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TitleReiki: Secrets of the Usui 'moon-star' crest
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Copyright © 2012 James Deacon
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Page 3

Image: Chibajinja (Chiba Shrine)

The 'moon-star' emblem together with the main Chiba clan emblem: the kyuo(-boshi) mon,
in the Hall of Worship for Myōken at the Chiba Shrine, Chiba City

Myōken is perhaps (at least for most Westerners,) one of the lesser-known
Japanese Buddhist deities.

While commonly considered a bosatsu (i.e. bodhisattva), Myōken is technically a
Heavenly Being or “ten” - essentially, a deity of non-Buddhist Indian origin.

Myōken Bosatsu (sometimes referred to as Myōken Dai-Bosatsu – 'great bodhisattva'
) is a multifaceted being, with many different aspects & manifestations.1

The deity can appear in several different forms – sometimes male, sometimes
female; sometimes wrathful in nature, sometimes compassionate; sometimes two-
armed, sometimes four-armed.

Sometimes Myōken is depicted standing on the back of a dragon; other
manifestations see the deity standing on the back of a composite mythical creature
with a horses tail, a horses or dragons head, and the body of a turtle.
Alternatively, the deity may be depicted seated on a cloud.

Throughout history, Myōken has been worshipped across the various strata of
Japanese society.

Envisaged as an armour-clad warrior wielding a sword, the deity has been venerated
by various samurai clans (including the Chiba, and the No-se) as a powerful protector
– of both men and horses.

Myōken is strongly associated with Polaris - the North Star, and the 'Big
Dipper'/'Great Bear' constellation, both of which (star and constellation) have been
essential for ships navigators.
For this reason, Myōken has been worshipped by sailors, merchants and others who
rely on the sea for their livelihood - as the bosatsu of safe voyage, offering the
promise of protection from shipwreck and drowning.

And as "ruler of the Venerable Star" (ie. the North Star), Myōken was venerated in
the Imperial court as a protector of the Emperor, and the Nation.

For others, Myōken has been envisaged in feminine form - sometimes venerated as
a deity of the home and domestic harmony - sometimes as a deity of beauty, fertility,

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other two upraised palms, rest two orbs - the 'sun orb' (in the right hand), the 'moon
orb' (in the left).

Within the sun orb is the image of a three-legged crow – a symbol of the Shinto sun-
goddess Amaterasu, while within the moon orb is an image of a hare (pounding rice
or grain in a mortar) – a symbol of the Shinto moon-god Tsuki-yomi.

An antlered deer's head adorns Myōken's headdress, This is a reference to the
shamanic elements of Shugendo tradition. (It is said that Myōken can assume the
form of a deer).

Directly above Myōken is the deity's spiritual emblem - the Crescent Moon and the
North Star., and within the disc of the 'North Star,' is the bosatsu's “seed syllable” (a
character from the siddham form of the Sanskrit alphabet,) considered to hold the
very essence of the deity's inner nature.

This particular symbol (sho in sanskrit) is pronounced "so" in Japanese.



Commonly referred to as tsuki ni hoshi or tsuki boshi (both terms simply
slightly different ways of saying 'moon-star'), the emblem is also known as the sankō

This latter term translates as 'three lights' and refers to the understanding that the
symbol is not just comprised of the moon and star:

Star Moon

but actually has three elements: the sun and moon and star.

Star Sun Moon

This perception of the 'hidden sun' within the symbol reveals a greater depth to the
symbol and, on a one level, connects with the art of kotodama gaku2 (a mystical
discipline concerned with the hidden power and meanings of words).

For example:
When the kanji character for sun: is written next to the character for moon: , a
new kanji character is formed:

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This new kanji is called: myō .
[This is not the kanji myō which forms part of the name Myōken, but rather is the myō
familiar to Reiki practitioners as being the final character of the Reiki 'Master Symbol'
- ]

Myō: means 'bright'.
And when we combine this with the kanji for 'star': we get: Myōjō as yet
another alternative name for the symbol.

Myōjō translates as: 'Bright Star' - a synonym for the the planet Venus, and also a
reference to pre-eminence - indicating a person of (merit-based) importance, or
superior status.

Thus, the symbol can be understood to indicate a pre-eminent person, but also, more
importantly, in terms of the mystical beliefs of the previously-mentioned Onmyōdō
and Shugendo, the symbol can be viewed as having actual 'talismanic' properties -
holding the power to enable one to rise to pre-eminence in their chosen field.

Also within the symbol, there is yet a further hidden significance.
If we focus solely on the combined 'Sun and Moon' element

This forms a version of a very important symbol in Japanese mystical belief
- the in-yō.

The in-yō, more commonly depicted in its 'upright' form:

is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese yin-yang symbol.

[in = yin, yō = yang ]

And just as with its Chinese counterpart, so, the in-yo represents Sun & Moon,
Heaven & Earth, the Cosmos & Nature, Spirituality & Physicality, Masculinity &
Femininity – the in-yo essentially expresses the dynamic interplay of all existence -
the interplay between heat and cold, hard and soft, tension and relaxation, inhaling
and exhaling, activity and rest, waking and sleeping...

In-yō signifies a state of 'creative harmony' - the 'dynamic balance' (- as opposed to
balance in a static 'levelling-out' sense) of complementary opposing forces - the
power of life itself.

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This very important mystical symbol hidden within the 'moon-star' brings yet another
level of connection with the disciplines of Onmyōdō .
In fact, the 'On' and 'myō' are actually alternative readings of the kanji characters
used to write in and yō: 3

The examples given here show just a few of the hidden levels of meaning and power
to be discovered within the 'moon-star' emblem.

There is significantly more to be discussed
- for example in relation to the "North Star" element of the symbol; however this might
deserve an article all of its own.

Of course, having become aware of the existence of these layers of hidden meaning
and power, we cannot help but ask the question:

Did Usui-sensei view the moon-star emblem simply as 'just' a family crest?
(He would certainly have understood its deeper, esoteric, significance).

For a Usui to have adopted the Bodhisattva's spiritual emblem as their family crest,
was to have brought the protective power of Myōken into the family lineage in a very
big way. [If we think about it, while the Chiba's have, for more than a thousand
years, been the most ardent devotees of the Bodhisattva Myōken, not even they
adopted emblem as their primary family crest.]

And further, we can wonder, what influence - if any – might the ancestral association
with Myōken have had on the development of Usui Reiki Ryoho?

Could thoughts of the veneration of the 'great bodhisattva Myōken':

[ Myōken dai-bosatsu ] :

and the power of the sankō : - the sun & moon & North Star,

and the 'hidden' power of the Myōjō :

have perhaps been in the back of Usui-sensei's mind when formulating aspects of
Usui Reiki Ryoho...


1 And, somewhat confusingly, Myōken is also referred to by many different names and titles,
depending on the given aspect and manifestation.
2 See:
3 Some might see special significance in the recurrence of the syllable myō (in its various
different kanji forms) within the different layers of meaning within the emblem

* * * * * * *

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