The Reiki Precepts and the Six Paramitas

Frans StieneArticles, English Leave a Comment


When I have shown the Reiki precepts to Japanese Buddhist teachers (for example Shugendo, Shingon, and Tendai priests), they point out that the precepts are linked to the six paramitas. Takeda Ajarai, an esteemed Shingon priest, feels that Mikao Usui created the Reiki precepts to allow his students to have a direct experience of the six paramitas without actually pointing the six paramitas out to them. This might have been done because in Mikao Usui’s time the Meji Emperor decided to separate Shinto and Buddhism in Japan. State Shinto was introduced and was promoted in the name of national unity and patriotic duty. Therefore, Mikao Usui might have created a simple form of the six paramitas which was more accessible to people who had to practice State Shinto.

The Reiki precepts are listed here in Japanese:

Kyo dake wa
Shinpai suna
Kansha shite
Gyo o hage me
Hito ni shin-setsu ni

This can be translated in different ways depending not only on how the kanji is read, but also on the spiritual state of mind of the translator. I personally like this translation of the precepts:

For today only
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be grateful
Practice diligently
Show compassion to yourself and others

The six paramitas are listed here:

  • Generosity
  • Morality
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Concentration
  • Wisdom

Let’s have a look and see how the Reiki precepts and the six paramitas intertwine with each other. 

Generosity means giving and sharing. In Japanese Buddhism, there are different elements of giving. One is the gift of material things, but a much more generous gift is the gift of no more fear. The gift of no more fear is that as people we do not become angry, so we do not instill fear in others. Fear is also interlinked with worry; when we do not worry, we become calmer and therefore can radiate that calmness out to others. One of the most generous gifts we can give to others is to share the teachings on how to embody the Reiki precepts in their daily lives. If everyone embodied the precepts, the world would be a better place for all of us, people and animals alike. Real giving also needs to come from an egoless state of mind, giving without strings attached. This in essence means that we have a state of mind in which there is no giver, no gift, and no receiver. This can only start to happen when we let go of the ego, the “I”. Mikao Usui pointed this out in the precepts as well, because when we let go of the “I”, then there is no “I” who gets angry or worried. There is no “I” who gets in the way of being grateful and compassionate. And there is no “I” who gets in the way of not practicing diligently.

Morality means that we have to look at our moral conduct: moral conduct is the embodiment of the precepts. There are three elements of morality. The first is refraining from negative actions, like anger and worry. We often think worry is for ourselves, but it also is about not instilling worry in someone else. The second element is about accumulating positive actions, which links to being grateful. We have to be grateful for all things in life, for it is only through being grateful for both “good” and “bad” that we start to be positive in life. And the third aspect of morality is helping others, which is of course linked in with showing compassion to others. The deepest form of compassion we can show to others is in helping them to rediscover their True Self, their essence, because it is only in that state of rediscovery that they can start to really heal themselves.

The paramita of patience is about acceptance. This not only is linked to being grateful but also to anger. When we are patient with someone we will get less angry with them, and also will be less angry within ourselves. Patience therefore is the real antidote to anger.

Persistence is linked to practicing diligently. Without practicing diligently the meditation practices Mikao Usui placed in his teachings, we will not start to embody the precepts in our heart; they will be merely empty words that we repeat. Therefore the deeper aspect of persistence is the willingness to embody the precepts in our life so that we can help others. Persistence is therefore also interlinked with compassion. The deepest level of compassion we can show to ourselves is the willingness to rediscover our True Self, our essence, because it is only at this stage that we can help others to find their True Self. If we don’t know how to find it ourselves, how can we help others to do so?

Concentration is about meditative concentration, so that we do not get angry and worried. We get angry or worried because we are not mindful, not focused. The deepest aim of concentration is rediscovering our True Self and it is only from this rediscovery that we can embody the precepts in all we do. This in turn will create a better world, because if we do not get angry and worried, if we are grateful and compassionate, then this state of heart-mind will have a huge healing effect on everything around us.

Wisdom is about the complete embodiment of the precepts.

This wisdom is the foundation for no more anger and no more worry.

This wisdom is the base on which we can rest our gratitude for whatever happens to us.

This wisdom gives us strength and energy to practice diligently.

This wisdom shows us a clear path to being compassionate to ourselves and others. 

As you can see, the Reiki precepts are in fact no different than the six paramitas. If we embody the five Reiki precepts we also are embodying the six paramitas; the two are one and the same.

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