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Oct 26, 2007

Andrew Collins takes a great leap forward into the New Millennium and
discovers Reiki and Korean Buddhism.

....The origins of Reiki are sketchy. Its founder, one Mikao Usui, is
thought to have been a Japanese monk who lived in the late nineteenth,
early twentieth century (he died in 1920). It is said that unable to
explain the nature of Jesus' acts of healing to a class of Christian
students, he retired to Mount Kurama, located near the city of Kyoto. Here
Usui entered into a 21-day fasting vision quest, having made it clear
that he was prepared to die searching for the answers to the mystery. At
dawn on the 21st day he noticed in the pre-dawn light a white light
that appeared to expand towards him and enter his consciousness (some
might suggest he merely witnessed the planet Venus, but then he wasn't
filing a UFO report!). The whole experience overwhelmed him, and at that
moment he saw a series of coloured spheres (their called tigles in
Tibetan lamaism) in each of which was a sacred symbol. He also received what
was taken to be the doctrine and teachings of Reiki (Rei - universal,
Ki - life energy). Accepting the reality of his experience, Usui went
out into the world to spread these new teachings. This usually included a
form of hands on healing that has become synonymous with Reiki. More
importantly, he believed that this same healing process could be
awakened in anyone who was sympathetic to the initiations he devised. These
involved the passing on of a total of four sacred symbols by means of
ritual attunements. Today these take the form of a series of three degrees
of Reiki, culminating in Reiki Master.

Reiki was introduced to the western world from Japan via Hawaii shortly
after the Second World War. At the time Japanese culture and religion
was extremely unpopular on the island due the attack on Pearl Harbour
there in 1941. For this reason the clear Buddhist roots of the system
were christianized for the sake of its acceptance in an anti-Japanese
climate. The main impetus behind this expansion was a Hawaiian woman named
Hawaya Takata, who was long considered to be the only Reiki Master
living during this uneasy period. She had been conferred this status by
one Chujiro Hayashi, a retired Japanese naval commander and follower of
Usui, who first met Takata in 1935. Before his death under curious
circumstances shortly before the start of the war, Hayashi had hinted to
Takata that the time was right for Reiki to be introduced to the West, a
spiritual role she was happy to accept. Takata died in 1980, but towards
the end of her life she began creating a series of Reiki masters, 22
in all. From these individuals the whole subsequent explosion in Reiki
can be traced.

Takata's granddaughter, Phyllis Lei Furomoto, later founded a group
called the Reiki Alliance, their aim being to standardise Reiki teachings
and charge extremely high fees for initiation. Yet their strict
orthodoxy was rejected by Reiki Masters worldwide, leading to them going it
alone. The affect of this schism has been the vast expansion of Reiki
over the last decade or so. In recent years research done in Japan on
Usui's life has thrown new light on the unquestionable Buddhist roots of
Reiki, historically anchoring his life and establishing his teachings as
a true strain of Japanese Buddhism.

Today Reiki has tens of thousands of followers worldwide, even though
its original teachings have been much expanded by new age groups,
healers and channelers in particular. There are even Reiki 'universities',
while the classified pages of new age magazines carry countless adverts
offering weekend courses in which Reiki attunements are given, usually
at an exorbitant price. One estimate suggests that in Britain alone 100
people are initiated into Reiki every week. In Holland, there is even a
village in which every man, woman and child is said to have received
at least first degree initiation into Reiki.

Yet despite its new age tag, Reiki is an effective means of enabling
the mind and body to activate and channel Chi, or Ki, energy. Its
inexhaustible source remains a sacred mystery which has been the subject of
religious teachings for thousands of years. Despite the new age
connotations of Reiki, I am aware of various individuals who have undergone the
attunements and have benefited greatly from these initiatory
experiences. It has quite simply changed their lives. Somehow Reiki appears to
activate deep levels of the unconscious mind, catalysing spiritual and
psychic processes which might include contact with external guides and
claimed past lives. Moreover, those to whom hands on healing and distant
healing are given confirm the often remarkable changes which take
place. In this knowledge, I therefore made the decision to undergo the
attunements myself in the hope that it would benefit not only my own
spiritual well-being but also those whom I might apply the Reiki technique.

I experienced considerable mental imagery during the attunements. I
felt as if unwanted aspects of myself were being systematically stripped
away, making me feel like an empty vessel waiting to be filled. I also
got the impression that the origins of Reiki stretched back beyond the
age of Usui and had roots in Southeast or Eastern Asia. At one point in
the attunements I unexpectedly found myself viewing the exterior walls
of a hospital by the River Seine in Paris at the time of the French
revolution. I gained the distinct impression that there was some
Buddhist-inspired healing going on here that might tell us something about the
origins of Reiki. Afterwards both Paul and I realised it could well have
something to so with the Austrian scientist Franz Anton Mesmer's hands
on healing which went under the name `animal magnetism'. Certainly, we
found that he was practising his healing techniques in Paris at this

Overnight on 1st January 2000 I experienced an unusually vivid dream in
which a seated Buddhist leader appeared to me. He seemed to be a
warrior as he wore a gold helmet, held a sword in one hand and a
double-edged axe in the other. He gave his name as `Tomil'. I gained the distinct
impression that he was of Korean origin and that modern monks traced
their lineage back to him; he was like a Korean equivalent to the Tibetan
Dalai Lama. He seemed to be present in order to confer on me some kind
of `inner strength'.

Later that morning, I mentioned this dream to Paul as I prepared myself
for the second series of attunements. He pointed out that Korea was on
the East Asian east, a fact I was unaware of, and faced out towards
Japan. This knowledge convinced me that my dream was real and so I
confidently predicted that Korean Buddhism, of which I knew nothing, was
instrumental somehow in the creation of Mikao Usui's Reiki system.

The attunements continued. Everything went well and by the end of the
afternoon I had reached Reiki grade 2. That evening I travelled home
from Glastonbury to Leigh-on-Sea listening to the rather contrasting
sounds of Dave Pierce's Dance Anthems on Radio One (It made a change from
the sound of Japanese monks chanting!).


The following day, Monday, 3rd January I got curious about Korean
Buddhism and so checked the www for further information on this obscure
subject. Very easily, I found that Korean Buddhism was as unique as Tibetan
lamaism. More than this, it is thought to have been instrumental in
the foundation of Japanese Buddhism. In Korea it prospered from the sixth
century through 'til medieval times. Yet finally it was replaced,
following power struggles, by the Chinese religion known as Confucianism.
Then came along a warrior monk named Sôsan Hyujông (1520-1604) who
united the country and during an eight-year war against Japan, employed an
army of several thousand warrior monks comparable to the samurai of
Japanese tradition. The part played in these decisive battles by the
Korean monks was deemed to have been crucial in the repelling of the
Japanese army.

Thereafter Sôsan was seen as the new leader of Korean Buddhism. It is
recorded that he was a master of a discipline known as Sôn, on which
he authored a number of religious texts including a comprehensive guide
used to this day by Korean monks. After the war with Japan, Sôsan
spent the remainder of his life wandering from one mountain monastery to
the next, dying eventually at the ripe old age of 85. He left behind
around 1000 disciples, 70 of whom were monks and nuns. Most modern strains
of Korean Buddhism can trace their lineage back to Sôsan through four
main disciples, all of whom were assistants in the hostilities against
Japan. Sôn was introduced to Korea by an earlier figure named Chinul
and involved the coupling of meditational practices with the reading of
religious texts. Instead of remaining in one monastery, initiates would
move between monasteries studying and teaching for as long as they
deemed it necessary.

Buddhism remained stable in Korea from this time onwards to the next
invasion by Japan at the end of the nineteenth century. Although it was
stifled during the time of occupation, which lasted between 1910 and
1945, it was not until after the country's liberation that the Sôn school
was allowed to regain its influence among Korean society.

In this knowledge, I concluded that the Buddhist leader I had
encountered in my dream was Sôsan even though the name `Tomil' had been given.
Yet later, my friend Amber McCauley discovered that in the thirteenth
century AD a Tibetan monk named `Tomal' had founded a new strain of
Buddhism in Korea. So close is this name to `Tomil' that we have to be
dealing with the same person, even though I know little more about this
religious figure at this time. All this is beautiful confirmation of just
how strong the Reiki attunements appear to be.

I also discovered that Mesmer's work with animal magnetism is directly
compared with the hands on processes involved with Reiki. I contacted a
guy in the USA named Michael Bennett who runs the Stellar/Bennett
University of Reiki
(see He promotes the connection between
Reiki and Mesmer's animal magnetism and runs courses in Reiki initiation.

Since early January I have been conducting Reiki meditations
more-or-less every day. My life has been one very much of solitude and
preparation as we head towards the publication of GATEWAY TO ATLANTIS in mid
February. Giving up alcohol and caffeine has allowed me a calm and focused
state of mind conducive to these meditational practices. This is not to
say that I now follow Buddhism alone. My interests in comparative
religion and faiths stretch much further than this. For instance, I hold a
strong interest in the native religions of the West Indies, which I was
exposed to directly during the preparation of GATEWAY.

So as we head into the latter half of January I feel I can honestly say
that I have begun the millennium in a manner which will in some way
resonate with the way I intend it to continue at least for the
foreseeable future.

References: Muller, A. Charles, The History and Development of Korean
Buddhism: A Brief Overview, available at:
Dr Muller is one of the foremost authorities on Korean Buddhism.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Friday October 26, 2007, 8:08 am
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