Who Was Dr Mikao Usui?
Mikao Usui was born on the 15th of August in 1865 in the village Taniai in Japan, not fare from where Nagoyo is today. His family had lived here for eleven generations and Mikao was born into the Tendai sect of Esoteric Buddhism. At a very young age he was sent to a Tendai monastery to receive his primary education. He continued his Buddhist education until he became a lay Tendai priest.
The Tiantai teaching was first brought to Japan by Chinese monks in the 8th century. Shortly it developed into what became Japanese Tendai. The Japanese Tendai did not deviate substantially from the beliefs created by the Tiantai school in China.
The Tendai sect flourished under the patronage of the imperial family and it became the dominant form of main-steam Buddhism in Japan and it also was the foundation for most of the developments in later Japanese Buddhism.
Mikao Usui was also influenced by Shintoism, the traditional faith of the Japanese people prior to contact with China. The original shintoism was a very simple religion and it had only one command: the necessity of being loyal to one’s ancestors. Its early aspects were naturalistic, which includes spiritism, totemism, and nature worship. Early Japanese worshiped the sun, thunder, earth, tigers, serpents, threes, stones etc. A later stage is more intellectual and ethically oriented.
As Mikao was growing up the Japanese society went trough gross changes. It was now starting to open up to the west again. For the first time since the 1640’s foreigners were allowed in the country, the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873 and the country abandoned a feudal society and adapted to an industrialized society instead.
Mikao was an eager student and he received a doctorate in literature, he spoke several languages, and studied the western medicine, theology and philosophy. He had the opportunity to travel to China, USA and Europe where he could elaborate on his studies.
Early in his adult life Mikao lived in Kyoto with his wife and two children. He had various carriers as a businessman, and at one time he was also the private secretary to Count Shinpei Goto. At the same time he continued his spiritual studies and became involved with a group named Rei Jyutsu Kai. This group had a temple (Kurama-dera) at the base of the mountain Kurama-yama.
Mikao Usui is also said to have practices Shugenja in addition to Tendai Buddhism. Shugenja is a Japanese mountain asctic shamanism which incorporates Shinto and Buddhist practises.
Around 1900 Mikao fell very ill as an epidemic swept trough Kyoto. He had a near death experience in which he had a vision of, and instruction from, the Mahavairovana Buddha. This was a very important experience for Mikao and it caused him to rethink his life. He turned his mind to the esoteric science of healing as thought by Buddha, and he developed the compassionate wish that he may learn the methods of healing in order to benefit mankind.
Mikao went on to study Shingon Buddhism in order to find explanations to his vision. This lead to a confrontation with his family who declared him a traitor to the family and ancestors.
He spend much time and money studying Buddhist scriptures, in particular the once about healing techniques and energy disciplines. For many years he continued to study and practice the Buddhist teachings. Over time he became a respected and learned Buddhist teacher with a following of students.
In 1914 he undertook a meditation retreat at the monastery Kurama-yama. It is believed that during this retreat he was able to melt together all his knowledge and come to the realization of how he could work with the divine life energy.
He first practiced the new healing technique on himself and his friends before he, at a later stage, offered his healing to the residents of Kyoto. This gave him the opportunity to perfect and refine the healing method – later known as Reiki healing.
In 1922 he moved to Tokyo and opened up a Reiki clinic where he practiced and also taught the system of Reiki to his students. He founded the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, meaning Usui’s Spiritual Energy Therapy Society, which is a society of Japanese Reiki masters still existing today.
After the Kanto earthquake in 1923 in Tokyo where over 140 000 people were killed and over three million people found themselves homeless over night, Mikao and his students went out in the streets and offered Reiki healing to countless of victims.
His fame spread quickly all over Japan and he began receiving invitations from all over the country. His schedule grew tight as requests for teaching continued to increase. He travelled throughout Japan giving healings and teachings. On March 9th in 1926 he unexpectedly died of a stroke 62 years old.