The History of Reiki

Dr. Usui
Dr. Usui

History is usually recorded according to the person who relays it. Up until recently the historic account of Reiki was determined according to one person’s version of it. People relied on the story of Reiki given to us by Mrs. Hawayo Takata, the lady who introduced Reiki to the U.S.A. It is only in the last few years that we have become acquainted with factual information about the origins and history of Reiki.

A gentleman by the name of Dr. Mikao Usui introduced the healing art we call Reiki to Japan in the last century. His original Reiki handbook has been found confirming this. He was not a medical doctor. To his students he was called Usui-Sensei, which means teacher. Dr. Usui was Buddhist but Reiki is not linked to any particular religious belief system.

It was originally believed that he rediscovered Reiki, after serious contemplation and investigations into various religious and spiritual philosophies. Recent research suggests that this is very questionable. It now appears that he may have developed this healing art himself following an enlightening experience on Mount Kurama in Japan. He developed a training, which seems to have included six levels or degrees. This was later modified in the west to three degrees

It has become apparent that the word Reiki was in existence in Japan before Dr. Usui developed his healing module. It was a broad term to describe many forms of healing work. Dr. Usui did not call his technique Reiki. He named it Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Dr. Usui founded the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkei translating as Usui Reiki Healing Method Society. He acted as its first President. Dr. Usui died in 1926 aged 62 years.

In the 1940’s there were about 40 Reiki schools in Japan. Sometimes the class structure varied. The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkei still exists in Japan where Reiki is still practised.

Dr. Hayashi
Dr. Hayashi

Another well known name in Reiki circles is Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. He is believed to have run a successful Reiki clinic in Tokyo. While he appears to have been taught by Dr. Usui, he was never president of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai. It was in this clinic that Dr. Hayashi taught Mrs. Hawayo Takata Reiki.

Hawayo Takata was born in 1900 on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. It was during a trip to Japan when her own health was challenged that she discovered Reiki. According to Hawayo Takata, she learnt Reiki in 1935 from Dr. Hayashi. In 1937 she returned to Hawaii. In 1938 Dr. Hayashi initiated her to the final level of Reiki while on a visit to Hawaii.

The way Hawayo Takata taught Reiki differed very much from the way Dr. Usui taught. She claimed Reiki was an oral tradition. We now know that Dr. Usui and Dr. Hayashi gave written material to their students. She taught Reiki in three levels, while Dr. Usui taught in six levels. It is also interesting to note that Dr. Usui did not use the term Master for Reiki teachers. This was a title Hawayo Takata created. It was believed by many in the Reiki community that she was the only representative of Usui Reiki.

Hawayo Takata
Hawayo Takata

Mrs. Takata continued to practise Reiki until she died. She only started teaching others how to teach Reiki eight years before her death. The price she charged for this course was $10,000 U.S dollars. Neither Dr. Usui nor Dr. Hayashi charged such prices for this level. She left twenty-two Reiki teachers behind her.

After her death in 1980 two people in the U.S.A assumed the position of grandmaster of Reiki. Phyllis Lei Furumoto, Mrs. Takata’s granddaughter involved herself in a group called the Reiki Alliance. Ms. Barbara Ray, a student of Mrs. Takata’s headed a group called the Radiance Technique.

We have a lot to thank Mrs Takata for.  She was the instruement that brought Reiki to the western world.  The research of Reiki inside Japan may have shown some cracks in her story, but she deserves credit for the role she played in bringing Reiki to the U.S.A.

Today there are thousands of Reiki teachers world-wide. Many different types of Reiki are now being taught. My perception of Reiki is that it is there for everyone. While some may be limited by their awareness to its full potential, Reiki is something that everyone can benefit from. Reiki is Reiki whoever conveys the word.

“The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui” by Dr. Mikao Usui and Frank Arajava Petter, Lotus Press. Shangri – La Twin Lakes, WI 1999, second edition.

“The Spirit of Reiki” by Walter Lubeck, Frank Arajava Petter, William Rand by Lotus Press. Shangri – La Twin Lakes, WI 2001, first edition