The healing method known in the West as Reiki was developed in Japan early in the last century by Mikao Usui (1865-1926).
Usui was a seeker of knowledge and spiritual understanding. He studied disciplines such as history, religion, medicine, psychology, and metaphysics, and broadened his world view through travel to Europe and China. Although he faced many challenges in life, he is said to have met them with equanimity and perseverance. Students described him as a gentle man who was always smiling.
Reiki tradition holds that Usui received the vibration of energy called Reiki in 1922 while meditating on Mt. Kurama, a mountain sacred to both Buddhism and Shinto. He is said to have achieved enlightenment, or “a state of no fear” at this time.
A lifelong adherent of Tendai Buddhism and Shinto, Usui also underwent three years of Zen Buddhist training later in his life. Some researchers suggest that Reiki was a natural outgrowth of his spiritual practice and that his healing method was practiced as early as 1912.
Although Usui asserted Reiki to be a spiritual method of healing, it is not dependent upon, or affiliated with, any religious organization, dogma, or doctrine. Today it is practiced throughout the world by people of many faiths and cultures.
Usui Sensei (Teacher Usui, as he was called by his students) established clinics in Tokyo and traveled throughout Japan healing the sick and teaching his healing method. He became known throughout the country for his service to the injured following the massive Tokyo earthquake of 1923. Usui initiated more than 2000 students into Reiki and trained twenty Shihans (teachers) prior to his death in 1926 at the age of 62.
One of the teachers Usui Sensei trained was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a medical doctor and retired naval officer. Hayashi Sensei established a clinic in Tokyo after Usui’s passing, continued to develop his mentor’s healing method, and trained thirteen teachers prior to his death in 1941. For more information about Hayashi, read my article, “The Story of Dr. Chujiro Hayashi.”
Among Hayashi Sensei’s patients and students was Mrs. Hawayo Takata. A Hawaiian of Japanese descent, Takata received Reiki at Dr. Hayashi’s clinic and was healed of several serious health conditions. She remained in Japan to study with Hayashi, returning to Hawaii in the late 1930’s. It was Takata who introduced Reiki to the West. She established a clinic in Hilo, taught, and practiced in Hawaii for many years before bringing Usui’s healing method to the mainland in the early 1970’s. Before her passing in 1980, she had taught Reiki to countless men, women, and children, and had trained twenty-two teachers (Masters). Most present-day practitioners trace their lineage through her, and she is largely responsible for the spread of Reiki. For more information about Takata, read my article, “How Hawayo Takata Practiced and Taught Reiki.“
Today practitioners number in the millions and can be found around the globe. In addition to being practiced privately, Reiki has become a recognized complementary healing practice in numerous clinics, hospitals, and hospice programs.