Attunements and Empowerments: What is the Difference?
If you have looked at a few Reiki web sites then you are likely to have seen the term “Reiki attunement” used to refer to the connection ritual carried out on many Reiki training courses. A less common word that you may have come across is “empowerment” or “Reiju empowerment”. So what is the difference between an attunement and an empowerment, where do they come from, and does it matter which you receive when you’re learning Reiki healing?
The first thing to say is that attunements and empowerments both ‘connect’ you to Reiki, in that they will allow you to experience and work with, or channel, the energy that Reiki people work with, and both attunements and empowerments provide you with a permanent ‘connection’: once you have been through these rituals then you have the Reiki ability permanently. It is easiest if you view both rituals as helping you to recognise something that is already there within you and has always been – they do not connect you to something new and different that you were not ‘connected’ to before.
Most Reiki courses in the world will be based on the Reiki that Mrs Takata taught in America in the 1970s, variously distorted and mutated as the system passed from one teacher to another, and one country to another, and as the system journeyed through the New Age movement. Mrs Takata taught “attunements” and variations on what she taught are being used throughout the world, some a lot closer to the original format than others. Mrs Takata was taught how to attune by her Reiki teacher, Chujiro Hayashi.
But Mikao Usui did not teach attunements. He did not attune anyone. He did not teach the Reiki symbols to most of his students and he certainly did not “attune” any of his students to any symbols.
Usui Sensei did not use attunements at all.
Mikao Usui “empowered” his students, and a group of Usui Sensei’s surviving students have passed on to us a ritual called “Reiju” which is a way of carrying out or representing the empowerments that Usui Sensei conferred on his students, in essence a Tendai Buddhist blessing, made with the intention that the student should “receive what they need”. It is these Reiju empowerments that we use on our Reiki Evolution courses.
So where did attunements come from? Well, learning how to empower others was something that Usui Sensei’s Master students only learned right at the end of their formal training with him, and it is fairly certain that the Imperial Officers that Usui taught had not been training with him for long enough to have been taught how to empower others. So the Imperial Officers who set up the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Memorial Society) after Usui’s death put together for themselves a constructed ritual where they tried to convey the same sort of experiences that they had had when being empowered by Usui Sensei. They had been taught the Reiki symbols by Usui and so symbols entered into the ritual that they developed. Dr Hayashi, who was a member of the ‘Gakkai for a while, then passed on an attunement ritual to Mrs Takata, who then taught her Master students a version of this in the 1970s.
A few people seem to be trying to argue that it is only Reiki attunements that work: they suggest that Reiju empowerments provide only an ineffectual and temporary or weak connection to the energy. Either they have misunderstood, or they have no personal experience of Reiju empowerments themselves, or they are saying these things for ‘political’ or ‘tactical’ reasons, which is a shame.
I am bemused by these individuals’ attempts to try and argue that the empowerments used by Reiki’s founder are ineffectual! That would mean that no-one taught by Mikao Usui had been ‘properly’ connected! This is nonsense, and very amusing.
In reality, in practice, both attunements and empowerments provide the student with what they need and provide the student with a permanent ‘connection to the source’. I have found through personal experience, though, that a Reiju empowerment – this wonderful, uncluttered, lovely, flowing, simple ritual – does seem to do something quite special for students when compared with the effect of attunements, in terms of the strength of their connection to the energy and in terms of the student’s ability to open to intuitive working. Reiju is something really special and we use this ritual on all our First and Second Degree Reiki courses. On our Master Teacher course we teach students how to carry out both attunements and empowerments and give our students both attunements and empowerments. Our Master students can thus choose which method they would like to use, and most choose to use Reiju empowerments, as taught by Usui Sensei’s surviving students.
Author: Taggart King