Reiki is a Japanese word translated as "Universal Life Energy" by Hawayo Takata. She brought the possibility of a relationship with this energy to us through Usui Shiki Ryoho, a healing system founded by Mikao Usui in the early part of the 1900's. Usui Shiki Ryoho can be translated as "the Usui System of Natural Healing." Until the mid-1990's, this was the most common translation and was used by nearly all of the various forms of hands on healing practice that came from Hawayo Takata's teaching.
At this time, Phyllis Lei Furumoto decided to return to the Japanese title of the practice to identify the form of practice and the system that she teaches. To further identify the form of the practice, Phyllis Lei Furumoto and Paul David Mitchell worked to bring clarity to the form of the practice that Hawayo Takata brought to the world, as well as incorporating the shifts that have occurred in the practice during this time. The form of the practice is held in the Nine Elements of Usui Shiki Ryoho. The philosophy and understanding of the system is expressed by the Four Aspects of Usui Shiki Ryoho. Together they define the system that masters and students practice under the lineage of Mikao Usui, Chujiro Hayashi, Hawayo Takata, and Phyllis Lei Furumoto.
Healing Practice, Personal Development, Spiritual Discipline and Mystic Order are the Four Aspects of Usui Shiki Ryoho. These aspects describe the path of a student and the development of the system itself. This path and this development are not made by human decision but by the natural process of maturation. The human decision is to commit to this practice and follow their own path.
Each of the nine elements contain information, the way to hold this information, and the use of the information which transforms information into sacred tools. The Elements are equal in importance and have a relationship with each other. This dynamic relationship propels the student into learning experiences, guides the student into his/her next step of development, and keeps the student free to experience Reiki in all levels of consciousness.
It is not possible to describe the initiation here as the ritual is only for masters to initiate a student for the first time for each step in the system. The initiation can be described as a sacred time when the student and master experience communion with the energy of Reiki. The other eight elements of the system allow the experience of the initiations to be used in daily life, expanding the awareness of the student.
These three symbols are the sacred tools for the Second Degree student. They are held as secret in order to preserve their integrity within this practice. This step is to acquaint the student with direct experience of the unseen dimensions of being human.
The hands on treatment of First Degree is the foundation practice of the system. This includes self treatment and treatment of other people as well as animals, plants, and our environment. The gift of this treatment as well as the Second Degree practice is through the practice, we are able to recreate the sense of the initiation, communion with Reiki and life around us.
The quality of oral tradition contains the premise that the way the system is given to a student is by the personal presence of a master with the student. This happens in the First and Second Degree class as well as other gatherings or meetings for students that the master offers. This element also contains the understanding that books containing the information of the actual practice do not benefit the student nor the system. Teaching manuals are not always used and students are generally not allowed to take notes in classes. When needing assistance, the student goes back to the master for advice, reminding, and remembering.
The system of practice as we know it today has been carried through four lineage bearers and their time/space in the world as we know it. Historical events, changes in communication and travel methods, research into the human conditions, and many other factors have had a bearing on the practice through the lineage bearers. This is a developing system that has at its root the inspiration and teachings of Mikao Usui and his cultural values.
The history of Usui Shiki Ryoho describes the path of the practice. The portion of each lineage bearer's life in the story pertains directly to this path. As the master tells the story, there is a notable transmission of energy to the student.
Preparation is measured with time and money. Money is a doorway to many other teachings as well because in our society money has become a representative for many things. Sacred use of money in our daily lives is a part of the practice.
The five precepts were translated and given to us in English by Hawayo Takata. The precepts begin by being rules of living, gradually becoming an ethical guideline to living with Reiki. The individual precepts are worded in a way to evoke questions in students. These questions open places of learning and teaching in daily life.
The elements are presented in the classes that masters give to beginner students. These are beginner classes that allow the student the gift of discovery, permission to build his/her own relationship with the energy of Reiki, and ensure that all students of each master committed to practicing this system receives the practice within certain parameters created by values and integrity of the system.