By Devananda Tandavan

Reiki is the Japanese name for an ancient healing method rediscovered by Usui from the Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures found in monasteries in Japan. Ki, chi, qi, prana, vril, aeth, lesser light and pranic force are synonyms for the life force that flows through and about our bodies. Prana is Siva’s Cosmic Force. It gives life to the body and mind and flows in the subtle body. The subtle body exists within and through our physical body. In Hinduism we talk about the nadis that are the nerve-like conduits for prana. The subtle body communicates with the outside world at sensitive points on the skin, called marma or acupuncture points. As we have learned from the science of acupuncture and acupressure (also Do-IN, polarity treatments and massage), if something occurs to disrupt the normal balanced flow of prana through our bodies, disease occurs.

Reiki practitioners are initiated into the method by six or more attunements by a Master that enable the student to open his pranic system to cosmic forces. These are given with explanations of the system and sometimes particular routines. Students are instructed and supervised in practice sessions to recognize pranic flow in themselves and the subject. Every person has certain contact points on the body that acts as an area of transfer of the pranic energy. The most common points are the palms, fingertips, whole frontal body (the reason for reiki embrace), forearms and feet.

The practitioner transfers prana to marma points on the patient’s body, causing an increased, more natural flow of prana within the patient. At the contact point there may develop an intense heat or coldness depending upon conditions. The practitioner knows intuitively how long to spend at each contact point in order to bring about the harmony desired.

Is this a mind control effort? No, after the initial intention of the practitioner to bring about harmony, he or she need not concentrate on what he is doing and even may carry on conversations with others in the room. In fact, if the practitioner tries to direct the flow and amount of prana, the treatment will not succeed. Prana has full consciousness and knows how to bring about health. The practitioner must never assume that he is doing the healing, for it is a healing using the Divine Cosmic energy.

Does reiki work? Yes, it is very effective in bringing about peace and comfort to the patients. It has often brought about slow relief from pains and other disease conditions. Rarely there is a sudden and almost miraculous total healing. The patient tends to relax completely and his subconscious mind also relaxes. The combination of the relaxation–getting out of the way of the flow–and the revitalized pranic flow allows the individual to heal himself.

Some Masters have added more attunements, new symbols and even different historic beliefs. The ancient system has three initiations, the third being that of the teacher. Symbols are used to intensify the flow of prana, for mental and physical conditions as well as distant healing.

Traditionally, the practitioner does not charge for his services, though he may take a love offering. He merely acts as a conduit for the transfer of pranic energy from the universe to the patient as a result of his initiation and attunement to subtle forces.

Dr. Tandavan, 77, retired nuclear physician and hospital staff president, lives in Chicago, where he specializes in alternative healing arts. Visit his home page at the Hinduism Today Website.