History of Reiki

Mikao Usui was the originator of what we call Reiki today. He was born on August 15th 1865 in the village of 'Taniai-mura' in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture Kyoto. He was married in 1907 and had two children.

He studied Qi Gong, martial arts, medicine, psychology and theology of religions around the world in a Tendai Buddhist monastery school. He travelled widely, taking a great interest in both spiritual and physical healing. In 1922 he went up Mount Kurama to fast and meditate for 21 days. This was where he was given the inspiration for his system of healing, which he called Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Mikao Usui opened his first school/clinic in Harajuku Tokyo in April of the same year. He created a place of spiritual and physical healing Gakkai (a learning society). The Usui teachings included teaching people how to heal themselves, still a key point in todayís Reiki teaching.

He began using Reiju (empowerment method) and Hatsurei-ho (cleansing process for body, mind and spirit). Usui made the first level teaching Shoden available to anyone who desired it. Initially it seems that Usui had no set hand positions, all of his work was done intuitively and over areas of imbalance or painful areas. But as he began teaching others to do Reiho, he found the need to create a set of instructions, which he called the Usui Reiki Hikkei.

His fame as a healer and teacher spread very quickly throughout Japan where his followers called him Usui Sensei (a title of courtesy and respect). His teachings were particularly popular among the older people who saw them as a return to old ideals and spiritual practices. After a huge earthquake in 1923 Mikao Usui and his students gave healing to its victims in Tokyo and Yokohama, and awareness of Reiki grew.

By 1925 Usui had become so busy that he opened a larger school outside Tokyo in Nakano. As he travelled to share his teachings Usui continued to develop his understanding of what changes were possible for the body, mind and spirit using healing energy. The Reiki organisation that he started is alive and well in Japan and the Usui Shiki Ryoho, which he founded and presided over, has had five sequential presidents since his death.

Usui developed a training system which included six levels or degrees. This was later simplified in the West to three degrees for healing oneself, others and teaching. It is reported that he taught his system of healing to well over 2000 people, and trained 16 to a teaching level Shinpiden.

Mikao Usui died on March 9th 1926 at the age of 62. He is buried in Saihoji Temple in Suginami-Ku, Tokyo. In 1927 his students created and erected a large memorial stone next to his grave describing his life and work. Much of the new information about Usui Sensei comes from the translation of this memorial.

Mr. Hayashi is an important part of the history of how Reiki reached the West. He was an ex-naval officer in the Japanese Navy and a naval doctor who graduated in December 1902. He started his Reiki training with Usui Sensei in 1925. Following his training he started a small clinic in Tokyo named Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai, which had eight beds and 16 healers.

Dr Hayashi developed the hand positions that we use today. He understood that when treating the major energy centres the healing will flow throughout the body. Although Mikao Usui had a manual which he gave to students, the information in Dr Hayashi’s 40 page manual has become a basis for how Reiki is used today in the West. In 1935 a Hawaiian woman called Hawayo Takata was guided to work with Hayashi when she visited Japan in 1935. By 1940 his connection to her was so strong that he bequeathed his house and clinic to her before he died in 1940.

Hawayo Takata was born in 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Five years after her husbandís death left her alone with their two children she developed severe abdominal pain, a lung condition and had a nervous breakdown. Her illness led her to explore Reiki and she began receiving treatment at Dr Hayashi's clinic. In four months, she was completely healed and in the Spring of 1936, Mrs. Takata received First Degree Reiki Shoden. She worked with Dr. Hayashi for one year and then received Second Degree Reiki In 1937. When she returned home to Hawaii he travelled there and completed her training.

Between 1970 and her death in 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters who have subsequently taught others. In the decade since Mrs. Takata experienced transition, Reiki has spread rapidly in the West and East and is now practised throughout all parts of the world. There are now tens of thousands of Reiki Masters and millions of people practising Reiki throughout the world.

All current Reiki systems and healers trace their lineage back to Mikao Usui.