Reiki: 'Mantra', 'Jumon' & 'Kotodama

- an attempt at a little clarification...perhaps?

James Deacon

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'MANTRA', 'JUMON', & 'KOTODAMA' (also: 'kototama-gaku', 'kotoage', & 'kazudama') - an attempt at a little clarification...perhaps?
[Copyright © 2010 James Deacon]

Mantra and Jumon: We often use the term 'mantra' as a simple way to attempt to explain the Japanese word 'jumon' [ 呪文 ]. Both mantras and jumon can be considered to be 'spiritual formula' which, when vocalised, are intended to bring about a specific effect. Though, while jumon have many parallels with mantras, the two are not identical on all levels. For example, a mantra can be a phrase or sentence comprised of words which, in the given language, have a clear intellectually-understandable meaning. Alternatively, the phrase or sentence may appear to be a meaningless series of unintelligible sounds.1 The same can be true of a 'jumon'. Yet while a mantra can also be simply a single syllable (eg: a Bija or 'seed' mantra, such as the ubiquitous: om), the same is not true of a 'jumon'. Technically speaking, a single syllable is not classed as a jumon. Nor is a single word.2 Properly, a jumon is a phrase or sentence. Or even a few sentences. However, a jumon can be comprised of a series of single syllable-sounds, for example: "a ba ra ha kya". And while a jumon can be as short as a three syllable phrase ( the jumon associated with three of the Reiki symbols, for example) it can also be can be much longer - in fact, more in keeping with Dharani than with Mantra - and in rare cases, even longer still - Sutra-length (the Heart Sutra for example, can be considered a jumon when it is used in mystical invocation) The term 'jumon' can perhaps be most simply and clearly be explained as: A mystic, spiritual or magical incantation - a 'spell' - a sacred phrase or Invocation. Just like a mantra, a jumon can be chanted once or many times, eg: 3, 9, 27, 108, 1,080, 11664 (108 x 108) – even 1,080,000 times. The term jumon is closely associated with mikkyo (i.e. esoteric Japanese Buddhist) traditions. Though as over the last 1200 years or so, Buddhism and Shinto have influenced each others' development so profoundly, each adopting so much in the way of beliefs, rituals, and esoteric practices from the other - and both.

Shinto and Buddhism have also been strongly influenced by a form of Taoism which, as practiced in Japan, was known as onmyodo3 - it is often difficult to say precisely where a specific practice, concept, or term originated. So, rather than getting caught up in whether jumon is a Buddhist practice or a Shinto (or even an onmyodo) one, it is best to simply consider it as a Japanese one. Some 'traditional' jumon are derived from Buddhist (or even Hindu) mantras their original wording modified to fit with the sounds of the Japanese language. For example, a jumon invoking the power of the five elements: "a ba ra ha kya" is derived from: "a va ra ha kha", which was in turn derived from "a vam ram ham kham". Others are derived from, or strongly influenced by, invocatory elements of the previously mentioned onmyodo - and as such are commonly Japaneselanguage approximations of original, Chinese-language, Taoist incantations Yet others may take the form of extracts from norito (Shinto prayers), or may contain be recognisable phrases and statements drawn from ancient cultural texts written in classical Japanese. Certain traditional kotowaza [ 諺 ] (sayings or proverbs) may also be used as jumon. For example the kotowaza: "watari ni fune" - "a boat for someone wishing to cross a river" - alludes to good fortune in the form of the timely appearance of a desired or needed thing. Thus, it may be used as a jumon in the hope of actively invoking such good fortune. New jumon may be created for just about any specific purpose and intent. Yet, in order to ensure their effectiveness, they are commonly constructed in keeping with certain formulaic rules of composition. Kotodama: [ 言 霊 or 言魂 ]"the spiritual power of words" At the heart of kotodama theory is the understanding that words and their component sounds, when used in certain very specific ways, have a power to influence reality. That there is a mystical connection between the sound and the meaning(s) of words, and further, between words and the situation, person, concept, thing or event they describe. That ultimately, a thought, idea or desire may be actualised by verbalizing it in a particular way with the proper focus.

We often hear people talking about “the Reiki kotodama” it is claimed by some that Usui-sensei taught something commonly referred to as “the Reiki kotodama” to his early students, and that “the Reiki kotodama” were forerunners to the Reiki symbols and accompanying jumon which are familiar to most Reiki practitioners.

Although it is usually maintained that “the Reiki kotodama” are something quite different from the jumon associated with the Reiki symbols, the former term is nonetheless commonly used to refer to what are still essentially a set of jumon; though jumon comprised of a series of single syllables rather than words. Here are the four syllable-sequences, each of which is described as being “a kotodama”: [depending on who you ask you get slightly different 'romanised' forms - and slightly different pronunciation guidlines.]
1, “o-u-e-i” 2, “e-i-e-i-ki” 3, “ho-ha-ze-ho-ne” 4, “ai-ku-yo"

(or: (or: (or: (or:

“ho-ku-ei”) "ei-ei-ki") “o-a-ze-o-ne”) “ai-ko-yo”)

(or: "ho-ku-e-i") (or: "ei-ey-ki") (or: "ho-a-ze-ho-ne" ) (or: “a-i-ku-yo”)

In fact, not only do these syllable-sequences constitute simple jumon, but even allowing for a couple of slight differences in the way the Japanese sounds have been 'romanised', it is not difficult to see how they have been formed by extracting particular syllables from a set of more complex, more complete, (and more familiar,) jumon. For example: [ch]o[k]u [r]ei [s]ei [h]e(i)ki [h]o[n] [sh]a ze [sh]o ne[n] [d]ai ko [m]yo

Now, for those people who hold to the basic principles of kotodama (- even aside from any connection with Reiki), it is indeed true that the particular syllables presented above are genuinely believed to possess kotodama. In fact, every single word, and even every single phoneme (sound syllable), used by the Japanese language is said to possess kotodama. Yet, at the same time, not one single word, or even one single phoneme used by the Japanese language is considered to be “a kotodama”. The way in which the word: kotodama is commonly applied in relation to Reiki - i.e. as indicating the actual syllable-sequences themselves, is simply a little confused. Technically-speaking, the term: kotodama does not refer to specific words, syllables, (or other vocalised sounds), but rather, to the spirit invoked by the correct use of words, syllables, or other vocalised sounds: Words (and/or syllables, etc) - whether individually or as phrases - can not properly be described as being 'kotodama'. Words (kotoba) and syllables have kotodama - power. It is this power which is kotodama: the "spirit of the word" – "the-spirit-inherent-inwords" and ultimately, the 'spirit' is inherent in all 4 words - all vocalised sounds - from primal, guttural utterances - to the kiai of the martial artist - to poetry - to norito prayers - to the words and phrases and sentences of everyday conversations Kotodama is the breath and heart within words.

Kotodama is the spirit - the power - of words to make things happen. And of course, Jumon also possess 'kotodama'. Certain jumon may be considered to possess stronger kotodama than others, though much has to do with the person using them, and the way (and skill with which) they use them. For example, it is believed that a jumon performed only once, with perfect pronunciation/intonation by a person possessing the correct focus and spirit or ki can have a far greater kotodama-effect than the same jumon muttered a 'million'.5 times by someone without that focus and spirit. The science of kotodama: kototama gaku [言 霊学] Kototama gaku is a multi-faceted, complex discipline which has grown out of the central concept of the power of the 'spirit of the word'. It is a discipline concerned with understanding the power of the-spirit-inherent-inwords, and ultimately, with the virtuous and skilful use of words to influence 'mundane' reality, and also to effect spiritual change. (In fact there are actually a few slightly different 'evolutions' of kototama gaku slightly different 'systems' of application of kotodama theory in order to effect desired influence) Kototama gaku deals with the power of words on all levels - whether as unexpressed thoughts, or as vocalised sounds, or in their written aspect. It is concerned with the effect of words - as physical sound-vibration, and as 'vibration' on more subtle levels - and also, the multi-faceted communicative power of words - intellectual, emotional, sentimental - the ability/power of words to inspire, uplift, hurt, heal, etc. The discipline is intricately interwoven with other elements of Japanese spirituality, mysticism, magic, onmyodo, numerology, kuji no in, etc. Jumon are prime examples of the application of kotodama. Now, as already mentioned, a jumon may appear to be a series of unintelligible sounds, or, may appear to be a phrase with clear meaning. However, hidden within a jumon there can frequently be several levels of further meaning And when it comes to uncovering/discovering the different levels of meaning of specific jumon, things can, theoretically, become quite complex. On one hand, Japanese is a language with a vast number of homophones (words that sound the same, yet have different meanings, and also have different written forms).

And on the other, most written Japanese characters (kanji) have different 'readings' (i.e. a single kanji character can be pronounced in several different ways depending on context) For example, the word 'san' - as written using this character: 山, means
'mountain'. yet 'san' as written using this character: 三, means 'three'. However,

the character 山 'san' [mountain] can also be pronounced as 'sen'. The sound 'sen' can also be written as 川 [stream or river], or as 先 [before, preceding, etc], or as any one of a large number of other kanji characters, with diverse meanings such as: to feed, to confuse, ringworm, change, a skewer, vivid, meditation, shudder, a lottery, a trapeze, a bird of prey, to trample, a plug, discussion, a fan ,a jetty, to hide...etc. And in turn, these kanji characters can also have other pronunciations: eg: 'sen' can be written 千 [meaning: 'a thousand'] and this kanji character 千 can also be pronounced: 'chi'. The sound 'chi' can also be written as 地 which can be pronounced as 'ji'... and so on, ad infinitum... A primary element of kototama gaku is devoted to the concealing and revealing of deeper levels of meaning of jumon, (and other words and phrases) via a sometimes complex system of kanji-substitution. For example, this can involve the replacing of one kanji character with another which, while sharing the same 'reading' (i.e. pronunciation) has a different meaning - e.g. replacing 山 ['san'] , with 三 [also pronounced: 'san'] and so changing the meaning from 'mountain' to 'three'. Or meaning can be concealed/revealed by taking an alternative reading of a particular kanji, and replacing the kanji with one which shares the alternative 'reading' - e.g. the character 山 'san' has the alternative reading: 'sen', so for example, 山 could be replaced with 千 [which also has the reading: 'sen'], thus changing the meaning form 'mountain' to ' a thousand'. Yet another approach involves the replacing of one kanji with another having the same 'stroke-count' - i.e. a kanji written with the same number of brush-strokes - yet having a different meaning. A further method of concealing/revealing meanings involves converting the written form of the jumon (or other phrase, etc) from kanji characters into one of the Japanese syllabic scripts: katakana or hiragana6. For example, the previously mentioned word 'san' [mountain], originally written using the kanji character: 山, would in hiragana be written: さ ん [ さ = 'sa', ん = 'n']. So, initially this would at least seem to simplify things a little. When the word 'san' was written using the kanji character: 山, for example, the alternative 'reading' of that kanji - 'sen', could be used as a stepping-stone in the process of transforming the

meaning. By writing the word using characters representing its sound, this is no longer possible. However ... the katakana and hiragana syllabaries were originally derived from something called man'yōgana. man'yōgana was an early system of writing using kanji characters, not for their meaning, but simply to represent sounds. Each character [kanamoji] in the katakana and hiragana syllabaries is actually based on a kanji character originally used as part of man'yōgana..7 So, having converted the jumon (or other phrase, etc) from kanji into syllabic script, the resulting characters can then be replaced with the 'man'yōgana' kanji from which they were originally derived, leading to yet another new meaning. As mentioned earlier, kototama gaku - the science of kotodama - is intricately interwoven with other elements of Japanese esoteric belief, including numerology. In the same way that kotodama refers to "the spirit inherent in words", there is also kazudama: 数霊 ] "the spirit inherent in numbers". One method of concealing/revealing meanings via a combination of kotodama and kazudama principle, again involves converting the written form of the jumon etc. from kanji into hiragana or katakana. However, in this method, each syllabic character is allotted a specific numeric value and alternative meaning is established via a system of numerological association. Another combined koto/kazudama method (the final one we will look at here), applies numerological meaning to the 'stroke-count' of any given kanji or group of kanji. Now, while all these methods of concealing/revealing further levels of meaning, as briefly outlined above, technically allow for mind-boggling levels of complexity, happily, in practice, actual use of the various forms of substitution is generally of a very simple nature.
* * * * *

The other primary element of kototama gaku is initially concerned with mastering the art of intoning specific core syllables8 - in order to influence reality, bring harmony, healing, and to effect spiritual change. [This is perhaps the one element that most people who are aware of the term 'kotodama' are at least partly familiar with.9] The different 'traditions' of kototama gaku tend to differ in their approach this 'toning' aspect of the discipline. Some practitioners concentrate solely on toning a limited number of core syllables, while others expand on this initial area of focus, to work with for example: 46-50 sylables, or 71-75 syllables (and in some instances, 107 or 108 syllables). Yet there is far more to this 'vocal' element of the discipline than simple focus on the intoning of individual syllables.

When the 'correct' toning of he individual syllables has been mastered, work on intoning combinations of syllables to produce certain 'virtuous' and 'fortuitous' words and phrases may begin. For example: the first two vowel sounds in Japanese (in the traditional order of sound s), 'a' and “i' combine to form the simple yet profound: 'ai' ('love'). Other basic syllable-combinations the practitioner may choose to work with include: 'ma-ko-to' ('makoto' = 'sincerity'), or 'fu-ku-ju' ('fukuju' = blessings, longevity, happiness); and even 'a-ri-ga-tō-go-zai-ma-su' 10 And in time, the practitioner may begin to work with jumon, or with norito, or other ritualistic, incantatory formulae including, for example: authoritative magico-spiritual declarations often phrased in the style of ancient Imperial edicts; or mystical pronouncements, in some instances, taking the form of hokku [ 発句 ] or tanka
[ 短 歌 ].11

This active aspect of the 'science of kotodama' is known as kotoage. [ 言挙 or 言擧 ] kotoage is: “to lift the voice” (i.e. to “speak up”) - to “raise up or invoke (the power of) words”. kotoage is the active manifestation of kotodama-power to influence and effect other living beings, the world around us, and the world within us. On some levels, the meaning of the term kotoage can overlap with that of jumon, and norito, and a few other related terms, however while the terms jumon, norito, etc. primarily refer to the actual words (the phrases, prayers, 'spells', vows, etc) to be voiced or intoned, kotoage primarily refers to the actual voicing / intoning itself. kotoage is the saying of the prayer, the reciting of the poem, the spell, the vow, - the chanting of the jumon. It is the actual 'performance' itself, unleashing the power of kotodama. kotoage can be very formal and ritualised, though it is not always so. However, kotoage is undertaken always with the awareness that what is spoken 'with spirit' will have effect - will be actualized (whatever the moral intention) To engage in kotoage is to become involved in the manipulation of cosmic forces. Thus, there is a need to be conscious of one's use of the power of language - to be mindful of one's pronouncements – to be aware that what is said carelessly could also be actualized. kotoage is not just about focus on the affirmative use of words/speech, but also on avoidance of unsuitable use. There is great importance placed on choosing one's words with care, on using appropriate expressions, and as far as possible, avoiding speaking negatively about things.

This has given rise to the concept of: imikotoba [忌み言葉  ] or taboo words words one should refrain from using so as to avoid undesirable consequences. It is understood that there is a need to be especially vigilant concerning the words that are used on formal occasions, at momentous events, or in certain pivotal situations so as not to be inauspicious or bring bad luck as a result of "accidental kotoage" (i.e. the unintentional invoking of the kotodama residing within the words) Such awareness and concern as to unintentional / accidental kotoage has also filtered down into the realm of everyday social belief. Generally there is the feeling that, even in everyday life, one should refrain from giving voice to “dark” or discouraging words. That one should be mindful in one's choice of words so as not to hurt another's feelings or cause them embarrassment; and that if it is absolutely necessary to convey a negative message, it should be done in a sensitive, roundabout, and euphemistic, way. There are certain phrases to be avoided in certain instances - for example, words alluding to separation or parting, etc, should not be used in formal toasts or blessings at weddings; and phrases which might possibly (even in the most indirect way) allude to miscarriage or other difficulties, must be avoided in any celebratory speeches or toasts relating to pregnancy. One of the most prominent taboos is that concerning the number four. The Japanese word for 'four' is commonly pronounced 'shi' (though it can also be pronounced 'yon' ) however, 'shi' is also the pronunciation of the word written as: 死 which means 'death'. So, not only is it considered important in the formal ritualised practice of kotoage to avoid the use of 'shi' in, say, a prayer, jumon, etc for an sick person, but, in everyday life, there are also many taboo's relating to its use. For example, some people will simply refrain from using 'shi' for the number four in any situation they feel might be important. Hotels, apartment blocks and hospitals may not have a fourth floor; or a room number four. People will not give gifts consisting of four pieces; and so on. And it is not just the word 'shi' itself, but also certain words containing the sound 'shi'. A person would not send shikuramen (cyclamen) flowers to someone who is ill, or in hospital - as the name shikuramen contains the sound 'shi', immediately followed by the sound: 'ku' (which can mean: 'suffering', 'pain', 'distress', 'hardship', 'worry', etc), this latter, only adding to negativity concerning the word 'shi'. However, people are also very aware of the beneficial effects of 'good words' and 'good 'speech'. Even in everyday situations there is emphasis on the intentional use of fortuitous phrases and expressions - and a sense of the positive kotodama generated by warm, friendly, enthusiastic greetings. This awareness of the positive effects of words also finds expression in the context of the choosing of babies names - and in particular, the choosing of the specific kanji which will be used to write the baby's name.12

As mentioned previously, Japanese is a language with a very great number of homophones, and so a person's name can theoretically be written in many, many different ways. As a result, a great deal of consideration may be given to the choosing of a combination of kanji which have positive, auspicious meanings, and which, through the power of the kotodama inherent in those words, may have a beneficial influence on the individual's character, and on the unfolding, development, and overall flow of their life.

* * * * *

It has already been mentioned how some jumon are understood to possess stronger kotodama than others. This holds true not just for complete jumon, but also for all of the individual core syllables, and all of the other individual syllables which are the basic 'building blocks' of every jumon, every prayer, every vow, every poem - ever single word in the Japanese language. While all the syllables (and therefore all words formed with these syllables) are understood to possess kotodama power, not all are considered equal in the degree of power they possess (- or the degree of kotodama-power which can be made manifest by their proper use). And again, as has already been mentioned when speaking specifically about jumon when it comes to working with the individual syllables, (or for that matter, with complete prayers, vows, 'spells', etc), the person intoning them, the level of skill they possess, the way in which the sounds are used (and even the situation in which they are used), all have a strong bearing on their effectiveness. Jumon, prayers, ritual statements etc, elegantly phrased in a particular archaic style of Japanese (once used for the composing of Imperial proclamations or edicts ) are believed to have particularly strong 'spirit'. And a specific jumon, vow, etc, performed at a pivotal point in a person's live - for example, at the start of a new venture or undertaking, at the birth of a child, or on another special occasion such as a marriage - is likewise considered to manifest a more powerful kotodama effect than it might if performed at less significant times. Kotodama manifests when syllables, words and phrases are intoned with spirit - with ki, i.e: with sincerity, with determination, and/or with passion and feeling – when they are intoned charismatically: with 'emotional content'.13

“Reiki Kotodama” It has now been almost a decade since the Reiki community first began hearing how Usui-sensei supposedly taught students the practice of intoning what are commonly (and somewhat erroneously) referred to as “the Reiki Kotodama”. It was claimed that the intoning of these syllables was a method “used by Usui before he introduced symbols”, in part at least, as a means of helping some

students 'connect with the energies'. Apparently, so the story goes,14 those students who were Buddhist were given Buddhist meditation exercises to practice, and followers of Shinto were given the socalled 'kotodama' to work with. It has also been presented as 'fact' (albeit unsubstantiated) that it was not until some later date Usui-sensei created the familiar jumon-mantras: chokurei, hon sha ze sho nen, etc. - simply by choosing words which contained the 'kotodama' syllable-sounds - and also added a shirushi (symbol) to each jumon (as a visual aid?). One version of the tale is that the creation of the jumon and shirushi was in order to help students who were having difficulty connecting to the 'energies' (via meditative or 'kotodama' practice?), however another version is that it was as a result of the Naval officers (who had joined Usui-sensei's dojo) refusing to chant the sound-syllables? Though, as will be discussed later in this article. there is much to suggest that the story of the supposed creation of the jumon and shirushi at a later date, is not correct. That in all likelihood, the jumon and shirushi already existed at an early stage in Usui-sensei's teachings. Now it must be said that, over the years, several concerns have been raised regarding the 'provenance' of the information concerning the 'Reiki kotodama'. A major concern is, did the Buddhist nun - who, it is claimed, is the primary source of the information - even exist? And there have been many aspects of the story - little things - which don't seen to 'sit' quite right: For example: If, as stated, Usui-sensei supposedly taught meditative exercises to his Buddhist students and the 'kotodama' practice to his Shinto students, why is it that Usui-sensei's teachings, as shared from the perspective of a clearly Buddhist student (the nun) focus strongly on instruction in the 'kotodama' – a practice supposedly taught not to Buddhist students, but to Shinto ones? And some people have questioned why the syllable-sounds are referred to as "the Reiki Kotodama" - when, not only are there problems with the use of the word 'kotodama' here, but, so we are also asked to believe, Usui-sensei's early students (and this would include the supposed source of the 'kotodama' information) were apparently not even aware of the term 'Reiki' in connection with Usui-sensei's teachings? If this was genuinely something taught by Usuisensei, why then did the technique not have a proper Japanese descriptive name, in the same way that all the other techniques had? Then there are further issues - with the actual 'kotodama'- related information itself. For example it is claimed that Usui-sensei taught 'classical' kotodama theory. However, amongst the supplemental 'background' kotodama information originally provided by those who suggest this, there are certain details which can be seen to contradict this claim, and point to the material they teach being heavily influenced by (if not actually based on,) 'modern-era' evolutions of kotodama theory, in particular,

the expression of the discipline as expounded by the founder of Aikido: Morihei Ueshiba . This is compounded by the fact that, in order to 'flesh-out' what little information concerning kotodama they received as part of their own training, several of the Reiki practitioners now teaching the 'Reiki kotodama' have, over the years, drawn heavily on the work of modern writers who's understanding of kotodama is also based on Ueshiba's personal approach to the discipline. Ueshiba began to study kotodama gaku (the science/study of kotodama) with Onisaburo Deguchi (spiritual leader of the Omoto kyo religious movement) about 1919, and over the years evolved his own approach - an approach which, by the time he began teaching Aikido (1940's) was in several ways significantly different from both the 'classical' expression of kotodama theory, and the personalised form as practiced and taught by Deguchi. The simple fact is that - in what is perhaps a slightly misguided attempt to 'recreate' what Usui-sensei might have taught in relation to kotodama theory - several people are now, perhaps unwittingly, teaching concepts and applications which did not even exist as such during Usui-sensei's lifetime. Also, those who teach the 'kotodama', teach the first syllable-sequence as a method of connecting with 'earth' energy' and the second sequence as a method of connecting with 'heaven' energy. Yet within the 'classical' approach to the discipline of kotodama gaku, 15 there already exist practices for connecting with earth (nature) and heaven ”energies “ (or, as they were understood during that era: “kami”)

and, following kotodama principles, the combination of syllables in each of the two socalled 'kotodama' mentioned, can be seen to possess other, different, influencing properties than those currently assigned to them. So it would seem that, if Usui-sensei really did teach what is now referred to as the 'Reiki Kotodama', the original nature and significance of at least some elements of the practice may have been forgotten, or at least, become confused over time. Though we should perhaps not rule out the possibility of people having intentionally altered certain things out of a need to overlay personalised significance and meaning onto elements of the practice something which has happened many, many times, in various areas of the Reiki discipline.

When questions are voiced concerning the authenticity of the 'Reiki-kotodama' material, a common response is that the best thing would be for the person to work with these sound-syllables for a while - experience for themselves if this has an enhancing effect on their Reiki practice – and so, make up their own mind as to the validity of the technique. Here is a description of one very basic approach to working with the 'kotodama'. 16 Sit in the traditional Japanese zazen posture (- or on an upright chair, with back straight, feet flat on the ground) - with hands either palms down, resting on your thighs, or in the formal gassho position.

Focus your attention in your hara, at the area known as seiki tanden (a couple of inches below the navel). Clear and still the mind. Focus on the moment - there is ONLY the moment. Draw the breath smoothly, steadily and easily in through the nose, then vocalise the kotodama as you breathe out through the mouth. In a low and deeply resonant voice, intone each 'kotodama' slowly, strongly - with total concentration and unity of body, mind and spirit. 17 Pronounce each syllable: each 'word-sound' distinctly, separately - do not run or slur them together. Let each 'word-sound' fill your whole body - vibrating throughout every molecule - every atom. Be aware of the resonance extending out throughout your aura into the very air about you....

Now it must be said, in following the "try it and see for yourself" advice, most people do indeed notice varying degrees of beneficial, enhancing effect on their 'Reiki flow'. Yet this does not in any way prove the authenticity of the technique (i.e. as something actually taught by Usui-sensei). It simply goes to effectiveness. Yes, the technique can have enhancing effects; there is little doubt of this. However, the same holds true (to varying degrees) for just about every other technique which also involves mindful focus, specific breathing, and presentcentredness. Such techniques have generally been shown to have beneficially enhancing/augmenting effects in relation to the 'Reiki flow' - yet it would be naïve to assume that simply because a given technique is effective, this somehow constitutes proof that it was actually taught by Usuisensei.

and on the other hand, it would also be naïve to assume that simply because a given technique was not taught by Usui-sensei, that it can not be effective.

The more we interact with the phenomenon that is Reiki, the more we realise that each person's experience is a unique one. The deeper we travel on our journey into Reiki, the further we get from the 'one size fits all' approach that applied at the outset of the journey. Each practitioner has the potential to evolve in their own unique way, to give their own unique expression to the Reiki phenomenon; and likewise, different individuals may find different approaches and techniques to be more effective in supporting their own personal, unique process of 'unfolding'.

If a Reiki practitioner finds a technique (or develops a technique of their own) which they genuinely feel has a beneficially enhancing/augmenting effect on their Reiki, then certainly they should work with it; and, if they think it appropriate, share it to others. Over the years, many people have done this - experimenting with independently-evolved techniques and practices, or 'adopting-in' to their personal Reiki practice various pre-existing elements from other non-Reiki sources - new techniques, approaches, theories, etc. which they genuinely believe help them make a deeper level of connection with the phenomenon that is Reiki. 18 And, as masters, many have then chosen to pass on these newly adopted techniques etc. to their students - as 'tools' which may possibly also prove of value in the students' own journey. Unfortunately, while some have clearly explained to their students precisely which practices, etc. are their own 'add-ons', many have not, and so it has all too commonly been the case that such students have been left with the understanding that all of what they have been taught was originally also taught by Mikao Usui. Now sadly, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a less-than-scrupulous teacher might intentionally seek to present a technique as an 'original' one in order to 'hype' the practice, for primarily financial reasons. (Contrary to what some might think, the world of Reiki is not immune to such things, Reiki initiation and training in no way guarantees the unfolding of integrity...) However, in some instances, failure on the part of the teacher to clearly identify their own 'add-ons' has simply been a case of them not considering it important - their reasoning is simply one of: "afterall, if a technique works...". In other instances, certain teachers (somewhat misguidedly, perhaps) might believe that in allowing their students to infer that a particular technique is a 'traditional' one, they are not really doing any harm - that such inference will actually lend weight / validity to the practice in the students' minds. That it will give the students confidence in the technique,- a confidence which, if lacking, could result in the students perhaps setting up subconscious resistance to the effects of a practice which the teacher genuinely believes cound be highly beneficial for the students' Reiki-related growth and development. Now whether or not any of the above scenarios apply to the "Reiki kotodama', we will probably never know for certain. Though we can say that, for some individuals at least, this particular practice can be a beneficial one...

___________ NOTES:

1This is commonly because some of the words are approximations/corruptions of words borrowed from
other human languages from other places or other ages, or the words are considered part of some magical or Divine language only known to an initiated few.

2 Except in one or two rare cases 3 onmyodo is an almost-forgotten form of the 'magico-religious' aspect of Taoism, which was first
introduced to Japan in the 6th century.

4 Some believe it is only the Japanese language that holds the power of kotodama 5 Actually 1,080,000 times 6 As well as using kanji, the Japanese language also makes use of two other writing systems: hiragana,
and katakana. Whereas kanji represent ideas, Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic writing systems their characters representing sounds rather than ideas

7 Sometimes, another, more obscure variation of hiragana - called hentaigana - is used. The characters
of hentaigana are also derived from man'yōgana.

8 Different 'traditions' of kotodama gaku focus on different numbers of syllables 9.And this is the direct source of the highly simplistic application of kotodama-principles which have
been adopted by several Reiki practitioners, and which are commonly referred to as: "the Reiki kotodama"

10 The Japanese expression arigatō gozaimasu ('a-ri-ga-tō-go-zai-ma-su') is a polite/formal way to say
'thank you'. It can be used to show appreciation for something that has already occurred, or something yet to occur. In a separate practice, the intoning of 'a-ri-ga-tō-go-zai-ma-su' repeatedly is used to help evoke deep heart-felt gratitude (kansha) for all that is good in one's life.

11 tanka is what is commonly called waka poetry (originally tanka was only one of several different
forms of waka). hokku is an even shorter form of poetry, commonly known by the modern name: haiku

12 And not just babies names, but also names for new business ventures, spiritual organisations, and
even pop or rock groups.

13 Kotodama also manifests when words/syllables are written with spirit/ki; and so, closely associated
with the 'intoning' element of the discipline is a calligraphic (書道, shodō) practice of drawing/writing individual characters and complete phrases,etc, with spirit/ki . However, this does not have to be done with 'brush and ink'. Characters can be traced in the air (for example,) with the hand, or with the eyes, or with the breath. (Think Reiki Symbols) . This particular element of the process of evoking of the power of kotodama is pertinent when it comes to why so many people do not seem to 'get' the power and importance of the Reiki Symbols. While they may have learnt the symbol shapes, and even the correct order and direction of the strokes with which each symbol is written, they simply have not learnt how to write them - with spirit, with ki.

14 Although the story has gone through several revisions over the years 15 And also, I believe, within the Deguchi / Omoto Kyo approach 16 - an approach which is probably as familiar to Aikido practitioners, as it is to Reiki ones: 17 Some teachers now instruct the student to silently 'intone' the syllable-sequences for a few
moments before they begin vocalising them. The aim is to have the vocalised sound vibrate in the centre of the mouth, and students may (or may not) be taught to visualise/imagine a small orb of light floating just above the centre of their tongue; it is from within this orb that the sound vibration should occur.

18 And contrary to what some would have us believe, this is not just a 'Western' phenomenon, but an
'Eastern' one also - with several Japanese practitioners having 'adopted-in' additional practices from other sources, created new symbols,altered the form, names, and significance of pre-existing symbols, etc. etc...

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