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Healing the Spirit with Reiki

by Chris Parkes(more info)

listed in reiki, originally published in issue 11 - April 1996

Throughout history healing methods based on the transfer of universal life force energy have always existed. Thousands of years ago, the Tibetans possessed a deep understanding of the nature of spirit, energy and matter and used this knowledge to heal their bodies, harmonise their souls and lead their spirits into an experience of unity.

This knowledge emerged later again in India and modified versions of it were known to the Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures. This knowledge was guarded and preserved by the mystery schools of most ancient cultures and was available in its entirety to very few people, usually priests or spiritual leaders who passed it on by word of mouth.

The knowledge of Reiki may not have emerged at all had it not been for the persistence of a Dr Mikao Usui who discovered the key which led to the recovery of an ancient healing tradition at the end of the 19th century.

The mid 1800s were an transformational period in Japan’s history and saw many changes occurring throughout Japanese society. Having only recently opened their shores to ‘barbarian’ foreigners, the Japanese were quickly adopting new technology spawned by the industrial revolution.

It was during this time that Dr Mikao Usui then the Dean of a small Christian University in Kyoto was asked by students whether he believed that biblical stories were factual. Affirming that he did, he was then asked whether he believed in Christ’s power to heal and whether it was possible to demonstrate this phenomena. Dr Usui told students that whilst believing in it, he was unable to demonstrate it or indeed prove that such a phenomena had ever existed.

The question intrigued Dr Usui and led to the eventual resignation of his post whereupon he left Japan to undertake research into this field. This was to ultimately become his life’s quest.

Having been taught by a number of Christian missionaries, Usui decided to begin his research in a Christian society. Usui initially studied for 7 years at the University of Chicago achieving a Doctorate in theology but failing to uncover any data that advanced his research.

Usui decided to return to Japan to study the Japanese Sutras to see if he could uncover any further material. Even if no records remained of Christ’s healings, Usui might uncover information about Buddha’s healings within the Japanese Lotus Sutras.

At several monasteries, Dr Usui, failed to uncover any records. Furthermore, his research was discouraged by Abbots and told almost universally that current emphasis was on ‘healing the spirit’ rather than physical healing.

However, Usui’s determination led him to a Zen monastery where he was encouraged by the Abbot and offered a base from which to continue his studies. Inspired by this Abbot’s enthusiasm, Dr Usui remained with the monastery for a considerable period of time where he studied the Sutras in Japanese.

Not achieving the results hoped for, Dr Usui began an in-depth study of Chinese, Buddha’s native language, hoping the Chinese Sutras would reveal more information. Once again, the information that was uncovered was less than anticipated.

Usui decided the next step would be to study the Sutras of Tibet for which a knowledge of Sanskrit was necessary. Not deterred, Dr Usui then applied himself to acquire a knowledge of Sanskrit. After some time, it is said that Dr Usui then made a trip to Northern India, to the Himalayas where it is said, he may have studied Tibetan scrolls found during the 19th century documenting the travels of St Isa, whom several scholars believe to have been Jesus.

Whether Usui studied these ancient scrolls or other scrolls is not known, but it is believed that he had found some answers in the Japanese Lotus Sutras and had then uncovered some writings by an unknown student of Buddha’s, possibly in Tibet, which outlined a method by which Buddha was able to heal. Usui was, however, unable to make this technique actually work. Though unable to actually empower the formula Usui felt he had now found the key.

Returning to the Zen monastery, Usui sought advice from the Abbot. It was agreed that the next step after some 14 years of research, was to engage on a mountain retreat and undertake a 21 day fast and meditation rather in the style of the Native American ‘Vision Quest’.

Dr Usui set out for a sacred mountain about 17 miles from Kyoto, Mount Kuri Yama. He reached a specific eastern facing point, where accompanied only by 21 stones to act as his calendar, he began his retreat and meditation.

After 20 days of meditation, nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. Just before the predawn on the 21st day, Usui saw a flicker of light appear in the darkness. This light began to move very quickly towards him. As it grew larger, Usui began to feel frightened. His immediate impulse was to retreat but feeling that this could be some sort of sign or even the answer he had been waiting for, Usui decided not to move and braced himself for whatever was to come. The light quickly came closer to him and struck him on the forehead.

Usui later recounted that he thought he had died. A vision of millions of rainbow coloured bubbles appeared before his eyes. These became white glowing bubbles each one containing a 3 dimensional Sanskrit character in gold. They would appear one by one, just slowly enough for him to register each character. Finally the vision faded and Usui awoke from a trance-like state surprised to find that it was now broad daylight.

Usui rose quickly to descend the mountain to relay the occurrence to his friend the Abbot at the Zen monastery. Usui was astonished to find he felt extraordinarily well despite his fast and knew that there had been some sort of inner transformation as a result of the vision.

It wasn’t until some years later that Dr Usui fully understood the purpose of the symbols he had received in the vision but he quickly became aware both of his own positive state of health immediately after the 21 day fast as well as the emergence of an ability to demonstrate healing.

On his descent, Dr Usui in his haste injured his toe and placing his hands on the injured area for a few moments was astonished to find that the bleeding stopped and pain subsided after his hands were removed. He later stopped for refreshments at an inn where he noticed the daughter of the innkeeper in great pain with toothache. Asking permission to place his hands over the painful area, Dr Usui found that the pain and swelling rapidly diminished, to the delight of the innkeeper’s daughter.

On his return to the Monastery, Dr Usui found that the Abbot was suffering from arthritis, Once again, Usui found he was able to relieve the discomfort by placing his hands over the painful areas. Subsequently he decided to begin work in the beggars’ quarters of Kyoto, where it is said he apparently successfully healed a number of people of all ages.

Hoping for their successful reintegration into society, Dr Usul was later distraught to find that after several years, those who had been healed and had gone on to find jobs in the city, were beginning to re-appear in the beggars quarters. Devastated, he realised that he may well have been healing the physical and not the spirit as the Abbots had earlier emphasised. He began to appreciate that he had failed to teach them responsibility and also that the healing of the spirit was every bit as important as healing the physical.

Dr Usui realised that the purpose of the symbols in his vision was, in fact, to attune others, so they could take responsibility for their own well being. By helping them to amplify their own energy, they could make progress towards self mastery. By having given Reiki away, he recognised he had further impressed the beggar pattern within them. People needed to give back for what they received or life would be valueless. It was necessary to have an exchange of energy.

Dr Usui went on to develop the system of healing as we know it today, which he named Reiki, a Japanese word derived from ‘Rei’ meaning universal and ‘Ki’ meaning life force energy.

Using the symbols to attune people, he began to teach Reiki all over Japan. He introduced 5 ethical principles and taught self treatment and the treatment of others. He also began to train other teachers and before his death at the turn of the century, Dr Usui handed the responsibility of carrying on the Reiki tradition to a retired naval officer, Dr Chujiro Hayashi.

Dr Hayashi founded a Reiki clinic in Tokyo and it was here that a Japanese American woman from Hawaii appeared. Mrs Hawayo Takata was a widow with two young children suffering from depression plus a number of organic disorders. It was through Mrs Takata that Reiki was to eventually come to the West. On the verge of surgery, Mrs Takata had heard the voice of her late husband discouraging her from having the operation and urging her to find ‘another way’. She subsequently conferred with the doctor and it was suggested she try the Reiki clinic. Mrs Takata received numerous treatments and was subsequently healed.

Understandably impressed, Mrs Takata was keen to learn Reiki and bring it back to Hawaii. In the male dominated Japanese society of that era, Mrs Takata encountered considerable opposition, but her persistence paid off and she was eventually taught 1st and 2nd Degree Reiki. She later returned to the United States where she began to practice. In 1938, Dr Hayashi came out to Hawaii where he made Mrs Takata a teacher (or a Master) of Reiki.

Dr Hayashi returned to Japan and later discussed with Mrs Takata the impending war between Japan and the United States. A powerful psychic, Dr Hayashi foresaw the outcome of the forthcoming war and its implications. Mrs Takata travelled back to Japan where Dr Hayashi warned her of the preparations she would need to make in order to protect Reiki. Dr Hayashi died prior to the outbreak of war. Mrs Takata returned to Hawaii where she continued her practice of Reiki. After the war, Reiki was lost in Japan and
Mrs Takata became the sole bearer of this knowledge.

Mrs Takata was to continue with her practice of Reiki for another 40 years and it was not until the 1970s that she began to train other teachers. She subsequently died in 1980 having made 21 other Masters. Today there are many more than this and Reiki has spread to many countries in the world.

The key to Reiki and the main difference between this and other healing modalities is the attunement process, the catalyst for amplifying the life force energy (ki). In Usui’s day, students would travel with him for a period of time, slowly becoming initiated into the various levels of Reiki. In modern times the division of attunements into Degrees enables the integration into present day living.

Reiki is taught and easily learned over a weekend but it is recommended that at least 3 months elapse between 1st and 2nd Degree to assimilate the energy. Both self treatment and the treatment of others is taught at 1st Degree level and students are taught to give self treatments on a daily basis for at least 21 days following the workshop. Tuition also includes exercises for developing kinaesthetic sensitivity.

There is no intellectual process involved in learning Reiki and it is a simple technique when it comes to application. Practitioners at 1st Degree level are taught 12 basic hand positions or holds in which hands are usually placed on the body although Reiki is as effective above the body, within the body’s energetic field, if this is preferred. An optional 2nd Degree level further amplifies the throughput of Reiki energy and teaches a technique of sending the energy to an absent recipient.

Reiki combines well with other complementary therapies and indeed with conventional forms of medicine as described by Nancy Eos M.D. in her book ‘Reiki and Medicine’ published by the US author in 1995. Workshops are attended by many people who are not medical professionals, increasingly more doctors, healing practitioners, masseurs, physical therapists and psychologists participate. Walter Lubeck in his book ‘Reiki For First Aid’ includes practical advice for using Reiki treatment as accompanying therapy for over 40 types of illness.

Anecdotal success stories abound but as yet no serious scientific research has been undertaken to assess the effectiveness of Reiki. Kirlian photography taken before and during a Reiki session has shown increased heat emanating from the hands during treatment.

Self treatment is very simple and effective as a means of relaxation and stress relief. Sufferers from fatigue syndromes often experience raised energy levels after taking Reiki or indeed experiencing Reiki. Hyperactivity is usually tempered by deep relaxation for extended periods after taking Reiki. Emotional balance is restored. Reiki often effectively provides pain relief from acute conditions though relief from chronic conditions often takes longer and may spark a healing crisis before symptoms diminish totally.

Reiki has been described as a remarkable key to help develop conscious awareness but results are unpredictable. A symptom is regarded as a kind of information medium to assist us to recognise and integrate aspects of our being which we either have no conscious awareness of, or which we have repressed. It is this non-consciousness which makes us ill. Reiki heightens this conscious awareness and spontaneous emotional releases during Reiki treatments are not uncommon.

Many doctors, psychologists and natural health practitioners who combine Reiki with other forms of treatment have achieved good results. The possibilities for combining the various techniques are endless.

Finding a teacher is usually a matter of finding a traditionally trained Master that you resonate with. It is important to find a traditionally trained teacher who has undertaken a 12 months teacher training period and receives ongoing supervision from their own Master. There are Masters, initiated over a weekend, often by overseas teachers, who without teacher training themselves and with only a superficial knowledge of Reiki offer training (often in combination with diverse variations) but are often less able or willing to offer future support to students.

Since Mrs Takata trained 21 masters to practice and teach Reiki, this healing  art has been taught to health practitioners, conventional medical practitioners and lay people on every continent. That this is a beneficial holistic treatment cannot be disputed. Almost every condition is said to benefit from Reiki as the increased levels of life force energy travels through the body’s energetic grid system dissolving barriers to harmony. By amplifying the body’s vibratory rate, Reiki enables each person to channel larger amounts of life force energy and raise the vibratory level of the planet as a whole.
For information about Reiki training or finding a practitioner contact Reiki Master Chris Parkes at the Reiki Centre on 0161 980 6453

Recommended reading (Available through the Reiki Centre)

Empowerment Through Reiki by Paula Horan. Lotus Light Publications (US) ISBN 0-941524-84-1
Reiki, Universal Life Force Energy by Bodo J Baginksi and Shalila Sharamon. Life Rhythm  Publications (US) ISBN 0-940795-02-7
A Complete Book of Reiki Healing by Brigitte Muller and Horst H Gunther. LifeRhythm Publications  ISBN 0-940795-16-7
Reiki for First Aid by Walter Lubeck. Lotus Light Publications (US) ISBN 0-91 4955-26-
Reiki and Medicine by Nancy Eos M.D. Nancy Eos. ISBN 0-9644923-0-x

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About Chris Parkes

Contact Reiki Master Chris Parkes at the Reiki Centre on 0161 980 6453

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