History of Reiki

Reiki is thought to have been a pre-historic healing technique that goes back to civilizations whose remains no longer exist. The earliest archaeological evidence for Reiki has been found in Tibet, dating back approximately ten thousand years ago. There is evidence that indicates Reiki was also known in ancient China, Egypt, India, Greece and Rome.

The knowledge of Reiki is then thought to have been common among indigenous people throughout the world, until the time of Western colonization, when it was lost, due to warfare.

Mikao Usui

It was not until the early 1900s that a scholar in Japan, Dr Mikao Usui, rediscovered the Reiki formula in an ancient Sanskrit sutra. The sutra that Usui found contained the seven symbols on which Reiki is based. However, it did not have the information required to empower a power with Reiki using these symbols. So, Usui decided to undertake a long meditation fast to purify himself, to better understand the symbols and their energy.

Usui went to the top of Mount Kurama, where he fasted and meditated on the Reiki symbols for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day something remarkable happened. While meditating in the dark, just before the dawn, he saw a flicker of light in the distance, which came at him faster and faster and struck him in the forehead and knocked him out. He then saw millions of bubbles all the colours of the rainbow, and then a screen of white light on which the seven Reiki symbols were radiating in gold.

He said to himself, “Yes, I remember.” By which he meant that he remembered being a teacher of this system in a previous life. He had reconnected to the knowledge and energy of the entire seven level system of Reiki.

Some days passed before he came to normal consciousness. Then, full of energy and enthusiasm, Usui ran down the mountain to tell somebody what had just happened to him! On the way down he tripped and almost broke his neck! Had he broken his neck that would be the end of Usui’s story and the end of the rediscovery of Reiki! Fortunately, however, Usui stubbed his toe. And it started bleeding, so he held his toe and within moments the pain subsided and the bleeding stopped! This, for Usui, was his first proof that he now possessed a healing energy.

Usui continued down the mountain till he came to an inn, where he ordered three bowls of rice. A young woman came out to serve him, and Usui noticed a bandage around her head and ask why she was wearing it. She told him that she had a toothache and that her mouth was swollen. So Usui asked if he could treat her with his new healing technique. She said yes. So he placed his hands over her face and within moments the swelling went down! This was Usui’s second proof that he mow possessed a healing energy.

Desiring to assist humanity, Usui decided to go to the slums of Kyoto, to assist the poor, to allow them to improve their lives and move forward.

There he treated and empowered the poor with Reiki until one day he noticed that many of the people he had healed were still there. So he approached a group of them and asked: “What are you still doing here, didn’t I heal you?”

They said things such as: “Yes, thanks for healing us. We no longer have to beg any more. Our legs are much stronger, so now we can pickpocket and run away!”

Despondent by this response, Usui felt that he had failed in his mission. He felt that there had to be gratitude for this great gift of healing if people were going to truly move forward in life. So he took an entirely new approach. He began a Reiki school, where those who were interested in learning Reiki would be given a temporary attunement to Reiki, which would last for about five days. And if they treated themselves and others, they continued to receive temporary attunements, till about a year passed, and they proved worthy of permanently having Reiki.

And then he would give them the four permanent attunements of Reiki 1. But they were not told about Reiki 2, because Usui did not want them to stay around just for an energy boost. So if they continued to treat people and themselves, then after another year they were given Reiki 2. And so on through the levels.

In this way Usui trained many people, a few of whom he trained in the entire seven level system of Reiki. One such person was Churijo Hayashi. Hayashi was a retired medical doctor who, after learning the entire seven level system, opened his own Reiki clinic in Tokyo. There many people were treated, one of whom was a woman by the name of Hawayo Takata.

Hawayo Takata became very ill in her mid-30s due to the grief caused by her husband passing away at an early age. She was suffering from many serious ailments, and while on a visit to Japan she heard about Hayashi’s clinic, and decided to receive treatments.

After eight months of daily treatments, Takata recovered from illness, and decided to learn Reiki. By 1938 Mrs Takata had learnt the entire seven level system of Reiki and then moved back to Hawaii.

There she treated and taught Reiki to hundreds of people. However, it was not until she was in her 70s that, knowing she would pass away soon, Takata started training teachers. To help explain how she taught teachers, let’s present a schema of the seven level system of Reiki:

7A     7B


5A     5B


3A     3B



Traditionally, it was taught so that you first learnt all the practitioner or A-levels, and then, if you desired to teach, you would learn the teacher or B-levels. So, first you would have to learn Reiki 1, 2, 3A, 4, 5A, 6 and 7A. This raised a person’s vibration and balanced all the major energy centres, and also gave the student a knowledge of all the levels before they taught any part of the system. Then, you would do Reiki 3B, which gives you the ability to align people to Reiki 1 and 2; then Reiki 5B, which gives you the ability to align people to Reiki 3A, 3B and 4; and then Reiki 7B, which enables you to align people to 5A, 5B, 6, 7A and 7B itself.

The way Takata taught it, however, was that her students would learn Reiki 1, 2, 3A and then 3B, the first teacher level. This ensured that there would at least be a few teachers who could teach part of the system in the event that she passed away soon. She trained twenty-one teachers to Reiki 3B, and only one teacher was trained in the entire seven level system: Barbara Weber Ray, who completed her training in 1979.

Then, in 1980, Takata passed away. Before she passed away, she requested that Ray inform the 3B teachers of the next level and teach them if they felt ready. Takata had not herself informed them about the other levels because she taught in the tradition of refraining from telling the student about the next level till they were ready. So Ray contacted the others. But most of them were not interested because they had started an association called the Reiki Alliance and were actively teaching Reiki, so they didn’t want to be informed that their system was incomplete or fragmented.

So to distinguish what she had from the incomplete systems of Reiki, Barbara Ray called the seven level system of Reiki ‘The Radiance Technique.’ Another distinction between the Reiki that Barbara Ray practices and teaches and that of the others, is the symbols. When the 3B teachers had a meeting to compare their symbols, they found they were all different. In contrasted, Ray had kept Takata’s original symbols and a made copy for her students.

Barbara Ray went on to train many teachers in the seven level system. One of them was Gary Samer, who completed his training with Ray in 1984. Since then he has taught over 10,000 people in twelve countries. Due to pricing disagreements, however, Samer decided to leave The Radiance Technique and became an independent seven level system Reiki Grand Master Teacher.

Samer taught a handful of people the entire seven level system, one of whom was Dez Dalton, who, along with other seven level practitioners and teachers, formed the Association of the Original 7 Level System of Reiki Inc, which uses the acronym ASLOR.