Reiki is older than any written account, but the modern story of Reiki begins in the mid 1800s with Dr. Mikao Usui, a Christian Minister in Kyoto, Japan. He was searching for the skill of healing. He could not find any answers where he was so he travelled to the United Stated of America where he studied theology at the University of Chicago. During this time he found no real answers to his questions, the bishops he approached only stating that religion heals the spirit, not the body.
Eventually, he returned to Japan to study Buddhism which had many references to healing and learned Chinese and Sanskrit to be able to understand the scriptures in their native languages. He settled in a Zen Buddhist Monastery in Kyoto and spent many years studying the Sutras. Eventually, he found a formula for healing, but it was not complete, it was written 2,500 years ago and could not be fully interpreted.
He decided to undergo three weeks of fasting and meditation on the nearby holy site of Mount Koriyama to ask for guidance. He picked a spot and laid out 21 stones to ace as a calendar and threw away one every morning. Early on the morning of the 21st day just before dawn, he saw a beam of light which moved towards him faster and faster, growing larger and larger. He got up to run, but decided to accept this as his answer from God, even if it killed him. The light struck his eyebrow center and knocked him down, unconscious. He saw bubbles, millions of bubbles moving from right to left in every color of the rainbow. Finally, came the Reiki symbols in white and gold. As each symbol appeared he was given instruction on how to use it. When he opened his eyes it was broad daylight, the middle of the morning.
Walking down the hill he experienced what he called his four miracles. He stubbed his toe and instinctively put his hands around it. He felt heat and found the toe was healed. Secondly, upon reaching the base of the mountain he was able to eat a full breakfast at a serving house, not a good idea after 21 days of fasting. Thirdly, the young girl serving him had chronic toothache pain. He placed his hands on her face and the pain was relieved. Finally, upon returning to the monastery he was told the bishop was in bed with severe arthritis, he sat on the bed with his hands on the bishop, relating his experiences to the bishop and the arthritis was healed
Dr. Usui decided to go and heal the beggars of Kyoto, so he did so, living in the beggars' quarters for several years. After a while he saw the same faces he had healed returning, angry that they would now have to work instead of begging for a living. This resulted in him developing the five principles of Reiki and the belief that Reiki should not be given freely but should be paid for or exchanged in order to appreciate and respect its power.
Dr. Mikao Usui then became a pilgrim spreading the word of Reiki throughout Japan. By his death in 1930 he had initiated eighteen Reiki Masters, one of them being Chujiro Hayashi, who he named his successor.
Chujiro Hayashi opened the first Reiki clinic in Tokyo where a very sick lady came for treatment. Her name was Hawayo Takata. After a series of sessions she was healed of her various ailments. She desperately wanted to be attuned to Reiki and eventually Chujiro Hayashi did so in the spring of 1936. By the winter of 1938 she was initiated as a Reiki Master and was the thirteenth and last Master initiated by Dr. Hayashi before his death in 1941.
Mrs. Takata first brought Reiki to her homeland of Hawaii and then on to the mainland United States, where she found it difficult to instill the Japanese concept of respect and decided to charge a large sum of money to Reiki Mastership - $10,000 in order that it should be valued in the West. While one can understand this reasoning, many have felt that this sort of financial undertaking makes Reiki too exclusive and out of reach for most people. Many Reiki practitioners also feel it cannot be right to charge very large sums of money for healing in a world which so desperately needs it. For the few who do no value the power of Reiki, surely as the healing energy works through all levels of their being, it can only create a deeper understanding of the truth and value of the energy, Reiki is the greatest teacher.
Upon her death in 1980 Mrs. Takata had attuned twenty-two Reiki Masters, her successor and current Grand Master being her granddaughter, Phyllis Furumoto.