Reiki and the Hindu Tradition

The system of Reiki is a path to awakening to your true nature. In other words, it is a path to realizing one’s true self, or “Self-realization”. 

“Hinduism” is a term given by Western scholars, who encountered India for the first time about 400-500 years ago, to a complex tradition that seemed to span the vast expanse of the Indian subcontinent. What has been given the label of Hinduism, is known as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal philosophy. 

The Hindu tradition talks about the One Divine principle, variedly referred to as Brahman, Universal Consciousness, Divine Consciousness, that underlies all of existence. Out of this One arises the many. At the same time, in a manner that often confounds people from the West, the Hindu tradition encourages and perpetrates the notion of deities, Divine beings with form, through whom one could connect to and relate to the formless. 

The Purpose of Life 

The Upanishads, ancient spiritual scriptures of India, are a treasure trove of wisdom about the nature of life itself. In it, we see that Atman (the highest Self or true Self in a person) is identical to the essence of the universe (Brahman). And that the purpose of human life is to attain Moksha, or deliverance, or realization of the Self. 

All this is, verily, Brahman. This self is Brahman. 
- Mundaka Upanishad 
Every person should live a complete life span of hundred years. And he should constantly strive to fulfill the purpose of life i.e. Self-Realization. 
- Isha Upanishad 
As pure water poured into pure water becomes the very same, so does the Self of the illumined man or woman verily become one with the Godhead. 
- Katha Upanishad 

Compare this with the central premise of the system of Reiki, when understood as a spiritual path. The aim of the system of Reiki is to enable the practitioner to realize their real nature, as the great bright light, presented as the fourth symbol in the system of Reiki. This is further seen in the original precepts of Mikao Usui, using the concept of Buddhahood, the epitome in Buddhist tradition, of the Self-realized person: 

… For this is the center of Buddhahood 
- The original precepts of Mikao Usui 

Notice also, from the Katha Upanishad quote above, it uses the term “the illumined man or woman” – the word illumined means to be filled with light, and in this context, a person who is filled with light – exactly what the system of Reiki aims to lead us into a recognition of our true nature as the great bright light. So, it is clear to see, that at a high level, according to both the Hindu tradition, and the system of Reiki, the central goal of human life is to realize one’s true nature. 

The Reiki Precepts and the Hindu Scriptures 

Take a look at this saying from one of the Hindu Upanishads: 

Letting go of fear, attachment, grief and anger is the sannyasin’s renunciation. He savors only the taste of his oneness with the ultimate reality. 
- Nirvana Upanishad 

… and compare that with the Reiki precepts: 

Just for Today 
Do not anger 
Do not worry 
Be humble 
Be honest in your work 
Be compassionate to yourself and others 
- The Reiki Precepts 

It is easy to see that the Reiki precepts, present in plain language, what a renunciate in the Hindu tradition follows, to taste their own Oneness with the ultimate reality! 

Compassion is a key idea presented in the Reiki precepts, and it is also the very same message that is there in one of the greatest works in Hindu tradition from Southern India, the Thirukkural (written in my native Tamil language): 

Among the wealthy, compassionate men claim the richest wealth. For, material wealth is possessed by even contemptible men. 
Find and follow the good path and be ruled by compassion. For, if the various ways are examined, compassion will prove the means to liberation. 
- Thirukkural 25: 241-242 

Notice that the Thirukkural very clearly states that compassion is the means to liberation. 

The System of Reiki and the System of Yoga 

Nearly everyone has heard of the system of Yoga, but, in the West today, it is probably better known as a system to improve physical health, and not known as much for being a spiritual path. Yet, here is what Yoga really is: 

Yoga means the realization in direct experience of the preexisting union between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. 
- Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

There are four paths of Yoga, namely: 

  1. Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, and contemplation. 
  2. Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion and love, and service to God and others. 
  3. Karma Yoga is the path of action or service to others, but done so with mindfulness of our actions. 
  4. Raja Yoga emphasizes meditation, but it reality, encompasses the whole of Yoga. 

A Yoga practitioner may focus exclusively on one of these approaches to Yoga, but that is quite uncommon. Most Yoga practitioners are likely to find that a blending of the four traditional types of Yoga is most appropriate for them, and that they need to follow their own predisposition in balancing these different forms of Yoga. For instance, a Yoga practitioner might pursue Jnana Yoga as their main path, which deals with knowledge, wisdom, and contemplation, but they, like everyone else, need to examine and quiet their mind in meditation, which is core to the practice of Raja Yoga. 

So, we see that Yoga is a very sophisticated and complete, multi-faceted system for enabling a practitioner to realize their true nature. And within it, a practitioner balances the different forms or path or approaches in a way that best suits their own needs. 

We see the exact same structure in the system of Reiki, which has five “pillars” or aspects that are as follows: 

  1. The Precepts help develop spiritual and mental focus. I see the Precepts as providing the intellectual framework and deals with knowledge and wisdom about life. They also are meant to enable a practitioner to be introspective and contemplative about life. They inform the practitioner not only about the importance of mindfulness (being in the moment, free of bearing anger or worry), the importance of humility (detachment, freedom from the overt clutches of the ego, and gratitude), the role of love and compassion in one’s life (towards oneself and others), and the vitally important element of being true to oneself (and how that expresses itself in one’s thoughts, words and actions in life). 
  2. The Symbols and Mantras provide the ability to experience the key component energetic qualities that make our being (the three diamonds). 
  3. Hands-on Healing techniques provide a systematic method to help the practitioner heal themselves, while it can also be applied on others to help them heal themselves. 
  4. The Meditations and related techniques enable deepening of awareness through the use of breath, visualization and movement of energy. 
  5. Reiju and “Attunements” provide the opportunity for the practitioner to deepen their energetic experience of reality with the help of the teacher. 

Though different in content than the aspects or paths of Yoga, the system of Reiki does overlap greatly with the Hindu tradition of Yoga in its structure. Just like any one of the types of Yoga can be a path to self-realization, I believe that any one of the five “pillars” of Reiki alone can be a path towards self-realization! How so? It is my firm belief that a Reiki practitioner can truly arrive at the state of self-realization just through the active contemplation and practice of the Reiki Precepts. However, in reality, a Reiki practitioner will see that these pillars of Reiki are built in such a way that they reinforce each other quite strongly. For instance, a Reiki practitioner can contemplate on a precept like “compassion to self”, or “compassion to others”, and through the practice associated with the 3rd symbol and mantra, gain a direct experience of compassion in its energetic form. 

Having said that, even in their content, I see overlaps between the pillars of Reiki and the paths of Yoga: 

The Precepts represent to me Jnana Yoga (the intellectual framework for understanding life), Karma Yoga (the aspect of being true to one’s way and one’s being, being honest in one’s work) and Bhakti Yoga (being compassionate and loving to oneself and others, and seeing the Divine through such practice in others and in oneself) packaged into one. 

The Meditations and related techniques, the Hands-on Healing, and Symbols and Mantras, collectively seem to me, to represent the composite of all of Yoga that Raja Yoga does. 

What about Reiju, or the “spiritual blessing” aspect of the system of Reiki? Reiju does seem so unique to the system of Reiki! Does Reiju have a counterpart in the Hindu tradition? For a while during my practice of the system of Reiki, I couldn’t readily draw a parallel to Reiju in the Hindu tradtion. Until one day, it dawned on me, that Reiju was so akin to the blessing, or Deeksha, that an ordained student receives from their enlightened Guru in the Hindu tradition. That knowing further affirmed for me that the system of Reiki was indeed a complete path to self-realization. 

This is just from my meager personal understanding of the systems of Reiki and of Yoga. Surely, other advanced practitioners can draw better and stronger concordances between the systems than this novice can! 

In Conclusion 

The Hindu Seer, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa literally practiced multiple religions and faiths, and in doing so, reached this conclusion: 

  • I had to practise each religion for a time — Hinduism, Islām, Christianity. Furthermore, I followed the paths of the Śāktas, Vaishnavas, and Vedāntists. I realized that there is only one God toward whom all are travelling; but the paths are different. 
  • Truth is one; only It is called by different names. 
  • Many are the names of God, and infinite the forms that lead us to know Him. In whatsoever name or form you desire to call Him, in that very form and name you will see Him. 
  • God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.  

What Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says, rings true to me. 

In the system of Reiki and through the personal practice of this system, what I’ve discovered for myself, is just such an elegant and complete system to realizing my true nature! 

As a Hindu (albeit not a strictly practicing Hindu in conventional terms), I personally see the system of Reiki as reflecting, amplifying and supporting my own spiritual path. And this is the way I’ve now begun to teach Reiki, after a 7-year hiatus from teaching Reiki – but that is something to share for another time.


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Comments
  1. by Elly on November 07, 2012 at 01:30 am

    Hi Sundar! Thanks so much for this! I’ve often thought that Hinduism and Catholicism had much in common, since they incorporated the gods that came before them rather than throwing them out, and embraced a collective rather than a destructive mentality. Sadly, the Church has turned against the wisdom of its history and has attacked Reiki specifically, but I hope that this trend will change. And meanwhile, I hope that yoga and Reiki draw closer together, and draw practitioners closer together.

  2. by Denyce Peyton on November 07, 2012 at 06:56 am

    Once again Sundar, much gratitude for sharing your perspective. I continually learn from your wonderful offerings.

    peace

  3. by Frans Stiene on November 07, 2012 at 09:19 am

    Hi Sundar,
    Thanks for another great article, I always enjoy seeing the similarities in spiritual teachings.  As human beings we get so caught up in the differences but if we look closely we see that there are more similarities then we first might think.

    I still have fond memories of when we visited a Hindu temple together and you explained some of the philosophies behind it all.

    Keep on writing and teaching!

    Love
    Frans

  4. by Sundar Kadayam on November 07, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Frans: Thanks for the opportunity to share these thoughts with others through this awesome blog at IHReiki.com. 

    Elly: Thanks for your kind words. As the saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa states from personal experience of practicing multiple religions, they are but different paths to the same destination.  And as Frans points out, for various reasons, humans tend to create / find differences and focus on them rather than the similarities, and thus miss the point of it all. As a result, truth is often hidden in plain sight, and we don’t see it.  For me, the Christian sayings such as “The Kingdom of God is within you”, and “Ask and you shall receive” point to the same underlying truth of reality as the Reiki precepts of Mikao Usui does.

    Denyce: You are too kind. Thank you!

  5. by Frans Stiene on November 07, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Hi Sundar,
    I love that saying: “The Kingdom of God is within you” it is like learning, that the great bright light is within you, in the system of Reiki.

    Love
    Frans

  6. by Seema on July 15, 2013 at 07:45 am

    Hi Sunder,
    Thanks for the article and writings. Coming from the same roots , its giving me something to think about. I think there are great teachings in every religion as all meant to do the same thing its in human mind that want to see that “theirs” is better then “them” etc. and in process messes it up for them. I feel we need to be open to see what is around us and “give” respect to what you believe in and follow but not at cost of “killing” that same belief. I think there was a reason the olden teachings were in place if you see they are still very much valid because human nature is still same , just we are in suits and ties instead of a piece of cloth around . Thanks again !

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