|Reiki body treatment|
Today's post continues with my series of posts on the New Age, and is the second post based on Brother Max Sculley's book, Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki: A Guide For Christians, a book that I had introduced in February of this year with a blog post of the same title.
Of these three New Age practices, I decided to write about Reiki because of the ease with which people are deceived, and the widespread usage that has made Reiki a global phenomenon. If this blog post is the first time you have been alerted to the problem of the New Age, and are concerned about these practices, may I suggest you read my initial post on the New Age, The New Age: A Basic Introduction.
As to why Brother Max has included Reiki with Yoga and Tai-Chi, he explains that an enormous amount of people are flocking to these New Age practices. At the advanced level, practitioners can acquire occult powers and even supposed divinization. At the heart of these three belief systems is the worship of an impersonal god which is so vastly different from the personal God of Christianity.
Reiki, like Yoga and Tai-Chi involves techniques aimed at producing "altered states of consciousness." These altered states of consciousness or "ASCs" are abnormal mental states created by a variety of techniques, and are at the core of New Age spirituality. Brother Max notes that "...[S]uch states are generally characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will." (8) This is in sharp contrast to genuine Christian mystical experiences such as visions, ecstasies or prophetic revelations, which are not generated by techniques, but occur spontaneously and unbidden by the direct action of the Holy Spirit.
If you are new to Reiki, you might be asking yourself what exactly is Reiki? Reiki is an ancient healing art, whose origins date back to a Japanese man, Mikao Usui, who discovered Reiki in 1899. Bother Max explains that most Reiki people regard Reiki as "The Source," much in the same way as Christians look to Christ. Reiki translated means universal divine source which Br. Max notes seems to stem from or at a minimum has some connection to Mikao Usui's religion of Shingon Buddhism's, whose supreme god is referred to as Universal Divine Energy.
In essence, Reiki is a counterfeit healing to the genuine Christian healing available through prayer, the Sacraments and Healing Mass. The source of Reiki's healing is not from God, but that of the demonic. Involvement in Reiki leads practitioners away from faith in God's healing, and into the realm of the demonic, deceived by a host of concepts such as: maintaining and increasing good health, growing in self love, improving one's emotional life, relaxing more deeply, experiencing harmony and joy, and nurturing one's own spiritual life by making contact with the "higher self (the divine self)."
The ultimate source is not implicitly understood by the recipient nor explicitly communicated by the giver, and as such, many enter into an encounter with the demonic unknowingly, attributing the experience to the host of deceptive concepts. Brother Max expands on this point by stating that:
The practice of Reiki generally leads to the acquiring of certain supernatural powers which are demonic in origin. Because its practitioners cover or cloud the true nature of this system, and because it does not have the usual trappings of a formalised religion, I refer to Reiki as a crypto-religion which nestles comfortably into New Age. (116)Reiki essentially involves the laying of hands over a person either as a "head or body treatment," and is supposed to bring "wholeness" to both the recipient and the giver. The treatment is supposed to provide the recipient with a feeling of peace and deep relaxation restoring the "natural balance of the body." The treatment is supposed to last for approximately sixty-to-ninety minutes and is usually accompanied by quiet soft music, burning of incense and subdued lighting. All that is required to benefit from Reiki is for the recipient to be open, and willing to receive the "energy."
The Reiki that we have available here in Canada, and in much of the Western world is a "non-religious" form developed by Mikao Usui for non-Buddhists. It involves the use of four symbols: Power, Mental Emotional, Long Distance and Master, all of which are considered the means to making contact with the "source" of Reiki. These symbols are connected with Reiki's three levels of initiation, which involve the process of acquiring the "power." Unlike Yoga and Tai-Chi, very little is explained about this process and therefore, very little is required of practitioners.
To illustrate the deception and dangers of Reiki, in his chapter entitled, Reiki Wreckage, Brother Max provides case examples of people who were involved in Reiki, and how it negatively impacted their lives. Under the chapter subheading of Counterfeit Healing, Br. Max details the experience of Ruth, a married woman with a family of three young children whose initiation into Reiki led her away from her Catholic faith, and into encounters with the demonic, disguised in the different levels of Reiki initiation and through contact with other "Reiki people." Ruth's whirlwind of demonic deception eventually ended by divine intervention. Through God's love and mercy, Ruth was brought to a new point of conversion in her Catholic faith journey, in which she renounced Reiki and all New Age practices, and embraced Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Redeemer.
Ruth's initial exposure to Reiki was an informal one, a workshop in the home of a Reiki Master, a beautiful 40 year old woman with a warm presence. Ruth along with seven others were to be initiated into Level One, and at a later date, Level Two. Level One involved the Reiki Master placing invisible symbols upon everyone, and each person was exposed to their so called "energy centers" or "chakras" in the human body. Ruth admits that never was Jesus mentioned at these sessions.
Level Two involved the reception of another invisible symbol, the Long Distance Symbol, where Ruth and others received the "power" to give Reiki to others at a far distance, and receive feedback from others who were willing to receive the "power." The demonic element of Reiki is revealed in the following segment of Ruth's testimony:
As we continued we were told that there were spirits attached to Reiki and that you could call on them and receive your own personal spirit (your Reiki spirit) to help you with the person you were working on. With the help of my Reiki spirit, I could sometimes actually see into the body and see the problem, and at other times I would know what was emotionally wrong with the person. Through my spirit, I developed a real clairvoyance... (134)The spirits Ruth refers to are demonic spirits. Proper Catholic discernment tells us that inspirations, and gifts from the spiritual realm are either from the Holy Spirit or evil spirits. The latter is the case with Ruth's above noted testimony. This is further understood by the actual gift Ruth received, clairvoyance, which is not a gift from the Holy Spirit, and contrary to God's Holy Law, You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under the section Divination and Magic:
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (2116)Ruth even confirms this herself when she notes that, she met so many people in Reiki who were involved in New Age practices, such as: crystal healing, Tarot Cards, astrology, Past Life Regression Therapy, clairvoyance, aura drawings and healing.
Further on in Ruth's testimony, she continues to provide a first hand account of the deceptive and dangerous aspects of Reiki when describing her attendance at a monthly Reiki meditative meeting:
...This group had requested me to channel messages from the spirit world for them. It was like a being a medium at a séance. As these were all Masters, I felt very privileged to be asked. One day I channelled this being called Qwan Yin. As she entered me, my whole body shook. It was a strange phenomenon. It took a lot out of me. She was some divine goddess and I don't remember what she said.I really never remembered what these spirits said through me, but all of the Masters wanted more of this goddess so I channeled her quite a lot. I realised after a while that this sort of thing was not good for my body. So, since I was regularly in contact with my spirit-guide, I received instructions from it no to do this anymore. In fact, I was told not to channel any other spirits except one called Shannon... (135)The above quote clearly shows that Ruth was in contact with the demonic. With all the New Age practices that she was involved in, such an account is not shocking by any means, nor is her admission of "doing a weekend of Astral Travelling" and a week of Past Life Regression therapy, both of which are New Age practices.
One day the Reiki deception all came to an end when one of Ruth's friends informed her that Reiki was not from God. At first, she was devastated by the statement, but she decided to think about it. Taking the matter to prayer began the process of her release from the clutches of the demonic. Ruth even admits that the release did not happen as it would normally have because although she was praying at Church, she was still involved in Reiki. Ruth stated, "...That's not a good mix." (137)
Eventually, Ruth completely gave up Reiki, and disposed of all her New Age material. Upon a visit to a Church of another Christian denomination, and talking about Reiki with one individual, that individual simply responded with one explosive word, "Counterfeit." Ruth states that she knew instantly that Reiki was a counterfeit to Christian healing, and decided to arrange a meeting with the pastor at this Church where she renounced: Reiki and all its allied psychic powers, spiritualism, astral travel, clairvoyance, and belief in past lives and reincarnation. The group from this Church prayed over her, and asked God to deliver her from all spiritual bondage. Ruth reasserted her belief that Jesus Christ was her Saviour, unique Lord and she surrendered her life to Him.
Ruth concluded that she returned to the Catholic Church, and as a proper form of healing, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and confessed all of her involvement in Reiki. In the process, she felt as if a great burden had been lifted due in part to the compassion and understanding of the Confessor. As an end result, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Ruth had many scars removed from the hurts received throughout her life. She began to smile again in her life, and praised God for her journey. By providing her testimony, it is Ruth's hope that others would also benefit from her life experiences, and come to recognize the deception and dangers associated with Reiki, and all New Age practices.
Brother Max's book is a timely publication, a warning to fellow Catholics and Christians alike of the deception and dangers of Reiki, and other New Age practices. As he noted in the Preface, the Catholic Church has remained largely silent about the New Age phenomenon, citing the example of the Vatican's 2003 publication of, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life, a commentary on New Age that evoked little response from local Church leaders in regard to these practices. I certainly agree with his conclusion that rightly or wrongly, some may interpret such silence as assent.
My blog post today, together with all my posts labelled "New Age" hopes to help remedy some of the silence from the Church. In addition to the Vatican document on the New Age, I would also like to encourage visitors to my blog to read a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) on October 15, 1989. I have already blogged about this document with a post of the same title. This document is an essential inclusion for anyone seeking to understand what the Catholic faith teaches about meditation. So important is this document that it was included and referred to in the Foreword of Br. Max's book by Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.
May Jesus and Mary guide you in your quest for the truth and understanding of the New Age, and the deception and dangers associated with these practices.