The Real History of Reiki


Around a century ago, a Japanese Buddhist monk named Mikao Usui founded the Reiki system of natural healing. He began to teach students. His students taught their students, and then those students taught their students. Two women, Barb Hay and Lia Ricci, taught me. And now, through this blog, I teach you. This is our lineage.

However, within this lineage, there is also a paradox. While it is certainly beautiful and fitting to honor our founder, Usui, we must also balance that honoring with an acknowledgement of the deeper truth of our practice.

Usui did not “invent” Reiki. He did not start it nor begin it. Rather, what this gentle monk did was remember Reiki. What he did was remember a force that transcends space and time.

Usui did not “invent” Reiki. Rather, what this gentle monk did was
remember Reiki.

The power to heal with the hands is a natural human birthright. It has existed as long as human beings have been. If we study the histories of indigenous cultures everywhere, we find equivalent systems of hands-on healing across languages and borders.

The power to awaken with light is also a natural human birthright. If we peer into the varied religious and spiritual traditions of humanity, we will find belief in a universal life force energy. The concept is ubiquitous, inescapable. Just as the notion of “God” seems to be everywhere, so too is life energy. There are a thousand names for it. In China, it is chi; in India, prana; in America, it is known as the holy spirit. High in the Andes mountains, the Quechua people invoke ushai energy during healing ceremonies, and in Mongolia, hiimori is the intuitive and powerful “windhorse energy” that uplifts and animates all beings.

No, Usui certainly did not invent anything new. It would be more accurate to say, rather, that he remembered an ancient wisdom. He helped uncover what our modern culture forgot. He remembered what is most important: He remembered we are light.

Life force energy is light. It is energetic particles vibrating at high frequencies—and the higher the frequency, the stronger the light. With more light comes more harmony, more ease, more intuition, more joy, more compassion, more creativity, more bliss.

When we are new to Reiki practice, the story of Usui is a beautiful and necessary story to learn. We need to honor him. Eventually, though, we come to see Usui’s story as the story of us all. The story of every soul.

Eventually, we come to see Usui’s story as the story of us all. The story of
every soul.

We—all of us—have an innate craving to learn, grow, and heal. We journey onto this planet in order to fulfill that destiny. Whether through Reiki or through other practices, we begin to tap into the cosmic, Universal force that opens our hearts and strengthens our natural intuitions. We break out of man-made limitation, and move into the realm of universal love. And we stop relying on the rational brain to run our lives. We step back, and channel the life force through us, for our own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of all.

Reiki was not really invented in the early 1900s. It was not really invented in Japan. It is not really a system that can be traced and tracked with clocks and calendars. No. Reiki defies all of our mental comprehensions.

The real history of Reiki is that it has no history. It is timeless. Eternal.

As we practice, we learn to honor our human stories…bow to them…yet we also learn to move beyond them, recognizing that the story is simply a seed. It shall blossom, in time, to so much more.

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