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Reiki Controversies
Reiki Controversies
There are a few Controversies, as with any spiritual type of mechanism that gains so many believers and followers. Reiki is no exception. From the research to document Dr. Usui's existence, to the requirement of an initiation by a Reiki Master to practice this healing form, Reiki has still survived. In addition, the pricing requirements have now come under fire and many Masters who are part of the Usui lineage have decided to abandon some of the Alliance restrictions and requirements.
I've already tried to explain the controversy about Dr. Usui and how the legend of Reiki was altered when it was brought to the U.S. As we continue, I'll try also to explain the additional controversies in as much objectivity as I can. But please remember I am a Reiki Master of the Usui system, initiated by a Reiki Master who can trace her Reiki heritage to Takata. Just so you know, I received my Reiki I and II certification directly from Rev. Beth Gray. And I received my Reiki Master certification from Rev. Wilma Donald, in Northern Virginia who can trace her lineage to Takata.
Reiki Master Certification and Lineage
The controversy over the initiations is that they must be performed by a certified initiated Master. To me, this isn't an issue, why would you want someone who read a book and believes they have the knowledge and experience to train others from that limited experience? As I've mentioned in some of the other articles in this section, anyone can hang out a shingle and claim knowledge they didn't earn. As such these people may not have the full knowledge or experience needed to teach a method of spiritual healing.
Someone who hasn't been through a traditionalists class may not understand the underlying spiritual connection of Mind/Body/Spirit and the Reiki practice of healing. I think some of the new healing methods that call themselves "Reiki" is a good example of this. Those that teach the use of a tool is important to enhance Divine energy for instance. The tradionalist would ask, what are you enhancing? Divine energy by it's very nature is the most "powerful" energy in the universe. How can you enhance something that's already the "All" or "Everything"?
Critics of Certification are often those who don't see a value in traditional learning, or who believe they can read a book and hang out a shingle to charge money and make a living. Would you want to go to the ER and have a physician treat you when they haven't learned through a proven source of medicine, been certified and licensed to practice medicine? Then why would you accept less from a spiritual healer?
Financial Cost
Probably the biggest complaint about traditional Reiki is the defined cost for classes.
The traditional cost list looks like this:
  • Level 1 Reiki - $250
  • Level 2 Reiki - $500
  • Level 3 Reiki - $10,000
The historical view begins with Takata. She explained the fee was a means of weeding out those who were looking for a method of power over others, and would ensure that those who truly heard the calling of spirit would achieve the Master level. Thus maintaining the validity of the healing art.
The story as it was told to me by Rev. Beth Gray, is that Dr. Usui began the practice of paying a fee for training. When he freely shared his training offering free sessions and teaching for free, he noticed the value of and respect for the healing was diminished. When he charged a fee, both the sessions and training were highly valued and respected. Consequently their effectiveness and reverence were also retained.
When you have Takata Masters like William Rand saying:
The idea of charging $10,000 for Reiki Mastership was started by Mrs. Takata in 1970. It is not part of the Usui tradition. It is also known that she charged this fee to some, but not all of those she initiated. She initiated several for free and others for a much lower fee. Phyllis Furumoto, Mrs. Takata's granddaughter was initiated as a Reiki Master and paid no fee at all! It is not necessary to charge $10,000 for Reiki Mastership. Furthermore, experience has demonstrated that the amount paid has no effect on the quality of the Reiki initiation one receives. The Center charges fees that are reasonable as it is felt that high fees place an unnecessary restriction on the development of Reiki at a time when we need as many Reiki Masters and practitioners as possible.

The water gets muddied. Now I don't agree with William Rand. How Takata implemented her fee structure is based on opinion. All of us have made special arrangements with people and not shared what those arrangements are be they monetary or otherwise. I don't really care that she didn't charge her grand daughter. Come on..really? Phyllis is her grand daughter for heavens sakes!
Beth Gray explained in her classes that Takata lived with her during her training. She didn't pay rent to Beth. It was the other way around. Beth provided room and board for Takata, and for the privilege of hosting her Master in her house for daily training and communication. I don't think it's fair for one Reiki Master to assume they know or understand all the details of what transpired between Takata and her other Masters. If you have reasons for changing the fees for your organization, that make a case for that. Leave the personal judgements of others out of the reasoning.
I think it's important to remember that some of the criticisms don't take the context of training into account. Let me explain. The Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki is the official site for the Office Of The Grand Master. On their site they say this about Reiki Classes:
In the beginning, the masters most likely did not teach Reiki in the way we know today. Students came daily to be with their master and to practice. This is emphasized again in the story of Hawayo Takata as she learned from Chuijiro Hayashi. It is thought that when he came to visit Hawayo Takata, they needed to begin to teach in a different way because the circumstances were different. Eventually, the First and Second Degree classes emerged as separate time frames in which a portion of the teaching was passed on to the student.
The concept of attending training on a daily basis isn't unusual for a spiritual modality. Spending years in the presence of your Master allowed the teacher to see the commitment of the student on a daily basis. It provided the student with not only a larger classroom for learning, it added to the understanding of the method or teachings through hands on interaction and experience. Imagine what this type of training would cost if added up overtime.
Today we are in a world of instant gratification. Where everything is instantly at your fingertips and we want it NOW. Adding the digital age we live in today only exacerbates this perspective. But from the mentality of "instant gratification" we often take things that are very important for granted. We don't acknowledge or sometime even realize the value of something, until it's gone. Creating a throw away society isn't beneficial to the long lasting perspective and impact of a spiritual practice.
I remember a story from a neighbor where I grew up about the value of "things". He and his wife had redecorated their kitchen and replaced the refrigerator. There was nothing wrong with the fridge, it simply didn't fit into the decor of their kitchen. He put it outside on the curb and put a sign on it "FREE". He thought someone who needed it would pick it up and he wouldn't have to lug it to the scrap yard. They would get something they needed, he would feel good about that and they would save his back. The fridge sat on the curb for several days with no interest. He took the sign down and replaced it with one that said "$50". Within an hour he had someone knocking on his door asking about the fridge. The lesson he said; if you value something, so will others.

This is the idea behind the traditional fee structure. Most people understand the value of the level 1 and 2 classes. Some may not like it, but it's not too extreme to get a lot of comments of disdain. Compared to certification classes in other professions, these fees are pretty reasonable. Ask any certified IT Security Analyst how much they paid for their certification. Trust me $500 is cheap in comparison.
The level that gets the greatest controversy is the Master's fee. At $10k it's a pretty hefty sum. But consider the fee charged for similar certifications. This is a certification for a Master, who will teach others, and who will be teaching others to teach. So compare it to similar professionals. My best example is a Minister who will teach, guide and counsel others. Who will teach others to be Ministers. Take a look at the fee structure for Baylor University Seminary degrees. At the time of this writing, the 2012/2013 tuition is $10,006.00 minimum. Add to that additional fees for auditing a course, changing a degree program, or optional fees for meals and dorms and you can reach way over $10k for a similar academic standing.
You get what you pay for, that's true. But you also receive a valued and prestigious degree for a life long profession. If you look at the Master's program in this context, the fee for the highest level of training is commiserate with other institutions for similar practices. Now if you say a Reiki Master isn't going to perform weddings or counseling services. I say no, they provide healing sessions and they most certainly do provide counseling.
If you'd like to understand more about what's expected of a Reiki Master, I suggest reading my series on What's a Spiritual Expert on Springwolf Reflections.
The Initiation or Attunement Ritual
Now the ritualistic controversy. Recent detractors have complained that this energy is there in the Divine collective available for all and anyone who wants to connect to it. Yes that's true, but as with all things in the Divine collective, a person needs to learn how to use the energy offered to them. You wouldn't go to a person who just bought their first deck of Tarot cards for a reading on an issue that will change your life. You would want to seek out someone who has had some type of formal training and experience. Someone who can connect to the Divine realms with ease and provide accurate information.
For me, that's basically what the Reiki classes are all about. They are a structured method of passing on knowledge and experience to the student. The initiation process is a ritual where the student is making a serious commitment to the Divine collective that "Yes I am ready to receive this energy and use it for the betterment of all concerned." It's a handshake between the student and God. So what if it's done in a ritualistic fashion, what meaningful spiritual commitment isn't done in similar fashion? Even a marriage ceremony is a commitment before God between two people. So is the ceremony of Reiki initiations.
The 1st and 2nd Level Attunements
The next controversy comes with the definition and purpose of the Reiki I and II attunements, or initiations. In Reiki I a student will receive 3 attunements, to prepare them and open them to 50% of the Reiki energy. In Reiki II, the 3 attunements finish the process and prepare the student to receive 100% of the Reiki energy. In Reiki III, the final initiation treatment, prepares the new Master to call upon additional energy, sort of a boasting of the Reiki energy when called upon.
Now the detractors again point to the need for such attunements. Any one who is open to the Divine energy can call upon it and use it for positive intent. That's true. But it goes back to intent. The main intent of the attunement is for the student to officially make an open commitment to the Divine that they are here, ready willing and able to offer their physical, and spiritual bodies for the service of others. Now, if you asked God to send you light and healing for your sick dog, you would indeed receive the energy. And as you progressed with your private method of healing, the energy level you could accept through your body would also grow.
It isn't coincidence that channels start out slow and as they progress with their knowledge and understanding so does their level of receiving. But the universe knows how much energy each person can handle within their being. Not until they are ready to with stand additional energy will it be sent or received by a person. The best example I can give is this. If I were to met a person on the street who just admitted to having their first psychic experience yesterday and wanted to do more. I'm not going to hand them a cassette tape and plaque and say "Ok you're ready to trance channel now". For one, they don't know how, they don't know the steps to take, and they're physically not ready for the instance level of energy sent through the body during a trance state. There is a reason for being in trance. It's not for the privacy of the client. It's for the health of the channel.
So each attunement prepares the Reiki channel to open to the Divine Energy at intervals, allowing a little more energy to pass through with each attunement. This protects the channel, and allows them to build up to receiving additional energy with each practice and with each attunement.
The Reiki Symbols
Reiki and the use of symbols began from it's origins in the use of the Reiki II symbols and the exclusive master's symbol. These symbols are not kanji nor can they be historically traced to specific calligraphy from the Orient. They most certainly are not Tibetan symbols as some western writers have claimed. Instead, they are combinations of symbology that have been established into Reiki to promote focus and concentration of the Reiki Channel to their healing recipient.
Dr. Usui's creation of the Reiki System is no doubt based in his own cultural beliefs, hands-on methods that had long been used by Jesus Christ, Hindus, and probably Tibetan Monks. But Reiki is not nor has it ever been a Tibetan system alone. Historically we can only trace Reiki back to Dr. Usui himself. While there are many stories about the system being older, we truly cannot prove that beyond doubt. There just simply isn't substantial proof beyond this. Dr. Usui was a Tendai Buddhist so one might assume he acquired this knowledge through study of Buddhist documents. But what those documents are, or where they are is unknown. So the most we can for certain, is that Dr. Usui created the Reiki system utilized today.
A great deal is made of the 4 symbols utilized in traditional Reiki. Three of these are taught during Reiki II, and the fourth is the Master's Symbol which is guarded as a sacred item to Reiki practitioners. But the symbols themselves do not contain any more "power" or energy than a sigil used in magikal practices has. The energy of a symbol is held within the Reiki Channel them self. The symbols are merely triggers to assist the channel in opening to Divine energy and utilizing that within the specific purpose designed.
Think of it this way, when you sit before your computer there are certain things you do to 'turn on' the system. Perhaps you enter a start up password, perhaps you have a specific set of procedures you go through to get started with the task at hand. Each of things you do, begins a process within your consciousness to prepare your thoughts, your ideas, your concentration for the work you are about to undertake. The Reiki symbols basically do the same thing, preparing your psyche for the Divine Healing work you about to embark on.
These symbols are the keys that focus energy for the improvement of body and soul. They were intended to bring about a true holistic approach to mind, body, spirit and bringing about true balance and harmony within the physical and spiritual bodies. Dr. Usui really did know what he was doing when he shared these symbols.
Many traditional practitioners believe these symbols are not to be shared with those who have not undergone a traditional Reiki training program and specifically a Reiki attunement.
The Reiki Secrecy
Well now you're getting into a more personal area of the Reiki Controversies. For this, you may want to review my personal view of Reiki from a Traditional Master.
Next: Rev. Carey's Reiki Lineage

Created: 03/28/1999       Updated: 01/31/2013
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