Friday, March 27, 2009

Bishops Say No To Reiki

Catholic bishops say no to Reiki treatment
Mar. 27, 2009 By Daniel Burke, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Catholic Bishops said Thursday (March 26) that Catholic chaplains, health care facilities and retreat centers should not promote or support Reiki therapy, a Japanese alternative healing practice.

Reiki "finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine said in six pages of guidelines.
"For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems," said the committee, which is chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops' conference, said that over the last 18 months a number of bishops have asked the doctrine committee to evaluate the use of Reiki and make a judgment on its suitability for Catholic institutions.

About 2 million Americans have used Reiki, according to a 2002 survey by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Practitioners believe that a salutary life energy flows through the body and fosters well-being, the center said. The energy is often transmitted through experienced Reiki practitioners who lightly touch or place their hands above the patient's body.

But the bishops said "Reiki lacks scientific credibility" and "has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy." (And neither were chiropracters or acupuncturists.)

The Japanese practice differs from Christian faith healing because "the healing power is at human disposal," the bishops said. In contrast, "for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior."

Moreover, practicing Reiki puts Catholics' spiritual health in danger, the bishops said, by corrupting worship of God and turning religious devotion "in a false direction." (Reiki is not a religion, although some practioners set themselves up as ministers, thats more of a legal dodge.)

"A Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition," the bishops said, "the no-man's-land that is neither faith nor science."


I think I'm getting permanent heartburn. This document came out on Wednesday while the Vatican is still trying to spin Pope Benedict's 'scientific' understanding as to how condoms encourage the spread of AIDS. In fact Benedict was attacked fairly strongly by the British medical publication Lancet.

Now we have the USCCB declaiming the superstitious and unscientific basis of Reiki. Apparently they've forgotten the same thing was said about acupuncture and Reiki is very similar in outlook and language. Reiki practitioners just don't use needles, but the idea of chi energy and chakras is core to Reiki.

I'll be up front here. I know a lot of Reiki practitioners and I have a very definite opinion about the system of accreditation. I think in the West, Reiki is a very lucrative pyramid scheme. It didn't start out that way in Japan. In fact the original practitioner Dr. Usui, never charged for Reiki treatments or the students he mentored. Like most spiritual healers he felt developing spiritual healing talent was idiosyncratic and came with spiritual discipline. He did not teach a formalized system. Padre Pio would recognize a lot of himself in Dr. Usui, including the mystical experiences.

That all changed once Reiki hit the West. For whatever reason, if money is to be made it will be made and schools will be started and levels and initiation ceremonies will cost more and more money. Had this document dealt with this aspect of Reiki, I'd have been impressed. But it didn't. Instead it attacked the underlying assumptions on which Reiki is based, and quite frankly to an outside observer Reiki is no more superstitious than belief in the healing powers of relics.

Jesus was a hands on healer. The Gospels testify to that over and over again. Jesus said if we believed in Him we would do greater works than He did, because He was going to His father. This implies connection with the energy of His Father through Him and through the hands of His followers. It's not that different from Reiki's concept of universal energy. It's probably the same energy under a different name. Theoretical quantum physicists would not be so quick to condemn the influence of human consciousness on the material world.

For that matter, neither would a lot of the medical field in that pharmaceutical companies have to design double blind studies specifically to rule out the well known placebo effect---mind over matter. Some people think it's incredibly unethical to use double blind studies precisely because half the participants will not get the active agent and suffer harm. At least Reiki doesn't harm anybody even if it should be proved it doesn't help anybody.

I've worked with some talented Reiki healers, but I don't subscribe their talent to Reiki. I subscribe it to how they live their lives and their spiritual discipline. Catholicism does not have the corner on spiritual healing. God apparently doesn't limit himself to Catholic healers, no matter what the bishops think.

I also know a number of Catholic practitioners who went through Reiki training because Catholicism does not offer training or support for Catholic healers. As such they practice a form of Catholic Reiki sometimes centered around the intercession of the Archangel Rafael. (Not sure he would be my first choice, but then what do I know? All the healing he's ever been involved with for me has always been at the expense of my ego.)

I think what this is really all about is another shot at the New Age movement. One thing we do know about the West is that people are leaving organized religions in order to find a more honest spirituality. Spirituality and religion are not the same thing. Neither are Faith and religion. The sad thing is attacking New Age spirituality does nothing for spirituality with in Catholicism. This is another area where our bishops might find dialogue an eye opening experience. Not everyone involved in 'New Age' spirituality is out to make a buck.

There are some hugely talented spiritual people doing very important work. It's not an accident that Indigenous elders take some of them very seriously, even as equals. Catholic leadership seems to be of the opinion that none of this has anything to do with Jesus or Catholicism. They might be very surprised at how wrong that assessment actually is. It's one of the reasons I write this blog. Human consciousness is changing and instead of keeping our Light under our own little bushel, we need to share it. Is that really such a heretical concept?


  1. It was "Living Buddha,Living Christ" that introduced me to Thich Nhat Hanh. Would such a communication between two spiritual people be possible today?

  2. As a Reiki Master, for almost 2 decades now, I have mixed emotions about your comments. Like everything else, there is good, and not good. For me, it was a tool that allowed me to fulfill John 14:12 in a very powerful way.

    I have never been paid for a healing, never asked for compensation, never will.

    I have facilitated many healings that were nothing short of miraculous.

    I have worked with a variety of healings modalities, faith healings, shamanism, core star, etal. I have facilitated healing services. I have particed in services where multiple healing modalities were offered.

    The one thing I learned from it all ... it really is all the same. Laying on hands, Reiki, shamanism, prayer, etc. The energy is all the same. The healing process is the same. It really is all the same. Just different means to the end.

    All that aside, this is not a surprise. Last year it was the catholic church is the only church, everything else is heresy. A few months ago it was Yoga is the doorway to demonism. 2 weeks ago it was witchcraft. Today it is Reiki. In a few weeks it will be new thought. (different from new age) After that, something else.

    This is nothing more than a continuation of the villification of everything that is not contained in catechism, canon law, or the personal agendas of the Magisterial Authorities.

    Dont be surprised if in the near future, we are told that the only people who can pray for us are the clergy.

  3. Carl, I absolutely know there is good and not good about the Reiki process. I also happen to know someone who was at a meeting in 2003 when the Hawain contingency decided they would use their talent to market and make money. That's what irritates me about this, what started out pure was quickly perverted.

    I'm not saying the techniques they teach don't facillitate people who are unsure they are healers. I'm just irritated that it's become a means for making big money for some people.

    I too have never charged a dime for any healing I've been involved with and that for me is the issue. You can either manifest your daily bread or you can't, using the talent of others to make your daily bread is, to me, wrong. I guess you could say I'm a purist.

    Intereting word Manamgic.

  4. coolmom, such a conversation happens amongst spiritual leaders all over this planet, just not Catholic leaders. When was the last time you saw a bishop or cardinal heal anybody?

  5. Carl, in my post above, I meant 1983, not 2003.

  6. I'm not upset with you or the post, and I hope my last post did not sound that way. It just brought up some of the issues that came up for me after my atunement as master. Obviously time for me to release them and let them go.

    There were many reasons I seperated myself from the Reiki community, the money issue, the "one true healing way" attitude, using Reiki to manipulate, compromised integrity (false claims and myths), etc.

    I would like to believe that my decision to stand in integrity is the reason I have been effective in healing with Reiki and others havent.

    This post reminded me that the reasons I seperated from that community are the same reasons that I decided that I can no longer be part of the catholic church.

    I suppose like anything else, there will always be someone will try to exploit something beneficial and use it for their personal gain, personal agendas.

    word is "ditto ri"

    I really do love the synchronicities of these words.

  7. Colleen, I have to say I was feeling quite a bit down this morning, till I logged onto your blog.

    First, I see the headline, "Bishops Say No to Reiki." That alone gave me a laugh.

    But then the cartoon--you have outdone yourself. At least they are providing us with quite a bit of material for humor these days, no? Too bad some of it is gallows humor.

  8. In thinking about this and the determination that was made it is another situation in which the Church or the Bishops can make or break just about anything that they approve or disapprove of.

    To have such power and to come out in the negative in judgment against something or someone it is all too familiar that the Bishops tend to only scratch the surface of something and do not venture to get more details before making a pronouncement.

    This is the unfortunate thing that has been consistent in the Church's history.

    That we are supposed to just follow what they say like an automaton is ludicrous at this point.

  9. Bill, sometimes I think my humor and penchant for puns is too subtle. I have to laugh every time I get ripped for the title of this blog. It's a pun and unless I'm really riled about something, I do try to keep it "en lightened".

    I use to love Irma Bombeck and Catholicism could sure use an Irma Bombeck. Or to paraphrase a title to one her books: "If Catholicism is such a bowl of cherries, why am I always in the pits?"

  10. Colleen, I love Irma Bombeck too!! We need a good sense of humor in these difficult times.

    word is hizesto - say hello to zest....

  11. 5, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    First of all thank you for your article. Love the cartoon and the title is perfect.....
    Controversy will always be there.

    Not all will agree, in fact, they should not. They all have their rights, they can believe and practice whatever and why should we impose our beliefs or judge them.

    And vice versa, we expect the same from them. However…..

    We are not here to convince anyone of what we believe or practice. What works that is the important key. Hands on healing, Reiki, Qigong etc….worked for thousands of years and continue to do so is the proof.

    We should absolutely charge for our services, why free? Do the clergy not take salary? Do the doctors not take fees? Will the pharmacy let you pick up the prescription if you were short of a buck?

    Everyone has to put food on the table and a roof for our family.

    The healers are the same. Why is it a sin to receive money for the service? Whose judgment is that? Whosoever judges it, will thou work for thy boss, the country and the world for free?

    Let see this scenario….say we have a very, very small town with 200 people. We have mechanics, teachers, financial advisers, farmers, every possible conceivable tradesmen and tradeswomen. We have one healer, just one healer who takes care of the town’s well-beings. The healer works on the people day in and day out. How is the healer supposed to pay for the food, rent, and other expenses? Should he or she go out with their “alms bowl”? And where would they find the time to heal others?

    I believe the awareness is the cause of misunderstanding.
    The awareness hasn’t reached out to the masses the truth about the healing and the benefits. It is getting better than twenty years ago.
    Next, is the lack of awareness in the value of the healers work.

    People pay millions for the drugs that are killing them. All because they place their responsibility to their doctors and the pharmacies and treat them as gods.

    If you like to read further……………

  12. Rebecca, in one of my response comments I wrote that I was a purist.

    Although I've never charged for any spiritual working, I have been given some compensation on a voluntary basis.

    I take a kind of global view about healing and that includes my checking account. It only makes sense if one can facillitate in healing in others, that one should be able to facillitate healing of their own checking account. In other words, I manifest my daily bread.

    In the article I mention the Arcangel Rafael and his penchant for teaching lessons that hit my ego. One of the ways I've noticed this is happening is if I have a good day manifesting my daily bread, there's a reason for it, and it's not to put more money in my savings account.

    It's to pay off some out of the blue completely unexpected expense, and mostly for desparate family and friends. Or as Rafael would say, easy come easy go and it didn't cost you a dime.

    I don't have any problem with individual practioners who do Reiki for a living charging. I object to the cost of the training and the continual addition of more levels of masterhood and attunement.

    Eventually the Spiritual path calls for one's trust in their own abilities and spiritual evolution, not adherence to what's beginning to resemble an academic system.