The Japanese words above are written
using a combination of kanji
(phonetic characters, representing sounds). ]
Japanese is written in vertical columns, from right to left, so the
Japanese text above might also appear in this format:
the most common depictions of the Principles in Japanese tend to use
layouts similar to the one shown here:
highlighted wording in
the two columns at the far right is
commonly translated along the lines of:
secret method of inviting blessings, the spiritual medicine of many
The three columns of wording in black are the Principles
the wording in the five highlighted columns to the left reads:
and evenings sit in the gassho position and repeat these words out
loud and in your heart. For the improvement of mind and body. Usui
Spiritual 3Healing Method. The founder,
format (with the principles and the accompanying
text) is said
to be close to the original format of the gokai
composed by Usui-sensei.
first (verified) appearance of the following hand-written version of
the Principles was in
a Reiki article in a Japanese magazine: "The Twilight Zone", and
various people have suggested that this might possibly be the
original, written by Usui-sensei himself. The
article was first published in 1986.
A somewhat similar version of the gokai appeared in
Japanese-language Reiki book: Iyashi no Te (Healing
Toshitaka Mochizuki, in 1995.
this version, Mochizuki apparently did the hand-written calligraphy
himself - as a 'reconstruction' or 'artists impression' of the
Though it appears that when westerners first
discovered the book there may have been some confusion. It seems
several people were under the impression that this depiction of
the gokai in Mochizuki's
book was a facsimile
copy of the original; that it was in
fact Usui-sensei's own handwriting.4
not long after this misunderstanding had been cleared up, other,
sources claimed (some might say, all too conveniently)
to have been granted the opportunity to view the original gokai - not just a copy,
but the actual original document - in Usui-sensei's own
Around about the same time,
another, typeset version made its way into the public
arena. This version, below, comes from the Reiki
Ryoho Hikkei (Reiki Treatment Companion).
We are told that the 'Hikkei' was originally compiled (from previously separate
in the 1970's by Kimiko Koyama, sixth kaicho
(president / chairman) of
the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.5
this version, the words: “For the improvement of mind and
Usui Spiritual Healing Method.” (which
appear in the
third column from the left in fig.3) have been placed at
the beginning (right hand side) of the text6; and
“The founder, Mikao Usui.” (first two columns
in fig.3) do not appear at all.
while between fig.3 and fig.5, there may be differences in the
format used, and in the ordering
of the surrounding
text; in both of these versions, the actual wording
the central principles themselves (i.e. the specific kanji
and hiragana characters used) is
the same, and is believed to be exactly
as originally composed by Usui-sensei.
has been some discussion as to whether the first line (Just for
today) is really something separate, or whether it actually forms
part of the first Principle, i.e:
for today, don't worry”:
whether it is part of the first Principle or not, we still have the
gokai: Five Principles.
one Reiki practitioner (Dave King) claims he was taught that the
number is not five, but three.
that they should be referred to as gainen (概念)
is claimed that we should read “Just
for today, don't get angry, don't worry” as a single
Likewise, that the principles commonly translated
as “Be grateful” and “Work hard”
should be read together as something along the lines of: “Do your
work with appreciation”; while ”Be
kind to people” remains unchanged:
people would probably agree that merging the first two principles in
the way suggested here does not really impact on the essential message
of the gokai.
However, I am sure I am not alone in
believing that the merging of the “Be grateful” and “Work hard”
principles into "Do your
work with appreciation" or some similar phrasing, does result in quite a significant
change to essential message of the gokai. [A
topic to pursue further at another time, I think.]
due to the almost total lack of verifiable documentary evidence
pertaining to the origins and early years of Reiki, claims such as
these concerning the original naming (gokai or gainen) and number
of the ”statements” ( 5 or 3)7 are always
However, we do have
concrete proof that in 1927, the term
was was well-known to Usui-sensei's students, and that the gokai
were indeed considered to be five
Well, I say
proof - I should perhaps rephrase that to: 'stone' proof.
Usui Memorial, erected in February 1927 at the site of the Usui
family tomb in the graveyard
Saihoji Temple, Tokyo, uses the term gokai and
clearly identifies five of them.
far in this article, all the depictions of the gokai we
have looked at have
been written using a combination of kanji
characters, representing ideas)
(phonetic characters, representing sounds).
is how the gokai
are commonly written. This is how you will see them depicted in
books, magazines, on the internet, etc., etc.
However, just to
slightly, as well as hiragana
the Japanese language also makes use of a second
of phonetic characters known as katakana.
are certain rules concerning when and where to use hiragana rather
than katakana (and
vice versa), at a basic
level, the only real
difference between the two phonetic systems is the
shape of the characters used. Each system has
different-characters representing the same
need to know this simply because, the image below (fig.8) shows the
Five Principles as depicted on the Memorial Monument. They are
written using kanji and katakana.
the actual monument stone itself, the gokai are
written in one continuous line
spread over two long columns, however, in this image they have been
split into five short columns, purely due to considerations of space]
highlighted words at the top of each column:
do not actually
constitute a part of the gokai, they
are simply a way of separating and introducing each principle.
Reading from the right, the
words at the top of the first column may
be translated as “Firstly we say”. The words at the top of the
second column - “Secondly we say”. The words at the top of the
third column - “Thirdly we say” - the fourth column, "Fourthly we say"
- the fifth column "Fifthly we say".
clearly, the authors of the inscription understood the gokai
– as this name implies – to be five
let us return for a moment to one of the formats of the gokai we have
already looked at:.
and let us compare it to the gokai as depicted
on the memorial stone.
However, as already
stated, all the depictions of the gokai we
have looked at have
been written using a combination of kanji and hiragana 8.
The gokai as depicted
on the memorial stone has been written using a combination of kanji and katakana.
therefore, to make the comparison a little easier, here is an
alternative version of fig.6. In this version, the hiragana have been
replaced with their katakana counterparts:
So, the gokai in
fig.6a are written with kanji
and the gokai
in fig.10 are written with kanji and katakana. So
they should be the same, right?
even allowing for the less-than-perfect quality of fig.10, you
do not need to be able to read and understand Japanese to see that
clearly differences between the two.
Here is the Memorial-stone version of the gokai in a clearer
So, instead of the more commonly known wording of
Kyō dake wa ikaru2 na Shimpai su
na Kansha shi te Gyō
wo hage me Hito ni shinsetsu ni
the 1927 version from the Memorial we seem to have:
Kyō ikaru2 nakare
Yū 9 furu nakare
wo hage me 10
Memorial tells us that the inscription was composed by Masayuki Okada
(a Doctor of Literature) and that the actual calligraphy [from which
the unnamed stonemason/engraver worked?] was by Juzaburo Ushida (who
was President /Chairman of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai at the time )
it seems there has been some speculation as to whether or not Masayuki Okada
was actually a member of the Gakkai (or even involved with Reiki at
all) - it has been suggested that he was simply a scholar with a
flair for memorial work, who been commissioned to compose the
So, could Okada have
possibly made a major error in his composition? Could he somehow have
misworded the gokai?
This seems most
unlikely, as Ushida was responsible for the actual calligraphy
(and, as Gakkai
President, would have had the final say on important details
such as the correct wording of the gokai).
In fact, for both
of these men, it would have been a matter of honour to get the details
Therefore it is perhaps somewhat
significant that the wording of what is
arguably the core element of Usui-sensei's teachings, as presented in
this inscription from 1927, actually differs from the version we have
far more latterly become accustomed to: the version we have commonly
come to believe to be Usui-sensei's own words – albeit a version
which the Reiki Community in general only really became aware some
time after its appearance in a magazine article in the mid 1980's?
inscription mentions how Usui-sensei had created a method for
"improvement of mind and body". How he had named his teachings: "Shôfuku
no hihô, Manbyo no rei yaku"
secret method of inviting blessings, the spiritual medicine of many
also talks about sitting with hands
in the gassho
position and chanting the gokai
"mornings and evenings".
it comes to the precise
words to chant...
Now admittedly, while there are
indeed differences when it comes to the Japanese characters
(and therefore, the words)
terms of the
there is no significant difference between the version of the
as depicted on the memorial stone, and the more commonly-depicted
is believed by many Reiki practitioners that Usui-sensei worded the
a very specific way, in keeping with the principles of the spiritual
discipline of kotodama11
(a spiritual science of the power inherent in
words ) and that the specific
a particular "spiritual
some of the words (whether the vocalised sounds, or the specific
used to write the words), and the specific "spiritual
the whole is also altered...
of us are acutely aware that so much about Reiki - so many elements
and aspects of the teachings, and practice - have changed over the
years . We only have to look at the different styles of Reiki (both Western and Japanese) to see
how it has evolved, been reworked, taking on many new and diverse
forms and expressions.
perhaps we must ask the question:
version written on paper, or the version written in stone - which (if
either) is actually the 'true' version of the gokai: the verbatim wording
as penned by Usui-sensei himself ?
thus, by extension - if we adhere to the kotodama-related
mentioned above – which version actually holds
the true 'spiritual
resonance' as intended by Usui-sensei?.]
we consider the possibility that the more familiar version of the gokai
actually the 'true' one, but rather, a product of the same spirit
of change and evolution that has affected so many areas of Reiki?12
know with certainty that the version of the gokai
written in stone on the memorial was in existence a year after
Usui-sensei's passing - we cannot
say the same for the other version which, as mentioned really only
came to public awareness in the mid 1980's.
let's be clear, I'm not attempting to suggest that the more familiar
version of the gokai
is some sort of modern-day 'reconstruction' – as, for
example, some have made
attempts at creating "authentic
reconstructions" of the “original teachings”
of Mikao Usui.
Although it is something that
has generally been taken for granted, due to the
lack of documentary evidence concerning the early days of Reiki, we
have no clear supporting evidence that the wording of the gokai - as written on paper (and
circulated in books, magazines,and on
the internet), rather than the wording of the gokai - as written in
stone, is actually the 'true' version.
had claims by some Reiki practitioners that they have been granted
access to the “genuine original principles in Usui-sensei's own
handwriting”, hidden away in some secret shrine; and we have also
had second-hand tales concerning people supposedly witnessing
Usui-sensei actually write the principles down for the very first
And while some might cite as evidence the picture shown below – in
which an image of the more familiar version has been superimposed on a
photo (which may or may not
actually be) of Usui-sensei,
we really have no way of knowing precisely when the gokai
image and the original photo were first combined13.
course there is the possibility that they were combined during
Usui-sensei's lifetime; on the other hand, they could have been
combined many years later, we just cannot say for sure.
Now changing track
somewhat from this "either or" approach:
perhaps consider the possibility that both versions were
actually worded by Usui-sensei?
that it be that the familiar wording was perhaps the original
version after all?
"Original", that is,
in the sense of being a
first draft - for what would eventually become
the final version, "written in stone for all time", on the
Are we to automatically assume that
Usui-sensei simply sat down one day and, at the very first
attempt, composed the Five Principles - the essential distillation of
his teachings - in their 'never-to-be-refined-or improved-on' final
he did. Though, it as has been suggested by various sources
Usui-sensei's teachings did not remain 'static', but rather -
a living, breathing, vital expression of his own understanding
of the phenomenon that is Reiki - evolved
through several developmental 'stages'. If this is correct, then we
must consider the possibility that as part of this development, the gokai themselves
may have undergone some degree of transformation, (no matter how
subtle) to reflect this evolution.
Also, it has been
pointed out by several people that, in developing the gokai - his Five
Principles - Usui-sensei may have been quite strongly inspired and influenced by the thoughts and
writings of a man named Bizan Suzuki.
1914, Dr. Suzuki had published a book: kenzen no genri [健全の原理] i.e. "Principles
On one page of that book there
appeared a short passage (or poem, if you prefer) entitled:
Path to Health"
Suzuki's words read: