How and where it started
rei - universal ki - life force
Reiki is frequently translated to mean Universal Life Energy or Life Force, and is made up of two Japanese characters “Rei” and “ki” (pronounced ‘Ray-key’). “Rei” can be translated to mean both universal, as in everywhere, and also spiritual wisdom, whilst “ki” means chi or the vital life force within every living thing.
Reiki is the descriptive name for the Usui art of Natural Healing which was re-discovered in the late 1800’s by the Japanese scholar Dr Mikao Usui who set out to understand more about how the ancient mystics and religious teachers were able to heal. Although some of Usui’s history is hard to clarify, the consensus of opinion is as follows.
Dr Usui was born in 1865 and followed a variety of professions including being a businessman, a politician’s secretary, a missionary and a supervisor of convicts. During his time as private secretary to Japan’s Secretary of Interior and State, Shimpei Goto, Usui travelled to China, America and Europe which allowed him to study voraciously. His reading included psychology, western and Chinese medicine, theology, Zen Buddhism and healing. He became a well-known healer and in the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake that destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama and killed around 140,000 people, Usui took to the streets to offer Reiki healing to those who survived the quake and fires that followed. In recognition of his work during Japan’s greatest natural disaster, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate.
Little would Usui have known that his fascination and interpretation of the ancient art of natural healing would become a highly popular global complementary practice, flourishing as people seek more balanced ways of living and looking after themselves.