Reiki, Gnosticism, and Jesus

Dear Reader,

This time I really think this is my last post on Reiki (see previous ones here, here, here and here). There are just a few more claims on that I want to address. Really it is one long passage from the article entitles “Similarities between the Healing of Jesus and Reiki” by William Lee Rand:

“The fact that Jesus had secret teachings he gave only to those who he had given healing power is clearly indicated in Matthew 13:10-11 and Mark 4:10-12 & 34. Secret knowledge is also part of the Reiki teachings in that the symbols as well as the process of doing attunements are traditionally kept secret and only made available to those who take a Reiki class.

It is not known whether Jesus was born with the ability to heal through touch or if this was something he acquired. His activities between age twelve and thirty are not mentioned in the Bible. It has been suggested by several researchers that during this time Jesus traveled to the East and was schooled in many of the mystical teachings of India, Tibet and China. If this is so, it is possible that Jesus was initiated into a healing technique, during this time.

On the other hand, it is possible that Jesus was taught directly by God or the Holy Spirit or simply had these abilities from birth. There is some good information indicating that the healing methods of Jesus were preserved by the Church of the East and passed on by it’s missionaries who traveled along the Silk Road and other trade routes to India, Tibet and China. It is possible that this information on healing could have been incorporated into the religious teachings of the East and therefore could have been the original source of the Reiki techniques that were used by Dr. Usui.

The early followers of Jesus’ teachings were made up of several groups including the Docetists, the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Thomasines, the Carpocratians and the Gnostics. The Gnostics and some of the other groups practiced laying on of hands and professed to have a secret knowledge that had been passed on to them by Jesus and his disciples. They were united by their core beliefs which included: a personal experience of Jesus or the “kingdom of heaven within,” their freedom and lack of rules, guidelines or creeds and their reliance on inspiration and inner guidance. Their existence is attested to by the Gnostic gospels which are part of the Nag Hammadi Library which was discovered in Egypt in 1945. The fact that Jesus had additional teachings not recorded in the Bible is attested to in a letter written in the second century AD by the early Church father, Clement of Alexandria. In Clement’s letter, he spoke of a secret gospel of Mark which was based on the normal canonical one but with additions for special followers of Jesus, referred to as “those who were being perfected” and “those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”

When Christianity became organized after the second century, its teachings were centered around faith and the official teachings of the church, rather than healing or “good works” and inner guidance as practiced by the Gnostics. At this time, those promoting the organization of the church began subduing and banishing those Gnostics and others who would not conform to the authority of the newly developing Church. In addition they tried to destroy the Gnostic gospels. With the elimination of the Gnostics and the establishment of the Official Christian Church, the practice of laying on hands by lay Christians was mostly forgotten.

Jesus possessed great confidence in his ability and was able to heal in an instantaneous way with spectacular results. It is clear that he had perfected many skills and used them in conjunction to get the results he created. Clearly the Bible indicates that he did healing by laying on hands and also indicated that we could do the same. The teachings of Jesus, as well as the example he set are a great inspiration for us.”

There is a lot in here to unpack and I am not sure I am going to get to it all. All the stuff about Jesus possibly going to place like China and Tibet is pure speculation with no evidence behind it. You notice Mr. Rand says “its has been suggested by several researchers” but there is no indication of who these people are or what their qualifications are. I doubt that they are serious New Testament scholars.  The indication from the biblical texts is rather that Jesus grew up, lived, and worked in Nazareth in Galilee. The people there apparently knew him, recognized him as a Galilean, and were quite surprised when he began his ministry among them.

Mr. Rand also speaks of Jesus perfecting his skills at healing. As I discussed in my most recent post on this, such language shows a false understanding of who Jesus is. He is not merely a human who learned certain skills. He was and is God. He did not have to learn to heal. Nor did he have a “method” that he could pass along.

There is also much made of supposed secret knowledge which Christ passed on to his disciples. Once again, the interpretive technique of Reiki’s proponents seems to be “look, something vaguely similar to Reiki; that gives Reiki legitimacy.” But Mr. Rand is not actually saying that the knowledge Jesus gave his disciples is Reiki because based on the context, he can’t. The “secret” knowledge that Matthew and Mark mention is simply the interpretation of the parable of the sower which is secret not because it is unavailable to others but because they fail to understand it at the time. For that matter, the disciples also do not understand it until Jesus explains.

All this is then linked to Gnosticism. In case you don’t know, Gnosticism was a heresy (actually not just Christian there were also Gnostic schools of thought in Judaism and other religions) which spurned the material world and the body and elevated the spiritual. This could play out in two ways. On one hand, it might lead to licentiousness if one believed that since the body doesn’t matter we can do whatever we like with it. More often, however, it leads to an extreme asceticism as one spurns the physical world in favor of the spiritual. There are also many more aspects of Gnosticism. For example, since the physical world is evil, they believed the supreme God who is good could not have created it and therefore they posit a lesser god who is basically a bumbling fool and created our world. They also did not believe that Jesus was really man, because if the body is evil, why would God stoop to take it on? His humanity was only an illusion.

Frankly, other than their desire to see secret knowledge passed on somehow, I don’t see why Gnosticism appeals to practitioners of Reiki. As healers, they are very focused on the body and they even make a big deal of using a physical means, their hands, to accomplish it. But Gnosticism rejects the physical world. I think a real Gnostic would say that if your body is suffering it does not matter since the physical world is all evil anyway and one should rise above it. These are people who often sought out suffering through extreme physical rigor; they did not seek relief from it.

And then there is the matter of how this supposedly secret knowledge is handled today. If Reiki is a form of secret knowledge passed down through the millenia from Jesus on, how do its proponents handle that knowledge today? They say that anyone can learn it by simply signing up, paying, and taking a weekend seminar. Gnostics were Gnostics because they wanted to feel special and think that they had knowledge not everyone could get. If Reiki is that knowledge, it is now being sold to anyone who wants it. One of the chief selling points of Reiki is that anyone can do it with only a little training.

And then there is the whole issue of money. Why must I pay for a seminar to learn Reiki? If this is secret knowledge passed down from Jesus, how can money be charged for it? Do you know who else tried to buy the power to do miracles and to heal? Simon Magnus, the magician in Acts 8. He was severely rebuked by Peter for this and of course was not able to buy such power. Legend has it that he went on to be the founder of Christian Gnosticism. Interesting connection, huh? The power by which Jesus and his followers healed was the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts shows us that one cannot buy this power, nor can one acquire it through a weekend seminar.

The short story here is what Mr. Rand says himself — groups such as the Gnostics, whom he wishes to connect Reiki to, base their beliefs on “a personal experience of Jesus or the ‘kingdom of heaven within,’ their freedom and lack of rules, guidelines or creeds and their reliance on inspiration and inner guidance.” In other words, their beliefs, and those of Reiki’s modern proponents as well, are based upon their own feelings. They do not rely upon or accept any external standard of what is right and wrong. They do not defer to the absolute standard found in the Word of God. They do not care about the historic creeds of the church and who they say Jesus is.

I asked many posts ago “Can there be Christian Reiki?” The answer is here: no, not if by Christian we mean that it is in line with the Bible or adheres to the historic creeds of the church and who they say Jesus is. They may call themselves Christian but if you are considering getting involved in Reiki you should know that what they present as “Christian” Reiki is not in line with the beliefs of orthodox Christianity.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Patti on June 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Dear Nebby: Thank you again for another wonderful post – you explain things so clearly and I appreciate you taking time to help us understand this current movement from a Biblical and Christian perspective. We live in times when I think the darkness will become increasingly bold – while posing as angels of light and the battle between truth and error and the forces of Heaven and Hell will become more and more obvious. Jesus has won the victory and we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help us discern and war with wisdom and skill -Ephesians 6:12 says, ” For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” I think this is becoming increasingly clear in our time. If we choose to walk in the light – following Jesus and making Him LORD of our lives we have all of eternity to rejoice in the victory and that victory begins now in the situations and relationships I face today! Praise God He has given us His Word and the wisdom of the Spirit and I thank him for people like you who can communicate His truths so clearly.


  2. Thank you for that very encouraging comment, Patti. This is a series which has made me very nervous.


  3. Posted by Karl on March 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

    While I appreciate that you are trying to sort out your own spirituality, instead of mindlessly parroting some fanatic priesthood, at the same time I must say, you are over-thinking this to death! God doesn’t make life so complex, nor our path this difficult. He is much more forgiving and merciful than you credit Him.

    The Bible contains a lot of passages which can be used to rationalize any kind of behavior one wishes. But it seems to me that Christianity is exemplified very nicely by very few: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (John 13:34), “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37), “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7). In this instance, I would add another: “…for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40)

    You seem one who relies on the Bible exclusively; I feel this is a mistake. There are Saints among us now, and always have been (…seek, and ye shall find…). Many receive their inspiration from God, and share it with the world (if you have ears to hear):

    Who has not found the heaven below
    Will fail of it above.
    God’s residence is next to mine,
    His furniture is love.
    -Emily Dickinson

    I am sure that you will continue to rationalize your beliefs to justify your own prejudices, as most of us do. However, the path to God is not always a rational one; rather, it is conceived in love. And that is where you must look. We each must find our own path, and yours is not more, nor less, valid than mine.


    • Karl— I honestly don’t know how to respond to this. We are clearly coming from different places. You don’t say a lot about what you believe. I do believe the Bible is the word of God and that it is authoritative in a way no person living today can be. Ultimately we all have some way we decide what is right and what isn’t. I choose the bible —
      The whole bible, not just verses that sound nice and comforting — as my standard. If you are presented with people Who claim to be or appear spiritual how do you decide which ones to believe? How do you decide to follow “live your neighbor” but not “the Lord your God is a jealous God”? The post you are commenting on is discussing whether Reiki is in line with biblical Christianity. If you don’t start with that same standard, of course it won’t be very valuable to you. My last thought for now is that there are a lot of spirits in the world. Some are good and some are evil. The evil ones often appear good. My belief system gives me ways to distinguish them. If you are into Reiki or other practices, how do you know if the spiritual forces you are involved with are good or bad? I actually had a similar discussion with a friend in person recently. I think too often we are accepting of things that seem good on the surface or that make us feel good. I am not ashamed to have a sound standard by which to understand and judge the world. I think it is the right one.

      P.s. sorry if there are some weird capitals In this; I am typing on my phone.


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