Myths about the system of Reiki abound and are often propogated for reasons that have very little to do with the promotion of a simple self-healing method that can also be used to help others. Clarifying where all of these different ideas about the system of Reiki stemmed from was the motivation behind the creation of The Reiki Sourcebook.
Below are a variety of myths accompanied by some enlightening facts.
Origins of the system
FACT Reiki is Japanese
It is a system created by a man called Usui Mikao in Japan in the early 1900s.
He brought together various elements from his own spiritual practices to develop a system we know today as Reiki.
Initally he created it to support people on their spiritual journey toward enlightenment using meditations and precepts. These elements belonged to his own practice which were taken largely from Mikkyo (esoteric Tendai buddhism) and shugendo (mountains ascetic practices) practices as well as the Japanese culture, philosophy and cosmology.
Toward the end of his life he created teachings which were aimed at supporting the Japanese military with first aid and they included mantras, symbols, hand-healing (which was very popular in Japan at the time) and reiju (a spiritual blessing – often called an attunement today).
To find out more about these basic elements of the system of Reiki please read Five Elements of Reiki.
So he developed different teachings for different purposes. His latter teachings have developed (after being adapted by each new generation of student) into what we call the system of Reiki today. The International House of Reiki is interested in researching all teachings of Usui including the earlier practices.
The word Reiki translates from the Japanese as ‘spiritual energy’. It is understood that in all of Usui’s practices this is the concept of energy that is worked with. Therefore we work with the energy of everything, believing that everything consists of spiritual energy.
The practices taught in the system develop our own energy and allow it to flow more freely through us. This gradually reminds, or re-connects, us with our original nature.
The benefits being that we feel more balanced, healthier and happier and that we progress toward a state of enlightenment.
Many Reiki practitioners today use awareness of their own energy to help others with hand-healing as was taught to the Japanese military. Using hands for healing also stimulates the body’s energy to get it moving more freely.
For more information about the Japanese influences on the system of Reiki please read The Japanese Art of Reiki.
MYTH Reiki is Tibetan, Egyptian, Martian, Atlantian etc…
Hawayo Takata, who brought the system of Reiki to the West in 1938 and died in 1980, never stressed the Japanese aspects of Reiki. This may have been due to the fact that it was the beginning of World War II at the time she brought it across. She is also said to have stated she found the Japanese practice of Reiki to be too complicated for Westerners.
None of the traditional practices are of an origin other than Japanese.
In the mid-1980s Western students of the system of Reiki decided to introduce the concept of Reiki coming from elsewhere mostly through chanelling information from spirits. Though interesting, none of these spirit guides appear to agree with one another (often stating that their system is better, stronger or more complete) and there is no consistent information available. In such cases there is also confusion about whether it is the energy of Reiki that is being discussed or the system of Reiki.
Consequently, many New Age practices have recently been introduced to some systems of Reiki. These practices include the chakra system, techniques using a multitude of symbols, introduction of more levels plus beliefs about what a student may or may not do.
The Teacher/Student Role
FACT Reiki is self-empowering
Students of Reiki learn the various practices so that they can go away and work on themselves. The concept is that the more work students do on themselves using these practices the more in touch they become with their true nature.
In this manner the teacher (another word for Reiki Master) guides students rather than controls them. Humans naturally know what is right or wrong for them but can lose sight of this in the flurry of modern living. By sensing their connection with the flow of life they become empowered and the teacher has done nothing except show them the way – it is the student that must take it and practice it.
A true sense of empowerment is when you do not need to keep asking or looking for a teacher’s approval. It is when you feel confident in the knowledge that what you are doing is truthful for you (not for someone else).
MYTH Reiki is very complicated
If students are told that something is Very Difficult and that only the teacher knows the reasons why – then students must question the validity of the teachings.
Reiki is not a practice of secrets and rules. Students are not asked to do something because the teacher says they must.
- It does not give dietary advice or offer advice on what to wear.
- It is not ‘channeling’ another’s words.
- It is not diagnostic.
- A teacher of Reiki does not give or take away anything. No-one empowers you.
- There must be no fear of the teacher or of what the teacher may think of your experiences. Negating or judging the experiences of others is not the sign of a true teacher of Reiki.
The Healing Process
FACT Reiki cleanses
When energy that has been stagnant in the body moves – it can be called a cleansing.
When energy moves in the body you can often feel it too. It may feel like tingling, sharp pain, waves, – any number of sensations. It depends on the student’s interpretation of energy as to what is experienced. These sensations indicate that energy has been stimulated and is moving in the body. They may be strong or mild sensations depending on the student, and the student’s current situation.
By practising the system of Reiki we attempt to encourage cleansing so that the energy can flow freely through the body allowing you to flow freely with nature.
Being at One with everything in life is part of the spiritual path of practising as a Reiki practitioner.
MYTH Reiki makes you ill
The body is always cleansing itself and the system of Reiki supports that process.
An excellent example is sneezing and a cold – this is the body attempting to remove toxins from the body. If you look at it from this perspective then a cold is no longer ‘bad’ – it is in fact your body doing what mother nature planned for it to do to protect itself.
We recommend working with a teacher who understands about the nature of the body’s natural cleansing process in order for you to be guided through this process with confidence.
Money and the System of Reiki
FACT You get what you pay for
Sometimes. We have had teachers ask us what was in our manuals – they were curious because, they said, they didn’t have much to offer but then they didn’t charge much either.
Teachers at the International House of Reiki continue studying and upgrading their knowledge and travel around the world to do so.
The centre offers numerous support for all students no matter where they are in the world and can only do so by being a full-time professional school for Reiki practitioners and teachers.
MYTH Reiki should be free
The energy of Reiki is free. We’re all born with energy inside us and we unconsciously use it already for healing ourselves and others.
But if you would like to learn a system that can teach you how to use it more effectively then naturally, like taking a cooking course, you need to pay the instructor (and there will be many different qualities of instructors and courses).
If you receive a Reiki treatment – once again you are paying for the professionalism of the practitioner and the level of study and time they have put into their practice.
The Role of Symbols
FACT Symbols are tools
There are 4 symbols and mantras taught in traditional Japanese forms of the system of Reiki.
Symbols and mantras, in all cultures, are traditionally taught to support practitioners in spiritual development.
They help us to tap into the fundamental elements of our true nature. When we work with them we are bringing these deeper elements up into our conscious daily living – supporting us in our journey toward enlightened living.
Once we have completely tapped into these subconscious elements we no longer need the actual symbols or mantras. In this way the symbols and mantras can be seen as training wheels.
For example, Usui, the founder of the system of Reiki simply sat opposite an individual when performing reiju (see below for more information) and did not need symbols or mantras as he had a profound understanding of his true nature- who he was as a human being.
MYTH Symbols are the energy
Some modern forms of the system of Reiki keep adding symbols in the hope of gaining more energy. They become addicted to the idea of them and need more and more to become what they believe they are not – ‘powerful’. This is because of the mistaken belief that the symbols are the energy themselves.
Everything has energy and the system of Reiki works with the energy of everything. Energy cannot be put in boxes, it cannot be contained.
By believing that the symbols are energy means that you believe they are like a magic wand. This is an external view of life, one that relies on things outside of ourselves to change us and our situations. It takes away our self-responsibility – the very fundamental understanding of the system of Reiki.
Only we can create the change we want in our lives – it must come from within.
The Role of Attunements
FACT Attunements help understand Reiki
Attunements help us to understand spiritual energy (Reiki).
Attunements (originally called reiju in Japan) are one of the five fundamental elements of the system of Reiki. It is necessary to receive an attunement if one is to practice the system. A teacher energetically connects with the student who utilises this connection to access what he or she needs for their spiritual journey at this moment in their life.
The more the teacher has the ability to connect to the student, the deeper the attunement will be. Although other circumstances also influence this – such as the student’s own energetic disposition and desire to be open to the energy.
MYTH An attunement makes me a Reiki Master
Recently we heard the story of someone saying that their dog was a Reiki Master as it had been attuned to Reiki.
This amusing statement comes from the belief that an attunement has an ability to ‘make’ you (or in this case your dog) into something. Once again this is an external view of energy and life, believing in some magical thing that will change everything with the wave of a wand.
Unfortunately this concept may also be misused by teachers who claim to be able to change you by some magical ability – remember only you can change yourself.