Mikao Usui

There is not much factual information known about Mikao Usui until in recent years Frank Arjava Petter, William Lee Rand, Bronwen and Frans Stiene and others did extensive research which has built up a clearer picture of his life.

He was born, into a Samurai family, in the Gifu district of Japan on 15 August, l865. He was a Tendai Buddhist by birth and he studied a martial art known as aiki jutsu from the age of twelve. It is thought, as he grew up, that he studied subjects such as history, medicine, Buddhist and Christian scriptures, psychology, Taoism, the art of divination, incantation and physiognomy. He travelled extensively throughout Japan and overseas. At one point in his life he became private secretary to a politician called Shinpei Goto, who in 1922 became mayor of Tokyo. He married and had two children, a boy and a girl, called Fuji and Toshiko. The first one was born when Mikao Usui was 43 years old.

He practised Tendai Buddhism as a lay priest, known as a zaike, while living at home with his family. He followed both Buddhist and Shinto practices. Shintoism is a faith based on the spiritual energy contained within natural elements such as the sun, mountains, rocks and trees, the wind, and in abstract things like fertility and the spirit of ancestors.

It is believed that Mikao Usui used techniques from both these practices when creating the energy system we know as Reiki. In Japan this healing system is known as 'Usui do' which means 'the way of Usui'. The word Reiki in Japan signifies spiritual energy. It is also known as 'Reiki Ryoho', which means 'spiritual energy healing system'. Chanting waka form poems, known as gyosei, written by the Meiji Emperor of the time; being guided by the five Reiki principles or Gokai in everyday living enhanced the student's spiritual development, and were all used to create a complete healing system. Mikao Usui began teaching the five principles in 1915.

In March 1922, he completed a 21 day meditation on Kurama Yama, a mountain that is said to emanate powerful energy. The 21day meditation practice, called kushu shinren, included severe fasting. It is said by both western and Japanese Reiki traditions that it was at this time that Usui developed healing powers and even enlightenment, and that by just standing near a student he was able to strengthen their energy.

The aim of his teachings was to enable the student to attain enlightenment without being attached to a belief system. The healing that took place as a student progressed in this practice happened as a side effect. People used to come to Mikao Usui for both healing and spiritual teachings. His teachings became more formalised and were written in a healing guide known as the Reiki Ryoho Hikkei. For students with limited spiritual experience and intuitive abilities, hand positions, and symbols added to mantra recitations, were introduced.

On 1 September 1923, a great earthquake shook Tokyo and surrounding areas. It is said that Usui worked tirelessly to aid and heal the afflicted.

On 9 March 1926, at the age of sixty two, Mikao Usui died of a stroke. During his lifetime he initiated two thousand students, twenty one to teacher level (Shinpiden). Three of these students were naval officers in the Japanese navy. Their names were Taketomi, Hayashi and Ushida.


People used to come to Mikao Usui for both healing and spiritual teachings