The Reiki Precepts and Old Man’s Favourite Adages

Bronwen and Frans StieneArticles, English 9 Comments


Around 1853 in the Edo period of Japan The Old Man’s Favourite Adages, Oyaji No Kogoto, appeared. No one knows who wrote it, but what is interesting is that it includes similar ideas to the Reiki Precepts.

Some say that Usui-san took his precepts from a book from 1914 written by Suzuki Biza;  Kenzen No Genri 健全の原理 – Principles of Health.

The following work, however, published in 1853, already extolled such principles as do not anger, do not worry, work/practice diligently, be kind and humble. In fact, they were very much a way of life in traditional Japan, and irrevocably linked to existing Buddhist principles.

See if you can find the Reiki Precepts here…

The Old Man’s Favourite Adages 親父の小言


Be pleasant in the morning


Help others in trouble


Do not be angry at others


Do not waste fire


Return favors discreetly


Do not travel on stormy days


Be a sucker


Be kind to elders


Do not forget memorial services


Do not forget beginner’s mind


Work diligently


Do not use if need to borrow


Spend only what you have earned


Do not neglect obligations/duties


Lend yours to others


Drink in moderation


Never gamble


Do not consider humble life as hardship


Eat in moderation


Always keep water at hand


Do not be overconfident


Consider injuries and accidents as (self-inflicted) embarrassments


Lock your house


Rest before and after childbirth


Live within means


Be attentive to all things


Do not whine


Let there be laughter in the house


Respect higher beings (gods/buddhas)


Marry early


Prayer for the safety of the household, good fortune and peace

(Thank you Hiromi Hayashi!)



Comments 9

  1. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi All,

    Some say that Usui-san took his precepts from a book from 1914 written by Suzuki Biza;  kenzen no genri 健全の原理 – Principles of Health. However I personally doubt this.

    As we can see the above work was already published in 1853, thus we can see that these principles, like; do not anger, do not worry, work/practice diligently, be kind and humble,  were around for a while already.

  2. Avatar of Elly

    What great advice in any case, Frans! Thank you for sharing it with us. The “old man” sounds like the Ben Franklin of Japan! I never liked the thought that Usui Founder “stole” the Precepts from someone else (even though it’s certainly true that in Asia, spreading information or texts without crediting the authors has long been a tradition). But Usui Founder meticulously credited the Meiji Emperor for his poems, which he shared in his classes. Why would he not credit someone who inspired his Precepts? I feel much better thinking that he simply grew up with them and felt they were so important to a good life that he passed them on to his students.

  3. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Elly,
    Yes I do not think so that Usui-san took them from that book. Also I feel that the precepts really connect to the 6 paramitas, article on the way 😉
    When we look at Usui-san we also need to look at the time he was living, I think many modern teachers forget this.

    I like the Old Man 😉

  4. Avatar of kathi richards

    I never have really thought about where Usui-san got the precepts. They just make sense. These too make sense for their time period. Some are still very relevant today. Perhaps the precepts were just common knowledge at that time and as Japan came out of hiding people were needing to be reminded of them, just like now? Hm.

  5. Avatar of Frans Stiene
  6. Avatar of seema
  7. Avatar of Deb

    Hi Frans I love this deeper view of the cultural influences that would have guided Usui to the forming of the precepts and I so look forward to the Six Paramitas. I have just been reading about that myself but only from the web so I look forward to your insights and inner knowledge.

  8. Avatar of Susan

    Hi, I love the two adages, ‘do not whine’ and ‘let there be laughter in the house’.  Having not met the correct partner untill I was 30, the ‘marry early’ one didn’t work out for me!

  9. Avatar of Miriam Stollar

    These statements are universal truths and do not really belong to anyone. They take different forms in different cultures. They remind me of the ten commandments.

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