach as well. There was a devastating earthquake in 1923, thousands of people died, were injured and made homeless. Usui and his students offered Reiki to many people, and was honoured by the Emperor, after which his fame spread all over Japan.
Dr Chujiro Hayashi (1880-1940)
In 1925 Mikayo Usui trained Dr Chujiro Hayashi (a retired naval doctor in the Japanese navy, who worked along side Usui until he died at the age of 60). By this time Dr Hayashi had reached the masters level and he was interested in developing the treatments so that he could use them in his medical profession. He used the set hand positions that related to the physical body.
After Mikayo Usui’s death he opened a Reiki clinic and named it Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu Kai (Hayashi Spiritual Energy Society) in 1931. The clients were treated usually by two or more practitioners. Dr Hayashi died in 1940 when it is said he committed suicide because he could see the second world war coming and he knew that he would be called up to fight. Dr Hayashi could not see himself killing after all the work he had done on himself with Reiki so he took his own life.
In 1935 a young woman from Hawaii called Mrs Hawayo Takata returned to Japan because both her sister and husband had died as well as becoming ill herself. She was admitted to hospital for an operation but before that took place she intuitively felt there was another way other than surgery. She chose to visit Dr Hayashi’s Reiki clinic, and after several months of treatments she became fully well. Mrs Takata was so impressed she demanded to know more about Reiki and begged to be able to learn it. Dr Hayashi relented (women had never been trained before, and Mrs Takata was deemed a foreigner as she came from America) and agreed to teach her. Mrs Takata lived with his family and worked without pay in his clinic in exchange for the privilege of being able to learn the first and second levels of Reiki.
Eventually Mrs Takata returned to Hawaii and in 1937 she opened the first Reiki clinic in the West. Dr Hayashi and his family visited her and he saw that her commitment was so great that he felt she had proved herself and initiated Mrs Takata to the master’s level. Mrs Takata continued to teach Reiki and run her clinic in Hawaii. She also travelled throughout America and Canada, treating people and teaching Reiki. She introduced two levels of Reiki (First and Second Degree). It was in the 1970’s she introduced the third and final Master’s Degree so that others would be able to continue teaching Reiki once she had gone. She trained a total of 22 Masters (it was very expensive to train to this level, 50 Yen, which was equivalent to buying a house in those days). The people she trained came from all over the world and this is one of the reasons why Reiki has spread so quickly worldwide.
I hope you have found this brief history interesting and encouraging enough for you to read further and learn about other branches of Reiki, and maybe book yourself a treatment or on a training course. You will not regret it.
The following are a few books and websites which I found helpful and interesting:
* Reiki for Life by Penelope Quest
* The Reiki Sourcebook by Bronwen and Frans Stiene (more suited to someone trained into Reiki)
* Reiki and the Seven Chakras by Richard Ellis
* International House of Reiki – www.ihreiki.com
* The International Centre for Reiki Training – www.reiki.org
* The Reiki Council – www.reikicouncil.org.uk
* The UK Reiki Federation – www.reikifed.co.uk