Updated: Oct 6
If you’ve learned Reiki, you’ll know that there are many questions about elements of the practice that there seem to be no good answers for. Where do the Reiki symbols come from? What was the meditation that Mikao Usui, the Japanese founder of Reiki, practiced on Mt Kurama that led to his enlightenment experience? What relationship does Reiki have to the practice of Qi Gong, which Usui is widely assumed to have drawn on, in his creation of the Reiki system?
The answers to all of this are held within a practice called Buddho. In fact, Reiki doesn’t exist without the input and influence of the Buddho system.
The Buddho system, held exclusively within the tradition of Reiki Jin Kei Do, is an esoteric Buddhist practice with its origins in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. Many within the Reiki community assert, quite forcefully at times, that there are no links between modern secular Reiki and Tibetan Buddhism and that everything Reiki, which was created in Japan, must logically, only come from Japan. Historically there are clear links between esoteric Buddhism as it’s expressed within Tibet and as it’s expressed within Japan. Many of the practices differ only in as much as they have different cultural flavours. So, whilst it’s entirely possible that modern Reiki was not based on the Tibetan practice of Buddho, almost certainly it would have drawn from its Japanese counterpart. Until we have knowledge of that Japanese system, we are left with the clear linkages that exist between Reiki and the Tibetan practice of the Buddho system.
How can you deepen your Reiki practice with Buddho?
1/ Attend any Reiki class and you will almost certainly be told of the profound enlightenment experience that Mikao Usui experienced on Mt. Kurama. For decades, the global Reiki community have been asking, quite understandably, what that meditation might have been. Several guesses have been made, none of them seem particularly credible.
Mt Kurama, where Usui experienced his moment of enlightenment is dedicated to the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara (in Japanese, Kanzeon Bosatsu). It isn’t a great stretch of the imagination therefore, to assume that perhaps Usui’s meditation involved, or was dedicated to Avalokiteshvara.
Over the past few years, in the better researched books on Reiki, there has emerged an acknowledgement that the system of Reiki is in some way linked to Avalokiteshvara. Associations have been made between the deity and one of the Reiki symbols, though precisely what this means for the system or in what way Avalokiteshvara is an active presence within Reiki, no one seems to know. Except those within the lineage of Reiki Jin Kei Do.
The Buddho meditation, held within the lineage, is an esoteric Buddhist practice that is dedicated to and involves visualisations of Avalokiteshvara. The meditation has the potential to give rise to the much-reported phenomenon that Usui experienced on the mountain: seeing millions of little bubbles in all the colours of the rainbow within his inner vision (these bubbles are psychic essence drops called tiglé in Tibetan). It is also a meditation that is closely aligned with the originating material that gave rise to the Reiki symbols, not just symbol 1.
If you want to experience Usui’s meditation, then you need to experience Buddho. It’s a truly astonishing meditation that will blow you away when you feel its power.
2/ The Reiki symbols are always a hot topic in the Reiki community. There is almost an obsessive focus on this aspect of the system in the West and even more so in the Middle East where, having absorbed the vague and gossamer-like understandings about the symbols from Western teachers, locals sometimes panic over whether they conflict with their religious convictions. They don’t of course, but providing meaningful links to evidence on the internet is as hard as trying to build a snowman in the desert.
So, what do the symbols mean and where do they really come from? All manner of theories have been put forward over the years; some of them wildly nonsensical (the distant healing symbol being based on the outline shape of a Buddhist stupa for instance) whilst others seem more credible.
Symbol 1 has a relationship to focused energy: ‘put the power here’. It’s a command to the divine nature of the universe from which all manifest form arose. From a Buddhist perspective, it has a clear relationship to the state of enlightenment: to the realisation of the emptiness of all manifest form, to the dissolution back into the state of oneness of all manifest form (the impermanence of all phenomena), the awareness of which gives rise to extreme bliss. This state of bliss is the supreme manifestation of power. Enlightenment is an unstoppable force.
One theory widely put forward in relation to Symbol 2 is that is based on the Buddhist seed syllable hrih. Hrih is associated with the Buddha Amitabha (also intricately linked over the past fifteen years or so with the practice of Reiki) and thus with Avalokiteshvara (who flanks Amitabha on the right-hand side in Buddhist iconography). This association, as far as I can tell, has been the subject of the usual process in the world of Reiki: repeat it enough times, even if there is no substantiating concrete evidence, and it must therefore be true. However, if we look a little more carefully at the various associations within the practice of Reiki, we can see that symbol 2, although having some visual resemblance to hrih in its Siddham script form (Siddham is an ancient script derived from Sanskrit that travelled to Japan), it actually has a much closer visual resemblance to the full mantra of Avalokiteshvara: Om Ah Hum Hrih when expressed in the Tibetan Uchen script (Uchen also developed from Sanskrit at about the same time as Siddham).
Symbols 3 and 4 are in a sense not symbols at all, but Japanese script, or kanji. They say something in Japanese. Both are translations of Buddhist mantras used for healing on the journey towards enlightenment.
The Buddho system contains the precise mechanism that gave rise to all the symbols along with the knowledge of how and why they work the way they do.
3/ Back in the mid-90s it was widely reported in many books about Reiki that Usui was a Qi Gong teacher. Such references seem to be rare these days. However, within the Buddho system, is an exceptionally powerful Qi Gong practice, called Chi Nadi that is unique to the system. It links in closely with aspects of the system that are associated with the Reiki symbols and with the Buddho meditation itself. The energy of this practice, when combined with the practice of the Buddho meditation is astonishing. It is highly likely that Usui drew on the Chi Nadi, along with the energy generated within the Buddho meditation itself, to inform his understanding and knowledge as he developed his own new system.
4/ If your thing is giving treatments to others (and yourself) then Buddho is going to turbo-charge your practice. If you think Reiki is powerful, you haven’t experienced anything yet. The whole system of Reiki draws its power from Buddho. When you work with the symbols, they draw their power from the mechanisms within Buddho from which they sprang. When you work directly with those original mechanisms the energy that manifests is significantly greater and the mode of application is significantly more sophisticated, giving you more control over the flow of energy. When giving a treatment, the energy can be ‘targeted’ more accurately and pulsed into the body, allowing for a quicker and more dramatic healing response. Working with Buddho, deepens your Reiki practice considerably.
The central practice within Buddho involves the use of the Buddho symbol itself (which has a relationship to Symbol 1 in the Reiki system). Where Symbol 1 is incredibly powerful yet seems to flow very gently as it increases in intensity, Buddho hits like a bolt of lightning.
5/ Buddho is much more than just an energy healing system, however, and points to the potential to go beyond energy-healing that clearly exists in the Reiki system as well. When our focus in Reiki is solely on giving hands-on treatments, we miss the opportunity to develop ourselves spiritually; to heal ourselves on all levels of being and move towards the state of perfection which is our birth right. Buddho is a method that introduces the esoteric and energetic core from which Reiki draws its power. Buddho is before and after the system of secular Reiki. It’s the practice from which Reiki sprang and is the practice to which Reiki points.
Many of my students come to me looking for a spiritual practice and have no interest in energy healing. I am happy to take such people on. There is no need to engage with energy-healing. Reiki and Buddho are so much more than this.
Buddho (and thus Reiki) are the way to the ultimate cessation of suffering in one’s life. To end the cycle of rebirth. If we can see this as the reason for engaging with Reiki or with Buddho, then we are doing something much more profound than working as a therapist. When we engage on this level, our very presence in the world becomes a healing mechanism. Healing happens wherever we are.
Buddho is the method that can show you the real depth of the Reiki system and take you to places that are almost never explored by most Reiki practitioners and teachers. Without Buddho, there is no Reiki.