Symbols: Secret, Sacred, or Simple

Many Reiki Masters teach their students that the symbols should never be shared with anyone who is not attuned to them. Sharing of symbols can be a really charged topic. But does sharing the symbols with the uninitiated diminish them in some way?

So let me start out by saying a lot of people share the symbols online with uninitiated. In fact, the first online instructor I found posted all of the material online. And before the Internet, the symbols had already been published in several books, one popular book was Diane Stein’s Essential Reiki. Stein not only published the symbols, but she also gave permission to photocopy pages from her book and use them in your own practice.

So if the symbols are meant to be secret, then the secret is out. With that being said, is there any reason to continue to keep the secret?

That is a personal question that each Reiki practitioner needs to answer for themselves. And to be clear, I totally respect whatever decision you make regarding this. Whatever your reasons are, they are right for you and that is good enough for me.

Frank Petter first introduced to me the idea that the symbols are not secret but sacred. Now sacred is a pretty charged word. It can mean different things to different people. Petter discusses it to mean that the symbols should not be taken for granted and treated as common place. For example, you shouldn’t use them in marketing, like on business cards. The idea is to not turn them into another “thing” that gets old.

According to Chris Marsh, they symbols were added to the system later on, when students came to Sensei Usui to learn how to heal. He had been studying for most of his life and “accidentally” discovered he had the ability to heal. Maybe he recognized the students (Sensei Hayashi included) did not have the patience. Or perhaps he knew he didn’t have the time to teach them his full practice (he died a few years later). So he introduced the symbols to them to “accelerate” their learning.

So here is my take. The symbols are tools. Sacred tools, but tools none the less. Symbols are something you use until you don’t need to use them anymore. In Gendai Reiki, Sensei Doi teaches you the first three symbols at Okuden (Level 2). Then you learn the fourth symbol at Shinpiden (Level 3). One of the things we work on is replacing the first three symbols with the fourth. The fourth embodies the energies of the other three. The next stage is to not use any symbols at all.

The symbols may have been secret at one time, but that is no more. The symbols are tools, but not simple tools. The symbols are sacred. But I do not believe showing them weakens them in some way. Only my apathy can do that.

And if you want to honor your teacher by following their guidance to not reveal the symbols to anyone not initiated, I totally respect and support you in that.


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