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).
|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 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.
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!