ENCOUNTERS WITH MY MASTERS

June 1994, Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki 1 training. I’m here because I don’t believe in it. The Reiki master, a nice and cheerful woman, enters. At my initiation, it merely feels like something is lightly pulling on my hair. We practice. I feel nothing when I treat other people. When I am being treated, I can feel that. It probably works for them, but not for me. At the end of the day, I decide not to return the following day. The Reiki master calls out to me: “You are coming tomorrow, right?” – Of course, I lie to her. I leave, get on the bus, and then suddenly it feels as if both of my palms were punctured, I feel an extremely powerful energy flow through them. I stare at them in awe… I went back the following day.

June 1996. I see a Reiki master in another city whose behaviour shocks me. I feel that I have to talk to my Reiki master. I ask her: “What’s going on with Reiki?” The answer is sincere. In her opinion, half of the system is missing, or got lost along the way. Two of the four symbols of Reiki are not original or may have been lost and replaced by Takata Sensei. She tells me that many people have approached her to initiate them as Reiki masters, but in her opinion, some of them were not mature enough; however, they were initiated by others. Another master searches in books to understand what masters should be like and mimics what she has read. Everyone feels that Reiki may have been a spiritual path and that they are not actually masters, because not one of them is enlightened. There is nothing for her to do, but to keep it pure and select who can be a Reiki master as her student and who cannot. As I listen to her, I think to myself: so the fault cannot be in Reiki… I decide to become a Reiki master and help preserve what is left of Usui Shiki Ryoho and keep it pure.

June 1997. My Reiki master insists that I should have a real-life master of a spiritual linage, so I choose to practice traditional Zen. My first Zen retreat lasts for 5 days. During the first night I have difficulty sleeping. A few people asked for a night practice so they wouldn’t sleep at all – neither would the Master. I don’t understand. She has her son here, or rather, her son is here separately, since his mother spends the whole day with us, from dawn until midnight, moreover, when people ask for a night practice, she willingly agrees. She came here from Vienna, and after 5 days of practice, she leaves for Prague. The European Center has a limited number of masters, and they visit one country after another to lead 5-day practices and travel to the next city or country… Occasionally, they lead 100-day retreats! What kind of life is that? All of a sudden, I realize how much the masters sacrifice for us, and I cry out loudly because my soul aches. This is what the masters’ lives are like, I think. Would I be able to live a life like this? No. If I achieve enlightenment, I won’t travel the world. If people want to find me, they will. If no one finds me, that’s fine as well. I just want my life to be all right. The next day, during my first koan interview, I have a satori. I’m eternally grateful for it.

July 1997. Tomorrow I’ll become a Reiki master! Upon the request of my Master, I am fasting for 24 hours beforehand; I do not drink or speak. I spend half the night meditating. My Master asked me to take a vow, but nothing comes to my mind. All of a sudden, I have two intuitions: the entire original Reiki system still exists in Japan, and Usui Sensei must have made notes and those notes can be found. At this point, I take a vow: I am going to Japan and find these documents. The following day, I became a Reiki master, and a week later I started learning Japanese.

Summer 1998. My Zen master visits Hungary. The reason of her visit is that a Hungarian monk, who has been practicing for 10 years with Zen master Seungsahn in Korea, will receive ‘inka’, which means that he will become a teacher. He can soon return to Hungary and he is set out to become the leader and teacher of the Hungarian Sangha. Some old practitioners, who wished to be the first Hungarian Zen masters, are now devastated. A lot of anger arises and a debate begins: Do practitioners need a master to be able to practice Zen or not? We do not need a master, some say. I ask to speak. I tell them where there is no spiritual master, practitioners are in trouble. We need masters who went down the path and know it, and know the dangers of the side pathways, and can protect us from getting lost. The spiritual path can be dangerous. The Zen master asks them to stay quiet and hear me out. I also tell them that the reason why my Reiki master has sent me here to practice is that she is only familiar with one part of the path, but when it comes to other parts, she can no longer assist me. In Usui Shiki Ryoko, a Reiki master often stumbles, since people usually become masters early, way too early when they are not familiar with the whole spiritual path in its entirety. I list them all the things that have happened to some of the Reiki masters I know: suicide attempt, dying young, going mad, one of them has recently gone to prison after a just sentence and so on and so forth. Then we vote: The Hungarian Sangha remains part of the international one. The Zen master dismisses the Hungarian abbot. Three new abbots are appointed, to my surprise, one of them is me.

Spring 1999. I have teacher, a spiritual master who is over 80 years old. She prophesized that I would indeed achieve enlightenment. But when? I grow impatient. I have been meditating for many years. Besides Reiki, I practice Zen two times a day for six hours every day, I lead the local sangha, I treat patients using Reiki, I teach Eastern philosophy classes at the adult education center on the weekends, I have been raising four children, and I am very tired. I tell her that I am often irritated and impatient. Yesterday, I yelled at one of my stepsons for the first time in my life.

She looks at me with loving eyes:

– But you were really tired, weren’t you?

– I was. When can I finally rest?

She looks at me kindly again:

– In the grave, son… We, teachers, can only rest in the grave. See, I am past 83, but when you arrive, I get out of bed, I get ready – I can’t greet you with unkempt hair, can I?

I thought that if I achieved enlightenment, I would indeed rest. I thought I would find a mountain where I could live after my children have all grown up. I would live there by myself chopping wood, drinking water from the spring, meditating, contemplating and just being…

2000-2001: I experience the Dark Night of the Soul. It is the lowest point of my existence. I see no way out. It is the lowest point financially as well. I feel like my whole life is a failure. I will never become a master. I have no hope. My masters cannot help – they helped me so far, but now I have to go through this alone. I have panic attacks. But I think of what I have promised myself about finding the origins of Reiki… I am not finished yet. This helps me get up.

2002. I have an intuition again. I see a mountain that is calling me. I tell my Reiki master. She does not know what it means.

In 2004, I realize that I saw Mount Kurama where Usui Sensei meditated. I tell my Reiki master – she doesn’t think that the mountain I saw was Mount Kurama.

May 2005. Today I defend my thesis titled ‘The Real History of Reiki’. I even received important material from Japan to be included. In the thesis, I present the teachings of Usui Shiki Ryoho and another theory as well, which states that Reiki actually originates from Tibet. According to the theory, Usui Sensei spent time in Tibet and studied there. My Reiki master is sure that this latter theory is indeed the truth. My thesis refutes these statements and presents the real history of Reiki based on original Japanese sources. I sent my thesis to my Reiki master some days before defending my thesis. She had been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for years. They call me in, my Reiki master stands outside the room where recognized experts are sitting as members of the committee. All she says is “I hope you realize that there is no way to defend your thesis.” I smile at her and say that I used original sources and I will defend it. My opponent is the rector of the University and an Usui Shiki Ryoho master who had been initiated years earlier by my Master. I successfully prove that my sources are original works. They were written in the classical Japanese language of the time period. Even the translations I did are certified. The opponent congratulates me. Hours later, my Reiki master calls – she also congratulates me.

December 2007. I gather my initiated students and announce that there are growing concerns regarding Usui Shiki Ryoho. Between 2005 and 2007, we had several meetings with the Hungarian masters and we tried to find a solution. They could not propose viable solutions for the issues. Neither could the Reiki Alliance. I tell my students that I will no longer continue teaching Usui Shiki Ryoho. I would like to travel to Japan to learn the original Usui Reiki from a Japanese master in Japanese. I will go to Japan as a beginner, not in the capacity of a master. I have no way of knowing how much time it would take, I may never teach again, only practice. They are free to find a new master. Several Hungarian Reiki masters tell me that what I want cannot be achieved, the original organization does not welcome Westerners – but I feel that this is my path. My students support me. The Usui Spiritual Lernejo community is established. I once again receive letters from old Hungarian Reiki masters: Two of them had been to Japan before, they asked around but found no trace of Reiki or Usui Sensei. If they failed, I don’t stand a chance, they say. I go to my Reiki master and tell her I won’t teach Usui Shiki Ryoho in the future. She takes it very calmly.

Japan, 2008. We were finally able to find connections in Japan and made it there! We visit Mount Kurama as well. As we ascend from the mountain, I feel a very intense flow of Reiki energy. I stop and surrender myself to the energy, I bathe in it and then I start crying… Ever since that experience, I am able to develop master-disciple relationships. In Japan we can learn six practices from the Japanese Reiki and translate 10 Meiji poems with the help of a professional interpreter. We can attend the practice session of a Japanese master. We are taken to the grave of Usui Sensei, and we pay our respects in line with the Japanese rituals. Back home, many Hungarian Reiki masters welcome the practices wholeheartedly and we practice them together. My Reiki master is not among them. She sends me a message saying that I should accept that Reiki is not a spiritual path.

Japan, 2010. I receive training on Japanese etiquette, it is tough. After a 3-week period with little sleep, I am finally introduced to the masters. They tell me: they would be able to help me, but they would prefer if I learned from their master. The following day, they take me to a meeting of Reiki masters. They introduce me to an old master. He has enormous Reiki energy around him and he is humble. I can feel that he is a real Master. I can finally deliver to him our official letter asking him to undertake teaching our community or if possible, to send us a master to do so. He promises to help us. Then I have the chance to get familiar with the whole Usui system. We practice together. I receive initiations from several Japanese masters applying the original method. I take home with me the internal publication of the original organization and in addition 5 books, including a work on Reiki written by one of Usui Sensei’s students. We treasure these books.

June 2014. I soon travel to Japan again, and I may become a master there. I wanted to say goodbye to my Hungarian Reiki master, as I feel that it would be the last time we meet. She tells me that she no longer practices Tibetan Buddhism, because she thinks they are mostly after the money. She found a new guru, who is a Chinese Chan Buddhist. She thinks that it would be beneficial for me as well since Reiki is not a spiritual path. I thank her for being my teacher. I would very much like to help her, since now I know the path and I know where she got stuck – but she wouldn’t accept help from me.

October 2014. I became a master in Japan. When my Japanese Reiki master enters, the whole room is filled with Reiki energy… The training is being held in Japanese. I am grateful for receiving the entitlement to be a master from him. I am truly honored. In Japan, Reiki remained a spiritual path with real masters. Moreover, now we have the means to preserve and maintain it.

October 2016: Two of my students became Reiki masters initiated by my Japanese master. We visit the place where Usui Sensei meditated on Mount Kurama and we meditate there as well. We are taken to the house where Usui Sensei was born and to the place where he practiced with his first students. We go there together with many other masters from the West. They also fulfilled their dream of learning Japanese Reiki, many of them sooner than we did. And that is excellent. Japanese Reiki quietly appears in many countries, even though the others are more likely to teach a mixed system of Western and Japanese Reiki. I was looking for the original one. I took a vow to do so.

September 2018: The Memorial Stone of Usui Sensei is inaugurated in Japan. Everyone who supported the construction of the memorial site is invited. Afterwards the event is made public as well as the photos, and the name of our organization is clearly visible among the Reiki organizations supporting the erection of the memorial stone. It is indeed an honor.

2019. I am 52 years old. I travel the world and visit the places where people wish to restore the foundations of Reiki. This is what we embarked upon. The three of us, we don’t teach in our home country, as we set out to reach all the countries in the world. Two of us started teaching in Asia and its neighborhood, our third master teaches in Europe for the time being. When will I meet those masters of mine who have shown me the way from above by sending me mystical intuitions? – I do not know. They are not here, they don’t have a physical body. I am ready to stand before them anytime, to have my life and my actions judged and assessed, to assume responsibility for my mistakes.

Until then – I travel the world and teach where I’m needed.