Review by Mike Gleason
Reiki Light: Reiki, Buddhism and the Medicine Buddha by Karl Hernesson © 2011
I am not a Reiki practitioner, nor am I particularly interested in learning the techniques involved, although I can recognize the validity and usefulness of them. Therefore I approached this book as simply someone who wanted to learn about a topic. Honestly, I was not expecting the Buddhist background and history, although I did appreciate how that information placed Reiki within a historical context. Another thing I appreciated was the attempt by the author to dispel the rumors and falsehoods which have attached themselves to this method of healing. Knowing that the current form is quite a bit divorced from the spiritual underpinnings made it easier to appreciate the information being conveyed.
Mr. Hernesson makes several valid points about the advantages of “in-person” Reiki attunement as opposed to “distance” attunement, several of which are so obvious as to really not need stating, which makes their inclusion all the more important. Some of them also apply to other forms of distance learning, but that is another matter entirely.
A differentiation is made between Reiki and other forms of spiritual healing, with the emphasis added that is it not necessarily “better” than other forms, merely different. To some, this may appear to be nit picking, but it is necessary to do both, as there are individuals who tend to brag about the superiority of their way of doing things.
Unfortunately, to truly take advantage of this book one needs to be able to devote a decent amount of time to not only reading it, but to working with it, and that is a luxury I simply don’t have. My evaluation must be based solely on the ability of the author to convey information in an easily understandable way, which Mr. Hernesson does nicely. Even the section on the chakras (which can often be quite confusing to one not familiar with the background of it) is clear and easy to understand.
Various methods of self-protection are explained in detail, ranging from simple shielding to complete sealing. Which one(s) you choose is for you to decide on an individual case basis. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and only you will know which is appropriate.
Techniques are discussed for the transmission of the healing energies which include a variety ranging from beaming the energy (from hand or chakra) to rainbow beaming. Along the way, the various aspects of the colors are discussed as they relate to Reiki. These can be applied for both in-person and distance healing.
The symbols which currently form such a vital part of the Reiki system (especially in the Western world) are explained (and their illustrations appear in Appendix F [starting on page 397]). Their usage in modern Reiki is looked at, even though there is a possibility that they were a later addition to the system. Without a doubt, they are very much integral to the usage of Reiki by the average practitioner. Their usefulness in cleansing an area, healing individuals, and as meditation subjects are all explored.
Breathing techniques are also explored in some depth, and their applications are looked at for a variety of uses. It is necessary to understand the underlying principles of Japanese thought and perception (which are, understandably, different from Western perceptions) in order to help your practice of Reiki come to a fuller fruition. This is not to say that you must reject your Western-based concept of reality and truth and accept the Japanese version; it simply means that you must take into account the variations which occur between the two ways of looking at the world.
The book is extensively foot-noted and references a variety of sources with differing perspectives on the history, development, and use of Reiki. There is a great deal of information contained within these foot-notes and it should be taken advantage of.
I must admit that I skimmed this book (as opposed to my usual thorough reading of each page), and that I must have missed a fairly large amount of the detail. Regardless, I did read several sections in their totality and have to say that, personally, I would not hesitate to recommend this book.
I plan to revisit this book in the future. I also plan to have a Reiki practitioner I know read it and give me their evaluation of it, so expect to see an update on this review some time later this year.