Reiki – a few basic safeguards
Katinka Hesselink (2002)
Reiki is one of the most popular forms of alternative treatment in the Netherlands. It works by the laying on of hands. Initiation is reached in three stages. At the first stage you are taught to heal yourself. At the second stage you are taught to heal others. At the third stage you are taught to teach (or give) reiki to others. Both during initiation and healing, a transfer of energy into the energy system of the patient or client is supposed to take place. I have yet to hear anyone complain, so I assume this is a relatively safe procedure, at least physically. Nevertheless we are obviously talking about something that would be considered initiation in theosophical terminology. A few basic safeguards ought therefore to be in place. These basic safeguards are more often than not neglected however.
The first thing that bothers me personally is that reiki is often given to minors, without any awareness of the risks that might be involved. Transfer of energy is in itself a risky procedure. Sockets might be very useful around the house, but still you would not want your child sticking their fingers into one. In the same way it is not wise to initiate the tender spiritual-physical mechanisms of a child into the kind of energy transfer reiki is supposed to bring about. Do not forget that a child is not a consenting adult. It simply does not know what it is getting into. Furthermore, it is far from clear whether we really know what happens when someone is initiated into reiki and what risks might be involved. It is one thing to consciously take such a risk for yourself, quite another to make that choice for your child. My personal preference would be to limit reiki initiation to adults, that is people above eighteen years of age. It seems reasonable to make an exception for children who are terminally ill. Such children are often wise beyond their years and it might alleviate their suffering. But even in the case of terminal illness, I would not advise it under the age of seven. At seven years of age, children generally gain an awareness of themselves and their surroundings which enables them (to an extent) to make such decisions.
Another thing that worries me is that reiki-practitioners often ask a regular fee. I know this is going quite against the grain of our cultural heritage, but for me it is essential that spiritual powers are transferred for free. As soon as money gets involved, spirituality loses some of its purity. Reiki is supposed to be about helping people get access to universal energies. The reiki master is only opening the gate. The energy itself is for free. This ought to be, on the part of the master, a selfless act of love done from a place of wisdom and knowledge. What else does the term master signify? Opening these kinds of gates ought to be done sparingly and it ought to be something sacred. The very fact that money is asked shows that the master is not acting from that sacred place in him/herself. From a theosophical point of view, use of power is considered black or white (that is selfish or selfless) according to the motivation behind the use. Applied to reiki this means that there is nothing wrong with it to the extent that the motivation behind it is to heal and help. To the extent that money is or becomes the motive, it is black magic. In order to avoid this spiritual pitfall, money should not be asked or given for these services at all.
From what I've seen of it, reiki is at best a way of teaching people how to deal with their physical energies in a productive and healing way. When it is selflessly used to heal, it will do just that – that is, if the problem actually involved these energies in the first place. A positive aspect of reiki is that it encourages patients to take their own responsibility. People learn how to become independent of the healer and heal themselves. Of course, this does not automatically imply that every patient is ready for self-healing. With regard to children, I would advise extreme caution. Furthermore I believe that no costs should be involved in order to safeguard a pure, selfless motivation. As soon as the healer becomes financially dependent on reiki, their motivation is bound to be at least partly impure.