Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen: History & meaning and how & when to use it

The third Reiki symbol is often seen as the symbol for distance healing, and of course it can help you do distance healing because it helps you connect with your client. My teacher, Leonard Keen, taught me that it meant “I greet the divine spirit in you.” So it is also about helping both you and your client come into awareness of your own perfect, enlightened pure nature as Enlightened awareness, not bodies or personal biographies.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen is a beautiful symbol to use and remains one of my favourites over all the years of using the different symbols. When you use it, you are also simply surrendering to the larger energy of all the millions of healings that have been done over the past hundred years with this symbol – there is no need to think or analyse, but rather to simply be, and be present with your client’s being as the essence and core of their reality.

I love the energy of the Honshazeshonen, because it feels so soft, so kind, so easing of suffering and disconnect and pain. I always look forward to the moment of invoking it and the feeling it brings.

Historical meaning

As always, when I want to get accurate and slightly contrarian insight into an aspect of Reiki history or theory, I go over to James Deacon’s Reiki pages and he translates the symbol from the Japanese kanji as:

“Correct Thought (/Correct Mindfulness) is the essence of being”

Hon sha ze sho nen is also a Buddhist chant, so it is very much inherited from Buddhism and Buddhist ideas. And for a good solid well-researched understanding, you can visit: ihreiki.com.

So what is mindfulness exactly?

Mindfulness is a Buddhist and Taoist concept. It is about moving beyond duality and attachment to mental phenomena, so that one can be truly present. It is the state of pure awareness. Both ordinary and profound. So when we use the distance Hon Sha ze Sho Nen symbol, we are bringing our client and ourselves into a state of deep meditative oneness.

If you have experienced this state yourself, you will know how peaceful and liberating it is. It is a state of potentiality in which all the old sufferings, mental sticking points, labels and perceptions of yourself and the world are in suspense, and you can perceive things as they are – clearly, without judgement, blissfully, without ego.

Despite it’s great power, mindfulness is not actually uncommon – we go spontaneously into a state of mindfulness when we are in a state of flow, or simple attentiveness to the world around us.

Contemporary Meaning

The contemporary Western meaning is commonly given as:

“No Past, No Present, No Future”

To mean that the healing can be sent across time and space – hence it’s frequent use as the distance healing symbol. And to mean that we are all one – the division between self and other is an illusion – this ties into the idea that since the self is an illusion, the division between self and other is also unreal. And in this way, it is very similar to the original translation and conceptualisation.

How and when to use it

The truth is that you can send distance Reiki without using symbols, and that the symbol can be used at any time with a client.

When you are learning, use the symbol on each and every client at the start of the session, wherever you happen to be beginning. Usually Reiki is done from head to foot, so then start by drawing the symbol in the air over the client’s head or heart with the palm of the hand.

If you are doing a distance session you can use a teddy bear or soft stuffed animal as a substitute for your client (very useful in the beginning) or a drawing of the human body will also work. You can also simply visualise the client’s body under your hands.

Some people like to write the client’s name on a piece of paper and then draw the symbol over that.

It is also wonderful to work with a photo, because then you can actually see the eyes and character of a person, so it is much easier to connect with their issues and personality.

More and more, I find that I start doing healing work and then only invoke the symbols when it feels like it is right to do so. So the irony is that over the years I am using them less and less, but when I do use them, everything shifts more profoundly. Keep using the symbols as much as possible until they become second nature to you. You will find your own way of working and your own relationship with them.

To study Reiki in a participatory workshop, you can book a place on my online course.

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