Miracles of New Age “Energetic Medicine” – Part 1
I recently came across an article in a magazine about a person who pulled a ligament in his foot during a workout. It caused pain throughout his entire leg. With strained effort, he made his way to an orthopedist, who subsequently informed him he might require some serious surgery—and it might take a long time to recover. Not liking that option, the person decided on a whim to visit an energetic health practitioner who specialized in a “healing art” known as the “therapeutic touch.”
This practitioner did a quick exam and then went through some motions, maneuvering his hands up and down the injured person’s body, about two or three inches above the body. He appeared to be manipulating and smoothing out some kind of invisible energy or force—much like smoothing a wrinkle out of a tablecloth. At one point, the practitioner shook his hands off to the side, as if he were shaking off excess energy no longer needed. He then said to the injured man, “Go ahead and try to walk now.”
To his astonishment, the injured person felt no pain at all. It was a “miracle.” He was healed! He asked the practitioner what he had done. He replied that our material bodies are just patterns of energy held together by our mental consciousness. Sometimes energy blockages occur in the body, and when that happens, we experience physical symptoms. By relieving and getting rid of those energy blockages, we are restored to health. The injured foot no longer felt pain once the blocked energies in that area of the body were rectified.
What are we to make of such claims? Is it okay to use energetic medicine techniques in search of miraculous cures? I do not think so, for there are inherent spiritual dangers to participating in such therapies. One big concern is that people—even Christians—may be introduced to an occultic worldview by participating in an energetic health therapy. Many may wrongly conclude that such “medical” practices are compatible with Christianity. In what follows, I will debunk this idea.
As you might have guessed from the story I recounted above, this model of healing is heavily based on a conception of energy, not matter. The editors of the New Age Journal explain it this way:
All the healing systems that can be called ‘holistic’ share a common belief in the universe as a unified field of energy that produces all form and substance…. This vital force, which supports and sustains life, has been given many names. The Chinese call it “chi’i,” the Hindus call it “prana,” the Hebrews call it “ruach,” and the American Indians name it “the Great Spirit.”
This energy is not a visible, measurable, scientifically explainable energy. Rather, it is believed to be a “cosmic” or “universal” energy based on a monistic (all is one) and pantheistic (all is God) worldview. To enhance the flow of “healing energy” in the body, one must allegedly attune to it and realize one’s unity with all things. Becoming “one” with this universal energy (“God”) yields health. (Whoever heard of a sick god?) One must also “smooth out” any energy blockages that may develop within the body. Then one will be healthy.
Many energetic health therapies are based on this premise. Among the more popular therapies today are:
- Therapeutic Touch. This is a therapy in which the practitioner places his or her hands two or three inches above the patient’s body, palms down, and moves the hands up and down the body in search of energy imbalances. What is actually “touched” is a person’s “energy field” around the body. By using circular sweeping motions, the patient’s blocked energy is “decongested.” This allegedly yields health for the patient. The healer also seeks to transfer healing energy from him- or herself into the body of the patient. This transfer of energy is also believed to yield health.
- Rolfing. This therapy is based on the assumption that sickness is caused by energy blockages in the body. Rolfing seeks to relieve such energy blockages by applying deep pressure or massage to the body. It has been described as “massage with a vengeance.”
- Acupuncture/Acupressure. Both therapies seek to unblock and redirect energy flow in the body using either needles or pressure points at strategic points in the body.
- Chiropractic. Some chiropractors combine spinal adjustments with some form of “energy balancing” to treat various bodily ailments. Other chiropractors disavow any use of “energy balancing,” and simply use chiropractic as a therapy for neuromusculoskeletal disorders (such as backaches).
These and other such health therapies have introduced virtually millions of Americans to energetic healing, which, in my view, involves an occultic worldview. We might say that energy balancing has become a gateway into the New Age.
Andrew Weil and Energy Centers (“Chakras”)
In his book Spontaneous Healing, Andrew Weil encourages readers to think of their bodies as energy. He also expresses belief in “chakras”—seven centers of spiritual energy, according to yoga philosophy, situated in the “subtle” body which permeates the physical body.
In his book Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Weil talks about energy blockages within the body and how they relate to physical symptoms. Below is a quote from Weil’s book. But be forewarned: Unless you’ve already done study in this area, it may not make much sense to you. I provide this quote only to illustrate what millions of people in our society are now buying into:
In yoga physiology, the heart region is one of the seven great centers (chakras) that organize the flow of energy around the body. The fourth, or heart, chakra participates in emotional connections to other people and the world beyond the self. Since the three lower chakras have to do with survival, sex, and power, the heart chakra is the first of the centers concerned with “higher” matters, with altruism, for example, and with love. If energy is blocked at this level through failure to open the heart, it cannot reach and activate the fifth, sixth, and seventh chakras, which control higher spiritual development. In this sense, blocked hearts and heart attacks mirror our emotional life and our ability to manage our feelings.
Yikes! What was that all about?! Weil’s “bottom line” to keep in mind is simply that if the energy in the body gets “blocked” somewhere, you will develop emotional and physical symptoms. To maintain health, you must keep that energy unblocked.
Bernie Siegel’s “Energetic” God
In his best-selling book Peace, Love and Healing, Bernie Siegel describes God as an “intelligent, loving energy.” In his second book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, he says, “I think of God as the same potential healing force—an intelligent, loving energy or light—in each person’s life.” Siegel believes that “the ‘spiritual life’ has many meanings. It need not be reflected in any commitment to an organized religion…. I view the force behind creation as a loving, intelligent energy. For some, this is labeled God, for others it can be seen simply as a source of healing.”
Siegel also believes human beings are simply manifestations of this divine energy:
Just as I believe that love and laughter and peace of mind are physiological, so I also believe that in our earthly lives we exist as physical manifestations of the loving, intelligent energy that we call God, the wholeness of the individual is the wholeness of the universe in microcosm. Atomically, anatomically, and cosmically we express this unity whether or not we are conscious of it.
Siegel’s view of the afterlife is an outgrowth of his view that God is an energy and that we are manifestations of that energy. “From my experience, I feel that we do live on in some other form of energy after the body dies. I don’t just say this to make people feel better, but because I have seen and heard about such extraordinary events.” Siegel has told stories of patients who have had departed loved ones appear to them in different visible forms.
In an interview published in the New Age Journal, Siegel commented,
If you say to me, do I believe we live on in some other kind of energy after the body dies, yes. I mean, there are just too many interesting things I see happening in terms of communication to me from people who have died. So I am intrigued. But whether it goes to heaven or just goes back to the original source of energy that created the universe, if you want to call it God—I mean, you are just playing games with words—what’s the difference? And can that energy pick out a new body? I don’t know. I mean, what difference does it make?
Deepak Chopra on Prana
In a Time magazine report on Deepak Chopra’s medical views, we are told that understanding the universal energy—and our relationship to it—is the key to attaining and maintaining health:
Our bodies, which seem so solid and finite, are not. For one thing, we replace most of our component cells regularly; thus, rather than collections of aging organs, we are works in constant progress. On the subatomic level, moreover, we are no denser than the air around us and indistinguishable from our surroundings. Finally, since quantum physics asserts that matter and energy are interchangeable, we are not individual beings at all but merely local expressions of an infinite, universal field of energy. A smart field of energy: “All of us are connected to patterns of intelligence that govern the whole cosmos. Our bodies are part of a universal body, our minds an aspect of a universal mind.”
In his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Chopra sites what he considers to be proof that we are all a part of this universal field of energy:
Because your body emanates electromagnetic frequencies, you are yet another expression of the same [universal] field. The pulsations of nerve signals racing along your limbs, the electric charge emitted by your heart cells, and the faint field of current surrounding your brain all demonstrate that you are not separate from any form of energy in the universe. Any appearance of separation is only the product of the limitation of your senses, which are not attuned to these energies.
Chopra often describes his views on universal energy with the term Prana. He explains it this way:
Prana is present in every mental and physical event; it flows directly from spirit, or pure awareness, to bring intelligence and consciousness to every aspect of life. You sometimes see Prana defined as “life force” or “life energy,” but what is more important than a definition is to get experiential knowledge of it. If you can experience Prana, you can begin to nurture and preserve it. The critical importance of life energy has been recognized in many cultural traditions; the Chinese know it as Chi and control its flow through acupuncture, meditation, and specialized exercises such as Tai Chi. Other names for the breath of life appear in Sufism, mystic Christianity, and the teachings of ancient Egypt. What is universally agreed on is that the more Prana you have, the more vital your mental and bodily processes.
Understanding Prana and how to manipulate it is said to bring health to the body. Prana, according to Chopra, “can be increased and decreased at will, moved here and there, and manipulated to keep the physical body orderly and young…. The ability to contact and use Prana is within all of us.”
Chopra notes that “when Prana is kept from flowing… pockets of inertia and stagnation develop, eventually promoting disease. Depression is a state of almost complete nonflow and is associated with chronic illness, premature aging, and early death.”
This is where the power of the mind comes into the picture because consciousness is believed to control this invisible energy. Indeed, because the body is viewed as nothing other than the projection of our own consciousness, an “unhealthy” or “unenlightened” consciousness will necessarily cause disease in the body. Therefore, it is not surprising that consciousness, which supposedly regulates this invisible process, is the true “healer” in Chopra’s system of thought. He views meditation as the most important tool.
We must not forget, Chopra tells us, that “the mind and body are inseparably one,” and that “the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body.” He says “our cells are constantly eavesdropping on our thoughts and being changed by them.” Indeed, “the mind can go deep enough to change the very patterns that design the body. It can wipe mistakes off the blueprint, so to speak, and destroy any disease—cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease—that has disturbed the design.” In fact, “because the mind influences every cell in the body, human aging is fluid and changeable. It can speed up, slow down, stop for a time and even reverse itself.”
The human body, Chopra says, “is a product of awareness.” “The world you live in, including the experience of your body, is completely dictated by how you learned to perceive it. If you change your perception, you change the experience of your body and your world.” “Impulses of intelligence create your body in new forms every second. What you are is the sum total of these impulses, and by changing their patterns, you will change.”
What all this boils down to is that by learning to use your mind correctly through meditation, you can manipulate prana and bring health to your body.
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Rick Fields, et al., eds., Chop Wood, Carry Water (Los Angeles, CA: J. P. Tarcher, 1984), p. 186. ↑
See Ron Rhodes, The New Age Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996). ↑
John Thie, Touch for Health (Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss, 1973). ↑
See the Christian Chiropractors Association’s “Policy Statement on New Age Healing” (CCA, 3200 S. Lemay Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525-3605). ↑
David Van Biema, “Emperor of the Soul Combining Medical Advice with Indian Metaphysics,” Time, 24 June 1996, p. 64. ↑
Andrew Weil, Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), p. 165. ↑
Bernie Siegel, Peace, Love & Healing (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), p. 247. ↑
Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine & Miracles (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1986). p. 179. ↑
Siegel, Love, Medicine & Miracles, p. 177. ↑
Cited by Clete Hux, The New Age Medicine of Dr. Bernie Siegel, 1995, Watchman Fellowship Web Site, p. 252. ↑
Siegel, Love, Medicine & Miracles, p. 254. ↑
Ron Rhodes, “Bernie Siegel, Healing, and Miracles,” Christian Research Newsletter. ↑
Biema, p. 64. ↑
Deepak Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (New York, NY: Harmony Books, 1993), p. 45, insert mine. ↑
Chopra, pp. 261-62. ↑
Chopra, p. 16. ↑
Chopra, p. 264. ↑
John Weldon and Stephen C. Myers, “A Summary Critique,” Christian Research Journal, Winter 1994, p. 43. ↑
Chip Brown, “Deepak Chopra Has (Sniff) a Cold,” Esquire, 1 October 1995, p. 118. ↑
Chopra, p. 6. ↑
Deepak Chopra, Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide (New York, NY: Harmony Books, 1990), p. 6. ↑
Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, p. 5. ↑
Deepak Chopra. Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1989), p. 2. ↑
Doug Levy, “Deepak Chopra’s Path Toward an ‘Ageless Body,’” USA Today, 6 July 1994, p. 1. ↑
Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, p. 6. ↑
Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, p. 6. ↑
Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, p. 6. ↑