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REIKI IN JAPAN
BEFORE 1985
- a New Perspective
Copyright 2007 James Deacon


A different way of thinking about the growth of 'traditional' Reiki in Japan...

In 1985, New York journalist and Reiki teacher, Mieko Mitsui travelled to Japan with the intent of doing some research into Reiki's origins.

While there she began teaching classes in a particular style of Reiki (a modified and augmented version of Usui Shiki Ryoho, as taught by one of Takata-sensei's students: Barbara Ray), and as a result, could be said to have been single-handedly responsible for sparking a 'Reiki Revival' in Japan

Yet beyond introducing the Japanese to this particular style of Reiki, Mitsui also reported that she had made contact with other, pre-existing Reiki Practitioners in Japan, and apparently had herself received some training from at least one of them.

The presence of these Reiki practitioners was naturally taken as proof by Mitsui that Reiki had not died out in Japan, as had previously been believed.

Mitsui is commonly hailed as being the first person to re-introduce Reiki from the West to Japan - however there is one fact that she and many others are clearly unaware of…


What follows is an extract from a recording of a talk given by Takata-sensei at the Trinity Metaphysical Center, in Redwood, California in 1976:

"I took Reiki out of Japan.
Last year I went back and I gave them the first degree, and they are just crying for the second degree this year, so I am going back again.
Next year, I shall go back to Japan and create ten Teachers.
And this is the way I'm going to return Reiki, back to Japan.
There will be Reiki Centres in Japan, and Masters there, and they will take care of all the necessity and they will have many, many Reiki students; and so, I do not have to go again.
And so … next year to Japan will be my last trip.
So, I will spend many months there"

That Takata-sensei had re-introduced level one Reiki to Japan in 1975 may come as a great surprise to many.

However, it seems Takata-sensei never got the opportunity to return again to Japan, as she had intended, to teach levels two and three [1]

The reasons behind this are not clear, but possibly can be put down to health.

While, at the time, the information had not been revealed to her students, it later emerged that, sometime in 1975, Takata-sensei had had a heart attack, so after this she was probably less inclined to travel overseas...


Yet, levels two and three aside, the simple fact that Takata-sensei had initiated a number (how many exactly is unknown) of level one Reiki practitioners in Japan - ten years before Mitsui's visit, is in itself a revelation which, I feel could, impact significantly upon the so-called 'new' history of Reiki:


Surviving Original Students of Usui-sensei's teachings?

Back in the late '90's that we began to hear rumours about a small group of very elderly Japanese men and women.

It was claimed they were some of the original students...

- that what they had been taught was something different from the Reiki as introduced to Japan by Mieko Mitsui

- that what they had been taught had not even been called Reiki

- that the methods and practices they had been taught did not include the use of the Reiki Symbols

- that they had not even been shown the Reiki Symbols

- in many cases, didn't even know of the Symbols' existence...


Well of course it is possible that these people were some of the original students

- not students taught by Usui-sensei, but rather original Level 1 students, taught by Takata-sensei in 1975

- the system taught by Takata-sensei was something different from the Reiki as introduced to Japan by Mieko Mitsui
..[as mentioned above, the form of Reiki introduced by Mitsui had been modified and augmented by Barbara Ray]

- and of course the system taught by Takata-sensei was not called "Reiki"
. [but rather: "Usui Shiki Ryoho"]

- and as for the Reiki Symbols:
..well of course the methods and practices they had been taught did not include the use of the Reiki Symbols

- in those days, Level 1 students did not get to see the Reiki Symbols

- in most cases, Level 1 students probably wouldn't even know that there were any Reiki Symbols

- the Reiki Symbols were a secret, not to be revealed to students until Level 2 [2]

 

Just imagine the scenario, if you will:

Takata-sensei reintroduces Reiki to Japan in 1975.

The small handful of Japanese students are full of gratitude - having been honoured to receive the 'spiritual gift' that is the Reiki Initiation, and the accompanying 'first level' of training in this sacred art...

Diligently, they practice what they have been taught - mindfully developing their skills and sensitivities - whilst eagerly awaiting the day when Takata-sensei will return to assess their progress, and decide if they are ready to receive the next stage in their training - the second level.

But that longed-for day does not arrive.

For reasons un-beknown to the small group of Japanese students, Takata-sensei does not return.

And so they gradually come to the realisation that they are alone...


Over time, in their isolation, perhaps it is that several of these Japanese students became disheartened, perhaps even move away altogether from practice of Usui-sensei's art.

Others, of a more determined spirit, perhaps attempted to develop beyond what they had been taught - to move beyond the entry level teachings (referred to as the "introductory course" by Takata-sensei).

Yet, being unaware as to what the next stage of training (the "intermediate course") actually entailed - they found themselves somewhat at a loss...

What were they to do?

It is quit feasable that [- as would happen in the West, not that many years later] some of these Japanese students would have sought to augment and advance their practice, understanding and perceptions by adopting/integrating elements from other disciplines [3], and also perhaps would have sought inspiration by drawing on meditative practices and other elements from their own particular spiritual faiths.

These things, combined with a little 'informed guesswork' and intuition, and soon a 'reconstructed' version of Usui-sensei's teachings gradually began to evolve...

But how were they to pass on the spiritual blessing - the 'Reiki gift' itself - to others?

These level 1 students were of course unaware of the true nature of the initiation process.

It was Takata-sensei's practice to confer initiation in a darkened room; and during the proceedure the students eyes were closed. Though, even had some of these Japanese students (as many others in the West had done before them) given in to temptation and tried to watch from under slightly raised eyelids, what would they have seen as they sat in gassho, but fleeting glimpses of Takata-sensei, moving to and fro, gesturing obscurely, at times breathing strangely - there in the electrifying, silent darkness...

Perhaps it was that in their quest for a process by which to confer the 'gift', someone happened upon a concept found within several of the modernday spiritual groups often categorised as 'new religions' - a means of giving and receiving a spiritual blessing - a process referred to as reiju...

And so, as a result of these Japanese students, integrating what little they were aware of concerning the process of the original initiation they themselves had received, with what they had discovered about this other reiju blessing process, a 'Reiki reiju' was born (- though something more visually akin to the seated Reiki treatment method than to the original, formal, initiation process Takata-sensei had used)

Also, as on each of the four occasions they had met with Takata-sensei [the four consecutive evenings over which the introductory level course was held], they had received the blessing/initiation from her, (and they had probably also been informed by her that the second level would bring with it a deepening of the connection with/awareness of Reiki [4],) it was not really that much of a leap for these enthusiastic Japanese students to conclude that - had their training continued as originally planned - then on every occasion that they met with Takata-sensei they would have also received this 'blessing'.[5]

And so was born the idea of the regular, ongoing, receipt of this 'Reiki gift' this spiritual gift - this reiju...

 

Within a very short few years after Takata-sensei's passing, Reiki in the West, had in many cases evolved far from the specific understandings and practices as taught by Takata-sensei herself.

Imagine just how much 'Japanese Reiki' could have evolved in the ten years between Takata-sensei returning Reiki to Japan in 1975 and Mitsui 'rediscovering' Reiki there when she visited in 1985?

 

[To be continued...]

 

_______


[1]

Phyllis Furumoto has confirmed that no masters were created by her grandmother in Japan in the 70's [on a related note, we know that Takata-sensei went to Japan to visit Hayashi-sensei's widow, Chie, in the early 1950's - so it is not beyond the realm of possiblity that while she was there, she may have taught some Reiki classes at that time as well.]


[2]
And even Level 2 students would probably be unaware that there was a further Reiki Symbol taught at Level 3.
The majority would be under the impression that the Reiki system only had three symbols in total...


[3]

For example, Johrei (- which, while externally perceived as a form of hand-healing, is more properly considered to be a form of spiritual purification. A means of spiritual development first and foremost - healing being simply a side effect of the Spiritual practice)


[4]

[And also further methods to help facilitate changing bad habits for good, thus improving mind and body]


[5]

Obviously they would have no way of knowing that it was only as part of the 'introductory' training that the four initiations (with their connection to the 'four soul aspects') were given, and that they would have only received one further initiation at each of the other two levels of training.

 

 



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