Dr. Mikao Usui (1865-1926) was a Japanese man who spent time in a Buddhist monastery.
It is said that following years of study, Dr. Usui made a pilgrimage to the holy mountain of Mount Kurama. After fasting and meditating for 21 days he had a spiritual awakening. During this experience, he was struck by a powerful light, and out of this light came bubbles of energy which contained ancient Sanskrit symbols and he was initiated into the path of Reiki. He went to the poor quarter in Kyoto and began healing the beggars. He then established a clinic for healing and teaching.
Reiki is passed on from Master to student through an attunement process. It is a powerful spiritual experience which creates a special link between the Reiki student and the source of Reiki or Universal Life Force Energy.
Dr. Usui passed it on to Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. Later, Mrs. Hawayo Takata went to the clinic seeking treatment when she was ill with cancer. Following months of intensive Reiki treatment, Mrs. Takata was completely cured and she then wanted to be accepted as a pupil. After studying with Dr. Hayashi, Mrs. Takata became a Reiki Master.
It was Mrs. Takata who brought Reiki to the West, and before her death in 1980 she had attuned 22 Masters in the USA and Canada.