Hawayo Takata, Reiki & Spirituality

Reiki master Robert Fueston’s rigor as a researcher appeals to me, and I’m grateful he’s compiled what he’s learned about Reiki practice as taught by Hawayo Takata into a book, Transmissions of Light.

Robert FuestonHawayo Takata, Reiki & Spirituality
by Robert Fueston

When I took First Degree Reiki training in 1996, my teacher encouraged me not to read any books, but instead to devote my attention to practice.

I didn’t follow his very good advice. It seemed a bit narrow-minded to the data-gathering mentality that later led me to pursue a Master of Library and Information Science degree.

I quickly found out I was the one with the one-track mind. After reading everything I could get my hands on and talking with any Reiki practitioner I could find, I was confused beyond imagining. Everything I read or heard conflicted with something else I had read or heard.

The one thing we had in common was Hawayo Takata, but there were many different perspectives on her.

Everyone agreed that Takata and her Reiki master Chujiro Hayashi brought Reiki practice to the United States in the late 1930s. Hayashi returned to Japan, and Takata continued to practice and teach until her death in December 1980.

Within a decade, Reiki practice spread around the world from the Usui/Hayashi/Takata lineage, and that’s when the changes started. A small group of Reiki masters sought to stay close to Takata’s teaching, but many people changed the practice without acknowledging they had done so.

Researching Takata, Reiki & Spirituality

My inclination as a researcher was to go to the source or as close to the source as possible. It seemed the only way to discover the truth of Takata’s teachings would be to cast a wide net and study with as many students of hers as I could, compiling and comparing what they taught — and of course, practicing daily self Reiki.

During the 17 years since then, I’ve had personal contact with 10 of Takata’s 22 Master students. I contacted Master students of those Takata masters who were deceased (some who were also family members). Other Takata sources contacted me offering to help fill in blanks after seeing something I had written about their teacher or family member.

I’ve also obtained many tapes of Takata teaching Reiki classes. The tapes enabled me to hear Takata teaching First and Second degree Reiki firsthand. I could then cross-reference other bits and pieces I had gathered to see the similarities and differences.

Another reliable source came in the form of notes written by Takata, by several of her Master students, and by some of her First and Second degree students. I’ve also found videos of Takata’s Master students telling stories about her and sharing her teachings. Newspaper articles from the 1930s – 1970s brought insights from another perspective.

Takata understood Reiki & spirituality

The result of all that research is that I discovered a huge gap between what Takata taught and what most people think she taught. That’s particularly true regarding spirituality.

Although many practitioners say Takata and her Reiki master Hayashi focused on the physical rather than the spiritual, that’s clearly not the case.

Takata emphasized that the spiritual and mental self is number one and the body is number two, but both are needed to create a whole. One misconception I often hear is that Takata and Hayashi were more into the healing of the physical body and not into the wellness of the mental and spiritual self. But that’s not what Takata taught.

Takata stated on an audio recording, “So we always say, the mental and the spiritual is number one; number two is the physical. And then you put that together and say we are a complete whole. And when you can say that, that means you have applied Reiki and Reiki has worked for you.” [1]

Takata’s teaching story of Usui healing beggars

Takata’s story of Usui giving Reiki treatment to beggars for seven years was not historically accurate [2], but may have been inspired by actual events (perhaps the subject of a future article). The significance for this article is that Takata’s version emphasized spirituality.

As Takata told the story, the monks Usui consulted unanimously encouraged him to focus on the spiritual. But Usui was a strong-minded individual determined to focus on the physical body, and he disregarded the monks’ guidance. (That was something I could relate to, having ignored my teacher’s good advice.)

Takata’s story has Usui offering Reiki treatment to beggars for years. Eventually Usui saw people who had been healed and given an opportunity to integrate into society, but who chose to return to the beggar colony. Through this experience, Usui recognized the wisdom of his teachers. He saw that it’s not enough to only heal the body. He understood “the mental and the spiritual is number one; number two is the physical.”

[1] Takata Speaks: Volume 1, Reiki Stories.

[2] I am very aware of other teachings of Hawayo Takata, especially the history of Reiki lineage founder Mikao Usui, which people today have discounted. However, I have researched some of the stories being questioned, and have found the previous “research” woefully inadequate (some “research” was a single phone call). In the future, I’ll share research I did at the University of Chicago that opens surprising possibilities about the history of Reiki as told by Hawayo Takata.


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10 thoughts on “Hawayo Takata, Reiki & Spirituality”

  1. Robert,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. A man of detail and reason to research to the Nth degree the truest truth, not just a handed down story. Your gifted desire to dig until personally satisfied will benefit more than yourself, you know this. This spurns you forward. We all have our rabbit trails to follow to feel right from the inside out. I hope and pray your sifting salvages more than you ever expected.

  2. Oh, my gosh, Pamela, this is such exciting news!!

    To bring truth to light is always beneficial, especially in the case. It has always bothered me how some changed Mrs. Takata’s teachings without clearly stating they had done so, clearly demonstrating a lack of integrity while also showing such deep disrespect to the woman who had offered to teach them and had worked so hard to share Reiki with the Western world.

    I am definitely looking forward to reading this book, thank you for sharing!

  3. Catherine Heaton

    A fantastic article and so inspiring to read about an evidence-centred, logical person dedicating their life to our amazing self- healing practice. Thank you and well done.

  4. Hi Robert and Pamela! It is not quite clear to me from this abstract what this book is going to be exactly about. I mean what is going to be there which we do not know from other sources about Hawayo Takata, what is the purpose of writing it, what is the message? Would be appreciated a lot if Robert could spread a bit more light over there. Thank you!

    1. Hi Olga,

      The purpose for writing this book was to make a more historically accurate account about Hawayo Takata and the system of Reiki she taught available. It is not a manual. There are plenty of interesting facts about Usui Shiki [Reiki] Ryoho and its development over time that are not widely known.

      The article presented here isn’t designed to give an overview of the upcoming book. The article simply is to present Mrs. Takata’s teachings on the importance of the spiritual development of a person.

      1. Hi Robert! It says that it is a preview, so that’s how I’ve read it – as a preview. I guess I have to wait for your book to find my answers. I am looking forward to it! It’s good when people are driven by research. It would be great to see from your book what was your purpose for that research and what you found. Get it publish then ! Good luck!

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