To find a workable definition of Reiki you can turn to Wikipedia. In fact, we quoted a short excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Reiki to get the discussion started:
Reiki … is a spiritual practice developed in 1922 by Mikao Usui. After three weeks of fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama, in Japan, Usui claimed to receive the ability of “healing without energy depletion”. A portion of the practice, tenohira or palm healing, is used as a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Tenohira is a technique whereby practitioners believe they are moving “healing energy” (a form of ki) through the palms.
There is no scientific evidence for either the existence of ki or any mechanism for its manipulation, and a systematic review of randomized clinical trials conducted in 2008 did not support the efficacy of reiki or its recommendation for use in the treatment of any condition.
— (Emphasis added is mine.)
The article further states that…
Reiki teachings claim that there is an inexhaustible, universal “life force” spiritual energy, that can be used to induce a healing effect. Believers say that anyone can gain access to this energy by means of an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master. Claims for such energy have no known theoretical or biophysical basis.
— (Emphasis added is mine.)
So is that the last word on the subject. After describing what Reiki is about, the article seems to debunk the entire subject in just a couple of well placed sentences.
Well, not so fast.
Let’s unpack some of the hidden (and not so hidden) assumptions at work in this article, and look behind the veil of “scientific evidence” and “no known theoretical or biophysical basis” shall we?
To do this, we’ll discuss Reiki and three prevalent MYTHS surrounding scientific investigation. In this article we’ll discuss myth #1. In upcoming articles we’ll tackle the other two myths. Okay?
Reiki & Scientific Research Myth #1
The first myth surrounding science and scientific research is the claim that science involves the “facts” and is therefore neutral, i.e. “objective.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, this isn’t such a big deal. But when you read or hear that something has no “basis in science” that could mean that:
- A particular topic has not been researched
- A particular topic has been researched, but no agreement within the community was reached.
- A topic was researched and found to have no basis in science.
The term “no basis in science” should only mean that it the topic, phenomenon or whatever could not be verified with instrumentation. That, and nothing more.
Since science requires instruments to measure and make observations, the fact that something couldn’t not be measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Only that it couldn’t be seen.
For example, in the early cited text from Wikipedia about the particle/wave duality of nature we find…
…”we can’t detect wave properties of macroscopic objects due to their small wavelengths.”
But when it comes to Reiki we read…
“There is no scientific evidence for either the existence of ki or any mechanism for its manipulation…”
Now, maybe it’s just me, but both statements are admissions to the fact that scientific instrumentation has FAILED to find something.
In one case, it’s assumed that the wave/particle dualism exists (primarily because some experimentation has verified it’s existence on the microscopic and sub-atomic level). On the other hand, however, the failure to detect something leads the author to note the phenomenon doesn’t exist, rather than point out the limitations of scientific evaluation and measurement.
You can’t have it both ways.
A failure to detect or experimentally measure something means only ONE thing: that your instruments failed to measure something. It does NOT mean that the phenomenon doesn’t exist.
One Final Note
Will you find any of this in the Reiki article on Wikipedia? Hardly.
To best describe that website, understand that quantity wins out over quality. Meaning, in an attempt to talk about everything (and to rank #1 on Google for everything) they don’t have the time (or inclination) to be as fair and detailed as possible.
Not to mention that their views are as culturally and socially influenced as anybody’s viewpoint.
To find a Reiki Master/Teacher near you, please visit our Reiki page and search under your specific state.