About the Reiki founder
Reiki is a healing technique founded by Mikao Usui (1865-1926) from Gifu prfecture in central Japan. Often Mr Usui is regarded somewhat as a mystical figure, but he did actually exist!
Details of Mikao Usui’s life is depicted in This Is Reiki: Transformation of Body, Mind and Soul from the Origins to the Practice, by Frank Arjava Petter, which I highly recommend reading. Below accounts are also from the book.
Usui Sensei (sensei means “teacher” or “master” with respect) received Buddhist education as a child, and when he grew up, he had varying jobs. One of his jobs he had was being a private secretary to a well-known politician, Count Shinpei Goto (1857-1929).
Usui Sensei had the privilege of traveling overseas which back then was impossible for ordinary Japanese citizens. He also established strong relations with the imperial army and navy officials, which later became vital to the spread of reiki.
After being in politics, Usui Sensei also tried having his own business, but he faced financial challenges and eventually went bankrupt. This caused Usui Sensei great distress and he went into a three-year retreat in 1919 at a zen temple in Kyoto.
Reiki as an outcome of meditation
After his three-year retreat, he had not reached Anjin Ryumei (acceptance of destiny/fate, but also to find absolute inner peace, and ultimately enlightenment.
He went to Mout Kurama, north of Kyoto, and sat in the gassho position (sitting with hands put together in front of your heart) without food and water. After 20 days, a lightning struck and he fell unconscious. When he woke up, he felt vibrant energy flowing through his body.
After he sat through meditation and experienced enlightenment, he ran down the mountain and tore off one of his toenails on his way down, but he healed himself by placing his hand. He then encountered a girl with a toothache in a village and again he healed her with the acquired reiki knowledge.
Usui Sensei was told by his Zen teacher that he should teach this knowledge for the benefit of mankind.
Usui Reiki Healing Method Association for the Improvement of Body and Mind
Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai was established in Tokyo and quickly spread among senior officials of the Japanese navy and army. In the 1920’s, the Japanese government outlawed any healing done by anyone without a medical license. Many healers therefore turned into religious groups and continued to apply spiritual healing (in a religious sense).
Because many of the Usui Reiki Healing Association members were of high-ranking navy officers, the government left the association alone.
Great Kanto Earthquake (1923)
The Great Kanto Earthquate which struck on 1 September 1923 marked a turning point in the history of Reiki. Hundreds of thousands of people died and more than 180,000 injured. Medical facilities burned down, and those remaining could not cope with the injured patients.
Usui Sensei and the rest of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai members treated the injured tirelessly.