TIBETAN ORIGINS? - part 1
© 2003 James Deacon
Takata Sensei's 'teaching story' Usui Sensei is said to have discovered
a 'key' to healing in the Buddhist Sutras.
This is the first suggestion that Reiki may have had Buddhist
origins. However, as to precisely which Sutras (there are a vast
number of Buddhist Sutras - primarily in Sanscrit and Pali, but
a great many also translated into, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese),
and exactly what form this 'key' took, was never explained by
Takata account also states that in his quest for the ability to
heal, Usui Sensei traveled to the West to study. If this was in
fact the case, in the course of his studies would no doubt have
encountered the occidental healing practices which had become
highly popular since the 18th century - the various forms of 'animal
magnetism' or 'animal electricity' (also referred to as Mesmerism
or Mesmeric Healing, ' Stroaking', 'Magnetic Healing', etc); and
also various forms of (usually Christian-based) 'Spiritual Healing'.]
idea that Reiki was a long-forgotten, ancient Tibetan form of
healing, rediscovered by Usui Sensei, seems to have first been
suggested by Arthur Robertson, a student of Iris Ishikuro (one
of Takata-Sensei's 22 'Masters').
was the creator - in the early 1980's - of the first so-called
'Tibetan' Reiki style: Raku Kei
has long been seen as the secret fount of seemingly all Spiritual
Wisdom - this, in the main, being due to the 'hype' created in
the 19th century by various Esoteric groups such as the Theosophists,
and others, who became obsessed with Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism,
Mysticism and Magic. So perhaps it was only to be expected that
the idea of Reiki being a practice from the 'mysterious land of
Tibet' [an idea, it must be clearly stated, that has never been
backed up with any factual evidence] would grip the hearts and
imaginations of a great many of the' new age' Reiki contingent.
notion that Reiki originated in Tibet became widely popularised
as a result of the marketing success of Diane Steine's book: 'Essential
Reiki', which (while not actually being the first book to do so)
became (in)famous for openly depicting versions of the Reiki Symbols.
(However, Steine sought not only to merge Reiki with Tibetan Tantra,
but also with Wiccan 'Goddess-centred' beliefs as well.)
Blackwell (AKA Lama Yeshe Drugpa Trinley Odzer) - a Clinical Psychologist
who claimed to be ordained as both a Tibetan Lama and Japanese
Shingon Priest, is perhaps, along with Diane Steine, one of the
primary individuals responsible for propagating the supposed Tibetan
origins of Reiki.
Essentially responsible for the creation of 'Medicine Dharma Reiki',
'Universal Healing Reiki' and 'Men
Chhos Rei-Ki', Blackwell claimed to be in possession of many of
Usui Sensei's original papers, including the very 'Sutra' in which
Usui-Sensei (re-)discovered Reiki.
Blackwell claimed that this 'Sutra' - apparently called the 'Tantra
of the Lightning Flash' - and supposed to be a Tibetan Esoteric
(i.e.. 'Vajra' or ''Tantric') Buddhist text - outlined a comprehensive
healing method - the original 'Reiki'.
Blackwell even went so far as to claim that the 'Tantra of the
Lightning Flash' had been brought to Japan by Kobo Daishi (Kukai),
the founder of Shingon - one of the two major branches
of Japanese Mikkyo (Esoteric) Buddhism.
is historical fact that Kukai had actually returned to Japan (from
China) with the sacred texts on which Shingon was founded, several
years before Guru Rinpoche (founder of Tibetan Tantric
Buddhism) had even taken the Tantric teachings from India to Tibet.
Further, the original catalogue of the texts brought to Japan
by Kukai still exists, and this 'Tantra of the Lightning Flash'
is not one of them].
recently, it has emerged that Blackwell based his whole premise
for the Tibetan origins of Reiki almost entirely on so-called
of the (unfounded) 'evidence' that Reiki comes from Tibet, revolves
around the fact that in Tibetan Buddhism there is a deity: Sangye
Menla referred to as the 'Medicine Buddha' - a Buddha of Healing.
It is frequently suggested that this 'Medicine Buddha' is the
source of Reiki healing.
Sangye Menla is simply the Tibetan name for the Buddhist
deity known in India as: Bhaishajya-guru.
And most of those who are of the 'Reiki comes from Tibet' persuasion
seem to either gloss over (or be unaware of ) the fact that this
same Buddhist deity - under the name:Yakushi - has, from
the very outset, played an important role in Japanese Mikkyo tradition,
which as mentioned above, was actually established before
Vajra (Tantric) Buddhism was taken from India to Tibet...
of the 'Reiki comes from Tibet' persuasion, cite the fact that
Tibetan Buddhist traditions utilise initiation procedures to confer
ability/'spiritual power' from master to student as evidence -
but miss the point that all esoteric Buddhist traditions
- Indian, Chinese & Japanese, etc., also make use of such
have claimed that the Reiki Symbols (that is, the four original
symbols taught by Usui-Sensei himself - as opposed to later additions,
modifications and 'other-cultural imports') are secret Tibetan
while the origin of the socalled 'power' symbol is still disputed,
it is generally accepted that the 'mental/emotional' symbol is
almost certainly a stylisation of a character [from a form of
the Sanscrit script known as 'Siddham' - or shittan in
Japanese] which is used in esoteric Japanese Buddhism as the 'spiritual
emblem' of the Buddha Amida.
'distance' symbol and the 'master' symbol however, are actually
Japanese phrases written in kanji characters. While adopted
by the Japanese, kanji are originally Chinese ideograms,
not Tibetan characters or symbols. Tibet had (and still has) it's
own independent system of writing.The Chinese system of writing
was not used in ancient Tibet.
Part 2 of this
article to follow at a later date