Gyō o Hageme – Work Hard?

Frans Stiene Articles, English 3 Comments

GYO (1)


Do not anger
Do not worry
Be grateful
Be true to your true self
Show compassion to yourself and others


Within the system of Reiki we have the five precepts. In Japanese, the fourth precept is gyō o hageme.

Most of the time gyō o hageme is translated as work hard or work diligently.

But gyō o hageme can mean so much more than work hard!

Let’s take a closer look.

Gyō is often translated as work or practice; however, it also means karma. pure experience, action, and function.

Directly translated, hageme means hard or diligently, but it also can mean to strive, inspire, encourage, or to wholeheartedly devote oneself to a cause.

The pure experience of gyō is the natural expression of our inner state of mind. It is a direct experience of our true self; hence, it is pure without any ego. This pure experience starts to happen when we let go of our anger and worry and when we are being grateful to all that is. It is the direct pure experience which comes from practising the meditation practices that Mikao Usui put in his teachings.

Now let’s look at different translations of gyō o hageme:

* Devote oneself wholeheartedly to your pure experience. Or in other words, be true to your true self.

* Strive to express yourself through your pure experience.

* Inspire through your pure experience.

When we inspire others through our pure experience, then this is really compassion. And we can only inspire others when we have let go of our anger and worry and when we are grateful for all that happens on our path.

Thus when looking at gyō o hageme, we can find so much more than work hard. In fact if we look at the deeper meaning of gyō o hageme, we start to see that Mikao Usui’s teachings are a real spiritual practice. In this practice, we are striving to lay bare our pure experience so that we can inspire others to do the same.

“For mountain ascetics, gyō is to live according to the spirit of that precept.” – Ryōjun Shionuma

So as we practice the system of Reiki, let us strive not only “to live according to the spirit of that precept” – gyō o hageme – but also to live according to the spirit of each one of the precepts.

Comments 3

  1. Avatar of Susan Andrews
  2. Avatar of June

    How would you translate the phrase, gyo oh hageme as part of the “gokai”, instead of work diligently to capture the essence of this phrase.

    1. Avatar of Frans Stiene Post

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