A Japanese healing system built around the use of ki, the
universal life energy, analogous to the Hindu prana and the od
force described in the research of Baron von Reichenbach.
Reiki can be traced to the discoveries of Mikao Usui, a Christian
minister working in Kyoto in the 1880s. Challenged by his
contemporaries concerning the Christian claims of biblical miracles,
he began a search that led him to the United States to
study at the University of Chicago, where he worked toward a
Ph.D. However, he did not find answers to his questing until he
investigated Buddhism.
Unable to find any Buddhists practicing healing, he learned
Chinese and Sanskrit in order to read the early Buddhist sutras
in their original languages. There he found a discussion of the
healing power, and during a 21- day retreat he welcomed the
power into himself. Soon afterward he was able to be the facilitator
for several spectacular healings and he settled down in
Kyoto to learn about this new power he had discovered and to
perfect the techniques for using it. He eventually passed his
knowledge to Chijuro Hayashi.
An event of great importance to the spread of reiki occurred
in the 1930s when a young Japanese American, Hawayo
Takata, ill and believing herself soon to die, returned to her native
land. There she met several reiki healers and they facilitated
her complete recovery. As a result she became the first
woman, and first American, reiki master. She returned to Hawaii
and taught quietly for many years. Then in the late 1970s
she moved to the Midwest, where she began to share reiki healing
with a larger audience of metaphysically-oriented Americans.
Virginia Samdall of Chicago became the first of a new
generation of reiki masters. In 1978 Takata initiated Barbara
Ray of Atlanta, Georgia, and went on to teach her the secrets
of initiating other reiki masters. She had previously taught the
secrets to her granddaughter, Phillis Lei Furomoto.
Takata died in 1980. Both Ray and Furomoto, as reiki grand
masters, assumed leadership for the development of the movement
built around what Takata had taught them. Ray founded
the American Reiki Association (later renamed the Radiance
Technique Association International) and Furomoto founded
the Reiki Alliance. Both have initiated further masters who
formed different lineages of reiki practice.
Reiki is taught in three degrees. Students having mastered
the first degree are equipped to use the reiki technique to heal
others. The second degree provides a deeper knowledge of the
reiki work. The third degree must be taught by a reiki grand
master and allows one to become a reiki master and a teacher
of reiki at the first and second levels. Today, an individual may
learn reiki through classes or workshops at any number of special
institutes or centers designed to teach reiki healing energy
and educate the public. Each institute may teach its own unique
system or interpretation of reiki based on traditional teachings.
Completion of a reiki class usually leads to a certificate.
Legal requirements to practice reiki usually depend on the
place where it is practiced. Regulation varies from state to state
and any licenses are issued primarily by governmental bodies.
There are certain procedures and guidelines that are recommended
with reiki treatments and therapy, although some
reiki masters claim that reiki cannot cause harm or be performed
incorrectly (it is possible to perform reiki illegally if
there is inappropriate touching). Some masters also claim that
it makes no difference if the person receiving treatment has
Eastern or Western beliefs. Several styles of reiki are practiced
around the world. Different reiki styles apply different methods
to conduct the flow of energy during a treatment or therapy
session. Methods or tools may include meditation, prayer, use
of colors or sounds, chants, mantras, applying hot and cold sensations,
elements or healing rays (fire, air, water, earth), use of
crystals, astrology, tantric healing, karmic body education,
chakras, breathing exercises, and attunement openings.
Arnold, Larry, and Sandy Nevius. The Reiki Handbook. Harrisburg,
Pa. PSI Press, 1982.
Barnett, Libby. Reiki Energy Medicine Bringing Healing Touch
into Home, Hospital, and Hospice. Rochester, Vt. Healing Arts
Press, 1996.
Henderson, Jaclyn Stein. ‘‘Insights to Reiki Existing in a
state of balance.’’ Massage & Bodywork. JuneJuly 1999.
Ray, Barbara Weber. The Reiki Factor. St. Petersburg, Fla.
Radiance Associates, 1983.
Ray, Barbara Weber, and Nonnie Green, eds. The Official
Reiki Handbook. Atlanta The American-International Reiki Association,
Reiki Plus Institute of Natural Healing and Energetic Healing. June 15, 2000.
Stein, Diane. Essential Reiki A Complete Guide to an Ancient
Healing Art. Freedom, Calif. Crossing Press, 1995.