History of Reiki

Derivation of name

The English word reiki derives from the Japanese loanword reiki (霊気, meaning "mysterious atmosphere"), which derives from the Chinese loanword língqì (靈氣, "supernatural influence"). Its earliest recorded usage in English dates to 1975. Instead of the usual transliteration, some English-language authors pseudo-translate reiki as "universal life energy".

Reiki is commonly written as 霊気 in shinjitai kanji or as レイキ in katakana syllabary. It compounds the words rei (霊: "spirit, miraculous, divine") and ki (気 "gas, vital energy, breath of life, consciousness"). The ki (better known as Chinese qi or ch'i) in reiki is understood as meaning "spiritual energy; vital energy; life force; energy of life". Some reiki translation equivalents from Japanese-English dictionaries are: "feeling of mystery", "an atmosphere (feeling) of mystery", and "an ethereal atmosphere (that prevails in the sacred precincts of a shrine); (feel, sense) a spiritual (divine) presence." Besides the usual Sino-Japanese pronunciation reiki, these kanji 霊気 have an alternate Japanese reading, namely ryōge, meaning "demon; ghost" (especially in spirit possession).

Chinese língqì 靈氣 was first recorded in the (ca. 320 BCE) Neiye "Inward Training" section of the Guanzi, describing early Daoist meditation techniques. "That mysterious vital energy within the mind: One moment it arrives, the next it departs. So fine, there is nothing within it; so vast, there is nothing outside it. We lose it because of the harm caused by mental agitation. Standard Chinese língqì is translated by Chinese-English dictionaries as: "(of beautiful mountains) spiritual influence or atmosphere"; "1. intelligence; power of understanding; 2. supernatural power or force in fairy tales; miraculous power or force"; and "1. spiritual influence (of mountains/etc.); 2. ingeniousness; cleverness".


The system of Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui (臼井甕男) in 1922 whilst performing Isyu Guo, a twenty-one day Buddhist training course held on Mount Kurama. It is not known for certain what Usui was required to do during this training, though it most likely involved meditation, fasting, chanting, and prayer. It is claimed that by a mystical revelation, Usui had gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what he called Reiki, which entered his body through his crown Chakra. In April 1922, Usui moved to Tokyo and founded the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai ("臼井靈氣療法學會" in Traditional Mandarin, meaning Usui's Spiritual Energy Therapy Method Society) in order to continue treating people on a large scale with Reiki.

According to the inscription on his memorial stone, Usui taught his system of Reiki to over 2000 people during his lifetime, and sixteen of these students continued their training to reach the Shinpiden level, a level equivalent to the Western third, or Master/Teacher, degree. While teaching Reiki in Fukuyama (福山市, Fukuyama-shi), Usui suffered a stroke and died on 9 March 1926.

Early development

After Usui's death, Mr. J. Ushida, a student of Usui, took over as president of the Gakkai. He was also responsible for creating and erecting Usui's memorial stone and for ensuring the maintenance of the grave site. Mr. Ushida was followed by Mr. Iichi Taketomi, Mr. Yoshiharu Watanabe, Mr. Kimiko Koyama and the current successor to Usui, Mr. Kondo, who became president in 1998. The sixteen Masters initiated by Usui include Toshihiro Eguchi, Jusaburo Guida, Ilichi Taketomi, Toyoichi Wanami, Yoshihiru Watanabe, Keizo Ogawa, J. Ushida, and Chujiro Hayashi.

Before Usui's death, Chujiro Hayashi (林 忠次郎 Hayashi Chūjirō) approached Usui about developing a different form of Reiki that was much simpler. Usui agreed. After Usui's death, Hayashi left the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai and formed his own clinic where he gave Reiki treatments, taught, and attuned people to Reiki, and it was to this clinic that Hawayo Takata was directed in the 1930s. Hayashi simplified the Reiki teachings, stressing physical healing and using a more codified and simpler set of Reiki techniques.

After multiple Reiki sessions from Hayashi's trainees at his clinic for illnesses including abdominal pain and asthma, Hayashi initiated and trained Takata to use Reiki, and she became a Reiki Master on 21 February 1938. Takata established several Reiki clinics throughout Hawaii, one of which was located in Hilo, and then went on to travel throughout the United States, practising Reiki and teaching the first two levels to others, and it was not until 1970 that Takata began initiating Reiki Masters. At this stage, Takata also introduced the term Reiki Master for the Shinpiden level. She stressed the importance of charging money for Reiki treatments and teachings, and fixed a price of $10,000 (roughly £6,500 or €7,400) for the Master training.

Takata died on 11 December 1980, by which time she had trained 22 Reiki masters, and almost all Reiki taught outside Japan can be attributed to her work.
 Five Principles

Usui was an admirer of the literary works of the Emperor Meiji (明治天皇 Meiji tennō). While in the process of developing his Reiki system, Usui summarised some of the emperor's works into a set of ethical principles, which later became known as the Five Reiki Precepts (五戒 Gokai, meaning "The Five Commandments," from the Buddhist teachings of being prohibited against killing, thievery, sexual misconduct, lying, and for intemperance). It is common for many Reiki teachers and practitioners to abide by these five precepts, or principles.









Shōfuku no hihō,
Manbyō no reiyaku.

Kyō dake wa:

    Okoru na,
    Shinpai su na,
    Kansha shite,
    Gyō wo hakeme,
    Hito ni shinsetsu ni.

Asayū gasshō shite kokoro ni nenji,
Kuchi ni tonae yo.

Shinshin kaizen.
Usui Reiki Ryōhō.

Usui Mikao.


The secret art of inviting happiness,
The miraculous medicine for all diseases.

At least for today:

    Do not be angry,
    Do not worry,
    Be grateful,
    Work with diligence,
    Be kind to people.

Every morning and evening, join your hands in meditation and pray with your heart.
State in your mind and chant with your mouth.

For improvement of mind and body.
Usui Reiki Ryōhō.

The founder,
Mikao Usui.

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