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The Reiki Precepts

I was asked a question online about the precepts, the numerous versions etc. My response follows, a longish text, and with no pics.

The first clarification with regard to the precepts that each of us might favour or have been taught. is that they are what they are, although distortions of meaning from the original are problematic with some. For me personally, there is the version that I received with my form of practice. At the same time, there are various translations from Mikao Usui’s memorial stone and later adaptations of them. Where I return again and again, is to the memorial stone and its direct translations.

Translation is an art form. The task of the translator is to change the original language form into another language form while retaining the meaning held in the original. Which means in the case of the precepts translated to English, various translators may use different English words and phrases from their own understandings. So it’s not so much the words used but the retention of the meaning that is key.

Many of the translations from the memorial stone are similar, although usually not made by professional translators. The translation that holds the most meaning for me comes from a professional translator and that version follows. Included are sentences either side of the precepts which are important to my mind in discerning the purpose behind them.

Translation begins:

The Reiki method is not only for curing illness. Its true purpose is to correct the heart-mind, keep the body fit and lead a happy life using the spiritual capabilities humans are endowed with since birth. Accordingly, when teaching people, first, respecting the dying injunction of the Emperor Meiji, recite the following precepts morning and evening, and keep them in one’s heart.

The five precepts are:

1- today, throughout the entire day, do not become angry;

2- worry about nothing;

3- express one’s gratitude;

4- be diligent in work;

5- be kind to others.

These are the most important teachings in cultivating the mind, and are inextricably linked with the path that the saints and sages of old kept uppermost in mind. The Sensei referred to this as “the secret method that summons happiness, the miraculous medicine that is effective against all kinds of illness.” Of this, there is no doubt because he knew their true meaning… If you quietly in seated meditation, join your hands together in worship and recite the five precepts, you develop a pure and sound heart, and return to acting fairly and honestly. It is so simple and easy that anyone can put the Reiki method into practice.

End:

I read particular significance into the terminology ‘Heart-Mind’ (not heart and/or mind) in the preceding paragraph, and ‘because he knew their TRUE meaning’ in the following one. The ‘secret method’ is in plain sight but not easily seen.

The version of the precepts I received and teach as my form of practice includes an addition by Hawayo Takata, ‘Honour your parents teachers and elders’. This I interpret as her perception that the concept of honour as held in Japanese culture was not present in western culture. My daily experience is that she was absolutely correct.

Which leads me to the understanding (right or otherwise) that Mikao Usui had an awakening experience and as with all such persons he sought to bring that experience to others. The precepts were referred to as ‘the secret method etc’. The core experience of awakening is in the nowness of everything awareness, being in the now, being present. ‘He knew their true meaning’ carries that significance.

So the version of the precepts as received in my form of practice is held alongside the direct translation from the memorial stone, in the understanding that each precept stands on its own, as a specific pathway for being in the now moment.

As to ‘what do the precepts as you follow them read as?’ My short answer is ‘Be here now’.

The Practice

Before I began the Reiki practice, I (from time to time) used an intuited natural “healing” ability that feels very much like the experience of what I now know as ‘Reiki’. Externally it 'looks like’ Reiki. My best healing story comes from that time. I have not abandoned this original ability, and allow its expression when the moment calls for it. But it is not, and was not “Reiki”.

The original calligraphic character for 'Reiki’, a word picture from the Japanese language, has many meanings, one of which inspired Mikao Usui (the founder of the Usui System of Reiki Healing) to use the expression 'Reiki’ to label the method that he founded, and the form of his practice. 

By inference, if the form of the practice in its many aspects is not recognisable as the one Mikao Usui founded, then it is not 'Reiki, the Usui System’. That is a round about way of saying that the Usui System doesn’t own the word 'Reiki’, and practices that are called 'Reiki’ are not necessarily 'The Usui System’. Nor are they 'Usui Shiki Ryoho’, or “Usui’s way of doing it”. Sounds messy and it is.

There is a point to this.

The system is superficially simple to the outside observer or the casual practitioner. Yet it is a finely crafted and essentially human construct from the perspective of a deeper experience of it as a disciplined practice. What it looks like on the surface and the deeper experience are worlds apart. To know it, one has to engage in the deeper experience, to allow it to reveal who and what we are as a human being.

This enters, as spiritual practice so often does, into the realm of allowing the practice to reveal its meaning to us, as against imposing our meanings on the practice .

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