Within the structure of the system of Reiki there is the ability for a student to progress to the teacher level. During a student’s development at this level he or she becomes qualified to pass on the system of Reiki to others. The timing of this will largely depend upon the student’s progress with his or her self-practice.
In the West, the term initially created to express this role of Reiki Teacher was ‘Reiki Master’. The certificate that Japanese teacher Chûjirô Hayashi printed for Hawayo Takata in 1938 in the USA used this term for the first time and it would have been a translation of the Japanese word ‘sensei’.
To be a Reiki Master indicates that one becomes a master of Reiki, yet one could never claim to master Reiki. Reiki when translated into English means ‘spiritual energy’ and is often taught as ‘universal energy’. Rather than mastering spiritual energy, one develops a personal understanding of it from one’s own self-practice and then passes this onto one’s students. To state that we control spiritual or universal energy is an egotistical view of oneself and not a view that is compatible with one who has worked hard to develop a knowledge and understanding of the system of Reiki. For this reason we feel that the term Reiki Teacher is a more apt title of the role, although the term Reiki Master has become a popular idiom. Many people today use the term Reiki Master/Teacher to attempt to work with the past and present understandings of what a Reiki Teacher is.
Reiki Teachers are merely humans who teach the system of Reiki, nothing more.
To be a teacher in the system of Reiki it is required that you have finished three levels of teachings. In Japan, a Reiki certificate would indicate the level that one was entering rather than completing. Though in the West the attainment of a certificate has often left people thinking that they should run out and teach or practice professionally. Serious issues will arise if the upcoming professional teacher does not first spend time developing personal qualities and energetic knowledge along with teaching skills.
What might these serious issues be?
As ‘universal energy’ is a balanced composite of yin and yang (in and yo in Japanese), it includes both positive and negative aspects. Humans too, hold both these positive and negative aspects. A Reiki Teacher must develop an inner strength to acknowledge and consciously work with both of these aspects, overcoming his or her own personal weaknesses and utilizing his or her own goodness to heal and support the flow of the universe.
To reach this space of understanding one’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aspects is what it truly means to become a Reiki Teacher. This is not something one reads of in a book – one cannot teach that which one has not experienced. This is the uniqueness of the system of Reiki – it is an experiential practice that is taught in-person, not from a book or over the internet.
During a teacher’s training and throughout a teacher’s life, one’s internal attitude needs to be regularly checked otherwise the energetic work can result in a teacher’s downfall rather than personal progress.
Some of the serious issues that have developed for Reiki Teachers in the past are:
Teachers who claim that they give you something special during the attunement
In reality there is nothing to give. When a teacher claims to offer you something special, the teacher is in reality saying that he or she has something that you do not. As we all consist of universal energy, we all have the same essence. This brings about the question… how can we then give someone something that we already have?
Teachers who claim they are reincarnations of a Priest/ess or powerful Shaman
Whether someone actually is a reincarnation or not is irrelevant to the issue here. We are all universal energy and in line with the philosophy of total interconnectedness, we have all been a blade of grass, a rock, a shaman and a cleaner. We live in the now and there is little use of saying who or what you have been in the past. It is the ego of the now which prods us to make such statements. If a teacher is insecure in the now, then there is a need to prove that he or she has been someone powerful in the past, hence such grandiose claims.
“When phenomena and myself have both been forgotten, and I am deeply serene and tranquil, then I am in harmony and at one with the world.”
Teachers who claim perfection
Some teachers have been known to make statements of perfection about themselves such as, ‘I never lie’. If it is possible that one always speaks the truth, why must this be announced to everyone? Knowing something through an inner experience is enough. Needing to tell people that you do not lie is merely a way to justify comments that you wish people to believe as true. Perfection is not something one brags about, that is, in itself, an imperfect act.
“The one who knows does not speak; the one who speaks does not know”.
Teachers who rely on ‘secrecy’ to gain power
When studying a personal practice it is not necessary to tell everyone what it is you are doing or how and why. Yet you should still be able to discuss your feelings and aspects of the teachings. Once a teacher tells you what you may or may not say or tries to ban you from activities of your choice then that teacher is trying to gain power over you. You must choose your own life path – that is the basis of personal growth. If a teacher chooses for you, unempowerment results.
Teachers who claim they are one of the chosen few to receive initiations from high level light beings
Again this is the ego kicking in. If we are all universal energy, then we all experience energy in ways that we are often unaware of or, perhaps, not open to. Such statements by the teacher, however, aim to make him or her special – specifically in ways that nobody can prove. Self-responsibility, which lies at the basis of the system of Reiki, is realising that we are responsible for all our actions – not higher beings, the past, students or others.
Teachers who claim that their teacher (or themselves) is the only true teacher
Yes, there are requirements to becoming a Reiki Teacher and there are ways to work at becoming a good Reiki Teacher but let us look at this from a different view – we are all teachers in someway. There can never be only one great teacher as there are too many people in the world with a great variety of needs.
“It is foolish to think that another person does not know what you know. If you have spiritual clarity, another person will have spiritual clarity as well. How could you be the only knowledgeable one while everyone else under heaven is a fool?”
Teachers who manipulate others
There have been situations where people claiming to be Reiki Teachers have told students that they cannot heal if they wear, for example, certain coloured clothing or jewellery. Everything is energy no matter what its colour or material. Such thoughts on the students’ behalf will merely create obstructions to their healing practice. Teachers who like to impose rules on students desire control over them. Giving away your power to a teacher does not lead to self-growth.
“A teacher can only transmit a technique or enlighten you to principle, but receiving the truth of the matter is something within yourself. This is called ‘grasping it on one’s own’.”
Teachers who request students to undergo rituals to show commitment
Teachers are way-off track when they begin asking students to complete strange acts or rituals to show their commitment to the teacher or teachings. An example could be a teacher requesting students to receive a tattoo before being allowed into an ‘inner circle’ of students. This is an abuse of power and is not the path of the system of Reiki.
- Reiki Teachers can develop their goodness to heal and support the flow of the universe in the following ways by:
- Accepting that the space they are in is nothing special and that the qualities that they have developed are in reality not extraordinary at all. They are merely a part of the flow of the universe.
- Learning that they do not own the teachings but simply utilize the teachings to support their students’ growth.
- Accepting self-responsibility for their actions and keeping working on themselves.
- Sharing their time with students to walk the path together.
- Never claiming to be able to heal another, all healing comes from within oneself.
- Remaining in contact with a teacher who is grounded in wisdom and compassion. This teacher can support the Reiki Teacher in remaining on the path of self-development instead of self-destruction.
If a Reiki Teacher is serious in wanting to pass on information to a student as a professional then, apart from the aforementioned qualities, a number of practical skills are also required. These include a basic understanding of how to communicate clearly to a group, appropriate first aid certificates, insurance and skills specific to the area that one would be teaching in eg. children, disabled, or aged healthcare. Relevant skills also include the ability to create excellent teaching materials, to find appropriate venues, to develop support systems that each student can rely on, and to keep sound financial control of the business (if the business goes broke there will be reduced support for students).
We hope that this article prompts Reiki Teachers everywhere to ask themselves… am I making choices that are supporting my self-development and that of my students?
All quotes in this article have been taken from “The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts” by William Scott Wilson. They express basic principles of understanding that exist in traditional Japanese spiritual practices.
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.