The Tibetan Reiki symbols were probably not used by Master Usui Maiko. Although Reiki hand positions and symbols are a big part of the ceremonial practice of the Reiki healing system, some masters believe that they are unnecessary, if a person can focus his intent, without using the symbols.
In order to understand the Reiki hand positions some people may want to learn the function of the chakras within the human body, but one can begin to use Reiki power within his or her own life, without understanding the chakras. After attunement, even new students have been able to heal themselves and others simply by placing their hands in the appropriate positions. It is all a learning process and the process can begin at any point.
The history of the Tibetan Reiki symbols has been lost to time. Much of Reiki history was passed down over the years in verbal, rather than written form. And, we are all aware of how even a simple story can change over time with the retelling. Even the birth date of Usui Mikao, the founder of the Reiki healing system, has been disputed. Some sources say that he was born in 1865. Others say that he was performing miracles in the 1830s.
Even the man’s actual name is unclear. He may be referred to as Usui Mikao, Mikao Usui, Dr. Usui, or Usui Sensei. Sensei is a Japanese title that is used to show respect for a teacher or master, so in English, many of us refer to him as Master Usui. During his life, he is believed to have studied and taught Christian theology, as well as other philosophies and religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism.
Most Reiki practitioners agree that Master Usui did not use the Tibetan Reiki symbols, but used those referred to as the Usui Reiki symbols. However, they do not always agree upon the number of Reiki hand positions and symbols needed to achieve a result. It is said that if one understands Reiki energy, the symbols themselves are not needed to invoke the power with which they are associated.
According to an article written for a Japanese magazine in 1928 by Shou Matsui, the Reiki Masters of the time required that students not reveal the secrets of Reiki to others. This is the most probable explanation for how little we know. Shou Matsui, a journalist, playwright and drama teacher, said in the article, that he was taught by Chujiro Hayashi, who is considered the main disciple of Master Usui and the teacher of Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to Hawaii and the rest of the Western world.
It is said that upon his death, Master Usui charged Chujiro Hayashi with the responsibility of preserving and continuing the Reiki teachings, revealing reiki hand positions and symbols only to those who studied with him. Some researchers think that it is unlikely that Master Usui considered Hayashi a “grand” master. They say that Usui initiated an unknown number of Reiki masters and considered them all equals.