Samurai in Japanese kanji

The founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei) was born on August 15, 1865 in the village of Taniai (now called Miyama cho) in the Yamagata county of Gifu Prefecture, in Japan. There are four influences that went into his Reiki teachings: Buddhism, Shintoism, Martial Arts, and Shugendo (mountain asceticism) Here, we’ll briefly look at his martial arts training.

Usui’s family was hatamoto samurai. The hatamoto were the shogun’s personal guard. The Usui family crest, also known as the Chiba crest, is a design that is a circle with a dot at the top. The circle is the universe, and the dot represents the North Star. The North Star is a polestar, it never moves, is ever constant, while life moves around it.

Three Japanese budo masters were contemporaries of Usui Sensei. Gichin Funakoshi founded Karate. Jigoro Kano started judo. Morihei Ueshiba created Aikido a little later on. Mikao Usui was born a Tendai Buddhist and studied in a Tendai monastery as a young child. At age 12 he began the practice of a martial art known as aiki jutsu, made popular by Takeda Sokaku who was Ueshiba’s teacher. This form included harmonizing with Ki, making it possible to experience calmness, concentration, willpower and physical fitness. He also studied yagyu ryu, and it’s interesting that this tradition includes both life-giving and -taking techniques.

About two years ago I had come across a Samurai’s song. It was impressive and thought-provoking. Let me share it here and we’ll look at some ideas that emerge.

A Warrior’s Creed

I have no parents
I make the heaven and earth my parents

I have no home
I make awareness my home

I have no life and death
I make the tides of breathing my life and death

I have no divine powers
I make honesty my divine power

I have no means
I make understanding my means

I have no secrets
I make my character my secret

I have no body
I make endurance my body

I have no eyes
I make the flash of lightening my eyes

I have no ears
I make sensibility my ears

I have no limbs
I make promptness my limbs

I have no strategy
I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy.

I have no design
I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design

I have no miracles
I make right action my miracle

I have no principles
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle

I have no tactics
I make emptiness and fullness my tactics

I have no talent
I make ready wit my talent

I have no friends
I make my mind my friend

I have no enemy
I make carelessness my enemy

I have no armor
I make benevolence and righteousness my armor

I have no castle
I make immovable mind my castle

I have no sword
I make absence of self my sword

— Anonymous Samurai, 14th century

Admittedly it’s a little austere and minimalist. This has advantages, however. Many times, there’s nothing quite like a bare bones view to gain clarity and hone in on essentials. Let’s break it down.

  • In Reiki we work very closely with heaven and earth in the form of Earth and Celestial Ki.
  • Uncluttered awareness in the moment is key.
  • Understanding is an enhancer of Reiki practice, whether it’s better results with techniques, or with people. When Reiki is practiced or shared with understanding, its power deepens.
  • Reiki constantly gives us ample opportunities to improve our character.
  • Quieting the busy mind is a core practice that rewards in multiple ways.
  • Right thought, right speech, right action are built-in Reiki ethics.
  • Being the bending but not breaking bamboo is the adaptability Reiki brings us.
  • Knowing when to be empty and when to be full is a skill Reiki helps us develop.
  • Befriending ourself is where healing begins.
  • Being careful is a prime example of being full. Full of care.
  • Reiki is the way of compassion, which includes benevolence.
  • Immovable mind is the beginning and end of meditation.
  • Absence of self in the Self is the way of peace and enlightenment.

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Reiki Lessons from a Samurai