The most important feature of the 1st degree learning is the student's alignment to the intent of the path. The student is coming into an established tradition, and they must synchronize their actions to that tradition. This often means that the student must suspend their own beliefs while they take on the beliefs of the path. It does not mean that they must discard their beliefs. This can be a time of rebellion as new knowledge is taken up and old knowledge is modified or put away. We all carry baggage, and any tradition worth it's salt is going to have beliefs that are contrary to the baggage the student carries. The 1st degree is a time of testing. Buttons will be pushed and beliefs will be challenged. Those who are not ready for the path of the tradition are removed, and those who have an affinity to the path continue.
The 1st degree is also a time of preparation. Powerful knowledge is either hidden or revealed in riddles that are unwoven later. The student is kept from harming themselves or others with the potentials of the path. Workings are supervised directly or supervised indirectly through safeguards of ignorance. The student must learn to crawl before they walk, learn to walk before they run, and learn to run before they fly. To attempt to fly without full knowledge will only lead to an encounter with hard ground. While teachers may seem cruel or hard, their strictness is there to insure the safety of the student and those around the student. A teacher's perplexing, sometimes capricious behavior, is revealed in later degrees as having wisdom and guidance. The learning and preparation of the 1st degree readies the student to continue on to their own workings.
The 1st degree Reiki student learns what Reiki is. I learned that Reiki came with a mindset of harmony with the world. A daily prayer is given to the student. I had to let go of my therapeutic background of drawing negative energies out, and align myself with the Reiki reality of the healing energies being directed to a general location and doing what is needed. I am only a conduit for universal healing energies. As a 1st degree Reiki practitioner I was limited to only treating people hands-on.