We have become so accustomed to philosophical ideas full of obscure words poured into fancy sentences that we often think that something simple cannot have depth.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard or tried so many principles, rules, moral codes, and ideas about behavior change that you’re secretly done with it. Nice that moral superiority, but I have a normal life that I have to deal with. So stop with those theories – I want something I can apply right away!
This is how I started (or actually didn’t start) with the principles of Reiki. I heard about it and did nothing about it.
The Principles of Reiki
It also didn’t help that I hadn’t been given the right principles. Instead, mine contained a paragraph telling me to honor my teachers and elders—and that’s exactly what I’d had some troubling experiences with in my life.
If you’ve come across a similar version of the Reiki principles, don’t worry, they weren’t originally there. I assume this annoying paragraph was added later by a cranky Reiki master.
The true principles of Reiki are at the heart of the original Reiki teachings. They take up a lot of space on Reiki master Mikao Usui’s tombstone and are said to be repeated every day. By doing that, you might find out what I also found out: that they are extremely helpful. I can’t live without them anymore. I would even go so far as to say that they changed my life.
This is a translation of the original version of the text on the stone:
Just for today
I won’t be angry
I won’t be worried
I’ll be thankful
I’ll do my job honestly
And show kindness to every living thing.
Let’s start with three interesting observations:
1. It’s Only Five Principles
No fine print, no hidden messages. This is important because people can barely handle this. Our unconscious is easily overstimulated and at such moments it becomes stressed, causing it to forget things. And what is forgotten cannot be applied. If we have to go to the supermarket to buy some milk, it’s a simple job. If our partner asks to get some eggs as well, we can handle it just fine.
But when our kids also want some chocolate and maybe some apples, our brains panic. Then we really need to write it down. And imagine what would happen if the emergency number had 7 numbers instead of 3. Plus the area code. Then ambulances would always be late.
We can remember five principles. And therefore also apply.
2. They are simple
Very simple even. We have become so accustomed to philosophical ideas full of obscure words poured into fancy sentences that we often think that something simple cannot have depth. But the principles are accurately articulated. They avoid terms that fit within a particular intellectual body of thought, such as ‘being one, ‘Buddhahood’ and ’emptiness’ (although, if you are a spiritual scholar, you know that the meaning is not that different at the core). And we don’t have to waste energy trying to understand them. So we can fully focus on their application.
3. There are no penalties
Principles or rules of conduct are reflected in every religion and on every spiritual path. They are often linked to a criminal justice system. This can range from the fear of returning as a fly (or at least as someone from the lowest caste) to ending up in hell. There is a German saying: ‘Little sins, the dear God punishes immediately’. This is normally applied to someone who has told a lie and was caught out to his deep shame, or someone who promised to lend a hand but went back on their appointment and then slipped on a banana peel.
However, the principles of Reiki take a very different approach. They are based on the idea that they are good for you. Nothing more, nothing less. Applying them will make you feel better; if you don’t, that’s a missed opportunity. It is up to you. There is no penalty – just a missed opportunity. And not even forever or for long. You can just try again right away.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
In the Japanese tradition, these principles are seen as the key to Reiki. Mikao Usui called them “the secret method of inviting happiness” and “the wondrous medicine that cures all diseases.” He asked his students to sit in Gassho’s pose (palms together) and repeat the principles every morning and evening.
So keep repeating them, over and over. Use autohypnosis for this. Speak them, think them, dream them. Become them.
The moment you need them, they should be the first thing that comes to mind. The conscious mind is forgetful, so you really have to instill these principles in your subconscious. It’s like driving a car. If a car in front of you suddenly brakes, you automatically do the same. You don’t think it through at length and then say to yourself, “I’ve considered all options and braking seems to be the best thing for now.” By that time you will have your nose in the airbag for a long time.
The Reiki principles are tools for training the mind. They add a psychological element to Reiki and work on both a conscious and unconscious level.
Exercise: recite the principles
I strongly recommend that you follow Mikao Usui’s advice. Sit in Gassho pose every morning and evening and repeat the principles.
Gassho Meditation (Putting Hands Together)
• Sit in a position that is comfortable for you, such as diamond pose (on your knees), lotus pose, cross-legged, or cross-legged on a chair. Sit upright.
• Connect with Reiki (ie the universe or the life energy).
• Bring your hands together, palms together, in front of your heart chakra in a praying position.
• Focus on your hands.
Do take your time. Sometimes I stop halfway through because I’ve realized I didn’t mean it. Then I just start again: ‘Just for today I won’t be angry [then I stop for a moment and check that I’m not holding anger or resentment somewhere], I won’t worry [I stop again: am I worried? Have I surrendered my concerns to Reiki?], will I be grateful [I stop again to see what comes to my mind], will I do my job honestly [are there areas for improvement?] and show kindness to every living being [ anyone in particular today?].’
It is truly wonderful!