Saturday, August 18, 2007


There is a guest blogger today. In a conversation over coffee "C" brought up the topic of reiki and I realized my ignorance on the topic from what she told me about it and thought you might like to hear more about it. It is one thing to know that it is something we should avoid, it is another to know why. So without further adieu, here is C's post on reiki.

Just about every Catholic has been exposed in one way or another to New Age Spirituality. Parishes, retreat houses, hospitals, even exercise classes and spas throughout the country are offering New Age practices in the form of yoga, centering prayer, enneagrams, labyrinth walks, and crystals just to name a few.

One popular and widespread New Age practice is the healing technique called “reiki”. Reiki was created early in the 20th century by a Buddhist monk, Mikao Usui, who claimed to have received healing power after a long period of fast and meditation. The name reiki is a combination of the Chinese words “rei”, meaning “spirit” or “ghost”, and “ki”, meaning “life force energy”. Reiki is passed from master to student through a series of “attunements” that open the student’s energy channels and empower him to heal. In a Reiki session, the patient lies down and the Reiki practitioner moves his hands over different parts of the patient’s body in order to channel healing energy, sometimes invoking to help of “spirit guides”. The treatment is said to relieve “blockages” in the patient’s energy channels that inhibit the flow of healing energy. (Amusingly, Mr. Usui later decided that there should be an “energy exchange” in return for Reiki treatment in the form of a cash payment.)

Most Christians do not realize that practices such as Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi, Feng Shui, acupuncture, and reflexology all invoke the universal life energy “ki” and are considered occult practices that are not compatible with Catholic teaching. The Vatican document Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life explains that the New Age regards God, not as a person with whom we can relate, but a force to be harnessed. Pope John Paul II called the New Age movement a “return to ancient Gnostic ideas” in which salvation is gained, not through Jesus Christ, but through secret knowledge reserved for a few special people (like Reiki practitioners, for example).

New Age practices are questionable on many fronts. Some patients will forgo legitimate treatment and put their hope in the power of Reiki. Some also question the ethics of asking for money for a “spiritual” treatment. But for a Christian, New Age practices pose a real spiritual danger, tapping into the supernatural evil of the occult. While the Catholic Church accepts all that is good and true in other religions, “energy modalities” like Reiki simply cannot be made compatible with the Christian faith.

This is just my own two cents:I can understand the appeal of New Age practices. They require no catechesis and no commitment. They are perceived as being religiously neutral. No one has to make any uncomfortable moral judgments. Reiki is instant, bland, and inoffensive, but then so are grits (yuck!). The Church and its sacraments have much better to offer.“Christians United for the Faith” has a great article for further reading:

Thank you C! This was very informative!


Adoro said...

Thank you!

Centering Prayer should be grouped in there also; it is often called "Contemplative Prayer" but in truth, it is a technique used, as you say, to "harness" powers of God.

Practitioners will deny this up and down because they've been so fleeced by the clever language used to claim it is the same technique used by St. Therese of Avila and St. John of the Cross. But these people also have not studied Transcendental Meditation and what it is...which is actually Centering Prayer under the new name.

Buddhist Masters actually say that the practices you defined, and TM cannot be divorced from the act of worship of Brahmin.

Anonymous said...

This may be too honest, and you may want to take it down - I'm ok with that.

I was once interested in learning Reiki, perhaps because it was a near laying on of hands toward healing. Hence, I have thought of it as a bit of love applied. Obviously, I haven't really looked into it, tho' I thought to do so again when I saw it advertised at the hospital for all pre-op and post-op folks. I'd recalled nurses' backrubs of eons ago, and know that their touch upon premature babies has often spelled the difference between life and death. I know that touch gives something the human organism understands. Why not also redirecting bad energy away from a trouble spot?

I'd thought all these things do or at least can work together. I know that even kara-te ("open hand") is also supposed to be a spiritual thing, an active yet not violent resistance that deflects or turns back the violence that comes at one. And yoga really does make us aware of the gift of our bodies. When else are we aware of the miracle of muscles and breath? We are rarely aware of our bodies, except when in pain or in intimacy, and few of us breathe as we should. Maybe Tai Chi has the same benefit there.

As for centering prayer, it's the one time I have thought and said,
"Abba." If a Trappist loves it, I can't dismiss it as evil. Feng shui and mazes seem kitschy and not timeless, I dunno, they make me think of fondue pots, lol, but there's a bit of peace-fostering value in them, no doubt. And peyote is for others, tho' I can't totally dismiss whatever happens there, either.

The thing is, if ever I think of the spiritual regarding any of this stuff, I always think of God as given me by the Church. It seems to me that most every seemingly strange spirituality has one aim, to help us see and know the Indwelling -- well, that's how I see it. I know that God brings Good even from what may be a flirting with evil. I think most people head into something hoping for a greater closeness to Him, and a greater holiness of self, a more loving person to give. I'm sure that is Wayne Dyer's philosophy, and that popular India doctor (whose name escapes me) as well.

Of course, I may be an idiot. Except for one thing: What does the Church say of this or that? If the Church condemns something, I will have nothing to do with it. If she only cautions against something, or against many somethings leading to some big error, I will avoid it all. She is 2000 years older than me, and She knows that everything we truly need is in the Gospels and in sacramental grace and in the most Holy offering of Mass. If we lived these as we should, we'd already be aware of love, bodies, God within. We'd already have peace and healing. But whatever we do, may it lead back to the Gospel, and not just for self.

Fr. V said...

"The thing is, if ever I think of the spiritual regarding any of this stuff, I always think of God as given me by the Church."

Some would say that then you are not actually doing what the practice calls you to. Plus there is the whole "harnessing of God" which is not what we are about. That is not to deny that touch is a very good thing (that is why sacraments are a lot about touching.)

Yes, people are looking for God (at least of some sort) when looking into such things. Then again, G. K. Chesterton says something like, "Every man who walks into a whorehouse is looking for God." - that is Love. I still wouldn't recommend it. ;>)

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I saw a question on Reiki on the EWTN question/answer website descibing Reiki and other practices this way (occult-like). I mentioned it to a person I knew who was attending a Reiki practice at my alma mater's motherhouse. "Reflections" is run by the Sisters of St. Joseph and their "brochure" sent to alumni and others feature most prominently many of these practices. Wonder if our new bishop approves?

Anonymous said...

I would also like to add that *hopefully* our bishop can do something...from what I have heard in the past, the good Sisters are not under the diocese so are "free" to do this, but not sure if that is accurate.

Adoro said...

Just Me ~ The Church HAS spoken against these things, in an Encyclical regarding the New Age.

As far as the whole Trappist Monk things go...well, even Merton got caught up and went downhill, although his early works such as "Seven Story Mountain" is still respected, to the best of my knowledge.

About Centering Prayer ~ here's a post I wrote about it.

If you're looking, as a Catholic, for a way to authentically reach God, it's not found in cheap techniques. Anything worthwhile involves hard work, and prayer/union with God is no different.

And speaking as a person who dabbled in the New Age and Occult..I was seeking God, too, and my dabbling actually almost got me killed or framed for murder.

When you dabble in these things, it is NOT sufficient to pass them off as harmless, "as long as I'm thinking X and not Y, then it's still ok." WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

The reality is this "dabbling" opens a door to the demons who truly run that spiritual dog and pony show. No matter what you call that impersonal "energy" that these techniques tap into, it is NOT of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, there is something in human touch, but that's a far cry from this New Ageyness.

The contact with the babies can be easily explained without quoting Reiki or using it to justify Reiki or the like. We are all created by God, who is a God of Love. We are made for love, we are born of love, and we are designed to give love. People of all ages have died without love. Love makes all the differene in peole's lives. Babies cannot understanding other than touch. That's how they know love. It's pure, it's the way God intended it, and they survived because those nurses did what the mothers should have been doing (but for the medical condition that kept them hooked to machines).

There's nothing New Agey about those babies or the nurses who served as a type of surrogate mother, by letting those little ones understand human touch.

I have a cousin who used to work at the Mayo clinic in post natal, working in the ICU and with HIV babies...and she loved every one of those little souls.

We are born for love, we are born to love God with all our hearts. But when we are tapping into techniques used as worship to false gods, then we are diving ourselves AGAINST God. Period. There is no justification for it.

Indeed, God can use these things and bring souls out of it...but that's a testament to God's love for us and his infinite patience...not an endorsement of us going where we should not have gone to begin with.


Anonymous said...

Heh...a couple years ago...i had the "pleasure" of visiting the (now closed, and hopefully exorcised) Sophia center at Ursuline College over on Lander Rd...after making a stop in the chapel which had "various reiki stones and crystals" in the holy water know...for "healing purposes"...i visited the sophia center gift shop.
Upon entering, book covers with pentagrams and titles like "the wonderful world of wicca by Sister So-and-so", "Castrating God the Father" and "The Inner Goddess" to mention a few religious sister-penned neo-Gnostic favorites caught my attention. The cashier (possibly a nun, but how can one really tell these days) greeted me by saying, "oh, can't you just sense the spirits in this place." To my *suprise* i received a scowl when i responded "spirits, yes...but unfortunately not the Holy One..." I wandered around the store a bit, and just before i was about to purchase a copy of the new "Shankara Flutes and Crystal I Ching" CD a couple friends dragged me out. I was also seriously tempted to enroll in some workshops i saw advertised on a bulletin board, one of which was a seasonal workshop called "Santa as Shaman".

I had the urge to tear down the bulletin board, find the nearest female religious, rub there nose in it and say "No", but i had an appointment to get to.

The closing of the Sophia center was a victory of a battle against the Anti-Christ working in our own diocese. Unfortunately, many male and female religious and laymen in this diocese (and around the world) have sought to become "empowered" empowered by the spirits channeled in the rites of the old ways instead of putting on the armor of Christ against the "powers and principalities" that seek the ruin of souls.

A great resource about the dangers of the occult was put out by Fr. Mitch Pacqua called "Who do you say that I am? and can be found in the audio library of the EWTN website.

Pray that all those who dabble in the occult, all those who are seriously entangled in the occult or are tempted by the glamour of being empowered by occult practices may be enlightened by Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Pray especially for all Christians who are deceived by the false prophets of this age and for the conversion of all those in teaching positions who lead many astray by false teaching.

Anonymous said...

Great posts...anon...adore...

we (unfortunately) still have the west side version of the Sophia center...I couldn't remember its correct name...did a google search and it is called "River's Edge"... as I read I see their first "speaker" in their speaker series is pretty frightening...who dreams up this stuff...I will pray for this "center" closing soon.

Fr. V said...

Is it Catholic?

Anonymous said...

Well, that's the point. As a practicing Catholic utterly committed to T/tradition as best I know how, I spent 40 years or more in weekly Mass, catechism class, and deeply involved in parish service-- all while not knowing that the Church had spoken against Reiki, enneagrams, and so much else.

It's fine to be on a soapbox, but if someone is talking about a Church teaching, then we need to hear it, especially now, over the mikes, from behind the podium.

Rebuttal #1: It's not just those going into whorehouses who are looking for love. How I thank God it's only God who's allowed to judge a heart.

Rebuttal #2: I'm thinking Merton's prayer covered his tush, because he meant it enough to live it; and the fact that people love him, I mean love him enough to read his very orthodox stuff 50 years after his death, says a lot about him as an influential Catholic. I hope no one ever dismisses him or the Trappists or any Order over a freckle of faith. He never claimed to be a saint, and there wouldn't be as many Catholics in the world if not for Fr. Louis.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, shall I rephrase that last sentence, or can I trust you all to look past it to what I meant?

This is why I stayed out of doing brain surgery for a living, too.

Anonymous said...

To Father when asked "if Catholic" I misspoke the name in my original post on this subject, referring to the Sisters of St. Joseph's center as "Reflections." It is, in fact, "River's Edge" as my follow up mentioned :) Sorry for the confusion. Yes, indeed, I believe the Sisters of S.J. still believe they are "catholic", but if you go to this site you may not think so. God help us/them.

Anonymous said...

Hello all. I dabbled in Centering Prayer for a few months. Did the 6-week introductory seminar & then tried practicing at home, but it just didn't feel right. I gave it up. I was discerning my vocation w/the Trappists and was trusting that Fr. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, and others knew what they were talking about. I bought some of Keating's books, and I LOVE Merton (although I haven't read his Asian Journals or his poems; just the old stuff). What bothered me about CP is that it seemed to focus too much on me & my experience, as well as "opening" myself up to ... I don't know who. Or what. It just seemed false, and I was disappointed that so many Trappists (good good men who I love and trust) are into it. They are far more advanced in the spiritual life than I, so I can only surmise that perhaps they have some kind of teflon coating that's preserving them. But me? I'm not so lucky, and I don't want to open myself up to anything that's less than Grade A, Vatican-approved. Through the Ignatian Exercises, I've been focusing much more on the Persons of Jesus and His Mother. How can one go wrong with Him?

Melody K said...

At worst, some of these things are connected to the occult; as has been pointed out. Some practices just seem silly, such as labyrinths. These would be the spiritual equivalents of Twinkies and Cheetos, empty calories that don't nourish; which may be taking the place of something more beneficial.

Anonymous said...

They may seem silly...

Occult practices are explicitly forbidden in Sacred Scripture and in the constant teaching of the Magisterium--meaning they are intrinsically evil--as in SINFUL. Not merely do occult practices detract from the true worship of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, but they open up dabblers and practitioners to grave mental, emotional, and spiritual harm--anxiety attacks, confusion, despair, and even demonic possession.