Reiki and symbols

Within the system of Reiki, the second level Okuden involves mantras and symbols. At this level, known as ‘the deepening’, a greater understanding of Reiki is discovered. There are three involved but in fact, the third is not a symbol but Japanese Kanji. More about that later.


Symbol one is the spiral, its mantra is Cho Ku Rei, and comes from old Shinto practices meaning ‘direct spirit’ and represents earth energy. Symbol one is very grounding and represents our true nature, meaning that when we chant Cho Ku Rei we feel safe and firm, the vibration within us is very healing and directs us to focus ‘within’ rather than outside of ’self’.

The symbol itself has no power, although in some Reiki practices the symbols are powerful. How can they be, they are symbolic? Mikao Usui’s students requested these tools, (that’s what they are) to help them understand the different levels of energy. The mantras attached to them are very ancient and are found in many esoteric teachings, both in Japan and China.

Symbol two represents the heavens and its mantra is called Sei heki, this energy is very light and ethereal, chanting this symbol the vibrational sound is light and gentle, very different from the strong energy of symbol one. Breaking down the Mantra SEI translates to ‘essence’ the inner essence as opposed to its outer form, personal quality and our own true nature. HEIKI translates to ‘craving’ and ‘habit.’ So, we can say that SEI HEKI is our habitual drive to re-discover our inner essence and original state of mind.

The symbol is derived from the ancient seed syllable The Kiriku, seed symbols are letter forms drawn from calligraphy, the way it is drawn leads people to meditation, it is meditation. It is usually found on a scroll and is hung on a wall representing meditation and peace. The script is sacred siddha. The Kiriku is found in many professional public places in Japan, such as hospitals, doctor's surgeries, schools, lawyer’s offices and so on. The Kiriku is an art form and consequently very few people can draw it, the brush strokes very finely used.

The last symbol at this level is in fact Kanji, meaning old Japanese script and sometimes the meaning of the Kanji can be both Japanese and Chinese, the true meaning is ‘Honest.'

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

HON SHA translates to ‘past', 'present’ and ‘future’ and our right state of mind.
SHO NEN letting go of the ‘I’ and ‘you’.

NEN stands for ‘mind’, ‘mindfulness’, and concentration. It also means ‘oneness’, non- duality connection to all things and is very common in ancient Japanese practices.

Morihei Ueshiba's The Secret Teachings of Aikido explains a bit of what NEN means. Unification of mind and body, Nen never contends with the universe, that would shatter its energy and lead to destruction. Elevate your consciousness and become ‘one’ with the universe. This practice will rid us of worry and anger, which depletes our energy, and instead the feeling of ‘oneness’ to all things will comfort and restore us.

The symbols also relate to the five elements and our Hara. Everything within the system of Reiki is Hara based. The five elements if we really look and meditate on them relate to us as human beings. They can translate to our mouth, eyes, breath, Hara, throat.

Our Hara is our centre and is the centre in many cultures, and  practices in both Japan and China, they often use the Hara as a guide to diagnose a medical condition, in the system of Reiki, teachers and students visualise and meditate on the Hara as this is where we heal our body and minds.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Corsham SN13
Written by Jenny Newman, Connect With Reiki Reiki master/Teacher
Corsham SN13

Jenny Newman is a graduate teacher of the International House of Reiki and has been teaching for 20 years. Jenny continues to study every year with her teacher Frans Steine, and through this study and research, she has gone to a very deep level within the system of Reiki, teaching the ancient and traditional Japanese esoteric practices.

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