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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THREE OF THE REIKI 'SYMBOLS'
FROM A JAPANESE BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE

Copyright 2002-3 James Deacon

[NOTE: It must be clearly understood that this article presents a
Buddhist interpretation
of three symbols which we also know as the Reiki symbols SHK, HSZSN and DKM. It is not the intention to imply that these symbols
- when used in the context of the Reiki system - have quite the
same significance as they do in a Buddhist sense]

The 'distance symbol': HSZSN mantra [or: Nen Shingon* as it is sometimes called] is essentially a call to 'Mindfulness' - it reminds us of the 7th step in the Noble 8-Fold Path of Buddhism.

While there have, over the years, been several suggested translations of HSZSN - including several very misleading ones - probably one of the clearest translations is:

"Correct Thought (Mindfulness) is the essence of being".

* NOTE: 'Nen Shingon' translates as 'Mindfulness Mantra'
The term: 'Shingon' translates as 'True Word' - in this context meaning 'mantra', and not signifying the.Shingon sect of Buddhism.
The term 'Nen' refers to ' mindfulness' (- 'Sho-nen' refers to 'correct thought').

For an animated .gif of the Nen Shingon, see the:
Wallpapers & Other Downloads page.


The 'mental-emotional symbol': SHK
('Spiritual Composure') is almost certainly a stylised form of the Sanscrit siddham-script character known in Japan as kiriku (pronouced: k'rik or k'lik).

Kiriku is the sacred sign or emblem of both Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (a thousand-armed form of the Bodhisatva Kanzeon or 'Kannon') and Amida Butsu - the Buddha Amida - (or Amida Nyorai as he is called in Mikkyo Buddhist traditions), and is regarded as itself possessing the divine grace of both of these Buddhist Deities.

It is said that Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu watches over those suffering from a distressed Heart-Mind and lends his hand at the time of their troubles...

Amida - Buddha of Infinite Light & Life - is widely worshipped in various schools of Japanese Buddhism, including Tendai. He is the main deity in Jodo (Pure Land) Buddhism; and also in Jodo Shin (True Pure Land) Buddhism which holds that Spiritual Peace of Mind and salvation are to be achieved by relying on his power.

We are told that 'Mariko Obaasan' - a Buddhist Nun said to have known Usui Sensei, claims that he was a devotee of Amida - and that he made an offering to Amida every day.

Kiriku is essentially perceived as a single-character depiction of the nembutsu: the sacred mantra of Amida: "Namu Amida Butsu", and as such invokes the merit associated with the fukushu or recital/repitition of that mantra, thus bringing Spiritual Peace of Mind ('Spiritual Composure') to the individual reciting the mantra, or to any other being to whom the reciter chooses to 'transfer' this merit.

[NOTE: In Shingon Buddhism, the mantra: "On Amirita Teizei Kara Un" is favoured in place of the nembutsu.]


The 'master symbol': DKM
. The interesting thing about DKM from a Buddhist point of view, I feel, is that the real importance lies in the meaning of the KM kanji-pair

DKM: the 'Great Bright Light' can perhaps be better understood as the 'Great Komyo'

The term Komyo is something of great significance in Japanese Buddhism.

In a Buddhist sense, Komyo signifies 'Enlightened Nature' or 'the Radiant Light of Wisdom' - the Radiance of a Deity - not one specific Deity, but any expression of deity - be it in the form of a Buddha, Bodhisattva, 'Vidyaraja', etc. ( -even a Shinto kami for that matter).

DKM can be seen as the manifest expression of the Light of Wisdom: the means by which illumination "dawns on us."

Komyo appears again and again in Buddhist thought, for example, we have:
the Gobukonkomyokyo - the Sutra of Golden (en)Light(enment)
Komyohensho - another name for Dainichi Nyorai (central Buddha of the Shingon sect)
Komyo Bosatsu - Japanese name for the Bodhisattva Jaliniprabha
(Komyo Bosatsu is also sometimes referred to simply as Dai-komyo)
Komyoshinden - the 'Palace of the Luminous Mind'
Komyoshingon - the '(en)Light(enment) Mantra'; etc.etc.
[Actually,
DKM is also another name for the Komyoshingon - a very important (and powerful) mantra]

The complete phrase 'daikomyo' appears as part of a sacred 'nine-syllable' mantra dating from before the 8thC:

"Shiken Haramitsu Daikomyo"

- which conceptually translates as: "The Wisdom of the Four Hearts* leads us to Enlightenment"

* The Four Hearts ( lit: Four Perspectives):
.
The Merciful Heart expresses love for everything, the Sincere Heart follows
...what is right, the Attuned Heart follows the natural order of things, and the
...Dedicated Heart holds to the chosen pursuit.


It also occurs in the name: "Daikomyo-o"
- 'Great Shining Bright King' .
Daikomyo-o is one of the daison myo-o (great and venerable kings of magic knowledge) - compassionate yet wrathful deities who protect humans against evil influences, and who possess the knowledge and force contained in mantras.

_________________________

In one respect, just as the siddham character kiriku is regarded as itself possessing the divine grace of the Buddha it represents, so too in an esoteric sense, the three-kanji phrase 'Daikomyo' may be seen to directly represent the mystical experience of Komyo [the 'Bright Light' or 'Enlightened Nature': the Radiance of a given Deity], and as such, may be employed by one who has achieved that 'enlightenment,' as a means of passing on (- to a lesser degree -) the effects of that experience to others.

 

________________

SHIRUSHI: THE REIKI SYMBOLS

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FROM A JAPANESE BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE

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