History of the Usui System of Natural Healing
The story of Reiki to date has been an oral history that is passed on from teacher to student by the word of mouth. This is the story as I and others have heard it.
The founder of Reiki as natural healing is Dr. Mikao Usui. At the turn of the century, late 1800’s, Dr. Usui was the president of a small Christian University in Kyoto, Japan Doshishua University. He was also a Christian minister.
An interaction with a student during a Sunday service, changed the focus of Dr. Usui’s life. As Dr. Usui was beginning one of the last Sunday services of the school year, a senior student, about to graduate, asked Dr. Usui:
“Do you accept the contents of the Bible literally?”
Dr. Usui answered that indeed he did. The student went on to say:
“The Bible says that Jesus cured the sick, that he healed, and that he walked on water. You accept this as written, have you ever seen this happen?”
The student continued:
“For you, Dr. Usui, that kind of blind faith is enough, for you have lived your life and are secure. For us who are just beginning our adult lives and who have many questions and concerns, it is not enough. We need to see with our own eyes.”
A seed had been sown. The next day, Dr. Usui resigned his position as president of Doshishua University and went to the University of Chicago in the United States where he received a doctorate degree in scripture trying to uncover the secret of how Jesus and his disciples healed the sick.
However, he could not find what he sought. Realizing that in the Buddhist tradition it is held that the Buddha had the power to heal, Dr. Usui decided to return to Japan and see what he could learn from Buddhism.
Upon his return to Japan, Dr. Usui began to visit the Buddhist monasteries searching for someone who had an interest in and some knowledge of physical healing. He always received the same answer to his inquiries:
“We are too busy with healing the spirit to worry about healing the body.”
After a long search he found someone who was at least interested in the problem of physical healing, an elderly abbot of a Zen monastery.
Dr. Usui requested that he be admitted to the monastery so that he could study the Buddhist scriptures, the surras, in search of the key of healing. He was admitted and so began his study.
He studied the Japanese translations of the Buddhist scriptures but did not find the explanation he sought. He learned Chinese so that a wider range of Buddhist writings were available to him. But, still he could not succeed in his mission.
Dr Usui then decided to learn Sanskrit, the ancient language, so that he could read the original Buddhist writings and have access to those writings that had never been translated into another language.
Finally, he found what he had been looking for. In the teachings of the Buddha that had been written down by some unknown disciple as the Buddha spoke, Dr. Usui found the formula, the symbols, the description of how Buddha healed.
So, at the end of a seven-year search, although Dr. Usui had uncovered the knowledge, he did not have the power to heal. Discussing this with his old friend, the abbot, he decided to go to a mountain and meditate, to seek the power to heal. The abbot told him that it could be dangerous, that he could lose his life. Dr. Usui answered that he had come this far and would not turn back.
Dr. Usui climbed one of the sacred mountains of Japan and meditated for twenty-one days. On the first day, he placed twenty-one small stones in front of him, and as each day passed he threw one away.
On the 21st day, Dr. Usui became aware of a beam of light from the heavens that came shooting towards him. Although he was afraid, he did not move but was struck by the light and knocked over. Then in a rapid succession he saw before him bubbles of light, the symbols that he had discovered in his study, the key to the healing by Buddha and Jesus. The symbols burned themselves into his memory.
When the trance was over, Dr. Usui no longer felt exhausted, stiff, or hungry as he had felt moments before on that last day of his meditation. He got up and began to walk down the mountain. On his way he stubbed his big toe, tearing back the toenail. He jumped with pain and grabbed his toe with his hand. In minutes the pain left, the bleeding stopped and his toe was well on the way to healing.
When Dr. Usui got off the mountain, he stopped at an outside vendor’s stall and ordered breakfast. The old man at the stall, seeing the length of his facial hair and the condition of his clothes, realized that he had been on a long fast and said that it would be a few minutes before he could prepare his food so that it would not upset his long empty stomach. He directed Dr. Usui to go and sit under a tree on a bench and wait.
Soon the granddaughter of the old man came with his breakfast. As he looked at her, Dr. Usui saw that she had been crying and that her face was swollen and red on one side.
He asked her what was wrong and she replied that she had a toothache for three days. He asked if he could touch her face, and with her permission he cupped her cheeks in his hands. In a few minutes the pain left her and the swelling began to recede.
Returning to the monastery in the evening, Dr. Usui was told that his friend, the abbot, was in bed, suffering from a painful attack of arthritis. After bathing and having something to eat, Dr. Usui went to see his friend and with his healing hands, relieved his pain.
For the next seven years, Dr. Usui worked in a beggar camp in Japan, healing the sick. Those that were young and able, he sent off to find work. After seven years, he began to see those inmates of the beggar camp he had helped heal, were returning back in the same condition that he had found them.
He asked them why they had returned to the camp. They answered that they preferred their old way of life. Dr. Usui realized that he had healed sickness of the physical body but had not taught appreciation for life or a new way of living. He left the beggar camp and began to teach others who wished to know more. He taught them how to heal themselves and gave them the Principles of Reiki to help heal their thoughts.
One of these students, Churio Hayashi, a retired Naval Officer, was seeking a way to serve others. Dr. Usui initiated him in the Reiki practice and he became deeply involved in this healing method.
When Usui’s life was drawing to a close, he recognized Dr. Hayashi as the master of Reiki and gave him the responsibility of keeping the essence of his teachings intact.
Dr. Hayashi, realizing the importance of a system and record keeping, founded a clinic in Tokyo where people could come for treatment and to learn Reiki. The clinic also had practitioners who would go out to treat those who could not come to the clinic.
Dr. Hayashi left records demonstrating that Reiki finds the source of the physical symptoms of the disease, fills the vibration or energy need, and restores the body to wholeness.
One day in 1935, a young woman from Hawaii was brought to the clinic by an employee of a surgical hospital in Tokyo. This woman, Hawayo Takata, had come to Japan to have an operation for a tumour. As Mrs. Takata prepared herself for the surgery, she had a sense that the operation was not necessary and that there was another way of treatment. She had been led to Reiki.
Following Mrs. Takata’s experiences and treatments at the clinic, her illness lessened and her desire to learn Reiki grew. When her treatments were almost finished, she requested to be admitted to a beginning class. But, she was not given admission. She realized that she must demonstrate a deep commitment to Reiki. She went to Dr. Hayashi and told him of her feelings and her willingness to stay in Japan as long as was necessary. He consented to begin her training.
Mrs. Takata, with her two daughters, stayed in Japan with the Hayashi family for a year, learning Reiki through daily practice under Hayashi’s guidance. When both felt the training was complete, Mrs. Takata returned to Hawai with her gift of healing,
In Hawaii, Mrs. Takata’s practice flourished and soon Dr. Hayashi and his daughter came to visit her. They stayed several months teaching, training, and being with Mrs. Takata. In February, 1938, Mrs. Takata was initiated as a Master of the Usui System of natural healing. Soon after the initiation, Hayashi and his daughter returned to Japan.
Dr. Hayashi had sensed that a war was imminent between the United States and Japan. He could not reconcile being a Reiki Master and having to serve again in the Navy. He began to set the affairs of his household in order.
During this time, Mrs. Takata in Hawaii had a vivid dream that caused her concern. She knew she must go to Japan and be with Dr. Hayashi. When she arrived, Dr. Hayashi told her many things: that the war was coming; who would win; what she must do and where she must go to avoid trouble for herself as she was a Japanese-American living in Hawaii. All these things he foresaw and passed on to her for her protection and for the protection of Reiki.
When all of his business was taken care of and in order, Dr. Hayashi called his family together along with the Reiki Masters. Giving them his final words and recognizing Mrs. Takata as his successor in Reiki, he said good-bye. Sitting in the formal Japanese manner and dressed in his formal Japanese clothing, he closed his eyes and left his body.
Following his guidance, Mrs. Takata finished her work in Japan and sailed to Hawaii. She returned as the Master of Reiki. She demonstrated her commitment throughout her life, teaching and practising Reiki. She became a powerful healer and a great teacher, introducing the gift of Reiki to the Western world.
As a young child, Phyllis Furumoto received the first degree initiation from her grandmother, Mrs. Hawayo Takata, and would treat the latter when she visited. Phyllis’ life was directed into college and then a career. Although Mrs. Takata asked periodically if she would take up the study of Reiki, Phyllis felt too busy. Then in the late seventies, when Phyllis was 27, she accepted the second degree initiation.
Mrs. Takata began training Phyllis in the spring of 1976, after a month of consideration. Phyllis decided to travel and work with her grandmother. Just before the first trip, Mrs. Takata initiated Phyllis as a Master. Thereafter, her teaching and training began in earnest.
During the classes in the following year, Phyllis learned that she was to succeed Mrs. Takata Sensei in the Reiki lineage. Shortly after this acknowledgement of Phyllis as the Master of Reiki, Mrs. Takata made her transition in December, 1980.
In the years since Mrs. Takata’s passing, Phyllis has accepted her role and understood the responsibility of her position. She exemplifies what does happen when one accepts the energy force of Reiki as a teacher and guide in life.
Today the Usui System of Natural Healing is practised all over the world. You are a part of this history. With your willingness to share this gift, you support and quicken the unfolding of life.