My name is Andy Bowling; I live in the south – east of England in the coastal town of Folkestone, Kent.
In 1997 I was browsing the Internet, when, on a list of Reiki practitioners from around the world, I saw a Reiki Master living in Kyoto, Japan. He was the only Japanese listed at that time. Knowing that Usui was born and had lived in Kyoto I decided that I would contact this Reiki Master to see if he could help me with Usui’s history.
This was to be the start of an amazing Reiki journey resulting firstly in my meeting new friends in Canada, America and Japan, and eventually a special new friend in the UK. It was this special UK contact which was to lead to contact with ‘living students of Mikao Usui’ in Japan!
In 1997 like most Reiki practitioners who are on the internet I eventually typed ‘Reiki’ into a search engine to discover, to my amazement, that Reiki was HUGE throughout the world and, of course, in America.
About this time on the Internet, William Rand had just been to Japan and discovered Usui’s grave and monument. Rick Rivard in Canada was showing a Japanese newspaper article about Reiki in Japan and other information, Dave King from Canada also had a site giving details of his contact with a student of Hayashi, and various other website’s were giving stories and information about Takata. All of this was new to me and I was not aware if any of this information was known in the UK.
I decided that I would try and collate all the information available and pass it on to friends and students of mine in the UK. At this time I had recently become a Reiki Master.
Having gathered an immense amount of information it was suggested to me that I should create a website and bring it all together. It was while I was learning how to do this that I found the Reiki list of practitioners.
When I sent my e-mail to Japan I didn’t really expect a reply, but to my immense delight I
did eventually receive an answer, not only that, but I was also immediately given some amazing information about Reiki.
My contact explained to me that he was a typical Japanese businessman and, although happy to help, he did not know when he might be able to answer my questions. However the information he gave me was enough to get me jumping up and down!
He told me that a society existed in Japan which had been started by Usui himself, he also told me that the Chairperson, a lady named Mrs. Koyama, was about to retire and a new chairperson to take her place. This was a truly amazing piece of information, as far as I knew nobody outside of Japan new of this society.
Why me !!!??? A question I was to frequently ask myself in the next few years, and still do.
In his next mail he told me of the names for Reiki levels, and some other information. More information I was not aware of.
This became so amazing for me that I decided to share the information with others interested in Reiki history and I contacted Rick Rivard in Canada through his website. This was the start of a friendship, which was to result in an historical event for Reiki.
Over the next few months e-mail’s were exchanged between the three of us, Yukio, our new friend in Japan, told us he was now a student of a Master Hiroshi Doi, who was well known in Japan for his knowledge of Reiki History. More new friends were introduced to our group becoming six in all plus Mr. Doi. This was four in Japan and one English, one Canadian, one American.
Over the course of several months we were to be given much information about Reiki, new ‘Reiki Techniques’ and Mr Doi’s school of Reiki, the Usui Reiki Society (Gakkai) and much more. We also learned that Mr. Doi had written a book in Japanese giving all the information he had discovered. He had also received Shoden and Okuden from a Mrs. Koyama the society’s chairperson. Much of this can now be found on m website.
Also and most amazing we learned that Usui’s own manual was available, we obtained a copy and had it translated into English (this I later discovered was Mrs Koyama’s copy (or the Gakkai’s not Usui’s). This is what Arjava Petter was also to obtain and later to publish.
Early in 1999 it was decided to ask Mr. Doi if he would like to hold a workshop in the West, much to our amazement he said ‘yes’ !!! And it was decided to hold a ‘first ever’ workshop with Japanese Reiki Masters outside of Japan, the venue to be in Vancouver, Canada. This was held in Vancouver, August 1999.
The workshop was a great event with people attending from several countries, England, Canada, America, South America, France and Japan. All the organisers attended including two from Japan who were Mr. Doi’s Master students.
We had translated Doi’s book and all attending were given a copy, plus a copy of Usui’s manual, plus an additional large manual of even more information. (Mr Doi’s book, thanks to our translation, is now available in English throughout the world)
The rest has now become history and Mr. Doi continues to travel and tell his story.
Some months before the workshop Arjava Petter had already published his first book ‘Reiki Fire’ and was planning his second which was soon to be published. Arjava also attended the workshop as a student.
That is a rather brief account of my Reiki adventure to that time which was August 1999.
On my return to the UK I was keen to share my new knowledge, I shared with friends first and then decided that more in my country should have this information.
Being familiar with chat lists I started a, UK only, list to pass the information to others in my country. I had also at that time started a website called ‘Reiki History’.
Word got around and I was able eventually to pass the ‘new’ Reiki information to others.
I also started to feed some of it onto my website for all to receive. Eventually being able to include all I had learned to that date.
The chat list was to introduce me to someone who has become a very firm friend, who himself was to become involved in the Reiki story in a way we never imagined possible.
All this happened in the last few months of 1999.
In January 2000 I was contacted by someone in the north of England, I live in the South-East. He asked me to phone him as he had some information about Mikao Usui and his martial arts. Needless to say I was on the phone, immediately!!!
Chris Marsh (50) was a practitioner in the Japanese martial arts and since his early teenage years had visited Japan to further his practice many, many times. Chris was a Reiki Master and we had both been practicing for about the same length of time. Recently he had been told through his Japanese martial arts teacher that a certain Mikao Usui had been a very accomplished Martial Artist and very respected in his craft. Chris speaks Japanese and is also a Tendai Buddhist follower.
We immediately seemed to hit it off and were constantly on the phone chatting and deepening our friendship. Following this contact we started to receive more information from Japan through Chris’s teacher, some we could use openly, other we were asked to treat with respect and not yet pass-on. Some adjustments were made to my website.
In June of that year Chris had to return to Japan to complete some of his final training for his martial art levels, this included a two day meditation on Mount Kurama !
It was during early 2000 that I was invited by Mr Doi to attend a workshop in Kyoto, Japan in November of that year. I was delighted of course and my wife and I decided to make it our annual vacation. I had been asked to talk about Reiki in the UK and Europe, my friends from Canada and America were also invited to take part.
Chris left for Japan in June 2000, this was to be a truly wonderful trip and one he would never forget.
Having completed his martial arts training Chris was told that he should visit a number of people, having no real idea why but having been told it was about Reiki, he complied with the request.
He was introduced so several people all having had connections with Mikao Usui, he was also shown a number of artifacts related to Usui.
The next day he was told that he was to meet a very elderly lady, a Buddhist Nun.
When he arrived it was to discover to his amazement that she was indeed very old, in fact 106 years old. If that wasn’t enough she told him that she was a student of Mikao Usui!!
This was an incredible meeting and one that had obviously been planned. Even more amazing was that she new all about Chris and, surprise, surprise myself!!
During this first meeting he was given much information about Mikao Usui and his teachings, he received Reiju and was shown how to give to others. He was told that people were not very pleased about the way Usui’s teachings were being taught in the world, including Japan, and that she wanted the truth to be told. The information gained was a revelation and showed just how wrongly things were being interpreted by people in the west.
On his return to the UK Chris discussed with me what he had been taught and during the next few months even more information was given.
Here is some of the early information we received.
He (Usui) became very well known for his healing skills and people would go to visit him.
He could be very outspoken and controversial, this would often cause concern amongst his friends for his welfare, his answer would be ‘just for today’.
He was against war but honored the ancient ‘warrior’ spirit in men.
His teachings included the ‘Oneness’ of all things, we all come from and return to the same source.
The Usui (Usui Teate or Usui Do) teachings were about teaching people how to heal themselves. Not about the healing of others, this is a very important point.
Healing would be given to people, then they were taught how to heal themselves.
The method – Usui’s teachings were truly Spiritual and based on the Affirmations/precepts and leading a proper life.
For today only:
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be honest in your work
Be compassionate to yourself and others
The teachings were Buddhist in origin and included some Shinto energy practices.
He taught healing for yourself and others emphasizing health and happiness. By healing self you are also having a healing effect on others.
So this gives us the meaning of his ‘Spiritual Practice’.
Although he did not have a name for his teachings he did refer to them as a –
‘Method to Achieve Personal Perfection’
He was physically big, quiet manner and extremely powerful. Did not accept fools willingly and could be quite abrasive at times. He could get righteously angry and quite impatient, particularly with people who wanted results but were not prepared to work for them.
The name used by Usui’s students is ‘Usui Teate’ – ‘Usui Hand Touch’ or ‘Usui Hand Healing also Usui Do – ‘Usui Way’.
The name Reiki is not used or known by Usui’s students. The word Reiki is used in the affirmations but not as a name for the teachings.
Through 2000 we continued to receive information from Japan, our teacher’s name is Suzuki-san. On a personal level I also received several e-mails and was given a lot of further information, a lot of this was about Hayashi’s part in what we in the west call Reiki. Suzuki-san through a translator uses e-mail and is very familiar with modern ways of communication, she often contacts Chris by telephone.
In November 2000 I took part in Mr. Doi’s workshop in Kyoto, Japan, I stayed for two weeks and toured many, many sites in this wonderful country. Eventually becoming an expert on Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. We took the compulsory trip with Mr. Doi to Kurama Yama and enjoyed a day touring the mountain.
The workshop was a success but for me it was now becoming doubtful whether Usui actually taught what we were being told by Mr Doi’s source which mainly seemed to be the Gakkai.
Following my trip to Japan and over the next few months through 2001 we, Chris and I taught several workshops in England, Belgium and Italy. We were teaching simply what we had been taught up to that date; mainly this was about the use of Jumon (Kotodama/Mantra) in a healing environment without the use of symbols. This alone made big differences to how people received the energies and people were very impressed. This also included the receiving of Reiju which we gave to all attending.
In June/July 2001 Chris again returned to Japan, this time for an even bigger surprise. On arrival he was told again that some people wanted to meet him. He met with Suzuki-san and was introduced to a further 11 very elderly people, ALL were students of Mikao Usui !!!!
This, as you can imagine was amazing news, the ages ranged from 96 – 111 !!! They were Buddhist monks and Nuns, Shinto followers and a Farmer. None were familiar with the name Reiki and referred to Usui’s teachings as either Usui Teate (hand touch) or Usui Do. Once again Chris received Reiju from all present and was also shown many of Usui’s own papers including diaries, notes, precepts all in his own hand. These papers are treated as sacred documents and may not be copied other than by hand. He was allowed to make copies of some and other copies were to be sent later.
Other information was given showing how Usui taught and what his teachings were truly about, these are given in outline on my website. They are NOT about healing of others in the way taught by Hayashi, this is also explained on my site under the Hayashi pages. The teachings are almost solely about the healing of self, which indeed leads to healing of others, this cannot be discussed here.
Since this time and following the receiving of more information, and not yet totally received, we adjusted our teachings, introducing a form of teaching, including many meditation exercises, never before seen. We have now realized that these teachings cannot be properly taught in a workshop format, and that the way Usui taught, one to one, is the only way they can be taught. This of course causes us a problem and we are trying to address that as I write. Trying to find the correct way forward for those genuinely wishing to learn. Each step we take is fully discussed with our teachers.
This article, although only giving a brief outline, is already very long so I will stop here.
The true teachings of Mikao Usui are very different to what we have been taught in the west through Chujiro Hayashi and Mrs. Takata. Many people will not want to accept them, they cannot be ‘sold’ in the Reiki way, and must be worked at by the student. (I must stop before the soapbox comes out)
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, however please understand some things I cannot discuss openly, some things are only for teacher and student. Not secret but only taught when the student is ready.
Gassho. Andy Bowling.
Thank you so much for this article.
I know this is an old post, however I found it fascinating. I would love to learn more about the original teachings of Mikao Usui. I have also felt at odds with the money aspect of western Reiki. I would like to hear more of your soapbox discussion. Is there any forum or website that is actively discussing this? Is there a way to contact you (Andy Bowling) via email?
Yes, the above is a very fascinating read, and one i keep coming back to for a re-read. I too often found how the current ‘reiki’ teachings crammed into a few days very strange for a Japanese art. I too have practiced Chinese and Japanese martial arts for many years and part of the art and the way, learning and experience focuses on taking your time, repetition and self-knowledge / health. – For Today Only, and not getting rushed along to gain a certificate or title.
At my early stages of learning i also was swept along with the western health healing practitioners, but after many hours of self-healing and meditation practice, the further i go, the more i find it difficult to fit into the western reiki box of healer/client.
I now find it a very natural and comfortable experience to share Usui’s teachings via a one-to-one sharing through an ongoing and life sharing experience.
Blessings with Gassho to you all.
I would love to know more about what Chris Marsh and Andrew Bowling discovered about Reiki. I understand the difficulties involved, for their teacher asked them to be prudent in revealing whta they’ve learned. I think that all the material and teachings these old students hold in their possession would be of great help for all students of Reiki. I think the world is in a urgent need of teaching like this. I wish someday all these knowledge becomes public and we can go a step further in our path with Reiki.
I had the great pleasure of learning Usui Teate to RMT with Andrew in London in 2000?, sadly Chris Marsh was ill and could not join him.
I had completed my Reiki training following the Western Tradition in 1996 but always felt there were flaws in the taught history of Mikao Usui being a Christian etc. The book by Frank Arjava Petter Reiki Fire changed that! Then the search was on for a teacher. Chris travelled to Japan for his martial art training and was introduced to a 106 year nun that had worked wit Usui, Enabling him to learn the original teachings – Usui Teate. Chris then trained Andrew.
I still have my manual and many of the emails containing new information as it was released by the Gakkai and Hiroshi Doi