Updated: Nov 12
What have the Law of Attraction and Reiki got in common?
Both systems have, for a long time, captured the imaginations of people around the world, but few realize that the two seemingly unconnected systems potentially share some of the same historical roots as well as other energetic and methodology-based connections.
New Thought and the Emergence of the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction owes its origins to a movement that started in the United States in the mid-1800s.
It started with the work and ideas of the American mesmerist and healer, Phineas Quimby (1802-1866), who had developed a philosophy of healing that suggested that all illnesses originated in the mind and were a consequence of flawed thinking and beliefs. Quimby believed that a mind that was open to God’s wisdom, or spiritual wisdom, could overcome illness. He believed that by bringing a client to an awareness of their own spirituality and guiding them to the truth of the cause of their suffering, healing could take place. Although not a doctor by formal education, Quimby was often referred to as a doctor, his work having a great deal in common with and certainly influenced, modern psychology.
It's often claimed that Quimby was searching for and believed that he had found the healing methods of Jesus. Quimby was not a religious man in the accepted sense. Although he knew his Bible, he didn’t subscribe to or follow any organized religion.
The New Thought movement, which grew out of Quimby’s work, holds that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere and that the spirit is not only a force for good, but that right thinking, and tapping into your true spiritual nature has a deep and powerful healing effect.
New Thought as opposed to ‘ancient thought’ tried to take the common threads and accumulated wisdom from a variety of spiritual and religious traditions, including Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, Taoist, Vedic, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures. The focus was always on the interaction between thought, belief, consciousness, and the human mind and the effects these have beyond the mind. In the 21st Century, the New Thought movement is comprised of a loose alliance of writers, philosophers, and individuals who share beliefs around metaphysics, positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force energy, and creative visualization.
Some common beliefs in the New Thought movement:
· Infinite Intelligence is universal and everlasting and is the supreme force in the whole of creation.
· Everyone is a spiritual being and Infinite Intelligence dwells within all of us.
· The supreme spiritual principle is that we should love one another unconditionally and bring healing to those in need.
· Our mental states and what we believe are projected into our real-world experience: ‘What you believe, you become.’
Some of this sounds very familiar to concepts that exist in the system of Reiki, and closely resemble Buddhist ideas and concepts.
One of Quimby’s earliest followers was a woman called Mary Baker Eddy. Eddy went on to develop the Christian Science approach to healing which differed in many important ways from Quimby’s. Eddy eventually distanced herself from Quimby’s work and, having originally been given Quimby’s manuscripts for publication, finally returned them to Quimby’s family after his death, unpublished. The Quimby Manuscripts were eventually published in 1921.
Across the Pacific to Japan.
In Japan in 1914, Dr. Bizan Suzuki published a book called Principles of Health (Kenzen no Genri), which listed some basic principles that he thought would help in the healing of individuals.
Suzuki’s philosophy of health (Kenzen Tetsugaku), which was a mirror for the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and Phineas Quimby, claimed to cure physical diseases by addressing the heart-mind relationship and brought together contemporary Japanese self-development practices with New Thought ideas about the power of the mind, positive thinking, visualization techniques and the use of affirmations, which he had learned whilst studying philosophy in the United States. Suzuki was, in fact, deeply influenced by Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, and his method was considered to be a localized Japanese version of Christian Science that could be used to manifest health and wealth. Suzuki was also extremely well known for his spiritual therapy due to his numerous publications and extensive newspaper advertisements.
One of the practices that Suzuki suggested in his book was the recitation of a ‘Moral Poem of Health’ (Kenzen Dōka) which is almost identical to, and pre-dates, the five Reiki Precepts that were given by the founder of the system of Reiki, Mikao Usui. It’s generally agreed that there is a high probability that Usui based his Precepts on those in Bizan Suzuki’s book.
Prior to 1997, the history of Reiki as given by Hawayo Takata, the Japanese American woman who introduced Reiki to the West, emphasized that Mikao Usui was a Christian and in search of the healing methods of Jesus, later, finding the answers that he sought in Buddhist sutras.
Then in 1997, Frank Arjaya Petter published his book ‘Reiki Fire’ which essentially tore down Takata’s Christian story of Reiki, as it became clear that Usui was not a Christian, but a Buddhist. From that point onwards, the story of Usui’s search for the healing methods of Jesus completely disappeared from the telling of Reiki’s history; consigned to the dustbin of make-believe along with other aspects of Reiki’s history as originally passed on by Mrs. Takata.
Perhaps we need to reflect on the story that Takata told of Usui’s search for the healing methods of Jesus once more.
In recent times, it has been claimed that Takata invented the Christian version of Usui’s development of Reiki to make the teachings more palatable to an American audience who, following WWII, was far from amenable to anything emanating from Japan. It’s possible that this is the case. However, there is not a single shred of evidence to support this story. It is just an assumption, and one that has been circulated so widely, that it has been assumed to be the truth. However reasonable this assumption might be, there is no evidence for it.
In the telling of the history of Reiki, it’s often mentioned that prior to his development of the system, Mikao Usui traveled widely, including to the United States, and that he was an avid learner and explorer of various spiritual and healing methods. This was at a time when New Thought and Christian Science were extremely popular both in the United States and in Japan. It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that both Usui (according to Takata) and Phineas Quimby, both seemed to be in pursuit of the healing methods of Jesus.
Perhaps this is just a coincidence. Or is there more to the similarity in the telling of the two men’s respective journeys into healing? Two men who share a similar philosophy on the origins of illness, and whose teachings seem to be bridged by the work of Dr Bizan Suzuki.
The arguments against Usui being in search of the healing methods of Jesus are based on the fact that he was a Buddhist. I find this utterly irrelevant and a case of profound misdirection. I would say, ‘So what, that he was a Buddhist?’
In my own teaching of Reiki to hundreds of Muslims and Christians in Egypt and elsewhere, I have found a deep and sometimes urgent desire to understand the teachings, philosophies, and practices that come out of Buddhism and Hinduism. Just because a person subscribes to a particular religious or philosophical view, does not mean that they are blinkered and have no desire to educate themselves in the teachings and practices of other people’s belief systems, certainly not someone as intelligent and as enquiring as Mikao Usui clearly was. It entirely makes sense, from a Buddhist point of view, given the injunction of the Buddha himself to not believe anything one is told without evidence, that Usui would indeed be deeply interested in the reported healings of Jesus, just as Phineas Quimby was.
Was Usui influenced by New Thought ideas and the teachings of Phineas Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, either whilst he was in Japan, or later when he traveled to the United States? Was he more influenced by New Thought than just the ‘Moral Poem of Health’ given by Dr Bizan Suzuki? Perhaps we’ll never know.
What is apparent however is that on the one hand, we have a many times repeated history of Reiki from Takata that Usui was searching for the healing methods of Jesus, as opposed to an assumption that firstly Takata made this up to placate an anti-Japanese American public and secondly, a bizarre assumption that Usui wouldn’t have been pursuing this line of inquiry because he was a Buddhist. This is not very solid ground at all.
A clear, albeit minor example of the overlap between the two teachings would be that within the Reiki system, there is no use of the term ‘God’. Instead, we talk about the ‘Universal Energy Field’, the Universal Intelligence as a field of energy out of which everything is manifested and of which, everything is composed. Its basic nature being love. In Reiki, we refer to the ‘Universal Energy Field’, in New Thought, it’s called ‘Infinite Intelligence’. Different ways of referencing the same thing. Both are essentially euphemisms for God: The Supreme Intelligence that is at the heart of all of creation and that is a part of everything in creation.
It’s also worth noting, that just as in New Thought, Usui’s healing method was created by taking elements from different spiritual traditions and fusing them together to form his own new healing system, much as is still done today within the New Age movement, where various spiritual disciplines are drawn on to create new ways of connecting with spiritual truths and the practitioner’s or follower’s own true nature.
Whether there is any direct link between Usui’s method and the New Thought movement which gave birth to the Law of Attraction; who knows? Perhaps, perhaps not, but what is very clear is that in terms of philosophy, there is a very close match when it comes to the concepts of healing and manifestation (even if the methods differ) and the nature of the Universal Energy Field or Infinite Intelligence that permeates everything and sits at the heart of these two systems.
Although the historical links may be speculative to some degree, the practical and philosophical overlaps in the here and now are tremendous, with both systems supporting the work of the other, if you know the techniques to draw upon.
How to Combine the Law of Attraction with Reiki.
If you’d like to investigate for yourself how the two systems of Reiki and the Law of Attraction can aid you in your work of manifesting, whether that’s in a healing sense or to bring about some other desired result in your life, then I’m running a live two-day, online course on the 16th and 17th September.
You can find more details and how to sign up here: Manifesting Abundance with Reiki.