When I found about the letters exchanged between Saicho and Kukai, I was just blown away.
Imagine two young monks, carefully chosen, to travel to China to study Buddhist teachings and to bring back the select texts to Japan. The year was 804! This is the beginning of a journey of friendship, hope, anticipation, collaboration and rivalry. One of the monks was Saicho, later to be the founder of Tendai School of Buddhism, the other was Kukai, the founder of Shingon school of Buddhism. Even though the storm separated their ships and they each went their own separate ways in China, the passion and dedication of these two men, unknowingly, impacted the history of religion in Japan and in some subtle ways our practice as Reiki practitioners.
To tell you little more about Saicho, the founder of Tendai Buddhism, just imagine him as a 19 year old monk who has retreated to Mount Hiei for 12 years! Prior to his trip to China and his uncovering of T’ien-t’ai teachings, Saicho made the following promises as written in one of his earlier works; “Ganmon” (vows) .
*1) So long as I have not attained the stage where my six faculties (five sense and the mind) are pure, I will not venture into the world.
2) So long as I have not realized the absolute, I’ll not acquire any special skills or arts (such as medicine, divination, and calligraphy).
3) So long as I have not kept all of the precepts purely, I’ll not participate in any lay donor’s Buddhist meetings.
4) So long as I have not attained wisdom, I will not participate in worldly affairs unless it to be benefit to others.
5) May any merit from my practice in the past, present, and future be given not to me, but all sentient beings so that they may attain supreme enlightenment
This deep dedication to practice continued throughout his entire life, as he founded an education system for monks, and established retreat centers in mountains for Tendai monks to meditate uninterrupted from distractions of daily life. Saicho’s administrative reforms paved way to a more autonomous order of monks that eventually opened new interpretations of Buddhist practices and flourishing of Tendai Buddhism in Japan.
So, what does this all have to do with Reiki?
Mikao Usui was a Tendai Buddhist. One common thing, I found, between Saicho and Mikao Usui, is the importance they gave to practice of precepts. Even though the precepts we are talking about here are different (Mahayana precepts vs. Reiki precepts), both men, Saicho and Mikao Usui, in principle thought that precepts were the foundation of spiritual practice. Saicho, for almost all of his life time, fought for substitution of existing Hinayana precepts with Mahayana precepts and gave the practice of precepts utmost importance. For Saicho the perfect practice was: practicing the precepts, practicing the meditations, and studying the teachings such as Lotus Sutra.
Although Saicho retreated in Mount Hiei for 12 years, and later established a retreat center in Mount Hiei , he also gave utmost importance to practice of precepts for the lay people. Amongst the pillars of practice, Saicho thought the practice of precepts could be practiced by anyone at any time. He thought that even if one doesn’t have time for meditation or mental ability to practice sutras, everyone could practice precepts.
For Mikao Usui, the Reiki precepts were the foundation of Reiki practice. We later learned that Mikao Usui started his spiritual teachings by teaching the Reiki precepts.
These two men who lived 1100 years apart influenced our lives as Reiki practitioners. Saicho giving utmost importance to the practice of precepts as the foundation of spiritual practice of Tendai Buddhism and Mikao Usui by making the Reiki precepts the foundation of the Reiki practice. So, what we need to do is simply: PRACTICE. 🙂
Just for Today, Do not Anger
Just for Today, Do not Worry,
Be kind to all living beings.
Zeynep Premdasi Yilmaz
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