Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reiki Newsletter-October 2012

All these years, I’ve intentionally postponed writing about the 4th Reiki principle: “Work hard”, “ be honest in your work”, or in a different interpretation “be true to your Way”. I was waiting to fully experience and materialize it in my life before attempting to write about it. How ironic, at a time when I was feeling least competent about this principle, I was asked to talk about it in this month’s Reiki gathering. So, here are my thoughts...

We are each distinct, unique individuals and are born with a blueprint of a unique purpose and a gift to offer to Universe. I believe that we will all, one day, evolve to be fully aligned with our true nature. At that time, we will all manifest ourselves in what we do, and what we do will be a true expression of who we are. Until then, we have work to do, and it is hard work. That hard work will get us to manifest our true selves into what we do every day.

This principle, sometimes interpreted as “being honest in your work”, doesn’t mean not stealing or not lying (well that too, of course); but manifesting our purpose on Earth requires lots of honesty. It starts with being honest to what we like and more importantly what we don’t like. It starts with being conscious about our likes and dislikes and doing things that makes us happy and excelling in them, while staying away from things we don’t like.

Working hard also means giving ourselves fully to what we do, being one with what we do, and reflecting ourselves in everything we do. In other words, we should not compartmentalize our lives into family life, work life and spiritual life, but bring our full selves into every aspect of our lives every day. Thinking this way gives us ample practice opportunity every day; a stay at home mom can manifest working hard in being mindful while doing laundry or cooking with love and care; a real estate agent can manifest it by not only selling more homes but finding the perfect home for his/her clients, etc.

“Working hard” or “being honest in our work”, eventually gets us to “being true to our Way” .

Little more than ten years ago, I decided to work hard on myself. I thought about what I want to explore, excel and conquer at that stage in my life. I started with a 3-bullet-point-to-do list.

1) Explore: Learn Reiki 1

2) Excel: Explore Yoga teacher trainings

3) Conquer: Complete the Tai-Chi form

Based on that, I can say, I did pretty well. I learned Reiki. I became a Yoga teacher and I completed my Tai-Chi form.

I really liked working on myself. The next year, I added short term and long term goals into my to-do list. The year after that besides the things that I had worked on myself, I added things that I needed to do for others, finding ways to help and serve others with the work I do. The following year, I added a few columns for clear objectives, goals, strategies and measures for the work on myself. The next year, I had a breakthrough. Now that I had a comprehensive list of things to work hard on and I was proud of my list, I decided to show it to a friend of mine who is a Life coach. She praised my life plan. However she said there is something terribly missing in it. She asked me what I do every day. I said, I wake up, meditate, get ready and leave for work. She asked me how long I work every day. I said 8 hours, if I’m lucky. She smiled. She asked me how come there is NOTHING in my proud-life-plan-to-do-list, about my day job. I chuckled and said, “Of course, that’s not my life purpose, I enjoy working, I try my best, I’m paid for it, but that’s about it, that’s not my life purpose. I said “My life plan to-do-list is what I really enjoy doing”. She nodded and said, “But then you have to find a way to express yourself in what you do every day until you fully manifest what you really like to do”. Otherwise, she said, the time I spend in my day job is a waste of time. I thought about what she said. She was right. I had no clue how to align what I do at my daily job with what I enjoyed doing.

I won’t go into details, but first I moved to the “Services” division of the company I work for. I thought that might be a good start, if my purpose is to “serve”. One thing led to another, and eight years after that conversation with my friend, I finally felt like I was doing the most meaningful day job in my whole career. I started working for environmental sustainability, waste and water consumption reduction. Not only that, I started teaching stress reduction techniques in off-site meetings, breathwork and I started moderating weekly lunchtime meditation sessions at our corporate headquarters. Finally I was starting to materialize what I like to do, in my day job.

However, recently I bumped into a deeper question. I realized there is a deeper conflict with what I do, and my life purpose. I also realized that it’s not time to move on for me yet, and my current work will be a test of staying calm in the midst of a storm. I trust that is what I need to practice right now and that only when I am ready, I will move on.

What I realized through this experience was: it’s not as important what our day job is, what’s important is how we express ourselves in that work, and how we “work hard” by bringing ourselves fully into what we do and “being honest in our work” until eventually our work manifests our purpose and we are “true to our Way”.

I fully trust we’ll all manifest our life purpose in what we do, all day, every day... one day :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reiki Newsletter-September 2012

Reiki is like the sun. It shines upon regardless. We give it labels, names and make it our own practice; pretty much like everything else. We call it Japanese Reiki, Western Reiki, Komyo Reiki, etc. Please first recognize that what I write here is my own impressions of Komyo Reiki, with my limited human mind and thru my own filters of experiences. Also, no one style is better or worse than another. If I give any impressions otherwise, I give you a free pass to kick me.

Having said that, few of us from Cincinnati went to a Komyo Reiki retreat in Catskill mountains in Dai Bosatsu Zen Monastery with Hyakuten Sensei, founder of Komyo Reiki.

Hyakuten Sensei is a 72 years old independent Japanese Buddhist monk who often comes to US to teach Komyo reiki, his style and interpretation of Reiki. He really doesn’t show his age at all. It must be his practice! I found him truly genuine, humble and unifying. He is very informal, easy going, funny but keeps the personal boundaries well (we’re deeply grateful for him sharing some insights of his personal life).

Going there with friends from Cincinnati and especially meeting there with old friends from my first Reiki Master class made the experience extra fun. The drive up to Catskills and the location ROCKED !

Old friends, organizer of Komyo Reiki class Thin Thin, Zeynep and Rupan together. Kudos to Thin thin this would not be possible without her efforts.

We had a Zen monastery experience within the Reiki retreat which I’d like to talk little bit, because it was totally an AWESOME experience. Again, here beware of the duality. It might be an awesome experience for me but for some, I’m sure it might quite be painful, waking up at 5 am and having to sit thru Zazen and eating formal breakfast at the monastery. By the way, if you’re ever invited to a formal meal at a Zen Monastery; think twice before accepting it :-) We took a 1 hour orientation and training on how to behave and eat a breakfast. I’m telling you, it’s quite an ordeal. You need to learn how to enter the temple, how to bow and prostrate, how to sit down properly, how to handle your prayer books (book is not bound and you might create quite a mess if you don’t hold it properly) and after Zazen, how to grab your jihatsu bowls (breakfast bowls) and walk to dining hall.

We all waited in a single line, the way we sat at the monastery, waiting for the gongs and bells to indicate we can go in. Once all sits down at the dining hall, we started with prayers, properly removed the bowls from the folded cloth, properly handle the sticks (if placed on the table, the pointed tips at a 30 degree angle, facing the south east corner of the table). Did I mention sitting at Seiza (sitting on knees) during this whole time? We all took it very seriously and tried our best but I’m sure we all had some accidents. I forgot to donate 7 grains before I started eating the food. At some point I saw a pair of chopsticks flying but we all hold our laughs. I never tried eating a rice soup with chopsticks before and there were people who never used chopsticks at all. We were all good sports. I was so relieved when I saw the monks gulping the soup down, so I did the same. Otherwise, it could take half day to eat every rice grain in the bowl. Yet the most stressful part was to wash our bowls with the tea offered, and trying to remember how to wash each bowl (pour tea to 1st bowl and pour half of it to the second and then wash the 3rd bowl in 2nd bowl, dry with the towel and wash the second bowl in 1st, dry with the towel, drink and clean tour 1st bowl). After all, wish that all bowls are clean for the next day! We were all stressed the first day but I think we loosened up the second day. I bet we’d be experts the 3rd day but it was the day for informal breakfast. The lunch and dinners were outstanding. It was informal where we dig ourselves to truly amazing vegetarian food.

I deeply bow to the monks and residents for embracing us and their patience and enthusiasm to share their beautiful space, monastery and surroundings with us.

As for the Reiki section of the experience… Ahh expectations….Apparently I went there with some expectations (too bad): It was finding out perspective of a Buddhist monk and deepening connections between Reiki and Japanese culture, Buddhist teachings and practices.

I expected to find links to Japanese spiritual practices and how they impacted Reiki pillars. I was disappointed when Hyakuten-san said upfront the first day that the only connection he could find between Reiki and Buddhism was the similarity of 2nd symbol (which represents Amitahba Buddha). It took me a while to set my expectations aside and listen to what he has to say.

If I want to summarize Hyakuten-san’s style; it’s "simplicity". Komyo Reiki motto is: “Place your hands, Surrender to Universe, Smile”. Hyakuten-san emphasized “simplicity of practice” many times during the class. He says “Reiki is art of Surrendering”. I also liked his analogy of “two wheels”. physical healing and spiritual practice go hand in hand. If you don’t develop both wheels equally, the cart won’t go. He also said upfront that, this is “his style of Reiki”.

He learned Reiki from Yamaguchi-san, who passed away in 2003. She was one of the Reiki Masters who learned Reiki directly from Hayashi-san. Hyakuten-san uses symbols as he learned from Mrs. Yamaguchi. Well the story gets little confusing here. Hayashi-san thought different symbols to Yamaguchi-san and yet gave different symbols to Ms. Takata. There is a little conspiracy there that Hayashi-san didn’t want to give the real symbols to Mrs. Takata. As I said, don’t worry about catching the story and honestly it really doesn’t matter. After all, the shape of symbols doesn’t matter either (that’s what Hyakuten-san writes in his manual as well), for me it’s all about what they represent and what energies they invoke. However Hyakuten-san interpreted symbols just as in Western Reiki, as external tools. I couldn’t find any interpretation on what personal transformation practicing the symbols brings in one’s spiritual path (especially as the way I learned and practice now). That was little disappointing (ahhh expectations again!). However, having said that, it’s not fully fair because I didn’t meditate on his symbols yet. I should probably play with them little bit and feel the difference between his and Ms. Takata’s symbols. Yet, his explanation of the function of each symbol was exactly the same as the Takata (Western) symbols.

Hyakuten-san shared some interesting facts about Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and history of Reiki.

- Mikao Usui was not Tendai but a Pure land Buddhist and was buried in a Pure Land Buddhist cemetery. He said it’s not common for families to change sects in Japan (if people believe his family changed from Tendai to Pure Land).

- There are no records for Hayashi-san being a medical doctor. It’s true that he was a Naval officer though. It’s true that he committed suicide. Nobody knows why.

- The 3rd symbol was originally intended for transcending distance not time, however it works to heal past and to send energy to future too.

- Feeling Byosen (the sick line) was the criteria to move to next level in Reiki traditionally.

- 21 day self-healing practice is useful, but there is no such official practice in URRG.

- The correct way of pronouncing 3rd symbol is Hon Ja Ze Sho Nen (Ja not Sha).

- Hyakuten-san gave a nice refresher on Japanese techniques, and demo on patting technique.

Even though he is not a member, Hyakuten-san was invited to one of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai meetings. I completely agree with Hyakuten-san that, today’s Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, is not acting in spirit of Usui Sensei. Usui-san wanted to share this gift with everyone. He trained over 2000 students and shared Reiki in every way he could. What’s the reason for this secrecy today? If URRG believe they have the original teachings, why don’t they train new practitioners? Oh well, I’m sure they have their own reasons.

Coming back to Komyo Reiki; Hyakuten-san teaches Reiki in 4 levels: Shoden, Chuden, Okuden, Shinpiden. Despite his emphasize on simplicity, his attunement process is quite elaborate. There is a long attunement, a short attunement and an open Reiju (a shorter version of what we currently practice). We didn’t have time to practice all attunements and the Reiju. That’s OK because I’m not intending to change the way I pass attunements anyway. I think the ritual is a way to get the Reiki Master to the non-duality space, to be the Reiki, and the ritual itself doesn’t matter much. My personal goal (when I grow up!) is to be able to share Reiki with all my being without needing any ritual at all, that’s why I don’t want to hang up to much on the ritual itself and continue to use what works for me now.

Hyakuten-san sees Reiki as a spiritual practice. His focus and time spent on discussing the importance of spiritual practice makes it very clear. However the links of a clear path for practitioners to walk on and especially the practices on how to bring the spirituality into our practice was missing for me. The direction he was giving totally makes sense: simplicity and surrendering; but for those of us, lay practitioners, it’s so hard. Especially if you’re like me, a very analytical minded person who needs a step by step process; it’s hard to just "surrender". I need to understand how the pillars of Reiki system come together and support the spiritual practice that takes us to non-duality. Having said that, I felt ever more grateful for having a clear Reiki path for my practice.

On the other hand, I’m sure Hyakuten-san dives deeply when he teaches Shinpiden level one-on-one. This was a taste of Komyo Reiki, all levels together, during a weekend, and he had a mixed level of Reiki Master practitioners to accommodate. That’s probably why there was great emphasize on spirituality but in practicality I didn’t feel getting any deeper in practice.

Now back to practice!