Article by Phillip Hawkins
As a qualified trainer and Reiki teacher part of my educational and vocational remit is to train students who wish to become Reiki practitioners or teachers themselves. This requires an understanding of accepted academic principles and teaching practices, coupled with the ability and experience to deliver sometimes complex esoteric subjects in a way that makes them easy for the student to understand. These subjects by their very nature can be very difficult to comprehend, hard to accept and even harder to substantiate. An open community of enquiry that works on the premise that there are no definitive right or wrong answers just differing points of view is an excellent teaching model that often leads to a discussion on a wide range of related subjects such as spirit and spirituality, the aura, reincarnation life after death and their relevance to the study of Reiki. If we are serious about our desire to gain knowledge and understanding then Reiki and its healing properties can’t be discussed in isolation and we must when necessary be willing and able to discuss the physical and spiritual framework wherein life death, healing and dis-ease coexist, and their implications and the questions raised in the minds of the Reiki student. so we must as educators be willing to examine all avenues of thought until we reach a place of objectivity.
To be objective it’s vital that we move away from hearsay, supposition and folklore, and provide were possible research based data, as well as experiential evidence to back up what we teach. Students must trust the knowledge they acquire, they must trust their teachers and mentors, and as a teacher I have a responsibility to ensure reliability, validity and authenticity in all that I do. This doesn’t mean that as teachers we must spoon feed the student and provide all of the answers, we have a duty to teach the student how to think but not necessarily what to think this requires that we be facilitators to learning and stimulate the students desire to seek out knowledge and understanding for themselves and take ownership for their personal development. To ensure this we must where necessary, authenticate the subject matter in order to validate our teachings, be prepared to analyse and critically evaluate the findings, and be willing to change our views, beliefs and teaching practice if the evidence and facts demand it. No matter how well intentioned tradition should never be used to justify the perpetuation of ideas or ideals that lack substance or credibility. Learning requires that where ever possible we deal in factual based knowledge; to do so we must look beyond the myths and legends to find the truth, no matter how strange it may first appear or how uncomfortable it makes us feel, as we move out of our comfort zone and into the realms of the unknown.
Knowledge and understanding are intrinsic to our personal development and growth, and this always lies beyond what we already know and accept as fact. As Anthony Robbins the motivational speaker once said; The miraculous are events that lie outside the limits of our knowledge and understanding; when we expand the sum total of our knowledge and understanding what was once seen as esoteric based miracles becomes a technology that can be reproduced to enhance our development and quality of life. As a species we sometimes struggle to come to grips with our world and to understand the nature of the phenomena it presents to our senses. The means by which we set out to raise our awareness can be classified into three broad categories of experience, reasoning and research either proactively or retrospectively as we move from one experience to another, one level of understanding to another.
Part of this process looks to make sense of anything that doesn’t appear to fit the norm or challenges our beliefs, intellectual assumptions or social values. To allay our fears and ensuing confusion, we look for ways to reinforce our existing beliefs, for patterns of thought or experiences that make sense of the events in our lives. In numerous ways each and every one of us attempts to discern patterns or shapes in seemingly unconnected events in order to better grasp their significance in our lives. An example of this is when we say that ‘Reiki has changed my life’ when in reality it is we that have change our lives, yes what we subjectively perceive to be Reiki may have provided inspiration and direction but we have ultimate responsibility to live our lives in the way we choose. Reiki is neither intrusive nor dictatorial with the power or the desire to override our free will and freedom of choice. Unfortunately a belief once established filters out all incoming information and will reject anything that challenges its existence and we will do everything in our power to justify our beliefs even if they fly in the face of all common sense, logic and reasoning.
A problem teachers can face is their own objectivity or lack of it in their chosen field of study, and this can be compounded when their personal experiences impact on their research in either a positive or negative way. Some would go so far as to deny the possibility of objective study, and argue that all research is inescapably subjective; others maintain the that the proper quest of social scientific research is objective truth in itself.
In light of the esoteric nature of the subject matter, my own search for objective truth demands that I ask the question: If our beliefs are a matter of choice and experiences are a matter of fact, how can we reconcile our Reiki experiences no matter how factual they may be, when they appear to contradict existing scientific thinking.
Reiki teachers and practitioners alike are adamant that Reiki works yet medical science says there is no scientific proof to substantiate this and perceived results are merely due to mind over matter and the placebo effect. This is the same placebo effect that helps medication work in the form of a belief in the doctor and the medication to make us well again. The mind is over matter logistically figuratively and intellectually, for the mind sets the parameters and the body conforms to the directives it receives.
To be able to answer this question I need to examine the aspects of experience, reasoning and research identified above, analyse the nature of our belief system and critically evaluate the source and validity of those beliefs, how they under pin our experiences, and to understand what beliefs and experiences are. The dictionary defines a belief as a feeling of certainty and when we examine the origins of these feelings of certainty we discover that they can be learned in the same way we acquire any other form of information. They can come from re-enforced peer group or social pressure that determines what is ‘right’ or socially acceptable, or be hereditary in as much as it almost becomes a family or social tradition passed down from generation to generation.
Experience is direct personal participation or observation in or of an event and so we begin to realise that a sustained or firmly held belief may well be supported or underpinned by experiences that validate the belief. If, as in the original question we have no personal experience of Reiki or any other related esoteric phenomena we will find it difficult if not impossible to believe in the existence of anything that is beyond the limits of the physical senses. If however an element of doubt is introduced into the belief/experience loop we may begin to question the established belief, which is fundamental to personal development and a greater level of knowledge and understanding. A simple example was our belief in Santa Clause; as children we believed that Santa Clause was real because of the experiences and references that supported that belief. Our parents told us he was real, and on Xmas morning the presents we received provided in our mind absolute proof that he existed. It was only when we began to question our parents and the existence of a Santa Clause did we eventually accept that he didn’t actually exist in the way we thought he did.
This particular belief is sustained be it for ‘all the right reasons’ by misinformation or lies on the part of parents and the lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of children.
Those who teach us can only do so based on what they themselves have learnt. The beliefs and values given to us by our parents and/or society are usually to control us, keep us safe and to stop us being disappointed in life, what we believe in usually determines both attitude and behaviour towards oneself and towards others. We come into the world pristine but very quickly pick up and accept the views, beliefs and expectations of society and the authority figures around us, a lot of baggage we carry in the form of attitudes, beliefs and values are inherited or accepted initially without a great deal of thought for their origins or authenticity. How many of us during our Reiki training accepted what our Reiki Master told us without question, Reiki being such a ‘spiritual’ discipline what we are told must be true. Yet a search for objectivity asks that we question the old and the new in equal measure in order to search out the truth.
Reason is the faculty of rational argument, deduction and judgement and our ability to reason is defined by our intellectual capacity and to a greater degree our collective knowledge and understanding. Cicero defines it as ‘the power which enables the mind to grasp reality’ but as we are beginning to realise what we think and believe effects our perception of that reality.
Rational argument, deduction and judgement demand the prerequisite of consideration and evaluation of all evidence new and old, rather than rejection or dismissal based on personal dogma, social conditioning or even a negative subjective experience. The ability to reason requires us to understand the concept of reasoning and be willing to open our minds enough to accept new truths, which is the basis of all personal, educational and social development and eventually healing through the acquisition of knowledge and understanding. You may say that our ability to think is an integral part of the reasoning process, but thinking alone won’t necessarily bring about a quantum leap in understanding or acceptance of a new idea or belief. Thinking is a matter of consciously considering what already exists in our minds, which is the sum total of what we have experienced in the past. So the act of thinking appears to be a mental exercise that brings our memories or established beliefs to bear upon the present moment, situation or new information we are being asked to consider. Objectivity requires an open mind free from the filter of preconceived ideas and beliefs.
To answer my original question we also need to examine the development of the science that says Reiki can’t work, the science that defines our world, its strengths, and its limitations in dealing with anything that falls outside the parameters of our physical senses. Our world is defined by our five senses; our sense of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste informs us what is real in our physical environment, it’s the physiological and neurological antenna that enables us to navigate the hazards of everyday life.
Our senses are hard wired to our brain; disconnect them and they are unable to provide us with the neurological and electrical impulses (information) it needs. We see, feel, hear, smell and taste more with our Brain, as we do with the external organs that act as a conduit, and as Morpheus explained to Neo in the film the Matrix ‘what you believe to be real Neo is nothing more than electrical impulses to and from your brain’.
Science no matter how well established is still only a work in progress no more than a few hundred years old, its credibility no greater than its best results and its reputation no better than its worse mistake. All new discoveries go through the same evolutionary process of indifference, scepticism, hostility and resistance, before finally being accepted as the norm by its peers. History is littered with references to visionaries such as Tesla, Bell, Edison, Newton and Einstein, being ridiculed and derided because they dared to challenge the accepted beliefs with new truths. Historically our knowledge and understanding of the world come from the sciences and the church. The maxim of science is: Accept no one’s word for it, and the church’s word is gospel yet we take science and the church’s word on reality and morality without question. It is said that science and religion are mighty because they are right, but in our search for objectivity should we not ask ourselves; is science and religion right because they are mighty?
The responsibility for our education rests solely with us and we shouldn’t negate or relinquish that responsibility to others no matter how authoritive they may appear. Before we blindly accept social and religious dogma as our own we should first carefully consider the words of the German philosopher Johann Most. ‘The more man clings to religious dogma, the more he believes. The more he believes, the less he knows. The less he knows the more stupid he is. The more stupid, the easier he can be governed (controlled)’.
Sir Isaac Newton’s eighteenth century scientific model of the world is still the basis for some of our existing beliefs of who we are and what is possible, and even though we have now entered the twenty first century of quantum physics and super string theories that mathematically prove we live in a multi dimensional world that can include a spirit dimension, some still hold the belief that if a thing can’t be seen, if it can’t be scientifically measured and duplicated in a laboratory then it can’t exist. There are parts of the religious and political establishment that invest heavily in the perpetuation of the doctrine that healing of the body and spirit are the sole jurisdiction of the medical profession and the church and that disciplines such as Reiki are at best misguided and at worst dangerous or evil in the guise of good intentions.
Yet thanks to the emergence of quantum physics and quantum mechanics over the last hundred and fifty years, some scientists have begun to accept a universe made up solely of energy, the majority of which lies beyond the range of our physical senses. A universe as Greg Braden puts it ‘We are a part of what is energy in nature, defined by and through vibration, a non local energy that exists everywhere all of the time that is referred to by some scientists as the Quantum Hologram, and the Mind of God by others’. Thus recognising and accepting that the scientist and Nobel Prize winner Max Planck was right when he said during his acceptance speech that ‘Matter in the form of solid objects as we understand it doesn’t exist in the way we think it does’.
Through the study of quantum physics and quantum mechanics, physicist’s such as Niels Bohr’s and John von Neumann have proven mathematically, which is a prerequisite for scientific validation that quantum wave and particles allows for separate dimensions or realities to exist here and now sharing our space separated only by the shape and vibration of their energetic blueprint. Could it be possible that the source of Reiki energy owes more to quantum physics than it does to eastern mythology and spirituality in the way we have been led to believe. If Reiki exist, and I believe that it does surely it’s more important to discover its true point of origin than to simply accept without question and pay lip service to tradition. If we required further proof of the collaboration between science and religion to influence and control what we think and believe we need look no further than a conversation between eminent physicist Professor Stephen Hawking and Pope John Paul the second.
When Hawking appeared on television following his audience with the Pope, Hawking reported that the Pope had said to him ‘I do not care what you do with your scientific research just so long as you do not encroach on my subject of the spirit world and life after death’. If true this is a clear indication of religion and science collaborating to suppress investigation and validation of realities that lie outside of the accepted religious domain. When challenged on this matter, the Royal Society stated that its policy which dates back to the 17th century, agreed with the church never to trespass into the subject of life after death. If quantum physics is correct and other dimensions exist then is it possible that there exists a spirit dimension that is by definition nondenominational, that is neither heaven nor hell and free from all religious dogma, a spirit dimension that we all automatically transcend to at the end of this physical life. Is it also possible that the church has known of this fact for many years? In his critically acclaimed television series on astronomy ‘Cosmos’ historian and presenter Carl Sagan stated that: ‘The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge and understanding, it has no place in the endeavour of science’.
One thing is certain those who have experienced Reiki believe no further proof is required and through it their understanding of the healing process through knowledge and understanding has changed the way they think about life in general and the lessons to be learnt. Those who haven’t, remain steadfastly sceptical and dismissive.
The volume of evidence supporting disciplines such as Reiki will grow steadily as the boundaries of science as we know it are pushed further aside to uncover the truth hidden by a lack of knowledge and understanding on our part, and a desire to control what we think and believe by elements of the church, scientific and political establishment. Knowledge is power and those who control and disseminate that knowledge ultimately control the direction of society’s development and growth. Legitimate and sustainable scientific research has historically been discredited along with the character and reputations of those who would challenge the status quo, and introduce new truths into the public domain. We must ask ourselves what could generate such fear and a desire to suppress the truth. The answer is that those who suppress truth do so in order to suppress their own fear and maintain the elusion of authority and authenticity of their own power. Science and religion have long held a position of supremacy in the realms of morality and the truth, and neither will relinquish it or acknowledge a higher or more enlightened power without a fight, no matter how spiritual it may be.
We are fortunate that a new breed of science is ready to challenge the establishment in a way that the general public would find impossible to do, this coupled with a change in peoples belief in the God given authority of the church, and the right of science and politicians to decide what we must believe in, is leading to a ‘new age’ of openness and the questioning of established ‘truths’. Education is about empowering the learner to ask questions and to challenge the new as well as the old in order to seek out truth no matter where it’s hidden or how strange or uncomfortable it may first appear. If our beliefs and experiences challenge the established ‘wisdom’ of the day then as educators we must be prepared to examine vigorously all aspects of our knowledge in order to discover our objective truth in what we teach and believe. If Reiki is not what we think it is then we must have the courage and the desire to find out its true nature and the creative source of what we define as a wonderful Reiki experience.
Development requires us to change and grow; and part of that growth means that we will have to sooner or later let go of things that that are proven no longer to be true, or beliefs that no longer support who we have become. Albert Einstein arguably one of the greatest scientists of our time questioned the validity of his own scientific achievements when he said ‘Now you think I am looking at my life’s work with calm satisfaction. But there is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm I am not sure if I was on the right track after all’. As an individual I am sure of my own experiences, but as a teacher I must be sure to the best of my ability, knowledge and understanding the authenticity and validity of what I teach, and be willing to hold up my beliefs and experiences to the cold light of critical enquiry, analysis and evaluation, and not just perpetuate myths and legends in search of my objective truth.
A Reiki practitioner since 1999, Phillip started teaching Reiki in 2000 and using those skills and abilities he has spent the majority of the last seventeen years working with a wide range of social and educational needs including Autism and ADHD. Working with addicts dependent on alcohol and drugs, people whose lives were extremely violent and abusive, and others who had to deal with severe mental health issues. This has enabled him to work extensively in the private sector, schools, colleges, education and care in the community, the prison service and psychiatric units.
In 2016, Phillip decided to semi-retire from full-time employment to concentrate on developing his career as a published author and the setting up of his Reiki personal development programme at the Chilton Community College.