A peculiarity of the term Reiki that is sometimes overlooked, is the fact that the source of reiki, and the system of reiki (the method of sharing it) are described by exactly the same word.

In a sense, the word reiki has taken on a generic quality, a bit like the brand name Hoover,which has acquired at least two distinct meanings: firstly, as a trademarked brand name, and secondly as the action of “cleaning something with a vacuum cleaner” (regardless of the brand being used).

An interesting way of recognizing that fact, is to clarify the difference between a noun and a verb (elementary, I know!).A noun is an identifiable thing or substance, whereas a verb describes an action or occurrence.

As reiki practitioners, we sometimes blur the boundaries between the source of reiki (universal spirit – a noun) and the system of providing reiki (a method of healing, a verb). That is a natural blurring, I think, considering the generic nature of the term reiki as it is used today. But looking deeper into the matter, two important questions arise:

  1. Are there really boundaries between reiki source and the systems used by reiki practitioners?
  2. Are reiki practitioners applying logical terminologies or entrepreneurial catchphrases to something that is essentially universal and beyond human reasoning, and thereby creating unnecessary divisions between source and system?

Let’s consider some historical points of view…

The 18th century German-born physician, Franz Anton Mesmer, researched the ubiquitous nature of universal energy (the basis of all matter and activity) which he referred to as Animal Magnetism:

Franz Anton Mesmer

There exists an allied and reciprocal influence between the Heavenly Bodies, the Earth and those Bodies which are animated… this principle will cure all diseases of the nerves directly, and mediate all other diseases. (Mesmer, 2016)

What a gift Mesmer gave us via his research almost 300 years ago, validating the oneness of all energy and all manifestations of energy, whether they be in the far reaches of the galaxy, or relating to our own body and processes of healing.

Mesmer also highlighted the interconnectedness between all things, including of course, the source of all that exists and any method we use to share it with others:

The flow of a matter, subtle and rare, penetrates all bodies without a loss in activity…. [and] can be expressed from a great distance and requires no intermediary body. (Mesmer, 2016)

Mesmer’s description of universal energy should be of particular interest to reiki practitioners who use the Hon Sa Ze Sho Nen symbol, specifically the words: Subtle matter penetrating the body at great distance (Remember, this was written in the 1700s, and was experimentally validated by Mesmer himself!).

Moving on to more recent studies, Austrian-born American physicist Fritjof Capra described the intrinsic connectedness between universal source and all forms of matter and activity:

At high enough energies, particles can be born out of a background of pure energy (waves), exist for the briefest while, and then dissolve again into other particles or return to the background sea of energy… (Capra, 2010)

By inference, Fritjof Capra’s explanation of the behavior of pure energy and particles suggests that we, as reiki practitioners, have the ability to focus source energy toward others for health-giving purposes; and in doing so, enable the creation of life-giving building blocks (particles) born from source energy and returning to it. And of course, the entire creative process is orchestrated by the supreme intelligence within universal energy.

Of crucial importance for reiki practitioners, is the need to pay homage to the omnipotent intelligence within universal energy (described by Capra above) – superior to the workings of the rational mind, but accessible to us via the humble utilization of reiki healing systems. Reiki practitioners must acknowledge source at all times, and see it as fundamental to their every thought, intention and purposeful action (helping others).

Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch refers to a term used in Vedic literature (Brahman) when describing universal intelligence in his book, The Purpose-Guided Universe: Believing in Einstein, Darwin, and God:

Brahman is said to be the sole reality, a transcendent intelligence beyond all attributes: unchanging, infinite, immanent; the Divine Ground of all matter…(Haisch, 2012)

Why would an astrophysicist acknowledge the Vedic notion of Brahman? Haisch is a scientist, surely, abiding by the rules of rigorous experimental methodology – why would he acknowledge a Godlike intellect which cannot be clinically observed? And why would he mention the fact (by inference) that his laboratory, his equipment, as well as his own body and mind are grounded in transcendental, energetic intelligence?

Why? Because it is the truth, beyond the limitations of empirical analysis. Haisch is aware! He knows the unity of energy, matter, source, and observable human behaviors.

Regardless of what name we use to describe universal energy, be it Brahman, Reiki, Prana or Qi, our method of passing on that energetic gift must embrace source. Afterall, as reiki practitioners, we are nothing other than universal energy ourselves, brilliantly masquerading as individual beings: as therapists, business people, husbands or wives, etc.

Returning to the Hoover analogy, it’s easy to see that we can seamlessly move between the many meanings of the well-known word: the registered trademark Hoover; the physical object we all recognize as a vacuum cleaner; and the action of cleaning something with a vacuum cleaner – the proper noun, the common noun, and the verb.

So too with reiki, we can and must seamlessly connect source and the system at all times, embracing the knowledge that our actions as practitioners are governed by an intelligence far greater than our own.

The noun underlies the activity of a verb.

The source underlies the actions of a healer.


Mesmer, Franz Anton. MESMERISM: The Discovery of Animal Magnetism. Vancouver: Soul Care Publishing, 2016.

Capra, Fritjof. The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Boston: Shambala Publications, 2010.

Haisch, Bernard. The Purpose-Guided Universe: Believing in Einstein, Darwin, and God. New Jersey: New Page Books, 2012.

Written by Ross Dadds.


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