Respectful Insolence

The Catholic Church versus Reiki

Nearly two weeks ago, P.Z. Myers mentioned a story that would normally have provoked a post by me. Specifically, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had issued a warning against the use of reiki as being unscientific, unproven, and, worse, “dangerous to Christian spiritual health.” Unfortunately, this story came out right before Autism Awareness Month and the all out spring offensive by antivaccinationists fronted by Jenny McCarthy, along with all the nonsense that entails, and my attention rapidly got sidetracked. The reason I’ve come back to it is that I recently learned that defenders of reiki have responded to the U.S. bishops.

How could I resist?

First, let’s look at what the Catholic Bishops said about spiritual healing:

The Church recognizes two kinds of healing: healing by divine grace and healing that utilizes the powers of nature. As for the first, we can point to the ministry of Christ, who performed many physical healings and who commissioned his disciples to carry on that work. In fidelity to this commission, from the time of the Apostles the Church has interceded on behalf of the sick through the invocation of the name of the Lord Jesus, asking for healing through the power of the Holy Spirit, whether in the form of the sacramental laying on of hands and anointing with oil or of simple prayers for healing, which often include an appeal to the saints for their aid. As for the second, the Church has never considered a plea for divine healing, which comes as a gift from God, to exclude recourse to natural means of healing through the practice of medicine.1 Alongside her sacrament of healing and various prayers for healing, the Church has a long history of caring for the sick through the use of natural means. The most obvious sign of this is the great number of Catholic hospitals that are found throughout our country.

If you believe that spiritual or divine healing through the power of God is possible in the manner described in the Bible, then this is not an unreasonable position to take. Of course, the wag in me can’t resist pointing out that, when you boil it all down, this position is really no different from “integrative” medicine, in which unscientific and religious “healing” is “integrated” with conventional scientific medicine. And that’s exactly why I think the U.S. Catholic bishops have reacted to strongly to reiki. In fact, they lay it right out plainly for all to see in this passage:

8. Some people have attempted to identify Reiki with the divine healing known to Christians. They are mistaken. The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal. Some teachers want to avoid this implication and argue that it is not the Reiki practitioner personally who effects the healing, but the Reiki energy directed by the divine consciousness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior, while the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a technique that is passed down from the “Reiki Master” to the pupil, a technique that once mastered will reliably produce the anticipated results.7 Some practitioners attempt to Christianize Reiki by adding a prayer to Christ, but this does not affect the essential nature of Reiki. For these reasons, Reiki and other similar therapeutic techniques cannot be identified with what Christians call healing by divine grace.

9. The difference between what Christians recognize as healing by divine grace and Reiki therapy is also evident in the basic terms used by Reiki proponents to describe what happens in Reiki therapy, particularly that of “universal life energy.” Neither the Scriptures nor the Christian tradition as a whole speak of the natural world as based on “universal life energy” that is subject to manipulation by the natural human power of thought and will. In fact, this worldview has its origins in eastern religions and has a certain monist and pantheistic character, in that distinctions among self, world, and God tend to fall away. We have already seen that Reiki practitioners are unable to differentiate clearly between divine healing power and power that is at human disposal.

They conclude:

12. Since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.

I do have to admit that the bishops get two things right. Reiki is definitely not supported by any scientific evidence, and it is definitely not based on Christian religion. Rather, it’s based on Eastern mysticism, and that is explicitly the reason that the U.S. Bishops reject it. In other words, this is a religious battle. The U.S. Bishops have noted the infiltration of reiki practitioners into Catholic hospitals, and they are not pleased by it, not so much because it’s quackery (if it were because they believe it’s quackery, then why didn’t they expel reiki practitioners from Catholic hospitals years ago?), but because it represents a competing religious world view muscling in on their turf a little more than they were willing to put up with. The simply can’t have that, and were forced to take action. So while I’m happy that the U.S. Bishops are making a push to remove reiki practitioners from Catholic hospitals, I can’t help but observe that they are doing the right thing for the wrong reason. In other words, healing at Lourdes is OK, as is laying on hands. However, if the laying on of hands involves invoking the power of a heathen religion, it’s not OK.

In fact, there are a great many similarities between reiki and faith healing. I refer my readers back again to a famous reiki website to show why. There, I found a concise description of the history of reiki “from the horse’s mouth,” so to speak. There you will learn about Dr. Mikao Usui, the founder of reiki. It turns out that Dr. Usui’s quest to learn how to heal was inspired by Jesus himself when as a student he asked his master if he believed that Jesus had healed. He answered yes. Dr. Usui then asked him him how Jesus healed, and he was forced to admit that he did not know. According to reiki practitioners, this led Dr. Usui on a spiritual quest lasting decades to find out how to heal as Jesus did. This quest ultimately culminated in 1922, when, like Jesus, Dr. Usui engaged in fasting and praying on a mountain in the wilderness, described thusly:

After a few more years of study, he felt he had come to an understanding and that to go further required serious meditation. He went to a nearby mountain declaring his intention to fast and meditate for 21 days and that if he did not come back they should come and get his body.

He went to the mountain and settled in with 21 stones with which to count the days. On the 21st day nothing had come as yet, and he turned over the last stone saying “Well, this is it, either I get the answer today or I do not”. At that moment on the horizon he could see a ball of light coming towards him. The first instinct was to get out of the way, but he realized this might just be what he was waiting for, so allowed it to hit him right in the face. As it struck him he was taken on a journey and shown bubbles of all the colors of the rainbow in which were the symbols of Reiki, the very same symbols in the writings he was studying but had been unable to understand. Now as he looked at them again, there was total understanding.

After returning from this experience he began back down the mountain and was, from this moment on, able to heal. This first day alone he healed an injured toe, his own starvation, an ailing tooth and the Abbots sickness, which was keeping him bedridden. These are known as the first four miracles.

I again point to the strong parallels to the story of Jesus’ life and ministry as found in the Gospels. Jesus, too, spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry. Likewise, Dr. Usui didn’t begin his healing ministry until he, too, had undergone the same sort of ritual purification. This story also resembles that of Moses in the Old Testament where Moses received his wisdom and instructions from God Mount Horeb from a burning bush. The religious underpinnings of reiki are unmistakable and indisputable, and they have multiple parallels with stories in Jewish and Christian scriptures. Moreover, the religious concepts behind reiki infect many other “alternative” therapies under the rubric of “energy healing.” Therapeutic touch (TT) is a good example. Just like the case for reiki, TT practitioners claim that there exists a “life energy” that can be manipulated by practitioners for healing effect. Indeed, there really is no “touch” in therapeutic touch, as it only involves the practitioner holding his or her hands close to, but not necessarily touching, the patient and thus altering the flow of this life energy for healing effect. In reiki, the difference is that the practitioner does more than just redirect the patient’s “energy flow.” Believers in reiki believe that a reiki practitioner can actually channel healing energy from the universe into patients, even going so far as to believe that healing at a distance is possible.

Given these clear religious underpinnings of reiki, I always wonder why reiki practitioners seem to crave so desperately validation by science, but they do. They try study after study trying to demonstrate that reiki does anything more than a placebo (which it is) and virtually always fail. As for homeopathy, the studies for reiki tend to be most “positive” in the small pilot studies with less rigorous design, but the difference between reiki and placebo becomes smaller, the larger and better-designed the study, becoming indistinguishable from placebo in the largest, best-designed studies. In addition, sometimes reiki believers go to ridiculous extremes, as I’ve blogged about before, discussing, for example, a study in which some unfortunate rats were subjected to reiki. It’s all what Harriet Hall likes to refer to as “Tooth Fairy science.”

What brought me back to this story was that I’ve been made aware of some reactions of reiki practitioners, and the results are–shall we say?–enlightening. Indeed, there’s very little discussion of science, a fair amount of discussion of dubious anecdotal evidence (“I’ve seen it work!”), and a whole lot of discussion of religion. For example, Dennis Dupuis wrote:

The point I most wish to share with you is that Jesus did this. He did not call it “Reiki”, but it was the same thing. I am a Catholic who has a deep belief and desire that I should live my life as Jesus lived his. “What would Jesus do?” is a wonderful approach to every life situation. The laying on of hands and wishing to be an instrument of God’s love in the healing and comforting of another living being, especially our fellow humans, especially when this fellow human is suffering, is how Jesus lived and how I believe he would have us live now. How can this not be in accord with our Catholic faith and practice?

Mr. Dupuis doesn’t understand. It’s because reiki is based on religion–and a religion based on what the Catholic Church considers a heathen religion, to boot–there was never any doubt that one day the Church would start to push back against it. More interesting is that Mr. Dupuis doesn’t seem to have found it worth mentioning any science supporting reiki. Indeed, on a blog called Reiki Ramblings, the blog of a website called Catholic Reiki, I found this quote:

While it is a carefully thought out work, it’s done from an outside view, not one that’s experienced the connection with God through Reiki. With the very many views on what Reiki is, I can’t really blame the bishops. We don’t really have one voice as to what Reiki is. In some ways this is good as we must internalize the message of what Reiki is rather than following a message from a Reiki central authority.

I wonder if there is a lack of communication in the words we use. Sometimes the words we use don’t convey the same meanings to another. It is a matter of my personal faith that Reiki is Good and comes from the Source of all goodness.

The Bishops offered a conservative response to a relatively new idea. Possibly, in the future Reiki will be “Christianized” just as the feast of Saturnalia was changed to Christmas.

This is a very apt description. Reiki is a religious, not scientific, practice and belief system. It may well be that if the Catholic Church can’t beat it, it’ll do what it’s done with so many pagan practices and beliefs over the centuries: Co-opt it. Be that as it may, it says nothing about reiki’s efficacy from a scientific viewpoint. Perhaps my favorite quote is this one by a reiki practitioner named Sue Routner:

It is very sad that the bishops feel the need to denounce Reiki and feel justified to do so publicly. I also find it very odd that they argue on the basis of scientific proof, as they have up until now not provided any such proof that God exists.

Ouch. That one’s going to leave a mark! Of course, the irony is very thick here, given = no reiki practitioner up until now has provided any scientific “proof” that (1) the life energy (qi) postulated by reiki teachings exists; (2) that any reiki practitioner can even detect this life energy, much less manipulate it for “healing intent”; or (3) that any reiki practitioner can detect or channel healing energies from a “universal consciousness.” Indeed, as evidence, I present perhaps the lamest retort I’ve seen from a reiki practitioner yet:

People used acetylsalicytic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, for thousands of years before there was any “scientific explanation as to how it could possibly be efficacious.” There is no record of the Catholic Church denouncing it before scientists found an explanation.

The stupid, it burns. This is one of the most annoying woo complaints I hear. First off, people have not been using acetylsalicylic acid for “thousands of years. People have been using salicylic acid, which is the natural product that is modified to produce acetylsalicylic acid, a.k.a. aspirin. In fact, acetyl salicylic acid is a semisynthetic drug and was not synthesized until the 1850s, and it wasn’t until 1897 when the drug and dye firm Bayer started testing aspirin as an alternative to salicylic acid that was less irritating to the stomach. Moreover, the big difference between aspirin and reiki is that we knew aspirin worked. There was lots of evidence. Moreover, even though the exact mechanism by which aspirin works for a long time, scientists did know that it worked by chemical interactions with cells through their proteins based on known science. It was not necessary to postulate a mystical energy field that no science can detect or religious woo. In any case, no reiki practitioner has been able to show that reiki works or that the “life energy” required for it to work exists.

I rather suspect that, as believers in woo try to “integrate” more and more “alternative” or “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) into mainstream medicine and academia, there will be more conflicts between Catholics and these modalities. Reiki was the “low-hanging fruit,” so to speak, given that it’s the most explicitly religious of the CAM modalities, but lots of others are arguably religious in nature. For example, homeopathy is based on medieval concepts of sympathetic magic; from the Catholic perspective it is arguably sorcery, which is explicitly forbidden in Catholic doctrine. Also, as I mentioned, TT is in essence an offshoot of reiki. At the very least, its inspiration came from reiki. In fact, I rather wish the Catholic bishops had come down just as hard on TT as it did on reiki.

Whatever the reason the Catholic Church is going after reiki, it actually gets it exactly right about the lack of scientific studies supporting reiki as being anything more than yet another elaborate placebo. It’s just a shame that the primary motivation appears to be, more than anything else, a desire to cast out a competing religious viewpoint. I’d rather see reiki thrown out of hospitals, Catholic or otherwise, based on the fact that it’s pure quackery based on Eastern mysticism, not on a new Inquisition.

Comments

  1. #1 Mu
    April 13, 2009

    Do we know the positing of the Baptist Tent Mission Faith Healer Union on this matter? Have they considered copyright infringement complaints against the reikis?

  2. #2 Phoenix Woman
    April 13, 2009

    The RCC’s always been trying to push the alleged difference between “genuine religious belief” (i.e., whatever they and their allies of the moment preach) and “mere superstition” (or, as they used to call it when they still had the power to summarily burn their competitors at the stake, “Vile Satanic witchcraft”) They love to accuse atheists of being superstitious, looking into the occult as a poor substitute for the perfectly good god they threw on the rubbish pile — one of Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton’s short stories revolves around this theme.

  3. #3 Leticia Velasquez
    April 13, 2009

    Your position of the USCCB’s rejection of Reiki has some merit; you both admit that it’s quackery, but your logic falls short when you fail to understand why the bishops would not support a conflicting religious viewpoint.

    They are bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and Reiki is involved calling on demonic powers (I reference the exorcist Fr Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International here) which are opposed to the faith. As faithful shepherds, they must clarify what is Catholic practice and what is not. That is their job. Any good religious leader would do the same.
    I agree that they should have taken action a long time ago, before Reiki was entrenched in Catholic institutions, and devoutly practiced by religious. Many Catholics today are ignorant of Catholic practice, and require correction to stay true to the faith. May they also enlighten the faithful about the Easter religious origins of Yoga, Tai Chi, and Fung Shuei (sp?).
    Their action, however tardy, is welcome.

  4. #4 Joe
    April 13, 2009

    I took notes on a book “Can You Trust Your Doctor”* (1991) by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. They properly debunk such things as chiropractic and homeopathy. However, each chapter ends with the note that the biggest problem with each “therapy” is that it is anti-christian!

    * By “doctor” I think they mean quacks masquerading as doctors.

  5. #5 John Peter Zontini
    April 13, 2009

    Catholic hospitals and healthcare professionals provide essential natural healing to millions of people using accepted medical principles. Divine healing (miracles) are rare but backed up by documented evidence (see Miracles of Lourdes, etc.). Reiki has no such documented evidence, it is modern-day snake oil.

  6. #6 Dr Benway
    April 13, 2009

    Woo fight!

  7. #7 Martín Pereyra
    April 13, 2009

    the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a technique that is passed down from the “Reiki Master” to the pupil, a technique that once mastered will reliably produce the anticipated results

    Any similitude with the Catholic doctrine of Apostolicity is surely coincidental.

  8. #8 Ramel
    April 13, 2009

    “Divine healing (miracles) are rare but backed up by documented evidence (see Miracles of Lourdes, etc.).”

    Ouch, I just fell off my chair laughing….

  9. #9 tl
    April 13, 2009

    Well, there is one difference between the Catholic version of “Faith Healing” and forms of faith healing like Reiki.

    Under Catholic dogma (or at least my understanding from previous study), miracles are a sign from god, performed for god’s reasons. They are not handed out as rewards to the faithful or worthy, etc. Therefore, whether it will work cannot be predicted by us mere mortals, as that would require knowing the mind of god.

    (Granted, as is true with much of Catholicism, there is a difference between the official dogma and what the rank and file believe and practice.)

    Most other faith healing varieties make positive claims that this will work reliably and can be controlled by the practitioner.

  10. #10 Schmeer
    April 13, 2009

    Wow, Orac. You attracted 2 Catholic woo-masters in less than 10 comments, impressive! Their god’s unreliable healing miracles are nothing compared to the magical power of pasta to cure hunger every time. May his noodly appendage touch you.

  11. #11 bkp
    April 13, 2009

    I have to wonder what effect this will have on the local Catholic Ursuline College teaching Therapeutic Touch.

  12. #12 Michael Simpson
    April 13, 2009

    Miracles are merely events for which a scientific explanation has not been found, not that there isn’t one at all.

    It’s really hard for me to find the difference between drinking spring water from Lourdes and Reiki, but I’m going to give credit to the Catholic Church for at least attempting to make up for several centuries of anti-scientific dogma. I think that the Catholic Church is mostly “pro-science” (I hate using that, but it works here) in that they are opposed to Intelligent design (and literal creationism), opposed to most types of magical medicine, and other dubious pseudoscience.

    I think that there is an admirable attempt by the Catholic Church to reconcile science with religious faith, something lacking in a lot of what passes for religious teaching.

    Now, I’ll need to read what PZ Myers has to say about this!

  13. #13 Jim
    April 13, 2009

    Lets see, Moses went to the mountain for awhile and came back with the word. Jesus went someplace fasted for awhile and came back with his version of the word. Did not Mohammed also sit out in the wilderness or in a cave to get his act togather? Now we have this Usui doing the same thing (I like that he gave whatever provides miracles a 21 day deadline) so maybe we are witnessing the early phase of a new religion.
    Better yet, a new business opportunity: Transformations-R-Us
    genuine wilderness starvation session garranteed to at least provide weight loss if no ballofvisions slams your face.

  14. #14 Miltant Agnostic
    April 13, 2009

    Orac, with one post you have managed to attract a much better quality of religous whackaloon than PZ gets. I must say they make a refressing change from the tiresome anti-vax trolls.

    Reiki summons demons – Oh my FSM – that is hilarious.

    Maybe you’ll get a comment from a certified demonologist.

  15. #15 Koray
    April 13, 2009

    Jim, I believe Muad Dib (of Dune) also went to the desert for his transformation. There’s something about these transformations that just doesn’t work in urban areas with witnesses, medics, etc. are around.

  16. #16 Pieter B
    April 13, 2009

    You attracted 2 Catholic woo-masters in less than 10 comments, impressive!

    Wait — those two were serious?

    More coffee.

  17. #17 Chayanov
    April 13, 2009

    Yeah, but I was informed recently that you can also send the healing power of reiki into the future (but not the past, for some reason). So take that, bishops!

  18. #18 amhovgaard
    April 13, 2009

    Dr Usui should have stopped drinking water, instead of just fasting – he’d have been able to return from the mountain in only a few days! Dehydration causes hallucinations much faster and more reliably than starvation.

  19. #19 Karen Logan
    April 13, 2009

    Ok people….let’s get down to the bare bones…
    I am Catholic, returning to the faith, and I was a Reiki practitioner, but no longer, but that is not my point.
    I have found, and Doctors will attest to this… that touch, does in fact heal. Touch with a good intention, and especially with prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ (if you are Christian) greating enhances people’s recovery time after surgery (find one surgeon that doesnt agree with that) and is necessary in fact, to the healing process. Why do you think hospitals have chaplains-love heals and touch is one way we have to show we care. Since God created in humans the need for touch, right from birth, does it not make sense, then that GOd would work through us, with our hands?
    In other words-everyone is right! Can you handle it?

  20. #20 Richard Eis
    April 14, 2009

    -I have found, and Doctors will attest to this… -

    It’s called the placebo effect. We know all about it…but thank you for asking.

  21. #21 Militant Agnostic
    April 14, 2009

    Or confirmation bias

  22. #22 The Perky Skeptic
    April 14, 2009

    Being touched in a loving way makes people happy. Being happy makes people feel better. There’s really nothing mystical (or religious) about it.

  23. #23 Tracy W
    April 14, 2009

    Touch with a good intention, and especially with prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ (if you are Christian) greating enhances people’s recovery time after surgery…and is necessary in fact, to the healing process.

    Okay, I find this odd. Do you mean to say that a solo hiker who gets a cut finger won’t heal at all until they get back to company?

    As for love being important, I can believe this after what we went through with my brother’s accident. But not for the reasons normally given, but because hospital record-keeping is freakin appalling! We, his family, were the ones supplying all the history of his accident and treatment because we were the only continuity while my brother was unconscious. He got shifted hospitals while still coming out of his coma and the second hospital thought that he had to remain lying down because of a neck injury – but in fact the neck injury didn’t in any way threaten the spinal chord and the first hospital had had him sitting up in his chair. Keeping him lying down greatly increased the risk of a chest infection. We wound up putting up photos in his room of his treatments in his first hospital to convince the staff in the second that it was okay to have him propped up.

    Since God created in humans the need for touch, right from birth, does it not make sense, then that GOd would work through us, with our hands?

    No. If God is so powerful as to be able to create humans, why would he need to be limited to any one mechanism if he wants to provide healing?
    And why would God only provide healing to those people who already have people who love them? (Well, to some of those, plenty of people who are deeply loved never heal either). Why do you think that God would prefer to be there for the people who are better off anyway?

  24. #24 llewelly
    April 14, 2009

    They are bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and Reiki is involved calling on demonic powers (I reference the exorcist Fr Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International here) which are opposed to the faith.

    And now we know why Reiki didn’t work on rats. The rats used exercise wheels, those dirty rats!

  25. #25 Hilda
    April 14, 2009

    I recently spent a wonderful day at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie OR and was introduced to Reiki, Tai Chi, Reflexology, Breathing Exercises, Spiritual Direction and culteral/religious practices of the Celts, Mayans and Africans. Catholic nuns were involved in a number of these practices/classes. It was a nurturing, relaxing and uplifting experience.

    I happen to reject “Western medicine” at every opportunity – with good cause. “They” sent my husband home 13 years ago telling him that his treatment for prostate cancer had failed and he had better get his affairs in order. Thanks to alternative (traditional) medicine, he is alive and well and practicing law full time. His primary physician is a naturopath.

    I can see why MDs think it might be important to denigrate the competition.

  26. #26 Karen Logan
    April 14, 2009

    Ok let me put it this way and you cannot discount my personal experiences which I have based my ‘opinions’. By the way, my opinions are no more or no less valid than anyones, but I would never tell anyone that they are wrong.

    My daughter’s heart stopped for at least 10 mins, before they got her out by emergency C-section.
    Of course, she had a stroke because of lack of oxygen to the brain and had brain swelling. THe Doctor was able to get her heart going again, and she was on life support for awhile… I was not able to hold her for a long time, which was devastating to me as I was taken from my mother at birth and did not have a substitute for a long time as I spent a long time in and out of hospital.
    THe doctors actually recommended she go off life support as she had so much brain damage she would end up a vegetable in a wheel chair. We held a prayer vigil in the ICU and I did hands-on healing. I had never even heard of it before, but I was guided to do it…I listened to God and miraculously, with no explanation from doctors, she fully recovered, and now only has learning disabilities.
    I dont believe that GOd made her live because we prayed…..but my prayers were not that she would survive, but that we would all put our trust in GOd that GOd would handle it….since none of us could.

    Now its years later, many years later and I have seen people have to avoid surgeries or people recover faster from surgery as a result of hands-on healing. There is a surgeon, in fact, who always has someone doing hands-on healing in the ER, as patients recover way faster, and the operation goes more smoothly/
    see http://www.quantumtouch.com for the story and countless others
    I aint trying to convince anyone,..just sharing my personal story of faith and hope to those that have an open heart and mind

  27. #27 Joseph C.
    April 14, 2009

    There is a surgeon, in fact, who always has someone doing hands-on healing in the ER, as patients recover way faster, and the operation goes more smoothly/

    Personally, I think it’s better when surgeons operate in the OR. But maybe they do things differently where you live.

  28. #28 Dr Benway
    April 14, 2009

    I happen to reject “Western medicine” at every opportunity – with good cause.

    Do you also reject “western” arithmetic?

  29. #29 Karen Logan
    April 15, 2009

    Too bad for you , you missed the point.
    Hey, if you look for something wrong, you’ll keep on finding it.
    ANyhow, Personally I have had surgery in Emergeny rooms and Operating Rooms. SOme hospitals dont have the luxury of an OR you idiot

  30. #30 Chris
    April 15, 2009

    Ms. Logan, just a note:

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

  31. #31 Marcus Ranum
    April 15, 2009

    I love watching the woo-tards fight the creo-tards. It’s more moral than dog-fighting and it’s just as bloody, but no intelligent creatures get hurt.

  32. #32 Marcus Ranum
    April 15, 2009

    Perky Skeptic writes:
    Being touched in a loving way makes people happy.

    I love a happy ending!! :D

  33. #33 Tracy W
    April 15, 2009

    Karen Logan, I will tell you a true story.
    My brother got a severe brain injury from a biking accident (his mate, who was a bit behind him and managed to avoid the van, estimated my brother was doing about 30-40 km/h at the time of the crash). He was in a coma for a month – a the definition of a severe brain injury is in a coma for more than a day. He was in PTA for another month. As a family of atheists we never prayed for him, nor did we do any hands-on healing.
    He came out of PTA with his old personality intact. He remembered details like my husband’s addiction to computers. He couldn’t talk for a bit so the staff at the rehab centre gave him a alphabet board, on which he spelt out words like “memorabilia”.
    He had to learn to walk again, but he was out of that rehab centre in 9 months, before many of the people who were in there when he arrived.
    Sometimes weird stuff just happens.

    By the way, my opinions are no more or no less valid than anyones, but I would never tell anyone that they are wrong.

    How can your opinions be no more or less valid than anyone else’s? Surely the validity of people’s opinions depends on how well they have been tested against reality? I certainly believe that an experienced mountaineer’s opinions about mountaineering are more valid than mine. Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that your opinions are no more or less valid than anyone else’s?

    And why do you want to never tell anyone that they are wrong? Don’t you care about getting at the truth? How can we get at the truth unless we openly debate it and are willing to call people on it when they say things that we think are wrong? We all make mistakes, and it can be very very hard to spot a mistake in your own thinking even when you are perfectly motivated to get it right (I speak from experience as a computer programmer). Having someone else point out when we get it wrong is incredibly valuable, and though I may not like it, I suspect it is even more valuable when my incentives are not so directly aligned with getting it right as in programming.
    Of course, if you merely have some objection to the word “wrong” and prefer other ways of getting your point across that someone is wrong that’s another matter. But if you object to the idea of telling someone that they are wrong, as opposed to the wording, I think you are being wrong yourself.

    And if I say something that is wrong, I certainly hope that you will call me out on it. I may not appreciate it at the time, but it’s good for me in the long-run. Feel free to use the word “wrong” when doing so.

    I aint trying to convince anyone,..just sharing my personal story of faith and hope to those that have an open heart and mind

  34. #34 Everbleed
    April 17, 2009

    My family once had the 10 year old son of a “certified Reiki practitioner” visit our home without his dad. While with us he learned that my beloved Proton stereo pre-amplifier was not working. He offered to fix it for us. He sat on a stool and started the funniest display of hand waving and gibberish any of us had ever heard.

    It took EVERYTHING in our power not to bust out laughing. He went on with this for about a half hour! We were amazed. We have enjoyed that story for many years with our friends and still have a picture of the poor deluded thing in situ to remind us.

    And no… the damn pre-amplifier didn’t get healed…

  35. #35 Linda
    April 23, 2009

    very interesting,all… I was brought up Catholic. As I have journeyed from there to being more of a spiritual being, is there any wonder why? Not for me. I find Reiki to be a grounding, healing and centering practice for me and those I treat, and yes, as an ER nurse and school nurse, there too!! In this crazy, fast paced world of ours, taking the time out to connect with oneself on that level at any age is sorely lacking. Sad that there are so many with such narrow scope. THAT makes me sad. What will “THE CHURCH” go after next????? For many, Reiki augments faith, not take away from it! Wheredoes the wine fit in all this:)

  36. #36 Chris
    April 23, 2009

    Linda said

    Wheredoes the wine fit in all this:)

    It figures as an explanation for the style and substance of what you wrote. Much of our most interesting contributions are late night musings under the influence of fermented grape fruit juice!

  37. #37 debra
    September 29, 2009

    one has to wonder…. what is the catholic church afraid of??
    losing control perhaps as people realize they can have a deeper connection with God without the judgement or approval of the catholic church??
    Ive worked with Reiki and Energy work for over 15 years and
    Its all divine energy from God….. people acknowledge this and feel closer to God, they feel the oneness and unconditional love of God….
    shouldn’t the catholic church be paying more attention to what there priests are doing???????????? i wonder what they would say about eric pearls – reconnective healing technique.

    so ……What is the Catholic Church afraid of?? I don’t believe any other religions are opposing people experiencing healing and the oneness unconditional love feeling of God that comes through… maybe the bishops should get a reiki treatment???????????

  38. #38 Sandra
    November 26, 2009

    Wow! I couldn’t imagine spending so much time writing about something I have no faith in. Its ironic that modern medical treatment is refered to as “natural” means – nothing natural about the drugs used today.

  39. #39 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 26, 2009

    I couldn’t imagine spending so much time writing about something I have no faith in.

    I always get amazed when I read someone saying something like this. They’re not saying that they can’t imagine someone writing so many words, or spending so much time writing – they’re saying they can’t imagine it being done for the purpose of disagreement.

    Assuming that the purpose of examining conflicting views is to determine where the truth lies, it seems obvious that placing an artificial limit on how much one side may say is the second-quickest way to reduce the search for truth to a useless joke. “All right, if you believe in reiki, you can write a 30,000 word book saying whatever you want about how great reiki is! If you’re writing about why it’s mistaken to believe in reiki, writing just a tenth as many words is unimaginable…”

  40. #40 Diego
    December 15, 2009

    “isms are bad” –Ferris

  41. #41 Jean
    December 20, 2009

    Hi. After reading through all these comments, I’m almost speechless, but I will attempt to give you my thoughts. I was raised Roman Catholic in what would be considered a very religious family. I was the only family member who seemed to lack faith. I guess you would say I was someone who only believed in something I could physically see, and so a concept like prayer seemed awfully silly to me. I only saw people talking to the thin air. Without this unknown “faith” how could anyone really believe in praying?

    In my 20′s I met a man who took a level 1 Reiki class, and I asked him what that was. He showed me a little book which talked about the universal energy force, and I couldn’t grasp that concept. It was too foreign from anything I had every heard, but I was mesmerized by his story of going home and placing his hand on his friend’s forehead (he had a sinus headache) and having the guy suddenly choking and the sinuses draining. I thought-wow, can you imagine if you had a headache and could just put your hands on your head and feel better, or if you had kids, maybe you could make their aches and pains better? Unfortunately, at that time I had no money for training, but I never forget about Reiki and over the course of 20 years I would tell people that such a thing exists.

    My journey to learning Reiki – or I should just say, connecting to a sense of spirituality I could never find in Roman Catholicism in my youth, came when I saved the life of a friend. Her doctor was a Reiki Master, and I knew that this situation was thrown in my lap for a reason. I attended Reiki healing circles for a year at the doctor’s office before I took a class. It wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t immediately feel the energy, and when I meditated I could never see anything.

    I’ve been doing Reiki and studying about energy healing for 8 years now, and I will describe what I experience doing Reiki for those of you who seem to think it’s an awful thing. First, my intention while doing Reiki is to remain pure of heart and a vessel for God’s wishes. I stand behind the recipient and clasp my hands in prayer and mentally ask for help. Catholics will recognize this as intercessionary prayer. Being that I am a bit of what they call a “cafeteria Catholic” now I call upon Jesus, Buddha, Mary, the Holy Spirit, sometimes Padre Pio, angels–whoever is of a greater power and loves God and is willing to help. Now comes the part which took me forever to get good at. I meditate and try to totally empty myself of my ego and thoughts. It usually takes about 10 minutes before I can detect a noticeable feeling of energy. As far as psychic abilities go, I’m someone who feels things mostly, so I try to remain very quiet and still so that I can detect the subtlety of the change in energy. When I place my hands in the various spots around the body my hands will tell me whether to stay in a certain position or not. If I feel a tingling in my left hand, I know I must leave my hand there until the sensation stops. The concept here is that the channelled energy which is coming from above comes down through the crown of my head, and then exits my body through my hands. When my hands move across the person’s body, the tingling feeling comes from the person’s energy, which will draw in the channelled energy more in areas where that person’s energy is weak and in need of help. In actuality you would say the psyche of the recipient has knowledge of what healing is needed and uses the Reiki practitioner merely as a energy conduit. It is helpful at the start of a Reiki session for the recipient to pray silently and think about any healing they might desire.

    This is important–a Reiki practitioner never promises they can heal this or that. I will share an incredible experience I had. My cousin’s husband was electrocuted and fell backwards off a ladder, completely shattering one heel and damaging the other foot as well. His second day in the hospital I came and explained what Reiki was and offered to do it, and he accepted. Now’s the strange part. He had boots on both feet, and I stood at the foot of the bed and placed my hands about 8-10″ above the shoes. All of a sudden he clasped his arms, sat back and began to describe to me what he was feeling–effervescent bubbles coming from the bottom of his feet and up into the air. He described it like the foam in beer. For an entire hour he kept this dialogue up. Apparently the energy left the feet after about 45 mintues and travelled up to his arms to the spots where electricity had penetrated his body. I was still standing at his feet at the time. You see, I was not in control of anything. I was totally in awe of what I was experiencing. Anyone who practices something like energy healing welcomes validation. The next day when I returned he said he needed to talk to me about the Reiki, and then told me at length about his life and difficulties with his mother and how the Reiki gave him emotional healing and he was overflowing with forgiveness for his mother. He also spoke of losing his addiction to cigarettes as well.

    I believe his strong ability to feel the energy was due to the fact that the electrocution forced his electrolytes into his blood stream (they were giving him an IV drip to dilte his blood), and I believe his energy body was perhaps hovering over his body. Who could explain the extent to which he felt the energy?

    Did I heal his pulverized foot? No. Did my energy work help the healing process? It helped him emotionally, and seemed to be affecting him physically. I’m just happy to have been able to help him out in whatever small way I could. Since his operation he is now able to feel energy. The accident seems to have altered his energy body in some manner, which I suppose shouldn’t be too surprising. I taught him how to do Reiki so that he could practice self healing (practitioner lays hands on themselves) and also work on his son, who has Aspbergers Syndrome.

    For those of you who still equate Reiki to all things that go bump in the night, that’s OK. We all have our journey. My advice to you all is to pray, find peace, don’t succumb to the anger and hostility we see in the world and in our politics. We are all capable of healing each other with kindness.

  42. #42 brandon
    December 20, 2009

    “In fidelity to this commission, from the time of the Apostles the Church has interceded on behalf of the sick through the invocation of the name of the Lord Jesus, asking for healing through the power of the Holy Spirit, whether in the form of the sacramental laying on of hands and anointing with oil or of simple prayers for healing, which often include an appeal to the saints for their aid. As for the second, the Church has never considered a plea for divine healing, which comes as a gift from God,” this is what the bishop said. so if healing with hands is what the Reiki masters do… how do we know that God didnt have the power of Reiki. and someone please tell me…. has god been scientifically proven? wheres his family tree? or anything we have? if the catholics cant believe in something that is not proven… why believe in god!???? oh wait…. they only look at what they think to be right. and they argue to have faith… y are they that only congregation against it!?

  43. #43 maggieo
    December 29, 2009

    There are in fact other energies in this world that try to mimic what Christ taught. I would have been skeptical had I not had a very intense experience with these forces. They are how ever not good. It goes with the saving of 99% truth with just that tiny bit of lie that you don’t see coming until you are in a mess and can’t find your way back out.
    I am pleased that the church has taken this position. From personal experience I can say that this path is a harmful one in the long run. I know this is a bold statement. The other forces oft times whisper truth and good until we are used to the voice and then before you know it…your strength to with stand is gone. They didn’t call him son of the morning for nothing. Be wiseand take my advise. Stay away. It is much harder getting away if you have gone done this road.

  44. #44 Faith
    January 8, 2010

    What our Creator wants for everyone, is connection. If we cannot feel love toward, and a connection to, our neighbor/the reiki practitioner/the catholic/the buddhist/the muslim, who are we but arrogant ignorant beings that are missing the whole point? Why, as Christians, would you not just love. Jesus accepted everyone, never cast judgement upon the poor, the sick, the well off. He never thought he was better than anyone else because he was the son of God. And as we are all the sons and daughters of God, we should not think we are better than others (religious beliefs included), and that our beliefs are right and all the “others” are wrong. If someone is offering themselves as a vessel/channel for Gods healing energy, and can truly say that they are doing this without his/her ego being part of the deal, (be they priests/pastors/alternate practitioners), then all that can come from truly heart felt service to others is love and fulfillment for all concerned. As long as the intent of the third party is pure, the spreading of Gods love can go out to many that have not discovered him in more traditional ways. Allow flexibility in your thoughts, it is when you are rigid, and do not allow other possibilities the light of day, that you yourself become stagnant – you start sounding angry and bitter to all that hear you. Open your mind and let others hear love instead.

  45. #45 Sarah
    January 10, 2010

    Well, this artcle is months old, so theres no telling where the author is and what things have occurred in his/her life since then. But I will explain why you believe Reiki is quakery. Simply because you live ina world where you need to see immediate results NOW. And your mind is yet unable to wrap itself around the conccept of healing and change on a celluar level. When Jesus healed, it was plainly visable immediatley. Other wise it wouldn’t have been documented, he too would have been considered a quack. We cannot yet see atoms moving in things, and Reiki works there. There fore it takes more time to see results bacuse like watching plants grow your going to get sick of waiting. But by the end of the season your crops are magically there. You need to stick around and wait, and observe behavior and emotions to see results at times.

    There has been evidense that suggests that illnesses and pains are a result of ‘negative enegry’ anger, resentment, shame, anything consdiered bad karma that hasn’t been aloud to release from the body. When we clear this away- the illness will actaully clear up. Not to mention, that sometimes we have agreed (by higher conciouness) to take on a task involving the darkness of fear or anger so we can gain the sould expereince of it. So if we choose to try and alleviate that, but we are still in progress of our lesson, it will hinder our progress unless we let go of it. Surrender it to God, in other words.

  46. #46 Chris
    January 10, 2010

    When you dear preachy folks decide to get out of your fantasy world, could you kindly dig up and post the evidence that “illnesses and pains are a result of ‘negative enegry’ anger, resentment, shame, anything consdiered bad karma that hasn’t been aloud to release from the body.”

    Please make real evidence that works with the laws of nature in reality.

  47. #47 Sastra
    January 10, 2010

    Sarah #45 wrote:

    But I will explain why you believe Reiki is quakery. Simply because you live ina world where you need to see immediate results NOW.

    No, that’s not it. It’s because we don’t trust ourselves to draw conclusions unless we are forced, by our methods, to be very careful and cautious. You, on the other hand, appear to have no such fear.

    That’s why we don’t trust you.

    Nor should we.

  48. #48 Gabriel
    February 17, 2010

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/26868251/God-Jesus-Christ-vs-Reiki-Reiki-Occult-Religion-New-Age
    I have read the document with the Word of God and have to come to the conclusion that Reiki is part of the occult – how then could it be used to further healing under the auspices of Christ?
    God bless
    GG

  49. #49 faith
    June 18, 2010

    They have let go of ego and opened their minds – knew you could do it!
    http://www.christianreiki.org/

  50. #50 Jane
    November 5, 2010

    Reiki cannot be used for evil doing. It is impossible. It will only work to do good. I am a practicing Catholic, in the choir no less, and my Reiki practice has only intensified my connection to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. Just before a session I ask our Lord and His Mother, St Joseph and the angels and Saints to help the recipient in his time of need. I ask the Lord to use me as his servant and vessel to bring comfort and healing to the recipient for their greater good if it is His will. I say this prayer silently just before a session. I have not ever had anyone come off the table not feeling at a minimum a sense of peace and renewal. Some have been moved to tears. I know only what is in my heart and what comes out of my palms is purely God’s love. It’s just a pity that Catholic hospitals will miss out but there are plenty of other hospitals and physicians who are recognizing the good that Reiki can do.

  51. #51 Jane
    November 5, 2010

    Reiki cannot be used for evil doing. It is impossible. It will only work to do good. I am a practicing Catholic, in the choir no less, and my Reiki practice has only intensified my connection to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. Just before a session I ask our Lord and His Mother, St Joseph and the angels and Saints to help the recipient in his time of need. I ask the Lord to use me as his servant and vessel to bring comfort and healing to the recipient for their greater good if it is His will. I say this prayer silently just before a session. I have not ever had anyone come off the table not feeling at a minimum sense of peace and renewal. Some have been moved to tears. I know only what is in my heart and what comes out of my palms is purely God’s love. It’s just a pity that Catholic hospitals will miss out but there are plenty of other hospitals and physicians who are recognizing the good that Reiki can do.

  52. #52 Lilian Jarales
    December 28, 2010

    Same with me, I teach reiki and all the students even priests and nuns remarked thar they feel closer to God and marveled over the oneness that they feel.

    Reiki can’t be the work of evil. It has no thought of evil.

    Lights and love,

    Lilian

  53. #53 Bea
    September 15, 2011

    Hello,
    I am a Reiki pracitioner and have volunteered in a hospital for almost 2 years. This is comforting to the clients. Reiki is a blessing.
    I was a former Catholic but no more. People, open your eyes and see the world. We are all here to help one another.
    Many blessings,
    Bea

  54. #54 Kenny
    October 11, 2011

    I’m a Reiki Master Teacher and I have just one thing to say:

    IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT REIKI IS DON’T WRITE ABOUT TI!!

  55. #55 Lawrence
    October 11, 2011

    Stop not touching me Kenny!!!!

  56. #56 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 11, 2011

    Kenny, I have one thing to say to you:

    If you don’t know what medicine is, stop pretending you’re doing it.

  57. #57 anonymous
    February 24, 2012

    It’s really sad when people declare themselves ‘authorities’ on Catholic teaching, but don’t have the whole story. As a 50-something Catholic, I am always appalled by the misinformation people swallow about Catholicism, thinking they, personally, have the truth, and the Church is wrong. Please people–get the true facts! Don’t put words in others mouths–let the Church speak for Itself. After searching, I have always found it to be correct after all.

    May I suggest you contact a Catholic scholar for clear teaching as to why the Church does not permit reiki? Go to http://www.relevantradio.com (can listen online or there are some local stations), then to ‘Go Ask Your Father.’ This show is specifically for clearing up misunderstandings about Catholic teaching. You can phone in at 1-877-766-3777 or email them at father@relevant radio.com

  58. #58 Lisa
    February 25, 2012

    Yes it was a very interesting article i must say… and my belief is that nobody is ever wrong and that everybody is on their journey and react from their own perceptions which is always truth to them as this is what they know to be true from their own life. No one should theirfore ever feel the need to argue their point with another, because no one is ever wrong. Live and let live. Go ahead and judge, only to be judged in return. Each and every ‘Religion” is searching out for the same thing however in using ‘words’ can only be described at a human level and is therefore open for debate on a human, not God level. God created everything on this earth and therefore everything on this earth is devine and here for it’s purpose.

  59. #59 Kirsty
    April 21, 2012

    From personal experience I believe God can use anything He desires to bring us to a closer truth of the spiritual realm and our place in it. I was from an abusive homelife so alcohol or codependent relationships were my medicine, then AA and Alanon & a Higher Power became my medicine, then Jesus through an Apostolic Church became my Higher Power. Now Jesus in the Eucharist through the Catholic Church is my health supply. But I will forever be searching, I hope, for those aspects of self that disconnect me from His dwelling place. At the end of the day, `What will it profit a person if they gain the World (including physical health & superficial happiness)& lose their soul`. I am grateful the Church is so stringent at maintaining the boundaries of what is unacceptable to an unfathomably Holy God, His Word & His Home. I wouldn`t want His Church, entrusted with His precious body & blood to decieve itself, me, or other Catholics on this matter, even if it means receiving hateful comments or worse. Yes, `Please, forgive me Father for I do not know or understand what I say or do`. Amen

  60. #60 AdamG
    April 21, 2012

    ” I am grateful the Church is so stringent at maintaining the boundaries of what is unacceptable to an unfathomably Holy God, His Word & His Home.”

    You mean unacceptable things like contraception and homosexuality? Give me a break.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.