Mikao Usui (1865 ~ 1926)
The Founder of Reiki was born on the 15th August 1865 in Taniai, Gifu prefecture, Japan.
The original name of the system he developed was called:
心身改善臼井靈氣療法 = Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho
“Usui Reiki Treatment Method for Improvement of Body and Mind”.
Just to be clear…
We respectfully refer to our teacher as Usui Sensei, as is the practice in Japan.
In March 1922 Usui Sensei went to Mt Kurama, to meditate and fast in preparation for his death…
Twenty + days into his fast on Mt Kurama, Usui Sensei felt a powerful shock in the centre of his brain. It was as if he had been struck by lightning and he became unconscious. Divine Reiki energy had penetrated his body and soul. He had no idea how long he had been unconscious… after several hours he woke as dawn was breaking. To his surprise he felt refreshed in a way he had never felt before and he came to realise…
“The Universe is in me – I am the Universe.”
Had he achieved the Enlightenment he had been seeking?
Just to be sure… He would go and speak to the Abbot at the Zen Temple in Kyoto. As he ran joyously down the mountain, he tripped over a rock and ripped off his toe nail. He held it in his hand and to his surprise the pain disappeared and the bleeding stopped; the toe was healed… completely. At the nearby village of Kibune, just below Mt Kurama, he met a girl with toothache and he healed this, by placing his hands on her face.
When he spoke to the Abbot, telling him all that had happened, he confirmed that Usui Sensei had achieved Enlightenment… Anjin Ryumei. The Abbot suggested he take this miraculous healing ability to the people…
He began by treating members of his family, with good results and people around him also came for healing. After some experimenting, Usui Sensei developed a way to pass the gift of Reiki; with its wonderful healing ability onto to others… To enable people to transmit Reiki to themselves and others.
A month after his Enlightenment on M.t Kurama, Usui Sensei moved to Tokyo… To spread and teach his system of Reiki there.
Life before Reiki…
Educated at the local village temple school = Terakoya, Usui Sensei received a Buddhist education; as this temple belongs to the Jodo Shu school, or Pure land Buddhism. This is what happened all over rural Japan, as there was no primary school in the village for the children to go to, in those days.
Usui Sensei was a simple man, who at times struggled to make a living… He had a thirst for knowledge and an interest in health and healing.
After working in many different jobs throughout his life, as a company employee; a Shinto missionary; a counsellor working to rehabilitate prisoners; he became a civil servant and the political secretary to Count Shinpei Goto. As a public servant of this high born politician and highly respected statesman, Usui Sensei made several trips abroad, something which was very rare for ordinary citizens in Japan back then.
Usui Sensei then started his own business; though it is not known exactly what that was… However, we do know he found himself in great financial difficulties and he went bankrupt. He suffered an identity crisis… which led him to question many things and he asked ask himself “What is the true purpose of life?”
He concluded “The ultimate purpose of life is to attain state of complete peace of mind” called, Anjin Ryumei = An inner state of peace and contentment, complete stillness. In Jodo Buddhism, this is seen as Enlightenment.
In 1919 Usui Sensei went to a Zen Temple in Kyoto on meditation retreat = Satori. After 3 years of hard ascetic training, he had not been able to achieve what he was seeking, so he asked the Abbot of the Temple for advice. He replied by saying “Well, maybe you should experience death.”
From our Western perspective, this may seem a strange reply…
Some Zen Buddhist schools hold the view that if one has not reached Enlightenment by the age of 43, Usui Sensei was now in his mid 50’s… One has to take grave measures to reach the Ultimate. At death as the physical and etheric bodies begin to disintegrate, a true seeker may come “home” to his natural state and find eternal peace. In Japan it is thought the soul returns home after death at around 49 days or so… This is a common held belief throughout Asia and where people believe in reincarnation… Siddhartha Gautama; now simply known as the Buddha, meditated and achieved Enlightenment whilst sitting under a Bodhi tree in India.
In March 1922 Usui Sensei went to Mt Kurama to meditate and fast… In preparation for death. The mountain lies just outside of Kyoto, on the north-west side of the city. It has been a sacred place for Japanese people for thousands of years, with the Kurama Temple being founded in 770 AD and several Buddhist Temples followed in 796 AD. Come rain or shine it is a beautiful place, the sky is clear and the air is pure…
The spread of Reiki in Japan
The month following his experience on Mt. Kurama, Usui Sensei moved to Tokyo and founded the “Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai” a study institute and treatment centre. It was very popular with people coming from far and wide for Reiki treatments and training.
However, Usui Sensei noticed that some people who had overcome diseases with Reiki treatments often came back with new health problems. From the ups and downs of his own life and the years of ascetic training he had undertaken… He realised for people to be completely healed, they needed to change the way they think and find a new way of being…
So he created the five principles for happiness for people to follow daily, the Gokai.
He developed a way for people to be able to transmit Reiki, to be able to heal themselves and others, Reiju.
Once people could transmit Reiki, he showed them how to detect the toxins that were present in the body, how to sense Byosen.
These core teachings are part of the Jikiden Reiki Training Courses, we offer today… along with other techniques that Usui Sensei created.
Usui Sensei also travelled all over Japan giving Reiki treatments and openly teaching people his system of Reiki… Before his death, it is thought there were over I million Reiki Practitioners in Japan. Sadly, this exhaustive work load led to him having 2 “strokes” or cerebral haemorrhages, the first was healed with Reiki… The second was more serious and Usui Sensei died at the age of 62 on the 9th March 1926.
To carry on his work and keep Reiki alive, Usui Sensei had created 20 Shihans = Teachers, by 26th January 1926.
How Reiki spread around the world
Permitting these 20 Shihans/Teachers to teach and spread Reiki: to have students of their own… Usui Sensei had been prepared well for his own death. Due to the political and cultural changes that took place in 1920’s Japan, only those with a medical license were permitted to “heal” as any form of Spiritual healing was outlawed… This is probably why the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai became a closed group and has stayed that way…
Doctor Chujiro Hayashi, who we will respectfully call Hayashi Sensei, achieved the level of Shihan or Teacher in 1925 at the age of 43. He was one of the original 20 Shihans having learnt directly from Usui Sensei. Originally a naval officer he was also a medical doctor, though now in private practice.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, Hayashi Sensei’s had opened his own treatment centre = Dojo in Tokyo, with the blessing of Usui Sensei some time before he died… He later founded the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai = Institute, which grew rapidly due to his medical status.
The ONLY thing that Hayashi Sensei changed; from the Reiki he had learnt from his teacher, was the introduction of low massage tables for people to be treated on. Before this, people lay on futons rolled out on the floor, the traditional bed for many Japanese people to sleep on, even today. This made life easier for the practitioners giving Reiki to people… and was most probably what Hayashi Sensei used to examine patients as a doctor.
The Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai is where Hawayo Takata, a Japanese American born in Hawaii, came to learn Reiki. She studied Shoden and Okuden levels with Hayashi Sensei. Returning home to Hawaii in 1937 and being visited by Hayashi Sensei later that year… she set up a Dojo and for many years she gave treatments in Hawaii and later in her life started teaching Reiki to people. So Reiki was able to travel around the world, as the founder had wished… Today this is the route of all Western styles of Reiki…
Just as his teacher Usui Sensei had done, Hayashi Sensei began travelling around Japan to teach Reiki and this is how he got invited to Ishikawa… In 1938 at the age of 17, Chiyoko Yamaguchi learnt Reiki directly from Hayashi Sensei which she practiced daily, throughout her long life. Chiyoko Sensei had been giving treatments and teaching people Reiki in a quiet way… in her family home, for many years.
No… Reiki never died out in Japan, as many had thought…
When Chiyoko Sensei was visited by some Western Reiki Masters in the late 1990’s, they asked her if she could replicate the original teachings she had received… as so much had changed on its journey around the world, for one reason or another…
Together with her son, Tadao Yamaguchi they founded the Jikiden Reiki Kenkyukai in an attempt to bring authentic Japanese Reiki to the world again. In the spring of 2000, they held the first Jikiden Reiki seminar for students in Japan. Now Tadao Sensei share this knowledge, teaching Jikiden Reiki seminars all over the world.