What is Reiki?
Conduct an internet search on 'Reiki' (pronounced ray‑kee) and you are likely to find definitions ranging from a “hands‑on healing technique” to “spiritual energy work” to an “ancient Tibetan or ancient Egyptian practice.” These often contradictory results can leave the searcher dazed and confused. So what IS Reiki? Simply put, Reiki is an original, two-fold system of natural healing created by a Japanese man named, Mikao Usui, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Reiki is a two-fold practice:
At its core, Reiki is first and foremost a spiritual practice, meant for personal enhancement and personal enlightenment.
Reiki is also a gentle, hands-on energetic healing technique used for stress reduction and relaxation that enhances the body’s ability to heal itself. It works on all levels (physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual) to promote balance within the system. It can be performed on oneself, on another person or child, or on pets, plants, food, medicine, or practically anything around you. Hands may be placed on or slightly above the recipient in various positions.
As a spiritual practice, Reiki can help to:
Enhance harmony and balance in one’s life
Connect to the present moment
Feel centered and at peace
Develop composure and calmness
Discover one’s true nature and connection to Source
Increase one’s own natural healing ability
As a hands-on healing technique, Reiki can help to:
Increase energy levels
Strengthen the immune system
Reduce after/side effects of surgery/drugs
Reduce stress and anxiety
Support the release of limiting emotions, patterns, and addictions
Enhance other health care interventions
Founder of Usui Reiki Ryoho
What is Reiki Ryoho? (Reiki healing art)
There is a difference between the terms Reiki and Reiki Ryoho.
Reiki = Energy of the Universe
Ryo = Healing
Ho = Art/Method
Reiki Ryoho is the term that Usui Sensei used to describe the hands-on healing art he created after his enlightenment on the mountain. This method is meant to improve first the mind and then the body (not the body, then the mind); and to guide the practitioner on the personal path to enlightenment, or Satori. This is accomplished by remembering our innate connection to the inexhaustible and unlimited energy of the Universe.
Reiki Ryoho is relatively easy to learn and very simple to use. Anyone can be initiated into Reiki Ryoho and become a Reiki practitioner to heal themselves and others. We begin by rediscovering our natural healing ability. We start by healing ourselves first. We can then share this healing ability with others, developing in us a sense of love and compassion.
Many people who use the term Reiki are actually referring to Reiki Ryoho, or the hands-on healing practice. Reiki refers to the inexhaustible energy of the universe, which cannot be defined or confined, while Reiki Ryoho is the hands on healing method. This is why Reiki can be said to be a two-fold practice: both a path to self-realization and an energetic healing art.
Gradually, with continued practice, Reiki Ryoho can guide us to higher levels of mental clarity, physical wholeness, and a harmonious integration of our own being that leads us to experience our true disposition: unconditional joy, inner peace, wisdom and compassion for all life.
Reiki = energy of the universe
Reiki Ryoho = hands-on healing practice
Where did the system of Usui Reiki Ryoho originate?
The best way to understand the answer to this question is to look at both the origins of the practice and the actual definition of the term.
In the early 1900’s, a Japanese lay Buddhist practitioner of the Jodo‑Shu or Pure Land sect named Mikao Usui set out to discover Satori or ‘enlightenment’ and Anshin Ritsumei or ‘absolute inner peace.’
His search led him down many avenues, but each one left him unfulfilled. Eventually, he decided to go on a spiritual quest by meditating and fasting on the sacred Mt. Kurama near Kyoto and achieve enlightenment by any means possible. In 1922, after enduring 21 days of fasting and intense meditation, Usui Sensei experienced a state of consciousness that he characterized as “One Great Reiki.”
The word ‘Reiki’ isn’t an actual word at all, but rather a combination of two kanji. Kanji can take on different meanings depending upon the context in which it is used and what other kanji it is combined with. Possible meanings of Rei and Ki are:
1. Human spirit or soul.
2. Spirit or ghost.
4. The universe
5. Divine, luminous, charismatic, supernatural, mysterious.
6. A supernatural (mythical) beast or being; a fairy, an elf.
7. Reverence, sacredness, or blessing.
1. Something unseen.
3. Vital energy (personal or universal).
4. Air, breath, or steam.
So, the kanji for ’Reiki’ can possibly be defined as the miraculous and sacred energy of the universe, which infuses and sustains all life. And it is this definition that Usui Sensei intended when using the word to describe his experience on the mountain.
Actually, the two kanji for ‘Reiki’ are extremely common in Japan and can be used in a variety of contexts unrelated to the word ‘Reiki’ as it is commonly used in other parts of the world. Basically, it was only with non-Japanese speaking people that the term ‘Reiki’ became popularly synonymous with describing the enlightenment and inner peace Mikao Usui Sensei discovered during his meditation on Mt. Kurama. Indeed, if you were to say to a Japanese person that you ‘did Reiki,’ they might look at you quizzically, not knowing what you meant!
The spiritual enlightenment Usui Sensei experienced on the mountain revealed a realization of what the Buddhists call “the true nature of all things.” This realization can be said to be an awareness of the “Ocean of Oneness”* that permeates and connects everything in the Universe to everything else in the Universe, along with the realization that we already possess a great, innate healing ability.
Nothing heals the body except for the body. If you cut yourself, what heals you? You do. Or rather your body heals itself. You may help it along by keeping the wound cleaned and covered, but the bandage does not do the healing. Rather it simply helps facilitate the innate healing that already exists. The ability has always been there, inside you. You already have it.
There is a common misconception that Reiki is something you ‘receive’ during a ceremonial practice called 'Reiju' (or attunement). It implies that before reiju, you did not have Reiki, but after reiju, you suddenly have been given something you did not previously possess. It also implies that Reiki energy is separate from us and that a Reiki practitioner will ‘channel’ Reiki in order to ‘transfer or give the energy’ to a recipient. Since Reiki means the energy of the universe, you cannot be separated from it, and it cannot be separated from you. You are it, and it is you. This means that you already ‘have Reiki’. Reiju simply wakes you up to this fact. In a way, it ‘turns on the switch’.
Along with Usui Sensei’s sudden ‘enlightenment’ to the ‘true nature of all things’, was the understanding that this realization also amplified his natural ability to heal himself and others. What followed was the creation of a system that Usui Sensei called “Usui Reiki Ryoho.” This system was designed to lead individuals to attain the enlightened state of consciousness that he himself experienced, as well as activate and enhance the innate healing ability that everyone possesses.
霊 Rei = spiritual/universal
気 Ki = energy/vital life force
*term quoted from Geshe Kalsang Damdul la