A Brief History of Reiki

A Japanese-American named Hawayo Takata introduced Reiki to the West in the 1930s. Given the anti-japanese sentiment at that time, Mrs. Takata "revised" the history of Reiki to make it more acceptable to Americans. She transformed Mikao Usui the Tendai Buddhist into Dr. Mikao Usui the Christian theologian, and fabricated a story about him travelling the world, trying to discover the healing powers that Jesus displayed. The story concluded with 21 days of fasting and meditation atop Mount Kurama, when Usui saw symbols in bubbles of light, and Reiki was born. The real history of Reiki is even more interesting.

Usui's Reiki is derived from the oriental traditions of his time, drawing on martial arts and energy cultivation techniques. Reiki combines an ancient tradition of Japanese Palm Healing, called teate with a system of attunements from Tendai Buddhism to control the energies that come from Shintoism, the indigenous religion of Japan. In keeping with Ms. Takata's revisionist history, Mikao Usui did spend some time fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama, and had an epiphany that contributed to the development of Reiki. However, Reiki is much more a blending of ancient techniques and traditions than something new he brought down the mountain with him.

Originally, Usui's Reiki was a path to enlightenment and its healing abilities were secondary to that quest. The Reiki we know today comes to us from one of Mikao Usui's students, a retired surgeon named Dr. Hayashi who was more interested in healing than he was in seeking enlightenment. Dr. Hayashi developed the modern Reiki healing techniques and taught them to Mrs. Takata, who brought Reiki to the West. Hawayo Takata initiated twenty-two Reiki masters before her death in 1980. Those twenty-two individuals spread the healing art of Reiki throughout America.

We don't know how many Reiki practitioners there are in America today. The number continues to grow and there isn't a national organization that is currently keeping track. However, we do know that in the early 1900s there were only a handful of Reiki masters and practitioners in the entire world. Since then, Reiki has spread rapidly. Anyone wanting to find out about Reiki or receive Reiki healing only has to look in their local phone book or do a search on the Internet.