The word "Reiki" has been translated in different ways but the Reiki is "True Self." Think about it, the word "Reiki" literally translates as spiritual energy. But then we have to ask ourselves: What and where is this spiritual energy? Is it outside of us, is it inside us, or is it both?
If it is outside of us, then we see that spirituality is very external, never looking within, never looking at the real issues. If we think it is only inside us, then we start to forget about others; we become more selfish. But if after investigation we start to realize that spiritual energy is both inside and outside of ourselves, we start to get a much better picture of what it really embodies.
However, we can go even deeper than experiencing that it is both inside and outside of ourselves: we can start to rediscover that this spiritual energy is neither inside nor outside of ourselves; it is all-encompassing.
Imagine an empty glass jar; we might think that the space inside the jar is very different than the space outside the jar, but what if we take a hammer and smash the jar to pieces? Can we still say what space was inside or outside the jar?
No, because the space inside and outside the jar has mingled and we cannot distinguish them; we could say, they have become of one taste. Another word for this experience of “one taste” is nonduality.
This nondual experience is our True Self, who we really are without the boundaries of the ego. This is spiritual energy. This is Reiki, our True Self.
We can also use the image of a chick in an egg; when the chick breaks the shell, the space inside and outside become the same.
However, and this is a very important point, the chick breaks the shell from the inside out. This is the same within our own spiritual rediscovery of our True Self: it needs to come from the inside out. This is why all spiritual teachings are about going inwards. However, there is one difficulty within this teaching, and that is that we cannot show someone their True Self. Why not?
This is because the True Self, like the space inside and outside the jar, is very difficult to point out. How can we point out space? We can’t hold it, it has no color or smell, and so how can we say to someone, “Look, here it is”?
Therefore the masters of old used poetry, symbols, rituals, cryptic words and sounds as signposts to point us towards our True Self. Often we forget that these signposts are just that: signposts, pointing us towards our True Self.
We often get distracted by the signposts themselves. We start to say things like, “This signpost is so powerful, we always have to use it!” We hug the signpost, never letting it go, instead of looking at where the signpost is pointing to: our True Self.
Within Mikao Usui’s teachings we find five signposts:
- The Precepts
- Meditation Techniques
- Symbols and Mantras
- Hands-on Healing
All of these five signposts are pointing towards our True Self. This rediscovering of our True Self in Japan is called "anshin ritsumei" or "satori." By following these signposts, one day we will be like the jar: we will smash through the barrier of separateness and realize our nondual nature, our True Self.
At this point we have become Reiki and our practice moves from “doing Reiki” to “Being Reiki.” This is the inner heart of the system of Reiki: how to embody Being Reiki.
Our Great Bright Light
Mikao Usui used a wonderful metaphor for our True Self within his teachings and that is our own innate great bright light. Our True Self is always bright no matter what happens.
Imagine a lamp with a lampshade over it; if we place more lampshades over the light it looks like the light is diminishing. If we take all the lampshades off, it looks like the light becomes stronger. But in reality the light itself didn’t diminish or become brighter, it stayed the same.
This is the same with our True Self, our great bright light. When we practice the meditation practices it looks like our light becomes brighter, and when we get angry, for example, it looks like our light diminishes. But in reality our light is always bright.
We might say that during our practice we become clearer, or that we can connect to more energy, but from the viewpoint of our True Self, our great bright light, there is nothing to enhance or improve.
To realize this straight away is very difficult. Mikao Usui understood this too, and therefore he created a specific system of teachings so that one day we can lay bare our great bright light.
Let’s go back to the image of a lamp with many lampshades. What if we start to take the lampshades away—what will happen? It looks like our light becomes brighter, but what else? Our light becomes great, because each time we take a lampshade away our light will shine out farther and farther.
This has a huge impact on our compassion to others, because now our light will be able to touch all sentient beings. And all sentient beings, if they want, can benefit from this light.