I just understood the precepts! I mean, I know I will never understand them and I know that anything I understand is for me only and that you will know them differently, but all that aside, I understand the precepts!
Reiki is a system for working with energy. And, like so many things in spiritual parlance, this energy gets sub-divided into—you guessed it—three categories. There’s the undifferentiated source of the energy, then there are the three sub-categories: earth energy, sky energy and the blended conjunction of these two.
Today I was reading online an Elephant Journal article that had been shared by a Facebook friend, and the article addressed humility in the yoga practice. Being humble is also one of the main philosophies of Reiki. And I, who have had trouble grounding lately, have, perhaps correspondingly, been trying to deal with my own humility (or more specifically, my lack thereof). So I was thinking of the precept of “Be humble” and I remembered that the word humble comes from humus, earth. I recognized that my lack of grounding lately (not only on a personal level, but there are a lot of planets in my sun sign of Aries, and I’ve recently been initiated into the fire element in my ceremonial magic group), is distracting me from my humility. In an attempt to ground myself, or at least get myself out of the way, I’ve been repeating the precepts over and over during sessions, and constantly reminding myself that I am an empty channel for the spiritual energy to flow through.
As I considered that the third precept of humility was about earth energy, I, with my ever present need to make order out of disorder, realized that each of the precepts followed an earth-sky sequence. Let me explain by examining the precepts one at a time.
“Do not anger.” Anger and other emotions are instinctual—they come from a place of development prior to the development of the mind, which can refine, direct and channel the emotions. Anger is perhaps one of most basic and primal of emotions, and when I move into my feelings of anger to understand them, I recognize first a sense of injustice, then a sense that this injustice arises because my security has been breached. Security is one of the most primary earth-based experiences we have. When working with the element earth, we build our foundations, and we try to build them strong, permanent, and safe. Anger arises when these foundations shift or are threatened from outside. So to me, anger arises from an imbalance in my earth energy.
The second precept is “Do not worry.” Worry is about the mind—it is our rational, logical side carried past a healthy balance. When we worry our brains tug and chew constantly at a single thought or series of thoughts, trying to logically see a way out of a conundrum. When I worry, my brain becomes fuzzy and unfocused; I lack clarity and my energy gets stuck in my head, rather than flowing freely through my body. I also am more likely to hold my breath (and anger is often likely to produce a deeper breathing in me as I prepare my body for the fight). Worry goes around and around and around and doesn’t stop. This is an example of imbalanced sky energy.
The third precept is “Be humble.” This takes us back to our grounding—to the earth, but not now from the emotional, instinctual side but through a conscious process of connecting to the earth and becoming one with humus out of which all things begin and end.
The fourth precept is “Be honest in your work.” This has also been translated as “work hard,” “devote yourself to your work,” or “be true to your being.” What strikes me as interesting is that when looked at not by itself, but in comparison to the previous precept, suddenly we have a spectrum—be humble, yet honest and true. I’m not looking at the original text, because I don’t know Japanese, but I believe, based on what I’ve read, that while the original sense is focused on work, the context implies that the work is on ourselves—this precept is often applied to our daily practice, advising personal dedication. In my own personal practice I have discovered that it is very important to allow myself to be who I am honestly—not to be egoic, or making myself more than I am, not self-effacing, or making myself less than I am—but simply knowing myself and allowing that expression to be honest and true. One self-proclaimed Reiki Master visited my Meetup group one day and was so full of “It’s all good” and “everything you do is right” and similar platitudes that I, lacking humility at that moment I’ll admit, thought to myself, “You can practice Reiki and still have a personality.” To me, this sense of self—developed through our own hard work of releasing that which is not true to ourselves and that which is not helpful in our work—can be associated with the sky energy because it seems to me that our sense of self derives from our mind, where definitions are formed or accepted. And to put a further spin on my understanding of this, the sense of true self is derived from our connection with our higher self, which is a reflection of the Divine, which, in the Western Mystery Tradition that I follow, is associated with the heavens or the sky.
The last precept is “Be compassionate to yourself and others.” This to me is the blending of the two energies, earth and sky, becoming one through compassionate empathy with all around you, knowing that you are not separate from anything else but all is an expression of Divine Unity.
Not to be forgotten, of course, is the beginning of the precepts: “Just for today.” This is a brilliant reminder that only through invoking the immediacy of the earth-bound presence of this moment now, and only through being fully, immediately, consciously, mindfully present that the undifferentiated unity of enlightenment—the undifferentiated source of the spiritual energy that is Reiki— is experienced. It is only through earth—groundedness—and sky—mindfulness—that our Unity with Spirit is realized.
So to me, the precepts flow in this manner—Connect with the earth, because without a firm foundation our instinctive emotions will rule us. Connect with the sky, because without clarity of focus our thoughts will rule us. Connect with the earth, because we are nothing without this, the beginning and ending of everything that we are. Connect with the sky, because this allows our true self to be realized and expressed. Combine earth and sky together in our heart, because earth and sky are one, I and Other are one, Self and Spirit are one. Do this now, for one moment, fully and with my entire being.
Our teacher wrote this much more concisely and to the point:
Just for today, do not anger.
Do not worry.
Be honest in your work.
Be compassionate to yourself and others.
Thank you, Mr. Usui, for reminding me that enlightenment is so simple. If only I could understand this simplicity. Perhaps some day. Perhaps just today.
Joy Vernon is a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in Denver, Colorado. She is trained in both the Traditional Japanese Usui Reiki Ryôhô and the Western-influenced Usui Tibetan traditions of Reiki. To schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2011 by Joy Vernon