March 2022 marks the 100 year anniversary of Mikao Usui's enlightenment experience, but who is Mikao Usui, and why is he relevant?
Mikao Usui was born August 15, 1865 in the village of Taniai near present day Nagoya, Japan. In his younger years he had an interest in martial arts, and when older he pursued an interest in travel to further his education. His curriculum included medicine, psychology and religion, divination and developing psychic abilities.
Fascinated in spirituality since childhood, Usui wanted to experience a special state of enlightenment, known as An-shin Ritsu-mei. An-shin Ritsu-mei is a state of peace irrespective of what is taking place in the outside world. Usui decided to dedicate his life to achieving this state, so he sought himself a Zen teacher and began to practice Zazen meditation.
A severe practice
After three years, the state of study An-shin Ritsu-mei continued to elude Usui, so he consulted his teacher for help. His teacher suggested a severe practice that required the student to be willing to die (it is not sure if actual death was suggested or simply a death of the ego) through fasting, a common practice in spiritual development known to activate the pineal gland.
In February 1922, Usui went to Mount Kurama, a sacred mountain north of Kyoto to do penance, meditate and fast till he transitioned to the next world. This practise is called kushu shniren on the memorial stone. It is a form of shugyo or ‘sever training’ which is an aspect of Shugendō training ("the way to spiritual power through discipline.").
As time passed, he became weaker and weaker until midnight on the 21st day it is thought he experienced a "great bright light" entering the top of his head, as if he had been struck by lightning. He fell unconscious, and when he woke he realised that he was filled with this extraordinary spiritual energy.
The inscription on his memorial stone says:
‘Suddenly on the twenty first day from the start, he felt a great REIKI over his head, and at the same time as he was spiritually awakened, he acquired the REIKI cure. When he tried it on his own body and members of his family also, it brought an immediate result on them.’
Delighted he had reached enlightenment, Usui went running down the mountain to share with his teacher. On the way, he stubbed his toe on one of the many protruding tree roots. In a reflex response he put his hands to his throbbing toe and experienced this incredible healing energy. The pain went away, and Usui realised that in addition to achieving enlightenment, he had also received the gift of healing.
It was then Usui realised healing and teaching others was his life purpose.
Usui's relevance now
Usui is seen as the founder for the most popular form of Reiki healing (there were others that pre-dated him) that is taught and practiced across the globe.
His 5 part healing system that focuses on spiritual development is a pathway to enlightenment that has a timeless appeal. Millions of practitioners across the world now have learnt and practice this form of self-help and spirituality to support their mental and physical health, and that of their loved ones.
To honour Usui's enlightenment experience, I am hosting an online webinar to bring practitioners together and celebrate a pioneer in the advancement of energy healing. To attend this free webinar, sign up below. To find out more about Reiki, or book yourself a session, go here.