“Distance Reiki: Non-Dual Nature” (Part 3 of 4)

Part 3: Non-Dual Nature

Buddhist philosophy supports Reiki practice. The International House of Reiki provides many helpful blog posts on key aspects of this philosophical underpinning, and the one I’m thinking of in particular takes us to an aspect of Reiki that skeptics have a really hard time understanding: Distance Reiki. By lingering with these complex thoughts from Eastern Philosophy, we can start to look with fresh eyes on something that might at first appear completely foreign, much in the same way that the translations of Ki’s different usages offers a clear look at the usually mystifying concept of life energy.

The phrase in question here is 本者是正念 (pronounced Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen). Chanting this phrase helps some Reiki practitioners to undertake distance healing, though, as Frans Stiene writes, the phrase has nothing to do with distance healing whatsoever. Stiene writes,

In his recently published book, "Zen Chants - Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary," noted Japanese calligrapher and translator of Buddhist texts Kazuaki Tanahashi states that sho represents non-duality. Therefore, we can also translate Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen 本者是念 as "my original nature is a non-dual thought", or "I am non-dual thought".

What we translate into English as “distance healing” is actually something closer to an alternative view of time and space, and by “alternative” I really mean “other-than-Western.” The goal of this mantra is to penetrate to the heart of this way of thinking, which, essentially, posits that there is no difference between you and I, neither is there space nor time separating us. We are of the One. I am non-dual, which means I am One.

Funnily enough, there is a Western thinker whose intelligence brought us very close to realizations like this back in the early twentieth century. His name was Albert Einstein. In his General Theory of Relativity from 1904, the famous physicist wrote, “Space and time are modes in which we think, not conditions in which we exist.” By this, he meant that space and time are not constants. Space is not empty, as so many tend to think. Time is not linear, as our history “timelines” would have us believe. Rather, we create standards of time and space in order to agree on a version of reality and do practical things like build trains, transfer goods, and construct logical sentences. Importantly, Einstein warns us, there is danger in allowing this agreed-upon reality to become The Reality because, as he says, time and space are not, and should not be, constants by which to determine an immutable (unchanging) existence.


Are we really that far away from Einstein when we face down 本者是正念? Are we not simply accessing other modes of space and time in order to explore undervalued aspects of our reality? At the very least, I think skeptics of Distance Reiki need to dedicate some time to meditating on the Buddhist philosophical principles that facilitate Reiki practice. If not Buddhism, then they should read some of Einstein and his contemporaries.

At the end of the day, my understanding of Distance Reiki and non-dual thought is this: To accomplish anything like Distance Healing, one must first turn in toward oneself and think about the ego. What is this thing called “I”? How is it distinct from the world around me, and how is it the same? Equality, a virtue that most people praise, is pure oneness. To be equal with something is to be that thing. There is no other definition of equality that really gets at the philosophical underpinning of Equivalence. As such, if I aspire toward equality, I have to allow my ego to dissolve into the One. As the teaching of this thought becomes clearer, then it is possible to engage in what we call Distance Healing. That is, as we heal ourselves from our illusions about the world, then we can heal others in ways we can barely imagine at the present moment. To let go of our certainties is the first step to experiencing these different ways of imagining.