Sunday, April 27, 2014

Energy Healing and the Christian Part 1

Energy Medicine is a really important topic for both massage therapists and their clients.  Mention the subject in a room of therapists and you will observe people taking pro and con sides immediately.  The same thing happens in church.  This subject is important for at least a couple of reasons:

1. If Energy based approaches are quackery then the public is being deceived and/or ripped off and therapists are deceived or lying and stealing.  

2. If Energy based approaches are of the occult the public is being subjected to demonic influence and this is being done through their therapists.

Part of delving into this subject is to determine what is meant by the term “energy medicine.”  We need to do this because if we do not define our terms at the beginning we will fail to communicate.  We will be talking past each other without even knowing it.  The definition is all important. 

One attack against the use of energy medicine is that no such thing is possible since energy is simply the ability to do work.  The energy practitioner does not describe or define energy in this way.  The critic has set up a concept that the energy practitioner does not hold and dismisses the concept as untenable simply on the basis of the use of language.  I find this type of argument unsatisfying.

The belief of the energy practitioner (EP) is that there is some type of force or “energy field” that the EP can feel in another body.  They believe that they are able to manipulate this “energy” in such a way as to have a positive influence on the health of the person they are treating.  This is frequently described in terms of heat.

What are we to say to this as Christians?  How are we to evaluate such claims?  I have some ideas that I want to share but I think it is imperative that before I give any such information I do so with an important caveat.  We need to evaluate each person in terms of what they actually believe.  If a person tells us that they do not use power symbols, spirit guides, or other occult practices it is important that we accept that claim.  We may need to ask a few more questions to actually clarify and be sure.  If the person maintains that they are not participating in the occult and our only evidence is the name of their method – we should treat this person charitably and not attribute to them what they actively say that they are not doing.

One of the biggest issues that I have with the concept of treating an energy field is that in at least 2 studies I have read the participants were not able to identify one under controlled conditions.  [i],[ii] A 1,000,000 challenge by the James Randi Educational Foundation has been offered to anyone who will demonstrate the existence of a human energy field under controlled conditions.  This has not been done. 

It is not as if I have not had exposure to people who do this type of work.  I have on a number of occasions.  It is not that I am ignorant of the science behind the ideas – I have read some of the best books on the subject.[iii] [iv] [v] [vi]

It is certainly of concern that it has not been shown that the energy field exists.  The books and web sites that try to lay a foundation for the practice often begin with occult or pseudoscientific explanations of the topic. Spiritually, the occult foundations and practices are of much greater importance than the lack of proof for the energy field.  The first raises spiritual concerns and the second intellectual issues.

Deu 18:9-15  "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.  "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear…”

This passage alerts us to the spiritual issues.  We find here a veritable grocery list of occult practices.  The magicians and sorcerers of old are the precursors of many of our “modern” energy healers.  They too had rituals to prepare them to intervene in the health of others.  We need to be as wary as the original hearers of this passage were to be.  The contrast could not be more clear.  The final section about the prophet is referring to Jesus.  There is a contrast between those using occult/spiritual methods of healing and Christ.

The practice of Reiki requires an attunement.  This is a spiritual happening.  The following is an explanation of why one needs this as an initiation into Reiki:
“I am sure that there are those who worked with energy work much longer than I had when they took their first Reiki class. They may question why it is necessary to be initiated into something that they believed already existed within them. I would have two responses to them. Would the neophyte believe in this natural gift from Spirit of healing self and others without the ritual? Secondly, as the “Oxford Dictionary” indicates, initiation is also “admission to the knowledge or instruction in the elements of any subject or practice.” Is this not the process that Dr. Usui went through when he received the Reiki keys to healing from Spirit?

As a teacher I have seen my students many reactions to the process of receiving an initiation. In varying degrees each student has been touched in some special way by Spirit. Initiations are a part of the process of reconnection to Spirit and a beginning of a new or renewed walk down the path of life. Many doors are opened in this sacred ritual.” [vii]

Notice the description refers to the “Spirit.”  Dr Usui is said to have received the “Reiki keys to healing from Spirit.”  This certainly sounds like occult practice.  It is certainly not the God of the Bible giving out this information.  These ideas of an energy field are wedded to a view of the world that view “energy” as a manifestation that all that exists is one.  This is a view that is inconsistent with the biblical concept of the creator creature distinction in my previous post (  If you are not familiar with this concept you should read that post before continuing.

We see the same thing in Therapeutic Touch.  The practice was developed by a medium and each visit the practitioner is to “center” themself in ways that mirror that background.  Look at this description of the process: 

“From this extemporaneous account one realizes that the importance of sustained centering throughout the healing act is that it becomes an act of interiority, an act of self-exploration. This shift in consciousness sets up conditions that attract the TT therapist’s inner self to take an intimate part in the therapist’s life activities. We have profiled the changes in the TT therapist that are characteristic of this shift:

There is a rapid psychomotor quieting of the physical body,
A significant lessening of usually uncontrollable verbalizations (“monkey chatter”) in the brain,
A sense of timelessness pervades,
A profound stillness and a sense of peace,
A diminution or shift of egocentric focus
* There is greater clarity in recognition of compassion as power,
An increase in self-confidence,
A strong grasp of intuitive insights and access to deep inquiry,
A tacit understanding of the power of effortless effort when, for instance, working from the crown chakra, and
The amazing realization that the deeper one goes within oneself, the easier it is to heal.  It becomes apparent that this is increasingly so as the inner self becomes the secret ally on this healing path, the Guide, the Teacher who helps the TT therapist become self-aware, an attainment that is the stated goal of this Newer Age quest into who we really are.

Experientially, at least, we now realize that Therapeutic Touch is an opportunity to touch another level of consciousness, a new path of self-realization of our ability to compassionately help those in need, an inner journey to what we are in the depths of our consciousness. This understanding comes with the conscious liason of the individual’s inner self. If the TT therapist is doing Therapeutic Touch correctly, she will not be personally attached to the outcome of the TT interaction, for she is calling upon a source other than her self-willed persona. From this more impersonal stance she can reflect and, as a model, perhaps open up for the healee a glimpse or an impression of the healee’s own inner experiences with his own inner self. He then may find out that the very act of believing that the inner self is accessible lends courage and decisive purpose to one’s life. Life itself then becomes more meaningful, more interesting, and … more fun !  [viii]

Here we see the therapist reaching into themselves but this time to somehow make it easier to manipulate the patient’s energy field.  Of interest is the other source, “the secret ally on this healing path, the Guide, the Teacher who helps the TT therapist become self-aware” – the one other than her self willed persona.  How would one know that they were in contact with some deeper level of themselves as opposed to say – a spirit guide?  How would knowing oneself better make them better equipped to manipulate another person’s energy field.  Therapeutic Touch is certainly dealing with spiritualistic practices here.

Training to do Reiki and Therapeutic Touch both cause the learner to involve themselves in occult activities.  This is something that a believer should not be doing.  This leads to another problem.

Believers have told me that they have taken these trainings and do these techniques but instead of calling on spirit guides or channeling energy they instead rely upon the Holy Spirit.  It is certainly commendable that they immediately see the issue and seek a solution.  The problem is with the solution they have chosen.

We as Massage Therapists like to help people.  We like to see them get better.  This sometimes makes us think of ourselves as healers and when we do that we sometimes think that we have the biblical gift of healing.  Once we take that step it is not difficult to turn to these energy medicine techniques, baptize them by throwing in a dash of Christian terminology, and poof – we are Christian healers who use energy techniques by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We need to stop doing this.  Only the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible can disavow us of this notion.

There are a number of ways of going about this.  I like to look at what actually happened in biblical healings and contrast that with what happens in treatment rooms of EP.

We see Jesus and the apostles doing a number of healings.  Take the man born blind in John 9.  He receives his sight.  What happened?  Jesus spat on the ground, made clay, and applied the clay to his eyes.  The blind man was then given directions to go wash the clay away in the pool of Siloam.  The man returned as a man with sight.  Notice that Jesus did not need to spend time centering himself.  He did not move his hands over the man in any particular order.  The healing was complete.  This man did not require booster healings.

Look at Lazarus in John 11. He was dead.  He had been in there for four days.  Jesus orders the stone away even though “there is a stench.” Jesus spoke and out came Lazarus.  Again, He did not move his hands over the man in any particular order.  He was not even near the body, nevertheless, the dead was raised to life. 

In Luke 6 a man with a withered hand is at the synagogue.  Jesus tells him to stretch out his hand.  He did not move his hands over the man in any particular order.  The man stretched out his hand as commanded and the healing was complete.  Notice that as with the other 2 that this man did not require booster healings.

There is a pattern here.  I am not aware of any case in scripture where anything similar to the attunement ceremony or the centering process was done before a biblical healing occurred.  Whatever is happening today in energetic healing bears no real resemblance to what was done by Jesus and the apostles.  There is no resemblance because biblical healing is qualitatively different from what is passing for healing in these energy based healing disciplines of today.

But we have believers who do energy work.  How do we explain their effectiveness?  We especially need to consider that these practitioners deny that they use occult methods.  We have already seen that what they do does not approximate what was done by Jesus and the apostles but they say that what they are doing is in the name of Christ.

If what they are doing is of Christ it will look like what he did.  What they do does not look like what Christ and the apostles did.  Therefore what they are doing is not of Christ.  This leaves us with a few alternatives.  We will look at those in my next post.

[i] Rosa et al. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch, JAMA April 1, 1998 Vol  279, No. 13 pg. 1005-1010
[ii] R. Glickman and E. Gracely.  Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 2 , No 1 (spring/summer 1998)
[iii] J. Oshman, Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, 2003 Elsevier Science
[iv] J. Oshman, Energy Medicine the Scientific Basis, 2000 Elsevier Science
[v] R. Becker and G. Selden, The Body Electric, 1985 Quill
[vi] Y. Jwing-Ming, The Root of Chinese Chi Kung:  The Secrets of Chi Kung Training, 1995 Yang’s Martial Arts Association

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit in the Life of Christ - an Introduction

I‘ve been contemplating a project for 25 years now.  I have been intrigued by the idea of studying the life of Christ with an eye toward how he models the fruit of the Spirit for us.  I wonder what I can learn from such a study.  I hope you will come along with me and see where it goes.  This blog is specific to pain management in the context of my practice of massage therapy.  I think it will be an interesting perspective on the subject.

The Fruit of the Spirit is listed in Gal. 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This in an interesting list in many ways.  One thing that catches my eye is that it occurs in a context.  A few verses earlier there is the concern of fighting in the church.  This is followed by a listing of the “Works of the Flesh” listed in verses 19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are contrasted.  The idea is that the life of a believer is very different from the non-believer.

Another point of interest is that this is but one of many such lists.  Another one is found in Eph. 4:20-32.  In that passage we are told that we are to take off certain behaviors and put on other ones.  There is actual work we are to do. 

Therefore, putting away lying, "LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR," for we are members of one another. "BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

As you can see the lists are different.  I just want to point out that the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians is not all that is said about growth in the Christian life.  It is important but it is not everything.

Another issue in this study will be watching out for moralism.  There is often a tendency to just read sections like this and turn scripture into a collection of good character traits – with Jesus as an example.  So far, so good.  The issue is that while Jesus is an example par excellence as to how we are to live and a perfect model of such behavior – he is so much more than that.

It would be easy to see and portray Jesus as our example and miss so much more about him.  Jesus executes the office of Prophet, Priest, and King.  We do not want to miss that in this series.  To do so would to miss the gospel.
We also need to remember that Jesus is the second person of the trinity.  He is Deity.  When we are looking at WWJD we will need to remember that Jesus as the God man might do something different from what we would. 

Theologians talk about God’s communicable and incommunicable attributes.  We will never be as God is in omnipotence or omnipresence.  We are to be like him in holiness. 

What does the Fruit of the Spirit have to do with pain management? We will be looking at that.  I am expecting it to be very appropriate to tie in with our topic.

This is a start.  More to follow.  I am looking forward to seeing Jesus model the Fruit of the Spirit.