|Brother Max Sculley, author of Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki- A Guide For Christians|
Today's post, Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki: A Guide For Christians, is based on a book of the same title written by Brother Max Sculley, a De La Salle brother based in Brisbane, Australia. It is the third selected resource from my research on the New Age that was listed on my initial post, The New Age: A Basic Introduction.
The publication of Brother Max's book serves as a timely warning against these popular mainstream practices that claim to provide wellness, health and relaxation, but in fact are closely linked to Eastern philosophies that are incompatible with Christianity.
Brother Max exposes the deceptive techniques in which devotees are invited to engage their minds to enter into an "altered state of consciousness," claimed to be necessary to provide any real benefit. This is where the danger lies.
Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney in the Foreword, elaborates on the danger when he stated that the practitioner is introduced into a world inimical to the Christian faith. The entire process is synonymous to a "Trojan horse" for dangerous spiritual infiltration that can eventually lead to exposure to demonic forces and ultimately spiralling downward that any person who follows these religious philosophies to their full extent can find themselves worshipping a false God.
Bishop Porteous's Foreword is a concise and clear warning to Catholics and Christians alike, to completely avoid these practices. Porteou's observations of the subtlety upon which these practices have entered into the mainstream Australian culture is sure to resonate with many of us around the world. Much of what he describes mirrors the Canadian experience. With such practices having become a global phenomenon, it is incumbent upon all concerned Christians to be better informed. Porteou's Foreword will certainly encourage the reader to do just that.
Bishop Porteous extended his support for this publication with his presence and promotional effort at the Sydney book launching. The YouTube video of the book's Sydney launching is also available for viewing at my blog's sidebar. I definitely recommend you watch this brief five minute video as Brother Max concisely explains and alerts the viewer to the main dangers of these New Age practices.
Here in my own local community of Woodbridge, Ontario one that is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, there are several New Age shops operating within. Yoga appears to be the most popular. Not only are there dedicated Yoga shops, but most gyms and health clubs provide Yoga classes as well. This sad reality is an indication of a sharp decline in faith, one that has left many of my fellow Catholics and Christians alike, unaware of the spiritual dangers of these practices. I hope that this and subsequent posts on this subject matter will help to remedy this and raise the awareness level in my community, as well as to others in Canada and throughout the world.
A common thread amongst Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki is an "altered state of consciousness," which Brother Max describes as "abnormal states" that are brought on by a variety of techniques. Brother Max elaborates in the aforementioned video how these "altered states of consciousness" open our minds to demonic influences, changing our faith system and beliefs in the process. This can result in psychic gifts common to Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki and once we open ourselves up to these psychic powers, all sorts of difficulties can result.
One of the most interesting aspects of Brother Max's research is how practitioners of these New Age practices give no credence to the spiritual beliefs underlying them. I too have experienced similar findings in my awareness efforts. Typically, a practitioner will attempt to distance the techniques from the New Age spirituality. A common reply to my alerting others to the dangers of these practices has been, "it is only exercising or relaxation, we don't get involved in the spiritual aspect of it." This is a failure on the part of the practitioner to realize that by engaging in these practices, they allow for their minds to be altered, creating a void, which is completely contrary to Christian meditation and prayer and should be considered as Brother Max states in his video, "positively dangerous."
These "altered states of consciousness" are at the heart of New Age spirituality and are generally characterized by "...[A] significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will." (8) Brother Max distinguishes such states from what the reader may characterize as daydreaming, genuine visions and ecstasies or prophetic revelations, all of which are not the result of induced techniques, but always a gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit and its relevance to proper Christian meditation, has been clearly explained by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the document, Some Aspects of Christian Meditation:
From the dogmatic point of view, it is impossible to arrive at a perfect love of God if one ignores his giving of himself to us through his Incarnate Son, who was crucified and rose from the dead. In Him, under the action of the Holy Spirit, we participate, through pure grace, in the interior life of God...As St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises, we should try to capture "the infinite perfume and the infinite sweetness of the divinity" (n. 124), going forward from that finite revealed truth from which we have begun. While he raises us up, God is free to "empty" us of all that holds us back in this world, to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love. However, this gift can only be granted "in Christ through the Holy Spirit," and not through our own efforts, withdrawing ourselves from his revelation. (20)The aforementioned document is an essential read for anyone seeking to be properly informed and gain a correct understanding of Christian meditation. I have written about this document in my previous post, Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.
In essence, the New Age approach of "altered states of consciousness" directs the practitioner to create a void within. This is in sharp contrast to the Christian approach, as further noted in Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, where the emptiness that God requires is that of the renunciation of personal selfishness and not necessarily the renunciation of those created things which God has given and placed amongst us. (19) So why the concern for these "altered states of consciousness?" As Brother Max points out, the negative ramifications of "ASC's " can result in mental illness, occult bondage, demonic influence and spirit possession. (9)
One such example of the negative ramifications of "ASC" is the case of Carl, an American parapsychologist and professor at a Mid-Western university, whose misguided curiousity led him to embrace deceptive New Age practices that eventually resulted in his demonic possession. It is a case of demonic possession that has been documented in a well known book on the subject matter by Malachi Martin's Hostage To The Devil.
The book is about the possession and exorcism of five contemporary Americans, Carl being one of them. Each case was given a specific name by Malachi Martin and in Carl's case, the name assigned to it was, The Rooster and The Tortoise. The case itself is a fascinating read as are the other four cases, each one revealing the complexity and sophistication upon which demons deceived their victims, striving to reach their ultimate goal, demonic possession.
In Carl's case, he was deceived by the notion that Christianity had become corrupt over the centuries coupled with a curiousity to discover the "real Church" by travelling back in time to its origins by means of "astral travel."
After Carl's exorcism, he lived the truth by following Christ. Part of that truth was an admission to his students of what he had done. Below is a partial quote of Carl's admission from The Rooster and The Tortoise:
...Solemnly and of my own free will, I wish to acknowledge that knowingly and freely I entered into possession by an evil spirit. And, although that spirit came to me under the guise of saving me, perfecting me, helping me to help others, I knew all along it was evil...I never enjoyed astral body travel, only the illusion of it...My central error, which was both intellectual and moral in character, concerned the nature of ordinary human consciousness...(403-4)Carl's case is a prime example of the worst case scenario of the dangers of practicing ASC's in a disciplined way over an extended period of time. The inclusion of Carl's case is an indication of just how thorough Brother Max's research has been. It is a thoroughness that is equally matched by his brotherly love to share his research with Catholics and Christians alike and to all people of good will. Brother Max's brotherly love and sincerity can only be captured in his own words:
Many Christians who practise yoga and tai chi seek to distance themselves from the pagan system of beliefs underlying each. What they fail to realise is that the mind-altering techniques which are an integral part of these practices, by themselves alone, present serious spiritual risks. My sincere hope and prayer is that this book may alert Christians, and indeed all people of good will, to the dangers hidden beneath the surface of these apparently innocent and healing arts. May those who have been already seduced by the sensations of bliss and the occult powers gained through them, come, through the Blood and Water which flow from the All-merciful Heart of Jesus, to that experience of the love of the one true God which surpasses all comprehension. (10)For anyone serious about discovering the truth about Yoga, Tai-Chi and Reiki, Brother Max's book is a must read. In my view, it is one of "the" resources available that one should acquire in order to obtain a thorough and complete understanding of these New Age practices. This book is available for purchase at Amazon.com.
May your discovery of the truth be a reflection the Psalmist's plea, "Make me know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long." (Psalm 25)