Reiki - Cult, Religion, or Simply an Energy Transfer System
Recently, I have been asked several times if Reiki is a cult, or
religion, or philosophy, or simply a method of delivering Ki. I have
always been certain myself that practitioners of Reiki are the farthest
thing from a cult or religion possible. However, in response to sincere
questions from concerned non-Reiki people and potential students, I have
included this page to further define Reiki in terms of widely accepted
definitions of cults and/or religions.
What is a cult? - How does Reiki and its practitioners fit the above
Although some religions and philosophical systems might be seen to
fit several of the definitions of a cult, the system and practice of Reiki
does not in any way resemble a cult. If it did, in any way whatsoever, I
could not continue as a Reiki practitioner. I also find no contradiction
between the practice of Reiki and the findings of both Western and Eastern
science; both physics and medicine are finding increasing validity with
the concepts about energy which Reiki teaches and utilizes. Some
religions, however, do have a problem with certain aspects of Western
science and/or medicine. For me, all knowledge, to be valid, must
"interlock" with the best knowledge in any valid field of human
endeavor, without contradictions.
- A cult exerts absolute authority over its
- Reiki practitioners actively resist any authority of other Reiki
folks. Reiki students do not answer to their Reiki Masters in any way.
Although lineage is a matter of pride and respect, it does not
represent any authority whatsoever. Reiki practitioners are
individuals, and proud of it. There is no "head office of
Reiki". Certification of a student is by the teaching Reiki
Master. Reiki practitioners usually work alone. There are certain
Reiki professional associations, but most Reiki practitioners do not
belong to them. Informal Reiki get-togethers happen from time to time
in certain areas, called "Reiki Shares", but these are not
organizational in any sense, merely times to share Reiki with other
practitioners and members of the general public.
- A cult prescribes one absolute system of
belief for its members, and does not permit questioning of its beliefs
- Reiki practitioners represent many Reiki traditions. Some of these
traditions contradict some parts of other traditions. Many Reiki
practitioners learn more than one tradition, and active questioning
and discussion are a feature of any Reiki-based conversations.
Although a Reiki Master agrees to be available to a student for
questions as long as the student wishes, many students go on in Reiki
to change or improve on various aspects of the Reiki they learned,
while preserving the essentials.
- A cult does not permit its members to be
members of another church or belief system.
- I personally know Reiki practitioners and Masters who are Muslims,
Unitarians, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholic nuns and priests,
Episcopalians, Sufis, Jews, Wiccans, Congregationalists, Methodists,
and Baptists. In each case, they indicate that they have the
agreement, or permission, or approval of their particular religion,
although some newer fundamentalist Protestant denominations seem more
uncomfortable with Reiki.. Many clergy people from each of the above
religions are also Reiki practitioners. There are no required beliefs
or philosophies in Reiki, but a Taoistic
philosophical influence is felt. This is not a contradiction of
religion, but for some, an addition to it. There are historical
figures, such as Usui, whose teaching and influence are respected, but
not made central to the actual practice of Reiki.
- A cult tries to isolate its members from
regular participation in everyday society and tries to limit
communication with friends and family.
- Reiki traditions all include Usui's concepts
of respecting and honoring the family and working honestly in society.
Many Reiki practitioners work in the community as professionals,
providing care beyond their own families in clinics, businesses,
hospitals and churches. Reiki practitioners differ in their politics
and social views; I do notice a general agreement on ecology and the
openness of medical information and access to care, and a tendency to
respect a more natural approach to health maintenance, without a
rejection of continuing traditional medical care.
- A cult many times requires substantial and
continuing monetary commitments from its members.
- Reiki practitioners are under no monetary obligations to anyone,
beyond the expenses agreed on for training
between Master and student. These financial obligations end with the
end of training [a weekend, at most for Reiki I and II; they can be
much longer for Master training in some cases].
- A cult often predicts dire consequences for
society and the world.
- There are absolutely no predictions or beliefs about the condition
or future of the world in the practice of Reiki. There are no beliefs
which even suggest that those who practice Reiki enjoy any greater
position or security in life than non-Reiki folk. Reiki is
life-affirming and holistically creative in its practice. A Reiki practitioner is simply a skilled, trained
person willing to help others.
A cult leader demands absolute obedience by the student/member
and will not tolerate an open discussion of all questions which arise
about the practice involved. Reiki never makes such demands, and
encourages a complete discussion and examination of all facts and
phenomena involved, as well as the right to seek training from any
Reiki Master the student may chose.