The Reiki Help Blog features articles on Japanese practices, arts and life philosophies to give the teachings of Reiki a richer context. Today’s post hearkens back to April 2019’s The Journey Itself is Home, is a line from master haiku poet Basho and a perfect segue to restart regular posts here.
It’s been two years since I posted on the Reiki Help Blog. A pandemic, my move to another state, and changing work and lifestyle aspirations (still writing though!) have been part of the reasons why.
One thing to note is that while Reiki is a universal teaching, exploring the sources of its universality in the larger context of Japanese landscapes (nature is a major player in Japanese life) together with spiritual and creative practices is to tap a bottomless resource.
I’ve been writing haiku in recent months – the 5-7-5 syllable Japanese poetry form. A haiku consists of 17 ‘on,’ or syllables, in a 5-7-5 pattern. A traditional Japanese haiku is printed in one long vertical line, while in English it is split into three horizontal lines.
While simple, haiku is a discipline and practice that’s an interior journey, shifting how we perceive things and giving us moments of realization. These are only some of the parallels between haiku and Reiki.
Reading about the lives of three old masters of haiku, Basho, Buson and Issa I realized each devoted large chunks of time to itinerant travel.
The founder of Reiki, Usui Sensei was known to travel too. He went on mountain retreats, traveled to other teachers, opened Reiki clinics in various locations and held a variety of jobs that took him places.
In September 1923, the Great Kantō earthquake devastated Tokyo, leaving over 140K dead. Usui Sensei and his early students worked alongside authorities and this led Usui and his teachings to become highly popular.
To accommodate the demand, Usui traveled to teach Reiki in the final years of his life.
Traveling is a world tradition. Whether it’s poets, artisans, troubadours, circuses, art shows, Zen teachers, dancers, performers and theater groups travel is a global practice, independent of the culture in which it takes place.
There’s also the global practice of pilgrimage.
In Japan, from the beginning, it was felt that travel brought a certain discipline and an accommodating mindset since travel isn’t always comfortable or easy. Basho’s dates are 1644-1694 and Usui’s are 1865-1926. It has to be factored in that most travel was done on foot in both those periods.
Basho is the original haiku poet as it were. He was alive the earliest and reinvented the haiku form, “transforming it into one of the great lyric forms in human culture and himself into one of the world’s great lyric poets.” (Robert Hass, The Essential Haiku Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa.)
He did that while traveling in the final nine years of his life.
Another year gone—
hat in my hand,
sandals on my feet.
looking for a place to stay;
along the road on Mount Asama
the autumn wind.
The examples here are all about the everydayness of life and the challenges of living it, tied in with nature and the seasons.
There’s also a sense of the observer who makes each haiku more than a description of a moment. Basho as well as Buson and Issa led contemplative lives.
The observer may suffer from the vagaries of life but isn’t identified with them. Work has to be put in to arrive at this understanding.
Practices don’t change the essential nature of life, its ups and downs, but provide a way for us to make meaning as we go along and give light to those we encounter.
Everybody needs light.
There’s an aspect of Usui Sensei’s original Japanese Reiki teachings that isn’t mentioned too often. Anshin Ritsumei is a state of calm in which our heart-mind is calm and filled with peace.
Usui found this state of consciousness through the contemplative practices he followed himself such as meditation and mountain retreats.
It is ultimately what he’d like to give the world with his Reiki teachings. To have peace in our heart-mind and share this peace with the world.
Japanese culture is one of many practices, creative and spiritual. In his book, The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, author John Stevens describes the long-distance walking style: “Eyes focused about 100 feet ahead while moving in a steady rhythm, keeping the head level, the shoulders relaxed, the back straight, and the nose aligned with the navel.”
The nose aligning with the navel is mentioned in many historical meditation texts and teachings!
This synergy of finding seemingly random connections that end up painting a complete picture is one way to keep your own practices and mindset fresh and resourceful.
It isn’t random that there are common elements among teachings, practices and lifestyles. Humanity shares the same knowledge base and sounds the same notes across different eras and cultures.
We share so much. We have to return to that in society.
Related – Other Japanese Practices:
The Practice of Suiseki Art Stones
Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku
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Authentic Japanese Reiki Master Teacher / Healer at my Oasis Reiki Dojo – Available globally. Meditation, Healing, and Spirituality training and services. Meditation Guide. Intuitive Coach. Spirituality Writer. Photographer. Poet. Artist. Dad. Plant-based.