Wafubeh! Ever since the knowledge of Reiki has entered Western civilization, it has been surrounded by controversy. This suspicion is largely due to the Reiki origin story told by the woman who was responsible for bringing this system of spiritual cultivation to the Americas, Hawayo Takata. According to a Wikipedia article under the topic Mikao Usui, we read:
“Hawayo Takata, a Reiki Master attuned by Chujiro Hayashi (林 忠次郎, 1880–1940), construed Reiki’s history of development in order to make Reiki more appealing to the West. To this end she made a relation of Reiki with Jesus Christ and not with Buddhism. She also presented Usui as the dean of a Christian school. While he had obtained the knowledge of Reiki from the Buddhist religious book Tantra of the Lightning Flash, Takata claimed that he had been inspired from the story of Jesus Christ, who had healed with the touch of his hand, and so had come to America to learn Reiki.”
In recent decades, many Reiki practitioners and scholars have discovered that Hawayo Takata’s story that Dr. Usui was teaching in a Christian monastery and his discovery of the healing system was a result of an investigation into how Jesus performed miracles is false. The Reiki Page website explains Takata’s actions in the following words:
“Because of the context in which Mrs. Takata brought Reiki to the United States – the US was at war with Japan after all – she had to Westernize the practice, meaning much was lost in the translation. Mrs. Takata clearly had no choice given how Japanese people were viewed during that time. Thousands of Japanese-Americans, for example, were kept in internment camps in the desert. What’s amazing is that Mrs. Takata was able to practice and teach Reiki in such an anti-Japan context.”
One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to Mrs. Takata’s story is that Christian scholars utilized the term “reiki” in their attempt to find an appropriate term for Biblical word spirit. Not to be confused with a fictional story of the same title, published in 1881, The Chrysanthemum, A Monthly Magazine for Japan and the Far East, Volume I, states:
“Again, suppose we raise this one great living animal called the universe, and each of its parts, such as the sun, the moon, the earth, to the rank of living gods, then manifestly the pneuma, spiritus, spirit and ki of each and all of these living gods becomes a living divine force and agent in the world: and so we get the non-Christian sense of the spiritus dei, to pneuma tou theou, kami no ki. This ki or spiritus may be regarded as divine, and hence it is called reiki shinki,.. spiritus divinus, pneuma theion, pneuma daimonion, divine spirit. God’s spirit in some such sense as this has been and is known to all heathen nations. And, again, as the cosmological idea of spirit in all languages gradually tends to grow up into the physiological and psychological, it is manifest that the idea of a divine spirit or ki would gather physiological and psychological ideas, and in proportion as the hi or spirit becomes more and more associated with the psychological phenomena of a people, it is clear that such a people, even though heathen in their religion, would yet gradually come to speak of the spirit or ki of their gods very much as they would speak of their own spirit, and this is actually what has occurred in Japan.”
In The Chrysanthemum Volume I, which was published in 1881 approximately forty-years before Mikao Usui would rediscover Reiki and a year before Hawayo Takata was born, we see evidence of Christian scholar’s use of the term Reiki and define such as “divine spirit.” The popularity of The Chrysanthemum Volume I is left to be determined. However, it stands to reason that this knowledge may have been utilized by Mrs. Takata in determining how Reiki was already interpreted by people of the West, then the popular assumption that this story was invented.