Reiki Lineage

Reiki LineageReiki lineage trees are often posted on websites or hung on walls, like family trees. But there is a difference.

We are born into a family and that’s that. We are the offspring of our parents from birth, no matter what happens later.

Although we may feel reborn after a Reiki class, Reiki lineage is not quite as straightforward.

What is Reiki lineage?

A Reiki class gives us what we need to practice: initiation and practice instruction. It does not bestow Reiki lineage.

This may seem radical, but please consider the possibility that Reiki lineage is not given, but earned.

Reiki lineage is not about taking classes; Reiki lineage is about practice.

Reiki lineage doesn’t come automatically when you take a class; it’s how you actually practice. Now. Today only.

Reiki lineage and legitimacy

Let’s be clear: the question here is not the legitimacy of various Reiki lineages. There is much diversity in the global Reiki community, and I wholeheartedly support diversity.

Nor am I saying that only those who know their Reiki lineage have a legitimate practice. Lineage does not create legitimacy. Our consistent self-practice creates legitimacy.

The question being raised is one for Reiki practitioners to contemplate within ourselves: the legitimacy of our own claim to a specific lineage (for those of us who claim lineage).

Tough Reiki lineage questions

Are you willing to ask yourself some tough Reiki lineage questions? Embracing this continual inner inquiry as part of your practice will clarify your understanding and deepen your relationship with your practice.

In communal service to our practice, let’s each contemplate Reiki lineage and its relevance in our own lives. Consider holding yourself — and your Reiki lineage — accountable for the future of Reiki practice. Lineage is not only about history and roots; it is also about the future –  branches, leaves, flowers and seeds.

The following questions can help you start this conversation:

  • Do you see yourself as a custodian of the practice, or do you think the practice is yours to change as you want?
  • What is your current relationship with your initiating master?
  • Do you practice as you were taught or have you changed the practice?
  • Have the masters listed in your lineage practiced as they were taught, or did they make changes (and perhaps not acknowledge those changes)?
  • What are your motivations for listing your lineage; are you using your lineage as a shortcut to credibility or legitimacy?
  • If you list a teacher in your lineage with whom you do not an active relationship, who does not view you as a student — why do you do that?

There are no right or wrong answers here; it is an on-going inquiry.

Ask not what your lineage can do for you; ask what are you doing for your lineage? Or perhaps, what are you doing to your lineage?

What do you think of this perspective on lineage? Please share your thoughtful comment below and let’s discuss this critical issue with respect and love.

Linaje Reiki, a Spanish translation of this article, is available on the ReikiCentral en Espanol page. Please share with your Spanish-speaking Reiki colleagues.

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24 Responses to “Reiki Lineage”

  1. Pamela Miles November 03, 2013 11:00 am Permalink

    Liesl,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure what you mean by my “angle,” but my intention is to help Reiki practitioners who are interested in developing clarity to do so. This requires self-inquiry, asking ourselves tough questions. I mentor Reiki practitioners from many practice styles, and they find this process useful and gratifying because they get to know themselves and their practice better, and start healing emotions and dissolving judgmentalness.

    For example, if a practitioner claims a master in his/her lineage whose expressed values and practice style are very different from the practitioner’s, that might create some tension in the practitioner. When we are unaware of tension we carry, it affects our clarity; others feel that something is not being recognized or said. That is not good for the practitioner, the prospective client, or the practice of Reiki.

    I support diversity and integrity. I don’t tell people how to practice and I really don’t care how people practice (within reason).

    However, I care very much that they practice daily self-Reiki (is this my angle?) and that they contemplate their practice. If we don’t contemplate and engage in self-inquiry, gaps develop between what we deeply understand and the words we choose, how we actually present Reiki practice to the clients and students who trust us as a source of information.

    As I wrote in the article, it’s a matter of on-going inquiry. Reiki is a spiritual practice, and that means taking responsibility to develop our awareness. That process doesn’t end.

    It is not a matter of the purity of Reiki practice, but rather a matter of accuracy. Many practitioners, for example, say they practice Usui Reiki, or say they are in Takata’s lineage, and are unaware they have been taught many elements — and even received initiations — that do not date back to Usui or Takata, because Reiki masters made changes and didn’t disclose those changes, but kept saying they taught Usui Reiki or Takata Reiki. Even if that is done without conscious intent to deceive, it is at best inaccurate.

    Please consider the possibility that neither of us “has the problem,” but that rather we are having a collegial discussion. We don’t have to agree. As long as people are respectful in stating their opinions — which you are — I am happy to give them space here.

    That’s my commitment to diversity.

    You might find this useful http://reikiinmedicine.org/clinical-practice/reiki-diversity-adversity.

  2. Dana Young November 04, 2013 5:27 pm Permalink

    I think these are tough, but fair, questions. In Japan, where Reiki originated (as well as in other Asian cultures), a lineage usually suggests there was ongoing study and relationship between a teacher and student. As a Reiki teacher, I offer ongoing support to my students because I care about them getting the most out of their practice. It is a great honor (and responsibility) for me when my students choose to stay connected with me to share their learning and practice.

    A Reiki lineage is really a kind of spiritual connection or relationship, the way I see it. And it requires a commitment to the art and practice of Reiki, not just the completion of levels or certificates. It also should mean that if you make changes to the system as you learned it, that you are honest and respectful in acknowledging those changes as coming from you, not from your teacher. The only right way to practice Reiki is with respect and gratitude for the practice, and for those who have been with us along the way.

  3. Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 4:54 pm Permalink

    I’d like to comment on a few things mentioned in the article:

    Pamela write, “A Reiki class gives us what we need to practice: initiation and practice instruction. It does not bestow Reiki lineage. This may seem radical, but please consider the possibility that Reiki lineage is not given, but earned.”

    One opinion I have is, yes, this is true for me. I have had many First and Second degree students over the years. Some continue to practice as instructed and I have an ongoing relationship with them. Others take the class and I never hear from them again.

    The former group I feel is practicing in my lineage due to the relationship that develops whereas the latter group may or may not be. Master students who have gone through the 2 year apprenticeship process with me and have met my own requirements for this level of training have certainly “earned” the right to my lineage; this is more clear cut for me than first and second degree students.

    And what about First or Second degree students who then go on to train with another for their Third/Master degree? What now is my relationship with them? Do they now have two lineages?

    However, when it comes to practice and teaching, we are all unique. We can stick to the main themes but can not mimic 100% our own teachers. Slight changes were made b/t Usui and Hayashi, again between Hayashi and Takata, and yet again between Takata and each of her 22 Master students. Indeed, the same teacher doesn’t teach each class or student exactly the same, so two students claiming the same teach in their lineage may have slightly different practices. So, I guess the question is, at what point does “breaking away from a lineage” occur?

    My own viewpoint on lineage is a vast subject. I recently asked some of my Master candidates do define “What does lineage mean” and found their answers enlightening.

    Thanks for the questions Pamela!

    • Pamela Miles November 06, 2013 5:34 pm Permalink

      And thank you for your always thoughtful comments, Robert.

      I’ve seen lineage trees with four or more lineages, but having even two lineages isn’t possible if lineage is determined by our practice rather than by a class.

      I agree, each of us is unique and masters teach to the people in the room. There is latitude to do that, to be ourselves (who else could we be) without altering the practice. Your question about when have we broken lineage is one for us each to be mindful of, as an on-going inquiry. That is one of the challenges of a living lineage.

      I am not so sure about the changes you mention between Hayashi and Takata, as it makes most sense to me that any tweaking done was done by Hayashi when he came to Hawaii. As a master-in-training and even as a young master, given Mrs. Takata’s deference to her Reiki master, it is unlikely she would have made changes.

      • Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 6:16 pm Permalink

        One change Takata made from Hayashi, and I think it was a brilliant change, was to organize a standard set of hand positions done for EACH treatment regardless of the patient’s disease/illness. My understanding from reading Hayashi’s Healing Guide (in the Grey book) and from conversations I had with John Harvey Gray (an early Takata Master student) was that Hayashi’s system originally had hand positions based on the client’s disease. This required a lot of memorization for the student.

        Takata, saw that it would be easier to have a standard set of hand positions for each treatment covering all the major organs of the body, and then only a few diseases would then require “optional” hand positions for those specific diseases. However, the standard hand positions for the treatment given by Takata to her students were not always the same. Sometimes she would say to always start the treatment on the head and other times tell the students to always start the treatment on the abdomen.

        To complicate matters further, the “standard” positions on the head and abdomen she taught were not even the same; so it isn’t just the difference of where to start. In 1999, 9 of Takata’s 22 Masters got together at the Reiki Alliance Conference and they showed and discussed the different hand positions for the standard treatment as they were taught it by Takata. At least some of these standard hand positions must have been a change from what she had learned from Hayashi – even if we were to say that Hayashi helped create a standard set of positions when teaching in the Hawaiian Islands.

        We could also point out the slight differences in the symbols, initiations, and even the precepts Takata taught (the precept to honor your parents, teachers, and elders is not in the Japanese scroll given to Takata by Hayashi). However, as with the hand positions, the main focus or points are the same. So, I can “recognize” the Takata factor (“lineage”) in her Master students teachings; and yet, there are some differences between what she taught to her own Master students (and from what she learned from her teacher).

        One point I would like to make is that it seems like some changes evolve slowly as a better way to teach the same material….perhaps a better way for the students to learn the same information. This to me is differently than changing the material for other reasons.

        I believe that P. Furumoto and P. Mitchell designing the 4 Aspects and 9 Elements to articulate what constitutes Usui Shiki Ryoho, in my mind, help define broadly what constitutes the Takata lineage (it isn’t a complete definition). Minor differences will occur, but that is to be expected.

      • Pamela Miles November 06, 2013 6:23 pm Permalink

        Robert, on what documentation do you assert that Takata came up with the standard protocol? Do we know for a fact that Hayashi didn’t make that change?

        Mrs. Takata sometimes started treatment at the abdomen and sometimes (most often?) at the head. As I recall, Helen Haberly quoted Takata as saying it didn’t matter, as long as you proceeded through all placements.

        Although some masters make a big deal of the slight technical variations among how Takata’s master say they were taught, I really never got what the fuss was about. They have so much in common, why not focus on that? :-)

  4. Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 6:26 pm Permalink

    my last sentence should have read, “Minor differences will occur, but that is to be expected in any lineage given enough time.”

  5. Robert Fueston November 07, 2013 5:38 am Permalink

    Pamela,

    The documentation is the Grey book (The Hayashi Manual part). But, as I was mentioning before, even IF Hayashi and Takata decided on a standard treatment, Takata taught MANY variations of the treatment. Thereby Takata changed the one standard treatment that she and Hayashi came up with (if they did collaborate). If Takata didn’t change the treatment that she and Hayashi came up with (if this is true), then there would only be 1 set of standard positions – but there is not.

    This is important b/c of your comments in the original post:
    “Do you practice as you were taught or have you changed the practice?” and
    “Have the masters listed in your lineage practiced as they were taught, or did they make changes (and perhaps not acknowledge those changes)?”

    Takata would have to answer that yes she changed the practice – somewhat, however slightly. So my question is at what point is the practice or lineage “broken” so to speak. (There is an entire chapter in my upcoming book dedicated to the similarity b/t what Takata taught and what we think Usui and Hayashi taught (based on written material – Gakkai documents, Reiki books from the 1930′s and 50′s, etc.).

    Differences were slight – so was Takata then not teaching from the lineage of Hayashi? If she was, then people could have multiple lineages they teach from granted that the lineages were very similar in their teachings. Just my humble opinion.

    • Pamela Miles November 07, 2013 8:10 am Permalink

      Robert, I’d like to insert some perspective.

      A living lineage will always morph somewhat, even with devoted practitioners who are devoted to maintaining the practice they were taught.

      Focus also changes organically with the times, so that some aspects of practice receive more attention while other concerns are dropped. For example, Takata’s concern about treating a fracture before it was set was relevant in the rural communities in which she taught, but not relevant to my New York City students who have multiple hospitals and medical facilities within reach.

      I think it is misleading to say Takata taught many variations of the treatment. The hand placements are basically the same, with only slight differentiations, and who knows how many of those may have been in the memory of the students? Takata was constant without being rigid, and encouraged students to maintain the standard protocol while being responsive to their hands, saying “Let your Reiki hands teach you.”

      I doubt Hayashi and Takata collaborated. That doesn’t seem to fit the culture or the times. He was the Reiki master and most likely she followed his lead.

      Is there a passage in the grey book that supports your position, or is it an assumption because Hayashi taught more complicated protocols in Japan and a single standard protocol in the U.S.?

  6. Robert Fueston November 07, 2013 5:51 pm Permalink

    I wonder why you think that Hayashi taught the standard set of hand positions in the Hawaiian Islands and not in Japan? Why the change? All the students I have seen in pictures from these classes are of Asian decent so I can’t imagine it was cultural.

    I think I read in a newspaper article (or hearing it from a lecture Phyllis gave – some reliable source that I can’t remember at this point) that the First and Second degree classes in the Islands were taught by Hayashi back to back over 5 days. This is the way Takata learned Reiki in Japan from Hayashi (although later in her life she claimed she waited a year before taking second degree to justify her decision of a waiting period, the reality is that both of her First and Second degree certificates have the same date on them; I’ve seen the originals in person). Takata chose to create waiting periods b/t First and Second degree – something that Hayashi did not. Takata taught first degree over 4 days and second degree over 1 day, for a total of 5 days. So these are some more changes that Takata made.

    It was Master student John Harvey Gray, and long time apprentice of Takata (he sat in on about 12 classes that Takata taught and she lived in his home during the class time), that told me that the original hand positions that Hayashi taught to Takata were based on Asian medicine and that Takata simplified the system with the 12 standard hand positions plus optional positions to make it easier to learn. Based on the Hayashi manual, the hand positions do make sense to an acupuncturist. For instance, treating the ovaries for eye disorders or the feet for mouth disorders – something that would make no sense in allopathic (western) medicine.

    As you know, but others reading this may not, I am a pro Takata enthusiast. :) I know the details of the changes Takata made to her Master students regarding the precepts, symbols, initiations, etc. and can only speculate as to why – but they seem intentional given all the data.

    Which brings us back to lineage. As mentioned in an earlier post, since Takata taught her Master students differently – and they can all claim her as a lineage – what is lineage?

    To muddy the waters further, John Harvey Gray added in chakras and other teachings to his lineage. I have taken those teachings out and went back to the way Takata taught him. So where does that leave me? Am I teaching in John’s lineage then (in my mind, his amounts of changes constituted a new lineage different than Takata; and fyi, no changes were made to the initiation procedure or symbols he was given by Takata) or am I to be considered in Takata’s lineage since I try to follow her teachings more closely than John?

  7. Pamela Miles November 07, 2013 11:27 pm Permalink

    I have trained a number of first generation Japanese-Americans and others who were born in Japan but whose families moved to the U.S. when they were young. They all have spoken to me about how uncomfortably out of the culture they felt when they would visit family in Japan. It is likely hard for Americans to appreciate how two cultures that look so similar to our insensitive eyes can actually be very different. But of course Hayashi would have seen this, both in his relationship with Mrs. Takata, a first-generation Japanese-American, and in his experience in the Japanese immigrant community in Hawaii.

    Remember that Hayashi had been a Reiki master for about a dozen years by then. His understanding and vision were no doubt heightened by his committed practice.

    I am not as impressed as you are by the memories of people who were trained several decades ago in a practice that was so foreign to them. I don’t expect them to be accurate and they would not be taken at face value in a court of law — always a good litmus test for facts. I have heard people trained by Takata say she never told them to practice self-treatment. Yet one of her most famous sayings was “First yourself.”

  8. Robert Fueston November 08, 2013 5:38 am Permalink

    The hard data doesn’t rely on memory (hard data being articles written during that time period about Hayashi’s visits and classes). The other hard data that I have been reluctant to mention, b/c of all the hounding it might result in, is that Takata gave to some of her Master students, in her own handwriting, the 4th symbol – there are differences. That can not be explained by memory differences by her students. One Master student was allowed to tape record her entire Master training. These “hard evidences” exist and show that Mrs. Takata taught differently to her different Master students. I can only speculate as to why…..

    Back to the lineage question…………what lineage would a person claim if they don’t teach like their teacher but more like their teacher’s teacher let’s say?

    • Pamela Miles November 08, 2013 7:21 am Permalink

      Robert, I hope we can agree to disagree here.

      There will always be variations in a living lineage. Maintaining lineage does not mean creating a rigid template filled with Reiki automatons. We are human beings, as were our Reiki masters and the masters before them.

      Carrying lineage means devoting oneself to consistent practice as one was taught so that, over time, one might attain the promise of the practice.

      We each know what we were taught and decide what we want to do with it. The question of lineage — for those who find it valuable — is primarily an inner conversation, one that perhaps becomes more complicated for those who have taken training from widely divergent masters, some of whom have added to the practice they were taught.

      We can discuss lineage in broad strokes as a way of developing our own inner conversation, but we each make our own choices and are responsible for them.

    • Pamela Miles November 08, 2013 8:39 am Permalink

      As someone who has seen many errors in print, I don’t know how “hard” the “hard data” of articles is.

  9. Christine November 08, 2013 8:22 am Permalink

    In my opinion, Mrs. Takata’s example is teaching us not to be rigid. We can adjust our class design to the needs of the people who come to us for training.

    I have displayed my reiki lineages on my website because they are part of my reiki training. I have no influence over how the teachers in my lineage practice and teach, or what changes they may have made to the practice. Some of them may no longer practice at all.

    I am simply grateful that each one of them has contributed in bringing this practice to me.

  10. Sheryl Halloran November 22, 2013 4:55 am Permalink

    Goodness but how much fuss over Linage’ – I do now, after reading through the above, see that you do not simply mean your ‘Reiki Family Tree’.

    To be honest I cannot feel that there is a lot to be gained by fussing over the different teachings and slight variations.

    What would be the most important things that your teacher passed on to you? For me it was ” I cannot teach you about Reiki, you have to practice and learn for your self” – “follow your intuition and allow the Energy to be your guide – Reiki never makes a mistake” – ” Set your ‘intention’, intention is all” – “Reiki will change your life, if you are committed”

    I would love to know if others were taught these, to me, hugely important aspects of Reiki Practice.

    • Susan Mitchell November 23, 2013 12:14 pm Permalink

      Hi Sheryl,

      As a first and second degree student of Hawayo Takata’s, I was taught variations on the quotes you mentioned.

      1. “Reiki will teach you.”
      2. “Follow your hands.”
      3. “Reiki on, Reiki off.” While Mrs. Takata’s intention was clearly implicit in her practice, she didn’t use language about intention or motivation in her teaching.
      4. “Reiki brings health, (sometimes she added wealth), happiness, and long life.”

      Like you, I treasure these phrases as guides in my practice and as points for reflection which bring continued insight.

      • Pamela Miles November 23, 2013 12:25 pm Permalink

        Thank you, Sheryl and Susan.

        Regarding “intention,” what about when we become aware that our Reiki hands are “active” without having consciously decided to practice?

        I hear this from doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals I’ve trained. These professionals often have their hands on people in need of balance when they are not deliberately practicing Reiki. I have also experienced this as a mother.

      • Susan Mitchell November 23, 2013 12:59 pm Permalink

        Yes, these experiences are always intriguing. Takata said that once you receive the initiations, Reiki is always active.

        So, our intention is not what activates Reiki. At the same time and most often, we make a conscious choice about whom we treat (“Reiki on, Reiki off”). And our desire/our intention to be of benefit to others is invaluable for us as practitioners. I appreciate the nuance of Reiki practice. How often we come to the place of seeing that more than one thing is true.

  11. Mario January 07, 2014 8:24 pm Permalink

    Hello people,

    Nice to read this blog.
    In holland we also need more reiki in medicine.

    Regards,

    Mario

  12. Jon February 01, 2014 11:25 pm Permalink

    I find this discussion fascinating! I think there are many valid lineages, but it does seem somewhat important to me to know what one’s lineage is – and lineage to what. I was first introduced to Reiki in 1998 and subsequently took Reiki I with Michael Soto. Early in 1999, I took Reiki II with Mark Maluga. At this point, I realized I wished to pursue my Master level with Michael, so I retook Reiki II with him. His Master class met 14 times, over the course of a year, and I can trace my lineage directly to Dr Usui. I have met my Reiki Master’s Reiki Master. I have also met people at Reiki shares and etc who claimed to have been “attuned by their cat” while they were in the shower. There are also numerous people selling remote attunements via ebay. While I acknowledge that there are many valid lineages, and that not all of them lead back to Usui, and yes, I agree that Reiki can “do no harm”, but just because somebody says they are practicing Reiki does not mean that they are. (I had a very vivid demonstration of this fact early in my Reiki experiences. It took several days and salt baths to correct the situation, and was a definite lesson in being careful about giving my power awa.)

    If I were to agree to purchase a poodle and found that it looked suspiciously like a boxer, I might want to know its “lineage”. I also generally start Reiki sessions with a small personal ritual of setting of my intention, but I also know that after taking Reiki I and II, my hands would often heat up and literally start ‘buzzing’ prior to beginning a session, or even in anticipation of one. It was my feeling that the setting of intention was not necessary to “turn the energy on”, but that it was a nice way to put myself in that healing ‘space’, if you will. (I have had people ask me, “I was watching you work – where do you go when you are doing Reiki?” – as an artist and as a Reiki practitioner, I find that both activities generally work best when I get out of the way and into a different head space to allow them to flow. An ‘altered state of consciousnesses as it were.)

    I don’t have a definitive answer to the lineage question, but am just throwing in my opinion; I also know that not all Reiki practitioners are created equal, as there are some that I get absolutely no sensation or energy from whatsoever.

    I also wanted to get out of the somewhat incestuous energy of simply seeing clients and attending Reiki shares (“preaching to the choir’, in a way) so have been volunteering providing Reiki to people with HIV and AIDS since 2004. It has been a profoundly humbling experience, for which I am extremely grateful.

    Thanks for letting me join in the conversation!

    Jon

    • Pamela Miles February 02, 2014 7:42 am Permalink

      Thank you for your comment, Jon.

      I encourage students to notice sensations, but not to use them as a marker that something is happening. Sensations are just the part of the process that we are able to notice. Reiki is a spiritual practice, and most of the response to practice — arguably the most important part — is below our radar.

      I find it valuable, and safer, for practitioners to be fully present when practicing Reiki, not in an altered state. Staying present is part of Reiki practice as I understand it.

      • Jon February 02, 2014 8:30 am Permalink

        Thanks for the response; to clarify; I don’t use the sensations as a marker – in fact, they rarely happen anymore. As my Reiki Master pointed out years ago, the work is not about me – its about the other person. So there may not be any sensations on my part at all. I also know that a huge part of my practice (for me) is about simply trusting that the healing is occurring, without sensations on my part – having faith, if you will.

        …But I was interesting to me that at the start, when I was first attuned, there was an almost disorienting “buzzing” in my body in anticipation of working with the energy. I also find that I get cues and guidance in many different ways – sometimes visual, sometimes tactile, other times almost more of an “audible psychic suggestion”- so while I am in a slightly altered state, I am also very present at the same time. (Hope that make sense) – And I find it is important to me to remain aware of the different things going on in the session and in the room – and to be open to guidance from Spirit.

        A huge part of my healing practice for me is about “being present’, but also about “getting out of the way”; When I say people ask me “where I go”, I do not mean that I am daydreaming or leaving my body, but that I am operating in multiple spaces at once.

        Much love and light –
        Jon

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  14. liesl meuris November 03, 2013 5:01 am Permalink

    Dear Pamela, I respect your opinions however have started to wonder what your angle is recently. Even though others are our mirrors and may be I have the problem. I wonder if you are the one who feels to be the keeper of the ‘purity’ of Reiki by your potent inquiries and statements on Linked in as well as this post. I for one am happy to know my lineage and to be part of three lineages after 22 years of practice, daily. We are not born into a lineage but we are part of the Reiki family. I keep reminding people it isn’t about the delivery, it is Reiki itself that counts and you know as well as me that the Reiki is in all of us and in everything. We as teachers remind other people’s bodies of their sacredness and divinity.

  15. Pamela Miles November 03, 2013 11:00 am Permalink

    Liesl,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure what you mean by my “angle,” but my intention is to help Reiki practitioners who are interested in developing clarity to do so. This requires self-inquiry, asking ourselves tough questions. I mentor Reiki practitioners from many practice styles, and they find this process useful and gratifying because they get to know themselves and their practice better, and start healing emotions and dissolving judgmentalness.

    For example, if a practitioner claims a master in his/her lineage whose expressed values and practice style are very different from the practitioner’s, that might create some tension in the practitioner. When we are unaware of tension we carry, it affects our clarity; others feel that something is not being recognized or said. That is not good for the practitioner, the prospective client, or the practice of Reiki.

    I support diversity and integrity. I don’t tell people how to practice and I really don’t care how people practice (within reason).

    However, I care very much that they practice daily self-Reiki (is this my angle?) and that they contemplate their practice. If we don’t contemplate and engage in self-inquiry, gaps develop between what we deeply understand and the words we choose, how we actually present Reiki practice to the clients and students who trust us as a source of information.

    As I wrote in the article, it’s a matter of on-going inquiry. Reiki is a spiritual practice, and that means taking responsibility to develop our awareness. That process doesn’t end.

    It is not a matter of the purity of Reiki practice, but rather a matter of accuracy. Many practitioners, for example, say they practice Usui Reiki, or say they are in Takata’s lineage, and are unaware they have been taught many elements — and even received initiations — that do not date back to Usui or Takata, because Reiki masters made changes and didn’t disclose those changes, but kept saying they taught Usui Reiki or Takata Reiki. Even if that is done without conscious intent to deceive, it is at best inaccurate.

    Please consider the possibility that neither of us “has the problem,” but that rather we are having a collegial discussion. We don’t have to agree. As long as people are respectful in stating their opinions — which you are — I am happy to give them space here.

    That’s my commitment to diversity.

    You might find this useful http://reikiinmedicine.org/clinical-practice/reiki-diversity-adversity.

  16. Dana Young November 04, 2013 5:27 pm Permalink

    I think these are tough, but fair, questions. In Japan, where Reiki originated (as well as in other Asian cultures), a lineage usually suggests there was ongoing study and relationship between a teacher and student. As a Reiki teacher, I offer ongoing support to my students because I care about them getting the most out of their practice. It is a great honor (and responsibility) for me when my students choose to stay connected with me to share their learning and practice.

    A Reiki lineage is really a kind of spiritual connection or relationship, the way I see it. And it requires a commitment to the art and practice of Reiki, not just the completion of levels or certificates. It also should mean that if you make changes to the system as you learned it, that you are honest and respectful in acknowledging those changes as coming from you, not from your teacher. The only right way to practice Reiki is with respect and gratitude for the practice, and for those who have been with us along the way.

  17. Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 4:54 pm Permalink

    I’d like to comment on a few things mentioned in the article:

    Pamela write, “A Reiki class gives us what we need to practice: initiation and practice instruction. It does not bestow Reiki lineage. This may seem radical, but please consider the possibility that Reiki lineage is not given, but earned.”

    One opinion I have is, yes, this is true for me. I have had many First and Second degree students over the years. Some continue to practice as instructed and I have an ongoing relationship with them. Others take the class and I never hear from them again.

    The former group I feel is practicing in my lineage due to the relationship that develops whereas the latter group may or may not be. Master students who have gone through the 2 year apprenticeship process with me and have met my own requirements for this level of training have certainly “earned” the right to my lineage; this is more clear cut for me than first and second degree students.

    And what about First or Second degree students who then go on to train with another for their Third/Master degree? What now is my relationship with them? Do they now have two lineages?

    However, when it comes to practice and teaching, we are all unique. We can stick to the main themes but can not mimic 100% our own teachers. Slight changes were made b/t Usui and Hayashi, again between Hayashi and Takata, and yet again between Takata and each of her 22 Master students. Indeed, the same teacher doesn’t teach each class or student exactly the same, so two students claiming the same teach in their lineage may have slightly different practices. So, I guess the question is, at what point does “breaking away from a lineage” occur?

    My own viewpoint on lineage is a vast subject. I recently asked some of my Master candidates do define “What does lineage mean” and found their answers enlightening.

    Thanks for the questions Pamela!

    • Pamela Miles November 06, 2013 5:34 pm Permalink

      And thank you for your always thoughtful comments, Robert.

      I’ve seen lineage trees with four or more lineages, but having even two lineages isn’t possible if lineage is determined by our practice rather than by a class.

      I agree, each of us is unique and masters teach to the people in the room. There is latitude to do that, to be ourselves (who else could we be) without altering the practice. Your question about when have we broken lineage is one for us each to be mindful of, as an on-going inquiry. That is one of the challenges of a living lineage.

      I am not so sure about the changes you mention between Hayashi and Takata, as it makes most sense to me that any tweaking done was done by Hayashi when he came to Hawaii. As a master-in-training and even as a young master, given Mrs. Takata’s deference to her Reiki master, it is unlikely she would have made changes.

      • Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 6:16 pm Permalink

        One change Takata made from Hayashi, and I think it was a brilliant change, was to organize a standard set of hand positions done for EACH treatment regardless of the patient’s disease/illness. My understanding from reading Hayashi’s Healing Guide (in the Grey book) and from conversations I had with John Harvey Gray (an early Takata Master student) was that Hayashi’s system originally had hand positions based on the client’s disease. This required a lot of memorization for the student.

        Takata, saw that it would be easier to have a standard set of hand positions for each treatment covering all the major organs of the body, and then only a few diseases would then require “optional” hand positions for those specific diseases. However, the standard hand positions for the treatment given by Takata to her students were not always the same. Sometimes she would say to always start the treatment on the head and other times tell the students to always start the treatment on the abdomen.

        To complicate matters further, the “standard” positions on the head and abdomen she taught were not even the same; so it isn’t just the difference of where to start. In 1999, 9 of Takata’s 22 Masters got together at the Reiki Alliance Conference and they showed and discussed the different hand positions for the standard treatment as they were taught it by Takata. At least some of these standard hand positions must have been a change from what she had learned from Hayashi – even if we were to say that Hayashi helped create a standard set of positions when teaching in the Hawaiian Islands.

        We could also point out the slight differences in the symbols, initiations, and even the precepts Takata taught (the precept to honor your parents, teachers, and elders is not in the Japanese scroll given to Takata by Hayashi). However, as with the hand positions, the main focus or points are the same. So, I can “recognize” the Takata factor (“lineage”) in her Master students teachings; and yet, there are some differences between what she taught to her own Master students (and from what she learned from her teacher).

        One point I would like to make is that it seems like some changes evolve slowly as a better way to teach the same material….perhaps a better way for the students to learn the same information. This to me is differently than changing the material for other reasons.

        I believe that P. Furumoto and P. Mitchell designing the 4 Aspects and 9 Elements to articulate what constitutes Usui Shiki Ryoho, in my mind, help define broadly what constitutes the Takata lineage (it isn’t a complete definition). Minor differences will occur, but that is to be expected.

      • Pamela Miles November 06, 2013 6:23 pm Permalink

        Robert, on what documentation do you assert that Takata came up with the standard protocol? Do we know for a fact that Hayashi didn’t make that change?

        Mrs. Takata sometimes started treatment at the abdomen and sometimes (most often?) at the head. As I recall, Helen Haberly quoted Takata as saying it didn’t matter, as long as you proceeded through all placements.

        Although some masters make a big deal of the slight technical variations among how Takata’s master say they were taught, I really never got what the fuss was about. They have so much in common, why not focus on that? :-)

  18. Robert Fueston November 06, 2013 6:26 pm Permalink

    my last sentence should have read, “Minor differences will occur, but that is to be expected in any lineage given enough time.”

  19. Robert Fueston November 07, 2013 5:38 am Permalink

    Pamela,

    The documentation is the Grey book (The Hayashi Manual part). But, as I was mentioning before, even IF Hayashi and Takata decided on a standard treatment, Takata taught MANY variations of the treatment. Thereby Takata changed the one standard treatment that she and Hayashi came up with (if they did collaborate). If Takata didn’t change the treatment that she and Hayashi came up with (if this is true), then there would only be 1 set of standard positions – but there is not.

    This is important b/c of your comments in the original post:
    “Do you practice as you were taught or have you changed the practice?” and
    “Have the masters listed in your lineage practiced as they were taught, or did they make changes (and perhaps not acknowledge those changes)?”

    Takata would have to answer that yes she changed the practice – somewhat, however slightly. So my question is at what point is the practice or lineage “broken” so to speak. (There is an entire chapter in my upcoming book dedicated to the similarity b/t what Takata taught and what we think Usui and Hayashi taught (based on written material – Gakkai documents, Reiki books from the 1930′s and 50′s, etc.).

    Differences were slight – so was Takata then not teaching from the lineage of Hayashi? If she was, then people could have multiple lineages they teach from granted that the lineages were very similar in their teachings. Just my humble opinion.

    • Pamela Miles November 07, 2013 8:10 am Permalink

      Robert, I’d like to insert some perspective.

      A living lineage will always morph somewhat, even with devoted practitioners who are devoted to maintaining the practice they were taught.

      Focus also changes organically with the times, so that some aspects of practice receive more attention while other concerns are dropped. For example, Takata’s concern about treating a fracture before it was set was relevant in the rural communities in which she taught, but not relevant to my New York City students who have multiple hospitals and medical facilities within reach.

      I think it is misleading to say Takata taught many variations of the treatment. The hand placements are basically the same, with only slight differentiations, and who knows how many of those may have been in the memory of the students? Takata was constant without being rigid, and encouraged students to maintain the standard protocol while being responsive to their hands, saying “Let your Reiki hands teach you.”

      I doubt Hayashi and Takata collaborated. That doesn’t seem to fit the culture or the times. He was the Reiki master and most likely she followed his lead.

      Is there a passage in the grey book that supports your position, or is it an assumption because Hayashi taught more complicated protocols in Japan and a single standard protocol in the U.S.?

  20. Robert Fueston November 07, 2013 5:51 pm Permalink

    I wonder why you think that Hayashi taught the standard set of hand positions in the Hawaiian Islands and not in Japan? Why the change? All the students I have seen in pictures from these classes are of Asian decent so I can’t imagine it was cultural.

    I think I read in a newspaper article (or hearing it from a lecture Phyllis gave – some reliable source that I can’t remember at this point) that the First and Second degree classes in the Islands were taught by Hayashi back to back over 5 days. This is the way Takata learned Reiki in Japan from Hayashi (although later in her life she claimed she waited a year before taking second degree to justify her decision of a waiting period, the reality is that both of her First and Second degree certificates have the same date on them; I’ve seen the originals in person). Takata chose to create waiting periods b/t First and Second degree – something that Hayashi did not. Takata taught first degree over 4 days and second degree over 1 day, for a total of 5 days. So these are some more changes that Takata made.

    It was Master student John Harvey Gray, and long time apprentice of Takata (he sat in on about 12 classes that Takata taught and she lived in his home during the class time), that told me that the original hand positions that Hayashi taught to Takata were based on Asian medicine and that Takata simplified the system with the 12 standard hand positions plus optional positions to make it easier to learn. Based on the Hayashi manual, the hand positions do make sense to an acupuncturist. For instance, treating the ovaries for eye disorders or the feet for mouth disorders – something that would make no sense in allopathic (western) medicine.

    As you know, but others reading this may not, I am a pro Takata enthusiast. :) I know the details of the changes Takata made to her Master students regarding the precepts, symbols, initiations, etc. and can only speculate as to why – but they seem intentional given all the data.

    Which brings us back to lineage. As mentioned in an earlier post, since Takata taught her Master students differently – and they can all claim her as a lineage – what is lineage?

    To muddy the waters further, John Harvey Gray added in chakras and other teachings to his lineage. I have taken those teachings out and went back to the way Takata taught him. So where does that leave me? Am I teaching in John’s lineage then (in my mind, his amounts of changes constituted a new lineage different than Takata; and fyi, no changes were made to the initiation procedure or symbols he was given by Takata) or am I to be considered in Takata’s lineage since I try to follow her teachings more closely than John?

  21. Pamela Miles November 07, 2013 11:27 pm Permalink

    I have trained a number of first generation Japanese-Americans and others who were born in Japan but whose families moved to the U.S. when they were young. They all have spoken to me about how uncomfortably out of the culture they felt when they would visit family in Japan. It is likely hard for Americans to appreciate how two cultures that look so similar to our insensitive eyes can actually be very different. But of course Hayashi would have seen this, both in his relationship with Mrs. Takata, a first-generation Japanese-American, and in his experience in the Japanese immigrant community in Hawaii.

    Remember that Hayashi had been a Reiki master for about a dozen years by then. His understanding and vision were no doubt heightened by his committed practice.

    I am not as impressed as you are by the memories of people who were trained several decades ago in a practice that was so foreign to them. I don’t expect them to be accurate and they would not be taken at face value in a court of law — always a good litmus test for facts. I have heard people trained by Takata say she never told them to practice self-treatment. Yet one of her most famous sayings was “First yourself.”

  22. Robert Fueston November 08, 2013 5:38 am Permalink

    The hard data doesn’t rely on memory (hard data being articles written during that time period about Hayashi’s visits and classes). The other hard data that I have been reluctant to mention, b/c of all the hounding it might result in, is that Takata gave to some of her Master students, in her own handwriting, the 4th symbol – there are differences. That can not be explained by memory differences by her students. One Master student was allowed to tape record her entire Master training. These “hard evidences” exist and show that Mrs. Takata taught differently to her different Master students. I can only speculate as to why…..

    Back to the lineage question…………what lineage would a person claim if they don’t teach like their teacher but more like their teacher’s teacher let’s say?

    • Pamela Miles November 08, 2013 7:21 am Permalink

      Robert, I hope we can agree to disagree here.

      There will always be variations in a living lineage. Maintaining lineage does not mean creating a rigid template filled with Reiki automatons. We are human beings, as were our Reiki masters and the masters before them.

      Carrying lineage means devoting oneself to consistent practice as one was taught so that, over time, one might attain the promise of the practice.

      We each know what we were taught and decide what we want to do with it. The question of lineage — for those who find it valuable — is primarily an inner conversation, one that perhaps becomes more complicated for those who have taken training from widely divergent masters, some of whom have added to the practice they were taught.

      We can discuss lineage in broad strokes as a way of developing our own inner conversation, but we each make our own choices and are responsible for them.

    • Pamela Miles November 08, 2013 8:39 am Permalink

      As someone who has seen many errors in print, I don’t know how “hard” the “hard data” of articles is.

  23. Christine November 08, 2013 8:22 am Permalink

    In my opinion, Mrs. Takata’s example is teaching us not to be rigid. We can adjust our class design to the needs of the people who come to us for training.

    I have displayed my reiki lineages on my website because they are part of my reiki training. I have no influence over how the teachers in my lineage practice and teach, or what changes they may have made to the practice. Some of them may no longer practice at all.

    I am simply grateful that each one of them has contributed in bringing this practice to me.

  24. Sheryl Halloran November 22, 2013 4:55 am Permalink

    Goodness but how much fuss over Linage’ – I do now, after reading through the above, see that you do not simply mean your ‘Reiki Family Tree’.

    To be honest I cannot feel that there is a lot to be gained by fussing over the different teachings and slight variations.

    What would be the most important things that your teacher passed on to you? For me it was ” I cannot teach you about Reiki, you have to practice and learn for your self” – “follow your intuition and allow the Energy to be your guide – Reiki never makes a mistake” – ” Set your ‘intention’, intention is all” – “Reiki will change your life, if you are committed”

    I would love to know if others were taught these, to me, hugely important aspects of Reiki Practice.

    • Susan Mitchell November 23, 2013 12:14 pm Permalink

      Hi Sheryl,

      As a first and second degree student of Hawayo Takata’s, I was taught variations on the quotes you mentioned.

      1. “Reiki will teach you.”
      2. “Follow your hands.”
      3. “Reiki on, Reiki off.” While Mrs. Takata’s intention was clearly implicit in her practice, she didn’t use language about intention or motivation in her teaching.
      4. “Reiki brings health, (sometimes she added wealth), happiness, and long life.”

      Like you, I treasure these phrases as guides in my practice and as points for reflection which bring continued insight.

      • Pamela Miles November 23, 2013 12:25 pm Permalink

        Thank you, Sheryl and Susan.

        Regarding “intention,” what about when we become aware that our Reiki hands are “active” without having consciously decided to practice?

        I hear this from doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals I’ve trained. These professionals often have their hands on people in need of balance when they are not deliberately practicing Reiki. I have also experienced this as a mother.

      • Susan Mitchell November 23, 2013 12:59 pm Permalink

        Yes, these experiences are always intriguing. Takata said that once you receive the initiations, Reiki is always active.

        So, our intention is not what activates Reiki. At the same time and most often, we make a conscious choice about whom we treat (“Reiki on, Reiki off”). And our desire/our intention to be of benefit to others is invaluable for us as practitioners. I appreciate the nuance of Reiki practice. How often we come to the place of seeing that more than one thing is true.

  25. Mario January 07, 2014 8:24 pm Permalink

    Hello people,

    Nice to read this blog.
    In holland we also need more reiki in medicine.

    Regards,

    Mario

  26. Jon February 01, 2014 11:25 pm Permalink

    I find this discussion fascinating! I think there are many valid lineages, but it does seem somewhat important to me to know what one’s lineage is – and lineage to what. I was first introduced to Reiki in 1998 and subsequently took Reiki I with Michael Soto. Early in 1999, I took Reiki II with Mark Maluga. At this point, I realized I wished to pursue my Master level with Michael, so I retook Reiki II with him. His Master class met 14 times, over the course of a year, and I can trace my lineage directly to Dr Usui. I have met my Reiki Master’s Reiki Master. I have also met people at Reiki shares and etc who claimed to have been “attuned by their cat” while they were in the shower. There are also numerous people selling remote attunements via ebay. While I acknowledge that there are many valid lineages, and that not all of them lead back to Usui, and yes, I agree that Reiki can “do no harm”, but just because somebody says they are practicing Reiki does not mean that they are. (I had a very vivid demonstration of this fact early in my Reiki experiences. It took several days and salt baths to correct the situation, and was a definite lesson in being careful about giving my power awa.)

    If I were to agree to purchase a poodle and found that it looked suspiciously like a boxer, I might want to know its “lineage”. I also generally start Reiki sessions with a small personal ritual of setting of my intention, but I also know that after taking Reiki I and II, my hands would often heat up and literally start ‘buzzing’ prior to beginning a session, or even in anticipation of one. It was my feeling that the setting of intention was not necessary to “turn the energy on”, but that it was a nice way to put myself in that healing ‘space’, if you will. (I have had people ask me, “I was watching you work – where do you go when you are doing Reiki?” – as an artist and as a Reiki practitioner, I find that both activities generally work best when I get out of the way and into a different head space to allow them to flow. An ‘altered state of consciousnesses as it were.)

    I don’t have a definitive answer to the lineage question, but am just throwing in my opinion; I also know that not all Reiki practitioners are created equal, as there are some that I get absolutely no sensation or energy from whatsoever.

    I also wanted to get out of the somewhat incestuous energy of simply seeing clients and attending Reiki shares (“preaching to the choir’, in a way) so have been volunteering providing Reiki to people with HIV and AIDS since 2004. It has been a profoundly humbling experience, for which I am extremely grateful.

    Thanks for letting me join in the conversation!

    Jon

    • Pamela Miles February 02, 2014 7:42 am Permalink

      Thank you for your comment, Jon.

      I encourage students to notice sensations, but not to use them as a marker that something is happening. Sensations are just the part of the process that we are able to notice. Reiki is a spiritual practice, and most of the response to practice — arguably the most important part — is below our radar.

      I find it valuable, and safer, for practitioners to be fully present when practicing Reiki, not in an altered state. Staying present is part of Reiki practice as I understand it.

      • Jon February 02, 2014 8:30 am Permalink

        Thanks for the response; to clarify; I don’t use the sensations as a marker – in fact, they rarely happen anymore. As my Reiki Master pointed out years ago, the work is not about me – its about the other person. So there may not be any sensations on my part at all. I also know that a huge part of my practice (for me) is about simply trusting that the healing is occurring, without sensations on my part – having faith, if you will.

        …But I was interesting to me that at the start, when I was first attuned, there was an almost disorienting “buzzing” in my body in anticipation of working with the energy. I also find that I get cues and guidance in many different ways – sometimes visual, sometimes tactile, other times almost more of an “audible psychic suggestion”- so while I am in a slightly altered state, I am also very present at the same time. (Hope that make sense) – And I find it is important to me to remain aware of the different things going on in the session and in the room – and to be open to guidance from Spirit.

        A huge part of my healing practice for me is about “being present’, but also about “getting out of the way”; When I say people ask me “where I go”, I do not mean that I am daydreaming or leaving my body, but that I am operating in multiple spaces at once.

        Much love and light –
        Jon


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