For example, I have often heard Reiki
teachers declare that Reiki is Universal, as if Reiki actually is the
"ALL THAT IS" but they misunderstand the application of the word.
It is universal in the sense that it runs through everything (but so does
electricity, thought waves, light waves, radio waves and so on). And it is
universally accessible. Well, yes….sort of…. It is ONE of many vibrational combinations or forms of the impersonal
healing energy that many have referred to as THE Universal Healing Energy
and accessible if you have been initiated. It is a WONDERFUL doorway.
However it is not the entire expression of
Consciousness. How could it be? If you consider the nature of consciousness
for a moment... It is universal and all pervasive, and ever existent as the
fundamental underlying principle. It needs no support or expression yet it
can also have the quality of expression, of playfulness. Once Consciousness
begins to limit itself in any way whatsoever, vibration arises. This
vibration is referred to in classical Yogic texts as the Matrika Chakra, ma meaning mother, chakra meaning
circle or wheel. From the matrika chakra, as
Consciousness cloaks itself still further, arise all the subtle powers of
form, the Matrika shaktis,
or mother powers. From these arise the ever limiting and ever more concrete
forms of individual forms, personalities and corresponding material world
From this you can see that Reiki is still a
limited expression of the Divine, even if subtle (a group of vibrations
which feel a particular way, and have a particular aligning effect on the
body, and which can align oneself sufficiently so that one can sometimes
take a leap to that deep experience of the divine within). I have studied
and initiate people into many different shaktis
(energies, powers) and most are powerful, have a healing, balancing,
aligning effect. But they are all different flavours
of the Divine and none are the only way.
You could consider Reiki to be a kind of spiritual
scaffolding with particular features (like healing qualities, for example)
which support an aspirant on the spiritual path.
Each spiritual tradition began with an
enlightened Master who infused the spiritual practices with the fruit of
his/her own practice - literally from the wealth of their own inner fire,
plus their connection with the Divine. They passed on those things that
worked for them and infused them with their own sankalpa
(direction of Divine Will). So each tradition has its own unique energetic cocktail . They all feel different in vibration and
balance, often even within the same tradition. Take a walk into a great
Cathedral like Canterbury, or Chartres and soak in
the atmosphere. And then go to a vibrant Pentecostal meeting. Both are
profound energies, but feel quite different, despite common Christian
In modern times, spiritual practices often
seem time consuming or even irrelevant to our needs, however, with modern
presentation, the energies themselves can be very potent transformers of
our personal clutter.
'What makes Reiki distinctive?'
This is an interesting question, because as
you know, there are now many "flavours"
of Reiki today. The pure form as Usui Sensei
taught it, was not available in the West. The traditional
Western form handed down from Mrs Takata contains what Phyllis Furumoto
has termed "mystic form", but it was largely packaged as a
healing art, because that was the dimension of Reiki that Mrs Takata experienced from
Dr. Hayashi. Furthermore, each person also brings to Reiki their own
natural energies and lineage energies, often from different lifetimes. One
of my tasks is to help my students integrate those energies so that there
is no vibrational conflict with any energies they
many have acquired apart from Reiki.
The Reiki which is now being brought over
appears more spiritually oriented, with also much more powerfully developed
psychic skills, due to the continuity of weekly transmission. This is more
along the lines of a traditional spiritual practice where you sit "in
association with" or have "satsang" of someone who is well
aligned to the source. Personally I perceive that this form is closer to
the original Usui spirit -that is, a spiritual
path infused with a practical, grounded form of service. However it should
be remembered that Reiki itself was a fusion of Usui
Sensei's own personal learning and absorption of enlivened traditions
available in Japan,
predominantly Buddhism. And that these forms developed in Japan following the introduction of
energetic lineages from Tibet
via China… and don't
forget that the Buddha's teachings were imported to Tibet from India… When I received my first
initiation into Reiki, those enlivened Masters were present too. And also
there to support the transmission when I went on eventually to teach. (But
that's another story…!)
For the general Western public, Reiki has
become a gentle and simple way to awaken to a deeper part of ourselves.
Consciousness yearns to awaken to Itself and forms of Self.
A simplified code of ethics, simplicity
of use and a lack of connection to any organised
religion has made Reiki more acceptable to mainstream thinking, because it
is non-threatening, and indeed it has become increasingly more popular.
Furthermore it still carries the sankalpa or concentrated will of the
initial master Usui Sensei of protection,
which is important when acting as a facilitator in the healing process.
I.e. you do not take on other people's stuff so long as you follow the
golden rule of non-doership (that goes for all
systems, but here includes the general guidelines for neophytes of not
directing the energy but allowing the intelligence of the energy to go
where it needs to.)
The self-healing aspect is important
and differentiates it from other western form of healing practice where the
emphasis has been on something for "others". Reiki nurtures a
sense of self responsibility, which is the first step to acknowledging the
work we need to do on ourselves.
In the western form of Reiki, the symbols
have taken on an increased sense of importance. These are good, enlivened
preparatory exercises which help the student to develop working with the
third eye, amongst other things. They act as shortcuts - I find them useful
myself from time to time - but consider - they are rarely used at all in
everyday practice in Japan!
Interesting how focussed we are on them in the
west - they were never meant to be an end in themselves!
The symbols also come with powerful,
enlivened mantras, which if used regularly will help to clear and
align your subtle bodies. Although the mantras are not emphasized, with
practice, they are in fact even more potent than the symbols!
The key aspect of Reiki is the transmission
of energy which helps to remove blocks effectively and safely. As it is
an initiated form of healing there is built in protection for facilitator
and recipient, no overloading or Karmic exchange. Once initiated you are
plugged in. No knowledge or special practice is needed in order to connect
to the energy and let it flow (though obviously both knowledge and plenty
of personal practice are recommended!) The energy itself is intelligent and
guides you from within if you allow it.
Another key quality of Reiki is its self-balancing
effect. What do I mean? Well, I think you have to go back to the energy
systems which Usui Sensei tapped into, which had
an initial intention of self balance in all things. The goal of the
spiritual path is enlightenment: freedom from illusion and equipoise on all
levels of being! In Usui's time, the focus had
become focussed toward the development of spirit
without addressing the needs of the material world. Usui
sensed this inherent imbalance and his work sought to redress this. In our
times, the focus has swung so much toward "healing" and
materialism, that we are now seeking balance again!
How does Reiki feel compared to the
other energies that you channel?
Reiki was the first initiated energy that I
used for healing purposes, though I had been working for several years with
crystals and crystal devas, and of course, I had
been initiated into a powerful kundalini yoga
path. Once plugged in to Reiki, the crystal work became noticeably more
effective and powerful, though the Reiki has never felt as strong as the
yoga energy I work with for my meditation practices. Reiki was a way for me
to channel my energies in the physical realm. Obviously I can only present
a subjective perspective. To me, Reiki is an energy with it's
primary roots in Buddhism, but very grounded. Different teachers I have worked
with have added their own flavour (either
consciously or unconsciously) so the flavours are
quite varied. It's a bit like trying to describe the flavour
Until I worked with Irving Feurst, I never felt that I had been attuned to Reiki
on all the Rays (indeed I don't think that general Reiki transmission does
this) but that does not mean there is something fundamentally wrong. All
the enlivened spiritual traditions work within certain "bands of
For example Huna is a very grounded,
nurturing mother energy, rooted in the blessings of the earth yet it's Cross of Fire centres lie
in a deeper layer of the subtle realm than even our chakras. Some
traditions within Huna are also connected to a high degree with the star
energies. But largely it is a great energy for use where disconnection with
the body, ungrounded-ness occurs. It is very
supportive in cases of abuse where the person is ready to move into the
stage of gradually clearing trauma in the body, and I have used it with
great effect on quite a few occasions, where the outcome has been one of
freedom to feel the joy of the spirit in the body again.
Some of the Tibetan energies have a focus on
five centres rather than seven, with a particular
focus on the fourth, sixth and seventh chakras. However, the Drisana system outlined in the S.U.N. Network is one of
the mostly finely balanced systems I have ever worked with. It has a soothing
feel, but the energy work goes very deep, effecting long lasting change. You
receive powerful energies which you can then access at any time for
yourself or others by mentally directing the flow (no visualisation,
complex symbols, mantras etc.). People using Drisana
frequently report dramatic shifts at all levels of their being - physical,
emotional, mental, and particularly spiritual.
The Sufi tradition I have been studying
within for the last three years has an energetic focus on the second,
fourth, sixth and seventh chakras, though it obviously works on the other centres too. The names of God that are chanted in Zikr are very aligning and energising,
and bring a great sense of peace. Different chants work with different centres to bring about an overall clearing and balance.
Angelic energies are different again, and
often work even better after I've been running another
energy first - such as Reiki or Huna - though you can use them
effectively on their own. Each energy will have
its own particular strengths and these can even differ from individual to
Any main differences in initiation?
On an outer level, the major difference
between Reiki and the other systems into which I have been initiated is (1)
the length of training on a spiritual and psychic level before teaching and
(2) differences in initiation practice.
When I was taught Reiki in 1992, there was a
breathing space between levels so that I could really get to know myself
and how to work with the energy at different levels of my being. Then when
I received initiation, I received much, even though I was already on a
profoundly transformational, enlivened path. I waited a whole year between
the first and second level, putting myself on a personal apprenticeship of
self-discovery and this brought great benefits. These days, people say
"time has speeded up, we don't have so long
now." But we are eternal beings, and if we don't do the clearing work
thoroughly on ourselves now, it will still be there waiting for us later
These days people
can study level one and two together and level three a few weeks later and
launch themselves onto an unsuspecting public as fully trained. Fully
trained means fully anchored in the Reiki energy, not simply fully
initiated. Initiation is a BEGINNING not a completion. Even for those who
have learnt much in other modalities, this seems to undermine the natural
maturation process that a fundamentally spiritual path demands of the
To those who have skimped their training and
practice, I would suggest this is playing with fire. The down side is that
new students are short-changed. And so are you. Can you handle a
spontaneous kundalini experience,
or the group dynamics in a class when a deep emotional outburst occurs? Can
your Reiki practice support you and centre you? How can you teach someone
else to handle these and other issues if you don't have experience? You can
only teach from your own experience... Having said all this, of course, we
all have had to begin somewhere and a great protection is to be open to
learning by keeping the attitude of beginner's mind.
The initiation practices of Reiki have been
given a (fairly complex) outer form. Ritual helps to give form to content. Usui was simply given the content, but again, I guess
the form has been offered to help the student focus well on the sacred
intention. Usui knew what he was doing, but many
Reiki Teachers today don't really understand what is taking place, they simply pass the transmission on.
Transmission itself does not take place because of what is physically done, rather a particular method has been enlivened to
help to focus intent. In yogic traditions, initiation is given through one
of four means, and for a Master, each one is equally effective - through
will, through touch, through mantra or through focussed
look. At different times, with different students, they will use whichever
is the most appropriate. They are not bound by a particular method. You can
see that most of those elements are present in the ritualised
Reiki forms of initiation. In more modern offshoots of Reiki, the
initiation rituals are even more complex, but this does not mean that the
Reiki received is necessarily stronger or better. The Japanese Reiju
initiation introduced most recently is very powerful and yet far simpler to
enact. The key is the deep connection, clarity and consequent transmission
of the initiator.
In the other traditions I teach, initiation
is mostly given through will alone, whilst sitting in meditation, though occasionally
through touch - including breath, visually, or mantra.
One other noticeable difference is that in
the other traditions I work with, the student is given some preliminary
initiations to strengthen and clear the subtle bodies, nervous system and
so on, to prepare for the main initiation. In this, I break with accepted Western Reiki tradition and now offer this benefit to
my Reiki students too (because in all conscience I could not do otherwise)!
After twenty years of subtle energy work I
am still learning and deepening my practice, understanding and
transmission! I endeavour to keep beginner's mind
with the everyday experiences as my teacher. And I am content. Many days I
will wake up laughing, or just happy, thankful to this universe we live in.
I love this work, which is ever new, and am so
grateful to the Reiki Circle
who have supported my process. And yes, I have come to learn and
appreciate, in the words of an ancient Gita, "Beloved, you are my very
Self." For after all the words have been spilled, and the illusion of
differences debated, we are a collective Consciousness who are given the
opportunity through Reiki and other doorways, to reconnect with ourselves,
and be free to enjoy this paradoxical play!
© Chris Deefholts 2000