Flexibility in Teaching & Practicing

Frans StieneArticles, English 2 Comments


When your chi is in harmony and tranquil, it will be active and flowing, but it has no fixed form; and without using strength, it will be naturally strong. – Issai Chozanshi The Demons Sermon of the Martial Arts translated by William Scott Wilson  


The deeper we go into our personal practice, the more flexible we start to become in the way we practice and/or teach. 

If we teach or practice from a very rigid place, then our practice or teachings also become very rigid. A confused, rigid mind prevents us from going deeper. The more we sit down to do the meditation practices that Mikao Usui introduced in his teachings, the more open and flexible our mind will become, which in turn will have an effect on how we teach and practice.

It is said that Mikao Usui taught his students according to their spiritual progress. The openness that we find in consistent meditation practice lays bare our innate wisdom and compassion, qualities that we need in order to teach each person according to his/her spiritual progress. No open mind means no wisdom and compassion to teach or to practice in a fluid way.

That Mikao Usui would have taught in this way makes perfect sense as this really is how all the masters of old were teaching as well. Shakyamuni Buddha taught different teachings to different people depending on their state of mind. Everybody is in a uniquely different place along his or her path at any given time. So we can not teach everybody in exactly the same way, for in doing this, we create rigid systems and rigid mindsets. 

In the beginning we will copy the teacher so that we slowly start to understand the technique. But the more we practice the technique the more we will make it our own. It becomes more organic in relation to each person, as both teacher and student travel along their respective paths, meeting each other where they are at that time. 

“When the mind resides in technique, chi is hindered and is not in harmony.”
– Issai Chozanshi The Demons Sermon of the Martial Arts translated by William Scott Wilson 

For example; say you teach a person hands-on healing. After a long time of practice, the student will start to flow more organically from her own open expanded state of mind, moving away from rigid hand-positions and away from any desire to judge or critique what is happening during a hands-on healing session. An open expanded state of mind/heart lets the student leave behind the idea that, for example, heat means this or that, an idea that depends solely on the perception of the person teaching it. The deeper we go the more we will find our own way into this, not in the rigid protocol of belief systems.

“Although you and I share the same biological architecture and function, perhaps what I perceive as a distinct color and smell is not exactly equal to the color and smell you perceive. We may give the same name to similar perceptions, but we can not know how they relate to the reality of the outside world. Perhaps we never will”
– Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira Director of the Department of Neurosciences of the Institute of Human Being 

In his precepts, Mikao Usui also pointed out flexibility and teaching people according to their spiritual progress.

Do not anger
Do not worry
By grateful
Practice diligently
Show compassion to yourself and others

Let’s take a look at the precept: practice diligently. The Japanese sentence is:  Gyo o hageme, 業 を はけめ This can be directly translated as: practice diligently, however the word gyo can mean so much more.

Hiroshi Doi translates this phrase as: Do what you are meant to do. And yet another translation is: Be true to your way and your being.

Dai Ajari Ryōjun Shionuma, who in Japan is seen as a living Buddha, points out that gyo can mean many different things:

“I would like at this point to reflect on what “practice” or “gyō” means in this context. For some, gyō means a special period of time of one-hundred or one-thousand days, but for others gyō is more of a life-time activity or, more precisely, a way of life. Furthermore, for some, gyō is undertaken with the aim to reform oneself, and thus is seen as a self-centered activity. In contrast, others understand gyō as being performed for the benefit of other sentient beings, and is thus seen as an altruistic activity. In short, there are many different ways to understand what gyō really is.”

For me, gyo is being true to my way and my being, not to someone else’s way but to my own organic nature. But we really can only start to embody this when we let go of our anger and worry. Because if we anger and worry we can not be flexible; we can not be true to our way and our being.

 According to the Dictionary of Buddhism, gyo 業 also can mean “activity” and “pure experience”. This activity from a pure experience is an activity from our True Self. An activity from pure experience is when we are free and can flow within the flow of the universe, instead of being stuck with manmade rigid rules. 

Thus as we can see through these translations of gyo 業, Mikao Usui pointed out practicing and teaching from a state of mind of flexibility already within the precepts. Ultimately we have to learn how to be true to our own pure organic experience and not to the teacher’s experiences. The teacher is only there to help us find our own inner free flowing organic pure experience, with our own inner light pointing out the way.

Comments 2

  1. Avatar of Arnold

    Hi Frans,
    Thank you for a very thought-provoking essay.  When I first learned the precepts in the nineties the fourth precept was “…be honest in your work….”  My first introduction held very little explanation but later on the word “work” was explained to mean “…be honest on your spiritual path….”  For all these years I have had a ‘discomfort’ with that meaning.  To be candid, I honor and respect your knowledge of the Japanese language and your study of the intent of Mikao Usui but “…practice diligently….” leaves me with the same discomfort – like there is something we’re missing.  Perhaps it is the extensive meaning of “gyo” or….  I feel confident that in your continuing studies this precept will be further clarified.  Thank you for all you have shared in your study of Reiki.  I look forward to reading your new book.

  2. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Arnold,

    Gyo also means pure experience. Hiroshi Doi translates this precept as: do what you are meant to do. I also like: be true to your way and your true self.
    because the pure experience comes from our true self/reiki.

    But I do like practice diligently as it points out that we have to practice, so many people think that the system of Reiki is like a magic pill. thus this precept points to that it is not that easy to not anger and worry and to be grateful, we have to practice to be able to maintain this throughout the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *