Reiki Is Not Ancient

Reiki is not ancient.

It’s either modern (a practice started by Mikao Usui in the mid-1920s in Japan), or it’s timeless (if by Reiki, you mean the unified field, source, primordial consciousness, pure awareness, great mystery, whatever you call that all-pervasive, unending reality to which we connect when we practice Reiki).

Using the term Reiki without specifying what comes after it (Reiki treatment, Reiki practice,  Reiki sensations, Reiki state, etc.) leads to confusion, especially when we’re addressing people who are new to the practice.

But no matter how you look at it, Reiki is not ancient.

It’s right here,
right now,
as you place your Reiki hand.


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This post is available in Spanish translation, Reiki No Es Antiguo. Other Spanish translations are available at Reiki en Español.


19 thoughts on “Reiki Is Not Ancient”

  1. Its true that it cant be proved if it was “Reiki” or “something like Reiki”, there is lot to be still known and discovered…
    Can you please guide me to that interview..I believe there is very few doc. on that.
    I dnt think I was being disrespectful we all know that he received that unique gift while doing fasting and meditation.There are lot of misconceptions about Reiki and how it has been “modified”.

    1. You may be able to find the interview online. I have the citation in my book but unfortunately do not have it handy at the moment.

  2. Seema, “something like Reiki” practice is still not Reiki practice. Blurring the distinctions among practices is a disservice to the practices, and disrespectful of our lineage and its founder, Mikao Usui.

    Just because people write that Reiki was rediscovered does not make it true. The myth of rediscovery was started some time after Mrs. Takata’s death in 1980.

    Reiki as the nondual state was never lost, and Reiki practice was Usui’s unique gift, as he stated in a published interview.

  3. I think its the way how one looks at it….it makes sense when you say It’s right here,
    right now,
    as you place your Reiki hand…
    We do read that Reiki was “rediscovered” by Mikao Usui..if you look up some of the old and ancient texts from diff. asian cultures you will find that there is a mention of “some thing like Reiki”.
    I am writing here a translation from some quotes from veda..and also the reference..

    (Translation of some lines from Veda)
    I touch you with divine healing hands having ten branches of healing fingers which is inspired by the power of my words (tongue).
    My hands are a gift of divine having all healing powers. Its touch is very pious.

    Rig Veda 10 Th chapter/137 sutra
    Atharv Veda 4th chapter/ 13th sutra
    This Sutra is also called “Rog Nivaran Sutra” also known as “Vashishtha Vidya”
    Kalyan 1999 Ved Kathank Special issue/page No 452

    I am not saying I am correct but saying Reiki is as old as mankind and even older and it is here time and time again to help yes its right here right now and it always was

  4. Hi Pamela,
    Thank you for your knowlege and dilligence in your research. I tend to refer to my Reiki Practice as Usui Reiki, as what I have studied and practiced was what was discovered by Master Usui, I have found it interesting to note in classes that it is a timeless energy art, as it has been used in one form or another for thousands of years.

    Described in sanskrit, described by the Mejing Emperor, used in so many forms, not neccessarily Reiki Practice and yet overlaping just the same, throught the world. What differentiates Usui Reiki Practice for me is the actual attunements that our students go through to open them and help prepare them for the ability to channel this beautiful energy. No other healing modality has this practice.

    I love the word timeless in your description because it is truely acurate and you have to be here and now healing art. You must be present while giving a session, yet you also have to remain “out of the way” as in detatched from the out come, because the inate wisdom of Reiki in all it’s Practice is never up to us, Reiki Sessions simply open the door for this energy to do it’s work.

    We do our part in our studies and understanding of how it may effect others, and what sensations it may create, however in my 20+ years of Reiki Practice I am still continually surprised by it, and how it seems to have a mind and way all of it’s own, that is the power and energy of Usui Reiki Practice I am still drawn to.

    I appriciate your calling this distinction out so that we may be better armed in giving accurate information to both our clients, as well as those new to Reiki Practice or Sessions, as this can be a confusing subject.

    *A side note of giving “Reiki” credibility, I personaly don’t feel it is neccessary to add any thing to create any credibility, it is powerful enough even if it was discovered 100 years ago, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak*

    Thank you again for all your work,
    Many Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lindsay.

      I agree with you that nothing needs to be added to Reiki practice to give it credibility. However, practitioner who do not practice long enough before before going public as practitioners or masters often feel this need, simply because they have not given themselves time to mature in their practice. We cannot disregard the steadiness, clarity and depth that only consistent daily self-practice brings.

      I don’t know what is gained by saying Reiki practice is a timeless energy art. I don’t see what is gained, and I think it would confuse at least some students. Reiki practice is a unique spiritual healing practice that dates back to the early 20th century.

      If you are trying to give historical perspective, why not simply mention that various subtle healing practices are been used throughout the ages in different indigenous medical systems, and this is a unique practice that for many reasons, such as ease of learning and speed of response, is well suited to our culture?

  5. Hi Pamela, I am sorry I missed your webinair. I would just like to make a comment on Reiki being ancient. I come down Beth Grays line, I also was chosen to work with the last traditional Aboriginal elder, he said in his own words ‘They told me they were sending someone, but i didnt expect a woman and a white one at that, lol’ He had a sense of humor as well. My elder and I spent many years, in the natural environment, among other things we talked about religious beliefs and many religions as part of my traditional initiation as well as cultural inheritance, the only acceptable practice to him that was as close to his cultural beliefs that he accepted was Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki and allowed me to go on to become a Reiki Master, Universal Life Force Healing, he is now dec. however throughout my learning with him we could always refer to Usui Reiki and connect it with the Ancient Art of Aboriginal Healing as one and the same!

    1. Lorraine, I can appreciate that the connection you and your elder felt is meaningful to you. I have been drawn to indigenous healing practices since my youth, and quickly recognized the overlap with Reiki practice.

      Regardless our own inner experiences and understanding, it is important to address the facts when speaking publicly. In this case, the fact is that Mikao Usui is the founder of the Reiki practice lineage.

      Maintaining this distinction helps avoid the confusions that occur whenever a practice is made as widely available as Reiki practice has become, particularly in cultures where there is no understanding of how to respect traditional spiritual practices.

      Make sense?

  6. It is quite refreshing to find someone who is in touch with the latest information about Reiki. I find so many books and websites still puporting the old “christian” myth story and, as you said, the “ancient” ness of Reiki.
    During a long illness in the middle of my Reiki journey I decided to begin reading all I could get my hands on about Reiki and am quite aware of the origins of both Reiki and Usui as reported by Frank Ajava Petter, Hiroshi Doi and Chris Marsh (to name few). I have been holding lectures on this locally to get the word out to the local Reiki community. Have signed up for your blog and will be reading some more of your very informative and very well written posts. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Patty. You’ve highlighted the need for Reiki practitioners to be proactive getting credible information to the public.

      I would like to note, however, that although Chris Marsh tells an interesting story, the lack of any documentation is troubling. I therefore cannot get on that bandwagon.

  7. Do you suppose we cling to the descriptive term of ancient because we somehow believe it will give it more credibility?

  8. When starting out my Reiki practice, I created a brochure that used the word “ancient”, then later in the text said that it was discovered, or developed by Dr. Mikao Usui in the early twentieth century.

    Quickly revised the brochure, when a member of the public asked me how I could call Reiki “ancient” if it came into being only a hundred years ago!

    Our clients, potential and actual, are our best teachers.

  9. Thank you Pamela for helping us to be mindful of what we are referring to when using the term Reiki, whether it is the practice or treatment…
    I agree that it is important to be clear when communicating with people new to Reiki.

    And I love the word timeless here…

  10. Thanks for stepping in, Alice.

    It’s true that the practice Usui gave us didn’t come out of a vacuum. But it wasn’t a mere cultural outgrowth. Usui’s practice was unique and defined by him. It is based on initiation, which was the gift and attainment of his spiritual practice. Of course we are all shaped by the cultural influences around us.

    Taoism was also a major spiritual thread in Japanese culture of the time.

    1. Pamela and dedicated Reiki practitioners.. Thank you for shedding truth and light on how Reiki is not ancient, and the many other truths you have uncovered for those wishing to see. I am so grateful I opened my heart more to your work as I expand my Reiki Practice to empower others. Namaste with great love and appreciation

  11. Oh, very nice, Pamela! I like the wording of Reiki (the state) as “timeless”. I will definitely steal that one. :0)

    As for the System of Usui Reiki, I generally say that while it is modern, dating from the early 20th century, it is likely based on more established practices that formed Usui’s background: Buddhism, martial arts, and Shinto traditions, as well as the rich Japanese culture. The system may be new (relatively speaking), but it didn’t come from a vacuum. For me, at least, knowing some of the context gives the practice added depth and nuance.

    And you are so right, the experience of Reiki consciousness and sensations is completely in the moment, every moment. Just thinking about that makes me smile.

    Thanks for a short but sweet essay.


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