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Lineage:
The Energy Science
Behind Reiki

"Lineage" is a little understood concept in America. When we think about it at all, we think in terms of our familial lineages, i.e., whether we derive from Irish, Scots, Jewish, Spanish, German, English, Native American, or some other mix of ancestral bloodlines. We think of our genetic and cultural makeup as it comes down to us through the nationalities or races we can identify in our ancestors.

But lineage as it pertains to esoteric knowledge, while quite analogous to bloodlines, is a very ancient and abstract concept, one that is associated throughout history in all countries with the oral traditions through which the most important knowledge mankind has gained is preserved and passed on. As such the concept of "lineage" in energy work is almost always associated with oral traditions of teaching, with the relationships between teachers and students, and with the teacher's relationship to the body of knowledge entrusted to him or her by the Masters who came before.

The concept of lineage obviously embodies old values not currently in vogue in the West. For instance, being in a traditional lineage requires of the teacher a deep honor for inherited knowledge that includes the commitment to abide by rules and ways of doing that come down from elders honored as wiser and more knowing than the new generation teacher--or even the teacher's immediate master. Respect for the wisdom of those who came before is preserved and conveyed forward in time through subtle bonds of commitment that are in themselves part of the energetic transmission of knowledge.

The message of lineage is old, unchanged. In the end, there are no shortcuts. If we wish to have the most complete training in healing energies, if we are willing to assume guardianship of knowledge and abilities important to ourselves, our families, and ultimately the world, then we must finally go to the well, to those before us who have accepted responsibility for preserving the integrity of the knowledge they carry. In most cultures, the teacher of esoteric wisdom trains students in the spirit and letter of his or her own master, making the student aware not only of the lineage through which knowledge has come but also the accurate context in which the wisdom and knowledge of the subject must pass into the future.

To honor the form and content of the teaching of one's master is to be in alignment, literally in the "line" of "ages." To fulfill such commitments is the essence of maintaining honor and integrity in one's own eyes, those of the master, and in the eyes of others. It is also the only manner in which oral knowledge can be handed forward with relatively little contamination and dilution.

The important point for westerners to understand is that the obligation a teacher owes to his or her own teacher is not grounded in personal rights or personal ego but in an integrity that demands we accept the obligation of a long-established, hereditary promise and act upon it without dissension, without demanding logical explanations at every step. Such is not an easy mentality for Americans to adopt. Submission of the individual will and ego to the demands of honor, integrity, and tradition are quite distasteful to our sense of freedom and individuality. We are usually willing to tolerate such restraints only during military service where the common good can be served no other way.

In western Reiki, such concepts of oral transmission are only observed in a few of the unbroken lineages that descend from Hawayo Takata. In those lineages, Takata's teaching, and most importantly the energy science for handing forward the energy of Reiki, has been accurately preserved and handed forward through Masters willing and able to hold the mark. As a result, a great deal of Reiki knowledge, even additional abilities, remain in some of the traditional lineages that have been lost in those in which the bond between Master and student never existed or was broken through individual choices.

The hallmark of unbroken lineage is that ultimately, current fashion, popular ideas of what should and should not be done, the demands of individual ego, and the bickering of politics do not matter. A few years ago people honestly believed "all Reiki is the same," but in the last six years enough practitioners have been cross- trained in different lineages and forms of Reiki for it to become clear there are many different frequencies of energy that are called "reiki." Most of these energies are healing, some are not, and a very few have long term deleterious effects on the practitioner. The only way a student can verify which of the energies called "reiki" he or she will receive is by knowing something about the nature of Reiki lineage in general and about the specific lineage of the master who will do the teaching and attuning.

Reiki is a subtle energy, and by definition subtle energies are of such low (ELF) and refined frequencies that until very recently there were no instruments with which to measure or observe them. More importantly, subtle energies are unlike the electro-magnetic energies known and studied in the western scientific tradition; rather, the four thousand year tradition of subtle energy knowledge that is kept alive in all cultures of the East is preserved there in the context of estoeric spiritual and martial practices designed to create physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health in the practitioner--in addition to whatever other goal is part of the practice.

Access to this ancient body of knowledge has in the past been available only to those westerners willing to make the geographical and spiritual journey to find it. But in the last forty years the esoteric knowledge of most eastern traditions has been transplanted into western culture, some in more complete form than others. In the initial flush of enthusiasm for the new and unusual, westerners have too often grabbed onto the aspects of eastern mysticism most compatible with our not so subtle western culture, while the rich, complex, and inconvenient aspects of these traditions have either been oversimplified, ignored, or discarded.

As a result westerners do not as yet understand how deeply and completely subtle energies respond to the subtle agents of action, to the slightest energies of sound, thought, and emotion. We have not understood the fact that subtle energies by definition can be moved and changed with the breath of a thought. The many patterns of thought and emotion with which we move and change subtle energies are referenced in the single concept of "intent." Intent, however, is much more than simple thought. It is a complex energetic template of a person's thoughts and emotions, choices and actions--those in the past as well as the present. By such complex templates of intent do we manifest our personal realities for good or ill.

Within the context of Reiki lineage, intent goes beyond the mere personal to an inherited "group template" created by the thoughts, emotions, experiences, and promises concerning Reiki training and practice held by those connected through the bond of lineage. Where there is the will to integrity, the deliberate, uncompromising choice to honor the knowledge and methods handed forward, the intent to pass the full range of Reiki frequencies--and knowledge of how to use those frequencies--remains as unchanged as is possible on this plane. Where there is a violation of the hereditary promises to maintain the teaching as taught, there is a break in the inherited intent--and a related alteration of the energies of Reiki that run through the lineage from that point forward.

In unbroken lineages, such energetic changes are minimal, imperceptible to energy sensitive people who can feel distinct vibrations. In other lineages, the modifications made along the way included the addition of energies not part of original Reiki, resulting in noticeable shifts in frequency from the original energies of Dr. Usui. In a few lineages the changes and additions are so deep and dramatic as to create radically different frequencies of energy that bear no relationship to the Reiki Dr. Usui knew and taught.

As our understanding of Reiki as energy science expands, and as people have the opportunity to experience the feel of Reiki across lineages, Reiki Masters are beginning to acknowledge at last that significant alterations in the energies called "reiki" have occurred. In the next years, we will begin to sort out the implications those deviations have for the future of Reiki as a system of healing.

In the meantime, those in unbroken lineages are committed to preserving the Reiki they carry as close to the original energies as possible. We now know for certain there is an energy science involved in the transmission of Reiki. The teaching methods handed forward within lineages determine the range and quality of the Reiki frequency opened in the student according to the laws of that energy science. Attunements are the central "technology" of Reiki energy science.

The scope of Reiki energies and their associated healing abilities are made available to the student in any given lineage according to (1) the Master's attunement methods, and (2) the intent of the attuning master--and if there is integrity of lineage--according to the unbroken intent that flows unchanged from all those masters who came before. Where there is a break in the lineage either through change of methodology or intent, or in the violation of master promises, there is a deviation, often a degradation, in the range of frequencies that can pass through the masters of that lineage.

Access to the fullest, most complete band of Reiki energy, to the whole range of healing frequencies that Dr. Usui received and passed forward, to the full spectrum of the "Rei," occurs reliably when intent and method are in "alignment" from Dr. Usui down through the masters who came after. At minimum, this requires that attunements be done as close to the manner handed down as is humanly possible. In the final analysis, the proper and full understanding of the energy science behind Reiki training, and therefore the preservation of consistent frequencies of Reiki energy, is the function of lineage.

Finally, all Reiki classes have two components: content and context. The content of Reiki is the actual energy opened in the student's hands through the attunements handed forward Master to master. The context of Reiki on the other hand, is the unique expression of each teaching Master's personality and connection to the energy. Context includes information on what Reiki is, how it works, the many techniques available for using it, and the teaching methods used to convey the richness of the teacher's relationship to Reiki. Context, therefore, can and does vary widely even among strictly Traditional Reiki Masters who are nevertheless committed to maintaining purity of the attunement processes they were given.

At the energetic level, it is the uniqueness within each Reiki Master that draws some students and not others. Masters in other esoteric traditions would say, "When the student is ready, the teacher will come." Those who phrase things in terms of the laws of subtle energy would say "energy speaks to energy" according to the Law of Energetic Attraction. In whatever paradigm such things are expressed, the truth remains that everyone is drawn where they are willing and able to be at that moment in their lives. To the extent students allow themselves to be led by their intuitions, by synchronicity, by gut feeling, to that extent they will be drawn to the appropriate teachers early rather than late. Ultimately, all teachers, even those who seem to have been detours, are valuable aspects of our Earth School lessons.

Most Reiki in the West comes down from those Masters trained by Takata according to the methods and commitments she had from her master, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, who in turn learned from Dr. Usui. We have seen through the years that wherever Takata's methods of transmission have remained unaltered, the energies of Reiki remain closest in healing power to those which Dr. Usui handed forth. We have also learned with the study of Reiki as energy science that there are definite cultural and energetic reasons in the West for the timing of classes, for the structure of fees some consider onerous, for methods of teaching, and for the terms and conditions we place on those wanting to learn.

For all these reasons and more, the structure of Reiki classes I present is quite different from that which is in vogue in America at present. I do not teach Reiki I and II together, and there is a waiting period between first and second degree. Mastership is by invitation to those who feel truly called to teach Reiki and only after they have had Reiki for a minimum of three years.

At the end of the day, I have to teach and attune in Reiki as John Harvey Gray taught me, as Hawayo Takata taught him--because I know without doubt that any change in the method of attunement on my part will change forever the Reiki passed forward from me. I can only do as I have been taught and as I must to honor what I have been given in trust.

The advanced courses in Reiki techniques and in energy work fall under the heading of context courses. Some of them are extensions of Reiki knowledge and abilities as Takata taught John or Beth Gray, others are based on techniques that have evolved in my own years in Reiki. They in no way alter the energies of the lineage; rather they extend our understanding of how to use the Reiki we already have. The prerequisites have developed over the years as I came to understand there is a pace at which students are ready to learn and grow, and that teachers have a karmic responsibility to honor that pace.

Mine is not the only way. It is the way I know.

from Reiki as Energy Science
Copyright © 2001 Suzanne E. Parnell, Ph.D., RM