When I am asked "if you could only recommend one book on Reiki, what would it be" - I reply Amy Rowland's book, "The Complete Book of Traditional Reiki."
Originally published in 1998, this book has just been completely rewritten and re published, and if I valued it before even more so now.
Amy writes as she speaks and she is both an excellent teacher and an excellent writer. She has dedicated her life to teaching, writing and Reiki. This book is true to the history of Reiki, and bridges the challenges of our modern time.
Much has been learned in the past 12 years about the history of Reiki. And this whole section of the book has been not simply updated but rewritten. It makes me laugh at myself, because if had waited the past year, and not spent hours researching and reading biographies, I would have known more just by reading this book - the history is there and in simplicity and without agenda. Yet, at the same time, the "traditional history" of Reiki is still presented, as an appendix, and this is fittingly done. Learning is often about stories, and the traditional stories about Reiki, seem still to be true in spirit even if not fully accurate in facts.
Amy is respectful to the history of Reiki, not be deification as sometimes mistakenly happens, but by accurately and intellectually honestly placing founder Mikao Usui and Sensei Hawayo Takata in context of the personal struggles which they faced. It really doesn't matter whether or not Mikao Usui did or did not attend the university of Chicago, but it is meaningful that finding his life calling took years of search, and overcoming hardship. It really doesn't matter whether Mrs. Takata, living in the United States in a time when American citizens of Japanese decent were being wrongfully imprisoned, described Founder Usui as a Christian monk, rather than as a secular Buddhist, what matters is that both Usui and Takata sought not to teach religion, but to teach a method of healing for all man kind.
This book is about healing - healing oneself, healing others, and collectively, healing the world. . Amy writes, "what Reiki does provide is a direct, profound experience of the healing power of Spirit-guided life-force energy." She explains, "your only effort is to place your attuned hands on yourself or someone else." And again describing the practical nature of Reiki, "it is in just such simple ways that most Reiki practitioners learn to integrate Reiki into their everyday lives. As they do their lives begun to change because their perpsectives have changed."
The pespectives are the five basic teachings which permeate Amy's classes, and and the spirit of her book. From the Usui Memorial, "Firstly it reads, Today do not anger, secondly it reads, do not worry, thirdly it reads, be thankful, fourthly it reads, work with diligence, and fifthly it reads, be kind to others."
The book includes descriptions of the lineages of Reiki - it does so in an inclusive and fair way, leaving each student to be drawn to a method most comfortable for their own spirit.
Hand positions are discussed, but "symbols" are not, left for oral teaching by master to student in class.
As a hospice physician, I appreciate that "The Complete Book of Traditional Reiki" is healing in both its approach to human suffering, and its approach to respecting and bridging conventional and complementary healthcare. It helps remind me that the powers of healing are not within us, but come from a higher power. (whichever lineage of Reiki we use, whatever symbols or hand positions we use, and whatever medications or surgery we prescribe, we must accept that we learn as much as we can, and use our best intentions, emanate compassion, and a higher force determines the future).
In a world where people die of cancer, relationships sometimes are shredded apart, and the earth is ruptured by volcanos, and wounded by man made oil spills, Amy's book relates the struggles and methods that come from Founder Mikao Usui, Sensei Hawayo Takata, and her beloved teacher Beth Gray, and adds the experience of her 23 years learning and practicing Reiki - it is as sub titled "practical methods for personal and planetary healing." I second the review of William Lee Rand, who wrote of the book, "it grounds one in the here and now and inspires practitioners to look deeply into their own healing and to help others."
I encourage anyone interested in Reiki, or practicing it, to read this book.