Briefly, the lineage of Reiki that we are familiar
with in the West, begins with
Mikao Usui. He rediscovered certain techniques among Sanskrit
scrolls and given the knowledge of symbols and sounds to use
these techniques and to tune others into the frequency of healing
in a vision after a 21 day fast on Mount Kuryama, near Kyoto in
Japan. Some believe that Dr. Usui actually achieve 'Satori' or
enlightenment in the Eastern sense. The year was 1922.
Usui died in 1926.
His student, Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval surgeon,
founded a clinic in Tokyo shortly after. He added some hand positions
and developed diagnostic
and treatment techniques involving multiple practitioners. It
is likely that Hayashi drew on his experience as a naval surgeon,
doing western style medical diagnosis in addition to the more
energetically based Usui hand positions.
Hayashi committed ritual suicide in 1940.
His student, Hawayo Takata, initiated in 1938 in
Hawaii brought Reiki to the West. All Reiki streams, outside Japan
lead back to Hawayo Takata. For a period
of time during World War II, and shortly after, Takata was the
only known practitioner and Master outside Japan and is referred
to in many resources as Grand Master for this reason.
My own lineage is rather short.
My teacher, Denise Crundall, of Melbourne,
Australia, was initiated by Beth Gray, one of Takata's
original 22 initiates. Denise was a great believer that
if you really didn't want someone to take your picture,
they couldn't. She once told me that she would rather
not have her picture on the web. It seems, interestingly
enough that the one picture I do have of her is steadfastly
refusing to load onto this page. So be it.
See In Memoriam, for more
information on Denise.
Beth Gray was well known in California as
healer and researcher long before she embraced Reiki.
She is also a christian minister. She founded the first
Reiki centre in North America, in the early '70's, which
continued operation until the early 90's. She retired
from Reiki teaching in 1992 shortly after suffering a
debilitating stroke. She still lives in California. Elsewhere
on this site there is a more in-depth portrait
Denise Crundall taught Yoga and studied
metaphysics with well-known channeler and healer, Paul
Solomon in Virginia Beach, Virginia before embracing Reiki.
While both women ultimately taught and practiced
Reiki full time as a life's calling, each brings to the
practice her own unique perspective.
Denise, my teacher, did not believe in 'doing'
masters. While there were a couple of people on track
to be initiated to mastership, including her husband John,
in fact, she left proclaiming no one to carry on her ministry.
Beth initiated only two masters. Denise,
and another Aussie, Barbara McGregor.
Denise died in 2002.
Most recently I have sought and received
master symbols from Alena Kytka, a well respected healer
and Reiki Master in London, Ontario. She was initiated
some years ago by William Lee Rand.
Rand himself studied with a number of Takata's
original 22, including Beth Gray. He received the master
symbols from Bethel Phaig, another of Takata's original
22, in 1982. Ultimately he developed his own brand of
Reiki called Tibetan Reiki, and still teaches at his centre
in the U.S. Check out the Links page for his website.
Alena's first contact with Reiki was in
her native Czeckoslovakia, many years ago, before coming
to this country and completing her training with Rand.
Lineage is something that does come up from time
to time among Reiki people. Sogyal Rinpoche, in his book, The
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, suggests that to belong
to a particular lineage is to embrace a particular set of ideas
and prescribed way of practicing. In a lineage, the last or latest
in the Line, does things and teaches exactly the same as the first
in the Line, even if that Line goes back a thousand years.
Lineage in Reiki has more to it than learning a
set of hand positions or particular teachings. It has to do with
maintaining the frequency of the vibration of the healing. Almost
all teachers of Reiki claim the lineage back to Usui, via Hayashi
& Takata. After Takata, lineages do get a little fuzzy.
When Takata died in 1980, she did not specifically
designate anyone to take her place, nor did she specify any particular
mode of Reiki practice. Apparently Takata herself was sometimes
contradictory about what was considered proper Reiki practice
and what was not.
Into this vacuum of leadership stepped Phyllis Furumoto,
Takata's granddaughter, and Barbara Webber Rey, each claiming
to be the Grand Master of Reiki, and holder of the resonance of
the one true Reiki. According to reports of those who were close
to the situation at the time, most just assumed that Phyllis would
receive the mantle.
From this inauspicious, or some might say auspicious
turning point, Reiki has spread like the thousand petaled lotus.
Today, Reiki seems to be all over the map. There are numerous
streams, including Tara Mai Reiki, Karuna Reiki, Reiki Plus, Tibetan
Reiki, and other 'new improved' brands of Reiki, that sound more
like cheap soap commercials than sacred healing. As each of these
streams evolve the further and further away from the source they
Since Reiki is not a religion, requires no particular
commitment, has little to learn and is at the same time an extremely
powerful healing modality, it has become very popular around the
In the west, Reiki has been added to, modified,
adulterated and diluted to fit the personalities of those who
practice it. There are many who embrace this idea and suggest
that Takata gave each student/master different symbols to encourage
each to seek their own unique path.
It certainly has done that and poked its nose into
many wierd and wonderful places. To me the cult of individuality
is a peculiarly 'American' idea, but not without precedent. The
Chinese developed the idea of the 'Superior Man', thousands of
Still when looked at dispassionately, Reiki has
not really strayed very far from its original premise as a healing/spiritual
practice. A massage therapist friend of mine suggests that all
healing is ultimately spiritual and the massage is just what she
does with her hands while the healing is going on.
My own belief is that Takata herself probably didn't
fully understand or appreciate the Eastern concept of Lineage,
or if she did, thought that the free wheeling, individualistic
American style of democracy in which she taught, probably wouldn't
have tolerated it.
Or, perhaps, at another level, humanity has reached
a stage of growth where, at least temporarily, concepts like 'lineage'
have become less important than they used to be. We are now, for
the first time in human history, a global community. Reiki is
one practice that reaches out and embraces that. It is no longer
a particularized practice seeking adherents in foreign cultures,
but an energetic frequency that embraces all.
While it is my belief that the cultural roots of
Reiki are important to learn, it is quite clear that the various
streams of Reiki taught and practiced in the West, in the sense
of what one does with one's hands, is not anything like what Dr.
Usui birthed into the world. At the energetic level, though, it
is the same healing energy. In other words, as Reiki folk, I think
the challenge is to look past what it is we 'do with our hands'
while the healing is going on.
There are others, my teacher included, who think
this personalized approach to Reiki mastership might have produced
bastardized versions of an essential sacred practice. It has been
suggested that passing on the Reiki symbols without a full time
commitment to the practice and without the teaching is rather
like selling someone a Mercedes without an engine or the knowledge
of how to drive it.
Sogyal Rinpoche suggests that it is not possible
to achieve enlightenment without a proper teacher (Guru). One
of the ways to know if a teacher is right for you is to know their
'lineage.' To know a teacher's lineage, he says, is to know the
substance of the teachings. In the East, enlightenment is very
serious business and not usually left up to such fuzzy concepts
as what you 'resonate with', what 'feels right', trusting one's
intuition, or how one's energy is perceived.
Lineage is something I did not take very seriously
for a long time. Mainly because I didn't really understand it
all that well. I am only now coming to an appreciation of the
importance it holds in the many healing traditions.
Still I live and work in Canada, and in North America,
lineage is still something that is not well understood or paid
much attention to. It seems to me that we all come to Reiki at
whatever level serves us best, and generally gravitate towards
those who serve that level.
I believe it is my good fortune, and at the same
time a message from the Universe that I am so close to the source
(only 6 steps away from Usui himself), and studying with teachers
dedicated to the practice, who never stop learning, never stop
gathering knowledge, never stray from the path to wisdom.
This does not necessarily mean that my Reiki or
healing practice is better than the next guy's, although, I think,
my Ego would like to think so. It does mean, for my own path to
enlightenment that I am encouraged to set my commitment at a rather
high level. My teacher often talks about the importance of having
an 'impeccable character.' An important part of my learning is
to figure out what that means exactly.
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