Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Reiki and Yoga

Since the La Salette Retreat Center in Attleboro, Massachusetts is sponsoring retreat weekends featuring both Reiki and Yoga, I thought the following article from: might be of interest.

Chancellor Defends 'Nude' Statue and Meditations With Potential Occult Links

The chancellor of a major American diocese has defended the use of both yoga and a form of esoteric therapy called "reiki" as ways of enhancing prayer and healing in a Catholic setting -- a view that appears to be in contradiction of the Vatican.

The chancellor, Father Ralph E. Wiatrowski, of Cleveland, says that the diocese does not officially propagate the practices but sees nothing wrong with elements of them.

His views first came to light in a letter to a local woman who had complained about use of such practices at the Church of the Resurrection in Solon, Ohio.

The church, which advertises yoga classes in the parish hall on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., also has a highly controversial portrayal of the Blessed Mother.

"As to the matter of yoga and reiki classes that are offered, please know that while these are not Christian in origin, there are principles involved that can be helpful in Christian meditation as well as techniques of relaxation as a preparation for prayer," wrote Father Wiatrowski on August 19. "While such things are not formally encouraged, it does not seem that there is anything present to warrant concern." Father Wiatrowski repeated those views in an interview with Spirit Daily.

Those who oppose such practices note the link to what they see as Eastern occultism, most memorably represented by figures such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Yoga is from the Sankrit word Yug, meaning "union" (with the Divine, your higher "self").

"It is a path for transcending the ordinary mind (who you think you are) in order to merge with your 'higher self' or 'God self,'" notes one Christian website. "Yoga means 'to yoke' -- to yoke with Brahman (i.e., the 'Infinite,' the 'Universal Spirit,' the impersonal force that the Hindus call 'God') via the realization of an altered state of consciousness, thereby theoretically releasing oneself from the bondage of endless reincarnation. Yoga comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It can be traced back to Patanjali, who was a religious leader. Shiva, one of Hinduism's three most powerful gods, was known as 'The Destroyer' -- he's called Yogi Swara or the 'Lord of Yoga.'

In the West yoga is mainly used as a form of relaxation. Father Wiatrowski argues that in a Catholic setting yoga "can help a person to quiet down and center himself." He added that it can be "applied to prayerful atmosphere," helping to rid distractions." While it is "from another culture," says the chancellor, there may be "many who find it beneficial."

But alarm has been rung over a possibly hidden form of occult indoctrination and its spread into Catholic churches and religious settings throughout the West, where it is especially prevalent among nuns.

In a recent document on the New Age -- issued by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue -- the Vatican warned that "some of the traditions which flow into New Age are ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, Yoga, and so on."

In the interview with Spirit Daily, the Cleveland chancellor argued that because Jesus "is standing in the middle of all of this" when yoga is practiced in a Catholic setting, such a practice "can have helpful elements." He said he didn't recall the direct reference in the Vatican document to yoga. The views are likely to raise hot debate among many who believe that both yoga and reiki -- along with a spiritual method known as the "labyrinth," which is also offered by the church -- have negative ramifications.

Meanwhile, Cleveland has been a hotbed for what is known as "Future Church," an organization that seeks to bring women and married priests into the mainstream.

"Yoga is clearly a New Age concept that is deeply religious and pantheistic in its origin," notes the Christian discernment website. "Yoga is also associated with imagery, visualization, hypnosis, mind magic, chanting of mantra, positive thinking, and Silva mind techniques, which are not only unbiblical, but are potentially dangerous. When practiced by professing believers, it allows a certain external spiritual influence in our lives, which is inconsistent with, and disallowed (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), in the teachings of the Holy Scriptures (2 Corinthians 4:4).

While reiki is not singled out by the Vatican as "New Age," reiki websites describe it as "a technique for stress reduction and relaxation that allows everyone to tap into an unlimited supply of 'life force energy' to improve health and enhance the quality of life," which many interpret as in the New Age tradition.

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese word representing universal life energy. It is derived from rei, meaning "free passage" or "transcendental spirit," and ki, meaning "vital life force energy" or " universal life energy." For many, reiki dangerously incorporates elements of many alternative healing practices such as psychic healing, auras, crystals, chakra balancing, meditation, aromatherapy, naturopathy, and homeopathy, some of which, like yoga, have clear links to the New Age and are advertised on such websites.

"The energy stuff is extreme, but you need to see all of this as part of the gift of healing," asserts Father Wiatrowski. "It helps in understanding the totality of healing and can be as valuable as therapeutic touch."

Not just convents and parish halls but Catholic hospitals across the United States have become centers for both yoga and reiki. The Ohio parish was likewise criticized for what many see as a sensual portrayal of the Blessed Mother [left]. This too the diocesan chancellor defended, saying that like the "Last Judgment" scene, figures are not nude but in gossamer robes. Father Wiatrowski says he was assured this by the parish. "Tastes in art vary from person to person," he argued. "The Blessed Mother is clothed."

Replied the woman who had complained, "I received your response and looked again at the photo of the statue of Mary. I must have a problem with my eyesight because, to me, the outline of the Blessed Mother's body is quite obvious. Again I have to say that this is a very sacrilegious way to show respect for the person whose name is synonymous with purity and modesty."


No comments:

Site Meter