Spiritual Materialism At Its Finest? Two Die in “Spiritual Warrior Retreat.”

Via on Oct 11, 2009

Picture 8Would you pay $9000 to work with James Arthur Ray co-author of the Secret, as he guides you toward your ideal manifested life in a shotty sweat lodge with 64 other people?

Well apparently that’s what some participants paid to be led by law of attraction teacher James Arthur Ray.

It was the last day of “life changing” retreat. Two people wouldn’t make it out alive and 19 others would be hospitalized. And sometime during the retreat Ray, an avid twitter user would tweet this:

JamesARay: is still in Spiritual Warrior… for anything new to live something first must die. What needs to die in you so that new life can emerge?

JamesARay: Day 5 of SPW. The Spiritual Warrior has conquered death and therefore has no enemies, and no fear, in this life or the next.

He later deleted those tweets, but because of the twitter search, they were found easily.

Creepster right?

Here is an excerpt from a Law website:

Self-help guru James Arthur Ray is facing possible criminal charges after two people died and others are in critical condition while being ‘cleansed’ in a ’sweat lodge’ he provided. The Sedona sweat lodge retreat deaths occurred at the Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat in Arizona on the last day of Ray’s ‘Spiritual Warrior’ retreat in which he promised participant’s lives would be changed forever.

James Arthur Ray is a motivational speaker and author of the popular self-help book, Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want and The Secret. He recently rented the Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat in Sedona, Arizona to hold what he called a ‘Spiritual Warrior’ retreat. It is rumored that people paid up to $9,000 to attend this retreat through which Ray promised would ‘absolutely change your life’. This life-changing event started on October 3, 2009. On the last day of the retreat, October 8, 2009, 64 people crowded into a haphazardly constructed ’sweat lodge’. Twenty-two of those people ended up being hospitalized, two in critical condition and two died.

Read the rest here.

A traditional sweat lodge typically fits a small group of 8-12 people. 64? Who built this sucker and what were they trying to accomplish?

This tragic event seems to confirm the post I wrote a while back entitled The Secret: Authentic Spirituality or Spiritual Materialism”

Once again, this begs the question about genuine spirituality and spiritual teachers. What is their role? Qualifications? Training?

Is this another case where a self-proclaimed spiritual teacher is abusing his power? What does it say about the participants and what they are willing to do in order to grow or heal?

It also requires us to ask what role does money play in spirituality? What price are you willing to pay to be led by a teacher down a path you hope is good for you? What risks are you willing to take?

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About Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, is a relationship specialist using the vehicle of his marriage and kids to wake up and live an empowered life. He’s on the planet to help people learn and master intimacy and relationship. He’s a husband and part-time stay-at-home Dad getting schooled by his two cosmic kids. Jayson is the host of Empowering Relationships TV and writes his own highly personal blog, and has also written for Integral Life, The Jungle of Life, Primer Magazine, Recovering Yogi, The Good Men Project. You can find him here: Jayson Gaddis or Fulfilling Marriage.

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14 Responses to “Spiritual Materialism At Its Finest? Two Die in “Spiritual Warrior Retreat.””

  1. [...] Spiritual Materialism At Its Finest: 2 Die in “Spiritual Warrior Retreat” [...]

  2. JayGaddis says:

    Ron,

    I believe you when you say James has helped many, many people lead better lives, you included. No one on this website is calling it a cult. The "creepster" comment refers to the eeriness of his tweets he sent out in conjunction with the deaths. That is plain creepy and has me wonder about his leadership.

    I understant that on the spiritual path there are pitfalls and one might need to face an ego death over an over to become the person you are supposed to become. But a real death in a controlled environment?

    Back to leadership: I'm guessing Mr Ray's specialty is not a sweat lodge with room for 64. I'm guessing he was out of his element. He is probably used to the indoor workshop space with air conditioning. Remember, he was leading this retreat. If I led it and two people died on my watch, it would be my responsibility period. The buck stops at James.

    He has a real opportunity to model solid leadership if he takes full responsibility. However, if he tries to dodge this one, it will confirm the spiritual materialism rampant in the law of attraction community.

    Moreover,

  3. Jeff Brown says:

    I often tell those who read my book- Soulshaping: A journey of Self-Creation- to move through this terrain very carefully. One of the great problems with the LOA people is that they do not have the grounding in basic psychotherapeutic processes. So when they invite people to have a hyped up change your life experience- which seldom lasts, by the way- the first thing they will excavate are intense emotions that have not been worked through within the individual. To work with these emotions, one has to have some understanding of them and one has to create space for them. In addition, some individuals may not be physically healthy enough to move into these intensities. It is a perilous hype path. I do not know the circumstances around this particular situation, but I do often feel that the LOA people are acting like used soul salesman, trying to sell individuals a bill of goods that is not tangible or sustainable. Real transformation takes time. In addition, whenever someone is charging an exorbitant amount for their work, you have to question their intentionality. Real healers are not in it for the money. They do it because they love to serve and to help liberate others from the inner ties that bind. ~Jeff Brown~

  4. Brenda P. says:

    Actually, he is dodging responsibility and trying to blame the owners of the Angel Valley retreat, despite the police report that says otherwise:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/us/13brfs-SELFH

    I guess it's a good thing his philosophy earns millions. He'll need it for the ensuing lawsuits…

  5. Anu says:

    Jew you might want to do more research on Mother Theresa. She may not have been the saint you have her built up to be. And she did raise millions for the church under the pretense that she was working for the poor!

    And this IS a very tragic event for all who went to it in great anticipation and trust, as well very tragic for the sweat lodge, a beautiful healing ceremony when done with proper guidance. It is interesting to note too, that someone promoting loudly and clearly "you create your own reality" now has to eat his own words.

    • i have no issue with subverting the dominant paradigm re mother teresa – however, if you're going to do so, at least substantiate your comments with some facts and links to said facts

      (note: i have reviewed most of the information about MT on both sides of this discussion and respectfully disagree)

  6. JudgeDredd says:

    There is so much wrong with this program, "Warrior Training", I don't know where to begin…

  7. sama says:

    what astounds me is that he TWEETS about it! injuries and deaths reduced to a TWEET is unconscionable to me….ugh.

  8. Anu says:

    For Cameron – on MT
    MichaelParenti.org – Oct 27, 2007
    http://www.michaelparenti.org – Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints//Teresa's no saint; she's just a fraud By Christopher Hitchens October 23, 2003// "India has no reason to be grateful to Mother Teresa" Sanal Edamaruku// I could go on but these should suffice to show you that she was nothing but a church created saint..

  9. JayGaddis says:

    All interesting comments to be sure. James Ray will be in Denver tomorrow (10/20). He has publicly stated that his show must go on. He continues to teach and run his workshops. WTF? I find that beyond troubling under the circumstances.

  10. I strongly suggest that everyone at some point in your life take advantage of sedona retreats. It will change your life for the better!

  11. http://www.sfgiantsseatingchart.org/ SF Giants Seating Chart says:

    Ola galera ,queria saber se não tem como disponibilizar esse jogo ens link de 100 mbs??ou 90 ?? ou no minimo 80?? é que ta corrompendo os arquivos pequenos aqui não sei porq..

  12. ana – you HAVE done what most humans do; you've weighed in on this debate from a relatively uninformed position, and have based your argument on unsubstantiated ideas; to whit:
    'follow a spiritual path' – what is this exactly?
    'good transcendental training' – by what measurement?
    'when the energy of the group reaches the max …. we just want to go Home' – um, according to whom?
    'james had no control of the situation' – really? perhaps in ultimate reality, but on the causal plane, at least according to his very own teachings, he certainly did (and how can you say he didn't; are you him?)
    'it could happen in any transcendental training' – well, this is certainly true, as true, perhaps, as anyone could be killed by a falling piece of satellite junk while singing My Way in yiddish (possibility and probability are separated, in this instance, by a basic application of intelligence)

  13. hard to read these 'gurus' websites without having a little bit of vomit manifest at the back of my throat

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