What do some Vipassana teachers and U.S. Catholic bishops have in common? They both oppose Reiki practice.
This recent email is typical of ones I’ve received over the past decade:
I recently participated in a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. I was told not to do any other practice during my time there. I was told specifically not to practice Reiki after the course, because Reiki and Vipassana could have adverse effects.
Unfortunately I was not given any further information. I would like to continue my Reiki practice, but have found limited information in my research to make a good decision on whether or not it would be safe for me to resume my practice. Are you able to shed any light on this or share any other information that would help me decide what to do?
DISCLOSURE: Although I have decades of experience with Vipassana practice, it is not my core practice. I have no contact with the Vipassana teachers who oppose Reiki healing and I do not presume to speak for them. Since I have been asked so often to help Reiki students address this situation, I share my perspective for whatever value the reader might find.
The Vipassana Reiki proscription is likely another Reiki credibility problem that comes from having many diverse practices lumped under the name Reiki.
Who knows what experience or information led to this anti-Reiki stance from Vipassana teachers? They may have met ungrounded Reiki practitioners whose comments sounded like magical thinking and confused other retreatants; or whose Reiki practices were derivatives, mixed with magic, shamanism, channeling, or other New Age embellishments focused on phenomena; who spoke of “Reiki energy” or connecting with something outside yourself.
The purpose of Vipassana and all spiritual practice is simply to be present in your own self — which of course is not so simply accomplished, which takes consistent, disciplined practice over time. Any practice that reaches outside rather than dropping inside would appear to oppose this process, to weaken rather than strengthen your ability to be present.
Reiki and Vipassana are spiritual practices
Although Reiki practitioners often speak of connecting to “Reiki energy,” Reiki is actually a spiritual practice, like Vipassana, that helps us be present. (Whatever happens on an subtle bio-energetic level is an individual’s response to the practice.)
Reiki practices that stay close to the Usui/Hayashi/Takata lineages are simple and straightforward, rather like Vipassana.
You may have been told you learned Usui Reiki, but the term “Usui Reiki” doesn’t guarantee anything. The practice you were taught may have been substantially altered from the practices taught by Usui. For example, somewhere along the line, a teacher may have tacked on additional channeled “attunements,” yet continued using the term “Usui Reiki.” Your teacher may not be aware of such changes, or might not think them important.
One Reiki master’s perspective
It is a serious matter when a teacher proscribes other practices. If I were in this situation — which I have never been — I would be suspicious, especially if ultimatums rather than guidelines are given, and given without explanation.
But I would also look deeply into my experience of Reiki practice.
Drawing from my own experience and understanding of the two practices, I see no conflict in practicing both Vipassana and Reiki. In my First degree classes, I lead a Vipassana style meditation as a way of developing students’ capacity to passively observe their Reiki practice without involving intention or will. I also encourage students to continue to meditate, separate from their Reiki practice. (Students generally find practicing Reiki first prepares them to then sit for meditation.)
It’s your call to make
Being told by a teacher that you must choose between Reiki and Vipassana is an intense spiritual challenge. As with all spiritual challenges, each student faced with this situation has to come to his or her own resolution. Each spiritual challenge is unique to the individual at the moment of choice.
I encourage you to look deeply into the truth of your own Reiki practice and experience. Has your Reiki practice made you more present and aware, or more agitated and scattered?
I also encourage you to examine the language you use to discuss Reiki practice. Your language affects your own understanding, and what others think Reiki practice is.
Isn’t it interesting that Reiki practice is shunned by the U.S. Catholic bishops and some Buddhists. What can we as a community learn from this? I welcome all respectful, thoughtful comments. Rudeness, ranting and personal attacks will not be posted.
51 thoughts on “Reiki and Vipassana”
Apologies Pamela as i WAS making statements about Reiki without knowing much about it. i do agree i do not know much about it. If we were face to face discussing, the scenario would not have been same. This mode of communication is definitely not i am comfortable with.. for rest, my presentation skills are not so go as well. i should have definitely not put my thoughts as imposingly.
As you to adequately agree that Reiki is not something that can be explained but only experienced, there definitely is going to be dilemma for new comers who are curious in both; putting aside what happens inside u during practice courses.
Second thought: You have adequate statements stating that the denial of Reiki practitioners to join the 10-day retreat was only after the Incident and not before that. The centers for these retreats have only basic amenities for dwelling meditation and food as they do not change anything and are run only by donations, so they might not be able to handle any complicated issues, physical or mental. This is something i have seen and experienced. One thing that they do announce before the start of course is that Yoga and other physical exercises might help ease physical pains, but since they are not well equipped with the trained personnel, they suggest to refrain/do with care.
But I do think that it would be better for vipassana centers not to deny the 10-retreat totally for reiki practitioners, but make them aware of the reason, and let them take their own chances… if any..
For my other selection of words as “power” and “blissful” states, they do not matter much literally. Every knowledge is power, and Balance is blissful. Balance is in the core of vipassana as well.
Yogen, I appreciate the care you have put into your research and your comment. However, your perspective on Reiki practice does not match my experience of more than 28 years of Reiki practice and 50 years of meditation practice.
First of all, Reiki is not a power, it is a practice.
I particularly disagree with the following two statements, and have commented below each one.
“Reiki deals with ability to get connected to or tap into the omnipresent energy source to be in blissful state and help/heal self and/or others.”
Reiki practice is balancing and enables us to benefit ourselves and others without having to be in a blissful state.
“So firstly, with having mixing Reiki, I feel that for starters, it would be and additional sense door to have to guard against.”
Again, Reiki practice is balancing. I don’t know where the concern about opening an additional sense door comes from, other than the fear of some Vipassana teachers who seem to be misinformed about Reiki practice — and I realize how easily that can happen, since there are no standards for Reiki training. I have never experienced Reiki practice opening any sense door.
You cannot really understand Reiki practice without experiencing it, which you might choose not to do. That is completely your choice.
However, if you decide against learning Reiki practice, I hope you will continue to be as respectful as your comments here indicate, and that you will be content to do what you feel is in your best interest, and draw a line between your personal decision and making statements about a practice that is not your own.
I have done a 10-day Vipassana retreat and been practing it, studying and learning about it continuously. Recently, I met a Reiki teacher in my Vipassana meditation group. He had not been through a Vipassana course but was interested in it. And I too had been wanting to know more about Reiki and we met and exhcnanged our thoughts. During our discussion, I was really drawn to learning Reiki but I did feel something was not quite fitting in what I have learnt in and about Vipassana and what I would be learning about Reiki. Since the teacher was not informed about Vipassana. I googled for Reiki and any contradiction to Vipassana if any and I found ur page.
After going going through almost all the posts, what I feel is for starters, mixing both technique would not be quite right. (While practicing any or all kinds of other meditation practice is not advised during the 10 –day course (which anyway is not good for any meditation), I was concerned about practicing both after the retreat).
From what I have learnt in and about Vipassana, it is a tool to learning /practicing equinimanity to every feeling and thought that arises in ur body and mind, which might be due to factor within u or around u; and ultimately reaching a mental state of Buddhahood and eventually physically Nirvana when the body perishes. Reiki deals with ability to get connected to or tap into the omnipresent energy source to be in blissful state and help/heal self and/or others.
In initial stages, Vipassana deals with training ur mind on staying focussed not letting it wonder away and observing how it happens if it does so (wonder around) and again bringing it back to ur Focus, and the object of focus is just observing every activity that you can feel in ur body, systematically (starting with ur normal breath). So firstly, with having mixing Reiki, I feel that for starters, it would be and additional sense door to have to guard against. But I don’t deny that some might get quicker benefit from having learnt Reiki even at this stage, but then enters the second fundamental difference I see appear — one of the main purpose of learning to have ur mind become able to stay focused and observe ur sensation in ur body and mind is to ultimately build equinimanity to every sensation and mind thoughts; here, linking to universal source and feeling the bliss or trying to heal physical pains and discomfort that occurs sitting cross-legged several hours a day will definitely contradict the goal of ur mind having to go through the pains and observing it and trying to develop equinimity towards it.
With advancement in Vipassana, one reaches more higher states of meditation – deep within ur body to atomic or further levels and even outside several existence levels of self and universal, present and past future, experiencing the ultimate truth of impermanence. And one is bound to gain many types of supernomal powers. But using them or displaying them was forbidden even at time of Buddha. Mainly so because of ego or attachment (of liking or of not liking when is not there) such powers might build in ones’ and others mind, destroying the very purpose of learning/practicing Vipassana. And we have seen people with powers (apart from Reiki) even after reaching certain high stages of meditation go stray attached to their supernatural attainments.
But I do believe that when one is well practiced and controlled even before attaining higher levels and able to be adequately be aware and control of self, should be able to practice both. And with good practices, equinimanous helping of others for benefit of others is definitely a Goal of a Buddha.
Open to comments and corrections….
With a big surprise I received an email answering that I can’t attend because in the application form I said I am a Reiki practitioner.. I still do not understand . When I did Vipassana for the first time I understood you have to forget the other practices during the period you do vipassana.. very disappointing when they wrote to me I have to stop the practice in order to attend any course in the future.
Thanks for the blog
there is a child, he grows up playing baseball and football, he is excellent at both now he wants to become a professional sportsman. but the problem is that he wants to become a professional baseball player and a professional football player ‘at the same time’. does it sound logical??
Bishek, the situation you describe is not at all equivalent to people practicing both Reiki and vipassana meditation.
Reiki and vipassana are spiritual practices that one engages in on one’s own schedule.
Professional sports require hours of physical training each day. Additionally, the two sports you mention require the ability to function as a member of a team, which takes considerable time practicing together and developing relationships.
A person could conceivably be both a Reiki professional and a meditation teacher, since the two are companion practices. Usui’s practice included meditation.
Good point Pamela. And besides which, I feel it should be enough that a willing participant has agreed not to practice any other methods whilst at the retreat, I find it very unorthodox for their ultimatum to extend to my future.
I just stumbled across this page after receiving my acceptance to the Vipassana 10 day course. The reason I immediately started googling is they told me if I were to practice any mediumship or healing techniques after leaving the course, they will never accept me onto another one. Which makes me feel a little bit irked since they gave absolutely no indication of why. Now I am unsure of whether to put my trust into a retreat that gives me such unease before I have even attended. hmmmm
I wonder whether that prohibition extends to things such as attending counseling sessions, psychotherapy, using EFT, doing art therapy, sing in a choir or pray. IMO, these are or can be different forms of healing techniques.
I cannot imagine that they would be so fanatical as to prohibit people from using them, which make me suspect that it applies to Eastern healing methods only.
I remember faintly that TM also recommended not using any other practice. It seems to me that the main motivation is to coerce people to stay in the fold which brings them one step closer to being a cult.
It has occurred to me that in both cases we have to consider who the teachers and bishops are addressing, and here I think that it is addressed mainly for those who have committed their whole life 24/7 to their practice. IOW it is something that is *always* on their mind no matter what they do, and almost monk-like lifestyle.
If we assume that this is the case then their pronouncements do not sound that outlandish and are in line with tradition.
Master Hsu Yun, under ‘Adoption of the method of training’ has this to say:
“After one has developed a firm faith, one should choose a Dharma door (to enlightenment) for one’s training. One should never change it, and when one’s choice has been made, either for repetition of the Buddha’s name, or for holding a mantra, or for Ch’an training, one should stick to it forever without backsliding and regret. If today the method does not prove successful, tomorrow it shall be continued; if this year the method does not prove successful, next year it shall be continued; and if in the present lifetime the method does not prove successful, it shall be continued in the next life.” (verbatim)
Master Kuei Shan says: There are some people who are irresolute in their decisions; today after hearing a learned man praise the repetition of the Buddha’s name, they decided to repeat it for a couple of days and tomorrow, after hearing another learned man praise Ch’an training, they will try for another two days. If they like to play in this manner, they will go on doing so until their death without succeeding in getting any result. Is this not a pity?”
In the West we have this belief that more is better, accumulating things is good. Spiritual traditions follow the opposite principles, less is better, and subtracting things by letting go of it is the way to go.
When looked at it in this way I can see that the USCCB would be against anything that detracts from Catholicism and the Reiki pronouncements may be targeted especially at nuns, why is being a Catholic nun not good enough? Why do other practices have to be brought in?
For those who lead lives of the ordinary householder we have to decide ourselves on how many and how much of other practices we bring into our lives and evaluate whether they truly serve the people we are dealing with. However, in a spiritual context the more important question is how do they they serve us?
I’m a Reiki practitioner and Vipassana student, I did the 10 day retreat last year. going back next week. practicing both spiritual path has been very beneficial to me, I chose not to say that I practice Reiki, and don’t feel any guilt about it. nothing bad has happened, only good things.
I appreciate the comments. I just want say that I became a little Spiritually distressed over some of the New Age elements that seemed to be taken for granted as part of Reiki by many who I am around. What saved me, was when Pamela likened Reiki to meditation. I then spent months (and hopefully will spend a life time) seeking to incorporate the good of Reiki by improving my ability to meditate and not feel I have to understand every mystery. Early man needed the explanation of gods to explain what they could observe, but not understand. I am a “contemplative Christian” or whatever way I can apply a label to say I so appreciate the “Trinity”. But don’t understand anything other than the palms of my hands and soles of my feet get very hot, the people I touch are profoundly assisted in their own healing and I get an amazing benefit of touching someone and being part of this. I continue to struggle with how many lovely people in Reiki want to “explain it”. I don’t expect to ever understand it, but I am so grateful it is helping me spiritually while I get to give. I love this gift and know the Reiki practice is not likely to get mainstream if what I experience is true across the world. Most of my friends and family are a bit puzzled and I do understand why the Bishops saw it as a “religion” – the nuns mostly didn’t – because they didn’t make it into a “religion” they just did what most of the rest of us who are trying to follow this path did – they practiced something that is good. They found out that Usui found something that any of us could have found if we could follow our spiritual practice and really just listen to that which comes from inside us. I hope I made sense. I am still on my can I find a Reiki path that is spiritual, yet not compromise my path? Right now yes as I continue to grow and am at peace with my limited practice. Good comments above.
When I read about this, Pamela, it seemed to be just another “protect our turf” issue, with the Vipassana folks determined to maintain themselves as the one, the only, the perfect practice. If you do Reiki, too, you will discover peace and serenity and know that peace and serenity come from many sources, which loosens Vipassana’s ideological lock on your mind. Maybe it really is as simple as that. Occam’s razor….
It’s possible, Victoria.
However, I think it’s more likely a matter of what exposure the Vipassana group first had to Reiki practice.
If Reiki practitioners who lacked critical thinking and objectified Reiki as an outer energy that knows all, does all showed up on retreat, I can appreciate that the meditation teachers would find that approach counter to Vipassana practice, which is about being mindful and recognizing the root of outer phenomena in the mind.
The unfortunate part is that whereas not all Reiki practitioners conceptualize the practice in that way, the way any Reiki practitioners communicate about Reiki practice affects the way it is seen by those outside the practice. This is a great obstacle in bringing Reiki practice to the mainstream public, which is not likely to subscribe to the Reiki energy worldview.
I did my first Vipassana retreat in 1998 in India. There was no problem with Reiki yet.
After this retreat, back in France, a teacher from the Vipassana retreat center in France wrote an article on the subject and I published it on my web site. It was a perfectly sensible article and there was no comment about Reiki/Vipassana compatibility
A couple of years later, I was contacted by the European representative for Vipassana and asked to take off this article from my web site because Vipassana is not any more compatible with Reiki.
I tried to explain my point of view, that on the contrary, the two are totally compatible and even more, they greatly complete each other. I was told that the main reason of the non-compatibility is that some people in India had a strong emotional reaction during and/or after the retreat and they don’t want any more problems.
The article on Vipassana is still on my web site (in French) and many of my students participated to one or several retreats. Most of them chose not to say they did Reiki – and nothing happened, they are well and happy, even after several retreats.
Some others, wanted to be honest, they said they practice Reiki and they were not accepted to the second 10 days retreat. The explanation given recently has to do with the concept of non attachment, of non-doing, Reiki’s philosophical and spiritual approach not being compatible with the practice of Vipassana, etc.
But I am afraid that what is all about is this fear that some people might have a strong emotional reaction during or after the retreat with the risk of legal or official problems.
For those interested, I can certify here that none of my students during all this time (about 15 years) had any problem ever, they only had great benefits of practicing Vipassana and Reiki.
Of course, I can not tell what one should do – tell the truth or not – and how one will fill in the form for the next Vipassana retreat is a very personal matter. But maybe if more people, from all over the world, from the very beginning would have said that they consider the two practices perfectly compatible, maybe the situation today would be different.
I wish you a serene day !
You know, as a practicing, believing Catholic, I have sat with that USCCB letter for years. I finally came to respect it for what it was concerned about, but feel they missed the boat. They really weren’t talking about reiki. They were, as you said, Pamela, addressing issues that contribute to the “image problem” reiki faces due to the ungrounded presentation of reiki, what it is and what it offers. I don’t know if anyone can contact someone in the Vipassana community to address the question here. It would be interesting to hear why they oppose reiki.
What does our reiki community have to learn from this? Well, I guess we still have a reputation to live down! 🙂
If Reiki practitioners speak about Reiki in a magical way, the public will think it’s magic, and the practice will be treated as such. If the community speaks about Reiki as a spiritual practice — as it was to Usui — it will receive the respect that is generally offered spiritual practices.
Of course there are always people who don’t respect anything, and it is for us to find a healthy, ethical way to coexist with them.
I would be deeply disturbed and annoyed if I was instructed not to practise Reiki, or any other spiritual practice I found helpful. I can understand that it may be helpful to focus on what one is learning during the period of time a course (e.g. Vispassana) is in progress, but not to abandon other practices permanently.
I am not addressing any one organisation here – I would not accept a religious minister restricting my practice, reading or thinking any more than I would allow a Vispassana teacher to require my obedience to their diktats.
I am an adult, and it is for me to choose how to follow my spiritual path. I would not choose to follow any practice which ordered me to exclude Reiki, or which told me how to think or what to believe.
This is not a new idea – I believe a certain Martin Luther ran into problems with the Catholic Church because he had a similar attitude, and felt that reading the Bible and thinking about it was a useful thing for a Christian to do!
Encouraging a student to read, listen and think about things they have heard and read, reaching their own conclusions and being open to new ideas and practices is useful. Anything else is not, and smacks of being a cult!
Sarah, do you really want to slap the cult label so easily just because you disagree with a requirement?
Teachers have a right to set restrictions for those who want to study with them and students have a right to go elsewhere.
I´ve learnt japanese Reiki and one of the first and more important practices there is, is the so called Hatsurei-Ho, which is a three part practice, being one of them Gassho meditation, where you put your hands together and focus on the point of contact between your forefingers… and you always bring your attention to that point…and again and again to that point… I don´t know much about vipassana, but form what I´ve read (and practice a little) it´s somehow similar… we change the focus of attention (not the breath as is vipassana). But the aim of Gassho meditation is the same.
Perhaps as it happens with me (not skillful and knowledgeable of vipassana) happens to others with Reiki, hence the confusion.
I have been giving some thought to this – since both vipassana and Reiki come from Buddhist origins (Reiki perhaps more indirectly and through as-yet unknown ways and paths – Usui was likely a Buddhist practitioner, and perhaps also a practitioner of other systems), hence there should be no inherent contradiction between the two. If there does indeed to be any kind of contradiction, given the common source one must examine the motives and understanding of the teachers involved in passing on these systems.
I’m quoting the Dalai Lama – “The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values. By inner values I mean … in a single word, compassion. The essence of compassion is a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being. This is the spiritual principle from which all other positive inner values emerge.”
Personally speaking, I find this statement to be one of the most spiritually uplifting yet inclusive statement that I have come across. Vipassana and Reiki both being systems for enlightenment, I wonder where the differences and “exclusive use” clauses crept in 🙂
I have a hypothesis – SN Goenka’s teachings and the teachers he trained are the root of this issue. I have never heard similar problems with, for example, Jack Kornfield’s students or Sharon Salzberg’s students – they both have an eclectic practice that still sticks true to the form of vipassana, while Goenka’s system imposes strange asceticism to the form of vipassana, and at the same time imposes a sort of personality cult around him and his wife.
Please understand that I’m not launching any kind of personal attack here. It is just an observation that I have gathered after interacting with hundreds of Goenka-vipassana practitioners. They have been asked to give up japa yoga, kriya yoga, any system of physical exercise that has even remotely to do with non-vipassana systems in an artificial attempt to “stick to the form of vipassana as taught by my teacher.”
I can still understand the request not to practise Reiki during the vipassana retreat (anyway, how can i un-Reiki my hands after the attunement? i continue to feel the vibrations in my body whether I want to or not – not sure if others feel the same way), but to ask students to choose between the two, although it is a prerogative of the teachers, is, in my opinion, a very controlling and manipulative step taken by those who indulge in it. My own Reiki master told me to stick to my practice and then explore whatever I want – he was secure in his own system of spiritual practice and its efficacy.
As a practitioner of both, yes, there are similarities, but a Vipassana teacher who doesn’t practice Reiki wouldn’t know that and wouldn’t be able to offer advice on integrating the two, so best to keep them separate. Most Buddhist lineages have a “thing” about staying true to the “form” – which helps the student to learn and get the most of that particular practice. My guess is that the teacher would also want her students to experience “pure” Vipassana, just as I would want my students to experience “pure” Reiki (i.e. without crystals, ascended masters, etc. etc. etc. – because those outside influences are distracting and simply not part of the system of Reiki. Vipassana is about being open to whatever is there to be experienced in each moment, without judgement and without attempting to change it, and there might be a tendency to want to use Reiki to “heal” some of the inevitable emotional and physical discomfort that arises during sitting – which would be counterproductive to that practice. The student is free to do as she wishes after the retreat, including consulting someone who teaches both for guidance on integrating them. I say kudos to the Vipassana teacher 🙂
Janet, as stated in the email quoted above, these particular Vipassana teachers are giving Reiki practitioners an ultimatum — either give up your Reiki practice or don’t take any more Vipassana trainings. The Vipassana students are specifically told that continuing to practice Reiki after the retreat can lead to adverse effects.
I think you are on to something, however, in saying that Reiki practitioners might be use their Reiki practice to “heal” rather than observe. But if they practice Reiki and Vipassana separately, that’s not a problem.
I suggest my students be passive in practice (placing hands only, no willfulness or intense focus, not trying to solve a problem) and I encourage them to observe at least some of their Reiki practice. The capacity to observe without jumping to conclusions is critical to well-being and to spiritual growth.
It is not necessary to choose either Reiki practice or observation. We can do both.
I’ve come across the same instructions, but I don’t see them as being negative. The two teachings are different and I see them like two different sports (say swimming and boxing). You’ve found two teachers and you want to practice both. The swim teacher is saying if you want to continue to be a boxer then fine, nothing wrong with boxing but I won’t contiune to train you in swimming – because he knows one body can’t be both slim and fast for swimming and strong and tough for boxing.
It’s not a judgement call it’s a matter of incompatibility.
Except that the two practices are actually not incompatible, Edmond. The ultimatum to choose between them is unnecessary, and based on misinformation — misinformation which the Reiki community provides in abundance.
Just for today:
Do not worry
Just because some people don’t particularly enjoy combining ketchup and mustard isn’t cause for a spiritual crisis. Enjoy your meal however you like.
I am a Catholic Reiki Master/Teacher. I have asked the local diocese Why? and have not received any acceptable/rational response. I believe each person’s spiritual beliefs and practices are just that, personal and no organization, religion, teacher ahs the right to dictate. If the Lord himself comes down and tells me that Reiki or any other practice is evil or wrong, then I’ll stop but until then I will continue to practice and share Reiki in the name of God.
But the Lord *has* come to them and told them, in some way, and maybe long ago 🙂
Jokes aside, I have written about it before and the Catholic Bishop’s argument is far from being ignorant, but is entirely rational and logical from their viewpoint. It arises from the deepest philosophical level, dualism vs monism. Given their position and Christian beliefs they simply cannot come to another conclusion. IMO the ignorant ones are the ones who criticize the Bishops.
We need to understand and respect that and if one is a Christian and a Reiki master one will have to deal with this conflict.
Peter, is it possible for you to share your perspective without calling anyone ignorant?
I have been practicing Reiki for many years, I also am Catholic, but being very well informed as to my religion, I know that the rules change at the whims of the men that rule the church. For me rather then to have an internal battle with myself or an external one with the church I can’t possibly win, my decision was clear to me. Put the religion to the side, concentrate on my spirituality and continue my Reiki , it comes to me as a second nature I find it gave me a calm that is so important for my life and I am not going to ask for permission from religion as to weather or not I may practice. Usui Reiki Ryoho, opened my eyes to what I had been feeling and doing for many years prior…..That my church wouldn’t even discus with me. You cant please but one (me) and serve many (my patients) and let my spirit tell me different, my god knows who I am and as far as I know my Reiki Practice never tried to take over my faith in god and they work (for Me ) very well together.
IMO the opposition of the Catholic Bishops and the Vipassana teacher cannot be linked because the Vipassana teacher could not possibly have the reasons for the opposition used by the Bishops.
Therefore one has to look at the Vipassana teacher’s opposition entirely on its own. The things I can think of are:
– the time one has will have to be split between meditation and Reiki, maybe not allowing either one of them to be practiced in the most effective manner.
– for some people their Reiki practice seems to be directed outwards, towards healing other people. If such an approach is the basis for one’s Reiki practice then it will inevitably influence the meditation practice in a similar manner, just the opposite of what it should be.
– there is something to be said for focusing on one practice and one practice alone to the exclusion of all others, e.g. Master Hsu Yun is very explicit in that once one has chosen a Dharma door one should stick with it no matter what. Reiki may just be singled out here because it is popular, but the principle would apply to any other practice.
But then there are also the practices of Vajrayana and all their dizzying array of techniques – even Mahamudra and Dzogchen, the Vajrayana equivalents of vipassana, deploy many, many levels of techniques, so this single technique argument doesn’t hold much water for me.
Suneil, as someone who has practiced meditation, yoga and Reiki separately for decades, I agree with you that the single technique argument seems weak.
Peter, the only link between the U.S. Catholic bishops and the Vipassana teachers is that they both oppose Reiki practice.
The Reiki community consensus seems to be that those who oppose our practice are ill informed. Might the Reiki community be contributing to that misinformation, and how many other people are being affected by it?
I am am sure they contribute to it, note my second point which boils down a desire to ‘fix’ other people in particular and the world in general.
I had been familiar with the opposition of the Catholic Bishops, but to hear of this opposition Vipassana teachers is new and surprising. I must confess that this is the first time I’ve heard of Vipassana practice, but I’d wonder if the “No Reiki (or other practices/paths)” is something of a forced devotional, as it were.
When I started practicing Reiki, I committed to daily practice for a minimum of three weeks. For me, this was both about forming a relationship with Reiki (and myself) and developing a consistent habit. While, to me, it seems a little strict, I wonder if the “no other practices” sentiment comes from a similar goal (i.e. to develop a consistent habit, focus on learning/honing one practice at a time).
Chris, the proscription was particularly no Reiki practice: “I was told specifically not to practice Reiki after the course, because Reiki and Vipassana could have adverse effects.”
In order to continue Vipassana training, Reiki practitioners have been told they have to stop practicing Reiki.
You got off easy with three weeks. Letting my students know that my intention is that they self-practice every day for life, I ask them to commit to six months of daily practice. My plan is that by then they won’t be able to imagine life without Reiki practice. 🙂
Oh, right. I understand that the general proscription against Reiki was in the interest of avoiding “adverse effects” – which, to me, seems awfully vague, at least in terms of specifics. I was more hypothesizing about the logic behind that decision [ruling? requirement] was/is.
And, of course, I was in no way suggesting that the three weeks’ mark was the point at which I stopped; I do, however, find it really interesting (and probably no accident) that 21 days (or 3 weeks) is both the amount of time that Dr. Usui [supposedly] meditated on Mt Kurama and the approximate benchmark for how long it takes to make most habits stick.
There is Truth in all things but not Truth in one thing. Listen to your own Inner Guidance.
Thank you, April. That is a concise and beautiful statement, with such wisdom.
Truth just isn’t a thing. No matter how cleverly we try to grab truth, it slips through our fingers. That’s one of the many understandings that come with consistent spiritual practice, of any kind.
I agree with you Pamela. I never encountered this prohibition around Reiki. Quite a few Vipassana practitioners iv’e met practice qigong. Although I frequently meet people who just don’t allow themselves to listen to any education about Reiki. That said any teacher who instructs someone not to practice because they are meditating is confused & misguided. The truth is beyond dualities which is why we love both Reiki & meditation. Believing in “separation” & making judgements does not a healer make.
I have been practicing vipassana for ten years and learned Reiki three years ago. I applied to ‘serve’ a vipassana course a while ago and mentioned on the application that I practice Reiki. I was surprised to find that I am not allowed to serve because of my affiliation with Reiki. Sounded silly to me. I had been practicing both and had not felt any adverse effects.
I can understand their requirement to keep vipassana pure for course duration. But having to choose between the two did not make sense to me. So I continue both. If it keeps me for volunteering for them – their loss not mine. Not being allowed to attend another 10-day retreat – my loss but so be it. I follow my heart.
Thank you, Madhu. Always good to have the perspective of someone who has addressed a situation.
Did they also forbid yoga or qigong during the retreat, or was it only Reiki practice?
They politely request that for course duration students not practice anything else, which makes perfect sense. Vipassana is not an easy practice and for ten days you have to totally immerse yourself in it to get any benefit. Mixing things up during course will confuse students. They do respect all spiritual practices and say so at the beginning.
Madhu, that may be your experience but others have been given different directions, as per the quote above.
Requiring a student to stop practicing a practice he/she is accustomed to does not isolate the benefits of vipassana.
Re: Teaching True Usui Reiki
As I have been taught and teach my students is that a brief overview of the chakras be included since a correlation can be found between byosen and the chakra system. However, I instruct my students that this brief overview is NOT PART OF THE USUI SYSTEM and explain the possible correlation w/the “sensing sacred impressions of Illness”.
I would encourage every Master to do likewise if they are adamant in include outside teachings (angels, law of attraction, etc.) which is not part nor any direct, implied, or possible connecting to the true Usui Reiki Tradition.
I am a devout Catholic and a Karuna Reiki practioner. I know the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is against reiki, so I do my practice “under the radar” and believe that I have been able to assist many, of my faith and of other faiths. I believe that one day the Bishops will understand what reiki actually is and the benefits it provides.
As I said on Facebook, any Vipassana teacher who tried to proscribe my Reiki practice would lose all credibility in my books and certainly NOT have me as a student. Making categorical negative statements about other practices is to me the warning sign of a limited and closed mind which IMHO shows nothing less than that the teacher is unawakened, ego-bound, and should certainly reconsider teaching anyone their meditation practice, which apparently hasn’t worked. There. I hope I am not being categorical.
Thank you for this great blog.
I am a Vipassana Instructor with the organization ‘Vipassana New World’. When teaching Vipassana, I too request my students to not practice anything else during their course, for the sake of safety (regarding the crossing of energy channels). Yet we also understand that we all have many paths to our Divine, Awakened selves.
I speak of many personal development systems during our 10-day retreats and how they interact with Vipassana. I utilize Vipassana as my core, foundation system, and I enjoy a host of other systems on top of Vipassana, in order to provide a well-rounded training in Harmonious Communication with myself, Prosperity Coaching, Energy Healing, and consciously uncovering mental programs and emotional blocks that Vipassana can then help me heal.
I teach each student to follow their hearts to their Truths. Life insights (our blocks, ignorances, receiving Angelic messages, etc.) doesn’t come overnight, yet with persistence, faith, and sincerity in our process, we receive everything we strive towards.
The worldwide Vipassana centers are ‘Purist’ centers. They teach a pure form of the Buddha’s teachings based on their lineage. I too request my students to attend one of their courses to experience a pure form of Dhamma. Yet it’s not necessary, as once Day 5 of a retreat comes, it almost doesn’t matter where we are, cause we’re releasing so much and the Vipassana energy and process keeps things from attaching to us.
We, at VNW, like to say we’re ‘Truists’, remaining true to our Hearts, as we are each unique Beings. Many of our students come to us for deep emotional release. Whether it’s with our 10-day retreats or my wife’s ceremonies, we teach emotional release and authenticity, as this leads us to ‘spirituality’ in a very grounded way.
Centers around the world oftentimes do not take students seeking ‘healing’ (as opposed to spiritual development), because they simply do not have the man-power or credentials to assist extreme cases through the 10-day program. Yet Vipassana works amazingly well for people with major depression, PTSD, and the like if done equanamously. We have had students access profoundly emotional traumas on Day 1 of their retreats. This would be known as an extreme case, and these beautiful people deserve a place to practice. For this reason we are seeking a property where some types of students may meditate half-days and work with natural (organic gardening, for example) for the other half-day, until their minds and emotions balance more gently over time.
I know in my heart any system can be practiced alongside another when deep sincerity and natural enjoyment exists for one’s opposite forms of training. I personally practice Vipassana daily, with providing energy healing (IET Sessions), life-coaching sessions, see energy healers and coaches for myself, practice channeling, take part in shamanic journeying, and enjoy learning new systems as my heart calls me to them.
Yet I remain sincere in my Vipassana practice, I observe how it strengthens my ability in every other form of training i enjoy, and I am sincere in my Path of Awakening.
“To thine own self be true.”
We gauge potential students to our retreats by their sincerity for peace and purity. If the sincerity is there along with evidence of consistent effort and courage to surmount the emotional passages which arise, then it oftentimes doesn’t matter what life-choices the person is making outside their retreat.
May your all be blessed with Peace & Prosperity.
Life is an experience. Go out and celebrate it, while touching your finger to the stove now and again to see what happens. You will learn for yourself and become all the wiser for it.
Vipassana New World
This is what I was told by the worldwide Vipassana meditation centers regarding reiki:
There did not used to be any ruling on reiki/ energy healing and Vipassana until sometime between 1998 and 2001. At this time, during a course being taught, a student went back to her room and practiced energy healing (she stated that it was reiki) on herself.
Something went wrong with her, and she entered a very dark state that course assistants had a challenging time bringing her out of. Evidently it was an extreme emergency, though I am not told the details.
Soon after, the ruling against Reiki and Vipassana was made. Vipassana is a strong energy channel and requires some time, practice, and respect before one begins mixing systems.
Certainly the lady involved in this episode was traumatized by her situation, though meditation and clearing old unconscious Beings from our system, old beliefs and agreements from our minds and karmas, and taking back our lives is not an easy task. Personally it took me 4 years of consistent effort on my part to begin bringing my head above water, where negative entities and belief patterns weren’t self-sabotaging my life and health results.
I feel Vipassana is like other systems, where it follows the 80/20 rule. 80% receive great benefit from it, 10% on one end probably don’t get it and walk out, and 10% on the other end get seriously rocked by it, as their system is possibly not made to handle this form of training or it’s the wrong timing in their life, or it’s practiced too intensely.
There are many challenges with practicing Vipassana for some people. We have had some retreats where 40% of the students do not finish their 10-day retreat, while 60% will excel at it and leave extremely satisfied. Reading about the ‘dangers’ of Vipassana online will help shed more light on this topic. We’re authoring a document to shed more light on this. On the flipside, for those who minds work well with deep meditation, the benefits of Vipassana are impressive, and I share many on online videos.
It’s important to understand that all systems carry with them their inherent risks. Whether it’s an ayahuasca ceremony, a transmission from an energy instructor, fasting, energy yoga, etc, every system I have practiced since my car accident in 2005 has shown me risks. Yet I continue on my path in order to bring calmness and peace to my mind, and at the end of the day, I am much better off, much happier and holier having ‘done the work’ and uncovered and released something. I can say it does take courage, yet there is a major payoff; your self-love, your peace, your curiosity of life, your presence, your healing ability, your clarity of mind….
All advanced forms of personal development are like lasers in their energy channels. A personal development system becomes an ‘advanced system’ when the administrators/ creators of the system begin adding new rules over time that say what is and what is not acceptable. This tightens the energy channel until many begin calling it a ‘cult’. The reality is that the teaching, the energy, and the system have achieved a high-degree of success for a smaller group of people who the technique fits well with. These added rules begin cutting out segments of society for the sake of respecting the energy channel they so believe in. There are pros and cons to this.
I have respect for these kinds of organizations who teach their systems in these ways, as I know I have free-will to train in one for as long as my heart says, ‘Yes’, then I politely leave and follow my heart to my next path. In my personal case, Vipassana has been a consistent Path of mine for a few years, and being someone who used to be ADHD, Depressed, Insomniatic, etc, Vipassana has balanced me back to a much more consistent and pleasant state of being.
Vipassana New World is an ‘open’ organization; open to many forms of teaching and finding out how these relate to the Buddha’s Noble 8-Fold Path, while remaining true to the Indian Tradition of how Vipassana 10-day retreats are taught. Our 10-day retreats are every bit as challenging as the retreats in worldwide centers. Yet outside of these retreats we are very open to exploring and utilizing the many great teachings that exist in our world today to bring balance and peace to ourselves, our families, and our communities. Some of these other systems marry incredibly well with Vipassana, which cause me to fall more in love with its teaching as the years progress.
The most important aspect of Vipassana is how to integrate it into your everyday life. We’ve been uncovering a few major topics that Vipassana assists us with and how it affects families, codependency, addiction, being in your heartspace, attachment, depression, and even how to inject it throughout one’s day for peace and harmony. Vipassana in daily life for normal people who are not monks takes great faith and skill.
I hope this shares some positive info on the topic above.
Perhaps what I wrote opens new cans of worms, yet these are important topics to discuss openly.