The Origin and Validity of the Grandmaster Title
and Other Important Issues
This letter was written by Carell Ann Farmer who was the fourth
master initiated by Phyllis Furumoto
and was present at the first masters meeting in 1982 and at the
meeting to form the Reiki Alliance in 1983.
Carol has given permission for anyone to make copies of this letter
to share with others.
806 - 6th St. E.
December 31, 1997
Dear Reiki Masters,
I am writing this letter to share my truth in response to the present
events that surround the practice of Reiki, in particular, the design
Office of the Grand Master, the concept of a sole and rightful heir,
lineage bearer, trademarking and licensing.
I write to provide a more complete picture of the growth of the Usui
of Reiki. I write because I have the courage and understanding now
so. I write to encourage other people to speak their truth. I write
that I can honour the life force as it lives within me.
I was trained by Phyllis Furumoto in January, 1981 in the first two
of Reiki. During my 1st level seminar, I received three gifts: the
I was a teacher of this natural healing art (it was known
then as Reiki - A Japanese Natural Healing Art), the knowing that
it was an
individual path and that my inner wisdom would always guide me, the
when I touched healing happened. The actualization of this
strengthened over the ensuing years with the challenges
I was initiated as a Reiki Master on April 1, 1982. I was the fourth
Master that Phyllis initiated. I paid Phyllis $10,000. Phyllis asked
make two commitments: to honour Reiki as an oral tradition and for
it to be
my sole source of income. I committed. I also committed to bringing
the master in me. I have upheld my commitment to the oral tradition.
the time of making that commitment I did not really understand what
meant to commit to an oral tradition. I was a single parent with two
children and no other source of income. It was a huge leap of faith
trust that the universe would totally provide all that I needed to
and provide for my family. My work as a teacher of natural healing
life have been supported by this practice. I have been invited to
extensively to give seminars and treatments. It has been a profound
experience of support and love. It has taught me the essence of Reiki.
have upheld the commitment to it being my sole source of income. On
1, 1996, I took my healing work into the corporate world, where I
gained experience and strength in standing strong in the face of politics
and the bottom line of making a profit. I live the practice quietly
continue to deepen my understanding of what it is to follow my inner
to dedicate my life to mastery.
Some of the memories that I want to share are parts of conversations
Phyllis had with me during my seminars in the first two levels of
subsequent training as a Reiki Master and my friendship with her that
extended over several years. I have held these conversations in confidence
based on my personal ethics. The interactive relationship with Phyllis
longer exists and that is of my choosing. I have felt for many years
I cannot align with the control and power which she exerts in her
Phyllis and I were strong catalysts for each other. We each have our
destiny to fulfill. As in all relationships, we have the right to
and disagree. I want to state clearly that I have no interest in making
Phyllis appear "wrong" for her choices. I wish only to speak from
and some of what I have to say is in disagreement with her choices.
a difficult path for me because she was my teacher and friend. I was
that one of the Reiki precepts was to honour one's teacher.
I met Phyllis shortly after her grandmother, Hawayo Takata died. Over
period of several years (1981 - 1984) we were in close association.
Phyllis confided in me. She talked to me in great detail of her confusion
over her grandmother's death, her grandmother's lack of clarifying
Phyllis's future role, her lack of direction in her own life and her
of the opportunity that was before her to step forward into the position
that her grandmother had filled.
I remember the day that she arrived at my house and pronounced that
had made a decision. Her decision was clear. She said, "I will go
money." She had decided to pursue her grandmother's work - teaching
classes, initiating Masters - for the income potential. She initiated
Masters between Feb.1981 and April 1982. She began to plan the first
gathering of Reiki Masters in Hawaii ( April 1982) and the memorial
service for her grandmother. In many ways, she was already acting
though she was walking in her grandmother's shoes.
Her statement of " I will go for the money" impacted me deeply. It
me given my own experience of Reiki. Even though I was a
I had felt the depth
inherent in Reiki. I had felt the spiritual impact.
Her decision was a materialistic decision. In my experience, there
spiritual awareness associated with it and I felt the paradox of that.
confusion regarding "honouring my teacher" deepened.
I sat in the circle at the first gathering of Reiki Masters in Hawaii
1982. I had been an initiated Master for 10 days. I listened to the
of how Takata had taught each master differently. We drew the symbols
together. It was quite shocking to the group to find out that they
different, similar in some respects and different in others. What
mean? Discussion around this led to an agreement that we would all
same symbols. I no longer remember exactly how we determined the correct
symbols. It marked the beginning of attempted standardization. Takata's
unique method of teaching was a source of great upset. We did not
understand the uniqueness and came to it with our Western notion of
uniformity and standardization. It was not apparent from the discussion
that anyone in the group understood the real relationship of the symbols
a catalyst for inner awakening and connection to the Energy. If this
been understood at the time, we would not have engaged in the process
needing to have everyone's symbols be exactly the same. Is this understood
now? Do we understand that Takata's way of teaching allowed each master
freedom to discover their own uniqueness? Do we understand that each
I also heard the confusion. No successor had been named. Barbara Weber
representing herself as the next leader. This was a source of concern
because she had taken actions and was making claims about some agreements
with Takata. Also, she had been invited to participate in the gathering
and had declined. Phyllis was questioned about what Takata had said
before she died. Phyllis said that her grandmother had hoped that
would follow in her footsteps, but that she had not said anything
definitive about it. Phyllis was questioned about any additional knowledge
or symbols that Takata had given her. She did not have any. But she
the only person that had started to initiate masters in the group.
in many ways leading the gathering. She said that she was open to
chosen as the person who would follow in Takata's footsteps and eventually
that is what appeared to happen. It seemed that nobody wanted the
responsibility of the role except Phyllis and nobody really understood
was to happen. I think that we did not have a glimmer of understanding
how Reiki could have moved forward without a "leader."
At that gathering, I received another profound gift. I had a powerful
experience regarding the concept of grand master. I knew from deep
my being that I had the potential of being a grand master. I had just
initiated as a Master. I was the "baby" in the group. The possibility
envisioning myself embodying the concept of grand master or the notion
speaking that I had that profound inner knowing was ludicrous and
terrifying. I chose not to speak of it.
I wish that I had had the courage and trust of my heart to speak.
have made a great difference to the future of Reiki. It is clear to
that if I had spoken, it would have initiated a discussion about the
concept of "grand master." The future of the Usui System of Reiki
looked very different. Consider for a moment a discussion about the
concept of "grand master" amongst those Reiki masters. "Grand master",
as a title or a position, but as a possibility that each and every
us can aspire to. I believe that at some level everyone at that gathering
had this energy experience of the potential of grand mastery. I know
as one of the participants, I felt that energy through my body and
the full force and potential of that awareness. I know that we all
the opportunity to direct our lives to grand mastery. We could be
in the question "What is grand mastery"? A powerful spiritual focus
our birth right. To live in this question is quite different from
as if we are "grand masters". If there is a designation or honouring
title, I believe that it must be earned from living an exemplary life.
It seems to me that everyone has forgotten the naivete of the participants
at the meeting. It was the first time that a group of Reiki Masters
together in America. We were all essentially "babies" in our practice
Reiki. We were dealing with issues that required wisdom and maturity
the practice of Reiki. I don't feel that we even began to understand
at the time. The lack of understanding of succession, the confusion
Takata's method of teaching, the variations in the symbols, the threat
Barbara Weber would fill the gap provided by Takata's death were expressed
fears within the group. Nobody there knew the decision that Phyllis
made "to go for the money," except me and I did not share that information.
None of the people present took the fact that Takata had not designated
successor to mean that there was not to be a successor. It is possible
that this is the truth.
A further development happened at the next gathering of Reiki Masters,
which was held at Barbara Brown's home in British Columbia in 1983.
Reiki Alliance was formed. I can no longer recall exact details. I
remember that Phyllis was acting as the leader and most persons there
with the energy of the situation. I remember spending days working
purpose statement of the Reiki Alliance. It was the beginning of the
further westernization of Reiki. As people born and raised in the
have a certain set of values and definitions. When these definitions
values are applied to a set of values and definitions from another
they change the original meaning. In the case of Reiki, I think that
have deviated greatly from the original teaching and intent. It requires
intensive study and contemplation to understand a different culture.
only way we had of understanding was through our Western mind set.
Western way of thinking coupled with Phyllis's own motivation led
being known as Grand Master and later, her proclamation of being a
bearer and now, that she is the sole and rightful heir of the Usui
of Reiki. I do not think that what transpired was in the energy of
system itself, rather an outcome of the Western way and Phyllis's
At the next gathering of the Reiki Alliance, one of the Masters asked
Phyllis to talk about what happened when Takata died and the process
she came to claim to be a successor. She began to tell a story that
fabrication. I called for truth. Phyllis retracted her statements,
question remained unanswered. After that gathering, I left the Reiki
Alliance. I felt that Phyllis had created a fabrication around the
System of Reiki that was a protection for her own purposes. I began
walk my own path with Reiki. I began the process of following my inner
For the past seventeen years, I have been deepening my understanding
integrating those first three gifts from my first level seminar and
fourth gift from my sitting in the circle in Hawaii in 1982. Those
spiritual experiences have been my guides in this journey. It is a
in my life that they have led to greater and greater simplicity and
I do not align with the complex notions that are currently expressed
Phyllis about this practice. I do not align with any of the notions
role of grandmaster, office of grandmaster, lineage bearer, sole and
rightful heir of the Usui System of Reiki or licensing fees for Masters
because they do not come from the system itself. What is all this
Who benefits from all this "stuff?" It looks to me like Phyllis does.
The notions of form, discipline and practice are inherent in the way
this healing art is presented by the Reiki Master.. At least at one
this was true. In the oral tradition, the emphasis was on self discovery
and embodied in the concept " allow the Energy to lead you". There
need to have lengthy treatises about it. Trust the Reiki Master to
and model it. It is simple. It exists.
We are all lineage bearers, rightful heirs and potentially grandmasters.
It is not the exclusive right of one person.
We have a great opportunity to free ourselves from confusion and return
the true simplicity of this gentle practice. I believe that we have
maturity and understanding at this time to speak, to be heard and
forth the dignity and integrity of this teaching. We are all responsible
for what has happened and we are all responsible for the future.
To be a Reiki Master is to hold a sacred trust. This purity of heart
essence of what we have to share. I pray that together we can bring
purity forth to clarify the past, live what we teach and teach what
I send you this letter with love and blessings,
Carell Ann Farmer