The History of Reiki : What is it and How Did it Start?

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Discovering the Roots of Reiki

According to literature, which is available at the Mt. Kurama Temple, a priest named Gantei, climbed Mount Kurama in 770 A.D. led by a white horse. Bishmon-ten, protector of the northern quarter of the Buddhist heaven and the spirit of the sun, enlightened Gantei’s soul.

He then founded the Buddhist temple on Mount Kurama, which has been through many different stages of development and restoration since. Formally part of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, but has been part of the newly founded Kurama-Kokyo sect of Buddhism since 1949.

Mount Kurama is said to have wonderful energy, offering a meditative waterfall with the Kurama Temples located up the side of the mountain.  This requires visitors to hike up the side of the mountain in order get to the temples.  Visitors claim taking a short rest makes the journey upward easier and that the energy is so great and refreshing that one hardly notices the hike.

Mount Kurama is described by many as a truly powerful spot to visit.  The calming energy that flows through Mount Kurama is also uplifting and relaxing.  Visitors find contentment and peace.

There is a shrine, which represents trinity at the San-mon Station.  In the Kurama-Kokyo sect, it is known as Sonten or Supreme Deity.  The Sonten is thought to be the source of all creation.

According to ancient lore, Sonten came to earth over six million years ago in the form of a being when the great king of the conquerors of evil, Mao-son, descended upon Mount Kurama from Venus.  Mao-son’s mission was the salvation and evolution of mankind and all living things on earth.

It is also described that Mao-son incarnated as the spirit of the earth, residing inside an ancient cedar tree at the top of a mountain.  It is said that the spirit emanates from Mount Kurama still today.

It’s said that Sonten manifests on Earth as love, light and power.  The symbol of love is referred to as Senju-Kannon and looks similar to the emotional/mental symbol.  The light symbol is called Bishamon-ten.  The power symbol is called Mao-son.  The three symbols are similar in meaning to the three symbols of Reiki II.

Usui Sensei studied many different things before he rediscovered Reiki.  He was searching for spiritual answers and healing.  By doing so, he opened himself up to a higher power and learned to heal himself as well as others.

Mount Kurama is scattered with giant cedar trees.  At the top there is a small shrine called Okunoin Mao-den.  Mao-son is said to have descended from here.  There is an old cedar tree behind the shrine, which is protected by an iron fence and is said to hold the spirit of Mao-son.  It is a very calm area where the sound of running water can be heard and the wind can be felt blowing through the trees.  It’s a wonderful place for meditation and for giving Reiki treatments.

Mikao Usui discovered Reiki in 1922 after a 21 day retreat on Mount Kurama.  The retreat involved meditation, fasting and prayer.  He claimed that the mystical revelation in which he had gained the spiritual knowledge and spiritual power was applied to and attuned to others, referring to it as Reiki.

Usui moved to Tokyo in April of 1922 where he founded the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Society).  Usui was a big fan of the literary works of Emperor Meiji, and so he used much of the emperor’s work when it came to summarizing and developing the Reiki system.

There are five principles of Reiki:

The secret method of inviting good fortune

The marvelous medicine for all sickness

Just for today:

Do not be angry

Do not worry

Be grateful

Work with integrity

Be kind to others

Every morning and every night, sit in the Gassho position with your hands held palm-to-palm, and speak these words out loud in your heart.

After Usui’s death, a former student of Usui, who was Chujiro Hayashi, left the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and formed his own association.  By doing so, he simplified the Reiki teachings with a stress on physical healing and the use of simpler Reiki techniques.

Reiki can be described as a holistic healing method.  It utilizes the life force of spiritual energy and has varying levels of practice.  One interesting thing regarding Reiki is the fact that even though the practitioner is giving a Reiki treatment to another individual, the practitioner is also receiving additional benefits of Reiki themselves.


A recipient of Reiki typically describes a strong heat sensation omitting from the practitioner’s hands.  This heat may move around the body and may not originate from the hands necessarily.  Recipients often describe the heat moving around on its own where it is needed. 

Both practitioner and recipient can engage in normal conversation during a session.  A session typically lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.  A Reiki treatment begins with the recipient on their back and finishes with the recipient on their stomach. 

A massage table with a Reiki attachment for the face is typically used for comfort.  The recipient may be covered up with a sheet and the practitioner may choose to burn incense and play music, particularly Reiki attunement music, during the treatment.

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