Our Reiki Classes
The Reiki classes we teach are centered on traditional Usui Reiki. By “traditional”, we mean that the methods he taught are presented in a western context, but the intent of the classes, and the methodology used are given (as much as possible) as he would have presented them. Usui taught his classes more than 100 years ago, in Japanese. With the cultural and language differences between that time and place and our present classes, our challenge remains retaining the intention and flavor of his classes in our classes today. In this light, while we support our classes with the Internet, we never offer on line attunements.
It would seem that many people have had their hands in changing the direction of the Reiki that Usui first taught. While it is true that Mrs Takata certainly changed what was charged for the training, it was a student of one of her students made the changes that William Lee Rand crystallized into the current form of Usui Reiki that he teaches. Arthur Robertson, a student of Iris Ishikuro (one of Takata-Sensei’s 22 ‘Masters’) made many of the changes and additions that are presented by many current and recent teachers of Reiki, including Rand. The recent further departure from Usui’s original work that Rand and others have made seems mostly related to Robertson’s work, not Usui’s.
In making this point, I must be very clear: the departure from teaching traditional Usui Reiki that I speak of above is just that. The many new flavors of “Reiki” are still energy work, and may bring positive energy, help, comfort and healing to those who practice them. We just don’t teach those methods.
Given the liberties that many took with Usui’s Reiki teachings early on, it is hardly surprising that that the Japanese organization that is carrying on Usui’s work today wants little to do with most modern interpretations of his work. Nor are they aligned with any western Reiki groups.
In particular, the Tibetan aspects of many Reiki classes that are taught today are not based Mikaio Usui’s work, but on Robertson’s near fictional interpretation of certain Tibetan principals and writings, and some loose applications of Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism.
That is not to say that Robertson’s work is without merit – far from it. But in teaching Reiki – and most especially in attuning students, we will draw as clear a line as possible between what is Usui Reiki, and what is interpreted Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism.
The Fire Serpent Symbol, Raku, activating the Hui Yin point and The Violet Breath and possibly many of the meditations in Rand’s Master book were not part of Usui’s original classes. I am certain I will find other things that while useful, were not part of Usui’s work. As taught in my classes, these things will be clearly presented as auxiliary to, but not part of Usui’s original work.
While Usui himself did not use the Reiki Symbols familiar to many of us, this is understandable given that they represent principals he was very familiar with as a Tendai Buddhist. The Reiki symbols we teach are generally those that Usui’s immediate students developed, used and taught, with his knowledge and approval. We teach, use and discuss the Fire Serpent and the Raku symbols in our classes (and attunements) because they are useful and do not contradict Usui’s intentions. But while they support the attunements, they are not required for the attunements to be complete.
The Symbols we use are:
- ChoKu Rei
- Sei Heki
- Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen
- Usui Dai Ko Myo
The Tibetan Dai Ko Mio is discussed, but is taught as an optional symbol in our classes (This was an Arthur Robertson development, possibly borrowed from the Kundalini traditions).
The non – Usui symbols we teach serve the following purposes:
- The “Fire Serpent” symbol was likely introduced by Hiroshi Doi, founder of Gendai Reiki Ho, a Reiki practice closely aligned with Usui Reiki. Hiroshi Doi’s training came from the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, the original organization founded by Mikao Usui.
While Usui would certainly have known of the Chakras, what he used in his daily work was a Japanese – Tendai Buddhist understanding of these energy centers. He did so because of familiarity, – not because the Chakras are an “incorrect presentation” of the concept of energy centers. Hiroshi Doi understood that the Western mind was already familiar with the Chakras, and adjusted his teaching to reflect this fact. The “Fire Serpent” serves two obvious purposes. It is a visual cue that informs the practitioner that he or she is beginning an attunement by activating and opening the subject’s chakras, and it is a symbolic representation of the Chakras. One would incorporate this symbol to allow the subject to receive Reiki more easily. This symbol is used primarily at the beginning of a Reiki session.
- The “Raku” symbol is generally used at the end of a Reiki session. It is used as a way to “ground” a person after an attunement or other Reiki session. The Raku symbol was possibly developed by Reiki Master Iris Ishikuro who was a student of Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata is credited with bringing the practice of Reiki it’s self to the West. Mrs Takata was taught by Dr Chujiro Hayashi, one of Mikaio Usui’s students. The symbol and it’s usage was introduced by Arthur Robertson, a student of Ishirkuro.
As for how far Reiki attunements (as done today) have drifted from what Usui taught, it depends on where you look. For example, William Lee Rand’s Usui Reiki manuals feature a drift in that the “Tibetan” material that they include was added by teachers that came after Usui. The material both replaced and added to practices Usui had distilled from his Tendai Buddhist origins and from his early education.
So how should one teach and attune to Usui Reiki? Usui himself tailored his classes to the level of his individual students. “Master” level classes tended to be one on one. None of his classes were “cookie cutter”. What was consistent in his classes were the Tendai Buddhist traditions that underpinned the Reiki that he taught. His Tendai Buddhism did not end when he started teaching Reiki, even though what he taught was a universal, non-sectarian application of his earlier education.
I do adhere to levels of attunement. The Reiki I and II classes will seem familiar territory for those who have taken other Reiki classes. Reiki III is a much more involved class than your typical ART / Reiki III class and includes table work and extended personal study and practice time. In this, it more closely follows the approach believed to have been used by Usui, and later refined by Mrs. Takata. The master class I teach has changed in that much of the training that this class would have contained in current classes presented elsewhere, is presented in the Reiki III class. The master class is a hands on, how to attune, and how to teach – class.
In my classes, I teach the three main symbols (ChoKu Rei, Sei heki and Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, plus the Usui Dai Ko Myo. These are the symbols I teach as required for attunements. The fire Serpent and Raku I will continue to use, because they are useful visual cues for activating energy centers (chakras) and for grounding at the end of a Reiki session or attunement. I will teach their use as adjunct to Reiki, not a part of it. At this point I just don’t see the usefulness of teaching the “Tibetan Dai Ko Mio” symbol. It is supposedly an “upgrade” to the Usui Dai Ko Myo which is it’s self a representation of the underlying Reiki principal. The Tibetan Dai Ko Mio symbol is supposed to be a “gentler expression” of the Usui Dai Ko Myo.
What Usui taught was elegant, simple and tailored to his students, within the bounds of his training as a Tendai Buddhist. This means that while we can probably never know exactly what he taught when he taught his classes, what is known of his work, balanced against the known precepts of Tendai Buddhism, gives us a framework with which we can fact check the subsequent work of others – against. As such, this effort remains a work in progress.
The answer to the question “Is there not a straight, basic way to teach this to make it simple?” is yes. The responsibility for teaching such a class rests on the teacher’s ability to read his or her students, and teach them according to their ability. That, of course means that some classes will be simpler than others. A shaman is probably going to want more a more detailed class than your 93 year old aunt Mini, even if she turns out to be a more effective healer! Usui purposely read the intentions of his students, and taught accordingly. Our classes will be taught in that light, but within the framework of what is known about Usui’s work, and that of his very first students.