History of Reiki Healing

History of Reiki Healing

Dr. Mikao Usui

Dr. Mikao Usui was born in Japan in the mid-nineteenth century.  As he was growing up, he heard stories about the Buddha.  He was impressed with the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, even though the Buddha, having been born into extreme wealth, did not lack any material need or pleasure.  Dr. Usui was fascinated by both the Buddha’s desire to help others and the unusual metaphysical abilities he received after achieving enlightenment.  He also noted that the Buddha’s disciples acquired healing abilities by following his teachings.

It was said that Dr. Usui adopted Christianity and became a minister and then a Dean of a Christian seminary.  One day, during a discussion with some of his students, Usui was asked if he believed literally in the Bible.  When he replied that he did, his students reminded him of the instant healings of Christ.  The students mentioned that in the Bible, Christ states that “He that believes in me, the works that I do he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” (John 14:12) and they wondered why there weren’t many healers in the world today performing the same acts as Christ.  Usui, unable to answer the question, set out on a mission to discover the secret to the great mystery.

After pondering this question for some time, he came to the conclusion that if this kind of healing was possible in the past, then it must still be possible.  If only one could learn how.  With this thought in mind, he set out on a quest, determined to learn the secret of healing so that he might help others.

He began talking to Buddhist and Christian teachers and priests, asking if they knew how to heal the sick.  Apparently, the ability to heal the body was either held as a secret Buddhist technique by a few spiritual groups or had been lost through disuse.  Consequently, Dr. Usui was unable to find anyone that could heal the sick.

Dr. Usui traveled throughout Japan, studying the Buddhist temples and asking questions about healing.  The priests and head monks he talked to always had the same answer.  The stated that they used to know how to heal the body, but this information was lost long ago when they began focusing on healing only the spirit.  They stated that the spiritual side was more important and that was why they focused only on this part.  Thus, they had lost the ability to heal the physical.  He was allowed to study the sacred writings at each temple and occasionally he would find something about healing and would copy the information into his notebook.

During his travels, he became friends with the abbot of a Zen monastery and was invited to stay and study.  The abbot also had an interest in physical healing and encouraged Usui in his quest.  Wanting to read the sacred books in their original language, Dr. Usui learned Chinese and eventually Sanskrit.  It was in the Indian sutras, written in Sanskrit that he discovered a formula for contacting a higher power that could bestow healing.

Dr. Usui had now found the information that he had been looking for, yet it was only a formula; simply knowing the formula did not give him the ability or understanding to heal.  He talked to the abbot about this.  It was decided that all he could do now was to follow the practices in the formula.  So he traveled to the holy mountain of Koriyama where he fasted, meditated and followed the directions in the formula for twenty-one days.

On the mountain, he set out twenty-one stones in front of him and each day he threw away a stone.  On the twenty-first day, after tossing away the stone and still not having received the healing power, he stood up.  It was night, the darkest part of the night, just before dawn.

As he looked out toward the horizon wondering what to do next, he saw a point of light coming toward him.  As he looked at the light, he realized that the light had consciousness and that it was communicating with him.  He realized the light had the healing power he was looking for and if he was to receive what the light had to offer, he must allow the light to strike him.  However, he was told that the light was so powerful that if it did strike him, it might kill him.

He was given the opportunity to decide.  Would he risk of death to obtain the healing ability for which he had searched so long for?  He decided the ability to heal the sick would be of such great value that it would be worth risking death to receive.

The beam struck him in the forehead, knocking him unconscious.  Rising out of his physical body, he was shown beautiful bubbles of light filled with colors.  In the bubbles were symbols.  As he contemplated each symbol, he received an attunement for that symbol and knowledge on its use.  In this way, he was initiated into the use of Reiki healing power.

As he had been in a trance-like state, he was surprised when he awoke to find it broad daylight.  In his excitement to share his experience with his old friend the abbot, Dr. Usui began to run down the mountain.  He was amazed at how strong and rejuvenated he felt, considering the long fast he had just completed.  This was the first “miracle” of the morning.

Suddenly, in his haste, he tripped and stubbed his toe.  As he instinctively reached down t grab it, he was amazed that in a few short minutes, the bleeding had stopped and it had completely healed.  This was the second “miracle” of the morning.

As he continued down the mountain, he came to a typical roadside stand, and proceeded to order a full breakfast.  As anyone who is acquainted with fasting procedures, it is quite dangerous to break a long fast with a large meal.  The proprietor could see by Usui’s monk’s garb and unkept beard, that he had been fasting and meditating, and encouraged him to instead have some special broth.  Usui declined and ordered the full breakfast.  The third “miracle” of the morning occurred when he at it without indigestion.

As it turned out, the old man’s granddaughter who served Usui was in dire pain.  She had a severe toothache and her jaw had been swollen for days.  Her grandfather was too poor to take her to a dentist in Kyoto, so when Usui offered to try and help, she gladly accepted.  After he put his hands on the sides of her face, the fourth “miracle” occurred, as the pain and swelling began to disappear.

Dr. Usui then continued on his way back to the monastery.  He found the abbot in great pain with a bout of arthritis.  While Usui shared his experiences with the monk he laid his hands on the arthritic areas, and very quickly, the pain disappeared.  The old abbot was truly amazed.  Usui sought his advice as to what he should do with this newfound ability.  He was again encouraged to meditate, and finally after some discussion, he decided to go and work in the Beggars Quarter of Kyoto.  He hoped to heal the beggars so that they could receive new names at the temple, and thus be reintegrated into society.

When Usui entered the Beggars Quarter, he set about immediately healing young and old alike.  The results were remarkable and many received complete healings.  After about seven years of this work, Usui began to notice familiar faces.  After inquiry, he found that many of the first people he had healed had received new names, found jobs and some had married.  However, they could not take the responsibility that accompanied this way of living.  They found that it was much easier to be a beggar.

Usui wept in despair and wondered where he had gone wrong.  He realized that he had failed to teach them responsibility, and most of all, gratitude.  He then realized that the healing of the Spirit was every bit as important as the healing of the body.  He saw that by having given Reiki away he had further impressed the beggar pattern in them.  The importance of an exchange of energy became clear to him.  People need to give back for what they receive or life would be devoid of value.  From then on, Usui decided that he would either receive barter or money or something in return for his work.  The exchange would not be an exchange for the energy because the energy is free.  However, the exchange would be for his time because he felt that if he were not spending his time healing he would be doing something else that would be making him money.

At this time, as revealed to him in his meditation, Dr. Usui developed the five principles of Reiki.  The principles added spiritual balance to his healing work.  Their purpose is to help people realize that healing the spirit by consciously deciding to improve oneself is a necessary part of the Reiki healing experience.  In order for the Reiki healing energies to have lasting results, the client must accept responsibility for his or her healing and take an active part in it.  Therefore, the Usui System of Reiki is more than the use of the Reiki energy.  It must also include an active commitment to improve oneself in order for it to be a complete system.

Dr. Usui left the Beggars Quarter and began to teach throughout Japan.  He realized that he could use the symbols that he had experienced in his vision on the mountain to attune people so that they could take responsibility for their own well being.  By helping them amplify their energy, they could take a bigger step toward their own mastership.  He practiced and taught Reiki throughout Japan for the remainder of his life.  Before his transition around 1930, he gave the Master attunement to 18 teachers, one of whom was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi.

Dr. Chujiro Hayashi

Dr. Hayashi was a retired naval officer.  He received the Reiki Master initiation from Dr. Usui about 1925 at the age of 47.  One thing that Dr. Usui realized was that the Reiki energy must be passed on, it cannot be learned from a book.  So before he died, Dr. Usui asked Dr. Hayashi to accept the responsibility of preserving Reiki so that it would not be lost as it had been in the past.  Dr. Hayashi accepted this responsibility.

Up to this point, the Usui system of healing consisted of the energy itself, the symbols, the attunement process and the Reiki ideals.  This was what Dr. Usui had received during his mystical experience on Mount Kori-yama.  Dr. Hayashi went on to develop the Usui system of healing.  He opened a Reiki clinic in Tokyo and kept detailed records of the treatments given.  He used this information to create the standard hand positions, the system of three degrees and the initiation procedures.

Dr. Hayashi sensed a Great War coming, and knew that most of the men would be called.  In order to make sure Reiki would be preserved, he decided to pass the complete teachings on to two women:  his wife and Hawayo Takata.

Hawayo Takata

Hawayo Takata was born at dawn on December 24, 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.  Her parents were Japanese immigrants and her father worked in the sugar cane fields.  She worked very hard as she was growing up.  She eventually married the bookkeeper of the plantation where she was employed.  His name was Saichi Takata and they had two daughters.  In October of 1930, Saichi died at the age of 34 leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two children.

In order to provide for her family, she had to work hard with little rest.  After five years she developed severe abdominal pain, a lung condition and had a nervous breakdown.

Soon after this, one of her sisters died and it was the responsibility of Hawayo to travel to Japan where her parents had moved to deliver the news.  She also felt she could receive help for her health in Japan.

She took a steamship and was accompanied by her sister-in-law.  After informing her parents of the death of her sister, she entered a hospital.  It was found that she had a tumor, gallstones and appendicitis.  After resting several weeks, she was ready for the needed operation.

On the operating table, just before surgery was to begin, Hawayo heard a voice.  The voice said, “The operation is not necessary.  The operation is not necessary.”  She had never heard a voice speak to her like this before.  She wondered what it meant.  The voice repeated the message a third time even louder.  She knew she was wide awake and had not imagined the voice.  It was so unusual, yet so compelling that she decided to ask the doctor.  She got off the operating table, pulled out her IV’s, wrapped a sheet around herself and asked to speak to the doctor.

When the doctor finally came, she asked if he knew of any other way that her problems could be helped.  The doctor knew of Dr. Hayashi’s Reiki clinic and told Hawayo about it.  This was something she wanted to try.

At the Reiki clinic, she began receiving treatments.  She had never heard of Reiki before and did not know what it was.  Using their reiki hands, the practitioners could sense what was wrong with Mrs. Takata.  Their diagnosis very closely matched the doctor’s at the hospital.  This impressed her and gave her confidence in what they were doing.

Two Reiki practitioners would treat her each day.  The heat from their hands was so strong that she thought they were using some kind of equipment.  She looked around, but saw none.  Seeing the large sleeves of the Japanese kimono one of the practitioners was wearing, she thought she had found the location of the equipment.  She grabbed the sleeves, but found nothing.  The startled practitioner wanted to know what she was doing and when she explained, he began to laugh.  Then he told her about Reiki and how it worked.

Mrs. Takata received daily treatments and go progressively better.  In four months, she was completely healed.  Impressed with the results, she wanted to learn Reiki.  However, it was explained that Reiki was Japanese and that it was intended to stay in Japan.  It could not be taught to an outsider.

Mrs. Takata talked to the surgeon at the hospital and got him to ask Dr. Hayashi to allow her to learn Reiki.  Since Dr. Hayashi wanted to teach Reiki to another woman besides his wife, and since Mrs. Takata was so persistent, he decided that she should be the one.  In the spring of 1936, Mrs. Takata received First Degree Reiki.

Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii in the summer of 1937.  Dr. Hayashi and his daughter who came to help establish Reiki in Hawaii soon followed her.  In the winter of 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki Master.  She was the thirteenth and last Reiki Master Dr. Hayashi initiated.

Origin of the $10,000 Fee

As time went by, Mrs. Takata contemplated the need to train other Reiki Masters.  She realized that the Japanese concept of respect might be difficult to instill in the Western mind.  Because Reiki Mastership is so easily learned, being simply passed on during the Reiki Master attunement, she felt that Westerners might not value it.  So she devised a plan of charging a large sum of money for those wanting to become Reiki Masters.  She felt that money was something that Western people understood and respected and this would help create the appreciation and gratitude for Reiki that was needed.  She decided that $10,000 would be a large enough sum to instill the respect needed for the Reiki Master attunement.  These high fees continue to be charged by some Reiki Masters, but many are now considering a lower fee structure that makes it possible for everyone to become a Reiki teacher.

Between 1970 and her transition on December 11, 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated 22 Reiki Masters.  These original 22 teachers have taught others.  In the decade since Mrs. Takata experienced transition, Reiki has spread rapidly.  It is now practiced throughout North and South America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world.  There are now an estimated 2,000 Reiki Masters with as many as 200,000 people practicing Reiki throughout the world.

Usui Shiki Ryoho

The Usui System of Natural Healing

Reiki is a generic word in Japan and is used to describe any type of healing work based on life force energy.  It is not exclusive to the system of healing based on Dr. Usui’s method.  The system of healing that evolved from Dr. Usui’s method is called the Usui System of Natural Healing or Usui Shiki Ryoho.  It is a type of Reiki.

Since neither Dr. Usui nor Dr. Hayashi left written instructions about Reiki, the only source of information on the Usui System of Reiki comes from the verbal instruction of Mrs. Takata passed on to her students.  The Usui System of Natural Healing has evolved over time.  In its current state, it is much more organized and structured than the simple, flexible, intuitive method practiced by Dr. Usui.  The following is a description of the evolution of the Usui System of Reiki.

During his mystical experience on Mount Kori-yama, Dr. Usui received the ability to do Reiki treatments, the Reiki symbols and the ability to pass Reiki on to others.  Later he added the Reiki Principles and the idea that one needs to receive compensation for a treatment.  Dr. Hayashi added the standard hand positions, the three degrees and their attunement processes.  Mrs. Takata added the fee structure.  Members of the Reiki Alliance added the required waiting periods between classes after Mrs. Takata passed on.  The Usui system continues to evolve.

After Mrs. Takata’s transition, her granddaughter, Phyllis Furumoto, continued to teach the traditional three levels for the $10,000 fee.  However, a few teachers began making changes in the way they taught Reiki.  Most of the changes were beneficial, and included the addition of knowledge and healing skills the teachers had learned from other systems or had acquired from inner guidance.  However, some changes were restrictive, making it more difficult for students to progress.  Barbara Ray began the American International Reiki Association, which she later changed to the Radiance Technique.  She took the Third Degree and charged additional money.  Often, the fact that they had modified the Usui system was not mentioned and when their students became teachers, they began teaching what they thought was pure Usui Reiki when in fact, it was not.  In this way, many varieties of Reiki have developed with some thinking they have the only authentic version of Reiki when actually what they are teaching is a modified form.

The Reiki Alliance

The Alliance was formed in May of 1983.  It is a support group for people who are already Reiki Masters.  They have a code of ethics and a statement of identity which act to guide their members in their practice as Reiki Masters.  One requirement for membership in the Reiki Alliance is that you must have paid $10,000 for your Mastership and you must agree to charge $10,000 to those you teach the Master level to.  It considers Phyllis Furumoto, Mrs. Takata’s granddaughter, to be the Reiki Grand Master.  There are approximately 300 members worldwide.


Changes have been made to the fees charged for Reiki classes.  The higher fees charged by others may have been appropriate in the past.  However, we are now at a crucial time in the development of the planet.  The pace of life is constantly increasing.  Problems, including personal, national, and global, are developing more quickly resulting in widespread suffering.  The well-being of all life on earth is being threatened.  A desperate need for personal and planetary healing is obvious.  Now, more than ever, it is important that Reiki be accessible to everyone.

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