Sunrise over Mt Kinabalu

For In Him All Things Were Created (Reiki & My Faith – Part 1)

As a Reiki & TCM practitioner as well as being a card carrying Christian of the Lutheran tradition, I occasionally get asked how I reconcile my practices with my faith. Publications like the Anglican Diocese of Singapore’s Rev Daniel Tong’s “Traditional Chinese Medicine – What’s Acceptable for the Christian” (ISBN 981-4138-51-7) correctly points out the non-Christian cosmological beliefs that are a part of the underlying theory of many such practices.

It is not my intention to rebut such views but to provide an alternative perspective in how this Christian (ie. me) accepts such caution and yet intentionally remains generous in how I perceive and embrace these complementary healing practices.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16

Below is a reply I gave to a Roman Catholic friend of mine who asked me, in good faith, how I reconciled the practice of Reiki with my faith (plus writing it in this medium allows me to create some links for cross-reference):

There is nothing created that isn’t created by God.

Qi or Ki is merely a common noun that originates from a period of time where there was no concept of modern biology, chemistry or physics, let alone quantum physics. So the language and concepts used to explain it would naturally be those that were taken from the originating culture’s cosmology and understanding of the natural order.

Today, we know that the body does utilise a complex organic chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to to drive many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis. J.R Knowles’ paper describes ATP as the “molecular unit of currency” of intracellular energy transfer. Sounds like a modern day description of Qi to me.

The fact that almost every object as well as our environment emanates a magnetic field is also known. So it isn’t too much of a stretch to see how one can effect the other.

So if somebody described this phenomenon in 350 BCE as Reiki (灵气), it merely reflects their cosmology and understanding of the natural order in that period and we have merely claimed it for our use in this day and age.

The thing with this as well as other traditional and complementary healing modalities is that while the effects are observable, and duplicatable in most instances, the actual process and what makes it work remains either unknown or only partially known. So it still doesn’t check all the boxes in the scientific method. Then again, neither does a lot of quantum physics theory.

So in that sense, I don’t see how it contradicts my faith.

The New Age movement may have claimed many of these terms and concepts in their attempts to synthesize a broad syncretic spirituality but it doens’t negate the inherent “neutrality” of these concepts if we were to apply a critical eye to it with full sympathetic cognisance of its historical, philosophical and cultural contexts.

And I have come to believe that “New Age” is merely “Christianese” code, primarily from the Western Church tradition, to label things that are not culturally western and requires a bit more nuance to comprehend but we’re too lazy to. LOL

If the Oriental Orthodox did not use crosses, profess the Creeds and chant the Kyrie, we would probably label them New Age too.

While the above was written in the context of Reiki and primarily deals with the presumptions associated with the physiological and physical theory, it is applicable for other complementary practices like acupuncture as well.

I will post one or two more posts on some of the spiritual pitfalls to look out for and how I incorporate and contextualise some of Reiki’s self cultivation exercises in my daily Christian spiritual formation routine and link them to this post later. This is primarily for the benefit of practitioners and seekers who are Christians and may be having some challenges and doubts but I suppose would also be beneficial to those who are simply curious.

Until then, may you be filled and continue to grow with love and light.

H/T to Angel Persephone Agyei of Enchanted Reiki in London for first reproducing my Facebook comment above in her blog.