I have been practicing and researching Reiki for nearly two decades and recently I have been drawn to join the debate on what constitutes ‘Traditional Japanese Reiki’ and how it is different from Hawayo Takata’s Usui Shiki Ryoho..
Before I proceed, I would like to make it clear that in my mind any form or discipline that utilizes Universal ‘Ki’ can only be doing good, because as most of us know, within the phenomenon of Reiki, there is an inherent intelligence (thankfully) that directs it’s flow…
I am not here either to point an accusatory finger at anyone, I just wish to shed light on something that in my opinion undermines Reiki’s stability and confuses many would be practitioners coming into our Reiki community
Lately the system of Reiki I was originally taught has become referred to by many somewhat derogatorily in my opinion as ‘Western Reiki’. This is incorrect because the system Hawayo Takata introduced to the World is called ‘Usui Shiki Ryoho’ or sometimes ‘Usui Reiki Ryoho’ , Which means, ‘Usui Style Healing Method’ or ‘The Usui Way’ as I was taught.
This system she learnt from Chujiro Hayashi, serving her apprenticeship at his clinic and receiving the master level attunement from him in 1936 four years before he committed seppuku (suicide) at his Villa in Atami near Mt Fuji, an event she was present at.
Her system was most definitely tailored for the English speakers she taught in Hawaii. She chose to omit some of the Japanese terminology or rephrased it into English when teaching certain techniques. For example calling Byosen Reikan Ho, Scanning, or Seiheki Chiryo the mental/emotional technique. But when you look deeper into the content of many self styled ‘Original Japanese’ systems that are fashionable today, you will find not only do they share much in common with Hawayo Takata’s teachings but also they share the same lineage with her, connecting through Chujiro Hayashi to Dr Usui.
Here is a look at three of these Japanese systems to help you understand where they originated from.
‘Gendai Reiki Ho’ (Dentho Reiki)
It is claimed this system contains Original Usui Reiki Ryoho techniques as practiced by The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai that were omitted from Hawayo Takata’s Western Reiki. This is a system taught by Hiroshi Doi and it’s name means literally “Modern Reiki Method”. Doi studied with Mieko Mitsui ~ a student of Radiance Technique founder Barbara Ray who famously battled for control of the leadership of Reiki with Hawayo Takata’s grand daughter Philis Furumoto.
It is also reported he studied Osho Neo Reiki (A modified Takata Style Reiki) and also Jikiden Reiki. Doi created his system of Reiki by drawing upon many types of healing modalities. It is strange that many consider Gendai Reiki Ho to be Traditional Usui Reiki Ryoho when Hiroshi Doi himself points out, that he has never taught anything other than Gendai Reiki Ho. “I have taught nothing but Gendai Reiki Ho until now, Gendai Reiki Ho does include traditional techniques. However if a master simply picks out these techniques and says I teach both Gendai Reiki Ho and Usui Reiki Ryoho, this is wrong. I never taught anything but Gendai Reiki Ho seminars and this will remain the same in the future.”
Reiki researcher James Deacon writes “Doi has pointed out (though not loudly enough it seems..) that the particular version of Reiju used and taught in Gendai Reiki Ho is his own creation ~ his attempt to replicate the experience of receiving the Reiju empowerment as used by the Gakkai~something that Doi not being a Gakkai master, has not learnt how to perform.”
It’s apparent that Doi has spent a lot of time researching and incorporating many techniques into his Reiki system which isn’t a bad thing. Many teachers do this, myself included and it can be considered a natural progression when being informed by the flow of Ki energy. However what appears to have happened to Gendai Reiki Ho is it has been labelled by it’s followers as the Traditional Japanese Reiki when clearly it is not.
Based on the teachings of the late Chiyoko Yamaguchi and created by Tadao Yamaguchi her son in 2000. Chiyoko was a student of Chujiro Hayashi receiving her first level attunement in 1938, two and a half years after Hawayo Takata became a Master. She claimed to be attuned to master level by Chujiro Hayashi and taught Reiki as being the exact system taught by him. Unlike Usui Shiki Ryoho there were no formal hand positions in her method. She instead focused more on the intuitive aspects of giving Reiki stating she was never taught any which is interesting as many claim that it was Chujiro Hayashi himself that introduced formal hand positions to fit in with his approach to clinical Reiki. Although it was claimed she received her master training directly from Chujiro Hayashi, it came to light she actually received instruction to pass attunements from her uncle Wasaburo Sugano who had also been trained by Hayashi.
I asked Hyakuten Inamoto her senior student “Do you know why Chiyoko Yamaguchi chose not to include her Uncle Wasaburo Sugano in her lineage?”
He said; “My understanding from what I heard from her is that she considered her uncle just taught her how to give Reiju (attunement). She did not think that she was initiated into Reiki by him, but she did think she was initiated into Reiki by Hayashi Sensei himself.”
Yamaguchi had no knowledge of the Master symbol being used as a Reiki symbol and it has been suggested by some in her defence, that the symbol was not part of the system then. But as we know Hawayo Takata had already received Master status 2 years before this and she had been instructed to use this symbol by Chujiro Hayashi, so something doesn’t fit. Hyakuten Inamoto director of Komyo Reiki again writes “Mrs. Yamaguchi had no idea about the Master symbol. She was taught only Shoden (level 1) and Okuden (level 2) with 3 symbols during a 5-day Reiki course by Hayashi Sensei”. This once again raises some questions, as the Master symbol is intrinsic to the Reiki attunement process in Hawayo Takatas ‘Usui Shiki Ryoho’. Also, unlike Mrs Yamaguchi’s 5 day training into just 2nd degree Reiki, Hawayo Takata’s training with Hayashi-sensei took the form of an extended, full-time apprenticeship to Master level.
Hyakuten Inamoto the senior student of Chiyoko Yamaguchi apparently founded Komyo Reiki before the Jikiden system was started. Previous to this, Hyakuten translated Gendai Reiki Ho seminars for Hiroshi Doi and he states “I am glad to say I’ve learned many Western Reiki things from him.”
It has been reported by many that he was instructed not to teach Jikkiden as Tadao Yamaguchi wished to be the only individual to bear his mothers direct lineage. Hyakuten however explained it to me directly like this.
“As you know, Mrs. Yamaguchi was my Reiki teacher, that is to say, a teacher/student relationship. Tadao was her youngest son or my teacher’s son. That’s all. When I had Reiki training with Mrs. Yamaguchi, Tadao was practicing another healing modality called “Jorei.” I did not break away from Jikiden. I was already teaching Komyo Reiki when Tadao officially set up Jikiden Reiki in the year 2000. In other words, there has been Komyo before Jikiden. To me Jikiden or Tadao is my Reiki brother (younger brother). This is how I talk about Jikiden to my students.”
Komyo Reiki is a Hayashi style ‘Usui Shiki Ryoho’ and focuses on developing a gateway to spiritual awakening and to Satori (Enlightenment). It emphasizes the importance of daily Gassho meditation on the Reiki principles and keeping the system simple without many techniques and has the motto; “Put your hands, Surrender and Smile”.
Hyakuten say’s from the Gendai Reiki Ho system, he has only incorporated Hatsurei Ho (Hatsu = Invoke/Generate, Rei = Spirit, Ho = Method). For us in the Takata lineage this is a combination of dry brushing/ cleansing, crystal light meditation (from the crown through the body), Gassho meditation and reciting the five principles. There are many variations on this method that can be found and essentially it is a cleansing/manifestation meditation.
Hyakuten has also incorporated some simple”Mindfulness of breathing” Buddhist practices into his system of Reiki, stating, “As my background is Buddhism I gladly share the teachings of the Buddha, (Enlightened One) in my Reiki classes.” Unlike Chiyoko Yamaguchi, Hyakuten included the master symbol into Komyo Reiki thanks to his ex-teaching partner who became a Reiki Master in a ‘Western Reiki system’.
So in summary of the three different styles of Japanese Reiki I have listed now being taught here are their lineages;
- Jikiden Reiki ~ Tadao Yamaguchi ~ Chiyoko Yamaguchi ~ *(Wasaburo Sugano) ~ Chujiro Hayashi.
- Komyo Reiki ~ Hyakuten Inamoto ~ Chiyoko Yamaguchi ~ *(Wasaburo Sugano) ~ Chujiro Hayashi.
- Gendai Reiki Ho ~ Mieko Mitsui ~ Barbara Ray ~ Hawayo Takata ~ Chujiro Hayashi.
* (Wasaburo Sugano) Omitted from the lineages for some reason.
So as you can see all roads lead back to Chujiro Hayashi.
It appears to me after years of research into Reiki that the only thing Hawayo Takata omitted from Usui Shiki Ryoho when she introduced it into the West was the Japanese terminology she used to describe it’s content. Since then, there have been many additions to what was a very simple and clear system of Reiki. Her system did concentrate on the healing aspect of Reiki but not to the detriment of personal spiritual development.
Hawayo Takata spoke of Reiki as “A Universal force from the Great Divine Spirit.” She said “Reiki is not associated with any visible material being, it is an unseen spiritual power that radiates vibration and lifts one into harmony. This power is incomprehensible to man, yet every single living being is receiving it’s blessings.”
It sounds to me that she had a pretty good understanding of Reiki and I for one thank her each and every day for the gift she afforded me.
I wish to echo Hyakuten Inamoto’s words when he said “My wish is that my Reiki brother will practice the truth of Reiki Ryoho, which is oneness, openness and sharing beyond duality.”
Here are the 22 Reiki Master Teachers initiated by Hawayo Takata before her passing
Thanks to http://www.reikisystem.com
- George Araki
- Dorothy Baba
- Ursula Baylow
- Rick Bockner
- Patricia Bowling
- Barbara Brown
- Fran Brown
- Phyllis Lei Furumoto
- Beth Gray
- John Harvey Gray
- Iris Ishikuro
- Harry M. Kuboi
- Ethel Lombardi
- Barbara Lincoln McCullough
- Mary Alexandra McFadyen
- Paul Mitchell
- Bethal Phaigh
- Shinobu Saito
- Virginia W. Samdahl
- Wanja Twan
- Barbara Weber
- Kay Yamashita
Thanks for listening
Copyright Richard Ellis
Reference material Reiki Styles by James Deacon
For more information on this and many other Reiki related subjects see James Deacon