Reiki: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need

Whenever I write about the woo that is reiki, I feel obligated to point out just what reiki is. Sure, it might be repetitive, but I hope my regular readers will indulge me. I never know when new readers will pop in, and it is necessary to do a bit of review. Basically, reiki is faith healing that substitutes Eastern mystical beliefs for the more “conventional” Christian beliefs that undergird the the scams of faith healers like Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff. Indeed, that’s one reason why the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that reiki should not be offered in Catholic hospitals, and a fundamentalist preacher declared reiki to be a sin. Personally, if it were up to me, I would ban reiki from hospitals, at least from being represented as anything other than religion. That means reiki practitioners could enter the hospital on exactly the same terms as priests, rabbis, and imams; i.e., not as any sort of “healer” but only as a religious figure.

Now that that’s out of the way, I must admit that the logical contortions and abuses of science that reiki practitioners like to indulge in do at times amuse me. For example, several months ago, I noted a particularly woo-ful bit of reiki silliness directed, alas, at dogs, who didn’t do anything to deserve being the subject of such woo. Unfortunately for me (or fortunately for me, blog-wise), I just came across another one. It showed up in About Holistic Healing in the form of an article entitled Reiki Does Not Always Heal the Way You Want. Of course, I would have removed the words “Always” and “the Way You Want,” and that would have made the title of the article much more accurate, but where’s the fun in that? Basically, it’s the answer of a reiki practitioner to a question presented about two stray animals for whom reiki didn’t work. The reiki master’s name is Tracy C, and the first animal was a cat:

He loved me so much I could not turn him away and had decided to keep him. Or rather, he decided to stay with me. But by the weekend, he became very ill, could not breathe well and sat very still rasping for air. He let me feed him Pedialyte through a dropper, but he did not improve. I used Reiki but he did not respond. At last I took him in late at night to an emergency clinic, and when they took him from the car (as I had no carrier) he became frightened and went into heart arrest and respiratory failure. They advised me that it would cost a lot to run tests and keep him on ventilator, and that if he indeed had a certain virus, he would die anyway. I allowed him to be euthanized.

The second pet was a dog:

A week later, a black lab dog approached me from across the subdivision where I live. He came straight for me, but did not look at me. I could see he was limping. I called as he approached and he saw me and his face softened. I thought perhaps he had a thorn in his foot, but when I looked, his entire underbelly was red with fresh blood and his leg was raw as well (later learned he had been hit and drug by a car).

He was panting so hard and it was so hot, I got him water and I kissed his head, and he looked at me with such gratitude. I felt he came to me for help. I did Reiki, but he did not seem to want it.

Gee. I wonder why. Could it be because this poor dog had been…oh, you know…hit by a car?

This unfortunate dog also died. This reiki master tried faith healing on a fatally injured dog, and it didn’t work. She tried it on a cat with a life-threatening viral infection. Surprise, surprise! It didn’t work. And after it didn’t work on two animals on the verge of death, Tracy wonders why:

I became a Reiki Master practitioner specifically to help my doc Doc, who strangely, never seemed to like it much. He would always look at me as if to say “Why are you doing that?” It did not seems to help his pain. But, I felt perhaps even if it did not help Doc, it would help others and I can’t seem to understand why I was unable to help these two poor animals.

Could it be because reiki is nothing more than faith healing and faith healing doesn’t work? In fact, Tracy seems to exhibit magical thinking to a degree unusual even for reiki practitioners. Let’s just put it this way. There isn’t a surgeon or physician who hasn’t been humbled by a patient’s disease or injury. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, patients die, and that’s even when we’re using effective medicine. Although we’ve gotten much better at preserving life, not all seriously injured trauma patients live. Not all cancer patients survive, even cancer patients with curable cancers. For example, patients with early stage breast cancer can expect a 94-95% chance of surviving, but that still means that around 5% of even this very favorable patient population will die of tumor recurrence. We as physicians know this, but apparently Tracy can’t abide the thought that reiki didn’t work; so she wrote Rose De Dan, who bills herself as and “animal reiki shaman,” which must be great work if you can get it, given that it appears to involve little more than petting animals and wishing distance healing onto animals.

It also provides the best “out” ever for whenever reiki doesn’t work, which is pretty much all the time. Basically, Rose spends several hundred words trying to explain, in essence, that reiki will do whatever it wants to do, and that might not be what the reiki practitioner wants. In other words, according to Rose:

But the intention of the Reiki practitioner should not be on the person or animal getting better, it should always be for the highest good of the recipient. And that means the practitioner must let go of their attachment to the outcome and be willing to be the straw, or the hollow bone, for the energy. This means that the practitioner does not always get what they want, but the recipient always gets what they need.

Calling Mick Jagger! Yes, who would have guessed that the excuse for reiki not working is, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” She then goes on to claim that reiki provides “other benefits” and that the practitioner might not be able to see what those benefits are. In fact, according to Rose, those benefits are all about the reiki shaman.

Somehow I’m not surprised. Self-absorption seems to be more what reiki is about than any actual healing. It’s all about the practitioner and what she feels, not the recipient, which is why it doesn’t really matter to its practitioners that much if reiki actually works or not or if it’s nothing more than faith healing. In fact, Rose even says as much when she says that Tracy should let go of her need for the result of reiki healing to turn out a certain way. What is that, other than saying that, no matter what happens after reiki healing is applied, it’s all good? And if it’s not all good, you can just send reiki energy back in time to heal yourself. No, I’m completely serious:

You mention that you are a Reiki Master, which means that you would have received training in how to send Reiki from a distance in Level II. So I might suggest that either before or after you journey you consider sending Reiki back in time for yourself, to the point of origin of your need to make a difference or “heal.”

I’d like to be very clear that there is nothing wrong with being compassionate and offering Reiki where it may be needed. What I am suggesting here is letting go of your need to have the result be a certain way. Send Reiki for your own self-healing with intent to release whatever is triggering your sorrow or guilt that you did not do enough, or did not do “the right thing.”

One wonders what the Doctor would say about that. Or maybe one can use reiki energy to protect John Connor. The opinion of a fictional Time Lord or a Terminator aside, you can do more than just sending reiki energy back in time to yourself. You can send it back in time to the time of the passing of the animals that you failed to save with reiki:

You can also send Reiki back in time to the situation, the occasion of the passing of each animal, for the highest good of all, thereby opening possibilities for them. And you can include a Bridge of Light to assist them in their crossing. If you have difficulty letting go of attachment to outcome you can again send Reiki for your own self-healing before proceeding.

If reiki’s so great and you can send it back in time, I have a better idea. Why can’t the reiki shaman send the energy back in time to before the animal was injured in the first place and prevent the animal from becoming injured or sick? After all, if you can send reiki back in time to the point of the animal’s death or even project reiki energy into the future, then why can’t you send it further back in time to before the animal was injured in the first place? Phylameana lila Desy, for instance, tells us that reiki can be targeted to the “original hurt.” In the case of the black lab, the original hurt was when he was hit by the car, causing the injuries that ultimately killed him.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about reiki, it’s that it can be anything its practitioners want it to be. Its practitioners claim to be able to channel an energy from the “universal source” (which sounds all the world like God or a similar concept) into other people for healing effect. If it’s not enough to apply it to a person or animal right in front of them, then they claim to be able to send it at a distance just by wishing. If that’s not enough, then they send it into the past or the future. But even that’s not enough. When it doesn’t work, then they claim that it wasn’t meant to be, that the animal or person didn’t accept the reiki energy, that in reality the outcome that happened after the attempted reiki healing was actually all for the greater good, even if the patient died.

Wow. I’ve called reiki a religion before, but I think reiki has even most standard religions beat. And it’s being offered in hospitals that should be bastions of science-based medicine and studied by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Truly, the woo has won.