Reiki is used in therapeutic situations by thousands of practitioners worldwide. It has been the subject of many scientific experiments and written about extensively. And for thousands of years, the healing properties of universal energy have been a prominent part of ancient cultural knowledge and medical practices, such as in Persia, Greece, India, China, and Native America, to name but a few.

Yet to provide a clear, all-encompassing definition of reiki – universal energy – which can be understood by all people is extremely difficult, and to date possibly hasn’t been achieved. The irony here, is that every living thing is composed of universal energy (reiki). But despite that fact, people’s ability to understand what their own (and the universe’s) energy actually is, seems difficult to achieve.

We are all composed of energy – reiki – and coordinated by it, yet we most often struggle to understand what that energy is. How can that be? How can we not understand the very thing that we are composed of?

reiki energy

Even highest-achieving scientists have had trouble providing a clear, comprehensive definition of what energy, or universal energy, actually is. In my opinion, leading physicists have historically explained what energy is merely by explaining what it does. For example, scientists commonly define energy as “the capacity to do work“. Surely that definition misses the target completely, as what we are searching for is a definition that is ‘noun-based’ (something real that exists) rather than a ‘verb-based definition’ (something that merely performs work).

Again, historically, attempts by scientists to define energy usually involve descriptions such as: thermal, electrical, chemical, or nuclear. But those terms are general categories of energy, and don’t define the real underlying essence of what universal energy actually is. Those category-style definitions are the equivalent of being asked the question: What is movement?, and answering, Car, truck, or train. Those answers are only examples of ‘things that move’, but they don’t capture the true essence of motion, or help us to understand what drives or creates movement.

Another problem we have when searching for a simple definition of reiki, concerns the fact that universal energy has an in-built intelligence or consciousness. That fact is something many westerners, educated solely within a first-world framework have trouble understanding. The consciousness that exists in universal energy is often described by reiki practitioners, when asked by a patient, “How will the reiki treatment help me? What will it do?” most practitioners reply, “Reiki knows what to do. It knows how to help. It knows what is out of balance, and knows how to fix it.”

reiki energy

As already mentioned, many ancient cultures philosophized over and experimented with universal energy, and also went to great lengths to describe the intelligence found within it. Much of that ancient wisdom has been lost, or at the very least overlooked in modern western society. I will provide brief insights into those ancient cultures below, and attempt to represent their views on the consciousness of reiki.

Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC) considered the universe was created by a soulful intelligence, utilizing a meaningful design which demonstrated extraordinary wisdom and reason. He understood there was a single universal substance which manifested through all living and non-living things, and that the universal substance [energy] had predictable variations or elements (fire, air, water, and earth). According to Socrates, those elements form the entire universe in a soulful, mindful, and beautiful arrangement.

Socrates was describing universal energy – reiki – the conscious energy which intelligently coordinates all form and all activity.

reiki world news

The philosophers of the Milesian School, most notably Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes (625-540 BCE) also considered the natural world to be composed of a single underlying substance, itself being capable of organizing the activity within all lifeforms, and controlling the movement and motion of all things.

The Milesians considered the single underlying substance to be energetic in nature, and synonymous with the notion of soul, meaning it involves consciousness and spiritual awareness. Of course, the the Milesians were also describing the qualities of universal energy – reiki – more than 2000 years ago.

‘Like Thales, Anaximenes argued for a monist world view, but with an underlying principle of air (pneuma). The word ‘pneuma’ has an interesting array of meanings that are strikingly close to those of ‘psyche’: Besides air, it can also mean breath, soul, spirit, or mind. Whereas  the primary meaning  of ‘psyche’ is mind/soul, the primary meaning of ‘pneuma’ seems to be breath, as “breathe of life”. For Anaximenes, the breath of life was the living, animating principle of all things. This again was a logical conclusion. In every animal, breath equals life: no air, no life; no life, no breath. And air seems to be everywhere, as does motion, so it is not unreasonable to argue that pneuma is the underlying principle of the cosmos.’ Panpsychism in the west, by David Skrbina (2007).

Philosophers of this period (pre-birth of Christ) referred to an ever-living Fire [Pyr Aeizoon] and the Pneuma, both being associated with life-force or life-energy. In Stoic philosophy, pneuma was the term used to describe of the Breath of Life, synonymous with the human soul, the psyche, and the soul of God. That spiritual life-energy was known to create and sustain everything, identical to the properties of universal energy – reiki – as it is referred to in modern times.

The ancient Hindu notion of the Brahman also depicts a single underlying intelligence and energy, said to be the highest principle in the universe. The Brahman is described as being the cause of all that exists; the infinite, eternal truth; the unity underling all diversity. The Brahman is said to be beginningless and endless; the single primordial energy; the source of all creation and all creation itself.

As with the early Greek philosophers, the Hindus depict universal energy or reiki beautifully, managing to describe its timeless, ubiquitous qualities perfectly.


For thousands of years, Chi (or Qi) has been described within Chinese medicine and philosophy as being the vital life-force. Chi is described as existing everywhere in the universe and residing in all living things: composing the human body and regulating all bodily functions.

Chi is also described as being psycho-physical, meaning it is simultaneously conscious (intelligent) and material (having observable physical form). The notion of Chi is shared by the Japanese medical system, which refers to Ki (the Japanese equivalent of Chi) and depicts a conscious form of energy composing the universe and all living things.

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To summarize, every ancient culture dating back thousands of years identified and described a ubiquitous (meaning: found everywhere) form of energy which is creative, supremely intelligent, and soulful in nature.

The terminology used by those ancient cultures may have varied over the centuries, (Pnuema, Pyr Aeizoon, Breath of Life, Prana, Brahman, Qi, etc.) but the energy they were describing has been identical since time immemorial: universal energy – reiki energy.

Written by Ross Dadds

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