It is said that when Mikao Usui, the founder of the system of Reiki, asked his teacher about his spiritual progress, his teacher said, “You have to die once.” Usui-san took this advice and sat on Mt. Kurama for 21 days to meditate to die once.
Some people suggest that he meant to physically die, but if that were the case it would have been much easier for him to climb Mt. Kurama and jump off a cliff, rather than to sit for a difficult practice for 21 days.
But if it was not the physical death that his teacher pointed to, what kind of death was it then?
In Japanese spiritual traditions ‘to die once’ means to go through the Great Death (in Japanese, Daishi) so that we are able to rediscover our True Self.
Mikao Usui’s memorial stone states, “One day, he climbed kurama yama and after 21 days of a severe discipline without eating, he suddenly felt One Great Reiki over his head and attained enlightenment and he obtained Reiki Ryoho.” The purpose of this “severe discipline” was to help him “die once” so that he could rediscover his True Self/Reiki. It was this Great Death experience that preceded his creation of the spiritual system of Reiki. It was after this experience that he really found purpose in his life and started to teach more and more people his spiritual teachings.
Is it possible to really live our lives fully without ever looking hard at death? I do not believe it is. Without staring death in the eye, as the perpetual reverse side of life, we cannot live life fully and completely.
From: Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity by Soko Morinaga
It is possible that Usui-san was practicing Shugendo. Within Shugendo there is a very specific 21-day mountain practice in which you abstain from eating (in Japanese, danjiki) and drinking (in Japanese, mizudachi). This practice is suitable only for the rare, dedicated and prepared practitioner, called 餌食水无 読誦 修行 / だんじき みず なし どくじゅ しゅぎょう – Danjiki-Mizunachi dokuju Shûgyô. One of my teachers has done this specific 21-day Shugendo practice. This is one of the reasons I train with these kinds of teachers, so that I can understand what Usui-san was doing himself so that I can share his ideas, insights and practices within the wider Reiki community.
What is even more interesting is that during this particular 21-day practice the practitioner focuses also on the deity Myoken Bosatsu. Myoken Bosatsu is linked to Mikao Usui’s family. We can see this by looking at Mikao Usui’s family crest, the Chiba Mon. Did Usui-san choose this particular practice because of his family heritage? Myoken Bosatsu is also related to having certain healing qualities and holds a sun and moon in her hands. Healing is a central focus of the system of Reiki and we can see the sun and moon within the Shinpiden Reiki Level III symbol and mantra.
The whole universe s
hatters into a hundred pieces.
In the great death there is no heaven and earth
Once body and mind have turned over
there is only this to say:
Past mind cannot be grasped,
present mind cannot be grasped,
future mind cannot be grasped. -
The state of mind Dogen refers to is called the Great Death because it is the death of the ego, the death of the “I.” If we want to take our spiritual practice deeper, then one day we need to go through the progress of letting go of the “I”, because it is only at that stage that we can rediscover our True Self. When we let go of the “I,” of our dualistic life of separateness and suffering, we start to find the meaning of life: a life full of compassion and wisdom, a life of interconnectedness and harmony, a life full of light and inner joy.
For many years before his Mt. Kurama experience, Usui-san sought Anshin Ritsumei: enlightenment or satori. He finally realized that to attain this goal he needed to go through the Great Death experience, because it is only after going through the Great Death that Anshin Ritsumei will show its face. Therefore we could say that the Great Death is the gate through which we enter the state of mind of enlightenment. This state of mind is all about realizing non-duality, which is the ultimate reality.
Hakuin suggests that satori is necessarily preceded by ‘great doubt’ (daigi) and ‘great death’ (daishi). The practitioner has to be able and willing to let go of all securities and beliefs and throw himself or herself into the abyss of emptiness. Hakuin urges the practitioner to abandon all discriminating thoughts, to form the ‘ball of doubt’ (gidan), and to penetrate the One Mind. This, Hakuin says, is the experience of ‘great death’.
After experiencing this One Mind on Mt. Kurama, Usui-san created a system of teachings to help others also find the way to experience the Great Death. We can see that he was pointing out the Great Death in his teachings, for example within the precepts and the symbols and mantras.
The precepts are:
Do not anger
Do not worry
Show compassion to yourself and others
It is only when we have let go of the “I” that we can truly embody the precepts. Because it is the “I” who gets angry and worried, it is the “I” who is in the way of being humble, honest, and compassionate. Thus the precepts are pointing towards Mikao Usui’s own enlightened experience, the Great Death. So actually this Great Death is about gratitude for life, to live life at its fullest because when we have let go of our biggest worry, fear of death, we are free, free to dance through life. It is at this stage that we really start to transform our lives and those of others.
Usui-san also showed some of his students the DKM symbol/mantra, which stands for the great bright light of Anshin Ritsumei, again pointing towards the Great Death. He included all these pointers in his teachings because it is only after the Great Death that we truly become alive. The following quotes powerfully illustrate the transformation into our True Self:
After several days in his [Hakuin] condition, which he also later designated as the “Great Death” and interpreted as the dying of the ego and illusion. He recounted how he “chanced to hear the sound of the temple bell and…was suddenly transformed. It was as if a sheet of ice had been smashed or a jade tower had fallen with a crash. Suddenly I returned to my senses…All my former doubts vanished as though ice had melted away. In a loud voice I called: ‘Wonderful! Wonderful!’
From: Once-Born, Twice-Born Zen: The Soto and Rinzai Schools of Japan by Conrad Hyers
Suddenly, under some impetus unknown to me, the fog lifted and vanished. And it is not that the pain in my own body disappeared, but rather that the body that is supposed to feel the pain disappeared. Everything was utterly clear. Even in the dimly lit darkness, things could be seen in a fine clarity. The faintest sound could be heard distinctly, but the hearing self was not there. This was, I believe, to die while alive.
From: Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity by Soko Morinaga
Mikao Usui was only able to create the system of Reiki after going through the Great Death experience because it was only then that he had the clarity, wisdom, and compassion to formulate what he had been looking for himself in some sort of teaching. These teachings are the legacy of his own satori and by practicing the system of Reiki as a spiritual practice we are stepping into the footsteps of Mikao Usui, so that one day we can go through the same gate of the Great Death that Mikao Usui went though.
I cannot stress enough that the ultimate goal of religion, whether we call it satori or peace of mind, is for each individual to live in peace and tranquility, to live a full and satisfying life.
Smilingly, Madre asked me why I was so afraid to come see her and that she and her assistant Coco did not bite! I asked her how she knew that. She said: “We knew you were coming, your Spiritual Teacher with the White Turban had already been here and told us!” I finally relaxed!
You must understand that on the path of the Masters “Sant Mat” any kind of healing, pranayama, laying on of hands were forbidden. It was a very strict and monastic path and not many people were able to handle the rigorous discipline of meditation. I believed with all my heart that I was in the highest of violations by going to see this healer.
The beginning of my treatment was very strange indeed!
Madre Sarita used a real life egg that she rolled all over my body, and it apparently took on the physical, astral and causal imprint of the body. Then she cracked the egg in a glass of water, the egg yolk sank to the bottom of the glass representing the physical and the egg white trapped in the water above represented the astral and causal Body. Then she read my body through the egg white and the egg yolk the physical, and she could see what was broken. She said: “I can see the pancreas, the broken ribs, your kidneys are bruised and here is the spiritual body” and this is where it gets really freaky. Are you ready for this?
She said that meditating for over decade and for so many hours each day, I had in fact disconnected from truly living and that I was extremely sad inside.
She then performed psychic surgery on me!
I could literally feel her hand going inside of my body and it felt as though a warm energy had entered into my body system moving things around where my C-Section incision had been. She went into my spine, and Coco kept on translating “Oh there is a little scoliosis, lets go fix that” ! I felt the warm energy moving around in my spine, up and down several times.
For years and years I had scoliosis and my mother used to take me twice a week to therapy to improve the curvature of my spine. Then she said: “you know you aren’t really here for broken ribs, you are here because of your lungs. What did that mean? She went on to say: “You have such deep, deep sadness inside of you which has to do with your Mother’s death and your lungs are infected. You were very close to dying. She said that my Guru basically arranged this accident for me so that I would come to see her and that after this treatment I will never be sick again. She then handed me a tall, slender little bottle with a picture of a lizard on it with instruction for the medicine to be taken three times a day for two weeks. She gave me three cotton balls that I had to spit into in the night and bury in the morning. This was Shamanism at its best!
Chapter 6.1 Accident in Mexico, Book “Why Me”
Immediately after the arrival in Mexico, I had a terrible accident. I fell down the stairs into the basement of our unfinished, beautiful Adobe Home on the Beach in Baja and broke several ribs, busted my pancreas and kidneys, but that was just a small part of what was really going on.
After I was taken to the local hospital in Rosarito in the funkiest Ambulance Vehicle I had ever seen, I was released without X-rays, spent two full days in bed and was definitely not improving and in a lot of pain. On the third day, Chris and John were down at Beach playing, there was a knock on the door! It was Miguel, a good friend of my partner Chris who came over to visit. He knocked on the door and I couldn’t really move, but luckily the front door was open and Miguel decided to walk in. He must have heard my voice even though the enormous pain prevented me from being able to talk loudly. I shuffled myself to the living room and in walks this absolutely bright spirited Mexican Doctor. Miguel was a good friend of Chris’s, he had studied Children’s Psychology and then worked at the Dansbach Cancer Clinic right in our neighborhood, Sant Monica Plaza, Rosarito Beach. Miguel was more than a conventional Doctor, he was also a healer and had just returned from the Yukatan with Don Miguel, a famous Shaman.
As soon as Miguel saw me, he immediately took a step towards me, put his hands on my chest and started praying in Spanish. I was so surprised by that and knew that something was very wrong with me. Miguel ran down to the beach to get Chris and John and when they came back to the house, Miguel urged Chris to take me across the border to see the Grandmother of Don Miguel who was a very powerful healer from Mexico and who could help me.
Chris carried me to the car, strapped in my little three year old son and drove across the border as fast as he could. I had no idea why everything was so urgent and I was extremely scared. When we arrived in Chula Vista at the home of Madre Sarita, everyone there was already expecting us and Chris carried me inside. Madre was a sweet and beautiful Lady in her 70ies who had the kindest eyes I had ever seen. We were in the waiting room for 10 minutes until “Coco” the Translator called us into the healing room.
She asked us to place our hands around a candle with a Saints picture on it and then she prayed aloud in Spanish. After the prayer, she sent Chris and John out of the room and what followed next changed my life forever!
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Emotional Processing with Golden Light Meditation is very soothing and powerful. I will help you relax and connect with your Magical Inner Being. You will realize that any trauma, sadness, abandonment and fear can be transformed through Light and Sound which will quicken the cell to become what YOU were meant to be, “A Radiant Golden Light Being filled with Love!”
How many times have I asked myself the question “WHY ME”?
And then ……right behind that thought lies “IF NOT ME, WHO”?
I look at my life and I wonder why God, Creator, The Universe wanted me to have all these experiences. Why? What is the reason? Maybe it just WAS ….. perhaps I am supposed to help someone, perhaps I have a Mission!!!
For a long time I thought it didn’t matter and I really didn’t tell my story very much.
After all, everybody has a story!!! But wait a minute!!
Who goes from growing up in a little Bavarian Village, to a near Death Experience at age 9? To finding their Mother dead in the kitchen age 16 with headlines in the Newspaper “Murder, Suicide or Accident” to being in the middle of the Iranian Revolution age 17 and smuggling somebody across the border to save their life, to living in an Ashram and meditating 8-12 hours a day for 11 years, an arranged marriage and being flown by a Sant Sat Guru to the United States and then losing two partners to accident and suicide and ultimately becoming a Life-Coach, Teacher/Workshop Leader.
So the Universe is telling me to write it all down, there are no accidents!
May 18th, 2014