And what would an Usui Reiki Master get from taking this class? How often have I been asked this question in person or by email. This time, though, I have been asked in a public way, so I thought I had perhaps best answer in public, too. First of all: Jikiden Reiki is Usui Reiki, as this simple hand-healing method started with Mikao Usui in Japan in 1922. ‘Jikiden’ means directly transmitted, and in the Japanese language and culture, is a term that refers to a traditional art form, passed on carefully from teacher to student without changes.
Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who had learned Reiki from one of the teachers trained by Usui Sensei, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, and her son Tadao decided to pass on what they had learned from Dr. Hayashi after they had met with many Western Reiki practitioners and realised how much the practice had changed, with so many new elements having come in that orginally had nothing to do with Reiki practice, and with notions that they considered fundamental to Reiki practice either not known at all or marginalised.
What would a Usui Reiki master get from taking Jikiden Reiki training? I have taught a number of Reiki masters, who have hugely appreciated what we teach and who found that it has clarified many questions for them and deepened their understanding and their practice. I have also met one or two who were happier with their own way of doing things.
So, I will answer your question from my personal experience, as ultimately we choose what’s right for us, and that’s individually different isn’t it. Having trained in Western Reiki to master level first (which in itself was a wonderful experience, and Reiki as a healing practice ‘caught’ me straight away), I could nonetheless sense the inconsistencies and felt uncomfortable at being given tools with applications that I knew from experience, worked just fine, but didn’t know where they were coming from. Incidentally, I have heard Phylllis Furomoto express what seems to me a very similar frustration at her experience of learning Reiki from her grandmother, Hawayo Takata, in two interviews.
I want to make it very clear that we have no criticism of Mrs Takata and are deeply grateful to her for having found a universal format (i.e. devoid of it’s original (Japanese) cultural and spiritual context) that allowed Reiki practice to successfully spread in many countries around the world. But in different historic circumstances from those Takata sensei found herself in in Hawaii and America just after the World War II, we can now gain access to the specific Japanese cultural and spiritual roots of Reiki practice, and for me that is important, as it makes the practice intelligible and trustworthy, and allows for deeper understanding.
Just for the record, I’m not saying that only Jikiden Reiki training allows for understanding of Reiki practice, and I have seen many practitioners grow deep roots and insight into the nature of Reiki simply from consistent practice (the path that Takata sensei recommended). I had also realised a thing or two about Reiki practice and Reiki treatment in this intuitive way that weren’t being taught in Western Reiki. (My first Reiki Master had learned in the 1980s, just a few steps away from Mrs Takata). You can imagine my delight when I found these confirmed, explained and elaborated upon in the Jikiden Reiki teachings. In my opinion though it was perhaps the fact that Reiki was passed on without its Japanese roots that has also opened the door widely to misunderstandings and to Reiki becoming amalgamated and confused with so many other ways of thinking about energy work. Instead of blending everything with everything else until we end up with grey, why not simply accept that there are many paths to healing, and different windows to truth (and keep our window clean)?
Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that combining Reiki practice with other healing modalities or other thought systems is necessarily wrong and must never happen. But we are now in a situation where Reiki has become amorphous and personally, I can understand why anyone with their critical faculties intact might dismiss this wonderfully simple and accessible healing modality after a 20 minute browse on the internet. Jikiden Reiki is very much about keeping the practice as much as possible to how it was conceived of by its founder, and there’s a rigour and discipline in Jikiden Reiki that I see as a mark of respect to the original teachers. Reiki was born out of an experience of enlightenment and crafted as a healing method from a broad knowledge base of different traditions. Mikao Usui prided himself in the simplicity of the method he had created, and to me this is one if its incredible strengths.
Asked why he hasn’t founded his own school of Reiki, internationally respected Reiki teacher, researcher and author Frank Arjava Petter gave the following answer in a recent newsletter: “Personally I don’t see the point in adding another new form of Reiki to the confusion because I think that trying to improve upon “soul energy”- Reiki- is quite inappropriate. Let’s be respectful instead to what we have been given by Usui Sensei and those who carried the torch after him.”
So without being able to reveal the details of Jikiden Reiki practice (you will appreciate that these are being passed on directly from teacher to student), what are some of the aspects that I most appreciate about Jikiden Reiki?
I value the conceptual framework for how Reiki energy interacts with the diseased body and think that it has great practical value. In Jikiden Reiki, we don’t work with set hand positions, but instead focus treatment on the areas where there are accumulations of toxins (byosen), using Reiki to help the body break them down and eliminate them more effectively. From a jikiden point of view, a toxin free body tends to naturally show a quick healing response and is quite capable of looking after itself. Yet, living in the 21st century it’s almost impossible not to experience toxin overload. Training practitioners to develop sensitivity in their hands so they can find the problem areas in my opinion is an invaluable asset, as working directly on the problem areas tends to get faster results when illness is already manifest and is also a skill of great value in preventative health care. Using Reiki early on, perhaps we never need to experience the more serious conditions that may develop if we don’t regularly clear the build up of toxins. And what a blessing to have the means to do this in our own hands!
While the concept of byosen can easily be taught in a week-end workshop, you will appreciate that the skill of effectively reading a client’s body comes with time. This most useful perception skill is subtle at first and really begins to unfold with practice, ideally on others, not just oneself. Once fully developed, the ability to sense byosen gives useful insight into the natural healing process, and helps the practitioner make important treatment decisions: where to focus treatment and for how long. Are we dealing with a chronic problem or is it acute? How long to stay in the same area during a session, and how many sessions will be needed? Don’t get me wrong: We are not medically trained and cannot diagnose the nature of the problem or name your disease. We simply decide where focusing Reiki treatment is most useful, and can assess healing progress and frequency of treatments needed for best results based on the changing sensations in our hands. On a number of occasions, the ability to sense byosen has also helped me to find areas where emotional trauma was stored in the body, and for this then to be safely released with Reiki treatment.
Going back to why adding more isn’t always a good idea and may create clutter where there once was clarity, I really admire the simplicity of the healing system created by Mikao Usui. Once the original context and intentions have been re-inserted into Reiki practice, we simply don’t need to worry about many of the complicated debates found in Western Reiki (on issues such as grounding or protection for example) as we realize that the answer has already been built right into the core of Reiki practice. “In the Western mind everything seems so complicated”, Chiyoko sensei once said. I love the elegance of a system that takes care of complexity in the simplest possible way.
Personally, I also like that spirituality in Jikiden Reiki is implied in everything, as natural as water or air, and therefore need not be shouted from the roof-tops. (My colleague, Amanda Jayne has written a wonderful blog post on this, which I would encourage you to read). Instead we focus on becoming compassionate by working on ourselves. For this we have the Gokai, or 5 Reiki principles, which Arjava Petter describes not only as a road-map to enlightenment, but also as a reliable compass of our progress, indicating where we still need to work on ourselves. And this, at least in my case, is very much work in progress, and helps me to keep humble and real.
I had already mentioned how grateful I am for the insight Jikiden Reiki allows into the tools that we use in Reiki practice. This is a far different experience from being given shapes and words and their application. Learning about the context from which these tools were taken and their inherent meaning and function not only makes sense of the treatment methods we use (physical, psychological and distant) but also allows for a unique insight into the philosophy behind Reiki practice and the world view underlying it. It is also here that we find the answers to issues that have become very complicated and involved in Western thinking about Reiki. Again, everything fits so elegantly and addresses the task at hand in such a straightforward way. Sei Heki treatment for example accomplishes incredible results, even with long-term mental or emotional patterns, and knowing the background to this treatment method it becomes clear how this can be achieved in such a simple way. I am of course not saying that you will find scientific explanations here, and you probably don’t expect this. I find Jikiden Reiki spiritually trustworthy and offering a coherent system though.
Ultimately, everything we do in Reiki practice is designed to bring us back, gently and at our own pace, to our original state of perfection and oneness, and Jikiden Reiki offers simple and effective tools along this way.