This was an exert from a letter on 7th March 1997 from Phyllis Furumoto.
The push from others to claim the position of successor to Takata by using this title, the part of myself that liked the attention but did not want the responsibility, and my insecure personality combined to create a struggle that took years to resolve. I became “healed enough” through this practice to begin accepting the obvious. This journey of being the successor to Takata with little noticeable training was my calling. Once I understood this, I looked back on my life and realised I had been in training for many years without being conscious of it.
Both of these descriptors, Grand Master and lineage bearer can carry the same quality, the energetic embodiment of the essential spirit of any discipline. In my life the embodiment is the spirit of Usui Shiki Ryôhô, a specific method of healing passed down through a specific lineage of masters. The authority I hold comes from the “authorship” of each of the masters of the lineage, residing now in myself.”
It was to this clinic that a young Japanese-American, Hawayo Takata, was brought in 1935. In 1936 she was healed of the illnesses that brought her to Japan by Reiki, and as a result stayed for a year of training and practice while staying at Chûjiro Hayashi’s home. It was not until 1938 that she was awarded her Master Certificate. It was Chûjiro Hayashi who helped her to set up her first clinic. It is widely considered by Japanese practitioners that the system of Reiki which is taught in the west comes from Chûjiro Hayashi’s teachings. The major difference between his teachings and traditional Usui teachings is that he continued to use Mantras and symbols with his attunements, where as Mikao Usui practiced without mantras and symbols. These were only taught to those who had difficulty with sensing the energy.
Hawayo Takata became a Master of the System from Chûjiro Hayashi, and was a person empowered to train others in the practice, in 1937. At that time Reiki was taught for the first time outside of Japan by her teacher, Chujiro Hayashi. Mrs. Takata was chosen as Dr. Hayashi’s successor and the guardianship of the System shifted from Japan to the United States just prior to World War II. She was his 13th and last Master Student. She was also given the name of Mikao Usui’s School on her certificate rather than that of Chûjiro Hayashi. Mrs. Takata spent much of her time practising Reiki in Hawaii and mainland America as well as Canada. Among some of her patients, she boasted such celebrity as Danny Kaye in Palm Springs. It was not until 1973 that she began teaching seriously as she set about to train her successor(s). She taught her first Master Student in 1976. In 1979 she taught her grand daughter Phyllis Lei Furumoto to Master Level and there is some question as to her being Takata’s Heir and Successor. All in all before she died, Hawayo Takata taught 22 Reiki Masters. Phyllis Furumoto resides in north Idaho at the present time. The Usui System is now being taught and practiced world wide.
Her teachings were varied and it has been reported that no two of her teachings were the same. She apparently taught as she felt appropriate at any given time in her life. She did however teach a simple version of the Five Precepts to most of her students. She is often credited with 12 hand positions, which is called the Foundation Treatment. She stressed that students should treat themselves first, then their family and friends. This way the student becomes whole and is also surrounded by harmony. What she taught most of all was that Reiki was an oral tradition and therefore no one had original copies of the symbols. Her attunements, it seems were also varied according to her feelings at the given time. She taught various techniques to do with The Hara Line which was said to be where the True Energy lay in the body. In her own words “Reiki will guide you. Let the Reiki hands find it, they will know what to do”.
Mikao Usui was born a Tendai Buddhist and as a young child studied in a Tendai monastery according to recent researchers. In the West, it was once believed that he was born a Christian. Hawayo Takata probably added this information as a reaction to the anti-Japanese sentiment in America during and after World War II. Christianity was actually outlawed in Japan at the time Usui Mikao was born.
Due to the fact that he travelled greatly through Japan and overseas his career was also varied. At one point, according to Frank Arjava Petter, he was a private secretary to a politician called Shinpei Goto who, amongst other positions, was Governor of the Standard of Railways. In 1920 Shinpei Goto became the Mayor of Tokyo.
At the turn of the century hands-on-healing or teate was very popular in Japan. Eguchi Toshihiro was a friend of Usui Mikao and studied with him in the 1920s. Eguchi created the Tenohira Ryoji Kenkyu kai (Hand Healing Research Center).
Usui Mikao was never a doctor as professed in the West but did become a lay Tendai priest called a zaike according to students of Suzuki san. This meant that he could remain in his own home with his family, without having to reside in a temple as is commonly expected of priests at the time that Usui Mikao became a zaike some say he took the Buddhist name of Gyoho, Gyohan or Gyotse.
It’s also believed that Usui Mikao included techniques as well as jumon (jumon means spell or incantation. It is also for the mantras of the Reiki symbols) in his teachings that are based on Shinto and Tendai practices.
It is impossible to offer a commencement date for Usui Mikao’s teachings. He was 35 years old at the turn of the century and, as stated by students of Suzuki san (who claim to have seen his Menkyo Kaiden certificate) was proficient in martial arts from his mid-20s. Suzuki San had been aware of Usui Mikao her whole life as she was his wife’s cousin. Her formal training with him is said to have begun in 1915 when she was 20 years old and her relationship with him continued on a less formal basis until his death in 1926. It’s understood that Suzuki san and the other 11 living students have preserved a collection of papers including the precepts, waka, meditations, and teachings. In a translated 1928 article a student of Chûjiro Hayashi states that the system was founded ‘decades ago’.
What we know has been passed on to us through a series of lineage bearers who have been guardians and preservers of the integrity of the practice. The successor of Mikao Usui was Chûjiro Hayashi who practiced and taught in a clinical setting in Tokyo, Japan. He became a student of Mikao Usui in May of 1925 when he was retired as a naval officer and surgeon. When Mikao Usui died his school was using the title of Usui Reiki Ryôhô Gakkai. When Chûjiro Hayashi left this school, he formed his own school and called it the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyû Kai. It was in Hayashi’s clinic that he continued to teach and practise Reiki.