|Phyllis Furumoto, Johannes Reindl and witnesses on 15th March|
Monday, 13 May 2019
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.
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.