The Buddha is often quoted as saying:
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.1Buddha quotes Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.
It’s likely that the Buddha never actually said this. But the fact that we can’t know for sure doesn’t mean the words don’t have power. It’s up to us to decide whether it’s a good teaching, and a principle worth living by.
The initiations (or attunements) are blessing ceremonies in which you receive the power to do Reiki. Like the empowerment blessing of a Tibetan Lama, or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the initiation is primarily a spiritual process. Although there is a physical element, which usually involves touch2For most of the initiation the teacher does not even touch the student, but works in her aura., the purpose of the ritual is to align the student with the energy of reiki.
Because of this, the initiation requires a leap of faith from both the teacher and the student. We step out, and as we step we show that we are open to something happening. We don’t understand exactly what happens, and we can’t prove it scientifically, which is why we need faith. This is not the same as belief, which often closes us to experience, rather it’s openness to what might be. And this leap of faith is exactly the same, whether the initiation is in-person or from a distance.
I was nervous before I gave my first distance initiation, because until that day I had only experienced in-person initiations. But just as my first experience receiving in-person initiations at level one removed all my worries about whether initiations work or not, so after giving my first distance initiation my doubts and worries vanished.
We can’t know for sure what the Buddha taught, but our experience tells us that the words we attribute to him are good and useful. We trust our experience. Do distance initiations work? Reiki teachers and practitioners across the globe are discovering that they do.
Update: After giving several distance initiations I reflected on the experience in this post.