Most people think of Reiki as a hands-on complementary therapy that is similar to Spiritual Healing. This isn't wrong but it is not a complete description. Reiki is a complete self-healing and spiritual-development system that can also be used to heal others. Reiki, as we know it, was developed in Japan in the late 19th or early 20th century by Mikao Usui. Mikao Usui was raised as a Tendai Buddhist (esoteric form of Buddhism); most of his adult friends were either Tendai Buddhist or were involved in Shinto (native Shamanic practices) or Taoism and Usui is known to have studied these spiritual practices. A considerable number of Reiki techniques are very similar to healing and cleansing rituals from Buddhism and Shinto. There is thus very good evidence to suggest that Reiki is based on ancient healing techniques from Buddhism, Shinto and Taoism and has been re-developed for the modern age.
The Reiki symbol (shown above) is a combination of the Japanese Kanji: REI (upper part of symbol) and KI (lower part of symbol); Kanji are ideograms or word-pictures. REI means UNIVERSAL but not just in the physical sense. Shingon Buddhism teaches that Dainichi Nyorai created the Universe and everything in it; and that he is the Universe. He is literally everywhere and everything; he is the sum totality of everything. He is also called Mahavairacana (the Great Shining One or Great Sun Buddha) and all other Buddhas are just aspects of him. REI represents Dainichi Nyorai thus REI represents the Universe in all aspects (physical, energetic, spiritual, etc.). KI represents the life-force that pervades the Universe and flows through all living things (it is called CHI in China and PRANA in India). The Japanese dictionary defines KI as ‘vital energy connected with the breath’; ‘invisible life-force’; and ‘material force of the universe’. Since REI represents the Universe in all aspects and KI represents Energy, joining the two kanji together gives a very simple definition of Reiki: Universal Life Energy.
Reiki can be viewed as a self-healing system or as spiritual development or as a therapy or as all three. Reiki is not a religion and makes no demands of either healer or patient; it does not depend on the beliefs, or lack of them, of either healer or patient. It is not related to faith healing and works equally well on plants and animals, neither of whom are known for their faith or suggestibility. There are numerous medical research studies that prove its effectiveness. Reiki works on all levels — mental, physical, emotional and spiritual — to balance, energise and heal the body. Research studies (see above) have shown it to promote wound healing, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, ease chronic pain and also acute pain such as that suffered by people who have been badly burned, boost the immune system, and also reduce the side-effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy. It has been used successfully at a Cancer Clinic in Canada to manage pain in patients with terminal cancer giving them a better quality of life in their last days and reducing the need for opiates. There are also anecdotal reports of it curing serious illness. Basically, Reiki accelerates the healing process. It is a very gentle therapy that works via the channelling of energy from a universal source to promote healing and well-being; you can use it for your own benefit and that of others. The most that Reiki demands is that the person be open-minded enough to try it and thus allow it to prove itself.
Reiki is passed on from Master to Student via an Attunement process that looks similar to Shamanic Healing rituals; the Attunement process allows a permanent connection with the Energy without the need for further self-attunement. Reiki has three levels of attainment: those who have attained 'Level 1' can self-heal and heal family and friends; those who have attained 'Level 2' are classed as Reiki Practitioners and are qualified to heal members of the general public; those who have attained 'Level 3' or Master Level are qualified to attune and teach others.
As mentioned above, Reiki is much more than a complementary healing therapy; it is a complete self-healing system which can also be used to heal others. Reiki is extremely popular, especially 'Reiki Level 1' which can easily be learned in a couple of days but can then be used immediately to self-heal and to heal family and friends. In 2001, it was estimated that there were at least half a million people in the UK attuned to 'Reiki Level 1' and numbers were increasing rapidly; now, nobody knows.