History of Reiki

For detailed history of Reiki read “Reiki, The Healing Touch”, Rand, William. Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, 1991.

One of the healing systems includes the Usui System of Reiki founded by Dr. Mikao Usui, of Japan. He was born on august 15, 1865 in Yago village of Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture. He is believed to be from a rich family because only the rich in Japan could afford school in those days.

Popularly known by the name “Usui Sensei” by his students, he was keen in academics and went to Europe and China for continuing education and later became a successful businessman. He studied medicine, psychology and religion and became the secretary to the Mayor of Tokyo, Pei Gotoushin who was earlier the head of the department of health and welfare.

But it was not same all through. Usui began experiencing a decline in personal and business spheres around the year 1914. But being an avid spiritualist, he went to the holy mountain of Mt. Kurama and enrolled himself in the 21-day spiritual enlightenment course, Isyu Guo. The routine there involved fasting, meditation, chanting of prayers etc. Although, it is not known what exactly he did there but it is held by Japanese Reiki Masters that he probably participated in meditation under a small waterfall where people go even now to meditate. The process involves standing underneath the fall and allowing the water to fall over the top of the head that is believed to energize or activate the crown chakra. All this had a miraculous effect on him as he discovered that now he could impart healing to others without experiencing a decline in his own energy levels.

Mrs. Hawayo Takata - Reiki reaches the West

Hawayo Takata was born in Kauai, Hawaii Islands on December 24, 1900. Takata’s father was an immigrant and worked in the sugar fields. She used to work in the sugar plantation or fields. Later she married Saichi Takata, the bookkeeper of the plantation and was blessed with two daughters. But in October 1930, her husband died at 34 which left Mrs. Takata with the only option of working hard and alone.

After about five years, she had a health condition with severe abdominal pain, lung problem and nervous breakdown. Sometime later her one sister died in Japan and she also moved to Japan. She was also hoping for better treatment for herself. On check up, she was found to have multiple organ problems including tumour, gallstones and emphysema. She took rest for a number of weeks to prepare her for the operation.

But at the time of operation something strange happened. Just before the surgery, she heard a voice telling her “The operation is not required”, she was amazed. It was an altogether new experience for her. But she had not thought or imagined the voice and nor was drowsy or sleepy. The voice repeated itself three times and was so compelling that she decided to intervene, so she got off the operating table and asked to meet the doctor.

On speaking with the doctor, she asked her if there is any other way out for her and the doctor told her about Dr. Hayashi’s clinic. It was something she was really interested in and wanted to try out. Reiki was completely new for her but as healers at the clinic began the ‘diagnosis’, she found that it matched with that of the doctors at the hospital. It impressed her very much and she began to have confidence in what they were doing.

During the course of her treatment there was an interesting event in which she felt heat from the practitioner’s hands coming to her. She was so surprised at the strong heat that she thought the practitioners were using some kind of equipment for treating. Just then she noticed big sleeves of kimono and thinking that to be equipment, grabbed it. The healer was amazed at this and wanted to know what she was doing. On knowing the truth, he laughed and told her about Reiki. So, she continued to receive treatments and went on improving fast. After about four months, she was totally cured. She was fascinated by it all and expressed her desire to learn Reiki. However, she was told that Reiki is a Japanese system and is not intended to go out or cannot be taught to an outsider.

She asked the doctor at the hospital to convince Dr. Hayashi to let her learn Reiki. On this, Dr. Hayashi agreed as he wanted to teach Reiki to a woman apart from his wife and Mrs. Takata was already so insisting for it. This way, Mrs. Takata’s initiation into Reiki was done and she received First Degree Reiki in the spring of 1936 and Second Degree Reiki in another year.

She then moved back to her land in Hawaii. Soon, Dr. Hayashi also came to Hawaii with his daughter as he wanted to establish Reiki in Hawaii. Just after this, in the winters of 1938, he initiated Mrs. Takata as a Reiki master and she was the thirteenth and last Reiki master by Dr. Hayashi. During the period 1970-1980, she initiated twenty-two Reiki masters. She gave the list of the Reiki masters she had initiated to her sister before her transition on December 11, 1980. The list contains the following names –

  • George Araki
  • Barbara McCullough
  • Beth Grey
  • Ursula Baylow (deceased)
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Iris Ishikura (deceased)
  • Fran Brown
  • Barabara Weber Ray
  • Ethel Lombardi
  • Wanja Twan
  • Virginia Samdahl (deceased)
  • Phyllis Lei Furumoto
  • Dorothy Baba (deceased)
  • Mary McFaden
  • John Gray
  • Rick Bockner
  • Bethel Phaigh (deceased)
  • Harry Kuboi
  • Patricia Ewing
  • Shinobu Saito
  • Kay Yamashita (Takata’s sister)
  • Barbara Brown

With this, began the era of Reiki which has seen an estimated 500,000 Reiki masters and 3,000,000 those who have been initiated into Reiki all over the world. Today, Reiki has spread to far away parts of the world like North America, South America, Europe and other parts of the world. Reiki was taught to others by the above-mentioned twenty-two Reiki masters.

Dr. Chujiro Hayashi

Dr. Chujiro Hayshi, a retired naval officer, was another pioneer of Reiki in Japan. In the year 1925, he received Reiki Master initiation from Dr. Usui at the age of 47. Till now, the Usui system consisted of the energy itself, 3 Reiki II symbols, Usui hand positions, the attunement process and Reiki ideals.

Later Dr. Hayashi went on to develop the system on the instructions of Dr. Usui and established a clinic in Tokyo. He prepared detailed notes of treatments given to people and prepared the Hayashi Healing Guide that detailed all about Reiki. It contained different hand positions in detail for different health conditions. He advanced the attunement procedure and added the ‘Master’ symbol.