By Marcia Montenegro| A brochure advertising Reiki, an energy healing technique, translates the word “Reiki” as “guided Universal Life Force Energy,” (Ana Jones, certified Reiki Master-Teacher, Professional Intuitive, and Interfaith Minister, in her flyer, Reiki, Natural Healing).
Jones further asserts that “Reiki Masters are spreading Reiki throughout the world…bringing Reiki into private practice, centers, hospices, clinics, and even some hospitals.” This indeed is the case.
Just what is Reiki and where did it come from? Reiki (ray`-kee) is a system of energy healing based on the theory that a universal healing energy or life force permeates and infuses the universe, and that this energy can be channeled into someone so that their own life force is enhanced (Barbara Loecher, Sara Altshul O’Donnell, and the Editors of Prevention Health Books, Women’s Choices in Natural Healing [Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc., 1998], 268).
Reiki’s recent origins are in the 19th century when Mikao Usui, a Buddhist monk and teacher in Kyoto, Japan, searched for an understanding of healing. Some accounts claim Usui was a Christian minister searching for how Jesus healed, but apparently this account was to make Reiki more palatable to Christians in the U.S.
Accounts vary on the origins of Reiki. Usui read the Buddhist sutras (religious writings) in their original languages, and found material on healing and what seemed to him a way to activate its power. After a 21-day fast and retreat, “he welcomed the energy into himself,” the energy being what Usui thought was the healing power (J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia [Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1990], 382). Usui also came up with five principles of ethical practice: being grateful for blessings, not being angry, not worrying, working honestly, and being kind to one’s neighbor and all living things (Ibid).
Usui drew disciples of his teachings, and later Usui’s succession was passed on to Chijuro Hayashi (Ibid). In the 1930’s, a dying Japanese-American, Hawayo Takato, returned to Japan and encountered Reiki practitioners whom, it is claimed, were able to heal her. She became the first woman Reiki master and first American Reiki master, and it is she who initiated Reiki training in the United States by touring the country in the 1970’s (Ibid, 383).
Barbara Weber Ray, in Atlanta, Georgia, became a teacher of the methods of initiating other Reiki masters in 1978; and Ray founded the American Reiki Association, later called The Radiance Technique Association International (Ibid). Reiki is also known as the Usui Shiko Ryoho System of Healing (Ibid, 382).
Philosophy and Practice
Reiki theory holds that practitioners can channel the universal life force as a healing energy into the client’s body in order to “balance and enhance the flow of vital energy,” (Loecher, 268). The client/patient lies on a table as the Reiki practitioner gently touches him/her. The practitioner places their palms on major organs and glands, and on the areas where the chakras are located.
[The chakras are part of Hindu belief that there are seven chakras, centers of psychic and spiritual energy, going from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Certain Hindu teachings claim that the kundalini, an energy force coiled snakelike in the base chakra, needs to rise to the topmost chakra as part of the spiritual enlightenment process.]
As the Reiki practitioner holds his/her hands over various areas for several minutes, it is believed that the client/patient is drawing in whatever energy is needed from the universe, using the Reiki healer as the channel (Ibid). The Reiki energy “enters the top of the practitioner’s head and exits through the hands,” after passing through the patient (William Collinge, M.P.H., PH.D., The American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine [NY, NY: Warner Books, 1996], 285).
The client’s body has an innate intelligence or inner wisdom which knows where to apply the healing force (per conversation with a Reiki healer, Festival of Lights Expo, Falls Church, VA, April, 2000).
To practice Reiki, one must be “attuned” through a particular ritual in which the teacher activates the universal energy within the student (Loecher, 268; Melton, 383). There are three degrees of Reiki; the first degree requires four attunements, after which the student “can transmit healing energy by touching anything alive,” (Loecher, 269).
Being initiated into the second degree requires the use of “sacred symbols” and teaches the student how to transmit energy over distance, as well as teaching the art of mental/emotional healing (Ibid). According to Mary Ruth Van Landingham, Reiki Master Teacher, when using the symbols taught in the second degree, one is “actually changing the holographic memory within the matrix or soul of a person,” (“Terra Christa” Newsletter, Winter 2001 Workshop Schedule, Vienna, VA). To become a Reiki master/teacher, initiation into the 3rd degree is essential (Ibid; Melton, 383).
Response to Reiki
Reiki is more akin to the occult than to medicine: As in all esoteric systems of belief, initiation into secret teachings and techniques is required in learning Reiki. This initiation and secrecy is a hallmark of occult systems. The belief in summoning, controlling, manipulating or channeling an invisible energy that cannot be objectively measured or identified, and for which there is no biological, medical, or other evidence, is another classic trademark of occultism. Although disguised with spiritual language and beliefs, Reiki fits the profile of an occult practice. (In fact, many occult practices use spiritual and/or Biblical language).
Some may object to this classification of Reiki, pointing out that it is no different from Christian faith healing. Any faith healing taught secretly, requiring various initiations, with a view that one is accessing a force (even from God) through a technique, would be occultic as well. However, true Biblical healing is not based on a belief in one’s own power or technique, but is dependent solely on God’s ability and willingness to heal.
In Biblical healing (disregarding the issue of whether the gift of healing exists today), one is not accessing a force or technique but petitions God to heal. Faith healing can be abused, as it is in many cases today in which the ‘healer’ draws attention to him/herself through sensational methods, makes claims that cannot be verified, or uses fraud.
Reiki and Jesus
There is no evidence that Jesus used Reiki, as many Reiki books and teachers assert. Jesus, being God the Son, did not need a technique, but healed because His nature was the same as God’s (which is what being the “Son of God” signifies), and God is the Healer and Giver of life (Genesis 1 and 2; Psalm 103:1-3, 147:3; Hosea 6:1; Matthew 4:23; Luke 4:18; John 10:10; Acts 11:18).
Jesus’ miracles of healing were not just to cure, however, but were a sign that He was the promised Messiah. Luke 4:18 refers to prophecy of the Messiah as a healer in Isaiah 61:1. In Luke 7:18-23, John the Baptist sends a messenger to ask Jesus if He really is the Promised One, the Messiah. Jesus replies: “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them,” (v.22). In His answer, Jesus refers to two Isaiah passages, Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1, which gave John the confirmation he asked for.
Jesus was not channeling a universal energy, but was acting with the power of God. As Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” The power of God was not coming through a technique or secret teaching, but from the Person of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus conferred this power specifically to and only on His disciples, He “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness,” (Matthew 10:1, Mark 3:13-15, Luke 9:1). It is His authority over illness that Christ gave the disciples, not a secret teaching or technique. This authority over disease was only one aspect of the power and authority of the Son of God.
He also demonstrated authority in His teaching (Matthew 7:29), authority over demons (Matthew 8:28-24, also in Mark 5:1-17, Luke 8:22-25, as well as many other passages), authority to forgive (Matthew 9:5, also in Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24), authority over nature (Matthew 8:23-27, also in Mark 4:36-41, Luke 8:22-25), and authority over death (Matthew 9:23-26). After His resurrection, He was given all authority: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus’ healing magnified the glory of God. After the blind man by the side of the road was healed in Luke 18:35-43, he followed Jesus, “glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God,” (verse 43). This same praising of God happened after Jesus healed the paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:10-12, Luke 5:22-26), when He healed the “lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others…so that the multitude marveled as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:30, 31), when Jesus raised the dead man in Nain (Luke 7:11-16), when He made the woman bent doubled stand straight (Luke 13:13), and when one of the ten lepers healed by Jesus turned back “glorifying God in a loud voice” and falling on his face at Jesus’ feet (Luke 17:15, 16).
Faith, Healing, and Salvation
Another indication that Reiki is not connected to Jesus is that many cases of Jesus healing also report that He saved the person by delivering him/her from sin. Before His incarnation, the purpose of Jesus regarding man’s sin was stated by the angel who told Joseph, “…you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21). Healing was not just physical healing, but allowed the person to see who Jesus was.
In doing this, Jesus was fulfilling the words of Jeremiah: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved,” (Jer. 17:14). The man born blind worships Jesus after his sight is restored and he truly “sees” that Jesus is the Messiah (John 9:38). The woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus’ garment and was healed, and was told by Jesus that her faith had made her well (Matthew 9: 20-22, Mark 5:31-34, Luke 8:43-48).
Faith in what? Faith that she could be healed? Faith that Jesus could heal? It was more, for it was faith that Jesus could heal because He was the Messiah. The woman was healed, not just physically, but spiritually.
In this passage about the woman with the issue of blood, the word translated as “well,” when Jesus tells her that her faith has made her well, is a word also meaning “saved.” This word is different from the word translated as “healed” in the same passage. It is the same word, in fact, as the one used by the angel speaking to Joseph about Jesus saving His people from sins.
Since Jesus told the woman to “go in peace,” we can assume that she was able to do so because her faith had brought not only physical healing, but salvation. That is, she was given deliverance from the penalty for sins and was granted eternal life, thus able to know the true peace of salvation.
Faith is always shown by Jesus to be faith in Him because the healing was a sign of who He was, apart from any belief in healing. Jesus was constantly reprimanding the disciples for having “little faith,” even after they had seen His miracles. Jesus stood silent before Herod who had heard about Jesus and “was hoping to see some sign performed by Him” but had no interest or faith in who Jesus was (Luke 9:9 and 23:8-9). And Jesus praised those who had faith, such as the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13).
But faith is not necessarily a prerequisite for healing, for it is not one’s faith that brings the healing, but rather it is the Healer. The blind man healed by Jesus went through progressive stages of recognizing who Jesus was after he had been healed, not before (John 9).
When first asked by the Pharisees to tell them who had healed him, the blind man simply says he was healed by a man called Jesus (verse 11); later, he says Jesus is a prophet (verse 17). Upon further questioning by the indignant Pharisees, the blind man states that Jesus has to be from God, otherwise Jesus could not have healed someone born blind (verses 32, 33). This statement angers the Pharisees, who cast the blind man out of the synagogue (verse 34).
This was a drastic action, cutting off a Jewish believer from the teachings, benefits, and protection of the synagogue. Earlier, the blind man’s parents had been afraid to testify their son had been healed, because they knew that if anyone said that Jesus was the Messiah, they could be put out of the synagogue (verse 22).
After being cast out of the synagogue, the blind man has a second encounter with Christ, who has a question Himself for the blind man. He asks him if he believes in the Son of God (verse 35), and the blind man asks who the Son of God is. Jesus tells the blind man that He (Jesus) is the Son of God (verse 37).
Upon hearing this, the blind man says, “Lord, I believe,” and immediately worships Christ (verse 38). This situation is not only a case of faith coming after the healing, but a healing tied in to who Jesus is, the Son of God. The blind man shows he has trusted and believed Christ by worshiping Him.
Jesus makes a further point with this by telling the Pharisees that they are really the blind ones and thus remain in their sin (verse 39-41), implying that the blind man, who now sees, has had his sins forgiven as well. The Pharisees refused to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah, and cast out those who did.
Reiki and God
Jesus’ healings revealed Him as the Messiah, and glorified God. Reiki, however, is about a force or energy which is often called and variously spelled as chi, ki, qi, or prana (seen as the ki at the end of the word ‘Reiki’). A belief in this force, also called a life force, universal force, healing force, universal energy, or healing energy, or a combination of these terms, is at the root of all energy healing such as Reiki.
This force, or ki, replaces the personal God and reduces God to a mere energy that is a substance in the universe [see CANA document on Yin-Yang]. It is even asserted that chi is the force that gives life (Collinge, 16; Loecher, 280). One doctor tells his patients “that qi is whatever took a microscopic cell and caused it to grow into your beautiful baby,” (Loecher, 280). This statement stands in stark contrast to the psalmist who says to God, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb,” (Psalm 139:13).
As one flyer says about this energy, “you could call it God, you could call it chi, prana. You could call it Love,” (Chun Do Sun Bup Energy Healing Center, “Cho-Ku-Rei: Reiki/Seichim Tool of Transmutation”). In other words, even if this force is considered God, it is an energy to manipulate and use according to one’s desire. It is reducing God to a fuzzy, impersonal force accessed through secret teachings and esoteric experiences.
To claim that God is a force or energy permeating the universe is pantheism, a belief that God is an impersonal divine energy. There can be no intelligence in an energy, nor can there be compassion, love, mercy, justice, or healing.
The ability to heal illness requires an intelligence that distinguishes illness from health, as well as compassion and a desire to heal; this compassion and ability to discern, in turn, require a mind, will, knowledge, and judgment. A force has no such attributes; a force is devoid of intelligence, mind, will, knowledge, compassion, and judgment, which are all traits of a personal being, not an impersonal energy.
Some assert that the person’s body has an intelligence or wisdom that channels the energy to the needed areas. Where or what is this intelligence? Anecdotes and subjective experiences of healing are given as evidence, but healing could occur as part of the placebo effect, as part of the remission of certain illnesses, or because the person was not even sick to begin with. Even a small amount of attention paid to a person not feeling well, combined with the desire of that person to believe in a certain method or healer, can bring about a feeling of well-being. This does not mean an illness has been cured.
Why are not all who believe in Christ today completely healed of illness? Fair question. We are in bodies that bear the seed of death. When Jesus walked the earth, His healings were complete and immediate to demonstrate His power and authority as the Messiah, the Son of God. He was fulfilling the prophecies that the Messiah would heal the sick, make the lame walk, and make the blind see.
This authority and power marked Him as the Messiah. However, even those people whom Jesus healed had to eventually die, including Lazarus and others who were raised from the dead. That is because sin, illness and death remain in the world until the day they will be vanquished by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:25; Revelation 20:10, 14). Then there will be a physical redemption of the saved whose bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies, which will, however, still be physical (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).
Jesus resurrected in a spiritual body that was His physical body; He was not a spirit Accounts of Jesus after His resurrection include: And they came and took hold of his feet and worshiped Him, Matthew 28:9; Jesus walks and breaks bread with two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-31; Jesus shows His hands and feet to the disciples, saying, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have,” Luke 24: 39-40, and He eats broiled fish before them in verses 42 and 43; in John 20:17, Mary clings to the risen Jesus outside the tomb; and Jesus cooks breakfast for the disciples by the sea in John 21:12, 13. Our bodies are not just temporary shells, but were created for us by God as part of who we are.
If Reiki is channeling God’s healing energy, or imitates Jesus, then let us compare the purpose of Reiki in light of how Jesus healed. Jesus not only healed incurable cases, such as blindness from birth, but His healings revealed He was the Messiah, brought people to faith in Him as the Savior, and glorified God. His healing was also part of saving people from sin. Is this what Reiki is doing? In fact, it is not. Reiki is based on principles of secret teachings, and on a belief in the accessing and channeling of a force. These principles are occultic and not Biblical.
Reiki springs from belief systems that deny sin, deny the need for a Savior, and deny the Bible as God’s word. Reiki not only denies what Christ taught, but if it has any power, it is not demonstrating the complete healing and saving power Christ demonstrated, and therefore cannot be how Christ healed.
Other Energy Healing Methods
All energy healing techniques, such as Therapeutic Touch, Touch for Health, Polarity, Cleansing or Smoothing the Aura, and methods claiming to balance or unblock the chi or prana (a divine force believed to be taken in by the breath), such as Ayurveda, acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, chi kung (also spelled qi gong), and much of Traditional Chinese Medicine, are based on similar principles of the life force and manipulation of energy as Reiki is.
Some of these systems, such as acupuncture, have engendered biological theories on how they work. Some may be combined with scientific treatments. Yet the basic principles of these methods assert that healing comes through balancing, unblocking, manipulating and/or channeling an energy or universal life force which replaces God, or is thought to be God or from God.
These healing methods are not just techniques, but are interwoven with spiritual philosophies about who God is, who Christ is, and how the world and the body work. They are not based on science or medicine, but on spiritual beliefs. None of these beliefs point to the God of the Bible, but rather to pantheism. They may speak of Jesus, but only as a cosmic Christ who came to heal but not to save, since the existence of sin and need for salvation are usually denied.
Jesus the Messiah, however, spoke of sin and sickness together, and of man’s need for Him: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” (Matthew 9:12, 13). Jesus practiced healing and saving from sin together. Even if Reiki were to truly heal physically or emotionally, it would not heal on the spiritual level.
True healing in the most holistic sense of the word acknowledges the need for spiritual healing through deliverance from sin. This healing comes only by recognizing Jesus as the Son of God who offers forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God (Mark 2:10; Luke 1:77; John 9:35-38, 11:25, 26, 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) through the pouring out of His blood on the cross (…for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins,” Matthew 26:28).
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me. I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:45, 46)
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish,” (John 11:25, 26).