“Volunteers at the Reiki clinic [at the Tuscon Medical Center] have found it helpful not to use metaphysical terms when talking to patients or to hospital staff about Reiki. Terms like aura, chakras, energy bodies, etc. tend to cause confusion and mistrust”—William Lee Rand
A few months ago a Christian who worked at Portsmouth Regional Hospital (PRH) in Portsmouth NH contacted me about a concern she and other Christian staff workers shared. The hospital offers Reiki to patients. Further, it offers Reiki without any mention that it is a religious practice. I was allowed to speak to a gathering of staff at PRH to present the case that it was indeed grounded in religion. They were not convinced. There were three Reiki Practitioners present, one of which was a “Reiki Master.” Later, a Portsmouth Hospital spokesperson stated in a letter to me that “our presentation and use of this practice to all patients is only as a secular relaxation technique.”
PRH is not alone. Reiki treatments can be found in many hospitals, such as the Tucson Medical Center, Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Hospital in New York, and California Pacific Medical Center. Is it simply a secular relaxation technique?
What Is Reiki?
Reiki means “Universal Life Force” (Portsmouth Regional Hospital, a brochure titled Reiki). It was discovered by Mikao Usui in the mid-1800’s.
How Does It Work?
This “ancient art of healing” is accomplished through the “laying on of hands” (ibid.). It is based on the premise that there is a “Universal Life Force” (Reiki) that permeates and animates all things. We have this Universal Life Force in us. The brochure from PRH stated that this Life force is known by various names in different cultures —in Japan as Ki, in India as Prana, in China as Chi, and in Western traditions as Spirit. Sometimes the Universal Life Force becomes unbalanced, causing illnesses of various kinds.
Chakras are spiritual energy centers existing throughout the body. There are seven total chakras, and each has a list of body organs with which they are associated. The patient tells the Reiki Practitioner what the illness is, the Practitioner then lays her/his hands on the patient, thereby “adding more energy to our ‘life force’ ” (PRH brochure). This brings balance to the Universal Life Force in the patient, restoring health.
Is Reiki a Religious Practice?
Without a doubt it is a religious practice. The problem with Reiki is its packaging—it is a clever way of bringing a healing technique based on the theology of pantheism (all is God) to the West. Reiki’s underlying pantheistic philosophy/theology is packaged in non-religious-sounding words, or in words that we here in the West do not recognize (and do not bother to define). Set forth in the way that the PRH brochure conveys, its supernatural and religious nature flies over the heads of the untrained and unsuspecting person.
For example, many will no doubt notice that Universal Life Energy is just another name for God in the frameworks of Eastern religions. The idea that God is all and permeates all comes directly from some forms of Buddhism, particularly Vajrayana.
And what about the “laying on of hands”? Is this not a religious practice when it is in the context of directing the Universal Life Force?
When I went on-line into the net to look for some information on Reiki, I was amazed at how blatantly religious it was. Terms like “God-consciousness” and “chakras,” and phrases like the “one Supreme Being” and “the Absolute Infinite” (describing the Universal Life Force) characterized Reiki (found at the web page of The International Center for Reiki Training at www.reiki.org).
What’s Wrong with Reiki at Hospitals?
Obviously, Reiki Practitioners have a right to offer their services at hospitals. What disturbs me is that Reiki is not offered to patients as a religious service. It should be. Instead, Reiki is portrayed to unsuspecting patients as a “secular” practice or simply a “relaxation technique.” Further, from the perspective of God it is a counterfeit system of healing based on a counterfeit view of God, offering a means of “oneness” with God apart from the biblical Christ. Christians, therefore, should keep far away from Reiki and counsel others to do the same (it is also a great context in which to share the Gospel!).
As the Lord provides the opportunity, we should get the word out as to the true nature of Reiki.