Now the Australian is a Reiki master. He makes a trip to Kansas City this weekend to lead a series of workshops teaching others about the healing art that uses the laying-on of hands to channel "universal life-force energies."
Crundall became interested in energy healing through his late wife, Denise, who was into yoga. "I was a fashion consultant," he says, "and worked in the fashion industry, in all the big exhibitions in Rome, Paris and London. And I just suddenly realized she was having a lot more fun than I was."
Reiki was presented to the modern world by Dr. Mikao Usui in the late nineteenth century. Usui wanted to understand the healing powers of Jesus and Buddha. He traveled the world for many years without finding an answer before finally deciding to meditate and fast on a mountain. He later claimed that, on the 21st day, he was struck on the forehead by a ball of light. He insisted that this was a sign not of extreme hunger but of literal enlightenment. When he left the mountain, he was able to heal using that notion of tangible energy.
For their first few years practicing Reiki together, the Crundalls treated AIDS patients. "You watched people who thought it was hopeless," Crundall says, "and they just transformed."
But new Reiki inductees need not have such lofty goals. Some people practice Reiki on their plants, claiming that treating just one branch of a fruit tree produces not only more fruit but bigger fruit on that branch.
"With Reiki, we're just scratching the surface of human potential," says local practitioner Deb McLaren. "Healing may be the beginning of so many more things that we find out about ourselves. That is what excites me the most, that we are so incredibly powerful."