Saturday, March 28, 2009

Using Fear to Control

A friend just sent me a link to an article about how the U.S. Catholic Bishops "warned" against Reiki. I read this article in absolute dismay, bordering on anger, even thought it should not be all that surprising, since this attack method is the usual approach that Christian leaders or zealots take in countering any method they see as a threat their power (not the power of God, mind you, but their power). Killing the messenger or attacking the method is all too commonplace amongst our religions, when they cannot counter with logic or open-minded discussion.

According to the AFP article,
"The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has warned Roman Catholics to shun the eastern healing art of Reiki because it lacks scientific credibility and is dangerous to Christian spiritual health".

I would ask those same Bishops to please cite me the scientific credibility for Catholicism, or for any Christianity, for that matter. In actuality, science can be used to prove the existence of "universal life force energy" (the definition of Reiki) far more effectively than it can be used to prove the validity of church teachings. It is sad that these Bishops cannot leave something as harmless (and helpful) as Reiki alone without attack. Reiki does not contradict any religion, it actually upholds the principals of loving one another, just as Jesus taught us to. It does not require one to denounce their chosen religion, but can actually strenghten it. It is the practice of allowing pure unconditional love to flow through you to another without judgment, a concept that our sometimes pompous and power-hungry religions often seem to have almost abandoned altogether. Unlike our religions, Reiki does not require that anyone denounce anything, or give up their power to its organization, because it is not an organization at all. It is simply a method to connect with a greater power, have deeper prayer and meditation, and begin to heal oneself or another.

The five tenets of Reiki are:
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will not anger.
Just for today, I will honor my parents, teachers and elders.
Just for today, I will earn my living honestly.
Just for today, I will show gratitude to every living thing.

I would ask these same Bishops to please tell us what is so horrendous about encouraging people to live by these loving principals, no matter what religion they happen to practice, if any?... What is wrong with not worrying, after all, isn't that demonstrating true faith?...What is wrong with honoring others?...What is wrong with earning an honest living?...What is wrong with showing gratitude for every living thing, which is actually showing gratitude to the Creator for everything we have been given? What is so wrong with these principles that the Bishops should need to "warn" against them.

Furthermore, what is wrong with a practice that essentially does as Jesus did, by laying on of hands in love and having the faith to believe that God could grant a miracle? Jesus told his followers that they did not need him, that they could heal themselves...Reiki helps us to follow his direction and learn practices that can help us help ourselves and others. I have seen many miraculous things in my practice of Reiki, from actual physical ailments disappearing, to deep emotional wounds being mended in wondrous ways. I cannot for the life of me imagine why these Bishops (incidentally part of the same group that covered up for Priests who were alleged to have abused children) would feel the need to "warn" Catholics to stay away from Reiki, or call it "dangerous".

I would say to them the old adage that my grandmother used to say, "Clean out your own backyard before you start cleaning out others'." Look within your own organization and clean up the greed, cover-up, control, and scandal before you start attacking other practices which are based in nothing more than unconditional love and acceptance. For a religion that would tell us, "God works in mysterious ways," it is rather contradictory that they would essentially say, "but not in that mysterious doesn't have enough scientific evidence!" Contradictory indeed, but also rather predictable. Humorous, if not maddening.

The reason for the Bishops' action is FEAR. Fear is the easiest method of control, and the method that our religions use constantly. Get people scared, and they will act in fear and avoid the things you have scared them about. It is sad to me that these supposed men of God do not believe in their God or their religion enough to let it stand on its own merit. I think they can do better, if they will only let go of their fear.

I must have more faith in God than they do, because I can let God work in any way that He choses, even through something as "unscientific" as Reiki. I do not choose to limit God like they do. I wish that they would stop putting God in a box and set Him free to be all that He can be to the followers of their faith. They may be preventing their followers from having the truest, fullest, and most real experience of God that is available to them, and that is shameful. But I do look at this "warning" as a good sign that people are beginning to seek more, beginning to understand that God is available in many other ways than just what our religions teach us...the fact that they are attacking says that the message is getting through, which is a very good thing.

I believe if our friend Jesus were here today, he just might be turning over the tables of the temple where these great Bishops meet. In this moment of frustration, I would be happy to help him, but I will pray that the Bishops and other religious leaders let go of their own fears so that it does not discourage others from examining complementary spriritual practices, or something that may provide comfort and relief from physical pain or ailments. I will pray that they do not block others from experiencing this or any other practice that is based in love and acceptance. We need more of that in our world, and less condemnation.
(Click here for the full article about the USCCB stance)


Dana Lisa Young said...

I read the same article and several things struck me. First, the bishops asserted the need for scientific evidence of Reiki's benefits. The scientific evidence for Reiki's benefits are probably stronger than that for prayer (it has been demonstrated that Reiki reduces anxiety, blood pressure levels, heart rate, and strong anecdotal evidence for pain relief, etc) and yet the Church advocates intercessonary prayer as the only appropriate avenue for advocating healing beyond what medical science has to offer. I have no issue with prayer, of course. We are offering up our faith to God with prayer, knowing and trusting that He will work for the Highest Good. This is the same with Reiki. The bishops assert that Reiki uses the mind or will to transfer energy, which Reiki explicitly does not do. It defies our ability to manipulate or control it for our own egos, needs or personal gain, and always works for the Highest Good because the source it originates from only knows the Highest Good.

I agree that the bishops' disavowal of Reiki comes from misunderstanding and fear. Because the Reiki technique and practice originated in Japan, people mistakenly believe it is culturally or spiritually foreign, even though as you point out, the practice of laying on of the hands is well-established in Christianity. And Jesus did not keep the gift of healing to himself; he empowered his disciples to heal with their hands too. No doubt He knew this was a gift to be shared. The Catholic Church has both raised up and documented those Saints who have spontaneously healed others by their presence or loving touch. Giving more people the ability to love and comfort others with healing touch is a miracle that keeps on giving.

As a Reiki practitioner, I know I am not "doing" anything; the healing takes place in the recipient and not by me. At most, I am just helping facilitate a process, like a tool in a toolbox. The Holy Spirit encourages us to be in relationship to each other. Reiki is one of the ways we can be in relationship with and of loving service to each other. I pray that we can check our anger and frustration at feeling "condemned" and find ways to effectively educate others about Reiki and reduce their level of discomfort with the technique.

Sherri Lane (Wangrin) said...

You are right, Dana...we need to pray to overcome the frustration and carry on. It can be such a battle to do so, and yet it often feels as if the only way to undo some of the effects that the control tactics have had is to jump up and down and raise a stink!

The good thing is that more and more people ARE realizing the amazing effects of these "dangerous" spiritual practices, so one by one, a difference can be made. It just gets so frustrating that we could do it so much more easily and quickly with a little less sabotage from some of those in positions of power.