Usui Precepts


Usui precepts – calligtaphy by Mark Hosak, 2015 Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag

The known Usui rules of life are widely used in a calligraphy text which can be seen in a photo of Mikao Usui. It’s about five sets for the spiritual development with Reiki, which were taught by Mikao Usui since 1917. This means that Mikao Usui taught the doctrine of the rules of life as a spiritual teacher a few years before his discovery of Reiki-energy during his enlightenment-experience on the Kurama mountain.

Mark Hosak, Japanese expert, Reiki Master and the founder of the Shingon Reiki reports about his research on the Usui precepts since 1993 where he began Usui Reiki in Bremen

Two sources of Usui Life-rules

For the Usui precepts there are two traditional written documents. The first is the calligraphy on a photo with Mikao Usui and the other in a section of the text on his memorial stone at his grave in the temple Saihoji in Tokyo. When researching these texts Mark Hosak made the discovery that the present sources of life rules differ here slightly in length and in content.

The text of the Usui precepts on the calligraphy is short on the right. It includes only two headings, a brief introduction, the Usui-life rules, their application and effect, and identifies this as the text of Mikao Usui.

The text on the memorial stone on the Usui Life-rules is longer, use a different vocabulary and its contents will be explained in detail, so that the Usui precepts are placed in a new light, which also gives them a new depth. Due to the limited space for the text on the memorial stone, the author uses historical and cultural keywords, behind which a deep knowledge is hidden. An educated Japanese or expert in the field of Japanese culture, history and religion and spirituality can it even extract more details and knowledge than is apparent at first glance.

These historical, cultural and spiritual relationships of Usui life rules from the lifetime of Mikao Usui and their practical integration into everyday life with Reiki today published in several editions of the Reiki Magazine, the special issue to Mikao Usui and in several symposiums in Vienna and Berlin 2015 described in detail in honor of the 150th birthday of Usui, in easily understandable words and explained by Mark Hosak. For reference, the original texts are shown and translated.

Usuis Background to the Life-rules

Mikao Usui lived from 1865 to 1926. 1865 Usui was born into a Samurai family, which went back to the communities of Chiba Tsunetane. As a result, he learned from his youth on Japanese martial arts and healing. Above and beyond this, the formation of a Samurai traditionally has a high degree of education. As the Samurai have historically turned to Buddhism, Usui came as a little boy in a convent school of Tantric Buddhism Tendai, where he made first contacts with Buddhism and spirituality in addition to learning of language and writing.

His enthusiasm for it led him to become a monk of the Tendai school of Tantric and Esoteric Buddhism later. In it, he came in contact with meditations and rituals of healing and spiritual development because such practices are in theory and practice the foundation of monastic training.

On his memorial stone his Buddhist name is called, he has received the ordination (monk ordination): Gyôhan. The translation of this name is: Gehisstes sail (mast) at dawn.

Usui life rules on the calligraphy

On the calligraphy on the photo of Mikao Usui the Usui precepts are string imbedded into a text with instructions and call for contemplative meditation. Mostly the Usui precepts are considered individually, but what is on the front and back of the precepts are equally important and has to do with Usui’s career from the Tantric Buddhism of the Tendai school.

The Japanese text is read from right to left and the individual columns from top to bottom.

Title and introductory

The first two lines are the headlines of Usui precepts. They provide information on the methodology and impact. There it says:

招福 の 秘 法 – Shofuku no Hiho – Secret methode to invite happiness

万 病 の 靈 薬 – Manbyô no reiyaku – Spiritual cure of countless diseases

This translation is a variant of multiple levels of meaning. Here are some examples for a deeper understanding:

The kanji hô 法 can mean next to method also ritual, teaching, technology and Dharma. Therefore, these levels of meaning are included here also. Thus, the Usui rules of life can be a ritual and they also give an indication of a particular doctrine like that of Buddhism.
The kanji hi 秘 refers to something secret or hidden. Usually it is used when deeper levels of understanding can arise through applied and regular practice.
The kanji man 万 represents the number 10,000. This is the symbol for a countless amount.
The kanji Byô 病 stands for disease in relation to the body, mind and soul as well as psychosomatic causes.
The kanji rei 靈 is the Reiki symbole. This is the old way of writing, as it is also used on the memorial stone. Only from this notation the symbolic effect of which is evident. Rei means spiritual and refers to anything that does not have a physical body and not be perceived with the five senses of the material world. To be able to perceive rei, it requires the training of supernatural abilities. In the text of the memorial stone is explained that it is important from Usui’s view, to exercise such abilities as to treat with Reiki symptoms and diseases.
The kanji 薬 yaku refers to medicinal herbs. Since these are combined with the Kanji Rei, it’s here at the Usui precepts nonphysical, spiritual healing herbs. Therefore, the concept of medicinal herbs is more symbolic to see here. Herbs have also effects on body, mind and soul. So they can be used to relieve pain or for raising of the mind.

Usui precepts – the main text

今日 だ け は 怒 る な – Kyô dake ha okoru/ikaru na – Especially on this day do not be angry.

The saying kyô dake ha refers to meditation with the idea in being here and now. The aim is to focus the attention on the here and now, rather than wander or even to indulge in procrastination. The here and now is known especially from Zen Buddhism. Therefore, sometimes believed that Usui was probably a Zen monk. Usui was a monk of the Tendai school. This has the Zen meditation as the basis. From it 400-500 years of Japanese Zen Buddhism has developed according to tradition, by the monks Ganjin (eighth century) and Saicho (ninth century) to Japan.

Okoru na can also be pronounced Ikaru na. Okoru means be offended. Na is an exclamation, which says that you not have something or not to do. Thus, the sentence from the Japanese sence has no real negation. But this is a common criticism of the Usui precepts.

心配すな- shinpai suna – do not worry

Shinpai designated literally the abundance of the heart in the negative sense is full.

感謝して- kansha shite – be thankful

This is a direct invitation to actively show thanks for all things and experiences.

業をはげめ- gô wo hageme – Take care of your karma

This is probably continuously the most commonly mistranslated rule of life of all, because the first kanji gô of the first translators of the rules of life, by mistake was translated as with „labor“ and the whole sentence with „Work hard.“ Any and all reference could not confirm this thesis.

業 with the pronunciation gô means karma. This is a Buddhist technical term, which is common in this context to the use of that verb.

業 with the pronunciation gyô means industry and company. Only if this Kanji is merged with this pronunciation with other Kanji in direct combination with a term, it can also mean work. That is not so in this case. Work in such word combinations always refers to non-spiritual activities and doing business. This raises the question of what the spiritual text of Usui is said to have rules of life to do with non-spiritual and commercial activities, and why this should be important in this context.

業 pronunciation with the waza means artifice, doing, work, technology and the labor technical work in an environment of a craft.

人 に 親切 に – hito ni shinsetsu ni – be friendly or sympathetic to living creatures

With hito are humans, animals, plants and ones self, meaning all creatures.

Guide to Meditation

朝夕合唱して- Asayu gasshô shite – Put your hands together in the morning and evening gasshô in front of the heart.

The kanji Asayu also has the meanings from morning to night and all day and all night. This means that this meditation with the Usui life rules can be performed at any time and to do it whenever you have the time to.
The Kanji gasshô is a Mudra. This is a hand gesture or hand gesture of meditation (praying hands). In Japan everybody knows what it means. In English you have to explain this only to understand. Therefore, here it twice with the description and the name of the mudra as the translation.

心に念じ- Kokoro ni nenji – Place your attention into your spiritual heart.

The kanji kokoro is the spiritual heart, which is roughly in the center of the chest . It is not the organic heart. Commonly there are also translations of mind and heart. Many Buddhist translations, where kokoro was translated with Spirit. This is a bit misleading, because in the English mind (cognitive) is more associated with the breast rather the head and the heart. They say, for example, „a pure heart“ and „with a clear mind.“
The kanji nenji consists of „now“ and „spiritual heart“ together. Literally, this means „Come now into your spiritual heart.“ This in Buddhism, is the call for a contemplative meditation. Contemplation is not evaluative viewing of a meditation object, which the Usui rules of life Usui are.

口に唱えよ- Kuchi ni tonaeyo – recite (them, the rules of life) with the mouth

That’s a reference to the three mysteries of the Esoteric Buddhism of body, speech and mind. Recite with the mouth means to say loudly and audibly recite. This is the teaching and the Dharma (see heading to the Kanji hô 法) passed over the sound, which from a Buddhist perspective enriches merits (good karma).

心身改善- shinshin kaizen – Continuous improvement processes of the body, mind and spiritual heart

The Continuous refers to the continuous application of contemplative meditation of the Usui life rules

臼井靈氣療法- Usui reiki Ryôhô – Usui method of natural healing with spiritual life energy

肇祖- Choso – First Line founder

臼 井 甕 男 – Mikao Usui

The name of Mikao Usui written in Japanese order with the last name first. The Spirit of the Usui precepts shows the characteristic style of a signature. This is probably the signature of Mikao Usui.

Usui precepts on the memorial stone

The memorial stone was erected in honor of Samurais Mikao Usui. The text describes the biography of the character, and concerns the merits of Mikao Usui.


Usui memorial Saihoji in Tokio with Mark Hosak, 2015Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag

The text was written in the words of Buddhist sutras. The text shows a wealth of Buddhist technical terms with deep meaning, so that it is possible in terms of employment in order to recognize much more leading information from the inscription.

Reiki is described as a spiritual method and a method of natural healing. It should be noted that recovery does not relate exclusively to symptoms and diseases, but at the completion of the spiritual heart with spiritual exercises to develop the personality and training of natural and supernatural abilities.

On the memorial stone two applications with Reiki are pointed out:

Giving Reiki by laying on of hands
Contemplative Meditation of the life rules

Outline of the Usui precepts

The text on the Usui precepts is structured similarly to the calligraphy in several parts:

Introduction up to 在 リ
Statement, which the Reiki practitioner should do up to 唱 ヘ テ
5 rules of life 親切 ナ レ
Explanations of up to 復 セ シ ム ル ニ 在 リ

Japanese text of Usui Rules of life


Translation by Mark Hosak

In this spiritual method it is clear that they should not be limited solely to the treatment of diseases and bad habits. The crux is that the psychic abilities of natural talent form the basis, lead the adept to complete the spiritual heart, to keep the body healthy and to accept a life of prosperity. It follows that this person should teach broadly the teachings of the late Meiji Tenno and should follow the five principles (precepts) to recite out loud morning and evening and to draw attention in the spiritual heart.

First, it says: Today we should not worry.
Secondly, it says: You should not be sad.
Thirdly, it says: Be thankful!
Fourthly, it says: Attend to your karma!
Fifth, it says: Get used to being sympathetic to the living things and your soul.

This is truly a very important policy for the development of mental strength. This is the path that has been taught by the saints and sages of ancient times.

When one is master, one should compare them (the rules of life) with a fortunate calling secret method and a spiritual cure of countless diseases and make their characteristic properties in all places known. Moreover, it goes into this matter is not the slightest attention to sublimity but to reach the art spiritual teaching and to make an effort for it to deal with the content in an understandable way. When you sit down on your knees, your attention judge inward deeply and exhale, hands together put in front of the heart and in the morning and in the evening (the rules of life) recite that develops a pure and healthy mind as a result of a balanced and sincere practice.

Single sentences with explanation

昭 カ ニ 靈 法 ノ 主 ト ス ル 所 ハ 獨 リ 疾病 ヲ 療 ス ル ニ 止 マ ラ ス

Akiraka ni reihô no shu tosuru tokoro ha hitori wo shippei ryôsuru ni todomarasu

Translation: „In this spiritual method (靈法) it is clear that it should not be limited solely to the treatment of diseases and bad habits (疾病).“

靈 法 refers to a spiritual method, ritual and doctrine.

疾病 refers both to diseases as well as conditions in the spirit, caused by urgent biological habits.

要 ハ 天賦 ノ 靈 能 ニ 因 リ テ

Kaname ha tenbu no reinô ni yorite

Translation: „The crux of the matter is that the psychic abilities 靈能 of natural talent (天賦) form the basis …“

靈 能 are skills that go beyond the perceptions of the five senses. Latent they are available and by training with mental exercises (memorial stone and Usui precepts) they can be awakened.

In the term 天賦 is the word for heaven and Deva (天). Therefore is meant the natural talent that one gets from the heavens or the gods on the way.

心 ヲ 正 シ ク シ 身 ヲ 健 ニ シ テ 人生 ノ 福祉 ヲ 享 ケ シ ム ル 囗 (ニ) 在 リ

Kokoro wo tadashiku shi mi wo sukoyaka ni shite jinsei no fukushi wo ukeshimuru (ni) ari

Translation: „. … To get someone to complete his spiritual heart (心), to keep the body healthy and to accept a life of prosperity“

故 ニ ソ ノ 人 ヲ 教 フ ル ヤ 先 ツ 明治天皇 ノ 遺訓 ヲ 奉 體 シ

Yue ni sono hito wo oshifuru ya matsu Meiji Tennô no ikun wo botai shi

Translation: „It follows that this person should teach and firstly follow the instructions from the deceased (遺訓) Meiji Tenno (明治天皇)…“

明治天皇 That’s the Japanese Meiji Tenno (Emperor) Mutsuhito, who reigned from 1868 to 1912 Japan. Apparently, Mikao Usui was very fond of him, as for those who came from the former samurai status, custom was at that time in particular. The Samurai saw themselves as serving Guards Tenno. Samurai means „to serve“. The term 明治 is chosen by the Tenno to Appointed years Currency. 明 means light, clarity, bright, beaming. 治 means healing and governing. Therefore, this name is complex in its meaning.

天皇 Tenno means the Emperor of Japan. 天 means heaven and Deva and thus has a lot to do with the divine. 皇 means emperor. In Japan / it was assumed that the emperor of the sun goddess Amaterasu 天 照 (literally, the shining heavens) descended. Therefore, it is not just an earthly but a heavenly emperor, who was worshiped as a god in Japan. He is the head of the Japanese shamanism Shintô 神道 (literally, Way of the Gods).

遺訓 are bequeathed teachings. This goes back to a speech that the Meiji Tenno had held on 30 October 1890 to the people. That is about a year after the first Japanese Constitution was adopted.

朝夕 五戒 を 唱 ヘ テ 心 ニ 念 セ シ ム

Asayû gokai wo tonahete kokoro ni nen seshimu

Translation: „… to recite the five percepts (五戒) morning and evening, and to draw attention to the spiritual heart.“

五戒 means principles. That’s the real name of the Usui precepts. Therefore, is not spoken in Japanese life rules but principles. The term of rules of life seems to have been used only in the West.


Ichi ni iwaku kefu okoru nakare ni ni iwaku urefuru nakare san ni iwaku kansha seyo yon ni iwaku gô wo hageme gô ni iwaku hito ni shinsetsu nareto

Translation: „Firstly, it is said (一ニ曰ク): Today one should not fret (囗囗囗). Secondly, it says, you should not be sad. Thirdly, it says, you have to be thankful! Fifth, it is said: Get used to being sympathetic to your soul and the creatures „.

囗 囗 囗 through a crack in the memorial stone some characters are missing here. This can be seen even rudimentary. Because of the grammar and syntax these characters are there: ル 勿 レ

一 ニ 曰 ク is a language, as used by masters of ancient times such as Laotse, when they have said something important. Thus, the author wants to express now that Master (Usui) talks and that the contents of Usui life rules is important.

是 レ 實 ニ 修養 ノ 一 大 訓 ニ シ テ 古 聖賢 ノ 警戒 ス ル 者 ト 其 ノ 揆 ヲ 一 ニ セ リ

Kore jitsu ni shûyô no ichidai kun ni shite ko seiken no keikai suru mono to sono ki wo ichi ni seri

Translation: „This is truly a very important policy for the development of mental strength (修養). This is a path that has been taught by the saints and sages of ancient times. „

修養 are mental exercises that can be gained through asceticism, which means intensive and continuous training. These are especially contemplative meditations and pilgrimages in the forests and mountains.

先生 之 ヲ 似 テ 招福 ノ 秘 法 萬 病 ノ 靈藥 ト ナ セ ハ 其 ノ 本領 ノ 在 ル 所知 ラ ル ヘ シ

Sensei kore wo nite shôfuku no hihô manbyô no reiyaku to nase ha kono honryô no itaru tokoro shiraru heshi

Translation: „If one is master, one should compare them (the rules of life) with a fortunate calling (招福) of a secret method (秘法) and a spiritual remedy (靈藥) for countless diseases (萬病) and make its characteristics known at all places. „

The key words in that sentence has already been explained in the calligraphy above.

而 カ モ 開導 ノ 道 ニ 至 リ テ 力 メ テ 卑 近 ヲ 㫖 ト シ 何等 髙 逺 ノ 事 ナ ク

Shikamo kaidô no michi ni itarite, rikimete, hikin wo mune toshi nanira kôen no koto naku

Translation: „In addition, it goes into this matter is not in the least to grandeur, but to reach the art spiritual teaching and to make an effort to treat the content in an understandable way (卑近).

卑 近 states that complex relationships, as from Buddhism, for which you would need long-time studies in theory and practice, to be explained in a simple and easily understandable way so that really everyone can understand. This is exactly what Usui has been living with the Usui precepts. The content has been created from the Sutra of the Great Sun Buddha and summarized in the Usui precepts , so that everyone can understand and practice it.

髙 逺 means sublimity. Here is to be made clear that a master is not worth more, just because he is a master. He should not behave condescendingly or think in hierarchies. Elsewhere stands on the memorial stone that Usui has indeed called the Reiki healing method into being, but that Reiki goes back to him and all the trained Masters. He confirmed that none of which is hierarchical thinking. This seems to be a clear indication for the personal development of a Reiki Master.

静坐 合掌 朝夕 念誦 ノ 際 ニ 醇 健 ノ 心 ヲ 養 ヒ 平正 ノ 行 ニ 復 セ シ ム ル ニ 在 リ

Seiza gasshô asayû nenju no sai ni junken no kokoro wo yashinahi, byôshô no gyô ni fuku seshimuru ni ari

Translation: „When you sit on your knees, your attention judge inward,take deep breaths and exhale, put your hands together in front of your heart and in the morning and in the evening recite (the Usui precepts) that develops a pure and healthy mind as a result of balanced and sincere practice.“

静坐 is the Japanese knee seat occupied while meditating or praying in the temple. It’s kind of a polite seat holding that is also used in other areas of life in Japan.

合掌 the mudra of meditation is (see above in the calligraphy of the Usui precepts)

Additional information

More detailed information with translations of each kanji on the meanings of Usui life rules and the memorial stone of Mikao Usui in his grave can be found in every issue of the Reiki Magazine since 2012.

In special issue of the magazine Reiki in honor of Mikao Usui’s 150th birthday, there is a full translation of the memorial stone, an explanatory article on the philosophical and spiritual meaning of Usui life-rules and a mystical journey to the mountain Kurama in pictures. Order the special issue via email is possible.

In 2015, Mark Hosak was invited to several Reiki Events, where he talked about the historical background of the Usui precepts, the memorial stone, Reiki and Buddhist spiritual healing and the Kurama mountain:

ProReiki Congress 2015 in Gersfeld
Reiki Convention 2015 Parimal near Kassel
Reiki Symposium 2015 in Vienna
Reiki Symposium 2015 in Berlin
Reiki Convention 2015 in Bulgaria

Those interested in lectures and seminars locally in Eberbach or as an organizer for events please just send an email to: please replace -at- against @.

Exercises on the Usui precepts are included in the seminar First level Shingon Reiki.