This weekend, I took a Reiki masters class in a lineage called “Komyo Reiki Kai” which was started by a Japanese Buddhist monk named Hyakuten Inamoto. Mr. Inamoto trained with both Japanese and Western Reiki Masters, and has been a translator for Hiroshi Doi, one of the members of the original Reiki associations set up by its founder Mikao Usui set up, known as the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.
(While Reiki originated in Japan with a lay Buddhist named Mikao Usui, it remained fairly uncommon in Japan, whereas it spread like wildfire in Canada and the United States, mainly thanks to a Japanese-American woman named Hawayo Takada. Ms. Takada, who was cured of several major illnesses thanks to Reiki, and later trained in it, modified how she taught Reiki to make it more accessible to Westerners It’s a bit like the game telephone; things get added and lost along the way. And, in our globalized age, the Western versions were eventually brought back to Japan, where they were compared and contrasted. Many teachers combined Reiki with other healing arts, intuited additional methods, and did their own editing. The rest is the big tent known as Reiki. The Reiki Sourcebook probably has the best information in terms of history of the various lineages of Reiki that exist to date. [What, you think tinkering has slowed down???] You can also go here which takes you through the first three generations of Reiki.)
Komyo Reiki Kai isn’t a radical departure from what I’ve learned previously. Inamoto-sensai (a nice way of saying “Professor Inamoto”) has different ways of drawing Reiki symbols (and two of them have different names), and his style of attuning people to Reiki has a gorgeously choreographed flow to it. His style of writing about Reiki is deceptively simple. For example, he writes “Non-thinking is very effective, and non-doing the ultimate in healing” and that “practitioners do Reiki healing by means of spiritual hands.” (My — hyuck, hyuck — hands-down favorite quote by him was in a response to the question “which temple do you live in?”: “I do not live in a temple or monastery. I am the temple. People are the temple. My temple is where I am. It is a mobile temple.”)
Every teacher has their own way of encapsulating what’s most important to them. And as students, we’re different each time we show up to learn.
After a year of monthly sessions, it felt exhilarating to go through Levels 1, 2 and 3 in a single day, and remind myself of how much I have learned and integrated these past six years of studying Reiki. Naturally, by the end of the day, I was beginning to think about how I might incorporate different approaches in my own teaching.
There are a lot of rich internal debate over which Reiki is the most aligned with original intention and which kind is the right or best kind.
It reminds me of an earlier post in which I wrote that the #1 question I get from yoga students is: “Am I doing it right?” I should have also written about the teachers that are convinced that there is a right way to do things. Usually, it’s the way they were taught. Economists, foreign policy advisers, and your know-it-all Aunt Ida are often as convinced that action X will yield result Y — even though the world seems to operate in more mysterious or at least chaotic and unpredictable ways. Every occupation, culture and spiritual group seems to have its own continuum that includes the purists, the experimenters and the innovators, and they all add something interesting to the mix, like a good pot luck dinner.
Still, I’m not convinced that anything can be actually pure. What I studied and practiced in the six years between getting initiated into the first degree of Reiki, called Shoden in Japanese, and Shinpiden or the Master’s Level, is a great case in point. It seems like nothing I say about Reiki stays true forever, mainly because I keep growing and learning new things, and meeting people who come from very different traditions and mindsets and health statuses. I tell people Reiki is a non-manipulative still touch technique, for example, and then I discover these really cool Japanese Reiki methods that involve tapping and stroking and kneading people’s waists like soft dough and it makes them get off the table with a warm glow. I explain how Reiki is about connecting to a certain frequency of vibration in the ether much like tuning the dial into your favorite radio program, and then I take a walk in the woods and think what’s the difference in composition between the air at the top of the pine tree by the lake and the breath I’m retaining in my diaphragm much closer to the ground?
So in the end, we’re back to the not-knowing place that the Reiki precepts remind us to be at every day, no matter what you find on your particular path without getting pissed off at the little things, without freaking out at the unimportant, being grateful, working hard, and being kind to others.
Keep up learning and being cool with not knowing a damn thing!