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"Usui Shiki Ryoho" Usui System of (Reiki) Natural Healing
Should this phrase and perhaps even Reiki be trademarked?
by Arline Rowden, Reiki Master Teacher © 1998
In April of 1998, I found an open letter to Reiki Masters from Phyllis Furumoto on the world wide web. If you are familiar with Reiki lineage, then you will know that Phyllis is the granddaughter of Hawayo Takata and that Takata was Grand Master of Reiki after Drs. Usui and Hayashi. If you want to read the entire letter you can find it on the internet at furumoto.org/letter.htm, but I will attempt to share some of the ideas in the letter in this article. My letter to Phyllis in response is shared here, too. I will, also, share some additional ideas and information about the practice and teaching of Reiki.
The main point of the letter, in my opinion, is to tell us that Ms. Furumoto as the Usui Trademark Corporation intends to have the phrase "Usui Shiki Ryoho" trademarked (and where possible even the word Reiki, though that's probably not possible in the US). Then it could only be used by Reiki Masters registered under this corporation. The letter also details the proposed structure and purpose of the Usui Trademark Corporation and The Reiki Foundation that will be the physical office of the Usui Shiki Ryoho. She does ask that other Reiki Masters write to her with their thoughts and feelings and she will respond, in time.
Most individuals who have been attuned to any of the levels of Reiki have this phrase on their certificates of completion. We believed that we had the right to use Reiki and Usui Shiki Ryoho to describe our healing method once we were attuned to Reiki since they were not trademarked at that time.
As I read her letter, I believe that she has a very deep respect for Reiki and for Hawayo Takata as her Reiki Master and as her grandmother. Out of these heart-felt feelings, it's understandable that she would want to keep Reiki the way it was when her grandmother practiced and taught it. Is it the best thing to do though when our world and its inhabitants are so desperately in need of the healing and balance that Reiki can offer?
In one part of the letter Ms. Furumoto writes, "There are principles that I learned from her (Takata) both as a grandchild and as a master. One of them was 'Do without questioning.' This did not mean I did not have questions or did not rebel. I did. And I always returned or was drawn back into the pattern she wanted me to follow, whether this was the way in which I cut vegetables or swept the floor or did a treatment."
The 'Do without questioning.' principle is interesting when you know that of the 22 Reiki Masters attuned by Takata, many if not all of them received a little different version of the absentee healing symbol. This wasn't discovered until after Takata's passing so no one could ask her why she changed the symbol. Perhaps Takata understood that the Reiki energy is our primary teacher and we are accountable only to the Reiki energy, not an organization.
In another part of the letter Ms. Furumoto writes, "In the early days of Takata's teaching, this system was a folk art shared carefully from person to person. During the 1970's, the New Age movement, the people seeking spiritual practice, and the demand for 'alternative medicines' discovered Reiki. Thus Reiki or Usui Shiki Ryoho was suddenly thrust into the public eye, apparently fulfilling many of the possibilities. An explosive stage of development. The carefulness of the folk art was threatened by the needs of the society for fast answers."
Traditions can be wonderful, but they can also be very limiting. Organizations and associations can be supportive, but they can be controlling and excluding, too. It's my personal opinion that Our Creative Source never intended for human beings to fight wars based on the difference of human opinions regarding showing respect to Our Creator. I truly believe that we are all loved and valued equally in the "eyes" of Our Source. As part of the human experience, I believe we each desire to possess the one true path (whether it's religion or Reiki), since we can't imagine that Our Source could endorse more than one true path. In other words, we have a human tendency to assign limiting qualities to One who is unlimited. So we always need to struggle with our human tendencies and attempt to take the higher path.
The following is the email letter that I sent to Phyllis Furumoto on April 16, 1998.
I took level I Reiki from a teacher in your association in 1987 and took Reiki II & Master levels from an Independent Reiki teacher in 1990. Since my first attunement, I have loved Reiki and have loved using it for others and myself. I consider it a great honor when students choose me as their Reiki Master Teacher. I would have taken level II and Master levels from my first Reiki Master Teacher, but the price was not in the range that I was willing or able to pay. I believe that the change in price structure in Reiki has been mostly a positive change.
I use the traditional Reiki symbols and the Reiki symbols that my second Reiki Master Teacher introduced in 1991, but I have not continued with changes she made after that point and I do not follow the trademarked process of Reiki that she now teaches. Personally, I do not believe Reiki should be trademarked and become a corporate business, I don't want Reiki to be controlled like traditional organized religion. I feel very strongly about that. It is very unusual for me to become involved in the "politics" of Reiki. I only want to do Reiki from my heart and not try to control how others do Reiki.
There are practices by other Reiki Master Teachers that I don't agree with, but that is between them and the Reiki energy. I believe that the Reiki energy is intelligent and knows what it is doing. I believe that it is important for individuals to take responsibility for the choices that they make in life. If someone chooses a Reiki Master Teacher and then is not happy with that experience, I believe it produces growth for the student and the teacher to confront the issues and resolve them. They both learn from the experience. I always welcome feedback, both positive and negative, from my students and clients.
I know that in the past it was "tradition" to consider that your spiritual teachers knew more about what was good for you than you did as the student. Although this is true at times, I don't believe it should be believed at the expense of the student becoming dependent on the teacher and the student not becoming responsible for her/his own life in spiritual and other matters.
I sincerely hope that you will reconsider the path that you are on to control Reiki, but I realistically know that it's unlikely that you will change your mind. I felt drawn to ask from my heart to yours that you do consider a different approach in sharing your truth. Just because people are upset, doesn't mean that attempting to control others is the correct path. Why don't we all focus on the things we agree on and agree to disagree on the rest and trust the Reiki energy to lead us to harmony.
Blessings, Arline Rowden, Independent Reiki Master
Furumoto's letter doesn't address the issue of the price structure associated with Reiki classes if you are registered with her Corporation. It has been a long standing requirement with The Reiki Alliance (Furumoto's Reiki Association) that any Reiki Master must pay a fee of $10,000 to his/her Reiki Master before joining The Reiki Alliance. Independent Reiki Masters charge a much smaller fee ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, not $10,000. In all fairness, Alliance Reiki Masters require their teacher students to spend perhaps a year or more co-teaching classes and studying with them. Independent Reiki Master Teachers generally teach all the basics in a class. Students are expected to practice on their own and to check back with their teachers to be sure they are clear in their understanding of the basics of teaching Reiki. It is left to the student to decide when they are ready to begin teaching some or all levels of Reiki.
I know that not all Independent Reiki Master Teachers prepare as well as they could. Some even do just attunements and not classes. Individuals need to educate themselves so they can make good choices when they are choosing a Reiki teacher. That practice will do more towards encouraging teachers to do better preparation and to teach classes instead of just doing the attunements than any other actions.
When I took Reiki I, it wasn't unusual for Reiki II to cost $500. So even though I loved Reiki and used it extensively, I didn't even consider going on to the next level because of the cost. (Reiki II allows access to a greater flow of energy than Reiki I. Symbols and absentee healing are taught, too.) When someone did go on to Reiki II they very rarely continued to the Master level. In Milwaukee, I knew of only 3 Reiki Masters before 1989.
I believe taking Reiki classes for spiritual and personal growth is a very valid reason. I do not insist that a Reiki student intend to do sessions for others on a regular basis, although many do have that intention. Reiki students can do Reiki on themselves and that's a very important reason to take a Reiki class. In the past, individuals usually would just go to a Reiki practitioner for Reiki sessions, instead of taking a Reiki class. After experiencing many Reiki sessions, you might have considered taking Reiki I if you were very interested in facilitating Reiki sessions for others.
Also, in the past if someone did decide to take the Reiki Master level, it would be with the intention of devoting their life to facilitating and teaching Reiki. I feel it's appropriate for someone to take the Reiki Master Level even if they have no intention of doing sessions and teaching on a regular basis. Many individuals want the master and teacher level so they can attune loved ones who are interested but would not go to another teacher for some reason.
I believe the more people who are Reiki the better it is for our world. If someone feels drawn to Reiki after experiencing it, I feel it's appropriate for them to take one or more levels of Reiki based on their own inner guidance.
Another development that many Traditional and Independent Reiki Masters are upset about is the disclosure of Reiki symbols and the Reiki attunement process in books for the general public. I personally feel it's not appropriate to disclose that information publicly. I do respect each Reiki Master Teachers' right to decide what and how they will share this information though. When all is said and done, Reiki can only be activated during a Reiki attunement facilitated by a fully attuned Reiki Master Teacher. You cannot become Reiki by just reading a book.
Our human nature gets us in trouble when it comes to Reiki. It's hard for most of us to believe that Reiki can be so simple and straight forward. The energy is intelligent. It knows where to go and what to do. We only need to allow the Reiki to flow either to us or through us to another. The Reiki energy does the healing, not the practitioner. We just need to get out of the way.
We also have to do our own healing in order to be a more powerful channel for the Reiki energy. As we clear up our own issues, we are able to bring through a greater flow of Reiki energy. I believe healing our issues about Reiki is very important, too. That's why I wrote to Phyllis Furumoto and also why I decided to write this article. I'm inviting everyone who's Reiki and who's interested in Reiki to go within their hearts to decide if it's Reiki that's important or if it's an organization with rules and regulations that's important. Do we trust ourselves to express integrity with Reiki without being regulated to do it. Once you are clear, then let your heart guide you regarding your next step on your healing path.
I'll always practice and teach Reiki, even if I'm forced to call it something else. I know the energy doesn't really care what I call it as long as I respect and honor it.
(Published in New Avenues Magazine in 1998.)
The Reiki Trademark issue is resolved in the United States.
I received an email from Phyllis Furumoto dated January 22, 1999 and she wrote: "In most countries, the phrases, Reiki and Usui Shiki Ryoho, are considered to be too descriptive and are not able to be trademarked." Then I asked specifically if the United States was one of the countries where these phrases could not be tradmarked and she responded that it is. So Reiki and Usui Shiki Ryoho will not be trademarked in the US.