Dr. Mikao Usui or Usui Sensei was born August 15, 1865 in the village of Taniai in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, which is located near present day Nagoya, Japan. It is thought that he entered a Tendai Buddhist school on or near Mt.Kurama, Horse Saddle Mountain, at age four. He studied kiko, the Japanese version of Qi-gong, which is a health and healing discipline based on the development and use of life energy. The young Usui found that these healing methods required the practitioner to build up and deplete his own life energy when giving treatments. He wondered if it were possible to do healing work without depleting one’s own energy. This thought began his journey.

Usui Sensei loved learning and worked hard at his studies. He travelled to Europe and China to further his education. His curriculum included medicine, psychology, and religion as well as fortune telling, which Asians have long considered to be a worthy skill. It is thought that he was from a wealthy family, as in Japan only the wealthy could afford to send their children to school. Eventually he became the secretary to Shinpei Goto, head of the department of health and welfare and later became the Mayor of Tokyo. The connections Usui Sensei made at the job helped him to become a successful businessman. Usui Sensei was also a member of the Rei Jyutu Ka, a metaphysical group dedicated to developing psychic abilities.

In 1914, Usui’s personal and business life was failing. As a sensitive spiritualist, Usui Sensei spent a lot of time meditating at power spots on Mt. Kurama where he had received his early Buddhist training. In search for his answer of doing healing work without depleting his own energy he decided to travel to Mt. Kurama, where he enrolled in Isyu Guo; a twenty-one- day training course taught by the Tendai Buddhist Temple located there. We do not know for certain what he was required to do during this training, but more than likely fasting, meditation, chanting, and prayers were part of the practice. What we do know is that there is a small waterfall on Mt. Kurama where even today people go to meditate. This meditation involves standing under the waterfall and allowing the waters to strike and flow over the top of the head, a practice which is said to activate the crown chakra. Japanese Reiki Masters think that Usui Sensei may have used this meditation as part of his practice. In any case, it was during the Isyu Guo training that the great Reiki energy entered his crown chakra. This greatly enhanced his healing abilities and he realized he had received a wonderful new gift B the ability to give healing to others without depleting his own energy. Interesting parallels exist between the System of Healing Usui Sensei created and some of the symbols and philosophy practiced by the Kurama-Koyo Buddhist (formerly the Tendai Buddhists on Mt. Kurama.)

Usui Sensei used his new healing ability to help others, and for the next seven years, he worked with the poor people of Kyoto. In 1922, he moved to Tokyo and started a healing society, which he named Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, which means Usui Reiki Healing Society. He also opened a Reiki clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo. There he taught classes and gave treatments. The lowest degree of his training was called Shoden (First Degree) and was divided into four levels: Roku-To, Go-To, Yon-To, and San-To. (Note when Mrs. Takata taught this level, she combine all four levels into one. This is why she did four attunements for level one.) The next degree was called Okuden (Inner Teaching) and had two levels: Okuden-Zenki (first part), and Okuden-Koki (second part). The next degree was called Shinpiden (Mystery Teaching) which is what we call Master level. The Shinpiden level includes Shihan-Kaku (assistant teacher) and Shihan (venerable teacher). However, contrary to rumours, Usui Sensei had only four symbols, the same four we use in the West. Fumio Ogawa and other members of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai have verified this fact.

Several sources indicate that at first Usui sensei had no formal attunement process. The student received the ability to do Reiki simply by spending time with Usui Sensei, with the student intending to gain the ability and Usui Sensei intending that the student receive it. It was only after the Reiki movement grew, making it impractical for him to teach in such a personal way, that a formal attunement process similar to what we use today was developed. An interesting note is that Arjava Petter, author of the book Reiki Fire, received a Reiki attunement from a Reiki teacher belonging to the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai that was remarkably different from what we are familiar with in the west. He said the teacher simply sang poetic songs while Arjava was sitting in front of him. In 1923, the great Kanto earthquake devastated Tokyo. More than 140,000 people died and over half of the houses and buildings were reduced to rubble or burned. An overwhelming number of people were left homeless, injured, sick, and grieving. Usui Sensei felt a great compassion for the people of Kanto and began treating as many as he could with Reiki. This was a huge undertaking and the demand for Reiki became so great that he outgrew his clinic and in 1925 he built a bigger one in Nakano Tokyo. Because of this, his reputation as a healer spread all over Japan. He began to travel so he could teach and treat more people. During his travels across Japan, he directly taught more than 2000 students and initiated sixteen teachers. The Japanese government issued him a Kun San award for doing honourable work to help others. While teaching in Fukuyama, he suffered a stroke and died in March 9, 1926. His grave is at Saihoji Temple, in Suginami, Tokyo.

There were many hands-on healing schools in Japan at the time Usui started his school. These other schools were not part of Usui Reiki. There may have been some connection between Reiki and Mahi Kari and Johrei as these two Japanese religions have healing as their central purpose and use the Usui master symbol in their practices. After Usui Sensei died, his students erected a memorial next to his gravestone. Mr. J. Ushida took over as president of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai. Mr. Ushida was responsible for creating and erecting the Usui Memorial stone and ensuring that that the gravesite would be maintained. Mr. Ushida was followed by Mr. Lichi Taketomi, Mr. Yoshiharu Wantanabe, Mr. Toyoichi Wanami, Ms. Kimiko Koyama and the current successor to Usui Sensei is Mr. Kondo who became president in 1998. Contrary to what we have been told in the West, there is no lineage bearer or Grand Master of the organization started by Usui Sensei, only the succession of presidents listed above.

The sixteen teachers initiated by Usui Sensei include Toshihiro Eguchi, Jusaburo Guida, Ilichi Taketomi, Toyoichi Wanami, Yoshiharu Wantanabe, Keizo Ogawa, J. Ushida, and Chjiro Hayashi. Contrary to one version of the Reiki story, Chujiro Hayashi was not the successor to Usui Sensei, but rather Mr. J. Ushida as previously mentioned. However, Chujiro Hayashi was a respected Master and had his own Reiki School and clinic in Tokyo. Hayachi kept records of his treatments and had printed class manual. He practiced and taught Reiki classes and many of his students received their Reiki training in return for working in his clinic. It was this clinic that Mrs. Takata received treatment and her Reiki training in 1935. This information is verified by many sources of how Usui Sensei rediscovered Reiki. There are a number of other interesting stories and some additional information that have been received on the subject. Researching the story of Reiki is an adventure for many, and new facts will be discovered that will add to our understanding. Reiki Precepts: Sensei’s Code of Living.

Dr. Usui discovered two very important factors:
  • A person who needs healing will ask for healing. It is not the job of the healer to try to help where healing is not wanted. Although healers may choose to donate services and make themselves known to others as a healer, it is important not to attempt to rescue others.
  • People who are ready will come to you at the perfect time.

There should, however, be an equal exchange of energy for the healer’s time. This prevents a feeling indebtedness for services rendered. When a client exchanges energy in any form with the healer or teacher a balance equality is achieved. This also shows the value and respect for the healing and demonstrates a contribution on the client’s behalf in acknowledging that the healing has taken place.

Dr. Usui also learned the importance of non-attachment to the results of his healings. It is possible that some of the beggars needed to live out their lives in the Beggars Quarter in order to learn certain lessons. Who are we to judge this as right or wrong? The same applies to disease. Perhaps people create disease on a subconscious level to enable them to learn certain lessons, or perhaps, even to die. To try to interfere with a premature healing might be a real transgression into a person’s essential life process. It became very clear to Dr. Usui that it was not his job to use his gift to heal the world, but to show people how to help themselves. It was at this time that he realized that people needed guidelines to help them grow in understanding, and to help them shoulder greater responsibility for their own life situations. He then understood why all of the Great Religions concentrated on the healing of the Spirit, as it seemed that the causal factor of disease lay in a rift between the Mind and the Spirit.

To change one’s situation in life, there had to be a change in attitude or perspective, as in what you think, it shall be. If, all is mind, as is the first premise of Hermetic Science, then what we choose to project with our mind is what we will manifest on physical level. Thus, to project only thoughts of love and gratitude is to create a life filled with love and abundance.

All of these concepts became clear to Dr. Usui after his years of experience in the Beggars Quarter. He had seen many people come and go, and had seen many return to their old way. Usui decided to seek out people who really wanted to transform themselves. He knew that one should not waste precious time and energy sharing information or energy with those who are not interested or prepared to receive. The five principles that Usui taught emanate naturally from a person in his or her proper flow. At the same time, trying to live the principles also helps put a person in that flow, because again, what you think is truly Who You Are.

Usui Reiki Precepts

Just for today I will live the attitude of gratitude.

Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.

Just for today I will let go of anger.

Just for today I will let go of worry.

Just for today I will do my work honestly.

Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing.

We are Internationally Accredited and Independent Usui Reiki Masters, Usui Reiki Practitioners and Usui Reiki Teachers. We are also Affiliate Members of the Reiki Member Association at the International Center for Reiki Training in Michigan