Within the Reiki precepts we find the Japanese sentence shinshin kaizen 心身改善.
Shinshin 心身 mind-body
Kaizen 改善 improve
Mikao Usui must have found shinshin kaizen an important element, else he would not have used it within his precepts. In fact, he used it as the closing thought to these instructions, an essential part of the precepts for the students of Mikao Usui’s times and for us in our times.
The secret method to invite blessings
The spiritual medicine for all illness
Do not anger
Do not worry
Practice this diligently
Show compassion to yourself and others
Perform Gassho in the morning and evening
Be mindful about this in your mind
Chant with your mouth
But what does shinshin kaizen – improve mind-body – really mean?
From a traditional Japanese perspective it means the unification of our mind-body, as normally our mind and body are not in harmony. But this unification really only takes place when we improve ourselves, when we practice the meditation practices Mikao Usui put in his system. This is also why practicing the system of Reiki is a lifelong practice, improvement upon improvement.
“This approach to body and mind as a unity was not generally viewed as a ‘naturally’ experienced phenomenon, however, but rather as a synergy requiring conscious effort and special training (shugyō 修行). This training often took the form of meditation (either sitting meditation or more dynamic types of meditation through movement), as a practice through which the harmony of mind and body could be cultivated. The goal of such training was typically expressed as the attainment of an ‘awakening’（satori 悟り)” – – Yuasa Yasuo’s Theory of the Body by Britta Boutry-Stadelmann
Thus from a traditional Japanese approach, this improvement of mind-body is in essence only truly realized when we attain satori, enlightenment. Mikao Usui was thus pointing within his teachings to enlightenment, harmony between mind-body.
“So the old Gakkai members said that Usui Sensei taught the way to Satori very intensely to those who had achieved a certain level.” – Hiroshi Doi
This satori is again the unity of mind-body, shinshin kaizen – the improvement of our mind-body. It also was, according to Hiroshi Doi, the focus of Mikao Usui’s teachings, especially to some of his students who had achieved a certain level. And Mikao Usui was teaching the way of satori, improve mind-body, very intensely. It was not an easy 5 day course but an intense life long practice/improvement.
“Usui Sensei did not give additional healing trainings but I heard that he often taught classes about a Shihan’s mental attitude in order to improve one’s teaching methods when teaching about healing to the members. Though his one-on-one Shinpi-den lecture did not include healing training, I also heard that Usui Sensei’s mentorship greatly enhanced the healing ability of many of the Shinpi-den practitioners, as it strengthened their resonance with the Universe and encouraged the awareness that a human is the small universe derived from the Great Universe.” – Hiroshi Doi
Here Hiroshi Doi points out something very important and something that often is overlooked in many modern teachings of the system of Reiki. Doi points out that Mikao Usui was not teaching additional healing trainings per se during his one on one Shinpiden teachings, but whatever he was teaching strengthened his students resonance with the universe. We can almost be certain that Mikao Usui was teaching those students specific meditation practices, shugyō 修行, to improve their mind-body. And through this improvement of mind-body – shinshin kaizen – their healing ability was greatly enhanced!
This becomes apparent when we take a closer look at the whole structure of Mikao Usui’s teachings.
And we also can see that by placing shinshin kaizen within the precepts, Mikao Usui based his teachings on the teachers of old.
For example, Eisai (1141–1215), founder of Rinzai Zen, called this realization of mind-body shinshin ichinyo 心身一如, mind-body oneness.
And Dōgen (1200–1253), founder of Sōtō Zen, called this realization shinjin datsuraku 身心脱落, the dropping-off of body-mind. This concept of dropping body-mind means dropping the distinction between body and mind.
And Myōe (明恵 1173–1232) called this realization shinjin gyōnen” 心身凝然, unshakable mind-body.
Thus by looking at teachers like Dogen, teachers of old, we start to see what and how Mikao Usui was trying to teach: shinshin kaizen, perfect harmony between mind and body.
This of course is not an easy task. And that is why Mikao Usui instructed us to meditate and recite the precepts on a daily basis so that one day we might have the direct full experience of mind-body harmony. And this is why we do just that – continue our daily meditations, recitations, and practices to strengthen and encourage, as Hiroshi Doi said, our resonance with the Universe and our awareness that we ourselves are “a small universe derived from the Great Universe.”
Based in Holland, Frans Stiene teaches in North America, Europe, UK, Australia and Asia.
Frans is also the author of Reiki Insights, it is the continuation of his previous book The Inner Heart of Reiki, taking your personal practice and understanding of the system of Reiki yet another step deeper.