Denise Crundall and her Husband John Crundall
embracing my daughter Theophamia - (Mother Earth, Heavenly
Father, Divine Child!).
Denise Crundall was not my only teacher on the path to enlightenment.
She was my first Reiki teacher, however, and there is always a
special place in one’s heart for one’s first. My journey
has not ended of course.
I feel that I am privileged to have had teachers who are very
demanding. They have set the bar very high and I have learned
to place enormous value not only on what they teach, but on what
I have learned from them. Denise was certainly in that category.
Denise received her Reiki attunements from Beth Gray, one of
Mrs. Takata's original 22 initiated masters.
Denise's life was Reiki and Reiki was her life. She always said,
‘I am not the one you have to impress, it is yourself.’
I have said, jokingly, that you know you have a good teacher
when she tends to piss you off as much as anything else. Again
Denise was one of those.
The great sage Osho, points out that this is so because a good
teacher will reflect back to you mostly what it is you do not
want to know about yourself. Denise certainly did that. She said,
the only evil is that which you still do not know about yourself.
Denise inspired much devotion, loyalty, and love in her students.
While many of her students did develop a deep love for her personally,
she was always clear that the point of developing and practicing
unconditional love was to serve Reiki. She taught that joyful
service and unconditional love for each other was the path to
enlightenment, what she called the state of the Meta Humanness,
not an end in itself.
She would say everything is here for a reason and it is our job
to figure it out.
Death she taught is the ultimate illusion. When the body falls
away we do not actually go anywhere. We are still here, as if
we only slipped into the next room. We will be together again
very soon, the same as before, only better.
Dying she taught is just another turning point on the road of
life; an initiatory experience for some; an opportunity to move
on to the next level and a chance to become more aware of the
legacy we leave behind as we move through this world.
She taught that conscious living, or as the buddhists would
say, ‘mindfulness’ is the most important thing. She
had a special affinity for Tibetan Buddhism, and their views on
dying and living.
She could be harsh or impatient at times with students who had
fallen asleep at the wheel or who had become distracted by what
she called the ‘negative ego.’, or who failed to honour
the gift of Reiki, but she never punished and was never gratuitous
about it. For some, the idea that they had disappointed the teacher
was punishment enough. Still, there was always a lesson in it.
She would quote often, her teacher, Paul Solomon,
raconteur, channeler, Kabbalist, and healer of Virginia Beach,
One of those quotes that still resonates with
“What excuses are you still using to
prove you are not good enough to reach your full potential as
a Divine Being?”
Another quote, handed out at every retreat and which hung over
my desk for the longest time was ‘You shall be judged by
Love. It goes like this;
“You shall be judged by Love. Do not be influenced
by that which men count as valuable or successful, or as achievement.
A person is successful who causes happiness and a reflection of
the Divine in the lives of those he touches. If there is never
the building of a talent or the accumulation of money or a recognizable
accomplishment of any kind in life, yet that soul provides happiness,
and fosters growth spiritually in others, bringing pleasure into
the life of others, and ease in communications, then that one
has succeeded at the level of soul. There are those on your plane
who will make a great mark in history and become known. There
are those who will develop talents and abilities recognizable
to others and yet not a shred of evidence of that accomplishment
will be found in these records of karma and soul growth. For it
is not what men recognize as accomplishment that is recorded here
or set down as achievement of soul. But the one who causes the
son or daughter, the husband, the wife the neighbour to have a
little more light, a little more pleasure, love, energy, happiness
with which to accomplish day to day living, he has lifted himself
and the race a little closer to God.
Paul Solomon, 'Source' reading 575
Denise often told the story of how, as a young woman she packed
up her small children and went to live and study with Paul Solomon.
In Reiki, Denise would say, everyone gets exactly what they need
for healing, even when what is healing for one is catastrophe
for another. For me it has always been the challenge, and the
elegance of Reiki that this is so, and I have proved it many times.
We talk much about the innate intelligence of Reiki; that Reiki
energy knows what to do without our having to direct or divert
it, but this is not a passive principal. We need to be aware.
We need to be conscious of this process. She would say the proof
that you are not in delusion is the healing.
“I know your spiritual practice is going fine.” She
would say, “but how is your cancer?”
She taught that Reiki was always about being in the Divine flow.
“More to give, more to receive,” she would insist.
‘Hello the good news, hello the bad news”
One of my all time favourite Denise observations was, ‘at
the level of soul there is no difference between the sacred and
Denise, herself had a sometimes outrageous sense of humour and
certainly never shied away from speaking her truth regardless
what anyone might have thought of it.
One of the stories told about Denise is the night a drunken man
approached her. “You’re a master, enlighten me”
he demanded. No doubt he thought this was a big joke. Denise,
not the least taken aback, whacked him smartly over the head with
a rolled up magazine and declared, “there, you’re
She often used the Star Wars movies to illustrate her points.
Particularly the scene where Luke Skywalker ventures into the
cave to confront his dark side, finds Darth Vader, who quickly
transforms into the likeness of Luke himself. She encouraged an
intimate relationship with one’s ‘dark side’,
which she called the ‘Negative Ego.’
Only by knowing the dark intimately, can one really know the Light
and of course the point is to choose the light… or that
which heals. “Without an intimate relationship with one’s
dark side, the light becomes mere illusion”, she would say.
She recounted to us that the ending of Star Wars was already
written. In the end we are all redeemed, which is the lesson of
I decided early on in my relationship with Denise that I would
not be one of those who literally sat at her feet. I never did.
I went my own way, travelling back from time to time for a visit,
a refresher, some new bit of learning.
To me the mark of a good spiritual teacher is one who can inspire
and empower, often with no more than a word, or a phrase. I never
had a long conversation with Denise, but volumes passed between
I first met Denise in the spring of 1996 when I took the Reiki
I class. I had been going to the Reiki centre to receive treatments
for several months before.
I cannot honestly say that I had any kind of epiphany or awakening,
or that I experienced anything more than what I had experienced
in dozens of such classes I have taken over the last 25 years.
I know that is not very sexy, and not like some of the stories
one hears from Reiki folk. But there it is.
To pursue Reiki, was a conscious decision, on my part, which
I did. I will admit, that for a very long time I looked for another
teacher, a better teacher. But the truth is there was none better
and despite myself, I kept returning to the Centre, assisting
at classes, went on retreat every year, and I now have binders
full of her lessons, my notes, and hundreds of Reiki II's (which
we affectionately call twoees).
I still study regularly, and Reiki has become an integral part
of my life. I have, by the way, in the meantime, had several of
these sexy experiences that blow the mind and heal the body.
My relationship with Denise over the years, has been as a student
to the Master. This is the kind of relationship I believe Denise
encouraged in the first few years.
Many, especially the men, were intimidated by her at first. I
remember one retreat where I was struggling mightily with myself
about whether I ought to approach the master or not. In those
days, being granted an audience with Denise was something of a
ritualistic procedure. You first had to do a Reiki II healing
on yourself, then wait until the ‘rest’ day of the
retreat, then wait around in the ante chamber to be summoned into
her presence. She literally 'holed up' in her room, receiving
the supplicants until all were done. It was all very secret and
mysterious or at least appeared so to the untrained eye.
You had to have your questions ready and clearly formulated.
There was no sense that Denise cared for casual chatting.
Personally, while part of me thought that I ought to go before
the master, frankly, I could not ever think of a question I thought
was important enough to go to all the trouble of making the pilgrimage.
I meditated on – if I went before the master what would
I ask? I finally came up with the notion that the only questions
worth posing to the master were the ones worth posing to myself.
I remember feeling greatly relieved and pretty pleased with myself.
That meant that I did not then, have to actually go before the
master. Whew! I actually got a good night’s sleep.
But of course, that is not the end of the story. It never is.
A couple of days later, still in the retreat, Denise is talking
about self-mastery and that is the only mastery worth anything.
At this point it became clear that the only point in making the
trek to the master’s presence is to acknowledge the master
within. A good teacher will always only reflect that.
I have also come to accept the importance of ritual, even in
our daily lives. Ritual lends an air of sacredness to any activity.
Whether one is consciously on a spiritual path or not, all life
is still sacred. Teachers exist to remind us of that simple fact
and to open a portal through which we can catch a glimpse of ourselves
as sacred beings.
The Buddhists have a greeting – Namaste – which means
the Buddha (or divine spark) in me greets the Buddha in you. The
lesson of that retreat for me was to honour and promote the master
within. At the level of soul, everybody knows everything anyway.
Finally, on the last day, at the final luncheon, before we all
went our separate ways I finally made the trek. I joined the line
to say farewell to Denise, which was something of ritual in itself.
When it was finally my turn to stop before the master and say
whatever final words – it was a simple – ‘Namaste’
and ‘good luck.’ There was nothing else to say. Master
to Master, words are unnecessary.
Significantly, to me anyway, at the following year’s retreat,
Denise herself, made the trek down off the mountain and was completely
accessible. As part of one of the day’s activities where
we’d split up into small groups, an audience with Denise
was among the day’s activities. In this she mainly talked
about friendship. I, actually, still did not have anything particular
that I wanted to ask her, but we decided that friendship was a
While those of us who are students will claim great benefits
and growth from our association with Denise Crundall and her teachings,
I do believe it is also true that Denise learned and grew from
her association with her students. She was always aware of what
was going on in her classes and on the look out for guinea pigs
to illustrate specific things. One of the things I liked about
Denise was that she often told us what she was doing and why she
was doing it and what she hoped to accomplished. I never had the
idea that there was something dark and mysterious being withheld.
In fact, quite the opposite. She often said, that a teacher should
instil in her students the desire to have what she had.
To me the mark of a good teacher is one who fully embodies the
teaching. One the hardest things for a student is to separate
the teacher from the teaching. This is especially true for a teacher
like Denise, where there is no point at which the teaching and
the teacher separate. This can be very challenging for the student.
Those who fail to grasp this simple principal often find themselves
cloaked in the wrappings of a cult.
Denise's life was Reiki. Her life was as much the teaching as
the words and diagrams she put up on the board. She often talked
about ‘standing in one’s truth.’ The mark of
a good teaching , often experiential, is one that reverberates
well past the original lesson, often for years. Denise’s
teachings were like an onion – peeled away in layers –
as one grows and becomes more experienced – the insights
gained from studying the lessons often enough bring tears to the
eyes – not of grief – but of realization of yet another
truth. I still learn from the very first Reiki II that I did on
myself so many years ago which is still in my binder along with
all the other notes.
I often thought, at least in the first couple of years, that
she was being deliberately obtuse. I have since learned that all
lessons occur on different levels. As I work my way through the
levels, from time to time I can just catch a glimpse of ‘the
holy’ as Denise called it; which is the wholeness of life
and to see clearly and precisely where everything fits in. I have
consciously tried to walk the 'Path of Grace' which was an essential
part of her teaching. The Path of Grace is living with passion,
inspiration, humility, and compassion 'at service'.
She often said Reiki was like the Nike slogan. ‘Just do
Denise taught a course called ‘Living with Dying,’
which went on for 8 days in a retreat environment. She would often
say,’ no one can add a minute to your life, or take a minute
away from your life that has not already been agreed upon by you
and your god.’ She believed that you can and do leave this
plane at a time and in a manner of your own choosing. You can
do it with great fanfare and drama. You could linger for months
or even years. Or you could just leave.
The Tibetans believe that one should be in a state of relaxed
calm and peace at the moment of death and fully conscious. One
then slips into the Bardos easily and without distraction; focused
and unperturbed by emotion.
Denise’s death, in the Tibetan tradition may be called an
elegant one. One minute there and the next minute gone. She was,
apparantly, quite alone.
To be honest, the manner and timing of Denise's death leaves
many questions. She was a relatively young woman, only in her
fifties. Her mother, of whom she spoke often is still alive and
in her 90's. Her teacher, Beth Gray, also is still alive at the
age of 85.
While she did have a couple of students on track to receive
the master symbols, she left as Hawayo Takata left, without proclaiming
a successor to carry on the teachings. In a way, it seems, she
has thrown down the guantlet to all of us. She has challenged
the master within each to find out his/her own path, and to walk
it with inspiration and passion, as she taught.
Ever the consummate teacher, even her passing leaves lessons
and layers of meaning that reverberate more and more profoundly
the more I meditate on it.
Her husband, John, has stepped into her shoes and continues to
teach and serve her many students in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
One of the things that Denise often said is ‘that which
no longer serves, falls away.’ The implications of this
observation run quite deep when one’s teacher falls away,
or at least her body does. There is a deep and profound sense
of something ‘missing’. I can no longer look forward
to her next visit and more words and ideas to wrap my brain around.
What is clear, of course, is that when something falls away,
that makes room for something else to come in. So, it is also
with a sense of profound anticipation and excitement that I look
for what it is that comes next into my life.
In the Kaballah tradition, it is said that true giving is the
letting go of something that is of value to the giver as well
as the receiver. The greater the value to the giver, the greater
the value of whatever it is that comes in to fill the void.
Denise often talked about developing an “impeccable character”.
This, she explained, is the character to handle the frequencies
of Love, forgiveness, healing and creation; to become the light
not only unto one’s self, but unto the world. Reiki is the
frequency of Love she would say. In order to master the frequency,
one must first master one's self.
The last lesson that Denise gave to us in the 3 year programme
of self-mastery was to meditate on “… whose steps
you are following or walking in and of course who is following
you and walking in yours?”
And with that I now retire to continue with my 21 days of morning
meditating on the above. Regards, and many blessings, Lawrence
Post Script. Denise often talked about ones legacy. That is what
one leaves behind that has value (or not as the case may be).
She often encouraged us to think about and meditate on the kind
of legacies we were creating and how the living of life contributes
Denise's legacy can be found in the hearts of the hundreds of
lives she touched with her classes and healing ministry. On a
more practical level she leaves behind two actual Reiki Centres.
One in Australia and one in Canada. If you would like to contact
or visit either of these centres the addresses are below.
Here is a link to
Marc Gough's site in Australia with another tribute.
Usui Reiki Centre
17 Fairholm Gr.
Usui Reiki Centre
3 Oakhurst Drive
Canada, M2K 2N2