numerous websites you will read extracts from a tourist information
leaflet about Kurama, the Kurama-Kokyo sect (who control the
Kurama-dera Temple Complex) - and about their beliefs and
symbolism concerning their Supreme
For the Kurama-Kokyo, the
deities Mao-son, Bishamon-ten, and Senju-Kannon [or Senju-Kanzeon]
are seen as symbols of the universal soul, forming the triune
deity which they call: Sonten. Mao-son
is seen as representing the power of Sonten, Bishamon-ten
seen as representing the light of Sonten,
and Senju-Kannon - the love of Sonten.
recent years, many people have attempted to make a connection
between Usui-Sensei, the Reiki Shirushi (symbols), and the doctrine
of the Kurama-Kokyo sect - some even going so far as to claim
that the Kurama-Kokyo
sect was the original source for Reiki,
or at least, an influencing factor in the origin of Reiki.
One of the things that many have latched onto is the Kurama-Kokyo's
use of certain symbols in connection with the Mao-son - Bishamon-ten
- Senju-Kannon trinity.
However, in itself, this use of symbols is nothing out of the
ordinary. In Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, each deity (Buddha,
Bodhisattva, Myo-o, etc) - and each of the Five Elements - has
its associated symbol - known as a shuji ( 'seed' character):
a particular character from the 'Siddham' form of the Sanscrit
This shuji is held to be the
'sacred sign' of the given deity, and is regarded as itself
possessing the divine grace and power of that deity.
Amongst other things, a deity's shuji is essentially
perceived as a single-character depiction of the sacred mantra
of the deity, and as such invokes the merit associated with
the fukushu or recital/repetition of that mantra.
Now, in what would seem to be a combination of, on one hand,
an almost desperate attempt to make connections to the Sonten
doctrine and, on the other, a very superficial approach to research,
many people - either after viewing images of Kurama-Kokyo's
(or having visited Kurama Yama in person) have jumped to
some slightly misguided conclusions concerning the origins of
the Reiki shirushi and Reiki itself.
It is now widely accepted that the Reiki shirushi: SHK ('mental-emotional'
almost certainly derived from the shuji: 'kiriku' (pronounced
somewhere between: 'k'rik' and 'k'lik')
['hrih' in the original Sanscrit].
Noting that at the San-mon Shrine, the shuji kiriku is
plainly visible as the symbol of Senju-Kannon, many, it seems
have, without further investigation, leapt to the conclusion
that, as Senju-Kannon is presented in the Kurama-Kokyo doctrine
as being an element or attribute of their Sonten deity, then,
as Kiriku is the symbol of Senju-Kannon, the Sonten religion
must be the original source of the SHK symbol - and therefore
probably also the source of some of Usui-Sensei's spiritual
And when they discover that the term Dai Ko Myo is sometimes
applied to Sonten, well...!
[Of course, the point that 'Dai Ko Myo' refers to the 'great
illuminating wisdom' of deity - and can be properly be applied
to each and every Butsu, Bosatsu or other Enlightened
Being - is one that is completely missed!]
it seems, have even attempted to make a connection between the
symbolic meanings of the shuji of Mao-son (in Japanese:
'un', Sanscrit: 'hum') and Bishamonten (Japanese:
the CKR and HSZSN shirushi respectively - something made all
the more confusing as many Reiki-related websites misrepresent
the Mao-son shuji (which is, admittedly actually a variant
form of the more common version of 'un') as being: "..an
older form of the 'om' symbol..." (the Sanscrit 'om' is
'on' in Japanese).
commonly used form of 'un'
in Japanese Buddhist tradition, the allocation of shuji to
deities is not a simple and clear-cut process. Certain deities
have more than one shuji: each representing a different
form or set of attributes of that given deity, and - just to
confuse matters even more - deities with similar attributes
can sometimes share one or more shuji
kiriku is indeed a symbol of the Bodhisattva
Senju-Kannon - and not just
in Kurama-Kokyo doctrine.
Yet it is first and foremost the 'spiritual emblem' of Amida
of Infinite Light & Life - (referred to as Amida Nyorai
in esoteric tradition).
[And of course it is claimed by some that Usui-Sensei was a
Tendai Buddhist all his life, and in particular a devotee of
While kiriku is also allotted (in a secondary sense)
- it is essentially because
this male Bodhisattva shares some of the attributes of Amida
Butsu, and is seen as one of Amida's attendants.
Elsewhere, the shuji of Senju-Kannon can often be seen
depicted in the following stylised form [perhaps to distinguish
it from the shuji of Amida?]:
attempts to connect Usui-Sensei, Reiki and the Kurama-Kokyo
do not stop with confusion concerning the shuji.
Recently we have even begun to hear about 'Kurama-Kokyo Reiki'
- which claims to be "the original system of Reiki using
the ancient Japanese symbols rediscovered by Usui-Sensei during
his meditation on Kurama Yama..." and includes the 4 'Kurama-Kokyo
Reiki' symbols, a secret mantra said to have been used by Usui-Sensei,
a secret Japanese mantra that activates all symbols, and the
prayer used by 'Masters' ( - presumably the Senior Priests??)
of the Kokyo sect's Hondon Temple on Kurama Yama...
something overlooked by the teachers of this 'Kurama-Kokyo Reiki',
and by many other Reiki practitioners is this: during Usui-Sensei's
lifetime, the Temple Complex on Kurama Yama was under the control
of the Tendai Sect (yet, admittedly, visited by monks and lay
practitioners of many different sects).
It was not until 1949 - almost a quarter of a century after
Usui Sensei's death - that it passed to the control of the
then newly founded, Sonten-worshipping, Kurama-Kokyo
fact, to my mind at least, somewhat negates the theory of a
connection between Usui Sensei and the Kurama-Kokyo sect - particularly
claim that the Kurama-Kokyo
sect was either the original source for
Reiki, or at least, an influencing factor in the origin