Biography of Mikao Usui
There are many contradictions and unknowns about the life of Mikao Usui, who was the founder of Reiki. There is an official version of his biography that makes sense for those who are practitioners of this healing and spiritual discipline.
However, after consulting different sources and recalling what I myself heard when I received my own initiation into Reiki, Dr. Usui´s life could be part of the best script of a good movie. Limiting ourselves to the strictest objetivity, there is no a direct knowledge of his life. That´s why there are so many myths and legends around him, some of them quite surprising. Until the mid-nineties, very little was known of the history of this man, not even the dates of his birth or death.
Mikao Usui was born on August 15th, 1865 in the village of Taniai in Japan. We know the date of his birth because it appears on a memorial stone that stands beside his tomb. In that gravestone it is written that he had a wide knowledge about history and medicine. It is also written he had a vast knowledge about the buddhist sutras and the Bible. The knowledge of these two spiritual disciplines helped him obviously to develop his spiritual habits and practices, because from an early age he was a searcher for a meaning in life.
Because he had a deep knowledge of the Bible, it was said that he was a professor of theology at the University of Kyoto. But Dr. Usui was not a priest. His religion was Buddhism. During one of his classes, a student asked him if he really believed that Jesus had performed healing by laying his hands. Dr. Usui said yes. Then that student asked if he had ever witnessed a similar event and if he knew how that technique worked. Not knowing the answer, Mikao Usui resigned his teaching position and he decided to travel around the world to study constantly to gather such knowledge. This way he could answer that question.
According to tradition, when a teacher is unable to answer a question from a student, he is forced to leave his teaching position until he reachs the answer that the student needs. Mikao Usui traveled to USA looking for this knowledge and there he studied ancient languages trying to get a better translation from the texts about Jesus´ healings. But he found nothing in the New Testament. What he found were indications of similar miracles performed by Buddha in various sutras. Therefore, Dr. Usui returned to Japan where he studied sanskrit before traveling to Tibet to consult directly the original sources in monasteries, where he stayed living with the monks.
After many years of learning and several trips, he acquired knowledge in many fields and he realized the ultimate purpose of life, to achive self-realization, a state that despite the ups and downs in life, you are able to maintain a state of absolute serenity and peace. He then began searching for this unperturbed state through the study of Zen. He spent several years practicing Zazen in a temple in Kyoto, but it did not help him to achieve his goal. However, Mikao Usui never surrendered and all the difficulties strengthened his determination to reach the goal of his search.
In March 1922, he began fasting on Mount Kurama (a sacred mountain of Japan) determined to attain enlightenment through spiritual practices in extreme conditions. He did not mind risking his own life in the pursuit of his personal goal. Mount Kurama is 25 kilometers north of Kyoto. There he undertook a period of meditation and fasting for 22 days, following the tradition of the old masters. His goal was to seek the purification and clarification needed to achieve the enlightenment and the answer to all those questions that had driven him to such a long journey. Mikao Usui brought with him just a few sutras, a goatskin canteen with water and 21 stones that will serve him as a calendar. Every morning he picked up a stone and he threw it down the hill to know that another day had passed and not to lose the count. Days went by and Dr. Usui, in absolute fast, sat to meditate under the shelter of the pines surrounded by the sound of the forest while praying and singing hymns. He read the sutras without stopping. He was determined not to leave that place until he reached enlightenment or he could give an answer to that question that student had done years ago.
Fasting and meditation expanded the boundaries of his consciousness and, on the morning of day 21st, Mikao had a vision through which he glimpsed an intense white light that hit his head projecting him out of his body. Then he saw many lights in the form of colored bubbles. These bubbles contained within a series of symbols whose meaning and use he understood instantly.
When the trance ended, Mikao Usui felt full of energy, very strong, very different even if he had spent 21 days fasting. With enthusiasm he got up and he started to walk down the mountain to return to the Zen monastery where he lived. While he was walking down, Dr. Usui hit his foot strongly against a stone. He hurt a toe that was bleeding heavily. Instinctively he laid his hands on his injured foot and the pain disappeared soon and the bleeding stopped. Along with the enlightenment, Mikao Usui also received the gift of healing. He used this gift for himself and his family after discovering that the effects are manifested quickly. Reiki was born.