Gokai – The Five Reiki Principles

The concept of the five principles dates back in China in the era of Bodhidharma. Later on, these principles were taught in Buddhist monasteries as a part of both theosophical and martial art teachings. From here they followed two different ways : a layman’s way, through the martial arts, and a monk’s way in Buddhism and Zen. Depending on the context, these principles present small variations, because they were adapted to serve a certain group’s interest.

Usui sensei created Gokai from a book “Kenzen no Genri” written by Dr. Suzuki Bizan and published in March 1914. In 1927, one year after Usui Sensei’s transition, his students erected a memorial to his memory in a graveyard of the Seihoji temple in Tokyo. Jusaburo Ushida, the second president of Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, is the author of the memorial.

On the tombstone it is written in Japanese Kanji:


The Romanized version of the text is:

Shôfuku no hihô,
Manbyo no rey yaku:

Kyo dake wa
Shinpai suna
Kansha shite
Gyo wo hage me
Hito ni shinsetsu ni

Asa you gassho shite
Kokoro ni neji kuchi ni tonaeyo
Shin shin kaizen
Usui Reiki Ryoho
Chossô, Usui Mikao

The commonly accepted translation of this text today is:

The secret law to invite happiness
Spiritual medicine against all illness

Just for today
Don’t get angry
Don’t worry
Be grateful
Work hard
Be kind to others.

Mornings and evenings sit in the gassho position
and repeat these words out loud and in your heart
for the improvement of mind and body.
Usui Spiritual Healing Method
The founder, Mikao Usui

We have to remember that Japanese is a language with a completely different syntax from English, and that many words may have different meanings depending on the context. For native speakers this does not create any problems, but this makes it difficult to translate accurately. That is why we can find many different translations of this text. Some of the translators chose to rather give the reader the general meaning of the text than to stick to the word-for-word translation.

The maximum benefit we have is when we meditate on these principles. We have to go beneath the surface of the poor translation and try to decipher all the possible meanings and implications. Then we can imprint our mind and soul with the truth of Usui Sensei’s teachings. The ultimate goal should be to live by these principles. This way Gokai becomes a wonderful tool for everybody’s spiritual growth.

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