“First the mind must be healed
Second, the body must be made sound.
If the mind is healthy, conforming to a path of integrity,
then the body becomes sturdy of its own accord.”
~ Mikao Usui (1865-1926)
Mikao Usui Sensei is the founder of Reiki Ryoho (healing art or method). He attained enlightenment and a healing ability in 1922. This happened while he was fasting and meditating on Mt. Kurama in Kyoto, the ancient capital city of Japan.
Usui Sensei coined the phrase “Reiki Ryoho” to convey the meaning of the healing art and practice (ryoho) of channeling the miraculous and sacred (rei) energy of the universe (ki). The healing art is named “USUI REIKI RYOHO to improve the mind and body”. It is an inspired healing art of Usui Sensei, not the outcome of his researches, or discovery, or re-discovery. Usui Sensei thought that this wonderful gift of the healing ability should be shared with people. He broke the traditional ways of keeping it to himself and/or his family. Thus he opened up “Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai” at Aoyama, Tokyo in 1922.
In 1925 he moved out to Nakano, a suburb of Tokyo, so as to expand his healing activities. Due to his nation-wide fame, he was very often invited to teach his Reiki Ryoho from local districts here and there like Hiroshima area, Saga, Kyushu. On March 9th, 1926, he passed away on the road (while traveling) at Fukuyama in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Usui Sensei’s gravesite and his memorial stone are located at Saihoji Temple of Jodo-shu or Pure Land sect of Japanese Buddhism in Tokyo.
There are several stories circulating about the origins of Reiki and of Usui Sensei. For instance, in the West, Usui Sensei is said to be a Christian minister and president of Christian based Doshisha University in Kyoto. There is no evidence to support this. He was from beginning to end a lay Buddhist.
It is also said that Usui Sensei re-discovered Reiki, and that Reiki was an ancient Tibetan or Egyptian practice. While many civilizations have discovered and practiced forms of energy healing, Reiki Ryoho–this particular type and method of channeling the energy of the universe through the art of hands-on healing–was gifted to Usui Sensei after fasting for several days on Mt. Kurama, a holy mountain near Kyoto, the ancient capitol of Japan.
Usui Memorial Stone
Reiho Choso Usui Sensei Kudoko No Hi
Memorial of the merits of Usui Sensei, the founder of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho)
That which is attained within oneself after having accumulated the fruits of disciplined study and training is called ‘Toku’ and that which can be offered to others after having spread a path of teaching and salvation is called ‘Koh’. Only with high merits and great virtues can one be a great founding teacher. Sagacious and brilliant men of the olden time or the founders of new teachings and religious sects were all like that. Someone like Usui Sensei can be counted among them. Sensei newly founded the method based on Reiki of the universe to improve the mind and body. Having heard of his reputation all over, people crowded around to seek his teachings and treatments. Ah, how popular it is!
Sensei, commonly known by the name ‘Mikao’, with an extra name ‘Gyohan’ is from Taniai-mura (village) Yamagata-gun (county), Gifu-ken (prefecture). He is descended from Chiba Tsunetane. His father’s name was Taneuji, and was commonly called Uzaemon. His mother was from the Kawai family.
Sensei was born on August 15 of the first year of Keio (1865 A.D.). From his youth he surpassed his fellows in hard work and endeavor. When he grew up he visited Europe and America, and studied in China. Despite his will to succeed in life, he was stalemated and fell into great difficulties. However, in the face of adversity he strove to train himself even more with the courage never to yield.
One day, he climbed Kurama-yama and after 21 days of a severe discipline without eating, He suddenly felt One Great Reiki over his head and attained enlightenment and he obtained Reiki Ryoho. Then, he tried it on himself and experimented on his family members. The efficacy was immediate. Sensei thought that it would be far better to offer it widely to the general public and share its benefits than just to improve the well-being of his own family members. In April of the 11th year of Taisho (1922 A.D.) he settled in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo and set up the Gakkai to teach Reiki Ryoho and give treatments. Even outside of the building it was full of pairs of shoes of the visitors who had come from far and near.
In September of the 12th year (1923 A.D.) there was a great earthquake and a conflagration broke out. Everywhere there were groans of pains from the wounded. Sensei, feeling pity for them, went out every morning to go around the town, and he cured and saved an innumerable number of people. This is just a broad outline of his relief activities during such an emergency.
Later on, as the ‘dojo’ became too small, in February of the 14th year (1925 A.D.) the new suburban house was built at Nakano according to divination. Due to his respected and far-reaching reputation many people from local districts wished to invite him. Sensei, accepting the invitations, went to Kure and then to Hiroshima and Saga, and reached Fukuyama. Unexpectedly he became ill and passed away there. It was March 9 of the 15th year of Taisho (1926 A.D.), aged 62.
His spouse was Suzuki, and was called Sadako. One boy and one girl were born. The boy was named Fuji and he succeeded to the family. Sensei’s personality was gentle and modest and he never behaved ostentatiously. His physique was large and sturdy. He always wore a contented smile. He was stout-hearted, tolerant and very prudent upon undertaking a task. He was by nature versatile and loved to read books. He engaged himself in history books, medical books, Buddhist scriptures, Christian scriptures and was well versed in psychology, Taoism, even in the art of divination, incantation, and physiognomy. Presumably Sensei’s background in the arts and sciences afforded him nourishment for his cultivation and discipline, and it was very obvious that it was this cultivation and discipline that became the key to the creation of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho).
On reflection, Reiho puts special emphasis not just on curing diseases but also on enjoying wellbeing in life with correcting the mind and making the body healthy with the use of an innate healing ability. Thus, before teaching, the’‘Ikun’ (admonition) of the Meiji Emperor should reverently be read and Five Precepts be chanted and kept in mind mornings and evenings.
Firstly it reads, Today do not anger, secondly it reads, Do not worry, thirdly it reads Be thankful, fourthly it reads, Work with diligence, fifthly it reads, Be kind to others.
These are truly great teachings for cultivation and discipline that agree with those great teachings of the ancient sages and the wise. Sensei named these teachings ‘Secret Method to Invite Happiness and ‘Miraculous Medicine to Cure All Disease’; notice the outstanding features of the teachings. Furthermore, when it comes to teaching, it should be as easy and common as possible, nothing lofty. Another noted feature is that during sitting in silent meditation with Gassho and reciting the Five Precepts mornings and evenings, the pure and healthy minds can be cultivated and put into practice in one’s daily routine. This is the reason why Reiho is easily obtained by anyone.
Recently the course of the world has shifted and a great change in thought has taken place. Fortunately with the spread of this Reiho, there will be many that supplement the way of the world and the minds of people. How can it be for just the benefit of curing chronic diseases and longstanding complaints?
A little more than 2,000 people became students of Sensei. Those senior disciples living in Tokyo gathered at the ‘dojo’ and carried on the work (of the late Sensei) and those who lived in local districts also spread the teachings. Although Sensei is gone, Reiho should still be widely propagated in the world for a long time. Ah, how prominent and great Sensei is that he offers the teachings to people out there after having been enlightened within!
Of late the fellow disciples consulted with each other about building the stone memorial in a graveyard at Saihoji Temple in Toyotama-gun so as to honor his merits and to make them immortalized and I was asked to write it. As I deeply submit to Sensei’s greatness and am happy for the very friendly teacher/disciple relationships among fellow students, I could not decline the request, and I wrote a summary in the hope that people in the future shall be reminded to look up at him in reverence.
February, the 2nd year of Showa (1927 A.D. Composed by: Ju-sanmi (subordinate 3rd rank), Kun-santo (the 3rd Order of Merit) Doctor of Literature Okada Masayuki
Calligraphy by: Navy Rear Admiral, Ju-yonmi (subordinate 4th rank), Kun-santo (the 3rd Order of Merit), Ko-yonkyu (the distinguished service 4th class) Ushida Juzaburo
Translation © 2003 Hyakuten Inamoto