Seiki – Grandfather's Gift
by Kimiko Karpoff, March 20, 2015
My grandfather gave me a gift. I've had it my whole life although I was 49 before I discovered it. I remember other people in the family talking about this gift but it was always something that I felt I had missed out on, being one of the little cousins.
When I was about six years old, my mother's parents moved into a suite in our basement. I recognize now what a blessing it is to have grandparents so close. I don't remember talking to them a lot, but recall many moments in their space. My grandmother powdering her face and smiling as she patted some on my face as I peered over the edge of the vanity. My grandfather sitting on his little stool, back rod straight, humming and rocking. I had no idea what he was doing. It was just one of the quirky things he did like learning to play the saxophone at which he was face-scrinchingly terrible.
My grandfather was known all over the neighbourhood. He was an elderly Japanese gentleman who did not walk so much as stride down the streets with a tall back and brisk stride in his plaid pants, sneakers and green bow-tie.
My grandfather also practiced something that my family called Seiki. My soccer, tennis and baseball playing brother was often down at his place receiving his healing ministration, which to me looked a lot like my grandfather finding the sorest spot on my brothers leg then working the tip of his finger into it with tear-inducing firmness. Somehow this was helpful in releasing cramps and healing strains. My mother, who had received many of these treatments herself said that his finger was like a stick of wood.
Although the grandfather I knew, Grandpa Kabayama, was also the Reverend Jun Kabayama, a minister in the United Church of Canada, he grew up in the vestiges of the feudal system in Japan. He was raised a samurai. In his memoirs, he talks about as a young man learning to "eat fast and shit fast." They slept in their clothes so that they would always be ready. He wore thin cotton kimonos in the winter and heavy wool in the summer to build character. He was a young man when he converted from his Buddhist upbringing to Christianity, several years after first attending a Christian school because it promised to build character. He hadn't understood what they meant by that when he read their advertising, imagining a place that would expand his samurai training.
I too became a minister in the United Church of Canada, but it is the gift of Seiki that my grandfather gave to me. Seiki as a healing art was practiced by the samurai and was largely a hidden art. Years after I found myself called into healing ministries I learned this connection. I had often heard my family talk about Seiki, but at the time there was little information about it. I wondered if it was a family term for something else. There are no lack of books and websites about all kinds of energy healing forms, but Seiki seemed elusive. I trained on the Healing Pathway and continued through the phases as far as they were offered.
One gift of the Healing Pathway is becoming attunded to the energies of our bodies, to the healing power of connection to the Divine Life Source and awareness of spiritual others, angels, ancestors, saints. As I worked with the Healing Pathway and other energenic paths, I became increasingly aware of the presence of my grandparents.
May 16, 2014, I met with my mentor for Healing Pathway Phase IV, Catherine Awai, a multi-disciplined energy healer. I had chosen her as a mentor because of her own multi-disciplinary studies and openness to different paths. I was blessed when she agreed.
On this day we met in Vancouver in borrowed space at a church when she was in town teaching. After our meeting, I wandered the downtown and into a bookstore. In a section labelled "healing," one book jumped out at me. "Seiki Jutsu." Seiki, my grandfather's healing. There written on the back of the book, "Seiki jutsu is the ancient Japanese shamanic art of working with concentrated life-force energy." I flipped it open. "Seiki jutsu was well established centuries before reiki was developed and was used by the samurai." I felt my own energy surge. I bought the book.
One aspect about seiki-jutsu is that it is literally passed on from master to student with a laying of hands. The student is physically initiated into the experience of connecting to the energy. After I read that a picture emerged of my grandfather holding me at my baptism as a baby. He had baptized me. And with this image came the immediate sense that he had given me the gift of seiki at my baptism. I'd had this gift my whole life and for years he had been directing me toward it.
Later in the book, the authors tell a story about a woman who dreamed of a coiled snake. The authors tell her that cultures throughout the world depict the snake as a symbol of the vital life force. The kundalini is often depicted as a snake. I have worn a snake ring on my pinky for many years. In the past several years the snake has emerged in my meditations and my journals as a symbol of my own rising energy. It is as if I am emerging to my heritage as a seiki healer.
For me, seiki is still something to explore. It may even be a life-long journey as spiritual practices invariably are. Yet it is a powerful gift. It is a gift that connects me deeply to my grandfather, my Samurai roots and my call to a ministry of healing.