Focus on the Gokai (Five Principles)

Gokai all five principles

Background to the Gokai, or Five Principles

The Five Principles were taught to Reiki students by Mikao Usui, the Founder of the system of Reiki. Mikao Usui saw people becoming sick, then healing, then becoming sick again – with the cycle of ill health repeating itself in one form or another. He realised that to live a healthy and happy life, we also need to look after our mind. The Five Principles were one tool which Mikao Usui offered his students to help them achieve a healthy mind, which in turn would support the body as it healed physically.

Using the Gokai

Mikao Usui recommended that we recite the Gokai aloud with hands in Gassho (prayer position). He recommended that we do this both in the morning and in the evening – feeling the words in our hearts – as a powerful practice for focusing and healing our hearts and minds.

Reciting the Gokai is partly a contemplative exercise – a practice for the individual to consider these basic philosophies and how these qualities can be more fully integrated into their lives.

However, the practice of reciting the Gokai also contains a powerful inherent healing element. When the Gokai are recited out loud (especially in Japanese), they are considered to have powerful ‘kotodama’ or ‘word energy’. The reciting of these particular words out loud can have a really positive effect on our body and mind. The effect can be instant – it’s so simple and wonderful!

See the video below of Jikiden Reiki Dai Shihan Mari Okazaki reciting the Gokai in Japanese.  This video is very useful for getting used to how each word should sound.  This can be used alongside the graphic at the beginning of this post, which shows the principles written in Japanese followed by English:

KYO DAKE WA – Just for today

The five principles are proceeded by the phrase ‘Just for today…’.  This is a gentle and compassionate reminder to focus on the present moment.

IKARUNA – Do not be angry

Holding angry thoughts can be bad for our health.  Angry outbursts affect others as well as ourselves.  With Reiki, strong emotions can be tempered and greater emotional balance can be achieved.

SHIN PAI SUNA – Do not worry

The tendency to worry is to some extent innate.  This can be a positive thing, helping us to foresee potential problems so we can prepare ourselves accordingly.  What can be harmful, however, is when worry and anxious thoughts begin to dominate our lives and then start to negatively affect our health and happiness.  Alongside regular hands-on Reiki practice, I have found reciting the Gokai to be a very effective means of breaking the vicious circle of anxious thinking. Reciting the Gokai brings me to a place of calm ease – every time.

KAN SHA SHITE – Be grateful 

Practising gratitude can be a powerful antidote to negative emotions such as worry and anger.  This beautiful short film serves to remind us of the many things we can be grateful for today.  Reiki can bring us to this place of thankfulness too.

GYO O HAGEME – Do your duties

This principle is about fulfilling your obligations and responsibilities in life. However, there is no need to feel overwhelmed by this principle. Tadao Yamaguchi, Head of The Jikiden Reiki Institute, explains that this principle is really quite accessible. We should think about it in terms of the small things – it means to do our daily things but to do them fully, wholeheartedly and with enjoyment.

Through Tadao Yamaguchi’s Jikiden Reiki seminars, I have been fortunate enough to catch glimpses of different aspects of Japanese culture and it seems that this attitude is inherent in the Japanese way of life. For example, things always seem to be beautifully made and presented – one can see the care that has gone into the making of even the simplest of things.

HITO NI SHINSETSU NI – Be kind to others

Once we begin to integrate the first four principles into our lives, the final principle – compassion towards others – naturally follows.

When Tadao Yamaguchi (Head of The Jikiden Reiki Institute) spoke at the Mindful Peace Forum in Dundee back in 2012, he highlighted kindness as a necessary ingredient for inner and outer peace. He explained that helping others makes the world a better place, as our individual acts of kindness spur others on to be kind also. Tadao Sensei explained that helping others without expectation of reward can bring us happiness and, naturally, he highlighted Reiki as a way of bringing this principle to life.


Mikao Usui gave us the Gokai to help us.  Even if you have not yet taken Reiki training, why not try reciting the Gokai and incorporating these basic philosophies into your everyday life?  For those Reiki practitioners who have let this daily practice slip, why not try it for a couple of weeks to see how different you feel?  If you have any questions, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.


Note: The Gokai video featured in this post is included with kind permission from Mari Okazaki (