Reiki Master Teacher
John Harvey Gray turns 90
And He’s Busy With A Full Teaching Schedule!
By Diane Stolar
Photos by Diane Stolar
The longest-practicing Reiki Master Teacher in the US will celebrate his 90th birthday on April 10th, two days after teaching another weekend course. Born in the Orient in 1917, John Harvey Gray is one of the original 22 instructors trained in Reiki (“ray-kee”) by Hawayo Takata, the woman who brought the ancient Japanese healing art to this country. The method was passed on to her by Chujiro Hayashi, and Hayashi was taught by Dr. Mikao Usui – the man credited with re-formulating the traditional techniques for contemporary application early in the 20th century.
Reiki, which means Universal Life Force, has been used for centuries to restore balance and deliver healing in a non-invasive and relaxing manner. Elegant in its simplicity, yet profound in its impact, Gray explains, “It is easy both to learn and to use. Beginners with no background in the healing arts can be effective immediately without the need for extensive training, and can help anyone (including him or herself), animals, and even plants. Reiki also works at a distance.”
After spending his first 10 years in the Far East and then moving to a town just south of San Francisco, John Harvey Gray attended Dartmouth College and discovered that he loved the winters. But many life chapters would intervene before he ultimately found his way back to New England.
As an Army officer in World War II, Gray experienced the horror of war first-hand in the Pacific theater. He recalls, “I vowed to devote the rest of my life to peaceful means. During a remarkable spiritual awakening when I narrowly missed death at the Battle of Leyte, I became convinced that there were energy forces and types of communication that existed that had not yet been explored by Western science.”
Following the war, Gray studied at the Harvard Business School and then returned to California, where he worked as a systems analyst for Bank of America, and later Stanford Research Institute and Bechtel. It was his abiding, private interest in how to heal suffering, however, that brought him together with his first wife, Beth.
In 1973, she had started Trinity Metaphysical Center in Redwood, CA, which provided a forum for those involved in various alternative therapies and sacred traditions throughout the world. Healers from many cultures would give presentations and teach classes.
It was during this period that the Grays met and received the Master Teacher training from Hawayo Takata. A Reiki healing group was formed at Trinity Center, the first of many to come which John oversaw, and some time later, Beth introduced Reiki to Australia. Like the spinning of a prayer wheel sends blessings and prayers out into the world, Takata’s training propelled John on to the next stage of his journey.
In 1979, he decided to devote himself entirely to healing through the practice of Reiki. He said goodbye to his career, kissed Beth goodbye (they have remained the closest of friends), left California, made his way to the East Coast, and has never looked back. John is credited with introducing Reiki to New England and has taught in all but two of the fifty states. In 1994 he was presented with the “Teacher of the Year” award “for a lifetime of spiritual guidance and exceptional teaching” by the Interface Foundation, Boston’s former premier training center of New Age and Healing Arts. John has presented over 900 Reiki workshops to more than 15,000 students. Among them are many doctors (including Christiane Northrup, M.D.), nurses, massage therapists, nuns and ministers, as well as lay people with no previous healing or spiritual training.
While teaching a Reiki workshop in 1994, John met the woman who, two years later, would become his wife, co-teacher, and life partner. Lourdes Gray quit her job in mortgage banking, sold her home in the DC suburbs, and moved to New Hampshire.
Lourdes is also a Reiki Master Teacher, certified by John, and has conducted over 500 workshops alone or with him since 1996. She holds a doctorate in parapsychology and is a certified clinical hypnotherapist. She is also John’s successor in their Reiki lineage, the Usui-Gray Integrated Reiki SystemTM.
“Because Reiki is generally administered by touch, people assume that it works exclusively on the physical body,” Lourdes says. “However, it also works to balance the emotional, the spiritual, and the mental dimensions of the person because the harmonizing energy of Reiki works with the entire organism.”
“It stimulates the Relaxation Response (a stress reducer),” she continues.“It increases immunity, decreases pain and discomfort, reduces swelling and inflammation, as well as the formation of scar tissue, and accelerates the healing process for such things as cuts, bruises, and burns. As a Reiki practitioner, you have a first aid kit in your hands.”
A man of warmth, wit, thoughtfulness, and vitality, John is excited about the series of videos that he and Lourdes are putting together. There are instructional tapes demonstrating techniques that will enable the practitioner to become a more powerful channel, thus increasing the depth and effectiveness of Reiki treatments. There is a series of interviews with John. There are also previously unreleased recordings of Hawayo Takata, in which she answers many of the important questions about Reiki. He and Lourdes have also co-authored a book, Hand to Hand, which is available at bookstores (or by order if not in stock), through Amazon, XLibris, or directly through the Grays via their Web site: learnreiki.com. The site also contains their teaching schedule (as does their ad and the calendar in this issue of Earth Star) and classes are taught throughout the year. The next Reiki First Degree workshop will be held next month on May 5th and 6th at Porter Square in Cambridge, MA. In addition, the Wellness Center, which John started, provides treatments on a non-fee, donation basis on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month from June to December.
Does this sound like your average 90-year-old man? “It’s not how long I live,” John says emphatically, “but the quality of life I have and what I can do to help others. I want to share as much of my knowledge as I can. I attribute my own good health to the practice of Reiki, and give myself treatments every day. My life span has exceeded those of many other members of my family.”
With a full teaching schedule and all of the other irons he has in the fire, you wouldn’t think that John Harvey Gray has much in the way of spare time. But when he does, you’re apt to find him snowshoeing, kayaking, or gardening – and he is particularly fond of his woodstove. The Grays have just purchased an RV and plan to do some long-awaited camping this summer, exploring places throughout New England. Other destinations will follow as time and their teaching commitments allow. Visit the John Harvey Gray Center For Reiki Healing via the Web site. Better yet, avail yourself of the opportunity to study with this remarkable, gentle man who continues to devote himself to serving others and is a conduit for the energies of life, healing and love. Happiest of birthdays, John Harvey.
“I vowed to devote the rest of my life to peaceful means. During a remarkable spiritual awakening when I narrowly missed death at the Battle of Leyte, I became convinced that there were energy forces and types of communication that existed that had not yet been explored by Western science.”
Diane Stolar, a freelance writer, has spent the past 30 years in the Monadnock Region of southwestern NH. She is a former massage therapist, and had a private practice in Specialized Kinesiology. She has been a hospice volunteer and was trained to work with bereaved children, using the arts. Since 1992, she has been a member of Robert Gass’s choral group, On Wings Of Song. Currently, she serves on the advisory board of The SustainabilityProject, based in Gilsum, NH.
Used with permission, courtesy of Earthstar Magazine, April/May 2007
Reprinted with permission of EarthStar Magazine, Copyright 2007 by Earth Start Magazine Incorporated, All Rights Reserved. No articles may be used without written permission of the publisher.