Sunday, April 19, 2009

Religion, Spirituality and Reiki

This week, I've been thinking about the ideas of faith, belief and spirituality. These thoughts usually come up for me when I'm at services. Rarely do formal worship services resonate with me, although I sometimes have to go and participate with the family. Friday night was one of those times. As I do when I'm at a service in the congregation, I found myself pondering religious ritual, formal worship, and means of making the connection to a Higher Source.

I'm Jewish. I should probably mention that I'm comfortable being Jewish. More than a religious practice, Judaism is a culture. This means it involves family, history, food, music, art, books, holidays, language, Bible, religious writings, education, and ties to a land (Israel). It's essentially a way of life. I also have a Master's Degree in Jewish Studies, and have worked as a Jewish educator either part time or full time for the last 13 years. Despite my education and teaching experience, the formal worship aspect has never made me feel spiritually connected.

Judaism is founded on monotheism, and many of our prayers are of the "God is One" variety, which works for me. But as I sat in services on Friday night, I realized an aspect of what's wrong with it for me. What's not working for me is that in the prayers, God is addressed as You. You this, You that, thank You, You are this, You are that... separate from "us."

This feels wrong to me because the way I've come to feel about spirituality is that WE are God - we all are, via our souls, essences, life force - and we are connected to each other through this same energy. Our energy - our soul essence -connects all life, and that is Spirit energy. We are all capable of learning to give more of this essence energy (Life Force Energy, Ki, Chi, whatever you might call it) to each other as needed, for healing, balance, etc. in whatever way we learn how (Reiki, Quantum Touch, and many other energy healing modalities), and there are many ways.

But it doesn't matter how we do this - just that we do. I think it could be one of the main reasons for existence, to feel this connectedness, elevate our vibrations, learn to help each other and the world (for all nature is connected by this energy - plants, animals, the Earth). Once you know how to do this, you see the world and life itself so differently. I don't need formal worship to feel connected because I feel connected through energy work.

The people who devalue life, who hate others and think they are better than others, who let the
ego interfere with the basic principle of connectedness are missing this essential point. That's why it usually seems that organized religion separates people into little groups of people who miss the point. Once a religion asserts that it is the "True" path to spirituality, it is missing the point of the connectedness, the Oneness of everyone and everything.

So why am I writing this? I often think about the ideas of faith, belief and spirituality. I don't reject religion in general or my religion. In fact, I feel connected to the belonging-ness and the aspects of Judaism that stress the importance of helping, caring for the planet, respecting others, and being a good person. Holiday themes of family and togetherness, the importance of everyone, and seeking a connection with God are parts that I especially like.

Reiki is not a religion. It is a spiritual practice however. That is its essence because it involves connecting with this spiritual energy. It is not a religion because it requires no beliefs, does not single out one group over another, and it does not require a formalized ritual of worship. There are no Reiki holidays. There is not Reiki food. No language needs to be learned. Symbols are optional but have no religious significance. There are precepts, ideas of how Reiki can benefit your life, but it's not considered Law or required faith, or something to accept or suffer any consequences if you don't.

So this week's blog entry is intended to share my thoughts on religion, spirituality, faith and Reiki with you. Please comment if you feel moved to do so.

Thank you. Peace.

22 comments:

Alice Langholt said...

Click here to read Navdeep's wonderful response on his own blog. Thank you for such amazing insight!

Blessings, Alice

Ming said...

Its good that we all keep saying that, those that practice Reiki. Reiki is NOT a religion. Thanks for the post! Blessings, Ming

Beth the Reiki Artist said...

Thank you so much for sharing a bit more about your experience and insight about religion, spirituality, and reiki! The beauty of reiki is that it reminds us that we are all connected because we are all part of the same energy field. Reiki lets us tap into that and share it with anyone, near or far. Keep up sharing those good vibrations!

Mary's World said...

Thank you for sharing with all that Reiki is not a religion! I was very interested in your views of this and the way you talked about your beliefs, your religion, and how you fit it all together with Reiki. You are so right about the fact that many organized religions take the Oneness and Spiritual aspects out. I too feel that hollow or empty feeling in organized services, even though I am of a different faith (I am Christian) than you are the feeling is the same as what you describe. I applaud you on being willing to openly share this viewpoint with others in this way so that some may notice and see this for themselves!!

dougggie said...

To me, "religion" is something instituted to separate the masses from Source, and has been twisted for generations to maintain fear and a sense that you are not worthy for whatever reason.
"Spirituality" is connecting with Source, and treated everyone and everything as you would wish to be treated yourself - every being has worth and is no less worthy than another.

Dina said...

Alice, this was a Beautiful posting. I absolutely identify with it. I am not Jewish, but I honor the faith. I am an Interfaith Minister, and the words you wrote are exactly what I teach. When we are mindful that we are all one, and when we finally recognize that every face we see is the face of God, every voice we here is the voice of God, then we as a universal group of beings will be making some progress. We are, I AM.
Blessings.
Reiki is definitely a spiritual endeavor, and I agree that it is not a religion by any standards. It is a way of interconnectedness, and oneness.
Lovely!
Cheers! Dina

John said...

I was once told that a post I'd made to a particular service was inappropriate because it contained a link to one of my blogs which mentions Reiki. The reason? Because in their view Reiki is "faith-based." That apparently translates to "religious" in their Universe.

Reiki is many things to many people. Some probably do consider it a religious practice because there are specific rituals and symbols, etc. In my view, Reiki is a way of being. The symbols, rituals, etc. are simply ways of focusing the practitioner's intention until such time as s/he doesn't need them any more and can simply "be Reiki."

I agree that organized religion has strayed very far from its origins and now serves mainly to emphasize the rightness of a particular set of beliefs vs. the wrongness of everyone else's. Obviously, that's counter to the concept that we are all pieces of Source energy (call it what you will).

That is not to say that organized religious groups do not provide some positive benefits, but their very reason for being is flawed.

Namaste,

John

TN said...

Blessings Reiki Sister,

This is a wonderful post. And as a fellow MotT (member of the tribe) I completely understand where you are coming from.

Since becoming a Reiki practitioner myself and having my own "reiki awakening" I do approach the Siddur (prayer book) with wholly different eyes (heart) than before.

And it does feel a bit incongruous for me.

As I recite tehillim (psalms) or any one of customary prayers for me its more out of tradition....

I no longer see "God" as merely something or someone that is OUT THERE...separate from me.

I see "God" as The Collective....and myself as part of that Collective.

God as Source of Life...Life Energy.....personal and impersonal...general and specific....

When I pray it is me praying not to some powerful being that resides up in the sky or where ever I am not...but that is within me and of me.

As if I am getting in touch with my Spark of the Divine... my small part connected to the Bigger part if that makes sense.

It has been a bit of an adjustment for me.

Sure...Reiki is not a religion....but it is a Spiritual Practice....being that which connects you to your original self...Self is a Spiritual Being having a current physical manifestation.

For some Reiki is their religion....or their spiritual practice.

My Reiki spiritual practice and its "rituals" of Self Reiki, gassho, Gokai are just as important to me as being Jewish...as my son having his bar mitzvah as observing Pesach (passover) et al...

I am thankful for Usui-sama and Takata-sensei for giving this gift to the world.

And I am thankful for you Alice and our connection and the wonderful resource you are offering to the Reiki community.

Alice Langholt said...

Ming, Beth, Mary, Caz (Dougggie), Dina, John, and Ms. ReikiMoon (TN),

I am truly moved and so appreciate your wonderful feedback on my post. I was, I admit, a little hesitant to broach the subject of religion in terms of how it relates to the way I feel about the spirituality of Reiki. People can be very strong-minded about religion and I was wondering what the comments would bring.

Gratefully, I receive all of your positive energy and validation. You are all wise and it's wonderful to be in a community of lightworkers who can share so much with the world.

Peace,
Alice

Reginaldc said...

Alice thank you for visiting my blog. Your post was beautiful and heartfelt. I was raised Christian but always felt that it disconnected people rather than bringing them together. Religion and its dogma is destructive. I believe that many people are starting to wake up to this fact. Keep writing such thoughtful post. the world needs people like yourself.
Reginaldc

Anonymous said...

I too identify with your post. I also believe we are all connected; no one person is lesser or better than the rest. You summed up my thoughts quite well. I am sometimes discouraged by the stigma placed on "Christians" as a whole. Though I pray to Jesus, I do not believe in pushing my beliefs onto others, and wish everyone the best on their own spiritual journey. Blessings, Marcie Ciampi SpectrumMother

Jessica said...

Bravo on a great post! Recognizing our own divinity and that we are spiritual beings on a human journey has been a great personal revelation to me lately. Thanks for expressing it so well.

Anonymous said...

It is a great post and I will agree with you that Reiki is not a religion. Can you send me some more information about Reiki?
Spiritual Advice

Alice Langholt said...

Since you posted anonymously, I'll tell you here. For more information on Reiki, you can go to my Reiki website - http://reikiawakening.com or email me: alice.langholt@gmail.com and I'll be happy to answer your questions. Thank you for your comment and I hope to share more with you soon!
Blessings, Alice

Psychic said...

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Alice Langholt said...

Psychic,

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you found this post useful and hope you enjoy other writings on my blog. Welcome and Namaste.

Alice

Cindy Fearon, RYT/LMT said...

I very much identify with what you said, and you expressed it so beautifully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Alice Langholt said...

Cindy,

Thank you. I'm always glad to know when something I've written is useful and resonant. Blessings to you for the light you share.

Alice

love psychic said...

I really don't have a side on these arguments. I just find it quite fascinating that people still have this kind of enthusiasm for a lively and purposeful debate. :)

love psychic

Alice Langholt said...

LovePsychic,
Thanks for your comment. Those who engage in this "debate" are usually those who need more education on what Reiki is about. I'm here to be as much of a resource as I can while I'm on this journey. Thank you for adding to the perspective.
xo,
Alice

Reikihealer said...

I really think the focus on "Reiki is not a religion" is so important and relieves us of alot of dogma. I like your religious comparisons and also that symbols are not mandatory. Keep on keeping on, Sharon Baker, RN Reiki Master www.sharonbaker.net healerscorner.blogspot.com

Spiritual Workshops said...

Great post, thanks for sharing.