Reiki Cairns Teaching Usui Shiki Ryoho, the gentle folk healing art of Reiki

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The Reiki Precepts

I was asked a question online about the precepts, the numerous versions etc. My response follows, a longish text, and with no pics.

The first clarification with regard to the precepts that each of us might favour or have been taught. is that they are what they are, although distortions of meaning from the original are problematic with some. For me personally, there is the version that I received with my form of practice. At the same time, there are various translations from Mikao Usui’s memorial stone and later adaptations of them. Where I return again and again, is to the memorial stone and its direct translations.

Translation is an art form. The task of the translator is to change the original language form into another language form while retaining the meaning held in the original. Which means in the case of the precepts translated to English, various translators may use different English words and phrases from their own understandings. So it’s not so much the words used but the retention of the meaning that is key.

Many of the translations from the memorial stone are similar, although usually not made by professional translators. The translation that holds the most meaning for me comes from a professional translator and that version follows. Included are sentences either side of the precepts which are important to my mind in discerning the purpose behind them.

Translation begins:

The Reiki method is not only for curing illness. Its true purpose is to correct the heart-mind, keep the body fit and lead a happy life using the spiritual capabilities humans are endowed with since birth. Accordingly, when teaching people, first, respecting the dying injunction of the Emperor Meiji, recite the following precepts morning and evening, and keep them in one’s heart.

The five precepts are:

1- today, throughout the entire day, do not become angry;

2- worry about nothing;

3- express one’s gratitude;4- be diligent in work;

5- be kind to others.

These are the most important teachings in cultivating the mind, and are inextricably linked with the path that the saints and sages of old kept uppermost in mind. The Sensei referred to this as “the secret method that summons happiness, the miraculous medicine that is effective against all kinds of illness.” Of this, there is no doubt because he knew their true meaning… If you quietly in seated meditation, join your hands together in worship and recite the five precepts, you develop a pure and sound heart, and return to acting fairly and honestly. It is so simple and easy that anyone can put the Reiki method into practice.

End:

I read particular significance into the terminology ‘Heart-Mind’ (not heart and/or mind) in the preceding paragraph, and ‘because he knew their TRUE meaning’ in the following one. The ‘secret method’ is in plain sight but not easily seen.

The version of the precepts I received and teach as my form of practice includes an addition by Hawayo Takata, ‘Honour your parents teachers and elders’. This I interpret as her perception that the concept of honour as held in Japanese culture was not present in western culture. My daily experience is that she was absolutely correct.

Which leads me to the understanding (right or otherwise) that Mikao Usui had an awakening experience and as with all such persons he sought to bring that experience to others. The precepts were referred to as ‘the secret method etc’. The core experience of awakening is in the nowness of everything awareness, being in the now, being present. ‘He knew their true meaning’ carries that significance.

So the version of the precepts as received in my form of practice is held alongside the direct translation from the memorial stone, in the understanding that each precept stands on its own, as a specific pathway for being in the now moment.

As to ‘what do the precepts as you follow them read as?’ My short answer is ‘Be here now’.

Grand Master

For many years now, the feeling that it would be really nice if the whole Grand Master trip would go away has been gaining ground within me. The GM trip began in the early 80s with the death of Hawayo Takata. No living grandmasters existed up until that point in the practice. Takata did not normally refer to herself in this way.

After Takata’s death, one master initiated by her announced she was now THE Grand Master of Reiki and the successor to Hawayo Takata. She also made major changes in the system that Takata had taught. Others initiated by Takata were unimpressed with the announcement, and were in agreement that Takata’s grand-daughter Phyllis Furumoto was the one Takata clearly intended to be her successor.

One result of this was the formation of The Reiki Alliance, with ironically a founding statement of masters being equal in the oneness of Reiki. And at the same time, recognising the concept of a position of Grand Master that was clearly not equal. This situation continues til this day. To be fair, the notion of a Lineage Bearer as a title for the successor had not then come into use.

While this can easily be explained away as a defensive reaction to the original claim of one person to be ‘The’ Grand Master, the grandmaster trip was begun. From that simple beginning there are now announcements of becoming a grandmaster after a week long ‘Grand Master’ training, so the concept is become almost ordinary by nature of being so easily gained, a piece of paper in fact.

For me, the designation no longer serves the practice, its students or the holder of the title. It serves to lead practitioners to regard someone as an authority figure which creates a power imbalance.

It doesn’t serve the practice and its students as practitioners too easily give up their power with a ‘tell me the answer’ or ‘tell me what to do’ approach instead of simply doing the practice and allowing the answers to surface in themselves. It also serves to create unhelpful identification of ‘My’ and ‘Our’ grandmaster.

It doesn’t serve the holder of the position as it’s all too easy to become hooked on the mind’s perceptions and manipulations of knowledge, position and power. As a useful marketing tool it becomes more difficult to give it up. The Grand Master pedestal becomes a barrier to the further and full potential of the holder.

Sadly, in the end it serves no-one.

N.I.P.P.S

You won"t have heard of NIPPS before. It is an acronym I recently invented!

Everything I really needed to know about the practice of Reiki, its very essence, was all present in my first degree class. The years of practice that followed simply served to expand my understandings of exactly what was held in that experience.

Hawayo Takata translated a Japanese healing art called “Reiki” into a form that could be received by the western world. After years of practice, I came to appreciate this translation as masterfully encapsulating the essence of the practice, not more, not less than was necessary, very Zen in fact.

My musings on this process led me to create the acronym “NIPPS” (Narrative, Introduction, Precepts, Practice, and Secrets) to describe the environment that was present in the first degree class which is the entry into this practice.

The Narrative is the so called “Reiki story”. Not a history, more a multi levelled story of origin, a connection to the beginnings and the teachings of the practice, the pivotal lineage bearers, and the continuing narrative of the here now, in which the student becomes a participant.

The specific method of Introduction used for entry into the practice has long been called initiation. Purely as a word it works, as it initiates a process. But as a process of “connection to Reiki energy”, this it is not my belief or experience. Mikao Usui (the founder of the practice) is quoted as saying that this practice was a way to “lead a happy life using the spiritual capabilities humans are endowed with since birth”. Every human being already has it. The ‘Introduction’ is a specific method of creating a conscious shift to awareness of something that has always been so.

Precepts and doing of a Practise (the two P’s) are obvious elements, without which the “practice” has no structure, no bones. Unfortunately the precepts are often not given the emphasis they deserve, and the importance of a disciplined personal practice is often skewed in favour of the therapeutic uses of the practice on others.

The one element that may be a surprise is “Secrets”. These are intrinsic in the practice, a given, a reflection of everday life. They refer to that which is held as being 'true’, but which are beliefs about the truth. These key words “the secret method of inviting happiness” are inscribed on Mikao Usui’s memorial stone referencing the 'Reiki precepts’. Not that secrets are being held back, but the nature of the secrets is that they are “knowable” only through the engaging in the practice.

The practice is the key to layers of “secrets” in this practice and follow simple 'rules’:

  • The best kept secrets are invisible even when in plain sight.
  • Secrets are not “known” by the telling. The intellectual knowledge of the secret is not the realisation of the truth that the secret holds.
  • The secrets are known (“realised” as in made real) only when the secrets, the tools, the teachings of the system, reveal themselves through the practice.

If this is not in your experience yet, continue a mindful practise. Do not assume that you truly know anything with certainty or have the “right” teachings. Open to what the system has to reveal to you rather than imposing your meanings on the practice and the system. This is the key, and the meaning of Hawayo Takata’s often quoted  “Practice! Practice! Practice!” and “Let Reiki teach you!”

Love IS

There are emotions and feelings called ‘love’. Real enough, but based in neuro-chemical brain states rooted in survival and reproductive programming.

The Love we truly crave, the Love that endures, that fulfils, is the Love that is the experience of beingness in the now moment, that is allowance, that is acceptance, that is forgiveness.

You are the One you have been waiting for.

The Practice

Before I began the Reiki practice, I (from time to time) used an intuited natural “healing” ability that feels very much like the experience of what I now know as ‘Reiki’. Externally it 'looks like’ Reiki. My best healing story comes from that time. I have not abandoned this original ability, and allow its expression when the moment calls for it. But it is not, and was not “Reiki”.

The original calligraphic character for 'Reiki’, a word picture from the Japanese language, has many meanings, one of which inspired Mikao Usui (the founder of the Usui System of Reiki Healing) to use the expression 'Reiki’ to label the method that he founded, and the form of his practice. 

By inference, if the form of the practice in its many aspects is not recognisable as the one Mikao Usui founded, then it is not 'Reiki, the Usui System’. That is a round about way of saying that the Usui System doesn’t own the word 'Reiki’, and practices that are called 'Reiki’ are not necessarily 'The Usui System’. Nor are they 'Usui Shiki Ryoho’, or “Usui’s way of doing it”. Sounds messy and it is.

There is a point to this.

The system is superficially simple to the outside observer or the casual practitioner. Yet it is a finely crafted and essentially human construct from the perspective of a deeper experience of it as a disciplined practice. What it looks like on the surface and the deeper experience are worlds apart. To know it, one has to engage in the deeper experience, to allow it to reveal who and what we are as a human being.

This enters, as spiritual practice so often does, into the realm of allowing the practice to reveal its meaning to us, as against imposing our meanings on the practice .

Classy Question

A “friend” posed a question a while ago as to why I taught first and second degree separately. “Is it because you make more money that way?”

There were so many assumptions underlying the question I didn’t know quite where to begin, assumptions about motivation, about Reiki, about making money, and more.

So I put aside my initial need to correct the assumptions, and answered with the simple truth. “It’s because it is what serves a student best.”

Without the grounding in the hands on practice, which is what I teach in first degree, the student doesn’t have a foundation into which second degree practice can be integrated. The risk is that second degree easily becomes just another “layer of stuff”.

Second degree is not more “powerful” than first degree, but it is a different way to practice. Each level has its own lessons and teachings that arise out of the practice, which is all about experience, and not something that can be taught.

What I do in the class is provide the inspiration and encouragement to simply do the practice.

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