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Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healthy flow of energy as well as healing. The name of the art is composed of a two syllable Japanese word meaning Rei (Universal) and Ki (life force). The first syllable can also be translated as “the Higher Power.”
Life Force Energy Flow
This healing art complements the art of Ninjutsu in its doctrine proclaiming that the unseen life force energy flows through us and can be channeled to improve our everyday lives. If one’s life force energy is exhausted then one is more likely to become ill or feel the heightened strain of stressful situations. Raising the level of the energy flow, in turn promotes happiness and health.
Reiki is administered by a “laying on hands” similar to massage therapy, though practitioners serve to consciously transfer universal energy through the palms of their hands rather than using pure physical force to ease the body.
History of Reiki
The system of Reiki that is used today was developed by Mikao Usui in 1922, while participating in a 21 day Buddhist training course held on Mount Kurama. Located 12 km north of Kyoto, Japan, many sources believe that Mount Kurama was also a foundational training ground for the original techniques of Ninjutsu.
Revelation for the practice of Reiki is said to have come from days of mediation, fasting and prayer. Mediation is still a key element of the practice today. Later in the year Usui moved to Tokyo and founded the Usui Reki Rycho Gakkai, which translates as “Usui’s Spiritual Energy Therapy Method Society.” In the four years that Usui practiced Reiki prior to his death in 1926, it is stated on his memorial headstone, that he passed the art on to over 2000 people. From there, the techniques and principals of Reiki were continued and passed on by his close students.
Similar to Ninjutsu there are a number of variations on the art with difference emphasis. These slight differences have separated the art into various schools, which share base principals.
Western practitioners are known to emphasis the use of meridian energy lines and chakras to create energy flow. This is used in conjunction with specific hand positions to create balance in the body.
Another similarity between Reiki and Ninjutsu is the use of mudras when practicing kuji-kuri or kuji-in, which are hand signals (mudras) used to move through nine stages of “enlightenment” or what some consider nine stages of “mystic powers.” The kuji-in are the nine “cuts” associated with the kuji-kuri concepts. These are commonly linked in theory to the “supernatural powers” that Ninja are presumed to achieve in order to accomplish unimaginable feats of invisibility, mind control and other skills. These abilities are in fact contained within the kuji-kuri.
The Nine Hand Seals (Mudras)
- RIN: Power
- PYO: Energy
- TOH: Harmony
- SHA: Healing
- KAI: Intuition
- JIN: Awareness
- RETSU: Dimension
- ZAI: Creation
- ZEN: Absolute
Reiki practitioners, like Shinobi, utilize the hand seals as a ritual process that encourages the development of spiritual abilities, emphasizing the control and harnessing of energy. Specifically in Reiki, this energy is used for healing.
Most Reiki schools of thought have three levels of mastery.
First Degree: Shoden (Elementary Teachings)
The basic theories and procedures of the art are taught at this degree. Students learn specific hand placements most conducive to treating the whole body of the recipient. This initiation focuses on connecting a student’s energy system to the universal energy. These teachings help the student to relieve energy blockages and balance chakras. At this stage the student should be able to treat both themselves and others.
Second Degree: Okuden (Inner Teachings)
The use of Kuji-kiri are learned in the second degree and are said to help enhance the practitioner’s ability to harness and control energy over a larger distance. This is said to allow for the flow of energy to continue from the practitioner to the recipient temporarily over a connection that exists regardless of time and distance. This is called “distance healing,” and in Japan it could take 10 to 20 years of practice to achieve.
Third Degree: Shinpiden (Mystery Teachings)
The third degree is reserved for “master” or teacher training.” This is the point at which a practitioner learns to teach the art across all three degrees. Master practitioners do not teach Reiki, but Master Teachers do. The terminology can sometimes cause confusion.
Five Principals of Reiki
Dr. Usui created five basic suggestions on how to live a peaceful life. Though the life of the Shinobi is not historically peaceful, the ability to steady one’s emotions and find stillness in chaos is crucial to balance any martial art practice, but especially so in Ninjutsu where emphasis is also placed on inward growth. Dr. Usui developed these principles when he realized that spiritual, emotional, and physical health truly begins when we take responsibility for our own well-being.
1. Just for today, I will not be angry (Kyo dake wa. Okolu-na) – Anger at oneself or others creates energy blockages, which can accumulate over time if not removed.
2. Just for today, I will not worry (Kyo dake wa Shinpai suna) – Anger deals with past and present events, but worry deals with future ones. A certain amount of concern or planning is acceptable, but endless worry can harm the body and soul.
3. Just for today, I will be grateful (Kyo dake wa Kansha shite) – Being thankful brings Joy into the spirit. A spirit without joy is one that can never be at peace.
4. Just for today, I will do my work honestly (Kyo dake wa Goo hage me) – The concept for this principal is that working honestly brings abundance into the soul.
5. Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing (Kyo dake wa Hito ni shinsetsu ni) – This principal serves to recognize that we are all in different stages on the same spiritual path and each one’s journey should be respected.
Ninjutsu and Reiki in Practice
Dr. Jon Hodson is a practitioner of both Ninjutsu and Reiki, based in Melbourne, Australia. “I was introduced to Reiki back in the 90’s in parallel to training Ninjutsu,” Dr. Hodson told Shinobi Exchange.
“For me there was a personal balance in studying both arts as some may say one art trains you in techniques that can be used to take the universal energy from another in the event it is needed, the other art having only the compassionate aspect of helping others providing a channel to another providing for healing using universal energy, two arts that can certainly help balance a student on their Shinobi experience/ journey.”
“I find the use of hand signs used in Reiki attunements especially complementary to the feeling and heightened focus that I use during Kuji-In. Healing is an area that can be used in Ninjutsu (for example ‘Sha’ is a hand related mudra/ mantra and mandala component of Kuji-In) whereas Reiki is clearly a complete healing focused system. Here it is worth mentioning that both arts go in to the esoteric realm once at the experienced practitioner level and so I believe it is only with deeper appreciation of this esoteric realm that you become to have the deeper feeling of ‘faith’ in its application/when practicing them. I think it is important to note that practitioners should not fool around too much in the esoteric realm. Certainly there needs to be respect e.g. to act with compassion and of a pure heart for any healing/ giving intention.”
“For me I teach Reiki, Kuji-In and the other aspects of Ninjutsu because they provide a powerful yet balanced base for the serious budo (warrior art) student.”