Within Okuden Reiki level II we use a mantra called Choku Rei 直霊, and in this article I’d like to explore where this mantra came from and what it means.
Because Japanese kanji (characters) are derived from the Chinese language, there are two ways to pronounce a kanji. Onyomi is the pronunciation that is closer to the Chinese form, typically used for nouns. Kunyomi is the traditional Japanese pronunciation, most frequently used when kanji appear in adjectives or verbs. Choku Rei 直霊 is the onyomi
pronunciation, while the kunyomi pronunciation of these characters is Naohi (sometimes written as Naobi).
While Choku Rei is more commonly known, both are correct; they are just different ways of pronouncing the same kanji.
There is only one Japanese Reiki school which uses the pronunciation Naohi and this comes from Mrs Yamaguchi; she used it in her attunements/initiation/reiju. All other Japanese Reiki lineages use the onyobi pronunciation, Choku Rei.
The Meaning of the Mantra
Choku Rei/Naohi/Naobi 直霊 means literally straight, direct, or correct spirit.
Some modern Reiki teachers teach that the meaning of Choku Rei is to put the energy straight or directly here or there; in other words when our hands touch a person during hands on healing, we might focus on the mantra to “put” the energy where our hands touch, making it stronger or more focused in that particular place on the body. This is a very external interpretation and does not reflect the inner spiritual teaching.
From a traditional Japanese perspective, direct or correct spirit describes our True Self; in other words, it describes a way of being where we are able to access our spirit (our innermost essence) directly. Although in modern Reiki practice Choku Rei might be seen as something we “give” to a person or place, traditionally this was not so; it was an inner, spiritual practice. We can see this more traditional viewpoint about Choku Rei 直霊 in Shintoism and also in traditional Aikido teachings.
Within Shinto being straight/direct is also very important element as it points towards honesty. We can also see this within the Reiki precept “be honest” or “be true to your way and your being.” In fact, all the tools within the system of Reiki are just sign posts pointing us in the direction of being straight/direct so that we can rediscover our True Self.
The Inner Teachings of Choku Rei
William Gleason is an international Aikido teacher who trained and lived in Japan for many years, and he illuminates a more traditional way of looking at Choku Rei/Naohi/Naobi:
The central function of naobi is self-reflection: as an intuitive practice, aikido requires constant awareness and assessment of our feelings and intentions. Naobi is the source of both body and mind. It creates the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch and, therefore, individual existence. As life begins with breath, the ki of naobi manifests in the lungs and the skin.
We can see in the above quote that traditionally the practice of Choku Rei was done to illuminate one’s True Self/Reiki and was not an external practice. Thus, it is a wonderful practice to use the mantra for remembering our True Self.
We cannot connect others to their True Self, they can only do that themselves. If we could really do this we would have a very different world. This is why using the mantra on others is a very modern interpretation. However when we remember our own True Self we start to shine our bright light out into the world; in this way we are like a mirror helping others to see their own True Self. This is why Usui-san put Choku Rei in his teachings: to help us to remember our own True Self, because this is when real change and real healing can begin.
When Naobi, the direct spirit, comes into activity, various high-frequency light wave vibrations are emanated.
When I was in Japan in 2012 my teacher, Takeda Ajari, explained that he did the worship of 直日霊 Naohi in the formal service of Shinto during the morning ritual. He would stand and recite mantras in front of a simple wooden shrine that also had a small mirror on it. In one way we might interpret this externally and think this practice is about worshiping at a shrine and focusing on something outside oneself. However if we look more deeply we can see that the mirror reflects the person who is performing the ritual; so in reality he was performing the ritual for himself, to cultivate a direct/straight spirit so that he might rediscover his own True Self. He explained to me that in Shinto teachings, Naohi is our True Self, our direct correct spirit.
Seeing Things As They Are
The introspection of naobi is not an abstract process of reflecting on the past. It is to stand in the present and see things exactly as they are. Naobi is the virtue of makoto—sincerity and gratitude for the gift of life.
Because practicing with Choku Rei/Naohi/Naobi 直霊 cultivates our True Self, this means that when we work with this tool within the system of Reiki it will help us to see things as they are. What does this mean? Seeing things as they are is about transcending duality; it’s about not labeling things that may come up as a result of a Reiki treatment or practice as good or bad, positive or negative, etc. It’s about letting go of the idea of a “giver” and “receiver” of Reiki. Seeing things as they are is about seeing from your True self to the True Self of the other person, animal, tree, or object; the more that we cultivate this direct/straight spirit the more we can connect to all things in life, heart to heart, without any labeling whatsoever. In this way we realize that we are all One.
In your big mind, everything has the same value…In your practice you should accept everything as it is, giving to each thing the same respect given to a Buddha.
As we can see, Mikao Usui, the founder of the System of Reiki, borrowed Japanese spiritual teachings to be placed in his spiritual teachings. So next time when you use the mantra Choku Rei/Naohi 直霊 remember its deeper meaning because when you remember what it really is about then you will gain so much more out of your practice.