The history of Reiki has been the subject of much debate. The Reiki Alliance has supported one version of the history, through our Lineage Bearer Phyllis Lei Furumoto, which was passed down by her Grandmother Lineage Bearer Hawayo Takata. However, differing versions of the history have been surfacing over the past few years and many of these versions, with roots in Japan, appear to contradict parts of the official version passed down by Hawayo Takata. Rather than declare a definitive version, the key elements of the story are illustrated below. In fact, the real history of Reiki starts with you in First Degree.
About a hundred years ago, a Japanese man, named Dr. Mikao Usui had a mystical experience in an extended meditation on a mountain top in Japan. This experience lead him to an understanding and a practice of hands-on healing. A few years later, a retired medical doctor and naval officer by the name of Dr. Chujiro Hayashi assisted Dr. Usui in creating a system of healing based on this ancient healing art which Dr. Usui called Reiki. This system of healing became known (in Japanese) as the Usui System of Natural Healing. The system was comprised of standard forms of treatment, five personal precepts plus principles of conduct and treatment. Reiki is not aligned to any particular religious group or practice. When Dr. Usui died he passed all of his teachings on to Dr. Hayashi. In the late nineteen thirties Dr. Hayashi foresaw World War II, and also that Japan would enter the war and lose. He decided to pass the teachings to a Japanese Hawaiian woman by the name of Hawayo Takata in order to guarantee the safety of the teachings outside of Japan.
Hawayo Takata created twenty-two Reiki masters before her death in 1980. In the ensuing year or so, several of her masters (eighteen) acknowledged Hawayo Takata's granddaughter Phyllis Lei Furumoto as the Grand Master, or Lineage Bearer of the teachings. They formed an association to support her known as The Reiki Alliance. However, a woman by the name of Barbara Webber Ray, also a master of Hawayo Takata's, had chosen not to acknowledge Phyllis and set up her own branch of Reiki, now known as The Radiance Technique.
From this initial split, between the Alliance and Barbara Webber Ray other factions have split off and become independent "schools" and practitioners of Reiki.
Under Hawayo Takata, Reiki was taught in three levels - First Degree, Second Degree and Master Level. Barbara Webber Ray changed this to seven levels with two sub-levels. Independent practitioners and teachers of Reiki have changed this even further. To date there appear to be at least seven or eight different "schools" of Reiki, with innumerable independent practitioners and Masters.
The practice of Reiki is world-wide. In 1996 there were over one million Reiki students in Germany alone. Typically, a Reiki Alliance Conference will supply formal translation for six to seven languages, although the actual number of languages represented at a conference is closer to fifteen.
Standards and Differences
'Openings' to the energy called attunements are performed by all masters from all schools. The variables are in the number of attunements and in the number of teachings hours.
First Degree: The Reiki Alliance, considered the most rigorous school, stipulates that there must be four attunements in First Degree and at least sixteen to twenty hours of instruction.
Other schools and masters perform three, two and sometimes only one attunement with teaching times varying down to an hour and a half. Prices vary from $260.00 to $50.00 or less.
Second degree: The Reiki Alliance stipulates a wait of three months, one attunement and five hours of instruction, in two parts over a period of one or two weeks. The initiating master may also decide that the student is not ready for Second Degree.
Others schools differ greatly. Second Degree is often given with First Degree on the same week-end, day or few hours or within a week after First Degree. Prices vary from $650.00 to $50.00 or less.
Master: The Reiki Alliance requires a wait of three years after Second Degree, a year of apprenticeship, twenty-six treatments given by the initiating Master to the candidate. The initiating Master decides when the student candidate is ready.
Other schools vary from several months after Second Degree to a period of days. The student indicates a desire to become a master. Prices vary from $10,000 (USD) from the Reiki Alliance to $150.00 or less.
Other Levels: Some of the Reiki "schools" have created levels above Master Level. Those levels appear to be available for a few hundred dollars. The teaching times seem to vary with the school and the individual Masters.
Practitioners: First Degree is generally considered for personal use, in most cases students are also taught how to give a treatment to others. Second Degree is considered by many to be the level of committment for a practitioner. Very few Masters in Ontario provide training specifically for practitioners. These courses are not certified. Also, Reiki is sometimes taught for free by independent masters who have chosen to follow their own beliefs.
Individual Treatments: Treatment times are usually one hour, although extended sessions are not uncommon. Differences in Individual Treatments Reiki honours the individual, both in the practitioner and the client. Reiki often connects to 'psychic' abilities in some people, their belief systems and particular gifts. It is, after all, a personal healing art. Emotional release work is common for some practitioners and not at all for others. Most practitioners integrate knowledge from other sources and methodologies. The energy will honour the abilities of those present. The energy has its own intelligence and goes where it is needed. It is further directed by the intent of the client, and in that way strengthens one's belief about ones own abilities. Treatments can be conducted in complete silence, while chatting or through tears and frustration. A Reiki session can be received lying down, seated or standing up as physical needs require. A session that last ten minutes can sometimes be just as effective as an hour. Again this cost varies with the individual practitioner from $100 to $25 and sometimes free.
Certification: Anyone who attends a Reiki course and is opened to receive the energy of Reiki is given a certificate. There is neither a board nor a committee that reviews candidates for licences. However there is a master review process for membership in the Reiki Alliance.
What is Reiki? Reiki means "universal spirit life energy". Rei means universal spirit, unlimited, cosmic. Ki (the same word as chi in the chinese language) means physical life force energy. Reiki works on the spiritual, emotional and the physical levels. The energy that is Reiki moves through the practitioner and flows to the client. In fact it is the soul or spirit in the body of the client that draws the energy through the practitoner. A client can never recieve too much Reiki. Reiki can never harm. The practitioner is never exhausted by the treatments because the energy is not coming from the practitioner but rather through the practitoner. On the physical level it assists the body's own natural processes to heal. Physical healing appears to take place at a much more rapid rate, almost fifty percent. Pain medication is less necessary. Patients are able to leave hospitals in less time than is normal. If the client is living through those final stages we call dying, Reiki soothes the transition and helps to alleviate pain and anxiety. On the emotional level, Reiki generally soothes anxiety, assists in the release of pent-up emotions and promotes a sense of calm. On the spiritual level, Reiki often becomes the vehicle whereby people discover that they are more than their bodies. Spiritual awareness is heightened. By virtue of the fact that Reiki is flowing through the hands of the practitioner in a completely obvious manner, it often erases any doubt in the mind of the client that something extraordinary beyond the physical is occurring. Doors to perception can be opened forever.
Who can do Reiki? Anyone. Everyone can be opened to receive this extraordinary healing energy whether they believe in it or not.
Is Reiki Faith Healing? No. Faith healing requires that the recipient and the practitioner hold a particular belief system. Spiritual healing does not have this requirement.
What happens in a Reiki treatment? In most formal treatments, the client lies on a massage table, fully clothed minus obstructive jewellery and shoes. The practitioner places his/her hands on the client, most often in a prescribed manner, and sometimes intuitively, depending on the demands of the condition being treated. Reiki is also used as a maintenance treatment for balanced overall health. Most treatments last one hour. The client may experience heat and/or a sensation of tingling from the hands of the practitioner. As the session progresses the client may experience lightness, a floating sensation, deep relaxation and even sleep.