Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reiki at Yushukan (and other places)

Back from Japan, I am struggling to process memories and energy from a culture both different and synergistic to our own.

Recently, an article written by the Dalai Lama was published in the New York Times, and it called people of all faiths to respect each other and work toward understanding, and peace. He related that at first he thought of his own religion as unique, but as he learned and grew as a soul he came to recognize other paths as valid. He reflected on crying with a Jewish Rabbi on hearing stories of the Holocaust.

And I cannot help but reflect on two places where tears came to my eyes. The picture here is of the shrine of Yushukan (or Yasukuni Jinja), dedicated to Japan's war dead. There is a museum that tells a very different story of the period leading up to The Great Pacific Basin War, or the Pacific portion of what we know as World War II. And perhaps, what matters, is not squaring the differences that led to that War, but seeing the human commonalities. At Yushukan, I found not anger or resentment, but white doves flying from one Gate to another, and people being helpful and friendly.

There is a hall dedicated to Japanese pilots who wrote "last letters" prior to taking off on Kamikaze missions. Right or wrong, these human beings genuinely believed that their nation was under attack, and they freely gave their lives. In dying many of them believed that their spirits would continue to look after their towns and families in death, in a way they could not in life.

And what is so striking in all the time I spent in Japan, is how much this is a forgiving people, and how much, while ready to defend themselves they yearn for peace and compassion.

Reading these human stories brought me to tears, as Yad Vashem brings me to tears, human beings share a common spirit.

There is a place on Kurama Mountain (Kuramayama) described in the book by Jessica Miller, "Reiki's Birthplace." It is usually missed, but easily accessible - I went to this particular spot not through reading the passages in this book, but because a talented Reiki practitioner who we mety in Japan, and who climbed Kuramayama with us, suggested I do so.

The Jessica Miller book concludes that in spite of similarities, "the religion of the followers of Kurama Temple has nothing to do with Reiki" (page 36). On page 86 of this book is a translation of a plaque in this sacred private place that says, "This treasure palace simply exemplifies the teaching of Kurama Mountain. All beings, including humankind, are manifestations of Universal Energy and are created by the Universal Life Being. The teachings of Kurama Mountain are: Be grateful at being given life, and take good care of other lives. Let us live to the fullest in order to improve and evolve our lives as worthy high and profound aspects of the Universal Life Being."

Agreeing or disagreeing with conclusions, this book is worth reading and is highly recommended, but without visiting this place and actually feeling the energy - it is hard to describe. And for many, the challenge will be to get out of their own perspective, and understand that the Creator of Life made many paths.

As I was in Japan, and as I visited various places, I sent energy to friends and patients, family and colleagues - and as well to a private email list of former students of Rick Rivard. While I was in Japan, by chance, Tom Rigler was also criss crossing Japan, and sending energy.

In many places Tom noted the presence of important Reiki energy, and of the presence of statues to Kannon (in Chinese Buddhism Kwan Yin). A statue of Kannon is present on the walk to the grave site of Mikao Usui, and a statue of Kannon is present in the special private place on Kurama Mountain. But the most moving site for me involving a Kannon statue was in Kamakura, where a large ancient statue is present, and mothers pray for the health of their sick children, and for the souls of their departed children.

In Western society, the possibility of "miracles" exist, but we tend not on a day to day basis to expect them, or to really believe in them. At the same time, some people work at Meditation, and having spiritual experiences, connecting with the spirit of living things around them, or the spirits of amcestors looking after them - in our world, such things are "possible." In Japan, it seems to me such things are expected - people seem to generally believe in miracles.

It does not stop them from going to Western doctors, no not all all, since the Meiji restoration Japan has sought science and advanced medical care, it simply means that at the same time, they would seek spiritual support. Use the doctor - but help the doctor along. A holistic spirit, that is something we sometimes, seek, is something that exists in their culture, it is something a school child knows.

Home from Japan, I have a hope that all cultures can attempt to respect and understand each other. From ashes of having cities bombed, and nuclear weapons used against them, I sensed no anger in Japan - simply a desire to have a peace in which they are respected.

Each culture has something to offer others. In Japan, there exists a deep sense of spiritual connection to the world of living beings, all with one creator. There seems a desire to live in harmony with other living beings.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reiki Origins and Reiki Universality

Kuramayama is one of the most powerful energy places I have visited - but it is important to keep in mind that the genius and originality of Sensei Usui was not with the intention of bringing Japanese religion to the world, but rather, simple concepts of a method of compassion and healing that can be taught to almost anyone, and do not require faith or conversion.

Sensei Usui from his own origins struck notes of universality. In this regard it is important to view another site in Japan, rarely discussed in Reiki circles, which is Meiji Jingu, a shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

Sensei Usui was moved by the Emperor and Empress, and exhorted students to read from the Emperor's poetry. The Five Basic principles of Reiki are attributed to lessons from the Emperor. Who were these persons?

The Meiji emperor ended centuries of Shogun rule in Japan, and supported the opening of Japan to the western world. Cultural ties were established, especially with France. The Emperor made a point it is taught of leading his people by changing to Western dress and eating western food. He is quoted as wanting to share the best of cultures and bring peoples together.

Here is an example of "waka" poetry by Empress Shoken:
"By self-reflection
And questioning our own hearts
We should then perceive
The proper path to pursue
And nothing would confuse us."

The brochure to this immense wooded park, with ponds and gardens, says simply: "Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is called Japan's ancient original religion, and it is deeply rooted in the way of Japanese life. Shinto has no founder, no holy book, and not even the concept of religious conversion, but Shinto values for example harmony with nature."

The principle value which the Japanese attribute to the memory of these beloved leaders is "Magokoro" or "Sincere Heart."

The concept of a Good or Sincere Heart is central to Judaeo-Christian and Islamic thought, and in indigenous peoples throughout the world.

So when Mikao Usui descended from Kuramayama, what is most important is not the powerful and magnificent energy of the mountain, or the specific culture that he arose from, but the effort to reach beyond himself, and beyond his own culture, to offer relief of suffering to human kind.

In Hospice and Long Term Care, having a sincere heart is as important as having clinical skill. For those who work in Hospice, and for those practicing Reiki, energy is sent to you from Japan, in the hope that whatever your own background or lineage, you will see commonality in the human condition, and in the attempt to bring compassion to the world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Visit to Kurama Yama

A journey to Kurama Yama, near Kyoto, Japan, is for a Reiki practitioner a journey seeking to understand the teachings of Mikao Usui, founder of Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Reiki is based upon principles which legend have it came to the Sensei while fasting on Kurama Yama.

Sensei, help guide us on our visit to the mountain. What should we wish for?

"Ask me not what to wish for, but how to approach the mountain. Wishes reflect desires, and the mountain is a place to leave desires behind."

Sensei, if we should not make a wish, what should we do?

"Listen. Listen to the fox, and the dragon who guard the shrines. Listen to the birds. Hear the frogs. Touch the trees, and feel the moss. See the caterpillar and the butterfly. Listen to the waterfall. Climb the mountain. Be open to the spirit of the mountain."

Sensei, what did the mountain teach you? Show us the way.

"Climb the steps. Earn the gift that lies on the mountain."

Sensei, is this complicated?

"Reiki is simple. Anyone can do Reiki. You do not have to believe anything. You simply do the method and it is helpful. It brings compassion and kindness. You did not need to come to the mountain to learn Reiki."

Sensei, we came to understand why you gave the world this gift.

"The gift is not from the Sensei, he was just a clay vessel. The gift was from the Creator, made from the Love and Light that passes through living beings to the Earth."

Sensei, what does the Creator want of us?

"The Creator wants us to be kind to each other, and to be at peace."

Here is the message from the 1200 year old Kurama Temple, "In this holy place, grant that peace may defeat discord, unselfishness may conquer greed, sincere words may overcome deceit, and that respect may surmount insults. Fill our hearts with joy, uplift our spirits, and fill our bodies with glory."

There is a very useful book which I suggest visitors to Kurama Yama read prior to their visit, "Reiki's birthplace" - by Jessica A. Miller. Temple officials provided Ms Miller this note: "Kurama Mountain is open to all people. The energy of the mountain enables people who feel a destiny to come to the mountain, to do so, and to find direction for their lives, while receiving vitality and energy. Kurama Temple believes Mikao Usui was such a person."

I have some limited disagreements with Ms Miller. On page 36 she states that "the religion of Kurama mountain has nothing to do with Reiki." I am concerned this perpetuates misinformation about Reiki that reflected on Mikao Usui as being Christian. Mikao Usui was Buddhist. However this book, "Reiki's Birthplace," is of good intention, well written, accurate and invaluable. It is well worth reading.

Reiki is not a religion, and does not require faith, but the principles of Reiki stem very much from the desire for compassion and the ending of suffering that would be present in sects of Mahayana Buddhism. The hope for peace and mutual respect exists in all major religions.

Because Reiki is not a religion, but a method of healing, it can work with any religious faith, and it can work for non believers. Reiki is simple.

My visit to the mountain brought me a message to work to relieve suffering, and to pray for peace. The mountain has many many steps, but they are a joy to climb.

My thanks to Joan for joining me on this journey, and to Sabrina and Michael who shared the day and assisted us in the journey.

Two other points - the book mentioned above tells of the wonderful mountain railway - it is a marvelous experience but from center Kyoto, it takes a subway transfer and then rail tansfer to reach Demachiyanagi station - so the total trip can cost nearer $8 a person and take 80-90 minutes. For four people a cab takes about 30 minutes and costs about $40 total. We took a cab there - for an earlier start, and took the train back for the varied experiences.

Regarding the Cable Car - if you take it both ways you will miss many of the high energy places - especially the place where three trees are together near the Yuki shrine. The energy in this area is incredible. We felt (although it may be more difficult) that it was a part of the experience to climb up the steps. Reaching the top after the long climb, brings one to oneness with the forest and the mountain before reaching the mandala-main temple area. I would find taking the Cable Car up wrenching energy wise. Taking the Cable Car down is an experience, so I suggest it either way. (some would prefer taking it up - just be aware the energy shifts as you climb the mountain, and Usui would have walked up).

My advice is too enjoy everything on the mountain, nature and man made, and appreciate the unity of man and nature on the mountain. Leave preconceptions at home, come open to the mountain, and don't underestimate the energy here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Komyo Reiki Share

Monday evening May 24 we visited the weekly Reiki share held at Daizen-In Buddhist Temple near Bukku-Ji Temple in central Kyoto.

The web site has the address in English and in Kanjai characters, and it is useful to show Kanji characters of places where one is going to taxi drivers.

Sensei Hyakuten Inamoto was away in Spain at the time of our visit, but his share is very Reiki alive and we felt his presence through his senior students.

At the beginning no one else was English speaking, but simply saying "Reiki"was the ticket to a warm reception. There is a regular share of about 15 people, usually several visitors drop in each week, and the atmosphere is inclusive and the energy exceptional. Sabrina, an American teaching English in Kyoto, arrived a little later and translated for us much of the evening.

After a meditation, a Reiki circle, and attunements from senior share members, three tables were brought out and four or five people worked together on each person - visitors getting the first sessions - but everyone rotated to receive the Reiki.

Joan's knee has been slowly recovering from a meniscal tear, - and this session was a nice step forward healing wise! (the next day we climbed Kurama Yama not taking the funicular on the way up - so something went well in the Reiki - normally meniscal tears need surgery and one does not climb Kurama Yama with one)

Blending energy with other Reiki practitioners is a great joy, and this evening was no exception.

We were told the Sensei teaches simplicity in Reiki - here - simplicity leads to elegance. A wonderful experience. Energy from this share was directed to friends, family and to those connected to me through Hospice or Reiki.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Visit to Mikao Usui's Memorial site

Sumimasen Sensei. I have traveled far to visit with you.

There is silence. What do I see? A stone with a story. I tough the stone. I see a Tree, I hear a Raven.

The Raven speaks to me, "Look beyond the stone."

I touch the tree. Energy is radiant around us.

"Do you feel the suffering?"

Yes Sensei, how long will you wait.

"Till they all find the path."

What if they cannot learn the path, Sensei?

"Teach it with simplicity. All living beings are connected."

What if they cannot afford the teaching, Sensei?

"Teach it anyway. The enlightenment was given to be shared. Humanity is connected.

There is a path of simplicity. It is meant to be taught. We cannot go it "alone."

Energy is sent to all who are connected with me from Saiho-ji Temple; Tokyo, Japan, May 21, 2010.

In gratefulness for the opportunity to share a journey.
In thanks for the help which I have received and continue to receive.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Reiki Tribute

I was going to wait and not write my next Blog till early June, but I needed to tell this story today. It is a tribute to people who exemplify the Reiki admonitions - recently someone entered my hospice who I had known in better times. He was a person who has been known as kind and caring and compassionate to others, and as he said "last time was someone else's time, next time is someone else's time, now its my turn."

It never ceases to amaze me when I see people who are near transition, who turn their attention to caring for other people. Anyone can thank the Creator when they are on top of the world, won the game, full of success, a different story facing Transition. "I have a few things I want to get squared away" - and what are these - "letters to people who are very dear to me."

Do you believe you will have another mortal life? "Reincarnation - I don't know, but if God places me in another form, he will be with us."

Someone who is full of Love and Faith, lacks Fear and Worry and is overflowing with gratefulness.

I was deeply moved.

We sometimes examine trees so closely we miss the beauty of the forest. Another friend told me recently we "need to have the view from 40,000 feet." It is not always so easy. I was shown a picture the other day of a young child with a brain tumor, and tried to send Reiki energy.

But do we always understand the results of what we do? Once I listened to a sermon, and a wise person noted, "when God wants to correct something in the world he sends a child." But what does that exactly mean?

I was once told a story of a child who was seriously injured, blinded and disabled. The child was dying, but someone in desparation saved the life. In heaven this created a dilemma, the child was meant to be reborn as a Lama, but Heaven worked within the laws of the Created world, and this required the death to occur at the "right moment." Another child had to take the place of the dying Lama, die, and be reborn at the "right time."

The first child who had been saved lived a life of suffering, and went through a cycle of two more difficult lives. His spirit though, grew, and his sense of compassion deepened. Finally a time came and he was reborn a Lama - it was a time when compassion was so sorely needed, and he changed the world (at least a little bit) for the better.

We often don't really know to whom we are talking. We can work along side someone, and they can have a "less important job," but unbeknownst to us, they can have compassion and wisdom. If only we would take the time to listen - before they transition on.

That was how I felt today. I went to work expecting to try to help others, and found myself sitting transfixed, asking questions and being gifted with a sense of appreciation of life.

I keep in mind what another wise teacher said, that I should not take very much pride in accomplishments. We are, I was reminded, "only clay vessels."

For every child who cannot be healed in this life, for the co worker who transitions from colleague to patient, let us not simply care for them, but be open to receiving the gifts they offer us. Reiki is always a two way street. See them not simply as a broken body, but as a rising spirit.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Reiki and Equanimity

I was excited to hear of the upcoming release of a new book by the young Canadian author Karen Connelly. Her new novel, "Burmese Lessons: A true love story" will be available March 18, 2010. As regards her prior award winning novel, "The Lizard Cage," let me deny any intention of reflecting on the political aspects of the book - politics are neither my forte nor the intention of this Blog.

"The Lizard Cage" is a book that captures the essence of both Reiki and Hospice, which are the principles topics of this Blog. This book has a universality that I reflect on over and over again. Teza, the primary character of the novel, is terminally ill.

Teza is not in a hospital, rather, he is in a prison, and he does not have cancer, or HIV or dementia, rather he has a desire for political change, but, his human condition is universal. For a time he reflects on the situation around him, fellow prisoners, guards, what there is to eat today, memories of better times. He thinks of his youth and of loved ones. He thinks of music he might have played or poems he might have written. And as time goes on, his denial and anger turn to acceptance.

Beaten and starved, Teza continues his "decline trajectory." He knows his "prognosis," that he is heading toward "such a small word" - death.

In a very quiet way he follows the path of the Buddha - and like a Reiki master focuses on "just for today." Teza ceases anger, he ceases worrying, he is grateful for the most limited gifts, he works at kindness to others, and at emanating compassion, even for his guards.

Teza finds a place beyond compassion. Equanimity. "He begins and ends with this word. Equanimity in the face of what must be." As his end comes, he teaches a young boy, "It's the same for everything - people, animals, plants, all the things we make and build, Even if people or things look the same, they're always shifting or growing or dying. Nothing stays the same for any of us. So we try to have upekkha, to live with upekkha. That means to accept the change that comes and to be calm in it."

For me Reiki does not mean to enhance vibrational levels or increase power, since power is an illusion. Vibrational levels are an illusion. Reiki is simple. Each of us have a channel, and that channel can be widened, and grounded, and kept open and free of blocks. We can reach a place of calm and equanimity with our world, and from that place of calm and focus and with good intention, our hands can become vessels through which healing flows.

In Hospice, we meet people like Teza everyday, people who we cannot cure, but who we can assist in healing. We can gift them with presence and with our own calm, and help them to not live their last moments alone.

Teza helps us break out of the "medical model," and understand the universality of our dilemma, and why Reiki is simple and why it can help. If you get an opportunity to read "The Lizard Cage" by Karen Connelly, if you forget the politics as I often do, you can learn a great deal about Reiki and about Hospice.

I hope the book coming out on May 18, "Burmese Lessons: a true love story" will like Ms Connelly's prior book, touch my heart.

For those interested in the politics described in the book seek the website

"The Wind of Falling Leaves -

It takes so much rain
To give the perfect color
To the maple leaves
But they are blown away
By a single gust of wind."

"In General"

Understand (life) by
Seeing how the stone has
Hollowed out by the rain
Don't cling to the illusion
That nothing changes."

The above poems were from the Meiji Emperor, and were felt by Mikao Usui to be important. I understand these translations to have been by Frank Arjava Petter and Chetna Kobayashi. I reflect on them in thinking on the dilemmas posed by Karen Connelly, and the lives of people in Hospice, and the lives of people living under oppression in all times.