This is an image of heart made with hands in a blog post on Celebrating Love by Haripriya Suraj in her blog When Spirit Meets Science
modern medicine, reiki

Primum Non Nocere – First Do No Harm

When Suraj and I were newly married, we met a Reiki practitioner friend of mine.

After engaging in small talk for a while, my friend began to talk to Suraj about Reiki.

She spoke of how Reiki had helped her in terms of physical wellness, personal development, synchronistic happenings and spiritual growth. Everything she shared seemed pleasant and plausible. Suraj listened earnestly to her.

Suddenly, the tone changed and she began to talk about how Reiki had helped her charge electronics, stop a hailstorm, and also clear traffic jams.

I noticed the expression on Suraj’s face changed for a split second. I knew this may have been a tad too much for a scientific person like him. However, he was polite and continued to listen with interest.

The conversation took an even crazier turn when my friend finally claimed that her Reiki teacher had cured hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer through Reiki.

At this point, I knew Suraj had much to say. However, for my sake, he probably just listened and didn’t get into an argument with her.

On our way back home, I said, “I guess everything my friend shared was a bit ‘too much’ for you.”

He was quiet for a few seconds, after which he said, “You see, the problem is not about something being ‘too much.’ What concerns me is the potential harm that can come out of claims that no one can verify.”

This was all new to me back then. So, I said, “Can you elaborate?”

“If Reiki is really able to charge devices and clear storms, is there harm to anyone?” he asked.

“No, there isn’t. I understand it may be hard to believe such stuff. I think what she meant was when you have a strong enough intention, miraculous things happen. Reiki is just an instrument to make something happen,” I explained.

“That’s alright. But my point is – this claim causes no harm to anyone. And if Reiki can perform such feats, good for the world,” he went on, “But the other stuff she said about her teacher curing hypertension, heart disease, and cancer is what I am concerned about. If there is even the slightest bit of untruth there, you do know it can end up causing harm right?”

“Can you elaborate again?” I asked.

“I constantly see cancer patients who try a hundred other therapies and finally land in the hospital with advanced disease. By the time they approach us, it’s too late for us to help. If the same people had come at an early stage, they could have easily been cured,” he said.

“Yes. I understand,” I said.

“Your friend started off sounding perfectly normal. And there was a sudden jump to a totally different wavelength that didn’t match what she said initially. Unless there is solid evidence to support medical claims, I don’t think they should be made. It has the potential to mislead another. You owe it to Reiki to talk about its true essence and beauty,” he said.

I listened quietly and contemplated his words.

“If her teacher claimed she could make an aircraft fly through Reiki and that there was no need for technology or for a pilot, would you board the aircraft?” he asked.

“No way!” I said.

“Because you clearly see the practical aspects of it – you recognise the dangers of allowing an aircraft to take off without solid evidence that Reiki can make it fly. Then why wouldn’t you question tall medical claims like these?” he asked.

Based on this conversation that happened way back in 2008, Suraj wrote in our co-authored book ‘When Spirit Meets Science’-

A very important guiding principle taught to all medical students is ‘Primum Non Nocere’ which in Latin means, ‘First, do no harm.’ It is wiser to do nothing than to do something which would make a sick person worse.

From this tenet of non-maleficience emerges the need for evidence.

If a doctor/healer offers something to a patient, he should be as certain as possible that it works. The downside of not being certain is that it often creates more harm than good. Even if a particular therapy does not cause direct harm to a patient, it may cause indirect harm by preventing him from taking therapy that would have been more effective.

When in doubt, the principle of ‘Primum Non Nocere’ acts as a guiding light.

It took me some years to to truly understand the essence of this principle. Now, I am able to see and honour it completely and I also apply it in my own Reiki practice.

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