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When Takata-sensei spoke about Mikao Usui, she referred to him as “Dr. Usui”.
Then later, as part of the (albeit creative) 'Revisionist Free-for-all' that is commonly referred to as: the New History of Reiki*, it was claimed that no, Usui-sensei had not been a Doctor - that he had no formal medical qualifications .

(It is interesting that - although Takata-sensei had never said Usui-sensei was a medical Doctor - it seems that perhaps the greater majority of the Reiki community assumed that this was what she meant.)

Of course it is possible that the title: "Doctor" - if it was intended to be understood in the medical sense - may have been simply an honorary one.

Mikao Usui was, after all, said to have successfully treated and cured a great many people...

Then again, we need to consider the fact that the title Doctor does not solely refer to an M.D.

Originally, the title Doctor simply referred to anyone who was so well-versed in their particular discipline that they were qualified to teach it.

A Doctor is anyone who has been awarded a Doctorate in their chosen field.

Besides Doctors of Medicine,
there are also:
Doctors of Philosophy
Doctors of Commercial Science
Doctors of Divinity
Doctors of Agriculture
Doctors of Engineering
Doctors of Law
Doctors of Literature...

the list goes on.

And we know from the Usui Memorial inscription that Usui-sensei studied widely across many disciplines - history, medicine, psychology, physiognomy, Buddhist scriptures, etc.

He was obviously a man of learning. Could he perhaps
have held an academic doctorate of some form?

A common theory being circulated throughout the Reiki community is that the reason Mikao Usui came to be titled “Doctor” was possibly due to someone attempting - and failing - to correctly translate the Japanese term: “sensei” into English.

(And of course, many people are quick to cite Hawayo Takata as the person responsible for this. Though, as we will see, the use of the title Doctor in referring to Mikao Usui did not originate with Takata-sensei)

The word "sensei" (先生) essentially means "born before" or "lived before" and has the connotation of someone who has "lived the life" - someone who has deep first-hand experience of their particular discipline.

It's a term of respect which can be used to directly address, or to refer to, anyone who is considered to have mastered their art.

Interestingly, in Japan a doctor (Medical Doctor) is often addressed as "sensei" - partly out of simple respect, yet also as a sign, I feel, of trust - a sign of the patient's faith in the doctor's knowledge, skill, and ability to cure their complaint.

Yet while a doctor may be addressed as '"sensei", the two terms are not interchangeable.

Now, we do have one particular piece of documentation which would seem to support the idea that Mikao Usui was an actual doctor of some sort (medical or otherwise).

(commonly referred to as "Mrs. Takata's Reiki Certificate") sworn on the 21
st of February, 1938 by Chujiro Hayashi, before the Notary Public for the First Judicial Circuit of the Territory of Hawaii, Chujiro Hayashi states that:
Mrs. Hawayo Takata is hereby certified by me as a practitioner and Master of Dr. Usui's Reiki system of healing...”**
Now of course, this one statement is not 'absolute proof' that Usui-sensei was a Doctor, but it is a strange thing for Chujiro Hayashi to state if it were not true.

No doubt, some people will probably attempt to have us believe that perhaps Chujiro Hayashi did not understand the English-language document he was signing.

However, I feel we can safely assume that like a great many other Naval Officers of his rank, and also, civilians of his social status - wealthy and well educated –  Chujiro Hayashi was well-versed in English.

As part of Japan's embracing of all things western, English was taught at the Imperial Naval Academy during the period Chujiro Hayashi had been there (late1890s)

[We must remember that during the Meiji period, understanding English had been seen as an important skill – one which gave individuals access to the wealth of western education; something encouraged by the Meiji, and later, Taisho governments as part of Japan's modernisation-process. In fact, so strong was the drive towards westernisation that several influential people including two Japanese Ministers of Education even advocated making English the official language of the modern Japanese nation.]

Also, as can be seen in the 'certificate' itself, Chujiro Hayashi has signed the document in a very fluent, cursive style of handwriting, indicating one who is very comfortable with the 'romanised' writing system.

And in order for the 'certificate' to have been formally notarised in Hawaii, it would have had to be first ascertained that Chujiro Hayashi clearly understood the precise details of the information he had drafted in the document, and added his witnessed signature to.

Now to return to the theory that the word 'doctor' was possibly used to express the concept behind the Japanese word "sensei" - I feel certain that Chujiro Hayashi of all people would be intensely aware of the distinction between the two terms.

Also, the term "sensei", like other terms of respect such as "-sama", is something to be used in referring to or addressing other people. You do not use it in relation to yourself. It would be considered most impolite and presumptive for anyone dare to refer to themself in this way.

So, we can safely assume that, as Chujiro Hayashi also refers to himself as Doctor in this document, he is obviously not using the word to imply the concept of "sensei". ...


*In my opinion, many of the “facts” presented as part of this revisionist view of Reiki history are perhaps little more than “wishful thinking and clutching at straws”.
**so, here we can see  that the use of the title 'Doctor' in referring to Mikao Usui did not originate with Takata-sensei

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