This week’s question through our website is a good one and one which we’ve written about at different times. It also links in beautifully with a new webpage we have on our site all about the etymological origins of the word “Reiki”. You’ll get to listen to a calligrapher discuss these origins and the beauty of the word “Reiki”. This calligrapher is also our special Podcast guest on The Reiki Show podcasts – but we’ll tell you more about that at the end of the Q & A.
Q: I am confused! How can I be “practicing” Reiki if Reiki means “spiritual energy”? Surely you can’t practice spiritual energy! I don’t get it!!!
A: Interesting question! Is Reiki a system or an energy????? In fact – it is both! The word ‘Reiki’ is used in the West to also represent a healing system.
Usui Mikao, the founder, did not appear to call his teachings by this name. “Reiki” appeared written in conjunction with his teachings but this was merely to point out that the teachings worked with spiritual or sacred energy. See our latest web page to find out more about this…
“Reiki” the word can be found in the branches of schools that developed from Usui’s teachings. Both the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Society of the Usui Spiritual Energy Healing method) and Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu kai (Hayashi’s Spiritual Energy Research Society) use the word ‘Reiki’ to signify ‘spiritual energy’ but neither actually called the system – Reiki.
Hawayo Takata was the first student of these teachings in the West. Hayashi Chujiro, her teacher, came with her to Hawaii to help her set up her practice. At his farewell dinner he presented her with a westernized certificate. This official gesture ensured that she was seen as a legal teacher and practitioner in the Japanese system. The certificate states that she was a ‘Master of the Usui Reiki System of Drugless Healing’. Once again the term ‘Reiki’ can be taken to mean ‘spiritual energy’ rather than any complete system.
Included in the certificate though are other statements that appear to refer to ‘Reiki’ as a form of energy as well as a system. This was 1938 and was the first time that the teachings had been translated into English. It is also the first time that we have been able to find inconsistency in the use of the term ‘Reiki’. This may well have been due to the difficulty of translating Japanese into English. From that point on the word ‘Reiki’ has (confusingly) jointly represented the system based on Mikao Usui’s teachings as well as the more Westernised translation of Reiki as ‘Universal Life Force Energy’.
The downside of using ‘Reiki’ to mean a system is that people are unsure as to what particular practices fall under that name. There has been such a great deal of change that has occurred in only the last 25 years that many have difficulty understanding that there even is a system behind it. All the systems named Reiki today claim to use spiritual energy in their practice. There appears to be no other definition to the system than that. This leaves the door wide open for individual discrepancies.
We have pinpointed the main elements within the system of Reiki and you can read about them here.
You will also find out about these elements in greater detail in The Japanese Art of Reiki.
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.