Energy Systems – Reconciling the Chakras and the Ki Energies of Reiki

To begin with, I must clear up a mis-conception about Reiki – and there are a lot of them! This one in particular caused me some confusion and took some time to unravel. It was as I learned, and then learned more, about Reiki, and then taught Reiki, that the whole concept I am about to share became clearer to me.

The mis-conception is that Reiki deals with the Chakra System.

This is not true. The Chakra (or cakra) system is of Indian origins dating from about 1500 to 500 BC and is found in the writings of the Vedas and Upanishad of the Indian Hindu religion and later the Tantric Buddhism that originated out of the combining of Hinduism and Buddhism in India. What is true is that the Chakra system corresponds to various energetic centers found throughout our bodies formed by large nerve ganglia centers in those regions. Understanding our chakras helps us to understand ourselves and working with them can bring about beneficial changes in our bodies hearts and minds. So where does Reiki fit into this?

“Original Enlightenment”

Reiki came into being in the early 1920’s through the teaching and experiences of Mikao Usui, a Japanese Tendai Buddhist monk. Tendai Buddhism came into being around 800 BC. The energy concepts of Qi or Chi utilized in Japanese Reiki came into being in China around 2500-5000 BC.

I am not an expert on the migration of Buddhism from India into China, yet I find no mention of any chakra-type energy system in the Chinese development of Buddhism. I am certainly open to correction on this point; regardless, when I pick up the origins of Tendai Buddhism no chakras are visible.  Japan’s Tendai Buddhist beginnings are traceable to China, after the spread of Buddhism from India, and Tendai Buddhism (practiced by Mikao Usui) is based upon both the Mayhanya form of  spiritually interpretive Buddhist thought (rather than strict adherence to original text) and the forms and practice of esoteric (mystical) Buddhism encountered by its founder, Saicho, while in China about 767 CE. “Central to Tendai thought as taught by Saicho, is the concept of Original Enlightenment (Hongaku shiso) – the idea that all beings are originally or inherently enlightened, and that liberation is immediately at hand if we can only awaken and cut through the delusions that keep us from seeing our true nature.” This thought is quite original to the Buddha’s earliest teachings in India, is easily recognizable in the path of the seeker in traditional Eastern Reiki and taught as a concept in Western Reiki; that one seeks the Great Bright Light, the True Self of our inner being, our original state of being and true oneness with all that is. However, China had its own concepts of working with universal energy as early as 2500 to  5000 years ago as found in Qi-Gong, and it is these practices and traditions from which the Japanese understanding and interaction with energy more closely align. As Reiki was entering into our western stream of teaching, it’s energetic concepts became combined with the infusion of Indian spiritual understandings, including the chakra system, heralding the beginning of the New Age in America which occurred at the same time, and thus we often confuse and indeed fuse the Japanese system of Reiki, or universal energies, with the Indian chakra system here in the West.  The two systems grew from the same root (Buddhist thought and practice) but produced different spiritual and energetic concepts and approaches to wellness and balance based upon their own unique cultures. Through our lack of  information at the time of Reiki expanding in the West, we filled in the unknown origins and basis of Reiki with these new ideas of energy, obscuring the original roots of the Japanese practice and understanding of energy with the Indian concepts more readily available.

The Three Ki’s

All that being said, as esoteric and Tendai Buddhism originating in China migrated to Japan it evolved and united with Shinto and Shiguendo (shamanic) practices there, forming the backdrop against which Usui Sensei had his spiritual awakening and thus an integral part of the basis for Usui Reiki as we know it today. In the early teachings of Reiki by Usui now brought to light through current exploration and research we find three kinds of very basic and all-reaching Ki’s, or energies. These are huge elemental energies, based upon similar concepts of universal energy found in Qi-Gong, and are therefore not the locally active, internal energies of the human energy, or chakra system, but the large framework of the entire universe of which our individual, and even planetary and solar energy systems, are a part. This is where Reiki begins to break down the barriers of duality, and individuality, revealing what scientists and physicists are telling us all today. All that is, is of one essential energetic essence, found in many forms.

The Chakra system and Reiki?

In Reiki we recognize three essential elemental energies, those of what we call the earth ki, the denser, heavier energy comprising all the elements of our earthly physical bodies and environment, the heaven ki, the energies of the ethereal realms of lighter range vibrational energy to include  space, light, ether and infinity, and the heart ki, the human energy, the energy through which we experience all of life, all our connections with one another and with ourselves. These “universal” – so to speak – energies work with our internal energy systems, the chakra system being one of those, to refresh,  renew and restore balance and vitality. I often explain it as plugging in to recharge our internal batteries. We have many internal energy systems – our nervous system and digestive systems are both internal energy systems, also ones that we need to continually feed and renew.  Working with the completely connected self-creating energies of the vastness of the universe and its constantly flowing energy systems allows us to refuel all our internal systems in optimal ways.

The principle of Light and Love

Balance is a key component of a Reiki session. Not only are our internal energy systems often over or undercharged in certain areas, our experience of these universal energies we walk around in  all the time is very often completely out of  relation to each other. Remember the yin and yang of Chinese expression? Balancing these universal energies balances our chakra systems and enables all of our internal energy systems to refresh and come closer into balance. It also brings about peace of mind and heart, allowing for the expression of love and oneness.

The basic premise of Reiki is that as we balance the energies of earth and heaven within our ourselves, the energy of the heart is cleared, and able to function in its highest form here on earth, that of compassion and the realization of oneness. All spiritual belief systems operate on much the same principle of light and love being the highest form of human expression.  Many give us prayers and rituals to follow, guidelines and even rules designed to help create this outcome if followed; some more precisely requiring strict observation than others to achieve their stated goals.

Reiki is a Practice, a daily workout!

Reiki however is not a religion, but an energetic practice providing a state of improved balance and well-being that assists in the attainment of the objective of living a more compassionate, enlightened, healthy life, and can be combined with any religious practice and set of beliefs to strengthen the believer in their chosen spiritual path.

Back to my finally understanding how the three ki’s of Reiki and the seven or eight or nine chakras of the chakra system work together. It came as a simple inner picture and looks like this:  Below you see the 7 traditional chakras that most people work with. When I originally learned them, I was told there is an eighth chakra about 8 inches above your head holding your higher self and a ninth chakra below your feet grounding you. This begins to come close to working with the Ki energies of Reiki and explains the fullness of the understanding of Rei-Ki and the chakras. As we work with Reiki to balance our inner energy system with the vast energies of heaven and earth, we become powerfully connected to the oneness of the universe, empowered through our heart Ki to express and be true compassion. This however is not some miracle pill we take, but comes through the sometimes gritty, everyday practice of the principles and guidelines set out for us by the Reiki precepts along with the discipline of mindful Reiki meditations and the ethereal personal practice of daily self-Reiki. We must work with the healing energy of balance that will cause us to gently release that which does not bear light in our lives. Reiki is a personal practice bringing balance. That balance clears and balances the chakras of our personal energy system by refreshing and re-fueling them.  Just like eating and sleeping, we need to connect to the greater energies of life, being and the universe to participate in the exchange of energy that renews us every day.

Diagram of Ki's and Chakras


Want to learn how to connect with these amazing energies of renewal and balance? Learn Reiki Level One.

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