Reiki originated with Mikao Usui (born 1865) in Japan. Usui grew up in a Tendai Buddhist family and as a child he entered a Tendai Buddhist monastery. It was here that he learned spiritual practices as well as ‘kiko’, the Japanese version of Qi Gong, and had exposure to Buddhist healing methods.
From 1907 Usui became a Tendai Buddhist Monk. Tendai Buddhism provides mystical spiritual teachings, and Shintoism (also studied) deals with methods of controlling and working with spiritual energies. Usui also took Zen Buddhist training in 1922 for about three years.
Eventually his studies and meditations led him to carry out a 21 day meditation and fasting. He carried out this self-imposed task on Kuramayama (a mountain) and experienced an enlightenment – a moment of what Japanese mystics describe as “satori”, and this led to the development of the system known as Reiki.
What happened to Usui was a flash of realisation that enabled him to put together a system based on his current traditional Japanese healing methods. The name for this, “Reiki”, came later. The whole system was not revealed to him at once but gradually, over a period of time and it is known that Usui carried out several similar meditations.
Usui was a very well-known and popular healer, and he taught students all over Japan. Usui would give them empowerments, that is to say “attunements” so that they were permanently connected to Reiki and were capable of treating themselves. It also enabled them to progress with Reiki in a training system.
Mikao Usui opened his first School, or Dojo, in April 1922 in Harajuku, Tokyo, and he used a small manual which had come into use about 1920. At the same time as he practiced and taught his spiritual methods, Usui Sensei also gave healing. He became very well known for his healing skills and his fame spread very quickly throughout Japan. The system of Reiki as we know it today has been handed down from Master to Pupil since that time. Reiki is not available as a college course it must be taught by a Reiki master who can trace their lineage to Mikao Usui.