The Reiki Precepts, a Path to Awakening…

The Reiki Precepts are a cornerstone of Reiki practice. They are taught from the very beginning in Shoden (Level 1), then emphasised and used in varying ways through each subsequent level of Reiki. There may be differences between them depending on the Reiki lineage (a ‘family tree’ or branch of Reiki that traces back directly to Mikao Usui – the founder of Reiki), but essentially it is agreed that they are of great importance and one of the 5 Pillars of Reiki Practice. Precepts are not affirmations and they’re not meant to be used in the same way. Many versions try to turn them into affirmations by removing the ‘negatives’ such as ‘Do not’ from the first two.

  • Definition of a “precept”: A guiding principle or rule that is used to control, influence or regulate conduct.
  • Definition of an “affirmation”: The act of confirming something to be true or is a written or oral statement that confirms something is true.

When I first heard the Reiki Precepts, I didn’t give them much credence. I figured that even though my teacher emphasised their importance, they weren’t going to figure in my Reiki experience very much. I thought they sounded disconnected with no common thread to make sense of them. I severely underestimated them.

Now they are ingrained into my being and while I feel that I understand them more fully now…I’ve only scratched the surface of how profound they truly are. There are various versions of the Reiki Precepts, this is largely because of the translation variances from Japanese to English, but also due to preferences handed down in various lineages.

Here are a few examples for you to see the differences:

“Just for today…”

As you can see they differ greatly but the intention behind each of them remains pretty much the same. Some people have been taught them in a different order, apparently this is because Hawayo Takata (an amazing lady who first brought Reiki to the West) used to place varying emphasis on each precept so sometimes they were handed down in a different order. This to me is challenging, because I’ve found that the order of the Precepts is very important. These are the Precepts that I teach:

You can see that I’ve chosen a simple version, it’s easy to remember, no unnecessary words, and gets straight to the point with no fluffy distractions.

It is believed that Mikao Usui may have taught different Precepts to some students according to their level of spiritual understanding and awareness. The following are Precepts he used to pass on to his Buddhist students who had some understanding already, and perhaps to those who had been on ‘the path’ for a while…

In this beautiful version there appears to be only 4 Precepts, but their essential nature remains the same. “Be true to your WAY and your BEING” holds Precept 3 and 4 within it. I love this version, it’s a wonderful ‘way in’ to the deeper meanings of the Precepts.

Consider this quote by Hui Neng:

“Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger.”

This is how we should use the Precepts; they are the ‘finger pointing to the Moon’ – we should use them to grow into our Awareness but don’t consider for a moment that they are the Truth themselves. We can get caught up on their various translations, which one is right and which version is closest to what Mikao Usui intended, but to me, as long as it remains simple and true to his intention – whatever works for you.

So, lets journey through the Precepts together travelling a little deeper through their layers and see where we end up…

Precept 1.

Do not Anger

This is teaching us to not live and dwell in the past. Most anger and anger-related emotions stem from past events, things we or someone else did or did not do that frustrate and enrage us. If you look at things in your life that you believe ‘make you angry’ you can usually connect them to a past event or situation. If you’re getting angry about something in the future, it’s because you’re playing out a scenario in your mind before it occurs and your subconscious sees this as having already happened – so in effect it’s a past event we’re reacting to! We have an expectation or an attachment to happenings and communications with others and when it doesn’t go according to our subconscious plan, we experience anger in some form. Being fixed in the past stops us from being ‘Present’.

Precept 2.

Do not worry

This Precept teaches us not to project ourselves into the future. Most worry and worry-related emotions are connected to future events that we attach to and subsequently play out in our minds creating an expectation of how they’ll play out. This is very much related to the ‘anger’ state – they’re both intrinsically connected. We can live in a state of anxiety, fear and sometimes panic if we stay anchored in a future that may or may not happen. It stops us from being ‘Present’.

In fact many people operate almost exclusively from these two states, swinging between frustration and anger to fear and anxiety, living in the past and the future, rarely grounding themselves in the Now.

In order to move on the next Precept, we must be ‘Present’, the first two Precepts teach us this.

Precept 3.

Be Grateful

This is a big one… It’s so much more than just being ‘grateful’ and ‘thankful’, we throw these words around like confetti – it’s become a default reaction for most of us to say, ‘thank you’ to everything even if it’s not the required response – we’re afraid (Precept 2) of appearing ‘ungrateful’! It’s actually ‘being in a state of Gratitude’ which we can only experience if we’re in ‘Present Moment’ – and now having learnt about the first two Precepts we now know how to place ourselves there. Being in a state of Gratitude is where all the wonderful stuff happens. Gratitude – True Gratitude – is opening our hearts to receive. This is hard for most of us, we don’t feel ‘deserving’ enough or we only feel comfortable ‘giving’ to please others – if this is you, refer to Precept 2, you’ll find your answers there. Try this: During meditation, try placing your hands over your heart and picturing a lotus bud there…then open your arms out to your sides, palms up and at the same time picture the lotus blooming within you, feel the state of Gratitude within your heart and say to yourself “I am open to receive”. This is Gratitude that can only be experienced in the Now moment. This is where manifestation happens… but that’s another blog for another time.

Now we have learned True Gratitude – how do we take this into our experience of the world?

Precept 4.

Practice diligently

Now that you are in a beautiful ‘state of Gratitude’ we now learn how to bring this into the everyday. To do this we must be ‘Mindful’. This means that whatever you’re doing, be it working at your 9-5, watering the garden, feeding the cat, or meditating – be Mindful while you are doing it. It’s a big ask for most of us to stay in the Present Moment all the time – we often need to visit the past and the future to plan and function in society. But this Precept teaches us that we can find the Present Moment at any time. By bringing Mindfulness into our current moment we are immediately placed into the state of Gratitude we learned about in Precept 3, by practicing this diligently (regularly and persistently) we learn how to be in this state of being more often and to be able to place ourselves there at will.

Now that we have learnt how to bring our state of Gratitude into our world it’s time to enter into our own Awareness – Wake UP!

And here with Precepts 3 and 4 we’ve learnt how to “Be True to our Way and our Being”.

Precept 5.

Be Kind

Simple enough. I chose to keep this one even simpler than the original “Be kind/compassionate to yourself and others” because I felt it was limiting to be so specific. What’s stopping us from just being ‘Kind’. I’d actually like to change it to “Be Kindness” because I believe that’s what we must be to learn what this Precept is teaching us. This Precept teaches us – ‘ONENESS’. This is another word that we throw around a lot and as a result it’s meaning has been diluted. Remember, it’s a word pointing to a greater Truth, not the Truth itself. To be compassionate means to put yourself in the shoes of someone else, feel their experience as your own and from that to come to an understanding of their suffering or their joy, this is empathy. Let’s take it a step further though. Being Kind means more than empathy, can you stand in your space and ‘Be Kindness’? See it as a noun not a verb – a state of being much like Gratitude. It’s the realisation that we are all actually One – that essence of Self that exists in all of us is the same. Try this: During a meditation, after having opened your heart to a state of Gratitude – see within your heart a small blue pearl of Light, this is your essence. Feel into it, become it, imagine it expanding and becoming your True Self – this True Self is present in all beings, KNOW THIS AS TRUTH.

I believe that Mikao Usui was leading us down a well-worn path to this last Precept.

The Precepts are not just words, they are a journey…

For this is the centre of Buddhahood…

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