HSZSN but not as you’ve seen it before!

hszsn expanded into component partsHSZSN is the acronym used to refer to the ‘distant healing symbol’, familiar in its various guises to anyone who has attended a Second Degree Reiki course.

It’s the trickiest of the symbols to get to grips with and usually has 20+ strokes or hand movements to draw it out.

HSZSN actually consists of five separate Japanese kanji which have all been overlapped and merged to produce one ‘composite’ kanji, which we see on courses.

In this blog I have posted an image of what these five separate kanji look like. The calligraphy was kindly brushed for me by the fantastically talented Japanese Calligraphy Shihan Eri Takase, who does all our Japanese writing for us, on our Reiki certificate templates, Reiki precepts prints, Reiki CDs and Reiki manuals.

Chinese whispers

When people attended Reiki courses in the past, many students and Masters weren’t provided with hard copies of the Reiki symbols and so had to reproduce them from memory. That perhaps wasn’t so bad for the simpler symbols like CKR and SHK, but for HSZSN this led to a process of “Chinese whispers”, where the drawings altered slightly each time they were taught.

So now, quite understandably, there are various versions of the symbols in existence, some closer to and some really quite different from the original Japanese source.

Eri’s calligraphy takes us back to the originals, though. It’s great to see the original individual characters that the symbol was based on.

Merging the separate symbols

If you look at the image, you can see that the bottom part of the first kanji looks rather like the top part of the second kanji, so you could move the upper kanji downwards so that the ‘cross’ overlaps, producing one composite figure.

Similarly the bottom section of the second kanji looks rather like the top section of the third kanji, so they could be merged and overlapped. And so on down the line.

And that’s how the composite HSZSN was formed!

Over to you

Have a look at the distant healing symbol that you were given.

See if you can work out what has changed, and what has stayed the same, compared to the original characters.

Post a message below to let me know what you discovered.

What do you think of the ‘expanded’ HSZSN?

Want to find out more about Distant Healing?

reiki book second degree manualsYou can read more about HSZSN and distant healing methods in the 110-page Reiki Evolution Second Degree manual.

This isn’t just available to Reiki Evolution students: anyone can work with our manuals.

You can order a professionally-printed copy, or you can download your manual right now.

Here are the links that you need:

Reiki Second Degree manual

Reiki Second Degree eBook





14 thoughts on “HSZSN but not as you’ve seen it before!

  1. That’s lovely Taggart, thank you.

    It makes so much more sense to see how they merge like that – bringing more meaning and feeling behind the Oneness that this symbol represents. It’s useful to remember this when you meditate with it as it enhances your experience. And for anyone who hasn’t meditated with it, I recommend you give it a try, it can be very powerful! I often feel this is a neglected symbol for many. Hmmmm I think I can feel a blog coming on……..

    with Love & Light

  2. How nice to come across some good calligraphy for the original HSZSN.
    When my students wrote about Reiki symbols, my first take was that westerners
    had simply “misspelled” the original kanji and mystified them. (If you don’t know
    Chinese, it’s quite easy to do this.)
    But after further consideration, I realized that HSZSN is actually a talisman
    in the Taoist tradition, which is quite parallel to the European practice of making
    sigils. The practice of overlapping and eliminating duplicate “letters” is the same.
    Since Reiki is a syncretic tradition that resonates with Sinto, Taoism, and Buddhism,
    this practice makes perfect sense. I only wish the practitioners knew about
    this more clearly.
    I Photoshopped an HSZSN talisman out of the calligraphy you’ve posted above.
    I’d be happy to send it to you if you like.

  3. Maybe this is a very silly question, but why is there a little animated bug hanging from the middle kanji? Its too deliberate to be an ink slat or something. If no one else sees it, I’ll leave quietly….

    1. That’s weird. I just saw that. It isn’t animated for me but it is definitely there. I shall investigate! Hope it doesn’t detract from the attractiveness of the caligraphy. 🙁

      1. Oh no, of course not! I’m just easily distracted, so spent too much time trying to figure it out when I could have been radiating Reiki to those in need. Thanks for the quick reply. Blessings…

  4. Excellent! Many thanks for this Taggart. I remember when the symbols were never seen by First Degree Students and we were told that they were ancient and secret, and not to be gazed upon by un-initiated 2nd Degree people or anyone else. I guess we were all surprised to find that they were merely common Chinese characters/Kanji after all. Thanks for you do to keep Reiki on a sensible, even keel, staying true to its essence, whilst allowing for growth and evolution. Love it.

    1. Hi Linda, I agree. It was very strange with all those “secret society, secret sacred symbols” undertones. The reality is a lot more rational. I’m glad that my approach feels right for you.

  5. Thank you for doing this – it is fascinating.

    I have taught this symbol to students for many years now with the individual kanji for the HSZSN shown separately and then the composite.

    What I learned from the original Western Reiki I did was the HSZSN full stop – no explanation other than the general view of what this meant in terms of Distance Work.

    From my own research I discovered there is so much more to this and how each Kanji tells the story that allows us to move into Oneness rather than Distance.

    1. Hon – original state – this let’s us into the aspect that using this Symbol allows us to spend a limited time in a sense of Oneness – we are liberated from time and space – also that once we have become familiar with Symbols we can let them go and we can then work more intuitively
    2. Sha – kindling the Heavenly Fire Element (from the aspect of Sun = fire) and the Earth and can also mean the Spiritual Light Beings/Creation
    3. Ze – is affirming the Inner Truth, right course, right goal etc (and some discussions point to M. Takata’s changing of Ze Sei to Ze Sho altering the meaning of the Kanji)
    4. Sho – this is about correctness – right path – for the good of everyone
    5. Nen – because part of the sign is related to the final strokes “heart” this can be translated as “from where the heart is” – hence the emphasis on love and compassion in Usui’s work.

    I was also interested when teaching a Japanese lady Reiki for her to say that these are old Kanji and that it would be written differently nowadays, but when we were working at Okuden level she also explained that Shonen is a a term which means Buddha Consciousness and offers another meaning that it can also mean that a Reiki Practitioner is a Light Bearer and for Spiritual Energy of Reiki and when giving Reiki become “Buddha like” carrying the enlightenment of the Buddha and then people just need to realise that they have been on the receiving end of this in order to stimulate their spiritual journey towards enlightenment. In fusing two Kanji there is also another meaning which is here and now. She also suggested that the horizontal line was indicative of ‘anchoring’ the Reiki Energy in time and space – and therefore that is why we can use the symbol for distance healing and ‘broadcasting’ Reiju at specific times.

    I am sure you know all of this Taggart, and also that there is much more about it which I have abbreviated into a summary of my own studies. However, when people ask questions we can then tell the story of the kanji for the Distance Symbol and they are able to make much better informed decisions about how they sink into their inner being in order to work with distance and to work with the Energy in a way that would be appropriate for the highest good of the receiver. Then we have less need of the frills as I think you once called them when we were working on my training with you of Western Reiki – just me, truly with the Spiritual Energy – channelling Reiki to you for the best possible reasons for the person concerned. I get out of the way and the Reiki Energy does its magic with the receiver (if they so wish!!!)

  6. I use HSZSN frequently, particularly over the last year during COVID. Yes, its hard to remember but like most things its practice. I have a copy beside my PC and when I start my distant healing I can follow the symbol in front of me before I connect to my client. It really works. People have said to me that they can feel the heat or energy coming through and can feel me scan the body. Recently I did give a cousin message that I could feel an issue with one of her breasts, a lump, and she needs of see her doctor. She had found this lump the previous day but not said anything to anyone. Since then she has seen her doctor and had minor op to take a piece for testing. Luckily it’s benign and she undergoing chemo to reduce the lump and I also continue to do distant healing on a regular basis.

  7. I cannot find a single iteration online that is like the HSZSN I was taught (one master removed from Phyllis Furumoto, so you think that there wouldn’t have been much chance for a significant mutation of the Kabhi) The internet wasn’t really as prolific at the time as it is now, so I couldn’t compare as I can now.

    1. I think we’ve ended up with a lot of variations in different lineages, especially since people weren’t always allowed to take home hard copies, and had to do it all from memory. Not a great approach, to be honest!

  8. Hi this one is slightly different to the one I have been given. I had different masters for the second and masters but both used the same design. My question is will it work sufficiently or should I now practice this one please? Thank you

    1. Hi Kathy, what I displayed in this blog posts is an ‘expanded’ or ‘exploded’ version of HSZSN, so that you can see the individual parts that the composite HSZSN was made of. This exploded HSZSN should nto be used as an alternative, though; HSZSN is a composite symbol for a reason. Hope that helps.

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