|VEDIC ENERGY HEALING:|
|Ayurveda & Energy Healing
With Bill Courson, C.Ayur., Ayurvedic Practitioner
"Skilled, dexterous and empowered by the Divine for healing is our left hand, for it removes blocks in the free flow of joy. And yet more potent is this divinely empowered right hand, for it contains all medicinal capacities of the universe, its all auspicious healing touch bringing peace, harmony, welfare, opulence, joy and liberation from all toxic conditions of matter - birth, death, old age and disease. -Atharva Veda
Most of us are familiar with energy healing methods in one or more of their many forms: Pranic Healing, Jin-Shin-Do and Reiki are among the more widely recognized therapies, with the last-named being by far the most popular and widely-dispersed.
Though simple to learn and practice, Reiki’s history has until recently been surrounded by myth, innuendo and legend. Rumor and counter-rumor, along with intentional fabrications and distortions, have been the near-impenetrable substance of Reiki’s story, and curious practitioners of this healing art have often been confounded when they made attempts to discover the true nature of their legacy and lineage.
It should come as no surprise to practitioners and students of ayurveda that as is the case with so much else, Reiki appears to have sprung originally from ancient India’s fertile intellectual soil. Though widely believed to be a Japanese creation of the early twentieth century, Reiki appears to have been but re-discovered in that country, countless millennia after energy healing first made it’s appearance amongst the rishis who gave ayurveda to a suffering world.
Reiki was not alone in being ancient India’s gift to the island empire of Japan.
According to Stephen Knapp, author of Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence Indian influence can be most acutely seen in religion. Knapp states that, inter alia, the Vedic deity Ganesh was worshipped in Japan’s imperial palace in the summer months on the Ganesh Chaturthi days per Indian tradition. Contemporarily, Ganesh (Japanese: Shoten, or Kangijen) is among the most beloved of protective deities and is officially installed in the Hoshanji temple on Mount Ikomei in Nara and in the chief temple in Osaka City. Durga is also worshipped, the Sanskrit Kalidevama having translated itself into the Japanese Kariteimo. India’s Kubera became Japan’s Bishamon, and Varuna, Shiva and Vishvakarma crossed the Japanese Sea to become known as Suiten, Daikoko and Bishukatsuma respectively.
India’s tradition of honoring the ancestors on Navaratri as well made its way to Japan, as did much else. According to Dr. S. Venu Gopalacharya in his World-Wide Hindu Culture and Vaishnava Bhakti historical evidence exists for Korea’s ruler once having sent to Japan a large number of Mahayana texts as a gift to the Japanese emperor from which time religious, cultural and scientific contacts between Japan and India grew exponentially, with the Japanese government funding Buddhist and Hindu scholars at the great university at Nalanda. According to Knapp, Reiki’s ayurvedic roots made the journey to Japan embedded in the Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures brought there.
Reiki was developed in Japan by one Mikao Usui at a time when Japanese society was experiencing a period of rapid change and social and cultural upheaval. It was not until the 1850s that an insular Japan opened itself up to the Western world; for two centuries starting in the mid fifteenth century, all Europeans had been expelled from Japan. No Japanese were allowed to leave their country. Religions not long-standing parts of Japanese life and culture were declared illegal and all Japanese were forced to register at Shinto temples, whose theologies had been taken up as a “state religion.” It was the United States and European powers that finally forced Japan to open its borders, its economy and its civilization, to the outside world, and this event led to a great flood of new ideas and esoteric systems coming into Japan from all over the world.
Mikao Usui, Reiki’s re-discoverer, was born in 1865 near Kyoto and died on March 9, 1926. Contrary to now widespread belief in and out of the Reiki community, he was no Christian, much less a Christian minister or missionary. He grew up in a Buddhist family belonging to the Tendai sect and one of his siblings was a physician. As a child he entered a Tendai Buddhist monastery near Mount Kurama, the venue at which years later the tenets of Reiki were said to have been revealed to him by a supernatural agency and in later life he seems to have espoused the Shingon sect of Japanese esoteric Buddhism imported by the monk-scholar Kukai after the latter’s study in China and India.
Reiki is the Japanese name for the healing method rediscovered by Usui from Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures found in monasteries in Japan. Reiki means “universal energy,” or “all-pervading force” and Ki, Chi, Qi, and Prana, are all synonyms for the life force that flows through and about human and animal bodies as well as supposedly inanimate forms. Prana in the Vedic view is the cosmic force that gives life to the body and mind and flows through and about the subtle, energetic body whose structures include the chakras, koshas and nadis through which prana flows, and which exist within and throughout the physical body the two communicating at sensitive points on the latter’s surface known as Marma points, and delineated in the Vedic healing art of Marma Vidya.
If some trauma or pathological process occurs to disrupt the normal balanced flow of prana through the body, disease occurs. Reiki practitioners are initiated into the method gradually over a series of levels or grades (ordinarily, three) by a process known as “attunement.” Attunements are given by a Reiki Master that enables the student to open his own energetic system to ki (cosmic force) and to serve as an effective channel and focal point for that force. Students are instructed and supervised in practice sessions to recognize pranic flow in themselves and their subjects. Each human body has certain contact points (corresponding to Marma points) on the body that act as particularly effective areas for the transfer of pranic energy or ki, most commonly, the palms, fingertips, frontal and dorsal body in the areas corresponding to the chakras, forearms and feet.
The practitioner transfers ki, or prana, to these points on his patient's body causing an increased, more natural and more complete flow of energy within the patient. At the contact point there very often develops an intense heat or tingling sensation. Among higher level Reiki practitioners, orthographic symbols delineating particular aspects of ki are used to amplify the potency and immediacy of treatment. Intention counts for much (or some Reiki Masters insist, all) in Reiki practice, and distance treatments wherein the practitioner and subject are in separate locales are both widely used and held to be very effective.
According to Dr. Pankaj Naram of the Ayushakti Ayurvedic Clinic in Mumbai, a practitioner of both marma vidya as well as Reiki (as reported in Hinduism Today, Winter 2003) Therapeutic touch, Reiki, polarity therapy and many other techniques utilize the same transfer of energy by a laying on of hands. Like these, marma vidya can effectuate healing by applying the hand over the areas corresponding to marma points, It being unnecessary to actually come in contact with the skin surface.
Some Reiki Masters have added considerably to Usui’s “canon” by implementing more attunements, introducing new symbols and methods and even inserting different beliefs into Reiki’s history, making the quest for historical authenticity an even more difficult and complex one.
Nonetheless, some historical clues are more or less evident, and continuing investigation is likely to shed growing light on Reiki’s Indian origin.
Mikao Usui’s Shingon connection may be of some critical importance to Reiki’s development, in that the sect’s founder, Kukai (also known as Kobo Diashi) – one of the pivotal figures in Japanese culture as well as religious life – was a Sanskrit scholar who spent protracted periods in China and possibly India, and was a self-trained engineer and scientific thinker and observer. Some historians hold the Shingon and Tibetan transmissions of Vajrayana teaching to be comparable to two parallel roads of esotericism, the former traveling north from India to Tibet and its neighboring kingdoms and the latter traveling east through China to Japan. This fact, coupled with the marked resemblance of certain secret symbols used in Reiki practice to the sigils or ideographs representing Shingon deities and Bodhisattvas cannot help but give rise to the probability of this avenue of cross-fertilization.
Additionally, another likely mode of transmission exists: according to Drs. David Frawley, Subhash Ranade and Avinash Lele in their Ayurveda & Marma Therapy (Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin 2003, pp.9-10) China’s apostle of Buddhism Bodhidharma brought with him from his native India not only the doctrines of Buddhism and techniques of Meditation but knowledge of South India’s martial art of Kalaripayat and of its sister science of Marma Vidya as well, his birthplace having been the town of Kanchipuram – famous for its being a teaching and learning center of these two disciplines.
Finally, there is a legend first installed by Mikao Usumi himself, that is, that Reiki was originated by Buddhist monks in Tibet some 2,500 years prior to its rediscovery in Japan. It is most unlikely that any Buddhists – lay or monastic – were present in Tibet in substantial numbers at that time when Buddhism was barely established in its native India (assuming historical dating of Siddhartha Gautama’s birthdate is anywhere near accurate). If in actuality Tibet were the place and circa 500 BCE the time of Reiki’s origin, its elaborators would most likely have been practitioners of that country’s indigenous Bon religion, and would most likely have been influenced by ideas of energetic anatomy and energy healing that had traveled northward from India.
|Traditional Ayurveda, Energy Healing & Flower Essence Therapy|