Do we connect at all?
It all starts with a connection, doesn’t it? We “attune” to the energy, connecting them or hooking them up to a source of energy that they did not have access to before… or do we?
Are we connecting people to something external to them?
One of the important principles of the original system was the concept of ‘oneness’ and in fact one of the goals of the original system was to experience this state, by working with meditations and/or kotodama at Second Degree.
The idea here is that what we experience as reality is said to be ‘illusion’ : the notion that we are individuals, separate and distinct from other people, is an illusion, and ultimate reality is oneness. There is no me, there is no you. In fact one way that you could explain distant healing is by saying that there is no problem in ‘sending’ the energy to another person because there is no other person and there is no you!
And in that light, how could there be something external to us that we ‘connect’ to, how could there be something that we were not ‘at one’ with: we already have the connection.
So what does the attunement do?
Well we could see the ritual as a way of directing the student’s attention in a particular way, helping them to recognise or notice something that has always been there.
I like to explain this in these terms:
Imagine that you are visiting a friend and you walk into their lounge. They say to you, “can you hear that high-pitched noise?”. You can’t hear anything, well not to begin with, anyway.
Then you listen, you really listen, you focus your attention in a new way, in a different way from how you were paying attention when you first walked into the room… and suddenly you can hear the sound because you have ‘tuned in’ to it.
You have been ‘attuned’ to something that had already been there, and you were only attuned to that sound through the intervention of your friend, who asked you the right question.
And to take this metaphor a little further, does it matter exactly what wording your friend uses to direct your attention to the sound that you couldn’t initially hear?
No, of course not, there are many ways of asking someone to pay attention to a ‘mystery’ sound.
Your friend needed to be there in some way to facilitate the process, but the detail of what they said isn’t so important. Their intention in directing your attention in a particular way is what’s significant.
And in fact they didn’t even need to have been in the room: they could have called you on the telephone and asked the question, or they could have left you a note to read. The end result would have been the same: the intervention of a third party, in some way, helping you to ‘tune in’ to something that had already existed and which you had the potential to experience, but didn’t until your friend helped to point you in the right direction in terms of your awareness.
That is what attunements do.
Where did attunements come from, and which are the right ones?
It seems fairly clear that Usui Sensei did not attune anyone to anything: he did not use attunements. He empowered people using intent.
Attunements only came into being after Usui’s death when the Imperial Officers got together and created a ritual that gave them the same sort of experiences that they had noticed when being empowered by Usui.
They had only trained with Usui for a relatively short space of time and would not have reached the level where they would have been taught how to empower others, so they put together their own ritual.
And what was this ritual, exactly?
Well, it’s difficult to say. There is information about a ritual that Tatsumi was taught by Dr Hayashi, but there is some disagreement about exactly what the ritual was for.
Dr Hayashi will have taught attunements to Mrs Takata, and one assumes that she passed these on in an unmodified form to the teachers that she initiated but, as I understand it, even within “The Reiki Alliance” – an organisation greatly wedded to the Office of Grandmaster – the attunement rituals have been altered and modified in different lineages.
There is a notion that you have to have four attunements for First Degree for it to be ‘kosher’, though in some lineages they might carry out three, or two, or even one.
Different philisophies & systems creep into Reiki
Various principles from different energetic systems have been slotted into Reiki over the years, and symbols from non-Reiki sources, too.
So, for example, the attunements that Reiki Evolution use, which are slightly mutated ‘William Rand’ attunements, include the ‘Tibetan’ Master Symbol, and also the use of the HuiYin, the Fire Dragon and the Violet breath. We are taught three different First Degree attunements, but we do the third one twice to make that magic number four!
Not all Reiki teachers have the ‘Tibetan’ Master symbol, not all use the violet breath, not all connect the HuiYin, not all use the magic ‘four’ attunements approach, and the empowerments used by Usui’s surviving students did not involve using any of these things.
So I suggest that if we’re going to carry out attunements then we use the method that we were taught, and make sure that we are doing it ‘correctly’, while also remembering that the individual details of a particular attunement style are not so important.
You are there as a facilitator, someone who helps the student to recognise something that is already there within them, and this can be achieved in different ways.
There is controversy about the use of distant attunements and, currently, none of the Reiki associations will accept students that have received distant attunements, only ‘in person’ ones.
None of the societies have specified what is the maximum safe distance that a teacher has to be from the student in order for an attunement to qualify.
This aversion to distant attunements involves amazing mental gymnastics: on the one hand such people believe that Reiki can be sent from one side of the planet to another, to the future, to the past, just by thinking about it (or by using a symbol and thinking about it), passing through the planet, whizzing through time… and yet when it comes to ‘connection’ rituals the teacher has to stand right in front of the student otherwise it won’t work.
Of course a lot of online Reiki courses are rubbish, but that can also be said of many ‘in person’ Reiki courses, where students emerge with no clear idea of what Reiki is, nor how to use it for their own benefit or to treat others.
The individual stages of attunement methods
We know that attunement rituals have mutated and altered as they have been passed on from teacher to teacher, and some of the changes will simply reflect that teacher’s particular style of working, where they have expressed their intention – or their understanding of what is going on when you ‘attune’ someone – in terms of a particular hand or arm movement, a particular affirmation or visualization.
The outer ritual expresses an inner intention, and an intention can be expressed in different ways by different people.
Of course, people have come to different conclusions about what they are doing and why, based on their belief systems and other practices that they are involved with, so teachers will have conflicting beliefs about what is a necessary part of an attunement, what needs to be carried out for an attunement to be effective.
There are many attunement styles, reflecting differing belief systems, and these conflicting attunements work.
They all work because they are all expressions of an intention, which underpins what you are doing when you ‘attune’.
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