Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki: A Guide for Christians, by Max Sculley DLS
Published by Connor Court; 180pp, RRP $24.95
Reviewed by Father Jeremy Davies, Exorcist for past 25 years of the Archdiocese of Westminster UK and author of CTS Pamphlet, Exorcism (2008).
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A constant theme of Benedict XVI has been what he calls a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’: the interpretation of any teaching of the Church in the context of the word of God and her whole tradition. In October he applied this to the Vatican Council’s Declaration on Non-Christian Religions. In its emphasis on the good side of those religions and its silence on the bad, seeking thus to correct a previous imbalance, the Council produced a contrary imbalance. This has allowed, on the one hand, scriptural ignorance and modernism to blunt the two-edged sword of the Church’s mission to the world; and, on the other, the leaven of error to poison her from within (cf. Gal 1: 8). I recently visited a Catholic Retreat House run by a great Religious Order. Most of its conferences during the year are ‘New Age’, including Yoga and Tai Chi. Thus members of the Church who have the generosity to make a retreat and who, therefore, with good teaching one might expect to be among her most faithful and fruitful members, are being diverted, by a centre claiming to be Catholic, into the enemy camp.
Thankfully, not all Religious Orders have gone mad. Max Sculley is a De La Salle Brother in Australia. The longest part of his book is on Yoga and begins with an account of the strange blend of pantheism and nihilism which is the Hindu religion. The supreme being is Brahman, who is infinite energy, the impersonal essence of all creation – but most of creation (including the human will and intellect and emotions) is not essence but illusion. If and when we rid ourselves of the illusion, we realise our divinity. The supreme mantra is OM. Brother Max warns us against thinking that, for health and relaxation, a bit of yoga can be detached from its religion. Even the early exercises are all means towards becoming god. The natural is claiming to be supernatural, the psychic part of our nature is stimulated and the spirit of paganism is at work (Deut 18: 9-15; 1Cor 10: 14-22). This is not, of course, to deny that there is much goodness among Hindus; but, at the centre, there is deception.
Of all the effects of evil spirits, the most deadly is spiritual blindness. Fr Bede Griffiths was a tragic example. In 1989 Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine, sent a letter, ‘Orationis Formas’ to all Bishops, in which he summarized the nature of Christian prayer: Christ, and only Christ, beginning here on earth in Baptism, gives us to participate in the very life of the Most Holy
Trinity, but we ourselves never become God. Heaven, for human beings, is not only union (Jn 14) but also worship (Apocalypse 4 & 5). Fr. Bede (reviewing the Letter in Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue, Bulletin 38, 1990), falsely accused Cardinal Ratzinger of denying the supernatural union of Christians with God and went on to say that ‘it is to this depth of unitive prayer that many Christians have found that the Hindu and Buddhist and Sufi Mystics can lead us’. Not discerning the difference between the spiritual and the psychic led him not to see that between Christ and OM.
Tai Chi belongs to the Chinese religion of The Tao, meaning the Way. In his great essay, ‘The Abolition of Man’, this, The Tao, is the name C.S. Lewis gives to the objective moral law written, with varying degrees of clarity, in the conscience of every human being. Are all religions then, really saying the same thing after all? No – this moral sense is the Natural Law of which St Paul speaks in Romans 2: 14-15 and which the Church has always defended and never more so than now. It is the blessed beginning of society, of desire for the truth, of care for others, of our humanity; but the subject of Br. Max’s book is supernatural revelation and sanctification, in which Ancient Israel and Christ and the Church stand alone.
The third part of the book is on Reiki. Its lineage is compared to that of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands in the Apostolic Succession, from Christ to the Apostles to the Bishops through history. The power of the Reiki spirit has passed down from the god Medicine King Buddha (of Shingon Buddhism) to Mikao Usui to whomever he gave it by direct contact and similarly by them to others. It does indeed seem to be a real antiChrist spirit. All three energy practices offer a path to self-divination...They have one thing in common – a form of meditation/initiation which creates a void in the mind, an altered state of consciousness. In Yoga and Tai Chi, years of hard work are required to master such forms of meditation...It seems to me that the advent of Yoga and Tai Chi to the West has prepared the way for the later arrival of Reiki ... I suspect the most dangerous of these is Reiki, because without effort it enables one through initiation to make contact with the demonic.
At the present time the call to evangelise the world is rising up anew from the heart of the Church and Pius VII said that every work of evangelisation begins with an exorcism. Books like Br. Max’s have the exorcising power that prepares the way of the Lord.