Reflections from my Reiki trip to Japan - Spring 2018

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

Back to the roots of Reiki, a 2 week retreat with Frank Arjava Petter in Japan.


Mt Kurama (Japan)

Mt Kurama is where we started our trip and Reiki journey in Japan. Mt Kurama is a sacred mountain and spiritual center (see picture) where Mikao Usui, the founder of the Usui system of Reiki, had a mystical experience on March 1922. That experience made him fully aware of the Great Life Force of the Universe, the Great Bright Light, thought to be the Source of All Existence. Through that experience, he felt becoming one with the universe as one big bright light. He had reached a state of enlightenment. Shortly after, he realized he had also gained the ability to heal. This led him to develop a spiritual system that promotes healing and personal development: the Usui Reiki Ryoho. It was created based on years of spiritual experience, study and practice rooted in Tendai (esoteric) Buddhism.


"Arjava", as everyone calls him, started his Reiki journey in Japan in 1992 where he lived and researched Reiki for 12 years. He was among the first Reiki teachers who discovered and made contact with the original Gakkai (school/association) of Mikao Usui.


Arjava's knowledge of Japan, its language, history, culture and Reiki not only made the journey and its logistics easier, but also brought some more clarity on the ground about the practice within its original cultural and spiritual context from which it sprang. As an example, seeing Reiki symbol 2 through its original seed syllable "hrih" in various temples and in connection with certain Buddhas was particularly fascinating to me. Being and reflecting on-site made the teachings somehow more alive to me, more palpable. It certainly deepened my understanding of the system. As we know, the practice of Reiki is not about becoming a monk or a Buddhist but rather to fulfill the capacity we all have as human beings to awaken to our own true nature, our true self, to embody our light and become whole as a full human being. The path can take many forms. Reiki is not a religion but rather a spiritual practice, based on a universal laws and available to everyone. This was the intention of Mikao Usui, the founder of the Usui system of Reiki.


In 1999, William Rand, President of the International Center for Reiki Training (ICRT) invited Arjava to the US to teach the "Japanese Techniques of Reiki", that are now part of the ICRT curriculum. Those techniques had been left out by Takata Sensei who felt that, at the time she introduced the practice of Reiki to the West, the Western mind was not yet ready for them. Where are we now?


Thanks to a few very dedicated teachers, greater access to information, increased self-awareness and more opened minds, those who are drawn to it can now more easily circle back and appreciate more fully the practice in its original form and context.



Kyoto (Japan)

The Reiki retreat with Frank Arjava Petter included a 5 day Reiki level I and II training with Tadao Yamaguchi, founder of Jikiden Reiki.


The family history of Tadao Yamaguchi is quite unique. His mother practiced Reiki for 65 years. She learned it at the age of 17 and kept practicing it all her life and quite successfully as a home remedy. Her family, especially her uncle Wasaburo Sugaso, was very close to Dr

Hayashi and his wife.


Through this class, I realized even more clearly how much the practice of Reiki can be adapted to meet students'/recipient's level of understanding and needs, and still helps regardless the form. Therefore, for some, Reiki will be understood and approached as a hands-on therapeutic method while for others it will form a spiritual path toward wholeness, all being true. At the heart of the practice is the heart/mind of the practitioner - not the system.



Mt Koya (Japan)

Koya was a journey to the heart of Shingon Buddhism: a powerful and magical place with practices that aim at according to my local guide Nobu, also a monk: "making life alive". Koya was the high point in my journey to Japan.


In Koyasan, monks receive their teachings at the temple then practice in the mountains. When we walk in nature, we are filled with a refreshing life force energy, light, pure and revitalizing. The magic of life is palpable, our senses awaken. No wonder Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism with his center established in Koya, was able to be so active and present in society while being withdrawn from it: he was fully alive and awake.



The temple where I stayed for 2 nights offers the Ajikan practice - a meditation practice on the letter A. The symbol connects with the Cosmic Buddha who is a representation of the state of non-duality. Interestingly, this symbol was also given to us by our Reiki teacher Frans Stiene last summer during our Shinpiden class. I was surprised to make a direct connection with Reiki at that place and moment. I was not expecting this. Isn't Mt Kurama the place for Reiki? Shnpiden means "mystery teachings". These are the teachings that lead us to open ourselves more deeply to the mysteries of life and the universe until we realize that the universe and ourselves are one, and that our life is in fact our practice. The teachings point to reaching a state of non-duality, one in which we perceive and feel no separation. Mikao Usui, the founder of the Usui system of Reiki was a practitioner of Tendai Buddhism, a branch of esoteric Buddhism whose teachings, originally from India, were brought to Japan by Kukai from China in the 9th century. It all inter-connects. It is not about the place.

At the temple, I also attended the Goma Fire ritual (purification ritual) and received Kaji. Kaji means to hold the power we receive from the Cosmic Buddha. This can be experienced as an enhancement of our own power, an empowerment, an expansion of our inner light, a Reiju. Another Reiki connection. The chanting performed during the services was quite entraining. We felt becoming tuning forks, vibrating and gradually entering in resonance with the present moment ...


While walking in the forest around Koya the morning of my departure, enjoying the chatty and loving presence of the handsome, tall ancient cedar trees, feeling deeply at peace and alive, I became more aware of the essence of Reiki, the energy of everything, what connects us all, and the importance at some point to let go of the form, of all the definitions, of the expectations, to simply immerse with the whole .... and be. As Thich Nath Hanh noted: "For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them"


Although the practice of Reiki can be experienced and regarded as a Japanese Art and Way, it is also an expression of a universal Way that in its essence transcends the boundaries of time, space and cultures.


With deep gratitude to all my Reiki teachers and to life.

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