I don't know that there are any short cuts to doing a good job. -Sandra Day O'Conner

What is Lineage?

To the western mind, lineage is a nebulous concept. In the teaching of spiritual or mystic traditions however, lineage is of utmost importance.

Let me explain lineage by using the "telephone" game. In this game, everyone sits in a circle and one person whispers a phrase to the next. Each in turn passes on the phrase until it gets back to the originator. The result rarely resembles the original phrase. This is an example of "lineage of phrase". If the game is interrupted after the first 2 or 3 people, the phrase is probably very similar to the original but by the 20th person, it has been altered dramatically.

Now let's change the rules of the telephone game to try to keep the original phrase intact. Instead of passing The Phrase to one person, the Originator passes it to many people. After years of repeating and explaining The Phrase he selects those who have best understood and remembered The Phrase and makes those people Teachers. The Teachers do the same thing, so that at each generation there is a returning to The Phrase. Along the way there may be some alteration due to changes in collective consciousness or culture, but for the most part The Phrase remains the same. The Meaning of The Phrase remains the same since each teacher will test the students for understanding of The Meaning as well as memorization of the words of The Phrase before considering them as Teachers. This formula for returning to the original phrase at each generation would allow many generations with little or no corruption of The Phrase. There are many ways in which The Phrase can be altered, even corrupted. For instance:
  • Students other than those named as Teacher pass on their understanding of The Phrase. At first it wouldn't vary much from the original phrase but there would be some change as the students would not necessarily have shown the same understanding and memory of The Phrase as a Teacher. If each of these unauthorized teachers went through the same process of choosing their own teachers, similar but varied versions of The Phrase would evolve. If these successive teachers did not ensure quality standards, The Phrase would quickly mutate until it was unrecognizable.

  • Someone outside the circle of students overhears The Phrase. This individual would not be party to the discussions about The Phrase and would never have the chance to learn The Meaning and be tested in their understanding of The Phrase. The Phrase passed on by this individual would only be a phrase — devoid of embodied understanding.

  • Student disagrees with the Teacher as to the Meaning or the words of The Phrase. That student might choose to change The Phrase and therefore create a new phrase. The new phrase may have inherent value but it isn't and shouldn't be called The Phrase.
Lineage is all about keeping the knowledge pure and true to "The Phrase" — the original teachings. In any spiritual or mystic practice, it is essential that the teaching at each generation be held true to the original teachings. This does not restrict the practitioner or the student. It only restricts the teacher and only in the way the knowledge is passed on. Each recipient of the knowledge must make it his or her own but each time one becomes a Teacher there must be a return to The Phrase. If this does not happen, then after only a very few generations the knowledge becomes corrupted and lost. This is also the rationale for the secrecy in most traditions — to protect the knowledge from being misunderstood or misused, rather than maintaining some sort of elitism.

There are clear examples of this phenomenon all around us. Martial Arts in most schools now bear little resemblance to the pure teachings of the Originals. Most mystic teachings have numerous "copy-cat" versions, often using the same names as the Original.

Reiki has been hugely affected by this "telephone game" in the last decade to the point where many people calling themselves Reiki Masters have had no more than a few hours training. Many of them have never given or received Reiki treatments.

The Original Reiki is a system created by Mikao Usui in the late 1800's based on knowledge he rediscovered after many years of study and research.

That knowledge came to the West through the lineage of Chujiro Hayashi (initiated by Usui) and Hawayo Takata (initiated by Hayashi). Each of Usui and Hayashi initiated only about a dozen Masters and Takata, in over 40 years as a Master, initiated only 22 Masters.

Until 1980, in the West, only Hawayo Takata initiated Reiki Masters. Since she was only the third generation after Usui, the lineage was very clear, short and narrow.

After Takata’s death in 1980, some of the 22 Masters she had initiated began to initiate Masters themselves. These Masters then initiated others, and so on.

Until the late 1990’s ALL Reiki in the West was either directly or indirectly derived from Takata’s teaching. The guidelines she gave required an absolute minimum of 3 years of experience with Reiki following first initiation before becoming a Master. This means that as of 2002 if each of the Masters in the lineage has met just her minimum requirements, there cannot be more than 8 generations following Takata (or 10 generations from Usui). This lineage is still relatively short but is now much wider than existed even in Takata’s day. This change puts more responsibility on the initiating Reiki Master to ensure the standards of purity at each generation and more responsibility on the seeker of knowledge to ensure the purity of lineage.

The alternate “forms” of Reiki in the West have only existed since the mid 1980’s. They resulted from a few individuals choosing to change the structure to something other than what was taught by Hawayo Takata (and which she learned from her teacher).

In 1994 it became known that there was an existing school of Reiki remaining in Japan. Before that there had been a complete disconnection after the end of the Second World War between the West and Japan as far as Reiki was concerned. It wasn’t until 1996 that there was any kind of opening of the Japanese to the West concerning Reiki and current Japanese teaching is still not easily accessible to Westerners. While this may change, as of this time, any claims to direct lineage to Japan must be checked out carefully.

R. Duff Doel was initiated as a Reiki Master by Phyllis Lei Furumoto who was initiated by Hawayo Takata — there are only 3 people between him and the Originator of Reiki.

The lineage of R. Duff Doel is as follows:
  1. Mikao Usui
  2. Chujiro Hayashi
  3. Hawayo Takata
  4. Phyllis Lei Furumoto

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