What is Reiki?

Bill StevensEnglish 4 Comments

Neon Question Mark in tunnel

billstevens The most consistent question put to me over the past 20 years has been “What is Reiki?” And I have always struggled to find a way to give an answer that would not turn off the questioner to being open to experience a Reiki session.

When I have 30 seconds to explain Reiki to an inquiring family of a hospice patient, I say, “ Reiki is a spiritual healing energy practice that many people find comforting and relaxing.” For some people the words “spiritual” “healing” or “energy” are turn ons and for others, turn offs. But it seems to help in determining an interest in Reiki in the time allotted during the phone conversation.

But I have found the use of the phrase “Spiritual Healing Energy practice” raises the antennas of different religious groups who feel an encroachment into their area.

When I first experienced this it was quite a shock, quite surprising to me. I help with a hospice volunteer training program and now and again we have a clergy person attend the training. It sometimes takes a while, but it seems to always surface. – the message being, that I have stepped into an area whose door is closed, without proper credentials. We have bishops in the Roman Catholic Church who react the same way. But I was totally blown away, when one of our chaplains in hospice took issue when I referred to Reiki as a spiritual practice. All quite interesting.

Frans Stiene was one of my more recent teachers and I have been deeply touched by his teachings – he transformed the way I both practice and teach Reiki. I highly recommend anyone, no matter how long you have been teaching or practicing Reiki, to take advantage of his yearly classes in different cities in the United States. (ihreiki.com)

Frans taught me that Usui taught Reiki as a spiritual practice which came from his own deep Buddhist spirituality and other esoteric practices in the culture of his day. I have come to believe that there is no doubt he was an enlightened being or we may use the word a mystic.

As we know Mysticism means seeing beyond physical reality, seeing the presence of the Divine in everyone and everything. Seeing that there is this creative life force energy in abundance that we all share. How about this God Particle recently discovered – the Higgs Boson. Showing that energy fills space all around us – giving mass to you, me, the stars and planets – otherwise we would not be here. Quite an awesome scientific discovery which gives credence to what the mystics have been telling us for centuries.

Another definition of a mystic is someone who seeks a direct and intimate connection with the Divine. It is a practice of being one with Source. All mystics seem to have similar experiences, no matter what faith tradition they embrace, even though they use different concepts and words to describe these experiences.

It is these thoughts that come to my mind as I try to answer the question “What is Reiki” in the context of my own Christian journey as a “Follower of the Way.” And if I can assure you that I am not trying to evangelize you, I would like to continue by sharing a few thoughts about this man, Jesus.

Adam Smith in his wonderful book, “God, Energy and the Field”

writes: Jesus thought of himself as coming with a message for his fellow Jews only – there is no indication that he wished to found a new religion [Matthew 1-:5-6; 15:24] The values he proposed were fundamental human values, applicable to every one of us – transcending all races and cultures. His unconditional love and the healing work he did, was not because he was God, but that he was a completely fulfilled, enlightened, human being – as fully evolved as it is possible for any person to be, at our present stage of human evolution. Jesus was not super-human, he was totally human. Many of the same kinds of healings attributed to him are performed by spiritually advanced gurus in India today.

The spiritual path of this Jesus has been taken over by the institutional church. It has moved from freely offered religious experience to required religious concepts which often include prohibitions against the very religious experience Jesus modeled.

Jesus believed we could evolve to the spiritual level he inhabited and beyond . He not only believed it, but taught it. In another recent book that has come into my life is entitled “Integral Christianity.” The author, Paul Smith, writes that the many healing events in Jesus’ ministry certainly involved non-ordinary states of consciousness that seemed to flow from Jesus in almost ordinary ways. That is , Jesus experienced such a high level of spiritual awareness, that he maintained it almost all the time. This non-ordinary consciousness was his ordinary state. Jesus healed others from a state of consciousness that transmitted healing energy from himself to others.

In Luke’s gospel [6:19] Luke wrote “And all in the crowd were trying to touch him , for power came out of him and healed them all.” I think we all have experienced people like this. Just being in their presence was healing.

We conventionally think of Jesus healing others by calling on a God up there to come down and touch a person down here. But there is no record of Jesus praying that way. Jesus had this power of God within himself. This is how he taught his disciples to heal others, just as he did – knowing that the Spirit within is where the healing energy comes from.

The story is told that one day a priest in India went up to some school children and asked them “Where is God?” Some of the children were Christians and they pointed skyward. Some were Hindus and they pointed to their hearts.

Hafiz wrote a beautiful poem entitled: “When I want to Kiss God”

When no one is looking
and I want to kiss God
I just lift my own hand
to my mouth

Scholars believe that at some point in his young life, Jesus was instructed in various disciplines such as deep meditation or esoteric prayer practices and would have been exposed to Jewish mystics of his time. It seems reasonable to assume that he was at home with deep states of consciousness where he could experience the divine within himself.

Spirit is present within everyone, regardless of their religion or lack of it. This does not mean they are aware of this presence or manifest it. But it is still present deep within.

These recent books have been so helpful for me to tie my spirituality to the spirituality of Mikao Usui. I have learned to have a deep respect for Mikao Usui. We know at first Usui taught his Buddhist students this practice and then adapted his teachings as he taught this healing practice to other groups from a variety of backgrounds. He was very inclusive and found ways to bring these teachings to everyone who was open to receive them. He wasn’t out to make money but to share this healing method.

I like to think that Mikao Usui transmitted healing, like Jesus did, using the understanding and culture of his day. Jesus taught his disciples to heal others as he did. Jesus did not teach his disciples to ask a God “up there” to heal. But he taught them to heal from a spiritual energy that was from within them. He knew we all are spiritual beings and we can tap into this source within us to heal ourselves as well as others.

The disciples looked upon it as Jesus giving them “the authority to heal” because that is the way culture looked upon it at that time. They were not at a stage where they could understand it as Jesus did.

And is that not what Reiki teachers do? I learned very clearly from Frans that Reiki is not transmitted from the teacher to the student in some magical way. Is it not, that we are facilitating a process during which time the student gets in touch with something he already has. And this happens as the students open themselves up to the process – making that real in his/her life by meditation, the practice of the precepts and being open to the attunement process as an opportunity to become more aware of this Universal life force energy within themselves.

We have mentioned Buddhism and Christianity but Paul Smith tells us there is only one River that runs deep underneath everything. We can dig one well deep and tap into that River. Or we can dig 20 different shallow ones that may or may not get us there.

Some drill many wells a few feet deep and then complain they could never find water. What they have not tried is digging deeply in a tried and true path. If we are already familiar with a Hindu well, a Jewish well, a Christian well, an Islamic well, a Buddhist well, why not keep digging deeper in that well. Every major tradition has a mystic branch and they all speak the same language.

God is transcendent [meaning beyond our comprehension] and at the same time, is immanent, that is, present in and as the creating energy of the Universe with which we are invited to co-operate to further the evolutionary process. The Big Bang was an explosion of creative energy: an explosion of love, given material form.

Each of us is here at this particular time, in this place, in these relationships to other people and to the environment, for a purpose. We are each a contributing part in the unfolding drama of the evolution of the planet.

Tribal religion, warrior religion, traditional, modern, and postmodern religion , all exist today and will for the foreseeable future. Churches for these levels exist all over the world. Every person has the right to be at whatever stage they find themselves and practice their religious tradition at that stage.

Every level has their gifts and strength to offer which can be included and built upon. Every stage also has its weaknesses that must be transcended in order to move to the next level. Stages cannot be skipped, only lived in and worked through. It is now entirely possible to stay with the tradition which brought you to the dance and continue to deepen in far-reaching ways. The dance of evolutionary awakening is being celebrated with new steps now by practitioners in all of the worlds’s great traditions. 

Jesus modeled remaining with your tradition while moving it along by both transcending and including parts of it. He began his life as a Jew and ended his life on earth as a Jew. Judaism and not Christianity, was and remained his religion. Christianity was a later development sparked by his pushing his own religious tradition to a new stage. It also got him killed. 

I was and still am, a Wayne Dyer fan and I have followed him a lot over the years through his books and PBS appearances. It is quite extraordinary how he has shared his spiritual journey with all of us during these years.

In one of his book “Wishes Fulfilled” he says: 

“The creator has planted within every creature a fragment of himself, a spark, a spirit of the same nature as himself, and thanks to this spirit, every creature can become a creator. Instead of waiting for their needs to be satisfied by some external source , human beings can work inwardly by means of their thought, their will and their spirit to obtain the nourishing healing elements they need. 

Perceive that spark of God as the real you becoming visible through your loving and inviting attentiveness, until you feel the sacred presence of your higher self as the guiding light of your life.

Since you are a piece of God and therefore have that within you, you needn’t doubt your own divinity. This higher self – that portion of God that is us – only begins to notice us and give us the intention we crave when we enlarge it from a tiny spark and invite the energy to come into our life.

Your higher self is a piece of an all loving, all-embracing creative Source. All you need to do is accept that this is not something external to yourself. It resides within you – in fact it is you and all you need to do is to begin to align yourself with this Divine essence, begin to act like it acts, and think like it thinks, and you will begin the process of manifestation just as it does.

Befriend that spark, consult it frequently, nurture it, pay close attention to it, believe in it and practice describing yourself first as a spiritual being – one who lives as frequently as possible from this all loving, all giving, all joyful place called your higher self – aligned to your very Source of Being.”

So “What is Reiki?”

These thoughts I shared with you are the ones which I entertain when I ask myself this question. 

Mikao Usui has shared a way to get in touch with this Light within us without getting into dogmas, beliefs, who belongs, who doesn’t belong, who is in charge, who can teach or who can’t teach, who can heal, who can’t heal.

It is a path we can embrace – free to tap into a mentor or not – no test to take but just being given the freedom to grow at our own pace without being judged or categorized. Each level we can choose when and if we feel ready. It is quite an extraordinary gift given to us well over 90 years ago.

I have practiced Reiki for 26 years – starting with the HIV/AIDS community where one person told me “it was the most spiritual experience he had ever had” at the end of the session and another said as I walked into his hospital room, “here comes my pain medication.”

Later in my hospice work, I have had similar experiences. I went into a home, observing a woman laying on her bed, with two children gathered around her, actively dying, with constant distressful cries which had been going on for hours. I sat by the bed and just went into my own meditation and offered Reiki and an hour later, she dropped into a peaceful place. Her husband told the social worker, a couple of hours later after she passed, that that was the most comfortable she had been in weeks.

Why is this possible – what is this Reiki?

You know it is not you.

I was called to another man dying of cancer who was in constant pain – finding little relief in the medications offered. For six weeks I offered him Reiki and he told the social worker that he had never experienced any pain since that first session.

What is this Reiki?

I worked with a volunteer with the SPCA who was trying to foster a rescue dog to help him become suitable for adoption. The dog, named Benz, had a very aggressive stance to any male gender and yet allowed me, after a shaky start, to offer him Reiki and he responded positively during the sessions at the shelter and at the volunteer’s home. However his aggressive behavior towards her husband in the home continued and forced the shelter to make the decision to put him down, since he was not adoptable. Two days before this happened I had a private session with him and he stretched out at my feet for the first time and went into a deep Reiki slumber during our last session.

What is this Reiki?

I am, deeply grateful to my teachers for teaching me it is all about becoming an enlightened being, a mystic, a spiritual practitioner for it is a spiritual practice. 

It is about letting go into a deep meditation.

I start off by just being a mountain – become grounded, drawing in the earth energy, become one with the ground of all being – chanting the mantra to myself : CKR, CKR, CKR

Then I will draw in this heavenly energy – this energy of the Universe, the Higgs-Boson, this creative life force energy in all things – fill my whole body with this energy – bringing myself into a place of harmony, balance, and peace. SHK, SHK, SHK

Then I will become one with all things – this creative energy pulsating in all things – there is no separation – we are all one – I realize I am one with this person or animal in front of me or at a distance from me – we are just love – HSZSN, HSZSN, HSZSN

Then I realize I am not only receiving this light but I am this light – I am the DKM – I am not only shining this light but I am this light, and the person or animal in front of me is in this light – we are the same light – there is no separation. and I stay in this space 

There is no agenda – there is no expectation – There is no fixing – I am just holding this space – Allowing myself to be used as a vehicle for this compassionate. loving, energy offering it to the person or animal for whatever they need – for whatever healing they may be ready to receive.

Do we need to give Reiki a name?
Can we really explain it
Must we
Or can we just Be Reiki

Bill Stevens, [email protected], http://evolutionaryreiki.com

{I have not documented all the sources properly as this would, for me, have taken away from the flow of the article. It is a mixture of my own experiences, my own practices, wisdom of my teachers (especially Frans Stiene and Kathleen Prasad), books mentioned, and all the wonderful dedicated practitioners and students I have met, and those whom I have served.}


Comments 4

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    Bravo, Bill!  You are a true healing force in this relative and Ultimate reality.  This article is an excellent explanation of Reiki, the incorporation of this deeply spiritual practice into your own life and the lives of others.  You never cease amazing me and I continue to gratefully call you friend.

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