The Inner Meaning of the Reiki Kanji

Frans StieneArticles, English 5 Comments



On the surface we see two kanji meaning Reiki, which is often translated as spiritual energy.

Let’s first look at the surface meaning of each kanji:

Some translations of the word Rei: 霊

* Spirit

* Life

* Soul

* Inconceivable spiritual ability

* Bright

* Unpolluted

* Pure

* Divine

* Mysterious

* Spirit; the spiritual aspect of the human being

Some translations of the word Ki: 気

* Mind

* Spirit

* Breath

* Energy

* Air

* Invisible life-force

* Vital energy connected to the breath

* Steam

So when we look at these two together we can come up with many different translations. I personally like this one: inconceivable spiritual ability of the mind.

This inconceivable spiritual ability of the mind is also pointed out within the precepts, as the precepts are all about a state of mind.

Now let’s look at the inner meaning of the kanji of Reiki. Each kanji is made up of different elements.

靈 is made up out of

雨 and 口 and

巫雨 rain

口 mouth 巫 shaman

So the kanji of Rei 靈 tells us that a shaman is performing a ritual to let it rain, and this rain falls in three mouths. These three mouths stand for sanmitsu – the 3 mysteries of mind – body – energy. But this rain is not the typical rain we would think of. This is the spiritual rain which always falls down; it is universal rain! Ask yourself how do you touch the universe? To touch the universe you do not have to do anything as we are so intertwined with it, it is touching us inside, outside and in between. Hence this means that it is always raining spiritual energy, which in turn means that there is no on and off for healing to take place. However, we often carry the umbrella of fear, anger, worry, attachments, and all sorts of other emotions and conditions. Often we are so busy carrying this umbrella we do not realize that the potential for healing is always there. Thus the shaman/practitioner practices a ritual so that she/he can realize that it is always raining universal rain, and this rain nurtures the mind, body, energy of the shaman/practitioner. The ritual helps the shaman/practitioner to let go of the umbrella and step out into the light.

氣 is made up out of 气 and 米

气 steam or spirit 米 rice

So in the kanji of Ki 氣 we can see rice and steam. Rice is nutrition; it nourishes and nurtures us. One of my teachers once said that now it is white rice but in the past it was brown rice. What he means is that the past teachings were more nutritious, not diluted as many of them have become over time.

But we can also see steam. So now we have to ask ourselves: how do we get steam from rice? We have to cook the rice because raw rice is not so nutritious and of course it is difficult to digest. How do we cook it? We need to boil it so we need fire. Thus in a hidden inner way we can see also fire within the kanji of Ki. But where do we put the fire? Above the pot of rice or underneath it? Underneath right? Where is our own inner fire most of the time? It is in the top part of our body; check for yourself. What happens when you get angry or worried? Your face becomes red, because your fire is in the upper part of your body. Hence the kanji of Ki tells us to make sure we keep the fire in our hara, our centre, just below our navel. The more we stimulate the fire in our hara, the less angry and worried we will be. So in a way the kanji of Ki shows us the right method to embody the precepts and how not to get angry and worried.

This is one of the reasons we do the deep breathing meditation practices like joshin kokyu ho and chanting the mantras within the system of Reiki. What stimulates fire? Air. So the deep breathing stimulates our inner fire so that it can melt all our anger, fear and worry.

We are made up of about 60% water, but most of the time our water is so stuck, frozen with anger, worry and fear. The inner fire helps us to transform our frozen water into steam again so that it can flow more easily through our body.

This frozen water represents our traumas, thus to heal our traumas and to let go of them we need to go inward, in our body, as this is where the transformation takes place and where our traumas are stored. The steam becomes rain again and so the energy starts to flow more freely through our mind – body – energy.
But what does this process look like, rain, steam (mist), heat etc…? It is nature! Look around outside. In nature we see the rain fall down, the sun heats the earth, the mist rises and it becomes rain again. An up and down movement of natural elements and energy.

Our mind body energy is a microcosm within the macrocosm, we are the universe and the universe is us; we are nature.

This is why people like Mikao Usui went into the mountains to realise that they are nature and that this external natural process of rain, heat, steam is also an internal process. This internal process is a very important element within Mikao Usui’s system. In fact we can see this internal process of rain, heat, and mist pointed out in many ancient spiritual teachings, often called inner bliss, inner joy or blazing and dripping. A good teacher can guide you through this natural process inside your body mind energy through teaching you the right practice at the right time.

Here is another hidden inner meaning of the kanji of Reiki. When the rain falls it doesn’t judge, label, or distinguish, it is just falling, but the trees, shrubs, flowers take from it whatever they need. The mist and the sun (heat) do the same, they do not judge, label or distinguish. This is also why Mikao Usui used the kanji of Reiki to teach his students not to label, judge and distinguish when they meditate, perform a hands on healing on themselves or others, and perform a reiju/attunement/initiation.

But it is all good and well to intellectually know this; the next step is to actually create the right inner atmosphere to have a direct experience of the inner meaning of the kanji of Reiki. Through having this direct inner experience again and again we become a wonderful vehicle for these natural elements to manifest within us, which in turn creates the perfect setting for helping others.

Comments 5

  1. Avatar of Jo Ann Wenner

    Thank you, Frans, for this beautiful teaching on the kanji of Reiki. I’ve read much about this over the years and have learned new, important elements from your writing here. Beautiful. 💖🙏

    1. Avatar of Frans Stiene Post
  2. Avatar of Gilles Caron

    Synchronicity… that’s all I have in mind today.

    Last night, I watched a video explaining the memory of water, and the 3 states of water, being frozen, liquid and steam, and being composed of 70% water, we are affected by it, etc…

    Now today, I just saw this article that goes well with what I watched yesterday.


    1. Avatar of Frans Stiene Post

      Hi Gilles,

      Isn’t it interesting how all that falls into place.

      Yes for me we are kind of in a frozen state when we worry, fear, and anger and when we melt our worry, fear, and anger we flow more and then we go even deeper and we become like steam….


  3. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi All, here is a wonderful quote about vapor/steam in the hara.

    “When true stillness takes hold, movement will begin. It is not conscious intention or activity in the mind but movement of vapor in the tan-t’ien.”
    – Liu Hua-Yang

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