Religion, Reiki Symbols and their Origin and Function

Bizarre Associations

If you Google these four symbols, you will find all sorts of bizarre explanations and attributes given for them, often bringing in concepts and ideas that have absolutely nothing to do with Reiki, such as unlocking the Akashic records or using the second symbol like a transmuting shield (whatever that is) to catch emotional energy coming (your) way from others to diffuse it. Here’s another truly bizarre reference to the third symbol: The symbol is supposed to depict a shape-shifting creature that can cross space and time. I could fill pages with this stuff, but here’s just one more: using the Choku-rei to journey to the realms of the power animals and using the Sei-hei-ki to communicate with them.

The Symbols

Symbols three and four are written expressions in the form of kanji. As such it makes them much easier to understand. I’m not going to dissect them here, but a good place to start in understanding these two symbols would be to check out this blog post by Pamela Miles: What Does the Reiki Kanji Mean? Pamela has a very down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach to her practice of Reiki that must be applauded.

Statue of Buddha

Functions of the Symbols

When I teach about the symbols in a class, I am at great pains to emphasize that their origins are within esoteric Buddhism, and that they are, like their Buddhist counterparts, used principally as devices for bringing stillness and focus to the mind, to help the meditator access different aspects of their own being and to help guide them on their journey towards enlightenment. In working with the symbols as meditation devices, the practitioner returns to the essence of their True Nature from which they had been unconsciously alienated. The practice helps to re-centre daily life as we move into a space of reintegration with the Absolute.

Origins of the Symbols

Someone meditating

Symbol 1

Let’s just focus on one of the symbols for a moment, Symbol 1. Symbol 1, the power symbol, has been associated with a Buddhist deity called Seishi. On a spiritual level, we work with this symbol to develop power, or the capacity to be effective, confident, assertive. i.e., “put the power here”; to assert our truth. It is a command from Seishi whom we are in a sense embodying when we use Symbol 1 and its associated mantra. Seishi often appears in Buddhist iconography as one of the main attendants of Amida Buddha and represents the power of wisdom. The other attendant to Amida is Kannon, or Avalokiteshvara embodying, as we have seen, the quality of compassion.


Priest holding Bible

Researching the Symbols

Google is not a good research tool when it comes to exploring anything in depth, and most certainly not when it comes to the Reiki symbols. Priests, Sheikhs, and other spiritual leaders and adherents routinely rely on it when it comes to the subject of Reiki as if it were the fount of all wisdom, and then they pontificate on the subject, that they know extraordinarily little or nothing about, as if they are now endowed with all the knowledge required. They’re not. Not by a long shot.

Someone praying



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Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch


Author of Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom and Mindfulness Meditation and the Art of Reiki. Creativity and Mindset Coach. Artist.