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Speak up, act out. December 30, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
—Edmund Burke

Several posts ago, I quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s comment, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” In that post, I also quoted the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller’s devastating comment about his failure to speak or act out against the Nazis, “Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

The Burke quote is another one to add to the list. All these men are talking about what they or those they cared about didn’t do, not that they themselves did some bad deed. How many people do you think would have gladly given their bus seats to Rosa Parks? Yet not one of them did. How many people would have been glad to give Mohandas Gandhi a seat on the train instead of watching him be pitched to the boardwalk when he had a first-class ticket and every right to ride?

Yet the onlookers were worried. What would their peers think of them if they stood up for what they knew was right? Would some roughnecks beat them up? So they just watched; they “did nothing,” they remained silent. This has been the horror of history. As the poet W.B. Yeats says, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” Pope Francis has spoken again and again about this lack of conviction, about our duty to help the poor and destitute, to get out in the streets and engage with them, rather than turning our backs and remaining silent while others suffer.

There’s a lot of misery in our world. Rather than turning our backs on it, rather than pretending we’re some different species, let all of us who practice Reiki send it to those in need. Let all those who see injustice speak out. And let all of us who encounter need head-on meet it with compassion, with fellowship, with recognition that we’re looking at ourselves. For it’s only when we’ve pushed prejudice, violence, and separatism to the curb the the world can know peace.

Just for today, practice your Reiki Principles.


The call for peace must be shouted. July 30, 2014

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Pope Francis, in a recent interview, noted that we were living in a time of many wars, and that “the call for peace must be shouted.” The Pope added that “Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but peace is never quiet, peace is always proactive.”

This reminded me of one of my favorite spiritual writers, Sri Eknath Easwaran, whose hero was Mohandas Gandhi, called Mahatma, “great soul.” Gandhi liberated India from British colonial control, not through violence, but through non-violent resistance, ahimsa. Decades later, Martin Luther King urged this approach to Blacks who were seeking equal rights and the end of race discrimination. Nelson Mandela used it to end apartheid in South Africa. The Dalai Lama uses it when he protests the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Most recently, the LGBT community has used it to gather support for full marriage rights and benefits.

To be successful, those who practice ahimsa must be media-savvy and know how to get the word out. Gandhi was a genius at this; the world watched the “little brown man in the loincloth” and his every move with fascination. Pope Francis is also a genius at it, with his press conferences, off-the-cuff remarks, unexpected, crowd-thrilling gestures, and tweets.

Given the ubiquity and power of social media today, it’s not necessary to protest social injustice or war or domestic violence or school shootings or drug wars or whatever by setting yourself on fire in a public place, as one American minister recently did. Instead, you can make your voice heard on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or website or Instagram or Pinterest or a million other open media sites. You don’t have to shout. If enough of us simply speak out, and continue to speak out, against every form of violence, our combined voices will shout for us.

Just for today, speak up for peace.

Laws or lives? June 17, 2014

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“It is God’s children who are sacred to God, not laws. Laws are to protect or assist God’s children.”

—Fr. Joseph F. Girzone

Throughout history, the people who’ve exalted laws (or rules, or what have you) above lives, who are the most rigid and unbending, who punish every least infraction and refuse to tolerate any imperfection, are also the most insecure and paranoid. If you don’t think exactly like me, write exactly like me, perform a ritual exactly like me, why, you must be implying that there’s something wrong with me and my way of doing things! And I can’t tolerate that. Fifty lashes and ten nights in the black cells for you, heretic! And next time, it’ll be the stake.

This is in such dreadful, ironic contrast to the great souls who often inspired these shriveled little souls to follow them. The Lord Jesus broke rules all the time, eating with sinners and even—gasp!—tax collectors. Mahatma Gandhi was jailed numerous times for practicing ahimsa, nonviolent resistance to bad laws. The great Sufi mystic Rumi was a rigid follower of the rules until his wild and wonderful teacher, Shams of Tabriz, showed him the truth of what was indispensable and what was not, and freed him from the chains of conformity. Dogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen, was relentlessly persecuted by other orders of warrior monks who felt his pure teachings made them look bad.

Mother Teresa, Saint Francis, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh—all bent, broke, or discarded laws and rules when they ceased to serve “God’s children.” So did Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. I’m sure you can think of many other examples, past and present.

Let’s look at this from a Reiki perspective. From what we’ve learned in the past couple of decades about Usui Founder and his practice of Reiki, the only rules were the Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). Usui Founder instructed those who undertook the practice of Reiki to recite them aloud, morning and evening, with hands in gassho (prayer position, i.e., palm to palm). And, of course, to try to live them as well: Just for today, not to get angry, not to worry, to be grateful, to work hard, and to be kind. In other words, to live fully in the moment and see its wonders and possibilities.

This is true healing. How can you be angry (worry turned outward) or worried (fear turned inward) if you are fully present in the now? And if you’re not afraid—not worried, not angry—you have all the inner room in the world to feel happy and to be grateful and kind. You’ll have burst the fear balloon that’s filling you and preventing you from enjoying life to the full in every moment and sharing that enjoyment with every living creature you meet. Yes, it’s hard work to learn to live in the perpetual present, which is why “Work hard” is one of the Reiki Principles. But this form of work will set you free.

But I digress. Point being, Usui Founder apparently imposed no other rules on his students. He used no symbols, performed no attunements, had no set hand positions, and taught his students differently according to their abilities, strengths, and aptitude for learning the teachings. Almost everything that we thought we knew about Reiki was added later, by his students and their students, including the exclusive focus on hands-on and distant healing as opposed to the inner teachings, the Reiki Way, the road to anshin ritsumei, satori, enlightenment. In other words, the road Usui Founder himself had taken.

There is a history within the Western Reiki tradition of teaching each according to their abilities and aptitude, as Usui Founder did. Hayashi Sensei did so, giving Hawayo Takata Sensei different teachings from those he gave his Japanese students, and Takata Sensei did so when she tailored her teachings to each of her Masters, drawing the symbols slightly differently for some, changing the order of the Principles for one, the Rev. Beth Gray, who was an intuitive, so they made more intuitive sense, and so on. From this tradition, many forms of Reiki have arisen in the West, which enables those who are drawn to the Reiki path to choose the one or ones that speak to them, and which ultimately allowed Reiki to bloom around the world. Thank you, Usui Founder, Hayashi Sensei, Takata Sensei, and all teachers for allowing this flexibility!

Not that precision has no virtues: Like meditation, like hado breathing, like many other mental and physical exercises, it can strengthen focus. Placing your Reiki hands just so on someone’s body; sending distant healing just so; drawing the symbols just so, and in an exact series of patterns; performing attunements just so, and so on, can be part of the “work hard” Principle that helps you develop the inner and outer focus you need to proceed on your Reiki path. But becoming attached to doing things just so, rather than seeing the need for compassion and evolution, or even worse, attacking those who seek or practice a different way, is to become attached to the rigidity of the law and to abandon God’s children.

If you find yourself straying in this direction, ask yourself: What are you really afraid of? That your Reiki isn’t as “good” or as “powerful” as someone else’s Reiki? Then bring your attention back to the recitation and practice of the Reiki Principles. They are the broom, the wind, that will sweep your heart and mind and soul clean.

Just for today, practice the Principles.

Anger management. July 18, 2012

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“Just for today, don’t get angry.” I’m sure all you Reiki people recognize this (or your favorite translation of it) as one of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). But for many of us, that’s a lot easier said than done. If you struggle with anger management, perhaps you’ll be inspired by someone who was able to conquer his anger and channel it into something more productive. I have a feeling you’ll recognize the name!

“I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson, to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.”

                             —Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhiji certainly moved—and changed—the world by turning his anger into a movement for freedom based on ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence. So did the Reverend Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and many others who spoke and speak from a place of love rather than hate, from compassion rather than anger, from a desire for justice rather than revenge.

Since Reiki people are healers, we see and hear a lot to get angry about: people suffering psychological scars, abused and abandoned pets, people who seem to be suffering needless physical trauma, the abuses heaped on our beautiful planet by unrestrained population growth and greed. And of course we have our own tempers to deal with at home.

But rather than expending our energy in fruitless anger, which helps no one and can harm others (and ourselves), those of us on the Reiki path should try to think, when anger arises, where we can channel that energy so it can do good. Maybe we can start small—cleaning the house, paying bills, going for a walk, organizing files in our office, weeding and watering the garden. Or channel that adrenaline rush into shaping a project we’ve long had in mind: creating a blog or website, writing a novel, researching and writing a book on Reiki, investigating ways to start or expand our Reiki practice, learning a new language or a new skill. Eventually, we might come up with a way to move our community, or even the world.

Remember above all, as Usui Founder could have told us, that anger is a choice, not a given. How we respond to any provocation—or, for that matter, any situation—is ultimately up to us. If we can train ourselves to shine the bright light of understanding and compassion on the causes of our anger, ultimately it will cease to arise, and then at last we’ll be able to live up to Dr. Usui’s hopes for us.

Just for today, don’t get angry.

Excerpted from Living Reiki. All original content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.

An eye for an eye. December 8, 2011

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“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” Mahatma Gandhi so wisely said. Who could argue with his wisdom? And yet, sometimes it’s hard not to wish for repayment in kind, especially when someone’s charged with preying on the helpless.

Living in Pennsylvania, despite my sports-blindness I can’t help but be aware of the sex-abuse scandal surrounding former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. Boys as young as ten have reported being raped in locker-room shower stalls, raped in Sandusky’s basement, screaming for help, while Sandusky’s wife, on the floor above, somehow failed to hear or help them. To make matters even more appalling, Sandusky adopted and fostered many boys in his home, and founded a charity for inner-city boys from which he apparently selected the majority of his victims. 

From everything I’ve read about Jerry Sandusky, he sounds like a Peter Pan, a little boy who never grew up mentally and loved the company of other little boys, but unfortunately grew up hormonally and turned his love of boys into a sexual outlet. His very childlike innocence wrought far greater harm than an outright predator, since boys could sense that he genuinely liked and related to them, so they trusted him. 

It is very, very tempting to view Sandusky as an evil predator and hope that he goes to jail and experiences what it’s like to be repeatedly molested and raped against your will. And perhaps beaten, tortured and killed by cons who’ve landed in the slammer precisely because a Jerry Sandusky molested them when they were young and trusting.

But, though Sandusky’s acts are inexcusable, and his insistence on his innocence is unpardonable, he seems, at the end of the day, a wilful child, not a monster. An immature adult-child who should have been identified as a potential threat, shut away, sheltered, and loved, not unleashed on an unsuspecting populace to wreak horrific acts on innocent children entrusted to his care.

Usui Founder instructed all of us who follow the Reiki Way to be kind. I don’t think he meant “Be kind to good, enlightened people.” I think he meant “Be kind to all beings.”  Be kind to the innocent; be kind to the flawed. Be kind to everybody. To Jerry Sandusky, his wife, and his victims; to abused animals and their owners; to toothless street people and miserable cubicle rats like Dilbert.

“Be kind” is a broad, decisive, sweeping command. It makes no exceptions, invites no quibbling. Usui Founder doesn’t say, “Do it if.” He says, “Just do it.”

The Catholic Church in its ancient wisdom says the same thing in a different way: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

I hate Jerry Sandusky’s sin. But unlike the Church, I’m not big enough to love him, the sinner. I really have to fight that “eye for an eye” urge in his case, even though I can see his own appalling innocence. But I also acknowledge that Usui Founder and Gandhiji and the Church are wiser than I am. I certainly don’t want my own thoughts or actions to make the whole world blind!

Just for today, be kind.

All content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.

What is the change you wish to see in the world? August 23, 2011

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”


I know you’ve seen this inspiring Gandhi quote many times. But have you considered it from a Reiki perspective? What is the change you wish to see in the world? If you’re a Reiki practitioner, surely it’s to see the world manifest its Reiki nature. And that means, to be the change, you have to manifest your Reiki nature, to be the embodiment of Reiki, to become living Reiki.

Easy to say, but how do you do that? Fortunately, Usui Founder gave us tools to help us do just that: the Reiki Principles, the attunements and reiju, Reiki self-healing and hands-on or distant sessions from fellow practitioners, the Reiki symbols, and a series of practices like hatsurei-ho. Each of these can take you deeper into Reiki. Used faithfully in concert, they can take Reiki deeper into you. Or, more accurately, they can reveal the Reiki nature that has always been in you.

As Gandhiji says, to manifest Reiki to the world, you must first become aware of it in yourself. Use the tools to see it. Once you see it, be it. And remember: It is already there.

Excerpted from Living Reiki. All content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.

Listen to Gandhi. July 18, 2011

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“As heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.”

                 —Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi pioneered the concept of ahimsa, nonviolence, the opposite of boiling over in anger and blindly striking out. Yet he referred to conserving anger as “the one supreme lesson.” Gandhi realized that there were far more effective ways to channel the boundless energy unleashed by anger, as have leaders like Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, and Nelson Mandela after him.

Usui Founder recognized this important life lesson long before Gandhiji, codifying it into one of his Five Reiki Principles, which you may know as Ideals or Precepts:

Just for today, don’t get angry.