someone researching into the history and origins of Usui Reiki,
on first learning of the existence of such a document - an apparent
"Text of Reiki" [predating Usui Sensei by several hundred
years] - my initial reaction [no doubt like that of many other
reiki researchers who learn of its existence] was one excitement
and deep interest.
I had to learn more about this text, its content, and significance
within Japanese Buddhism and Shinto-Buddhist syncretism.
interest in the Reikiki, however, was even further deepened
when I learned that there was apparently an actual ceremonial
'Reiki Initiation' ritual connected with the text.
While initial attempts to track down more detailed information
concerning the Reikiki led to a series of 'dead ends',
I eventually discovered that a paper [by Professor Fabio Rambelli]
focusing in part on the Reikiki itself, was to be published
in the Autumn (Fall) 2002 issue of the Japanese Journal
of Religious Studies.
optimistic that Professor Rambelli's paper would prove to be of
great interest, I nonetheless attempted to remain openminded and
avoid, in my enthusiasm, jumping to any conclusions based on the
all-too-sketchy information that I had managed to glean about
the Reikiki and the associated 'Reiki initiation'.
reading Professor Rambelli's paper [entitled: 'The Ritual World
of Buddhist Shinto -The Reikiki and Initiations
on Kami-Related Matters (jingi kanjõ) in Late Medieval
and Early-Modern Japan'], I discovered that the apparent 'Reiki
initiation' ritual, which I had learned was connected with the
text, was in fact a form of kanjo.
The meaning of Kanjo
is the term used within Mikkyo (ie. esoteric) Japanese
Buddhism for a particular type of ritual [the same type of ritual
is is referred to as wang in Tibetan Buddhism].
Kanjo is often loosely translated as 'initiation', though
kanjo rituals are, more properly, rituals of dedication/consecration
- being a ceremonial procedure whereby the Buddhist Ajari or
master/priest confers on the student the 'power' - in the sense
of the right or (spiritual) authority - to engage in certain spiritual
practices or to study the inner significance of certain sacred
this sense, a kanjo is essentially a 'ritual of permission'.
second, and complementary use of kanjo ritual is as a ceremonial
procedure of acknowledgment, confirmation or 'certification' of
a student having achieved a required level of training or spiritual
while the sketchy information I had initially discovered had referred
to a 'reiki initiation', this turned out to have been a somewhat
simplistic translation of the term reiki kanjo; and as
discussed, kanjo - while being a very important esoteric
consecration/ empowerment ritual - is not quite the same as the
concept of 'initiation' (denju) as understood in Usui Reiki.
fact, the ritual known as reiki kanjo is firstly and foremost
the ceremony of 'empowerment' to study the inner significance
of the Reikiki text.
to the Reikiki itself, the first thing that became obvious
having reached the second page of Professor Rambelli's paper was
the fact that the composite: 'Reiki' in Reikiki,
is not the same as the 'Reiki' we are more familiar with - that
is, it is not written in the same kanji-pair as 'Reiki'
(a la Usui).
as in English where (for example) the words 'rite', 'write' and
'right' all have the same sound, so too in Japanese there are
often many words that sound the same, yet are written in different
kanji-characters - and have very different meanings.
distinct from 'Reiki' (a la Usui-Sensei), there are also
several other, un-connected, written forms of the double-syllable:
'rei-ki', each having their own distinct meanings - including:
established rule; cold, chill, cold weather, cold wave, cold air;
& (electrical) excitation, etc.
the case of Reikiki, as
mentioned at the beginning of this article, the final ki
in the title means 'chronicle", "record" or 'text',
'Text of Reiki'.
to the specific meaning of the reiki indicated here:
rei primarily means 'beautiful' or 'wonderous'.
ki is indeed the same kanji-character ki
as used in 'Reiki' (a la Usui) and while commonly interpreted
today simply as 'energy', it is of course, also - and more fully
- 'mind', 'heart', 'spirit' and 'will'.
an attempt to ensure a precise and relevant translation of the
title Reikiki, I spoke with Professor Rambelli at the beginning
of October 2003.
he suggested something along the lines of:
"text (ki) on the wondrous (rei) essence (ki) .."
to the Professor, it is not absolutely clear as to the precise
meaning of the term 'Reiki' in Reikiki, since this particular
kanji-pairing does not exist in the Sino-Japanese lexicon.
those who wish to pursue this further, look out for a forthcoming
book by Fabio Rambelli and Mark Teeuwen which will address this
Rambelli also explained to me that, in his paper, he did not focus
translation of the title Reikiki because it would require
a long explanation that was not directly relevant to the content
of the paper.
did confirm however that the term reiki kanjo simply means:
"consecration ritual on the Reikiki."
The Reikiki and Usui Reiki
even though the 'Reiki' of the Reikiki is not written
in the identical kanji /does not have the identical meaning
to Reiki (a la Usui), could there still be a connection
between this "Text on the Wonderous Essence" and Usui
We are all aware that recent research into the history of Usui
Reiki has revealed that even during Usui Sensei's lifetime Reiki
was continually in a state of flux and evolution.
than being a purely therapeutic modality, what Usui Sensei originally
founded and developed - so we are told - was essentially a spiritual-philosophical
system involving syncretic elements of Buddhist and Shintoist
belief - a system 'for the improvement of body and soul' .
to all intents and purposes, by the time of Usui Sensei's death
in 1926, the spiritual focus had almost disappeared.
Shinto-Buddhist elements were being played down, the reiju
['to confer/receive a Spiritual Gift'] consecration/empowerment
process devised by Usui-Sensei had been replaced with denju
['initiation'] - and Reiki had become primarily a system of therapeutic
So just what were the precise origins of what was to eventually
become Usui Reiki?
there has been much speculation - some scholarly and well-informed,
some far less so - we still do not really know.
this text - with its reiki kanjo ritual - have been, if
not the original source of Usui Reiki, then at
least an influencing factor in the eventual realisation of the
Reiki Phenomenon as shared by Usui Sensei?
there is a possibility here. This is something I will seek
to address in the second part of this article (forthcoming).
while I am currently aware of at least two Reiki practitioners
who, having recently discovered the Reikiki via Professor
Rambelli's paper, are convinced that this is indeed the
source of both the Spiritual and Therapeutic aspects of Reiki
- and who, it seems, are enthusiastically attempting to propagate
this view, I feel that further study
is most definitely called for before we can legitimately begin
to make such claims.
do feel we need to be cautious.
is, I believe, all to easy, in our to enthusiasm to mis-read the
facts or to 'read into' the facts, more than is necessarily there...
this article I have purposely avoided detailing the precise content
of the Reikiki and for that matter, the Reiki Kanjo.
suggest that those who are interested in the details, read Professor
Rambelli's paper for themselves. It is available as a .pdf file
by clicking on the link below.
Ritual World of Buddhist Shinto -The Reikiki and
Initiations on Kami-Related Matters (jingi kanjõ)
in Late Medieval and Early-Modern Japan'
is a 14,000 word paper, so please be patient while the document
downloads - and be sure to save it to file for future reference]