Western Reiki and Japanese Reiki; their cultural backgrounds
(C)Copyright 2012 March
Masaki Nishina (仁科まさき)
If you become interested in this article, you can find much more detail and thorough discussion in my book "Reiki and Japan" available in Amazon.
After Hawayo Takata brought Japanese Reiki (靈氣) back to Hawaii, Reiki speaded to many western countries with some modification and alterations. Such Reiki is generally called "western Reiki" and distinguished from the original Japanese Reiki (Jikiden Reiki 直傳靈氣 or Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai 臼井靈氣療法学会, hereafter URRG).
The techniques used in typical western Reiki are different from those in Japanese Reiki. People often try to understand the difference in terms of technical appearance. The true nature of the difference, however, can be understood by studying the cultural difference in Japan and western countries. To honestly say, when a western person tries to use traditional Japanese techniques, I believe she/he needs to know the Japanese cultural background in order to make the fullest use of the techniques. I strongly felt so when I taught Jikiden seminar to western people. I hope this article helps people practice traditional Reiki in better way.
Please bear in mind that this article is based on my personal view/thinking and not a part of the official Jikiden teaching. You may feel the western culture is criticized in this article. You may feel somewhat unpleasant. But that is not my purpose. My purpose is to help western practitioners understand the difference between western Reiki and Japanese traditional Reiki. In addition, the words "Japanese" and "western" represent only cultural tendencies. There are many western persons who act like Japanese and think like Japanese. There are many Japanese persons who act like western and think like western.
I am also aware that there are many kinds of western Reiki. It is not easy to say which western Reiki I am referring in this article. Here, I hope there are some vague ideas of what a typical western Reiki is. A number of students came to my Reiki school after they had Reiki classes of other schools. They told me what and how other schools taught them with sometimes their text books. I also read a dozen English Reiki books available on the market. Occasionally I do Internet-surfing over English Reiki school sites. I believe I have a reasonable idea about the average western Reiki schools.
I first posted comments onto Jikiden Facebook group to help the group understand the DKM issue. It is, however, important for Jikiden practitioners to understand this from a much broader point of view --- i.e. cultural difference.
Japanese people are often too modest to speak up. But here, I am speaking up. You may not have heard or read such an article before. So, please not be surprised.
(This web page uses WebFont to display Japanese Kanji characters in foreign environment. It may take time for the characters to show up on a screen.)
I am a professional western Reiki master and Jikiden Reiki Dai-Shihan. I live in Tokyo, Japan and go to Budapest to teach Jikiden Reiki every year.
I lived in US for four years to work on a particle-physics experiment during my under graduate. I then became a professional astronomer studying the observational cosmology. I built many instruments, worked with international collaboraters and visted many observatories all over the world.
Now I devote all my time to Reiki. I started to use Reiki in 2001 and have taught western Reiki to more than 1,200 Japanese students. I probably have to say I am not a typical Japanese person nor a typical western Reiki master. (In Japan, western Reiki is much more popular than Jikiden Reiki.)
In this section I discuss the cultural tendencies of western people that I have noticed when I practice western Reiki and compare to that of traditional Japanese people.
I think western people tend to seek something good in outside of themselves. One of examples is "higher-self". They sometimes seem to feel wonderful parts of themselves reside outside, normally apart from them. It is a feeling of separation between normal-self and good-self. I see people seeking something higher than themselves in distance.
In western countries, people generally grow up under the strong influences of the Bible. He/She may be constantly forced to find that everyday life is quite far from what the Bible tells. They may be constantly alarmed they are not doing as the Bible teaches.
Another reason might be the "original sin". In Christianity, everyone is born with the original sin and needs to be saved by salvation. We are deemed to be a kind of criminals in born. They may find they are powerless and weak.
In addition, they are supposed to go to hell if they do not live a moral life, possibly feeling worry and fear inconsciously.
On the other hand, these might be the reasons why people care about the concept of Mercy.
I will discuss how such tendencies affect Reiki practices in next section.
The concepts like higher-self, original sin, weak and powerless existence do not exist in traditional Japanese culture. In Japanese Sintoh (神道, a kind of religion, customs, and way of thinking), every living creatures and physical objects are made of divided spirits from the great existence. A human being especially carries a large spirit. We always have a divine connection to the soruce. This spirit is in fact related to the Sirusi taught in Shihan-kaku seminar. This idea of a divided spirit is a part of the traditional Japanese Reiki.
Of course, one can get very dirty through everyday life. But if one makes effects and improvements, a human being can become a great existence. Sintoh allows everyone to reset and re-start his/her life if a person cleanses his/her bad enegry in mind and body. In Sintoh, the purpose of our life is not the salvation but to develop and raise our spiritually.
In Sintoh, therefore, there is no hell nor heaven. We all go back to the soruce after death. A human being is a very positive existence throughout Sintoh.
On the other hand, Sintoh does not have a clear concept of mercy and compassion which are important aspect of both Christianity and Buddhism. Japan imported the concept of mercy via Buddhism.
Of course Buddhism has heaven and hell. In Japanese Buddhism, however, interestingly the heaven is physically located adjust to the hell so that people can open the door to the heaven after they suffered enough in the hell. They can have a "reset" even in the hell.
No one would deny that the western culture is strongly affected by the Holy Bible. What is written in the Bible must be true; truth can be represented by words.
This does not apply to the Japanese culture, where we think truth can not be well described by words. This is consist to Zen teaching; truth can be obtained only through experience and awareness. The traditional Japanese thinking goes well with Zen. (Isn't very ironic I am writing words here?)
In addition, "logic" or "being logical" is very important in the western countries; it may be the most important. People understand something through logic in the form of words. To convince people, they use spoken or written words that are as logical as possible --- the more logical, the better.
In Japan, intuition plays more essential role than logic. Japanese people sometime say "yes" as a meaning of "no". In Japan, words are often used to soften the communication. They may say "it is written so and logically so, but ...." We tend to feel comfortable when we accept something intuitively. We try to read something behind logic and words. Waka (和歌 Japanese poem) is a typical example. Words in Waka are just surface or just outside skin. Its essence is something very intuitive behind words.
In order to be logical, one must find the relation of cause and effect. The law of causality is one of ways to be scientific. In science, that would lead to finding scientific laws.
In human, to find the cause, one must investigating the past. "He behaves this way because he grew up in such a family environment." He/she often has to focus on the past in order to solve the present problems. Another factor that make western people focuse on the past might be the existence of hell. They can not re-start their lives.
In Japan, people are less sensitive to the causality. Life can be reset and re-started --- making the past less significant. They may not have to go to hell. It is natural to think "Just for today" for Japanese. A different situation can be seen with Buddhism though, where she/he gets re-born with karma from her/his past life.
As seen in the bible, western people may think truth should be explicitly written out, read by all people, and shared by everyone. Traditional Japanese people think deep truth can be understood only by someone who are ready to understand.
In western countries, if you have something very important, you tell that to others and are proud of it. Traditional Japanese think that you should keep it in safe because if you expose it to public, there are many people who do not understand it and you may receive bad energy from them.
Sintoh does not use idols, instead it recognizes energy. In Sintoh, god-like high-level energy can channel through ANY objects or creatures if those are spiritually clean. Such objects are called Yorisiro (依り代, spiritual receiver) and can be stones, trees, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, swords, paper, mirrors, human-beings, animals, and etc. It is not a polytheism but an energy-based channeling system. God is understood intuitively in the form of energy not in the form of idols.
Buddhism has many different god-like existences. Buddhism created very sophisticated art to represent these existences --- idols. In Japan, we have many such Buddhism art but most people see them as wonderful art, not as idols for praying. General Japanese public use Buddhism mostly for funeral. We do not have idols in a way western people pray for.
In western countries, people often grow up praying for idols. I suspect they may inconsciously feel comfortable having their own idols. Such a feeling may be amplified when they feel alone powerless and when seeking the power outside.
In western countries, when he/she tries to improve something, the tool development often comes first, while a traditional Japanese person may try to improve him/herself first.
A very good example can be seen when comparing western archery and Japanese Kyudo (弓道). Both use bows and arrows but they are VERY different in every aspect.
The western archery heavily relays on external tools and modern technology. An archery bow, string, and arrow are made of synthetic material such as aluminum, carbon fiber, glass fiber and other hi-tech fibers. The bow is equipped with a clicker, rest, stabilizer, sight, plunger and sometimes very complex pulley mechanism.
Japanese Kyudo is very simple and natural. The bow is made of bamboo, wood, and cane. Its string is made of hemp fibers. The arrow is made of bamboo. The present-day Kyudo equipments are exactly the same as those in Edo-era (a few hundred years ago).
People's mind who practice western archery and Japanese Kyudo is also very different. In western archery, hitting a target is its whole purpose as a kind of sports. It does not matter how complex the equipment becomes as long as it hits a target well. Tools play an essential part of the archery.
Kyodo is not a sport but one of the ways to improve her/himself. Therefore, it would be totally meaningless if the improvement is accomplished by technology. Of course, it would be better if he/she hits a target but that has to happen through his/her self-development.
When I see the archery, I can not help thinking of the way Reiki symbols are used in western Reiki, where the tools play "essential" roles.
I summarize the cultural tendencies as bellow:
|bound to hell/heaven
|not in words
|Expose truth to
|only those who understand
|now and today
Please note these are not determined characteristics but tendencies with probably large person-to-person variations.
In this section I try to understand the tendencies seen in western Reiki in terms of the cultural backgrounds.
People who practice western Reiki often use some techniques (i.e., Reiki shower or affirmation) in order to "establish" connection to Reiki. They tend to think they are normally disconnect from Reiki and require special techniques in order to re-connect and turn their Reiki on.
You already know this is false because Jikiden Reiki does not use any such techniques.
This misunderstanding probably comes from the western tendency that he/she alone tends to feel powerless and something good resides outside or in distance. Also they may prefer using techniques to plain hands-on. They may think it would be more advanced to use tools and techniques rather than being "primitive". They may have difficult time to understand that a naked human being can do something mysteriously wonderful.
In practice, ANYone can freely use Reiki if she/he is relaxed and in natural state. We do not need to connect the Reiki source everytime. In fact, we are born with Reiki ability buit in. Reiki flows us easily when our mind is calm.
A western master says "May the force be with you."
A Japanese master says "Remember the force is always with you."
A large fraction of western Reiki teachers force their student to use Reiki shower, aura cleansing, and Kenyoku before starting treatment. This is very wrong attitude. Such compulsion makes students think they are not connect to Reiki until they do something special.
Takata-sensei did not teach that way. Yamaguchi-sensei sometimes tells us that Ms. Fran Brown mentioned that Takata taught Reiki automatically starts when putting his/her hand on and stops when taking the hands off. We, Jikiden practitioners, all know this is true.
I do not deny techniques such as Reiki shower, aura cleansing, and Kenyoku to help us. I teach these in my western Reiki class. But it would be a big mistake to teach these as mandatory. It is very important that students know Reiki is always with them.
If someone thinks the Reiki ability comes from outside, he/she may start worring the lineage. In western Reiki, people tend to think the ability is given by the masters and the symbols. They may think their ability strongly depends on these outside factors. They then start to worry who gave that ability --- lineage.
The lineage concept is so unhealthy that it could lead to serious discrimination. "You are an inferior practitioner because your lineage is far from the guru." "I am superior to you because I am on the better lineage." "Oh no ..., I found I am on a free-line lineage. I am doomed." Virtually all the western Reiki masters advertise their lineage in their books and Web pages. I know the general public care about it. But to me, those are very pathetic.
Reiki is our own innate ability. It is not something given from outside. ANYone can use Reiki equally regardless of her/his lineage. It does not matter who attuned you. Of course, it would be nice to be attuned by a very good master. It may give you some confident. However, even if someone is attuned by a good master, if he/she does not use Reiki, that is nothing. Even if someone is attuned by a so-so master, if he/she practices and uses Reiki well, he/she will become a very good practitioner. What is important is NOT who gave it to you, but what you do with it. All that matters is how much we practice and use.
Although Japanese peopoe are so westernized these days, very few people care about the Reiki lineage in Japan. I can see a very large difference in people's behavior here.
Western practitioners sometimes misunderstand that the Reiki ability is "transferred" from a master to student. I am sure that there may be other types of healings where the abilities are transferred. But that is not the case of Reiki.
I have attuned (western Reiki) over 1,200 persons. I foud some of them (may be a few percents) were able to flow Reiki energy before the attunement. I knew they did not take any Reiki class prior. Some of them were kindergarten kids, some of them were 80 years old. I know there are certain number of people who can give off Reiki without attunement. Our Reiki ability is built in us from the beginning.
There are other phenomena. Some of my students, before receiving attunements, they experienced sudden flash of energy through their body or their hands when they saw something or read something. I found one's Reiki flow is occasionally stimulated by images, sounds, thoughts, or smell. This is possible because our Reiki ability is something innate.
I sometimes do experiment with Reiki. My school offers a "trial" or "experience" day where I invite guests who have no Reiki experience. This is similar to "open treatment day" but guests also experience using Reiki. I mix Reiki practitioners and guests in a Reiki circle. Reiki circle (or Reiki Mawasi) is very good at sending Reiki through a person on a circle. After some time (maybe 10min) in the circle, guest can more or less use Reiki without the circle. I then very briefly teach how to use their hands. Guests start to experience using Reiki out of their hands on a model client together with other Reiki practitioners. By actually feeling Reiki from their hands, we all notice guest can give Reiki. Of course, the amount of Reiki they can flow is minimal compared to the effect of attunement. But surprisingly, some guests occasionally give a wonderful amout of Reiki this way.
By the way, as a Jikiden practitioner, you should know that Reiki Mawasi is very effective to enhance one's Reiki just after Reiju. Yes, there is a good reason why we do Reiki Mawasi immediately after Reiju.
There may have been discussions about these in western community, but the answer had been given more than 85 years ago. In Usui-sensei's "Open teaching", Jikiden text book page 26, He wrote "All living things possess this incredible ability - plants, trees, insects, animals, fish, and humans. As humans are spiritually the height in all creation, we have the more remarkable power." This statement is completely consistent with my experiences above.
A "pipe" is often used as a metaphor of the Reiki ability. We all are born with the Reiki pipe buit in. Through daily life, the pipe can get dirty or blocked due to unhealthy mental or physical state. Of course some of us manage to keep the pipe clean. The attunement cleans this pipe by pouring Reiki into the pipe. If you are a master, Shihan, or Shihan-kaku, what you do is not giving the ability but simply working as a janitor --- a sophisticated one.
In western Reiki, people often think a specific attunement is required to be able to use a specific symbol. We all know this is false because there is only one Reiju in traditional Reiki. This misunderstanding also comes form the concept that the ability is given from outside.
Western Reiki practitioners sometimes become addicted to the symbols. Such practitioners mistakenly think the essential power comes from the symbols not from themselves. They may feel powerless without the symbols. They tend to relay on the symbol techniques and do not relay on themselves.
Western Reiki masters often create complex symbol sequences such as 3 - 2 - 1, 1 - 3 - 1 - 2 - 1, 4 - 1, 4 - 2 - 1, 4 - 3 - 1 and 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, where 1 is CKR, 2 is SHK, 3 is HS and 4 is DKM. Some masters even invent different symbols and make matters more complex. To me, these appear to be nothing but pathetic. I do not think they are using symbols but symbols are usig them. They tend to think it is always beneficial to create new and "advanced" techniques. As more techniques are employed, they tend to think more power comes from outside. They are actually further away from their own innate abilities.
Once someone gets addicted to the symbols, that would take him/her back from his/her personal development because he/she thinks the power is given by the symbols not due to his/her innate abilities.
Such a symbol addiction may be the cause of a bad school system often seen in these days. An enormous number of western Reiki schools offer first and second degrees in a single day, or sometimes all degrees in a single day. Some schools even offer the first-degree to master-degree in a single day! One of the reasons is they think the symbols are the essence of Reiki and giving the symbols to students completes the Reiki course. These masters hardly think personal development and awareness are essential. (Another reason is, of course, they make money quick.)
As you know, Jikiden teaches that you should not use Sirusi randomly or recklessly and use them only in a specific timing. This is very important teaching for students so that they do not become addicted to the Sirusi technique. Jikiden also teaches the Sirusi should not be used when Byosen is only heat or intese heat. This is because he/she can treat non-serious problem without external help. If the symbols are used in such ways, they will not intervene his/her own development.
Many people may think the western Reiki has more freedom. That is not necessarily true. I agree that one can easily introduce new techniques or different energies for specific a purpose. But at the same time, western Reiki masters often tell students what to do and what not to do. The way they teach often involves expressions like "If you do not do this, someting bad happens." "If you do this, such bad things happen." Studends end up with some kind of fear and worry about how they use Reiki. "Oh my god, I forgot doing aura-cleansing. I may see something bad." "Oh no, I spend to much time on this head position." "I must take off all metals while doing Reiki, oh no!, what about my tooth crowns?"
As you know, Jikiden Reiki would not create such worry and fear. This is VERY important because more Reiki flows when you are worry-free and fear-free. I think an experienced Jikiden practitioner is as good as an experienced western Reiki practitioner. But if some people feel Jikiden gives more power, this worry-free and fear-free state could be the reason behind it.
In western Reiki, people have more freedom introducing various techniques but they may have less freedom in their mind.
Reiki itself is pure energy that works for anyone with any cultural backgrounds. But techniques are different.
Symbols, Sirusi, Jyumon, or Kotodama themselves carry specific energy. IF THOSE ARE VERY WELL DESIGNED, they start working on someone with different cultural background. The design has to include something un-ordinary or esoteric look & feel so that it stimulates and activates the innate but hidden ability of a person. At the same time, symbols and others have some suggestive effects --- more effective if you believe more.
So, it would be a great mistake to expose the symbols to general public. If the symbols become ordinary and do not carry esoteric feelings, it would stimulate a person less. If a person feels something more special about the symbols, he/she gains more effects from the symbols. Some western Reiki masters try to make the symbols public as a kind of crusade act, but actually they are damaging the symbols; they do not understand how the symbols work.
Doi-sense wrote in his one of books, "Usui-sensei created symbols for Reiki beginners to help them. If they accumulate good experience and their consciousness becomes high, they do not have to relay on such techniques." I think this is very true. But it is NOT "belief" nor "faith" that enables this. It is rather experience and awareness.
The Reiki symbols are very helpful tools but it is not mandatory. Some of my western Reiki students are eager to send Reiki in distance before the second degree. I teach them the distant healing without HS. It has been proven to work if he/she knows the receiver very well. The distant healing is just a matter of controlling one's consciousness. Normally HS helps everyone to do this but he/she can do it without if his/her consciousness is well guided. Symbols help someone to open up her/his own innate abilities.
In Doi-sensei's interview with William Lee Rand, he mentioned about graduation from the symbols. According to Doi-sensei, Usui-sensei said "After making the fullest use of symbols, you may find yourself not requiring symbols. Elevate your consciousness so that you and universe become one." Doi-sensen understands the symbols are mere useful tools.
Please note, in Jikiden teaching, we never talk about "Graduation from dependency". If you use Sirusi, Jymon and Kotodama in the way you are taught, you would not end up with bad dependency. You can fully enjoy these techniques safely.
I am not saying it would be wise not to use the symbols. Use the symbols fully. Experience the effects of symbols through out the Reiki practice. But at the same time, you should find that what the symbols do is just helping you, or just supplementary to your ability. As you become an experienced practitioner, you should graduate from dependency on the symbols. This does not mean you do not use the symbols but you use them knowing they are mere tools.
Several years ago, Eric Pearl, a creator of Reconnective Healing, visited Japan. I had a chance to attend his unofficial gathering because a translator was a good friend of mine. In the gathering, he severely criticized Reiki. He said "We are not perfect. We are like a cup with only 60% is filled. Typically people try to fill the rest of 40% by introducing various techniques. Can they fill 100% in that way? No. They often fail, even worse, they end up with evaporating the original 60% by having too much techniques. Reiki is exactly like that." I could not deny because he was taking about western Reiki. But I stood up and spoke "There is very original Japanese Reiki called Jikiden Reiki where innate ability is considered most important". He did not seem to be interested in what I said. Besides what he thinks of Reiki, I think what he said is very true.
There are very good reasons why DKM is/was not a part of traditional Reiki.
A) It is against traditional Reiki.
If you have read this article to this point, you may already have deduced DKM is not a part of traditional Japanese Reiki. It is against the traditional Japanese cultural backgrounds. How pity an advanced Reiki practitioner starts using DKM ! A beginner may need such a help because he/she can not believe in him/herself yet. But someone who is about to become an advanced practitioner is not supposed to need such an outside dependency. Techniques and tools are not what an advanced Reiki user needs. Strong dependency on techniques are actually what he/she needs to graduate from.
B) It does not work to Japanese.
As I already posted to Facebook, DKM does not work to Japanese, especially to traditional Japanese people. The reason is described below.
DKM from Japanese point of view
In addition to the important information Frank Arjava Petter kindly provided, I would like to comment on the actual feeling on DKM from Japanese point of view. Although westen people often pay attention to logic and evidence, feeling and intuition can tell what is true in this case. It is important to know how Japanese people feel about DKM.
Each letter of DKM means:
In a dictionary, the word KM (光明) means "a ray of hope", or "bright future". In Buddhism, KM means "enlightenment". DKM means “great enlightenment”. To Japanese, DKM sounds exactly like “great enlightenment” in English. So, this is nothing but a Buddhist term that many ordinary Japanese know. It is just a noun word. It does not carry any esoteric sense or energy. It can not be something to be “taught” or “given” in any kind of seminar in Japan.
You are sitting in a third-degree Reiki class. Your teacher, a respective Reiki master says,
“I am going to give you the most important Reiki symbol, called Master Symbol. The Master Symbol is the ultimate Reiki Symbol in all aspects. This enhances your spirituality, enables you do marvelous things and leads you to great enlightenment. This is an esoteric technique secretly taught. So, please do not tell to other people.”
He then writes an English phase [ Great Enlightenment ] on a bord. He tells you to draw and chant [ Great Enlightenment ].
You would probably react like “Oh, really?”, “Ah, wait!” or even “You gotta be kidding, master!” You may even feel very stupid and fooled.
This is EXACTLY how a lot of Japanese people feel about DKM. Our feeling, not logics, not “evidences”, tells us DKM is not the product of original Japanese Reiki.
At the time of Usui-sensen’s era, probably most of Reiki students are well educated and possessed some Buddhism knowledge. If they see you writing and chanting DKM, you would be laughed for sure.
Further more, DKM is not an important word in Buddhism. Enlightenment itself is of course an important issue, but the "word" itself does not carry much importance because the word DKM itself does not teach anything. In Buddhism, important words are such as 空(empty) or 無(zero).
So, even if you are a Buddhist, you would not use DKM for something important.
C) It is not a technique.
DKM is just a noun word, not a Sirusi, not a Jyumon. DKM is not deemed to be a technique nor a tool.
To those who are not familiar with Japanese writing, please let me explain a little more. We write letters vertically from top to bottom. So, when we write three letters 大 光 明, they natually align vertically as you exactly see as DKM. On the other hand, just writing 本 者 是 正 念 vertically does not become HS you know of. DKM is just three letters written as a word. HS is created intentionally by fusing five letters.
All the other Reiki symbols are created under very sophisticated thought and wisdom. To be precise, they are either Sirusi (graphical symbol) or Jyumon (spell and complex reconstruction / combination of Kanji characters). DKM is neither of them. It is just a normal noun.
I feel the other Reiki symbols had been created by a very sophisticated and clever person but DKM is NOT. DKM is a phase Buddhists use to vaguly represent great enlightenment. Writing and chanting it can not be a technique. In addition, it is NOT something to be taught in a Reiki class in old Japan.
As other people already suspected, I hypothesize DKM had been introduced by a person who had a little knowledge of Buddhism but not grown up in real Japanese culture.
D) There are 'evidences' DKM did not exist.
Thanks to the great effort by Frank Adjaver Petter, there are some evidences that URRG did not use DKM.
1) In the interview with Fumio Ogawa who was a Shihan of URRG, he said "Dieses Symbol kenne ich nicht." to a question "Was sagen Sie zum Reiki-Meister-Symbol?". (Frank Adjaver Petter "Das ist Reiki" p242)
2) In Doi-sensei's second book (Japanese edition p130), after explaining the similarity between western and URRG symbols (1, 2, and 3), he wrote "Here, I make no mention of what is called the 4th symbol in order to avoid misunderstanding." This demonstrates that the existence of DKM carries something anomalous.
3) Someone (the name can not be exposed here) heard Doi-sensei whispering to his URRG colleague that they never heard DKM in URRG.
E) There are NO 'evidences' DKM did exist.
So far, there is no evidence or information that URRG used DKM. Of course, Hayashi-sensei did not.
Ironically the situation related to DKM is one of very good examples that the truth can not be understood by everyone. "Truth" is often a projection of people's wish or sometimes even misunderstanding. If many people share the same fantasy, that would become their reality.
Please do not take me wrong.
I am not saying DKM is wrong in western Reiki. On the contrary, DKM has been proven to be effective for western people when doing western Reiki. I suspect the person who introduced DKM knew about western people well. Use it if you practice western Reiki. DKM is even effective to younger generation of Japanese people. Thesedays, Japanese people are so westernized lacking Buddhism knowledge that there are many Japanese Reiki students who encounter DMK for the first time in their lives. In my western Reiki class, I do teach DKM knowing all above.
I can see the most prominent difference between western Reiki and traditional Japanese Reiki in the form of DKM because it tells us how western Reiki is practiced. Like their religious idols, DKM is exactly the idol of Reiki for western people. DKM is not a traditional Reiki symbol but it is symbolic of western Reiki.
I would like to close this article by mentioning "mercy and self-development".
Everyone is not perfect. A person sometimes feels powerless and helpless. She/he may have difficult time to convince they can go ahead alone. He/she may totally loose the direction he/she should proceed. In such cases, mercy and compassion is one of keys that help that person. I think western Reiki is very good at this.
In traditional Japanese culture, a human being is often assumed to be a strong existence who can handles various difficulties by self-effort and self-development. Samurai spirit (or Busido 武士道) is one of very good examples of these. The techniques in traditional Japanese Reiki encourage these. One example is Gokai that is made of five imperative sentences with disciplinary tone. (Translated version sounds a little softer than original Japanese.) Gokai assumes one is (or should be) able to control oneself more or less. Another example is Seiheki Kotodama that consists of two strong imperative sentences. (Again, translated version sounds much softer than original Japanese.) Seiheki treatment does assume we all are (or should be) able control our own mind in the end. Traditional thinking employs more self-effort than outside help.
You may think we are not that strong. It probably depends on an individual person how much outside help is required. Usui-sensei in fact combined mercy/compassion into the Seiheki treatment by introducing the thousand-armed Kannon. The Seiheki treatment is the combination of mercy and self-effort.
I am sure various symbol techniques and DKM helps western people as well as modern Japanese people. That is perfectly OK as long as they find their true abilities in the end. Innate ability, which is also a part of the Universe, is much more powerful than outside help if one makes effort toward self-development and resonats with the Universe.
Despite the cultural differences, we can learn that we need both mercy and self-development. Therefore, knowing both western Reki and Jikiden Reiki should be an advantage for all of us.
Thank you VERY much for your reading this article.
I hope this helps you in some way.
There are only a few books where a Japanese author describes about Japanese culture well. We are not good at explaining ourselves.
Motohisa Yamakage "The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart" ISBN=4770030444
D. T. Suzuki "Zen and Japanese Culture" ISBN=0802130550
D. T. Suzuki "An Introduction to Zen Buddhism" ISBN=0802130550
Inazo Nitobe "Bushido, The Soul of Japan" ISBN=1456496964
Please be careful when you read books written by non-Japanese foreigners because it is quite possible that they misunderstand something.