The Background of the Reiki Precepts?

Frans StieneEnglish 4 Comments

Preceptslg 1


The Reiki Precepts are the foundation of the system of Reiki.  They are:

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

In the course of one of the lessons during my recent personal training trip to Japan, the Ajari, (eminent monk of Tendai or Shingon Buddhism) showed me a specific Buddhist verse called “shichibutsu tsukaige” (The verse of admonishment of the seven Buddhas, also referred to as the Precepts of the seven Buddhas). This verse is from the Hokku-kyo, Dharma-phrase Sutra, a collection of verses comprising the basic teaching of Buddhist morality.

Shoaku makusa
Shuzen bugyo
Jijo goi
Zesho Bukkyo

To do no evil
To do only good
To purify one’s mind
This is the teachings of the Buddha

When the Ajari wrote this down on the white board my first thought was, the Reiki precepts created by Usui Mikao, the founder of the system of Reiki!

This is what I saw…

To do no evil

– directs the practitioner how not to act

– relates directly to Usui’s instruction to not have worry or anger (to do no harm to yourself, others… anything) 

To do only good

– directs the practitioner on how to act

– relates to the more detailed instructions from Usui to be grateful, true to our way and our being, and compassionate 

To purify one’s mind 

– directs the practitioner to implement the precepts in order to receive their benefits

– The Reiki precepts are all about the mind

– relates to the injunction in the full Reiki precepts “to do gassho every morning and evening, to keep in mind and recite”.

Which made me wonder: 

Would Usui have used the Precepts of the seven Buddhas as a base for his precepts?

Did he create the Reiki precepts to make the Precepts of the seven Buddhas more accessible for non- Buddhist practitioners?! Remember, in Usui’s time State Shinto was the norm. Maybe he changed the Precepts of the seven Buddhas to suit his State Shinto students?

These contemplations also direct us towards a better understanding of what is was that Usui himself may have practiced. 

Comments 4

  1. Avatar of Sundar Kadayam

    Frans, as I read this post, it seemed to me that Usui-san’s precepts are written as a “How to” guide to living what the sutra states as the teachings of the Buddha, i.e. How “To do no evil”, How “To do only good”, and How “To purify one’s mind”. 
    – Sundar

  2. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Sundar,
    For me precepts are also instruction, so they are instructing us how to lead our daily life. But at another level they are also instructing us how to work with the symbols and mantras, with the meditation, the initiation/attunement/reiju and hands on healing practices within the system of Reiki.

  3. Avatar of Kris Azzarello

    Hi Frans,

    Everything really is one, isn’t it?  From reading the Precepts of the Seven Buddhas and I got the sense of Usui’s Precepts and other great wisdoms all saying the same thing in a different way to reach all and offer the gift of understanding.  Working with the mantras and symbols are more gifts to reach people in ways that sometimes text cannot.  So generous, so patient.  This is so cool!

  4. Avatar of Frans Stiene

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