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Are You Being Disempowered by the Reiki Symbols?

Article by Tracy Morrow

The Reiki symbols are a beautiful rite of passage for many as they progress through each level in order to practice Reiki at the highest potential. These symbols can be truly powerful according to individual beliefs. With that said, this article is in no way meant to be dismissive of the benefits of their utilization. At the same time, they can put you at risk of failing to gain the deepest levels of union to the ultimate essence of Life Force Energy. Because of this, I urge you to reflect on the question of whether or not you are being disempowered by the Reiki symbols.

Consider for a moment that when Mikao Sensei began the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, he originally did not use symbols. It was actually quite some time before he added the symbols to his training. He chose to do this because he realized that those who had no previous energy work experience needed an effective method to help them reunify with Life Force Energy. In this sense, the symbols were a means to an end. Simply, a method to focus intention, thereby helping to increase capacity for connection to Reiki.

In Master Sensei’s training, sitting in Hatsurei Ho meditation was considered the crucial ingredient to connecting with the energy and increasing the capacity for greater connection, along with attunements to help one break through the blocks and expand their ability to connect to healing energy. The symbols were a secondary training tool.

The powers granted to the Reiki symbols were purely for the use of developing intention. In this sense, and especially for those who have challenges with concentrating focus, the symbols are a tremendous tool. The combination of Sanskrit and Japanese Kanji symbols from which they were created were thoughtfully done in order to contain meaningful messages for those who would make use of them.

Reiki Symbols

As the Hayashi-Takata lineage of Reiki developed, commonly known as Usui Shiki Ryoho, the symbols gained significantly in importance. In this style of training, they are considered to be sacred and highly esteemed keys that allows access to Reiki energy. Because this system was designed as a “fast-track” course for practitioners, the hand positions were also created and used as a teaching instrument.

The Reiki symbols and hand positions continued to gain an elevated status in the Usui Shiki Ryoho practice. This alleviated the original requisite of Reiki practitioner’s capacity to sense the energy of their clients, which was given in-depth guidance and time to develop in Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai. With the newly elevated status, practitioners became sworn to secrecy when the symbols were exposed to them.

When you reflect on the history of the Reiki arts, it is important to realize that this energy work was tremendously effective and practiced without symbols from the beginning. This way of practicing requires a deeper union in regard to spiritual connection, and stronger skills of focus. Unfortunately, many Reiki trainings today do not provide the time for full development of these qualities.

When the Reiki symbols are taught as sacred keys needed to connect to Reiki, instead of being used for a training method as originally designed, on over-reliance on them is created. This taught dependence on the symbols leads to disempowerment and can put even the best intentioned Reiki practitioner at risk for symptoms of disconnection.

Certainly, if the symbols help you, then they are of great value. At the same time, it is essential to encourage yourself to move past any dependence you may have on them. You see, you are already Reiki or you would not exist. Therefore, it is the deepening of your connection to the Life Force Energy that sparks from deep within you that will allow you to become fully empowered in your Reiki practice. This Life Force Energy is your True Source, and nothing outside of you was ever truly needed.

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Tracy Morrow

Tracy Morrow

In passionate pursuit of timeless living, Tracy Morrow is an NLP Master Practitioner, Certified Meditation Teacher, Certified Reiki Master Teacher, Trainer and Writer. Tireless in her commitment to service, she is currently invested in helping create better lives by opening minds and resources in order to improve wellness and recovery for families living with behavioral health challenges. You can find more about Tracy at Inspir3.com

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Angie Webster March 15, 2015, 4:05 pm

    Wonderful article! Thank you for sharing this perspective.

  • VJVousden March 15, 2015, 4:43 pm

    Thank you for your insight on this. I have wondered the same, feeling that even though, yes, the symbols have some ramping-up power initially, they feel a little like a crutch. I feel that Reiki I gave me the best of what I needed and it’s still just hands on that feels best to me. I do feel the HSZSN helps with distance healing to feel the connection is there. But otherwise, just hands on and the power is there. Enjoyed your take on this. Thanks.

  • jikidenreiki.hu March 16, 2015, 9:41 am

    In my opinion in western lineage symbol dependence mostly came from the misunderstanding of using symbols. From the other point of view some people says we do not need symbols. Of course physical or mental reiki treatment or distant reiki, or even attunement work without using symbol using only using the intention for advanced practitioners. But question is whether we leave using symbols… I think no, because of tradition and benefits of symbols. I would say symbols are sacred tools for special cases. That is why japanese approach says that you should not use symbols randomly, only with purpose with respecting approach. I believe smybols have power and emplify the reiki effectiveness when we use them.

    To tell the truth I would be curious what would happen if an completely new reiki student learn reiki (all levels) without symbols (and his/her master also would not use symbols in the attunements) … What energy level he/she could archive and as new master student could be attune others to reiki without symbols (in such a way that he/she never attuned with symbols)
    But this is theory. 🙂

  • Lorinda Weatherall March 17, 2015, 1:20 am

    I would agree with you Tracy.
    The founder of Gendai Reiki Ho- Hiroshi Doi as likened the symbols to training wheels on a bicycle. The are of great comfort when the student is just learning but can be a hindrance once the student has incorporated the symbols into their being.

  • Tessa Stewart July 27, 2015, 12:17 am

    Thank you for the great article, Tracy. I am a master of Usui, Karuna anad Kundalini Reiki. Thus have enjoyed hands on attunements with all the symbols as well as hands off Kundailni attunements. without any symbols. They all work and the energy flows , but the intensity and action of each is very clearly different to me and to my clients whether human or animal. Intention is key , but intuition is my guide to the use of symbols or to ramp up the energy with Kundalini . I has already completed Usui Reiki master course when I learned Kundalini Reiki , but all others in those classes were novices, completely new to Reiki. With 10 people together in a cleansed room, all in repose and meditative state , all were attuned together within 20minutes. and all were able to channel very powerful energy at once. I have since practised with giving distance Kundalini attunements and they certainly do work, too. But all that said, Usui Reiki which led me to Karuna remain the backbone and the gentle , calming , balancing energy is what I prefer to channel. But to jumpstart quick healing I will use Kundalini. My dogs are great teachers , too. Merely drawing CKR and Karuna Shanthi symbols over their heads sends them to sleep at once. They literally drop and go straight to sleep. A Usui SHK calms them but does not shut them down quite as miraculously as the Shanthi symbol. My first Reiki teacher was one who prescribed the Usui way as the only way and she was so critical and negative about everything and everyone else that it served to push me to explore further. Her negativity was the greatest gift to me as it brought out my inner rebel and pushed me to be open to and learn other modalities, too. We can channel Reiki with or without symbols, hands on or hands off but the key is to intend that the energy flows with love and compassion only for the highest good.

  • Uttam August 1, 2015, 2:07 pm

    A very nice artical . I am also a Rekhi channel n have done master ship . During my practise n hearings I have also felt that Here is another wonderful Free Angel Card Reading with The Path of Soul Destiny Cards by Cheryl Lee Harnish
    (If you do not see the card spread below, you can still click the blank area to initiate a reading).
    sometimes even without the symbols I have been able to give energy with intentions. N have good results . I recite mantras while giving hearings ngot good results. Thanks once again for the lovely artical. Uttam Arora.

  • Uttam Arora August 1, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Hi I am sorry. I had written something else and I don’t know what went wrong n something else came on .without realising I submitted n then when seeing I was feeling bad . I hope u will understand.i am upset.will write to you again . Uttam Arora

  • BIRDI February 3, 2016, 1:41 pm

    Sometimes just connecting with my Reiki spirit master and saying reiki flow makes the reiki/healing energy so much stronger. Xx

  • Barbara M February 3, 2016, 10:05 pm

    I find the symbols help me to focus on giving the Reiki, as I have never been able to “feel” it; though at times I feel a tingling in my hands which may be from rubbing them together prior to giving Reiki. I also do not sense the patient’s illness/energy imbalance, and I have been doing it for 14 years! Why is that? (I am level 2.)

  • Boris Pecigoš May 20, 2016, 7:48 am

    Great insights! Thnx!

  • Stephanie Ann Mckeegan July 25, 2016, 10:19 pm

    I have ask myself recently do I need to use all the Reiki symbols, if any, I have recently, ask spirit to place whatever symbol is needed, in what ever area is needed, and trust the process. This as greatly help me answer the question.

  • victorialynnferrell September 22, 2016, 7:31 pm

    Thank you so very much for sharing your insights in this article. I am an Usui Reiki Master Teacher and was also trained in Karuna many, many years ago. I am also certified through Hay House as a Certified Angel Card Reader. One of my own goals in teaching anyone about Reiki, energy work, or intuitive work, is to connect them with the source of their own inner guidance. I want for them to be able to connect with Divine in their own way and in their own time and this is not a process that can be rushed. The Dai Ko Myo, great bright light or great enlightenment, is about connecting to that shining light within. The symbols, while they can enhance ones experience of Reiki, are definitely not a requirement for performing an effective Reiki session. A connection to the wisdom within…the Divine within…is.

    Thanks again for your share and may you be blessed as you bless others.

  • kat September 27, 2016, 10:17 am

    The symbols are like the icing on the cake, you are never disempowered by them. But find now a days with people wanting to learn “quick fix” Reiki and now understanding how to work with Reiki and this causes people not know or understanding. If one learns Reiki in person with a good well trained Master Teacher one will have a better understanding and be less confused.

    • Karen T Miller February 21, 2018, 3:05 pm

      I agree ,the symbols are very powerful as they bypass the logical mind and connect with the subconscious mind..
      Also how does a practioner stay focused on the energy?
      We need a mantra also to enable us to facilitate the highest energy vibration we can channel to tge client we are serving

  • Brandon Kelly November 12, 2017, 8:58 am

    I have thought on this before, and it is good to see this article toting this perspective. I try not to take things too seriously and try to remain in the middle ground for every extreme. Reiki is included in my endeavors to not to be too pedantic with the way that I perform Reiki. Sometimes I start at the root and go up instead of starting at the crown and working down. I like to think that Reiki is not so rigid in the way that the process is done, symbols, meditative positions, or whatever. The intention behind the actions is the most important. I am not well-practiced with Reiki and seeing or feeling the different bits of energy or impulses, and that may have something to do with my brief practice with Reiki and/or my innate reclusion. However, I feel that this article should be seen as a valid perspective for many people. We have to be careful about how we practice Reiki and protect it from what religion has done to spirituality. Nothing should be secret, and I find that the symbols being held to secrecy in the first place a questionable practice. I appreciate this article very much. Thank you for sharing!

  • Bonnie Fischer November 12, 2017, 3:43 pm

    Thank you for this. I have been doing Reiki for 1.5 months. For me, the symbols are a distraction. I have success without using them. I only do distance Reiki, as I am a 24/7 caregiver.

  • ellie590 January 21, 2018, 8:43 pm

    I loved this article because it gives me hope. I can never get the hang of symbols and hand positions. The reiki I feel comes through to me very strongly in beautiful colours (mainly the violet end of the spectrum) which i see and have been told that it is visible to the person i am giving reiki. I feel warmth in my hands, and just a lovely feeling. However I have been getting feelings of guilt for not mastering the symbols. Now I won’t worry, the symbols will come with time or not the reiki is all that really matters.

  • Trav Mills March 7, 2019, 7:43 pm

    Symbols are everywhere! Look at your keyboard or on your phone. If it was not for each symbol in an alphabet then you would have no way of communicating to anyone! Egyptians and others used symbols to communicate. Take the Reiki HSZSN symbol as an example – it is made up of 5 separate kanji. Each kanji has several meanings. So for someone to say (such as the author of this article) that the Reiki symbols is disempowering you is utter crap. She then goes on to say when they are taught properly they may benefit you. To make claims about the Gekkai (which only became after Usui’s death) is also just pure assumption and speculation, such as the claims the symbols disempower you. Usui would not have included them without reason. Let us now take the ‘training wheels’ theory. A bike has two main wheels, you can add training wheels to help you learn how to ride the bike properly – absolutely. But the symbols will allow you to communicate concepts more quickly (much like letter symbols in an alphabet) and allow you to surpass the training and reach higher levels as well. On the bike (once you are confident) you can pedal faster and go further. REMEMBER THE BIKE HAS OTHER SAFETY FEATURES LIKE A BELL. The Reiki symbols do not have to be used at any time if you don’t want to use them, but if you were not using the bell on your bike then you could run into someone and cause them harm. Usui introduced (so history ALLEGEDLY says) the symbols so you could get there faster (and some history suggests it was for dumb people) but it was really introduced to access better personal responsibility through intention and action. Much like a bike rider, road user, etcetera. The only disempowering thing about the Reiki symbols is when you have someone who writes an article that can’t be proven in any way, and then people believe it through Reiki ‘politics’. If the Reiki symbols were not required and have no use how did you get attuned exactly? (Reiju is differnt again, so let’s not go there – stick to the article which shows the author has no experience of Reiju either).

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