Primordial Lineage

Rebecca HoltonEnglish 14 Comments

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rebeccaholton (Rebecca wrote this article for Shibumi International Reiki Association and we thought it was time that it be included on the IHReiki blog)

Lineage in the Reiki community is one of those tenacious subjects that never really goes away. Many Reiki students first hear about their own lineage from their teacher and, from then on, it can become increasingly relevant to them. 

In many traditions, lineage is used as a kind of validation that the practices, methods and teachings taught in the tradition really do stem back to the person who first created them. This means that, within some of the more competitive corners of our Reiki community, lively “my lineage is shorter than your lineage” discussions flourish abundantly. There is often an unspoken belief lurking quietly beneath this kind of discussion, that a shorter lineage can make a teaching more relevant, stronger, or even more directly transmitted from Mikao Usui although, if we examine this view rationally, it is impossible to find any logic or common sense in it. However short their lineage is, any teacher can make changes to the practices they teach.

Some Reiki students spend a lot of time collecting lineages from different teachers by attending lots of different classes, keeping track of their resulting personal lineage in a kind of complicated spider’s web or expanded family tree which contains the names of all the teachers they have worked with. The unspoken thought behind this could be based on a need to feel “well connected” within the Reiki community, or it could express a search for pure truth which is, as yet, undiscovered. 

These are both rather uncomfortable ideas when placed in the context of spiritual practice, so where does the concept of lineage come from and how does it really relate to us as Reiki practitioners? 

In many eastern spiritual schools there are 3 different ways of describing lineages and how they function:

1.Transmission Lineage is used to describe the line of teachers who link current practitioners back to the founder of a particular school, such as Mikao Usui in Reiki or Bodhidharma (Daruma – Japanese) in Zen Buddhism.

This kind of lineage validates the practices which are currently taught as being directly transmitted in unbroken line from the founder. It can only work effectively as long as none of the teachers in the lineage have changed those original practices. Keeping practices exactly as they were taught to us is known as “practising purely”. 

2.Organisational Lineage is held by the people who are senior members of a particular school and therefore influence what happens within it.

This kind of lineage is an administrative tool which allows decisions to be made and actions to be taken for and in the community organisation. It functions in the same way as a senior management structure in businesses.

3.Primordial Lineage is a far deeper and more direct form of lineage. It is the most profound connection to our own reality that we can find within ourselves. It is where we discover our own true enlightened nature deep inside of us.

This kind of lineage is the ultimate answer to those “who has the shortest lineage?” competitions. It is not possible to hold a lineage shorter or more direct than the primordial lineage because it is the thing that connects us with our original nature in one simple, pure, deeply profound step. It is available to every practitioner and the person who is responsible for it’s cultivation is ourself. Primordial lineage is our heritage as living beings. It is the centre of our being, our primordial energy. 

Primordial energy can be described in many different ways. In some eastern teachings it is described as a direct experience of Emptiness. In other traditions it is seen as discovering our own inner wisdom and knowledge, or the union of wisdom and compassion or wisdom and method. It is the state of being where we are able to see things as they are without any attachments whatsoever. Here we become part of the lineage of all beings who have discovered this primordial energy within themselves. It is this primordial state that eastern spiritual practitioners are aiming to achieve.

As we can see from the definitions above, the primordial lineage is a far more innate kind of lineage than the transmission and organisational lineages, although both these forms of lineage perform extremely relevant functions within the community. The primordial lineage differs from them on a fundamental level in that it is central to each one of us as a human being and therefore as a Reiki practitioner. It is the thing that makes us one with all that is and allows us to understand how that works. It is our true being, stripped of all the paraphernalia that we carry round with us in this life. It is the thing that would be left if all our baggage was miraculously lifted from our shoulders. It is the diamond at our heart that our spiritual practices polish.

The teachings and practices taught in eastern spiritual traditions have their origin in this primordial lineage or energy. It is in this space that the teacher finds the answers to how to teach their students, so that they too can remember their own primordial lineage. This primordial energy has an unlimited potential and therefore is a vast storeroom of limitless methods. In this space the teacher will understand the uniqueness of each student and therefore be able to teach different methods, practices or ideas to each one, depending on their own distinct qualities and abilities.

Seen from this angle, the primordial lineage gives us an explanation of why some Reiki practitioners find it easier to work with the precepts, others prefer chanting the mantras, while others finds it easier to work with symbols and mantras together. The Reiki teacher’s role is to direct their students in such a way that they get the most out of the system of Reiki in order to eventually discover their own primordial lineage.

The foremost reason for being part of a Reiki lineage is to find our own primordial energy. If a teacher is not working with this in mind, but is maybe focussing on gaining personal power or influence, then the primordial lineage cannot function. When it is functioning correctly it empowers the student and teacher together. There is a deepening of self knowledge for both of them. This is the true wisdom that the very best Reiki teachers can show us and help us to work towards.

The relationship between a teacher and student can last many years. With this in mind, choosing a teacher is a significant decision. As students, it is important that we take responsibility for ourselves and our own practice. This means that it is our role to evaluate potential teachers so we can learn how to recognise those that are in the primordial lineage. This will allow us to make a wise decision when we choose a teacher.

Although many students find it tricky to recognise a teacher who is in the primordial lineage, we should remember that this energy is intrinsic to us. It is our birthright and the truest part of ourselves. This means that our recognition can be instinctive and instantaneous. It is never an intellectual thing. We know deep inside ourselves when things feel right and the primordial lineage is the most right part of us, flawless and absolute. Nothing can be more right than that. This is how we can tell whether a teacher is in the primordial lineage. When our Reiki path feels both simple and profound it is clear that the teachings are coming from the primordial lineage root. It is useful to understand that this is where our path should be heading if we are to make the best progress we can.

As Reiki teachers the primordial lineage is what we should aim to be sharing with the students we have accepted. We need to constantly work on our own practices and keep in mind the goal of a personal state of egoless-ness. If we are going to teach as well as possible we need to know ourselves very clearly and honestly. The energy space we are currently able to work in can be misleading. Our mind and ego can be very good at deceiving us. In a mind that is not free from “self” it could be very easy to confuse the energy space we are in with something deeper. Sometimes the best way to make sure we do not fool ourselves is to take guidance from our own teachers. It is comforting to remember that the primordial lineage is always within us, as we work towards finding it. 

In many lineages there is an initiation or empowerment. In the system of Reiki it is often called an attunement or reiju. Initiations from a teacher within a lineage help us to become part of that lineage. It is important to understand that an initiation is an active process for both the teacher and the student.

For the teacher, an effective initiation is always given from the space of the primordial lineage or, at a bare minimum, with the primordial lineage in mind. If this is the case, it will trigger an initial experience of primordial energy within the student 

For the student, an effective initiation is received with an openness and willingness to accept it in the intention that we want to practice the system of Reiki to discover our own primordial energy.

If these two principles are not met the initiation can only be a pale reflection of a true primordial initiation with no deep trigger of that energy within the student. In short, the primordial lineage is always the base for any true initiation, empowerment, attunement or reiju. This is relevant to all initiatory spiritual practices.

The central purpose of the Reiki teacher is to work towards finding the primordial energy or lineage within themselves so that they can become an effective vehicle for the initiation to flow through. Once they are working in this lineage they need to be mindful of their role, guiding their students constantly towards discovering their own primordial energy. Each student needs to make a commitment to their own practice, staying in contact with the teacher so that they can be guided into the right way. Without this guidance, the student could quickly become lost in the darkness of dead-ends and side alleys. 

As students and teachers, we are given simple tools in the system of Reiki that we can use diligently. This ongoing work will help us to move steadily towards experiencing our own primordial lineage. There is no quick fix option if we really want to deepen our practice and delve into the absolute. “Practise, practise, practise” really does make perfect. Perseverance is not exciting but the rewards are. We can take encouragement from seeing our fellow students and teachers making headway along the path and knowing that our own efforts are helping us to do the same thing.

Help walking the same way is something good that we can share with our fellow practitioners. We all have the potential to experience our primordial energy if we work at our practices steadily and patiently. Working with a teacher who is deeply connected to the primordial lineage and practising with people who are doing the same thing as ourselves are great ways to make sure we don’t get lost down those dead-ends or side alleys as we walk along the path towards our true heritage: our primordial lineage.

Here’s a little bit of that help right now:

The next time you are faced with a “my lineage is shorter than your lineage” discussion, remember the truth of your own primordial lineage – and the potential primordial lineage of the person who is facing you.

Rebecca Holton is a Shinpiden graduate of the International House of Reiki.

Comments 14

  1. Avatar of seema

    Wow such a nicely written article, perfect timing. It explains so nicely about finding the right teacher. Just reading a book called make your mind an Ocean ,  here it talks about how to find your true self or enlightenment one needs a teacher , same way like one needs a teacher to learn a new language as enlightenment is also a form of communication where one walk the unknown paths and experience things that one has never experienced. So you need a teacher to guide you so you are on right path and not hallucinated. This topic is very close to my heart, my knowledge in Primordial linage is very limited and I apologize in advance for saying anything incorrect. I think in some ways you can find these types of linages in ancient Hindu books, stories revolving around it but may be a bit different than this. At times I think its talked more as a faith and devotion to your teacher as teacher is supposed to be the one to point the way , or may be is the way itself. Technically then teacher is supposed to be enlightened and hence the path it self. By that it means is when one see the teacher as primordially pure or enlightened , then one also recognize one’s true self. In other words the devotion is really dedication and devotion to one’s own path. Such a true teacher’s position is considered very high especially in eastern cultures like Hinduism and that’s why one needs to be sure before finding that teacher. Such a teacher as Frans have said so many times must have experienced the layers himself and actually walk the talk so to speak. What I have read and heard is when you find that teacher you know it, you will see the characteristics reflected in him that we would like to see in ourselves and hence we need to follow that as our path in a way. Feel so good reading this article , many thanks to Rebecca, Hugs.

  2. Avatar of Mihai Albu
  3. Avatar of Rebecca


    I’m glad you’re finding the article useful! 🙂

    Mihai, I’d be very happy for you to translate it and publish it on your website.
    Please could you add a link back the original on this page for the International House of Reiki and add the following note about me:

    Rebecca Holton is a Reiki teacher in the UK. She can be contacted by email: [email protected]


    Would you mind sending us a link to the article on your website when it’s published. I’d love to see it. 🙂


  4. Avatar of Mihai Albu
  5. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Rebecca,

    Love this article, remembering and re-connecting to our Primordial Lineage is the real key within the system of Reiki.
    It is also in that state that we become Reiki in all its beauty.

    Not that easy as this means we need to sit on our meditation pillow and dig deep to rediscover our true self, think this is why the common idea of lineage is so much more accepted, don’t need to do much, just receive some kind of magical attunement and that is it. But that doesn’t really exist, the real magic comes, again, from our primordial lineage.

    Thanks for your insights.


  6. Avatar of Susan
  7. Avatar of seema sahoo

    I like to revisit what I had read some time ago to see how I am understanding and it seems always some thing else come up…
    My understanding on primordial linage is its the deepest and hardest one to achieve because not only you would need to have a teacher who “belongs” to that linage but you yourself need to work on yourself . It seems like a relation between a teacher and student for number of years in which both of them are working together on themselves and where a teacher is guiding so a student can find his or her own ” primordial linage/energy” and if that student wants to teach they would then do the same. this is something one cannot achieve by going to a “X” teacher who has a “famous” line of linage/teacher and can place “that” with their names . As that still wont be able a student to find their innate wisdom/ energy . that would be easy right , like a magic pill.
    Another thing , if we are lucky to find a teacher who can help us connecting with our primordial linage and we ourselves want to teach in the process then first thing might be that we may want to” teach and use word”s etc what our teacher has used but then slowly we can use our “own inner wisdom ” and bring it out in our teachings but that doesn’t mean we need to change the technique ! when we are in school/college there is a curriculum set up and each/every teacher has different style to teach but that does not mean they change the whole thing? I have known few Reiki teachers who have this kind of spider web of linage saying well its fine to “change” bit here and there as now “they” have all this knowledge from different teachers/ linages . Few say if Usui- San was alive today would not he had changed and made addition to the system? well , that might be true we wont know that but what we do not realize that he had practiced on himself whole life with a vast knowledge on different subjects and then applied on himself . Can we say that we have achieved the same “energy” level inside/out as Usui – San? If we have not walked the same path as him then how can we say we can change because that’s what he would have done ?  May be one day we can but not at the moment.
    Till then lets stay with it .
    Thanks Rebecca for this article again , I enjoyed it all over again 🙂

  8. Avatar of Marnie

    This was a pleasure to read—thank you. I haven’t been able to understand this ego driven idea of lineage. I find it interesting, but by no means is it a testimony to our abilities or our practice. I do understand our need/desire to be connected to something/someone of historical significance. But again, that’s just ego getting in the way. I’m rambling—I learned something from your article and that is what really matters. With gratitude…

  9. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Marnie, it is indeed all based on ego. Plus so much changes in all the lineages that it is not really clear anymore we put which teachings where. Which means that the clearest lineage is our primordial lineages and as you say it is the one without the ego.

  10. Avatar of Jenny Funston

    I love this article as I love all the articles on this site; what an inspiration and what a delight to find this sort of connection to Reiki.
    I recently was led to your book ‘The Inner Heart of Reiki’ and breathed sighs of relief to have found the resonance I’d been searching for for a long time. I was even more delighted to find a quote in your book from Masahisa Goi and Ueshiba Sensei. I work for the organisation founded by Masahisa Goi, ‘Byakko Shino Kai, being the Oceanic Co-Ordinator. I had always felt that my Byakko connection to Source was the same as my Reiki one, but could never find anyone who actually expressed it like you do Frans…thank you so much!
    I’m seriously considering attending your June 4th session in the Blue Mountains, but I live in Geelong so am not sure how it fits with my own schedule at present. I am a Reiki Master, but I long for sharing what you seem to be offering, with love and compassion and foremost, the awareness promotion that we are our true self and everything is about becoming more aware of this. I just ran a Reiki 1 workshop at the weekend (for the first time in over ten years!) and was in 7th heaven, trusting my own innate guidance, combined with my Byakko training and your words of wisdom to flow spirit.
    I was going to write to you on email but just saw a link to this article on FB so decided to write here. I hope you see this. is the website for the above mentioned organisation. Since finding Masahisa Goi’s name in your book, spirit has been prompting me to share my connection with this…I know not where it leads, but I am now fulfilling spirit’s request. I know you will visit Japan in May and will be very busy, but if you have any opportunity to visit this Sanctuary, I sense you would love it. To me it is all Reiki flows too. I will be there in July to bathe in its energies of love for humanity and the fostering of the remembering who we really are. Joyfully Jenny (*0*)

  11. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for your feedback, much appreciated. I agree too that they are all about teh same thing, our True Self.

    How wonderful to start teaching again, I just love it.

    That is interesting too that you are the co-coordinator for Byakko Shino Kai.
    I don’t think that I have much time when I am in Japan but will keep it in mind.

    Will be nice to meet you one day.

    You can always email me at [email protected]


  12. Avatar of Alex Edgar

    Hui, this is so well articulated. I find in Reiki and other spiritual lineages there is often a tension between social and group validation to feel that one is doing the right thing in the right way, and the primordial direct experience of a connection to Divine Reality, however one expresses or names it. This article expresses how each of these is useful and valid, and how to work skillfully with both. Thank you! I am also linking to this site from my blog. I’ve been practicing for about 30 years, and really enjoying the deeper process of study, understanding and explanation that is part of stepping into teaching Reiki to others.

    1. Avatar of Alex Edgar
  13. Avatar of Sally Carmichael

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