Today there are probably over 1000 different branches of Reiki. You will find a number of them, along with their lineage details etc… listed in The Reiki Sourcebook. Most of these branches have evolved within the last 20 years in the West. Students of the system have altered their teachings to accommodate their other beliefs and practices – many of these belonging to the New Age Movement.
The International House of Reiki is interested in travelling back through time to the system’s origins in Japan. Though Frans and Bronwen Stiene have studied master classes in numerous branches including Gendai Reiki Ho and Komyo Reiki Kai they have chosen to teach under the name Usui Reiki Ryoho which translated means Usui Spiritual Energy Healing method.
Below is an excerpt from The Reiki Sourcebook.
How can you tell if a branch of healing or energetic work has its foundations in Mikao Usui’s teachings?
The little that is known of Mikao Usui includes that he was born into a samurai family with the influences on his life ranging from Japanese martial arts to Buddhism. There has always been a link in Japan between spirituality and martial arts. Lao tzu is quoted as saying, ‘He who excels in combat is one who does not let himself be roused.’ That is why Japanese warriors trained in peaceful hermitages - to practice their ﬁghting and meditative skills. Shûgyô, the training that Mikao Usui is said to have completed on kurama yama is both a martial art and an esoteric Buddhist term.
In traditional Japanese martial arts to be considered a founder of a style, one must ﬁrst have received a divine understanding through a spiritual experience – not unlike Mikao Usui’s experience. It is from this seed of divine understanding that a founder then goes on to create a system or method. If this method is to remain divinely inspired then the teachings must always ﬂow back to the founder. This is a traditional belief in Japan.
Unless it can be claimed that one has the pure source and the direct teachings from the founder (who initially received the divine guidance) then what is practiced is considered a degeneration.
This does not mean that the true method should remain stagnant. Teachers are expected to be able to teach using their own personal methods to support the original teachings. Often these teachings are called ‘outside’ teachings. This creates clarity as to what the original teachings are and where they have been added to. Remember that the method ﬂows from the source. Innovative attempts to make a method ‘better’, cut off links to its divine origins. In maintaining the method’s integrity the proximity to its origins must be close. Otherwise the teachings need to be given a new name unrelated to the original method.
In this context, all branches of Mikao Usui’s teachings would need to retain the original methods while teaching their personal add-ons openly.
A new branch is generally created in the system of Reiki when teachers change the contents of what they have been taught. They may call themselves Independent Reiki Master/Teachers or create a new, more apt, name to work under that then gains the word ‘Reiki’ propped on at the end. Once this new system is created it is passed on to a student, written on certiﬁcates, advertised etc… and the birth of yet another new branch of the system of Reiki is complete.
The unsettling speed with which new branches arise within the system of Reiki may be due to it being unclear to teachers whether they are teaching Reiki as in ‘the system of Mikao Usui’ or Reiki as in ‘spiritual energy’. If it was clearly understood that the system of Reiki comprised a set of five elements with certain guidelines to adhere to, then there would be relatively few new branches developed. Yet, if one felt that Reiki represented solely ‘energy’ then any ‘system’ or ‘teachings’ could be applied to it. This is extremely confusing for the general public and Reiki practitioners alike.
Apart from the continuity of teaching, a shared lineage is the other major requirement for all Reiki branches.