It’s not uncommon to see Reiki symbols used in advertisements and articles on Reiki websites, but as a student of Reiki, it troubles me to see them displayed, because I'm trying to avoid seeing them as part of my training.
I’m part of a Reiki lineage that advises students to avoid the Reiki symbols until they’ve been attuned to them by their teacher. This practice isn’t meant to be patronizing — that somehow I’m not “good enough” or “experienced enough” to see the symbols. Rather, there’s an entire path of development that my teacher is guiding me through. As my teacher explained, by avoiding the symbols until I’m ready for them, I won’t be confused by seeing them, or place a value on them before I’m ready to understand or feel what they do.
This means I didn’t have any ideas about them when I first saw them, or any thoughts or assumptions I had to unlearn. I didn’t mistrust them because I didn’t understand them.
The benefits of having saved myself from seeing the symbols before I was attuned to the level are many. I think I’ve had fewer blocks to using them, and since I didn’t try to use them or figure them out before I was ready, I was less confused, and more focused on the experiences that were available to me. As I’ve continued to work with them, they have opened up for me, in a natural way. They are an important part of my learning, and I feel reverent towards them.
I love Reiki and all I’ve learned about it and so I want to see what others are doing but I feel nervous when I visit Reiki websites that display the symbols, because I have yet to see the master symbol, and I’m very much looking forward to experiencing it in a way that feels right to me, and that respects my teachers and the lineage I’ve chosen to be a part of.
I feel like my situation isn’t that special. There must be other students like me: eager to learn, perhaps interested in being part of the larger Reiki community, but cautious about visiting Reiki websites that reveal more than they’d like to see. These students may avoid visiting such websites altogether, thereby limiting the amount of information they can have.
For those that are new to Reiki, or have never experienced it, they could end up joining a lineage that protects the symbols in the future, and their experience will have been altered before they’ve even begun.
That isn’t necessarily to say they shouldn’t be shared amongst those who are attuned and would like to see them. But for those of us who don’t want to, we currently have the choice either to visit a website with symbols on it, or avoid the site completely. We don’t know which webpages have symbols on them. Perhaps these webpages could be placed in a separate part of the site. Or perhaps just a simple pop-up window could appear when the page is opened that explains its contents.
I’m only just starting to understand for myself why the symbols were meant to be kept hidden until the student’s initiation into an advanced level. Putting symbols on Reiki websites effects the spread of useable information and the practice of Reiki, as it prevents a portion of practitioners — one still in training — from visiting websites, learning from them, and being part of the greater community.
May this article encourage thoughtful reflection of how the symbols are placed in and around the Internet and general publications. More is not always more, and in Reiki I’ve learned more is often less and less is often more.
bio: Cynthia Salaysay is a freelance writer, Reiki practitioner in Oakland, California and contributing writer for Understanding Reiki and Healing for People. Visit her website at cynthiasalaysay.com.