Note that While I have included here the information that is currently accessible on Wikipedia. I have also started my own research and discussed this with my own teacher with an attempt to clarify a few things, we concluded that a lot of information might be false or rewritten by history, the essence is how we do apply our ‘methods’ in daily life.
The most of important of his teachings in written form might be the 5 Principles and the ‘Gassho’ meditation. I personally sense that Usui Sensei was a a humble spiritual leader in his own ways. Hence he was likely to be more concerned about ‘teaching’ or ‘sharing’. This does make sense in a buddhist way as compassion is the root for healing. I acknowledge that this is a personal interpretation of what it means to be a Master of your own life. We do not need the title. What matters most is what we contribute to this world
Mikao Usui (臼井甕男, 15 August 1865 – 9 March 1926, commonly Usui Mikao in Japanese) was the founder of a form of spiritual practice that we call today Reiki, used as a complementary therapy for the treatment of physical, emotional, and mental diseases. According to the inscription on his memorial stone, Usui taught Reiki to over 2000 people during his lifetime. Sixteen of these students continued their training to reach the Shinpiden level, a level equivalent to the Western third degree, or Master/Teacher level. Usui died on 9 March 1926 of a stroke.
Usui was born on 15 August 1865 in the village of Taniai in the Yamagata district of the Gifu Prefecture, Japan, which is now located near present day Nagoyo. Usui was influenced by Shintoism, the traditional faith of the Japanese people prior to contact with China. Shintoism focuses on the kami, which are spirits in the forms of birds, animals, mountains, trees and people. An 18th century scholar, Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) said, “According to ancient usage, whatever seemed strikingly impressive, possessed the quality of excellence, or inspired a feeling of awe was called kami”. Usui was known to use jumon (呪文) – spells or incantations in his teachings, derived from Shintoism and Taoism.
Usui also is also said to have practiced Shugenja (修験者), also known as Shugendō (修験道), in addition to his practice as a Tendai Buddhist. Shugendō is a Japanese mountain ascetic shamanism, which incorporates Shinto and Buddhist practices. Roles of Shugendō practitioners include offering religious services such as fortune telling, divination, channelling, prayer, ritual incantations and exorcism. Shugenja was often used by family clans to heal disease or to avoid misfortune.
Usui’s father’s common name was Uzaemon, and his mother was from the Kawai family.His brothers, Sanya and Kuniji, grew up to become a doctor and a policeman respectively. He also had an older sister called Tsuru. Usui married Sadako Suzuki, who bore children by the names of Fuji and Toshiko. Fuji (1908–1946) went on to teach at Tokyo University, and Toshiko lived a short life, dying at the age of 22 in 1935. The entire family’s ashes are buried at the grave site at the Saihō-ji Temple in Tokyo.
Usui studied in a temple school and continued his Buddhist education until he became a zaike (在家), or lay Tendai priest. This allowed him to remain in his own home with his family, without having to reside in a temple. As an adult, he travelled to several Western countries, including Americas, Europe, and China as a part of his continued life long study. His studies included history, medicine, Buddhism, Christianity, psychology, and Taoism.
Usui’s ancestors were the once influential Chiba clan and were Hatamoto samurai. Usui was raised as a samurai from childhood, specifically aiki jutsu (合氣 術). According to the inscription on his memorial, Tsuentane Chiba, a military commander during the end of the Heian period and the start of the Kamakuru period (1180–1230), was one of Usui’s ancestors. In 1551, Toshitane Chiba conquered the city Usui and thereafter all family members acquired that name.
Usui founded the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai (臼井靈氣療法學會 in Traditional Mandarin, meaning “Usui’s Spiritual Energy Therapy Society”), a society of Japanese Reiki masters. His style is assumed to have survived to the present day (assumed as no-one knows exactly how the Gakkai practises nowadays), with Ushida being the one who, upon death, substituted the presidency of the association. This society remained secret for many years and at present, the shihan (master), Masaki Kondoh, is the president of the Gakkai. Though many of their teachings still remain secret, little by little, members of this association – such as Master Hiroshi Doi – have been sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world. In spite of this, it continues to be a hermetic society, nearly impossible to access.
Recent discoveries by Reiki Masters and practitioners have revealed the story of Reiki’s history and travel to the West as false. Hawayo Takata, a Reiki Master attuned by Chujiro Hayashi (林 忠次郎, 1880–1940), changed Reiki’s history of development in order to make Reiki more appealing to the West. Usui’s cousin, a Tendai Buddhist nun by the name of Suzuki San, studied Reiki with Usui from 1915 until his death in 1926, who claimed, “There was no fixed point at which he began to teach. People were drawn to him because of his charisma and wisdom, and asked him to teach them, he never placed himself in the role of teacher.”
Suzuki San has listed Mount Hiei (比叡山, Hiei-zan), a famous Tendai mountain, as one of the mountains where old Sūtra copies exist with Usui’s Buddhist name of Gyoho or Gyotse on them. Mount Kurama (鞍馬山, Kurama-yama) is the other.
What Usui Mikao taught was called ‘Usui do’ – ‘the way of Usui’, and what he practiced on people would most likely have been called ‘Usui teate’ – meaning ‘hands-on’. The teachings and tools provided were usually customized to the student, since each student learns differently. It was the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai which formalized the teachings. The hand positions were added for the students who found it difficult to work intuitively. Early students had never heard of the word Reiki in relation to the entirety of Usui Mikao’s teachings. It was also often used in conjunction with Usui Mikao’s teachings but not as the name of them merely in its literal form meaning ‘spiritual energy’. Only once it came to the West was the word ‘Reiki’ turned into the name for a system.
It is believed that the aim of Usui’s teachings was to provide a method for students to achieve enlightenment. Unlike religion, though, there was no belief system attached. Though enlightenment was the aim, the healing that was taking place for students was a wonderful ‘side effect’. What sets Usui Mikao’s teachings apart from other hands-on healing methods is his use of reiju or attunement to remind students of their spiritual connection. It seems that all students of Usui Mikao received reiju and the 5 precepts and those with a further interest in the teachings became dedicated students. There does not appear to have been a distinction between clients and students in the beginning though this changed in 1917. People began coming to Usui Mikao for different purposes – some for healing and others for the spiritual teachings.
During the early 1920s, Usui did a 21-day practice on Mt kurama yama called kushu shinren, (which is a form of shugyo, or discipline or training) according to translator, Hyakuten Inamoto. Common belief dictates that it was during these 21 days that Usui developed reiki. As hiei zan is the main Tendai complex in Japan, and is very close to Kyoto it has been surmised that Usui Mikao would also have practiced there if he was a lay priest. A Tendai meditation practice called zazen shikan taza (according to Suzuki san’s students) may well have inspired him and his teachings either on hiei zan or kurama yama.
“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.” – translated from the memorial stone.
“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.” – translated from the memorial stone.
There was a great deal of poverty in Japan at that time due to the depression. After the earthquake Usui Mikao moved his home and place of teaching to Nakano ku, outside of Tokyo, in 1925.
“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.” – translated from the memorial stone.
Mikao’s memorial stone is located at the Saihoji temple in the Suginami district of Tokyo. Reiho Choso Usui Sensei Kudoko No Hi, in English this means: Memorial of the merits of Usui Sensei, the founder of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho). The inscription on the Usui memorial was written in old Japanese by Mr. Okata, and Mr. Ushida. The memorial stone was erected by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai in Japan one year after Usui Mikao’s death.
Encyclopedia edit from wikipedia