The Usui System of Reiki
The Reiki system that we practice is called the Usui system of Reiki (in Japanese Usui Shiki Ryoho).
Before Reiki came to the west from Japan, there was clarity about the form in which it was taught and practiced, without the need for direct definitions. From the Japanese culture it was obvious that you trusted the teachings and the experience of your Sensei (teacher) and applied it as you were taught. Here in the west we often miss this honor and we want to ‘improve’ things quickly. The result of this is that the practice of Reiki has been changed by many people, starting with small corruptions, later larger ones and eventually completely different systems. Sometimes so different that the question is whether it still has anything to do with Reiki. Many of these changes have simply arisen from uncertainty, haste and lack of experience, without knowing what the results would be on longer term.
The Original form
In order to eliminate the resulting confusion, the Usui system of Reiki, as a simple, practical and complete method was defined on request by Phyllis Lei Furumoto and Paul David Mitchell (the Office of the Grandmaster) and described in the four aspects and the nine elements. This description of the system, Usui Shiki Ryoho, allows all students to use this practice as a still point.
This means that the system stays stable and the student is challenged by the system form. This creates the opportunity to use the system for growth and development, for deepening the human experience, and for connecting to the Absolute as well as the Relative Universe. This does not mean that this system is best. It simply means that this is the traditional, original system of Reiki that we call the Usui system of Reiki. Every Reiki student has a free choice in the way of practicing Reiki and his/her relationship with this energy. Below are the aspects and elements explained briefly.
The Four Aspects
The four aspects are about the energy we call Reiki and the common effects of the practice. They are:
When someone starts with the practice of Reiki, this is usually because the person is consciously or unconsciously seeking healing. This can be in the form of physical health or the search can come from a feeling of being incomplete, in emotional pain, etc. Through contact with Reiki, the first experience is often the feeling of being healed or a healing process that is started. Reiki brings healing on all levels.The basic practice of the Usui system of Reiki is the self-treatment. The Reiki student is encouraged to continue this practice and to take time for healing on ever deeper levels.
The practice of Reiki deepens the love for yourself and feeds the awareness of the true self. As a result, sooner or later things will come to the surface that require attention to make healing possible. This encourages the Reiki student on the path of human development. It can start with something as simple as becoming increasingly sensitive to what the body needs in terms of nutrition to uncovering and healing supressed emotional traumas, to deepening the capacity for a nurturing relationship. Reiki ensures that the development process proceeds in everyone’s own unique way. Healing has its own timing. It can not be rushed and you can not cut corners.
This aspect of the practice is about the process of spiritual growth and development and brings us to the question about the meaning of life and the goal as a human being. What ultimately brings happiness and fulfillment? The practice of the Usui system of Reiki enables the Reiki student to have experiences of the spirit that leads each of us to his/her own spiritual insight. When we have the discipline to practice daily, the sense of discipline changes to a sense of reward, by seeing the quality of the relationship with ourselves and the world around us. Our spirit is deepened and there is a greater sense of connection with all life and its source.
Reiki brings us to the relationship between wholeness and oneness. We can experience that Reiki, the energy of life, is shared by all beings. This leads us through the door of the Mystic Order.
Though the practice of Reiki employs the sense of touch, the quality of that touch can take us into the realm of union and communion with self, others, and the essence of life. Students experience directly through practice the interconnectedness of being and awaken to the experience of a much greater reality beyond what is known. A reality that lies beyond the experience of the relative world and that brings about a deep sense of peace and acceptance of what is.
This practice brings us to choose between our need for knowing and our willingness to surrender to the unknown, experiencing connection, wonder and mystery.
From here we continue with the next aspect of the practice – Healing Practice. Back to where we started. The path takes us deeper into our self-knowledge – as personalities, as human beings, as souls and as an organism composed of many individuals.
De Nine Elements
The nine elements are about the actual form in which the Usui system is applied and taught. Each of the elements is equally important and has a relationship with the other elements. Every change to an element is a change of the system. In the first and second degree they are not part of the actual education, but they offer a framework for the practice and for the education by the Master. When preparing a Master candidate, the elements add a deeper dimension of understanding for the candidate, as a steward of this system.
The nine elements are:
Form of Teaching
The Form of Teaching of this system is simple, direct and complete and promotes the integration of the practice of Reiki into daily life. The Usui system of Reiki has three degrees of studentship, the first, second and Master degree.
- The first degree is taught in four sessions of three to four hours, on four consecutive days. In this degree, the student receives four initiations (one per day). The self treatment, the treatment of others and Reiki for acute conditions (first aid Reiki) is taught and practiced, the history is told, the precents are explained and directions are given for Reiki for children, animals and plants.
- The second grade is taught – after someone has practiced the first degree for at least a year – in three sessions of different length, spread over three days, with some days between the first and second session. In these sessions the three Reiki symbols are introduced and explained further and the application of each symbol is taught and practiced. In the second degree one initiation is given and more explanation is given about the function of the symbols in relationship to the relative and absolute universe.
- The Reiki Master degree is not taught in a certain number of sessions. As a Reiki Master candidate someone goes through a preparation in daily life under the guidance of a chosen Reiki Master. This preparation lasts as long as necessary and can therefore vary per individual. The minimum time is two years, but usually it will take three to six years. The Master who initiates the student as a Master must have at least ten years of’ experience in teaching Reiki before he/she initiates a Master.
Every degree in this system is a complete whole. Someone does not have to do a next degree and the possible choice to do so comes entirely from the Reiki student himself.
During the Reiki classes, only Reiki is taught and no other techniques or disciplines (such as grounding exercises, chakras, yoga, breathing techniques or whatever).
The history is the story of the origin and development of the practice of Reiki through time as held, carried, and cared for by the spitiual lineage (see below). History is told during the first degree Reiki class and shows the roots of this practice. There are also many beautiful lessons in this story, which the student can benefit from during his/her own path with Reiki.
The lineage of Usui Shiki Ryoho is Mikao Usui, Chujiro Hayashi, Hawayo Takata, and Phyllis Lei Furumoto. The system of practice as we know it today has been carried through these four lineage bearers and their time/space in the world as we know it.
The spiritual lineage supports the form of this tradition and carries this tradition. With the example they have given through their dedication to this system, they also serve as a reflection point for the Reiki student.
The initiation can be described as a sacred time when the student and master experience communion with the energy of Reiki. The initiation creates a space of oneness in which our soul/being remembers its connection with the life energy as a deep understanding on all levels. The other eight elements of the system allow the experience of the initiations to be used in daily life, expanding the awareness of the student. In the first degree Reiki class the student receives four initiations. One initiation is received in the the second degree class and there is one initiation as a Reiki Master.
Balance of giving and receiving is a concept that is reflected in the element of money in this system. The practice of Reiki calls for an exchange for learning Reiki at each level and for treatment. The amounts for the degrees in this system are set: 150 to 200 euros for first degree, 500 euros for second degree and 10.000 euros for the Master’s degree. With each degree an increasing amount of money, time and commitment is asked from the Reiki student. Everyone is equal, therefore the amounts are the same for everyone. This means that this element also challenges the Reiki student to consciously reflect on what he/she values by means of money in daily life. As Hawayo Takata said nicely: “if health is your priority, than that is what you spend your money on”
This practice is taught and passed on in the form of oral tradition, that is, the student and master are together for the class experience. There is a unique quality to this meeting that only can happen in person-to-person contact where ritual or sacred space is created.
The oral tradition thus also supports the personal experience of the Reiki student. It is up to him/her to make the effort to learn through direct contact with his/her Master, to listen attentively, to understand what is being said in the moment and then to apply it. The energetic transfer in the words spoken in the Reiki class cannot be present through books or the internet. That is why there are no books about the Usui system of Reiki (although this is sometimes claimed by writers).
The five Reiki precepts are taught in the first degree class and are guides to daily living. They challenge the student to look more deeply into their actions, thoughts and feelings. Each question that is provoked by the precepts is an opportunity for personal development, a way to change perceptions of others, and a possibility for personal peace. They ask the student the willingness to take responsibility for his/her feelings and choices.
The Reiki precepts are:
Just for today, do not worry
Just for today, do not anger
Honor your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to every living thing
There are three Reiki symbols. They’re keys or doorways to another world in ourselves and to another level of relationship with the energy of Reiki. Each symbol has a specific function and form of use in the daily practice of Reiki. The Reiki symbols are sacred and secret. In a certain sense you could compare this with keeping a diary secret until someone shows that he is dealing with you in a valuable and respectful manner before sharing it with the person. The symbols are taught in the second degree of Reiki after the Reiki student has practiced the first degree for at least a year. A student is asked for further commitment of time and attention to the practice.
The form of treatment is simple while comprehensive. During the treatment, the hands are placed on the person’s dressed body. The hand positions have a fixed form that is taught in the first degree Reiki class. They create a pattern on the body that allows for the person receiving as well as the person giving the treatment awareness of the energy movement in the body. The basis of the practice is self-treatment and treatment of others within the realm of family and friends. Beginning students have the capacity to give a good treatment. The student learns the technique for self-treatment, treatment of others, and for first aid applications. Reiki treatments are not used for diagostic purposes nor should there be expectations about the outcome of the treatment. Reiki always works, sometimes on unseen levels of the being.