Monday, 13 May 2019

Succession


About 20 years ago Phyllis and I were travelling to see a massage therapist in Mid-Wales.  Phyllis was driving and as we came up to a ‘Stop’ sign I pointed out that in the UK this means you need to come to a complete stop before moving on (not knowing how familiar Phyllis was with UK road rules).  For some reason Phyllis then fumbled the pedals and kept going through the ‘Stop’ sign, into the path of an oncoming lorry!  Thankfully, the lorry driver swerved to avoid us and what could have been a nasty accident was avoided.  After this incident I asked Phyllis what would happen when she, as Grand Master, died.  At the time the plan was that Paul Mitchel, who jointly holds the Office of Grand Master, was to be her successor.  She subsequently changed her mind, perhaps feeling that the role needed someone younger.  

In 2009, when Phyllis was diagnosed with breast cancer the question of succession was on many people’s minds.   In 2014 she decided to bring people together to talk about succession, with Ben Haggard as a regenerative thinking resource.  I was honoured to organise this event, which was very popular: we soon had a waiting list!  We found extra accommodation, so that everyone who wanted to could be there.

Ben led us in profound discussion and this was followed by Succession Weekend intensives in other parts of the world.   After these in-person Succession Weekends, Phyllis, Paul and Ben decided to create an online group, known as the Succession Core Team, to take these discussions further.  All those who had attended the Succession Weekends were invited.  Others also joined later.  Many attended these monthly meetings live and some acted as Witnesses – listening to the recording of the meeting and offering comments.  Ben prepared the group to hold a space for the process of succession.

While I was in Arizona it became clear that Phyllis’s life was coming to an end and there was some anxiety that she might die without naming her successor.  At the intensive I was participating in, which was held in Phyllis’s home, we were delighted to hear that she would join us on our last day.  

During the Usui II I had been thinking about how succession had happened when Takata became lineage bearer.  Hayashi gathered his reiki community together in his home and named Takata as his successor.  It occurred to me that this day would be similar, with members of the Succession Core Team and other reiki masters (including Rachel Goldberg, who assisted Phyllis with the Global Reiki Webinars) present in Phyllis’s home.  So this could be the day she would name her successor. 

Just before Phyllis came in to the room we had a break and I had gone to the bathroom.  On my way down the corridor I saw Phyllis and some of her carers preparing for her to join us.  Phyllis was sitting in her wheelchair, dressed in a lovely Japanese coat. 

Phyllis Furumoto, Johannes Reindl and witnesses on 15th March
After she joined us Phyllis started talking about how she had been thinking about deciding on her successor.  She then said: “Johannes in my deliberations and the deliberations of some of the Succession Core Team, you’re it.”  
 
At first Johannes was in shock and didn’t say anything.  Phyllis said “You can also say no”, but he accepted her request.  Phyllis then stood (which was not easy for her) and gave him the Japanese coat.  She also gave him a Native American medicine pouch that Takata had given to her.

Johannes Reindl is Austrian and relatively young (40).  He was initiated by Phyllis as a master in 2017 in Japan.  I have known him since we met in Germany about 15 years ago and I think he is a good choice because he is authentic, kind and has a strong commitment to reiki.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Phyllis: teacher, mentor, resource and friend


Kate Jones meets Phyllis Furumoto in 1993
Phyllis Lei Furumoto, lineage bearer of Usui Shiki Ryoho, came into my life at Kinnersley Castle in   She was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the time, so found the wet winter weather of the UK very cold!  I had been curious to meet the granddaughter of Hawayo Takata, having heard about her from my Reiki master.  I was really interested in hearing what Phyllis had to say, as she shared her grandmother’s teachings. I still remember to this day many things she said at that first gathering, such as “I would rather have a reiki treatment from a 1st degree student who practices regularly, than a master who doesn’t”.  This was the beginning of a relationship with Phyllis that has been deeply significant both personally and as a Reiki master.
Herefordshire in 1993.

My job as Administrator of The Reiki Association gave me further opportunities to meet her over the years.  In 1997 I was honoured to be asked to organise an Usui I master’s intensive, an exploration of the 9 Elements and 4 Aspects of Usui Shiki Ryoho.  She subsequently asked me to help her to prepare articles for Reiki Magazine International by editing her talks into a readable form.  This deepened my understanding further, which has enriched my teaching and practice.

One of the gifts Phyllis had was to see the potential in people and she often encouraged me to “make promises beyond my capacity”.  Thanks to Phyllis I found myself travelling to the USA for the 1st time to attend conferences about the Public Practice of Reiki.  What we learned at these conferences became useful when discussions about standards for practitioners took place in the UK.  

Phyllis was kind and generous, supporting my trips to Idaho for the conferences by inviting me to stay with her.  Alec and I were able to return the favour and she came to visit just before we went to China for the first time.  She was excited on our behalf and gave us some money to spend.  She told me that our trip to the home of tai chi inspired her to visit Japan for the first time.

Phyllis valued authenticity in people and taking part in a 3-year course with her called “Responding with Compassion” helped me to value and express my authentic self.  It was during this course that she introduced me to the wonderful Transformation Game.  

In 2010, following Phyllis’s cancer diagnosis, I visited her in Arizona, to give support and Reiki during chemo.  It was the biggest adventure of my life as she needed me to drive her and I was nervous about driving – especially on the other side of the road!  However by the end of the trip, thanks to her excellent driving instruction, I was confident enough to drive myself into the desert alone. One day we played a Transformation Game that led to singing becoming a greater part in my life.  Phyllis loved to sing and encouraged me to explore this aspect of myself.

5 years ago, Phyllis asked me to join the Executive Director team of Reiki Foundation International.  I agreed and as a result had online meetings with Phyllis and two other Reiki masters almost every Monday.  Our explorations together led to a deeper relationship and understanding.  It even led me to be able to disagree with her!

In 2017 I made my own visit to Japan on a tour she organised.  I am so grateful to have been able to make a pilgrimage to the home of Reiki in her company.

Phyllis has been a teacher, mentor and resource – someone who has guided, inspired and challenged me.  We have also shared a deep friendship.  It was therefore a great comfort, knowing there was little time left together, to be able to help her with a few final tasks, to give her Reiki, sing together, watch a great movie and finally say goodbye.  My friend is gone from this physical world, but all that we shared is part of me and cannot be lost.  I am deeply grateful.