Updated: Apr 4
The other day I was on a facebook group about Reiki. One post in particular caught my eye. It was from a teacher, and said this (translated from Italian):
Reiju is the technique with which the teacher transfers to the student, at a subtle level, the ability to practice Reiki.
I think there are many ways to understand that the above statement is incorrect.
For example, one could wonder, if we need a teacher to give us the ability to practice Reiki, then who enabled Mikao Usui? He created the system of Reiki so it's fair to assume he didn't have a Reiki teacher who transferred something to him.
Another helpful way to look at this is to simply use the term "universal energy", instead of "Reiki", in the same sentence. So that statement would read: "It's impossible to channel universal energy without a teacher", which basically means we would all be dead.
Of course we could also think about the third and fourth symbols of the system of Reiki, both of which point us to consider that our original nature, our inner luminosity, is non-dual, and therefore how can it be that the teacher has the light, and the student does not?
So, what is Reiju? How does it work?
In Western Reiki lineages, traditionally there is a distinction between attunement and Reiju (霊授).
Attunement is the ritual that gets you started with Reiki, and Reiju is a blessing that you might get at a Reiki share, or some other group gathering.
The word attunement for me is an unfortunate choice, because it seems to suggest that we need to be "attuned to something", and we need a teacher, who is supposed to be "already in tune", to transfer that something onto us. The word attunement, therefore, seems to be in line with what stated in that facebook post.
It's worth noting that Ms. Takata called it initiation, which is a much better word than attunement. It points out that what you get, when you train in the system of Reiki, is an initial experience of it, and the teacher is there to facilitate it; to help you feel that inner luminosity which is already inside of you (otherwise it wouldn't be your original nature).
In the Japanese tradition of Reiki though, there is only Reiju. There are different rituals, but the essence is all the same. Same juice, different juice box.
By investigating a little bit the meaning of this word, Reiju, we can clearly understand how it works.
Rei (霊) is the same as in Reiki. Some of its many meanings are soul; divine; spirit.
But in this case the interesting bit lies in the kanji Ju (授).
Normally translated with blessing, or offering, Ju also means: "to give and receive at the same time (something that cannot be bought)".
This translation points straight to non-duality; the concept of simultaneously giving and receiving, as if ultimately there was no giver, no receiver, and nothing to give.
For me, the teacher performs a ritual while being in a state of mind and heart of interconnectedness with the student. Out of that "contact", the student can perceive her own inner luminosity, her own True Self; she can become aware of it.
If we take a closer look at the Ju kanji 授, we can see it's formed by the left radical "hand", 扌, and the kanji 受, also pronounced Ju. What I find very interesting is that in the "Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Terms" by Hisao Inagaki, one of the descriptions of the kanji 受 is: "Perception that arises out of contact with external objects".
I think that explains beautifully the way a Reiju works and how, through the ritual and the "contact" with the teacher, the perception of their own inner luminosity arises within the students.
That, to me, is the initial experience that we have discussed above. And when we understand Reiju this way, then we also understand why normally there are four of them in a level 1. It is important to help students have as many of those experiences as possible.
After the Reiki training, it is up to the students to nurture that initial experience by deepening their awareness day by day, through diligent practice. Mikao Usui instructed us to "Practice diligently" because without practice, that initial experience soon becomes like the flavour of something we tasted long ago, too long in fact, to be able to recall it.
I guess what tickled me of that original post, is not so much the fact that the author hasn't grasped what Reiju is really about. What tickled me are those words in the middle: "at a subtle level".
When a teacher says "at a subtle level", it actually might be that they genuinely mean it and know what they are talking about. Sometimes it simply isn't possible to describe something, because the explanation doesn't belong to the realm of language. Some things can only be found in the realm of experience. In that case a teacher might resort to using expressions like "at a subtle level", and the likes, to at least point students in the right direction.
Other times though, teachers who lack the direct experience needed to support the concepts they are trying to explain, hide behind mysterious expressions like these, because such expressions are not likely to encourage questions from students.
So, keep this in mind: Mikao Usui said that everything in the universe possesses Reiki without exception. Therefore Reiki is your birthright. No-one can give it to you, no-one can take it away. A good teacher will guide you. First they will help you have an initial experience of your own True Self, your own inner luminosity. Then, they will support you and nurture you while you consolidate that experience through your own personal practice.
This should also clarify why, at the International School of Usui Reiki, we offer Reiju during Reiki shares. It's just a way to help participants experience their own True Self, even if just for a brief moment.
Those experiences accumulate, and little drops make the mighty ocean.