THE MYTHOLOGISED REIKI STORY?
2005 James Deacon
[Modified: Jun, 07. 2006]
because several elements of the Story
of Reiki as told by Takata-sensei have apparently been 'proved'
to be inaccurate' , many would have us now believe that Takata-sensei
'made most of it up as she went along'.
But, allowing for a moment that "the proof is out there"
- that certain elements of the Reiki Story are inaccurate
is it assumed that Takata-sensei was the one responsible
for the creation of the "tall tale"?
She always maintained that she was simply recounting the story
as she had been told it by Hayashi-sensei...
Looking more closely at the story of Reiki, it becomes apparent
that there are at least a couple of elements (& probably more...)
which also appear in the 'founding' stories of other modernday
Japanese healing groups. (See here,
So, it seems likely that whoever 
added these elements was in fact simply building a customary mythologised
tale - in this case, of the founding of Reiki, to set Usui-sensei's
Gift on at least a level footing with other contemporary Japanese
Spiritual healing arts - literally 'keeping up with the competition".
if this was indeed the case, what point would there have been
in doing so if the person responsible was living and teaching
Reiki in the US: in a culture where there was no competition
- where these other groups did not have a 'presence' - where no
one had even heard of them or their miraculous 'founding-myths?
has been suggested that Takata-sensei made up the story about
Usui-sensei being a Christian (actually, there is still no 'hard'
evidence to prove he wasn't a Christian!
 ) in order to make the idea of Reiki more palatable
to Americans who were potentially still Anti-Japanese as a result
of the Pacific War - and supposedly wouldn't accept the idea of
Usui-sensei being a Buddhist?
is there actually any logic in this? Especially when we consider
that at the time Takata-sensei was introducing Reiki to an American
audience, Buddhism - in one form or another - was becoming very
popular. Japanese Buddhism, primarily represented by the Zen school,
was particularly 'big' at the time...
if - as we are expected to believe - Takata-sensei was
responsible for 'reworking' the Reiki Story to make it more acceptable
to supposed American sensitivities, why then labour the point
that Usui-sensei had no success in uncovering the secrets
of healing ability in Western religions, philosophies or
related spiritual practice (which, according to the Reiki Story,
he is said to have studied in America)?
And why also labour the point that, on returning to Japan,
he eventually discovered the 'secret' (:a formula for accessing
healing - not
the Reiki symbols, as some seem to believe) in Buddhist Texts
- and that he was gifted with the Reiki Phenomenon while undertaking
meditative austerities of a particularly Japanese nature,
on a holy Japanese mountain sacred to both Buddhists
and followers of Shinto alike?
between the lines of the Reiki Story, it seems to me that, rather
than having been reworked by Takata-sensei for an American market,
the Reiki Story may have existed in this form for quite some time
before she herself learnt it from Hayashi-sensei.
Is it possible that, rather than being reworked so as to be acceptable
to potential Western students, the Reiki Story was actually
intended for the Japanese 'home market' as it were?
Could it be that there is in fact a subtly anti-western
sentiment to the tale?
That it speaks to the belief held by many Japanese even during
the early decades of the 20thC, that the Japanese people should
'stay within their own culture' - that there was little to be
gained from the gaijin (foreigners) and their ways?
Afterall, is not the sub-text of the Reiki Story (at least of
the first part of the story) the account of a Japanese
minister of a gaijin religion (i.e. Christianity), who,
on being challenged by some of his students to demonstrate the
healing abilites he believed Jesus and his disciples possessed,
was unable to fulfil their request (in itself, something that
would entail a degree of 'loss of face', and possibly reflect
poorly on his Christian faith)?
And who, in setting out on a quest to find the way to manifest
this 'New Testament' healing ability, was unable to discover how
to do so - even in the great America?
How, after studying the Christian faith more deeply in America,
he had even searched for the secret of healing in the writings
of the other great religions of the West - yet to no avail?
And that it was only on returning to his homeland - and
searching amidst the spiritual traditions of his own culture,
that he eventually discovered a 'secret formula' - a Buddhist,
rather than Christian, formula which would enable him to
manifest a great healing gift?
Also, I find it significant that in the Reiki Story, while it
clearly states that Usui-sensei discovered the 'secret' - the
formula for accessing healing - in a Buddhist sutra, it
does not mention precisely which sutra?
Several people have questioned why.
Had the knowledge been forgotten? Had Usui-sensei perhaps not
shared this information with his students in the first place?
I would venture to suggest that, even if the name of the exact
sutra was known to the person or persons responsible for
developing the Reiki Story, perhaps they intentionally
omitted the details?
If so, why?
Was it that they felt for whatever reason, this was one secret
not to be disclosed to the public at large?
Or perhaps was it an intentional ploy - to stimulate curiosity
in students - to encourage them to attempt to discover the precise
sutra for themselves?
Of course, in order to do so, students would have to carefully
study a great many Buddhist sutras.
And what if the people responsible for developing the Reiki Story
were themselves Buddhist?
the Buddhist way of thinking, would such focussed study of Buddhist
scriptures not be a great way to draw Reiki students - both 'believers'
and non-Buddhists alike - ever closer to 'the Dharma'?
OK so we now
know Usui-sensei did not attend the University of Chicago
(at least not under the name Mikao Usui [See:
Reiki History &
Reiki Myth] ), nor was he a Religious Minister at Doshisha
University - though the documentary evidence to substantiate claims
of further inaccuracy in the 'Story of Reiki' is... where
It must be
clearly understood, I am not suggesting that this was down to
Hayashi-sensei ( - nor for that matter, am I suggesting it was
down to Usui-sensei either). It is of course possible that Hayashi-sensei
might have simply been mistaken about certain details of Usui-sensei's
biography, (from what we are aware, the two only knew each other
during the last 9 or 10 months of Usui-sensei's life,) however,
I cannot help but wonder if Hayashi-sensei himself may have actually
been told this 'founding' story by others (some time after
Usui-sensei's death), possibly by other members of the Gakkai?
whatever reasons (politic or other), on discovering that Usui-sensei
had not been at Doshisha University, some people also decided
that this 'proved' he had also not been a Minister - that he had
not even been a Christian at all.
Of course, he may not have been a Minister, may
not have been Christian, but the mere fact he had not been at
Doshisha, cannot be taken as proof of this. [See: Reiki
History & Reiki Myth]
Even though Japan was a Shinto State, not a Buddhist one.