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Indeed, what is Reiki? The traditional and fairly recent development of Reiki, an alternative method of healing and medicine, synonymous with the monk known as Mikao Usui, who is pegged as the progenitor and founder of this methodology. He was born in 1865 and was a student of many forms of traditional medicines and spiritual healing.

As a healer himself, he required a more focused approach to healing that could be applied to the mind, the body and the soul. He wanted a way (this Japanese phenomenon) where he could touch a person physically, mentally and emotionally, and channel his knowledge of the spiritual universe into a healing power or touch. One of the more interesting facts about Usui is that he was also a student of the Western world. If history was accurate, Usui, who invented the alternative treatment Reiki, also possessed a doctorate of theology from the University of Chicago. This meant that not only was he a Japanese master of the spiritual arts, but he was also a 19th century scholar who had crossed over to the Western world to sample their methodologies and beliefs.

It was this thirst for knowledge and eclectic upbringing that coloured most of Usui’s life, and while there are rumours that he was a dean of a Christian school and that he had also taken much inspiration from Buddhists and Taoists teachings, nothing can take away from the fact that he had created and started an original form of therapy that was distinctly Japanese, highly spiritual and also unique in the world today. Reiki is now one of the premier forms of alternative medicine today and there are practitioners and proponents of it all over the world from the East to the West.

If we looked deeper into the life of Usui, we can see the many roots of his inspiration. One of which was Shugendo, or a form of shamanism or mysticism that heralded from the mountains of Japanese. Much of these mysterious arts focused on using spirituality and divination to perform procedures that can include anything from prayer, exorcisms, divination, fortune telling and even prayer. One important part of this methodology is that Shugendo also used spirituality to heal others who were in physical or emotional pain.

As a teacher, it was said that Usui had started teaching Reiki to people in Japan just before the turn of the 20th century, and before his death, it was said that he had taught almost 2, 000 students, who in turn, had used his knowledge and spread it across the world, spreading Reiki’s principals of wisdom, spirit and godliness. Of these many that he had taught, there was also a core of 16 students that had taken his lessons and taken them further in the field of Reiki. They too, began to take on their own students and this is how the legacy of Usui and Reiki was kept alive till this very day. The history of Usui and Reiki is very expansive, and his contributions to Reiki in the past and what it is today is undeniable  – Usui will always be the father of Reiki.