The Japanese Art of Reiki (Transcript of Washington, DC talk 2009)

Frans Stiene English 3 Comments

My name is Frans Stiene and I was very kindly invited to come to Washington, DC for the second time. Tonight I will talk a little bit about Reiki.

I am originally from Holland and when I was about 21 I moved to Australia and went back-packing, where I met my wife, Bronwen, and we went back to Holland and lived there for seven years. I had no interest in Reiki or healing or anything at all like that. I remember sitting on a couch with a friend from Australia, who had come to visit us, and she was doing this thing on her body, while we were having some wine and biscuits. I asked, “what are you doing?” and she responded, “ I am doing Reiki.” But I wasn’t interested in this.

When I was 16, I started to suffer from some really chronic back problems. The pain in my lower back went through my legs and if I had to pick something up, I had to drag it across the floor. When I was 30, we moved to India, as we wanted to travel around. Although we wanted to travel around Asia, somehow that really never happened and we got stuck in India and lived there for two years. But when I first arrived there, I had a lot of back problems and one day I was lying in bed in the hotel when my wife was sight-seeing and I realized how ridiculous this was – me laying here unable to move. I set the intention that I wanted to do something for my own healing. As most of you know as soon as you say the word “intend”, things are triggered, particularly if you really strongly want to do something [I, however, did not know this at the time].

So I started to meet all these different people who were connected to healing and I came across Reiki. I bought this Indian Reiki book from an Indian Reiki teacher and thought it was quite nice. When we went to Kathmandu in Nepal I saw a notice how one could learn Reiki from this English teacher. I began to feel something shifting within myself, although I could not feel anything in my hands or in my body. So we did Reiki II and we did Reiki III and very quickly we had set up this Reiki Center on the border of Nepal. We did this for a year, along with a lot of volunteer work.

The interesting thing was, that in this particular area called Darjeeling where the Darjeeling tea comes from, we went into the tea plantations and the local villages. Darjeeling is known for a lot of healing, there are a lot of shamanic practices going on there – a lot of Nepalese, Tibetans, Hindus, and Yogis who all do some form of healing. And when you talked to these people, they would all say that to make sure that the healing power stays intact, they would do certain meditation practices and exercises. I was never taught that in Reiki at all. It was always quite external. All we did was work on someone else.

So I became interested in finding out why, if this system of Reiki was a Japanese or Asian practice, why there were no meditation practices in it. When we went back to Australia after two years of living in India, we started to do a lot of research. We had this huge filing cabinet full of stuff and I said maybe we should write a book about it, which became our The Reiki Source Book. Now we have a new edition out which is great – we thought we would only change little things here and there but it became a whole new book.

When I went to Japan and started to train with Japanese people and teachers, I came to the discovery that there was a lot of self-practice within the system of Reiki, which actually never really made it to the West. So my interest became very much in teaching this to people – that in essence, traditionally, the system of Reiki was a spiritual practice. In that spiritual practice you would really look after yourself – working with meditations, etc. I will get to that in a minute. And then the side effect of that, was hands on healing. So the hands on healing was only seen as a side effect of your spiritual practice, which meant it was quite a difficult practice traditionally. Mikao Usui only had 2,000 students. At that time in Japan, there were people who taught hands on healing – what they called palm healing. There were groups in Japan who had 50,000 students, who did some form of palm healing. So Mikao Usui had a very small group of people in comparison– nowadays it is practiced all over the world and it is amazing that it actually started so small. At the time of Mikao Usui, it is said that it was much more well known that he was teaching a spiritual practice.

Looking at the Japanese names for the teachings: Shoden means level one – Shoden is the beginner’s teachings. In the beginner’s teachings, this is where we first start to apply the teachings for ourselves. At this level Usui would give you the precepts and a simple meditation and maybe a meditation practice that would focus on the energy center, called the hara or tanden, which is located below your belly button. And you would go home and you would practice that. You would go home and work with the precepts and ponder them. Why should I not get angry, why not worry, why be compassionate to myself and other people. So by working with them you could really start to work on pealing some layers away.

After you practiced with that – maybe for six months or a year or two years, depending on the student – you would maybe begin Reiki II. Reiki II in Japanese is called Okuden. And Okuden in Japanese means inner teachings or hidden teachings. Now it doesn’t mean it was hidden somewhere behind this door, or that it was in something and we had to discover it. But it meant we had to find what was hidden inside ourselves. So Okuden – meaning hidden or inner teachings – also reflected that it was a self development practice. It was something we had to look for inside of ourselves. So the tools traditionally taught in Okuden were the symbols and the mantras. They were not used externally like we do now – nowadays we might do a treatment on someone and might draw the symbols over a person or might use them in the room or whatever. But traditionally it was used for your own practice. You would meditate and work with these tools to strip away the layers so that you would find what is hidden within yourself. You might ask what do you find – what do you find hidden inside of yourself? Traditionally, what was hidden inside of yourself was what they call in Japanese your ‘true nature’ or your ‘original nature’.

So when we look at level three or the Reiki Master teacher level or whatever we might call it, traditionally it was called Shinpiden. And Shinpiden if you translate it is “mystery teachings” and that is where you discover what is hidden inside of yourself and you realize the mystery of life. The mystery of why I am here in this world. What is my connection with people around me. What is my connection with the natural elements around me. In Reiki III you work with a symbol and mantra which when translated from Japanese means The Great Bright Light. When we strip away all our layers, we discover that we are this Great Bright Light.

We are all a beautiful Great Bright Light, but most of the time we don’t see it. We put all these layers over it and we don’t recognize it. When we wake up in the morning, we may say I am tired, I am getting grey, I have to go to work today, or I have to talk to this or that person – all the stuff we do during the day. We put layers and layers of stuff over this Great Bright Light. Usui created the system where the more you would take away these layers from yourself, the more you would discover this beautiful Bright Light within yourself. And it was not something that was acquired from the outside. The beautiful Bright Light is already inside of you. But most of the time we don’t see it.

So, the system of Reiki is that you would discover the Bright Light within yourself and the more you discover it within yourself, the more you can share the Bright Light with other people. That is why it is so important that no matter what you do – you might be a massage therapist, a Reiki therapist, or you just do it for yourself or work on animals – what is very important to realize is that if you do not have a self practice for yourself and you keep giving and giving and giving and you haven’t realized this beautiful light, then you will go like this: Here is some light, here is some light, here is some light and then damn… no more light left. It’s gone. And suddenly we start to feel tired, we feel drained, and we do not feel like doing it any more – it is all getting too much.

Also there is very much a distinction between Reiki and the system of Reiki. Reiki means spiritual energy or sometimes we have translated it in modern English to mean universal energy. We all consist of universal energy. We all can work with energy in one way or another. We all know that if you have a headache and you put your hand on your head, it feels a lot better. If you have a tummy ache and you put your hands on your tummy, it feels a bit better. Or if your friend does not feel well and you put your arm around your friend, your friend feels a little bit better. We all communicate energetically already. But we can enhance it, we can strip away these layers so that we become brighter or clearer.

Traditionally, Reiki means ‘spiritual energy’ (which we all consist of) and then we have the system of Reiki. And the system of Reiki consists of five elements: Precepts, Meditations, Hands on healing for yourself and others, Symbols and mantras, and the Attunement. When you work with these five elements, you are stripping away layers and you connect deeper and deeper to your spiritual energy or, if you like, to your Reiki.

A lot of hospitals have volunteer programs for hands on healing or Reiki. And I think it is fantastic. It is really important for people who work in hospitals – you smell disinfectants, you see people crying, all sorts of stuff happening there – it is so important that you keep your own energy clear. Every day we have stuff coming towards us. You switch on a television, you read the newspaper, something happens in the street or the shopping mall or in your family. So we need to keep the energy clear. And we can do that with these five elements. The stronger and clearer our energy becomes and the more we connect to our true nature – this beautiful Bright Light – the more we can really share that with other people and the less we are bothered by these outer influences.

If I have here a little light and turn off all the other lights in the room, then I see lots of darkness, there would be a lot of dark corners in the room. [Frans switches off the lights] But if someone switches on these really bright lights like now, [Frans switches on the lights again] then there are not that many dark corners anymore.

So it is the same for ourselves. Our light is covered – by our worries, our fears, our anger, all that kind of stuff. But if I suddenly switch on this big light, what is inside me already, then all that anger and worry starts to disappear. Then I can share that much easier with other people.

What we need to be aware of is that the system of Reiki is a self-development practice. The more you practice on yourself, the easier it becomes to work on other people. It is as simple as that. We can make up lots of stories about it, but what it comes down to is that it is very simple and basic in reality.

Comments 3

  1. Wow, this makes sense to me. I’ve been receiving Reiki, once a month for the last three years and recently completed level 1. Family and friends say they see a difference in me, in my eyes, I feel it too deep inside. I didn’t understand the importance of the connection between meditation and Reiki. Do you think the energy is always changing? I keep experiencing different aspects of it. Maybe I’m changing as well, releasing old conditions and becoming cleaner and refiner. Anyways, thanks for explaining.

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