The following is my re-telling of the reiki story as was originally taught by Hawayo Takata to her students. We now know that the true story has been embellished in order to aid Takata in teaching reiki.
The time period is the late 1800s. Mikao Usui was principle of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, and a Christian Minister. One day, he was asked by his students if he believed the Bible literally, and he said that he did. His students challenged him by asking if he could perform the same healing miracles that Jesus performed, and if he could, would he teach it? Usui could not answer these questions and he was honour-bound, as is Japanese custom, to be able to answer his students' questions. Thereafter, he resigned and vowed to find the answers to the questions brought to him.
Usui then travelled to the United States believing he could find the answers in a "Christian country". He ended up studying at the University of Chicago Divinity School, but did not find the answers he was seeking. He then decided to head back East where he began studies at Buddhist monasteries. Supposedly, somewhere along the way he learned to read Sanskrit and could translate the ancient texts. Eventually, he read the Japanese Lotus Sutras, the Chinese Sutras, and the Tibetan Lotus Sutras. Usui believed that the secret to healing were in these texts; however, he did not know how to use what he read. On the advice of an abbot, he decided to make his pilgrimage to Mount Kurama. Once at the top of Mount Kurama, he was to fast and meditate for 21 days. Usui spent 20 days on Mount Kurama with no new insight, and he was about to give up. Finally, on the dawn of the 21st day, he saw a shining beam of light coming towards him. The light struck him on his forehead (his third eye), and he then saw the same Sanskrit symbols he read in the Sutras. He was given insight as to how to use the symbols for healing and for passing on the healing powers.
Usui became quite excited by what he discovered and started to head back down the mountain. On his way, he stubbed his toe on a rock and in response, put his hands over it. His toe quickly stopped bleeding and healed nearly instantly. At the bottom of the mountain, he decided to get some food. After a long fast, normally one wouldn't eat a large meal so soon, but Usui decided to have a full breakfast. He ate that without any harm to his systems. When he was served his food, Usui noticed the girl was in pain and asked what the problem was. She responded that she had a toothache, but her father was too poor to afford the dentist in town. He asked if he could help her, and she agreed. Once he put his hands on either side of her head, the swelling and pain subsided. The girl was quite grateful. After his meal, Usui went to the monastery and found his abbot friend suffering a bout of arthritis. Usui placed his hands on the arthritic joints, and the pain disappered. The abbot was amazed by Usui's discovery on the mountain and suggested he help heal the beggars in the slums of Kyoto. Usui spent seven years helping to heal the beggars. He hoped that the beggars would re-integrate themselves into society. However, this was not the case. After leaving the "Beggars Quarters" and returning some years later, he was dismayed to find the same beggars. He was told by many of them that they could not handle the responsibilities of having a wife and a family and that they missed the "easy life" they had before.
From the experience with the beggars in Kyoto, Usui realized that spiritual healing was needed as well as physical healing and that if the healing could be received so easily, the receivers would not appreciate it as much and continue in the same negative patterns they had previously. He also realized that in order to heal, the receiver must absolutely desire it. Thereafter, Usui created his five reiki principles (or precepts), and he began teaching reiki throughout Japan to those who desired healing.
LIST OF SOURCES
Empowerment Through Reiki by Paula Horan
The Power of Reiki: An Ancient Hands-on Healing Technique by Tanmaya Honervogt
Reiki: A Piatkus Guide by Penelope Quest
Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art by Diane Stein
Reiki Level 1 Training Manual given to me by Nancy Peel
Copyright C.J. Chow October 2004