Blood On The Hands of “The Secret.”

Via Julian Walker
on Jun 23, 2011
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One of the personalities in spiritual movie phenomenon, The Secret, has been found guilty of the negligent homicide of three people on his 2009 “Spiritual Warrior” retreat in Arizona. Due to his high profile as a proponent of the “Law of Attraction,” James Arthur Ray was able to command a fee of around $10,000 per person from the almost 60 participants at his week-long event. Sentencing will happen at a hearing a week from now, and the prosecution will continue to rely heavily on direct quotes from Ray about how participants would have to go beyond the fear of death to become true spiritual warriors.

“The true spiritual warrior has conquered death and therefore has no fear or enemies in this lifetime or the next, because the greatest fear you’ll ever experience is the fear of what? Death,” Ray said in a recording played during the trial. “You will have to get a point to where you surrender and it’s OK to die.”

Read more here. Or stay with me as we go deeper – I’ll come back around to James Arthur Ray at the end, I promise – and show how bad ideas produce bad consequences.

THE SECRET

You remember “The Secret.” It was the mega-selling Oprah-endorsed self-help New Age sensation from 2006 that manifested a bajillion dollars for it’s makers by insisting that everyone who watched it could do the same thing –  though following the brain-numbingly simplistic the “Law of Attraction.”

Simply put: your thoughts create reality, and the universe gives you EXACTLY what you put out there through the power of your intention, every time.

Amongst other well-crafted techniques, the movie used:

* Impassioned interviews with their charismatic expert “teachers”

* Images that suggested some kind of scientific basis for their claims, and

* Emotionally persuasive montages to sell their idea and make stars out of their personalities.

Evocative mini-narratives featured:

A woman staring really sincerely at diamond necklace in jewelry shop window – and suddenly a strange and handsome man magically places the necklace around her neck!

A young boy meditating intently on a picture of rad red bike – and hey it appears outside his bedroom door!

Another woman laughs her way out of cancerous tumors!

A man walking down to his mailbox who visualizes a million dollar check arriving for no reason in the mail – and it appears!

In the movie it ALL works, perfectly. There is a direct correspondence between your beliefs and the reality you “create” – regardless of any other factors, because that’s how “the universe” works. Underneath all this is a fundamental incorrect assumption: there is no such thing as reality distinct from your beliefs and thoughts.

As we shall see, reality is (in fact) a bitch, and she not only has different ideas – she has the teeth to back them up….

In the movie a gay man who is being harassed by homophobes finds that they magically all are either fired or transfer out of his office, once he takes responsibility for his power and stops creating the reality of being picked on. A sick little boy in Africa gets a shipment of magical gratitude rocks from a Californian spiritual teacher and his formerly incurable disease disappears.

In the movie we are told that thinking about being late as you drive through traffic will manifest that reality, while believing otherwise will clear the traffic from your path. Likewise, protesting the war in Iraq will only “give it more energy” – you should rather ignore it and focus on other things, because you see if enough people pretended it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t exist.

Now, I know – being positive is good. Fo’ sho’. I know, setting goals and dreaming big is a good step towards living the life you want to create for yourself. Yes. I am so down.

THE PROBLEM

I know you probably think I am unfairly caricaturing the movie. I am not. Watch it again. This is literally what it says – and the place where positivity turns the corner into delusional thinking is the problem here, for several reasons:

1) People who buy into these beliefs lose touch with reality – and as we know, reality bites. More to the point reality will bite you hard and deep if you just ignore her – and she has big teeth, and you bleed real blood. Period.

2) We live in a world where multiple factors influence the course of our lives: sociopolitical, economic, genetic, psychological – and those gosh-darned other people who intersect with our trajectories, each with their own goals, agendas, biases and intentions that they are seeking to “manifest” as well, right?

3) The big problem of blaming the victim. A unintentional side effect of magical thinking is that it creates the bizarrely inaccurate, psychologically damaging and spiritually un-compassionate perception that victims of oppression, violent crime, poverty, incest, catastrophic illness etc are entirely to blame for their own plight, because they have at some level “created this reality” through the “power of their intention” and the “Law of Attraction.”

Well, this is absolute nonsense and it makes for an ironic distortion of what real spirituality should do – namely make us more humble, more honest and more compassionate toward the reality of suffering in our own and other’s lives. Oh – and good spirituality should help us to think more intelligently and see reality more clearly, not  abdicate critical thinking and common sense in the name of nutty beliefs.

EXHIBIT A: THE PRIME EXAMPLE

So what’s the connection between my diatribe, James Arthur Ray and the carnage he has left in his wake after rising to New Age prominence on the fairy-dust-laden winds of The Secret?

Beliefs about thought created reality do create a reality: one in which you have an unrealistically inflated sense of your own powers!

They perpetuate narcissism, they encourage you to believe in belief, and to believe that the logical progression of your spiritual growth is to become powerful enough to shape reality as you wish through your thoughts. With no deeper, more intelligent and grounded model for what the essence of integrated spiritual growth looks like this sounds about right to those of us expecting spirituality to be about tuning up our Jedi Mind-tricks, right?

Don’t even get me started on how this gets woven together with a mangled interpretation of quantum physics to somehow “prove” this fantasy that is as silly as it is popular… And we haven’t even touched on the out of control materialism and culture of entitled privilege that is not only what these ideas support, but what created a market for the film in the first place.

Here is the man himself in a clip from The Secret:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7TPoaguupQ

James Arthur Ray followed his own advice too well – he believed he could put people through hell, send them on a 36 hour fasting vision quest (with a reasonably-priced $250 blanket on offer to keep them warm outdoors in the desert) before squeezing them too tightly into a sweat lodge sealed with plastic.

He believed his power of intention was not only responsible for pulling in around $600, 000 for the event, and manifesting all those people, but doubtless that no-one would be hurt if he just put that possibility out of his mind. He believed he could take people to the brink of death and something magical, powerful and worthy of the price tag would happen – and all under his absolutely committed and authoritative guidance. Can you feel the power?!

Turns out he was wrong. The price he commanded was a function of his media profile, the people who came were most likely there because they were desperate and gullible, and his ignorance of their safety and belief in his powers resulted – as is always the case, in reality biting hard with razor sharp teeth.

There was blood.

It didn’t matter what anyone “believed.”

Here’s the kicker: Ray’s lack of thinking actually created a tragic reality.

The thing he wasn’t thinking of is what “manifested.” The whole flimsy belief system should fall apart right there – but you know what, most people I know will keep believing some form of magical thinking anyway – because we let ourselves perpetuate the false idea that spirituality should exist in a compartment free from critical thinking, free from testing in reality – that whatever anyone wants to “believe” is their choice, is harmless, and who are we to say what is really true, if there even is such a thing, right?

Wrong.

Please let’s get this right:

There actually is such a  thing as reality – and having our beliefs be a reflection of reality is not only  a good idea spiritually, but it defines the line between sanity and insanity. It also makes us less likely to go down the deluded road not only of a James Arthur Ray, but also of the people who made him (and his Secret cohorts) a gazillionaire before this debacle.

Turns out – truth matters, and truth is what is, regardless of what you believe you are manifesting with the power of your thoughts or the bogus “Law of Attraction.”

Don’t get me wrong. Dream. Dream big. Set goals. Transcend your FALSE perceptions of limitation, just don’t lie to yourself about the REAL limitations of being human.

This is my sincere wake-up call to teachers, healers, authors and therapists: encourage psychological honesty and critical thinking, encourage real embodied practices and a model of spirituality that moves beyond the infantile fantasy of omnipotence, magical powers and being invulnerable to reality. It matters.

So: I feel sad for James Arthur Ray. I feel outraged about the people who’s deaths and hospitalizations he caused through following crazy beliefs. I feel devastated on behalf of the families who have lost loved ones in this sick and avoidable way – loved ones who were willing to pay ten grand a pop to become spiritual warriors under the guidance of a man who made his name by being a personality in the biggest selling DVD of all time that teaches both the single most popular and the single most delusional spiritual idea in our current zeitgeist.

I hope we can learn from this.

In a recent pair of articles, 10 Obstacles to Sane Spirituality Part One: The Dance of the Psyche and Part Two: What is Truth? I discuss a path out of the delusional, denial-based extreme relativist version of spirituality that is so popular – check it out!

Also, when the movie first came out I was inspired to write a very critical review of the film that garnered around 30 thousand readers, created a lot of debate and ultimately got me interviewed by Ken Wilber on his Integral Naked website.

My condolences to the families affected by this horrible tragedy. I do also hold James Ray with compassion in my heart. The guilt and humiliation must be immense. My hope is that we all can heal and grow from this chain of events and the bad ideas underneath.

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About Julian Walker

Julian Walker is the founder of http://www.yogateachergradschool.com/ where he supports new and established yoga teachers in living their dreams through business development. He is a writer who has been teaching yoga since 1994, and co-teaches the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training in LA with Hala Khouri.Julian's writing is featured in the book 21st Century Yoga available on Amazon.com. www.julianwalkeryoga.com

Comments

126 Responses to “Blood On The Hands of “The Secret.””

  1. Janet says:

    This is an excellent article. My favorite part is this: "Transcend your FALSE perceptions of limitation, just don’t lie to yourself about the REAL limitations of being human."

    Do you remember when Joe Vitale, another "The Secret" guru, told Larry King that 9 year old Jessica Lunsford attracted her fate of being raped and killed by being buried alive by a convicted sex offender? I have detested "The Secret" ever since.

  2. Blake says:

    I drew a picture of this post on my vision board and it appeared. Explain THAT!

    Great post!

  3. cbhananda says:

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us. I hated that movie with a passion for this very reason. But you've expressed it better than I ever could. I appreciate it.

  4. Tama says:

    That is so tragic! I never read or saw "The Secret" – it always seemed a bit too "get rich quick" to me – and non-spiritual in the way of "it's all about me". Not to mention The Power of Positive Thinking came out a looong time ago and several other people have been proponents of manifesting a better life through visualization and that kind of thing. I do have to say that I believe there is truth in altering your state of mind to produce better results, and throwing it out to the universe – my successes have been fairly non-specific, but a general better atmosphere.A couple of years ago I went through a string of terrible stuff, and after one incident that resulted in personal injury, my mantra became "only good things from now on". It worked, actually, and things started happening that I needed to have happen. Good grief, meander much?

  5. hedgebree says:

    This was a brilliant article. Very well written!
    I agree with the "law of attraction" to a point. There is something to be said about people like me (pessimistic! it's true) We kind of walk around believing everything will go to hell and I think we can surround ourselves with people and situations that fit that ideal. In a way we cause our own problems because we just cannot think nicely about anything.Something bad happens and my first thought is "go figure, saw that coming." Does that mean that I somehow "attracted negative juju to mess with my job and cause me to lose it?"

    Naw, it just means I am a bit grumpy from time to time =]

  6. yogijulian says:

    wow janet, i never did see that – gross!

  7. yogijulian says:

    you are sooooooo powerful blake -what a manifestor!

  8. yogijulian says:

    yea i know the kistchy schtick about the secret being handed down from galileo to shakespeare to ben franklin and now to rhonda byrne! lol

  9. yogijulian says:

    yea the important distinction is between the very really phenomenon that we both perceive reality through our lens and so sometimes distort it and think it is true, as well as that our attitude does affect how people treat us to some extent and whether or not we see doors of opportunity etc – all of which is the reasonable description of a kind of positive awareness being helpful in life….. but this is NOT "the law of attraction" – it says something else very specific, very unreasonable and very deluded.

    the point of real spirituality is to find a way to both perceive reality more clearly, as well as to be able to move in the direction of our dreams – but not to distort reality through dangerous and willful delusional beliefs!

  10. hedgebree says:

    I agree!

  11. Kundalinimama says:

    Thank you for writing this..

  12. […] via Blood On The Hands of “The Secret” | elephant journal. […]

  13. Yes! This was a great piece, and thank you for adding this point about the distinction between how our ATTITUDE affects our perception of reality (as well as our relationships), and the "Law of Attraction." I can't tell you how much I appreciate your insight about the spiritual fantasy land so many people are mired in. As a yoga teacher and kirtan singer, I have seen so many colleagues encouraging this sort of delusional fantasizing, and it's heartbreaking to see people rushing to open their wallets, minds and hearts in their desperate search for a way out of their suffering. This part in particular went straight yo my heart:

    "They perpetuate narcissism, they encourage you to believe in belief, and to believe that the logical progression of your spiritual growth is to become powerful enough to shape reality as you wish through your thoughts. With no deeper, more intelligent and grounded model for what the essence of integrated spiritual growth looks like this sounds about right to those of us expecting spirituality to be about tuning up our Jedi Mind-tricks, right?"

    The New Age (and "alternative healing", for that matter) world is full of charlatans, snake oil salesmen, and false gurus. True spiritual masters are so rare and precious, and their message often falls on deaf ears—people hear what they want to hear, and interpret the teachings to suit their own agendas. If we truly want to "wake up," we need intelligence, discernment and humility. Thanks so much for your frank, thoughtful and wise reflection.

  14. tanya lee markul says:

    Thanks Julian!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  15. Harmony says:

    I so distinctly remember 2 friends inviting me to dinner, then popping this dvd into the player. They were ooohing and ahhing all the way through it, but it made me uncomfortable on so many levels. I just never really got into it. So thanks for this article…all these years later so very validating for me…

  16. Beth H says:

    I have an old friend who likes to say / joke: 'This is all an illusion…but if we hit that wall over there at 60 miles an hour, it's gonna FEEL really REAL". 😉

  17. belias2 says:

    white men should not run sweats. Yeah don't trust new age bull shit, you know it when you hear it!

  18. Barbara Goodrich says:

    I depend on articles like this in Elephant Journal to cut through through the shadow and claptrap in the New Age. Thank god someone is talking about it. This isn't the first "new age"; there have been many. I, myself, at 62, have lived through at least 6 predicted apocalypses that many people took as written in stone. Morning came and…..

    The real business of spirituality is not business nor it it magic or power

    Thanks, Julian

  19. Angelica Galland says:

    Well done Julian. I never imagined my health taking the turn that it did, but I saw this film while in the midst of it. I just couldn’t figure out how or even why I or anyone would manifest a tumor. Absolute BS! And the comment about the 9 year old makes my blood boil. The web of causes and conditions make it nearly impossible to be utterly reductive in our thinking. Yes, the priming of our body/mind is important but action is still necessary to make things happen along with an honest appraisal of our situation. Look to the light but don’t get blinded…

  20. just me says:

    ‎"This is my sincere wake-up call to teachers, healers, authors and therapists: encourage psychological honesty and critical thinking, encourage real embodied practices and a model of spirituality that moves beyond the infantile fantasy of omnipotence, magical powers and being invulnerable to reality. It matters."

    well said, and a most excellent call to action. – thank you for shining a light on the truth for all to read!

  21. sad says:

    Correct, "secret” movie is far from perfect and neither is this article unfortunately, for they are both created in the end for just ink on a paycheck. That is what distorts reality sir!
    "just don’t lie to yourself about the REAL limitations of being human" is sad. It's world run by fear in pursue of control, so careful because this is how Ray got himself where he is now.

  22. yogijulian says:

    not sure of your point.

  23. yogijulian says:

    i agree with your second sentence, but think white men, asian women, gay latinos, black lesbians and transgendered native americans could all be capable of running sweats just fine if they knew what they were doing! 🙂

  24. yogijulian says:

    in that case – what do we mean when we say it is an illusion?

  25. Yogini5 says:

    "Without our willingness to follow them they are totally powerless over us. "

    Okay, I get it now. No middle ground. There was one class I should have stayed in child's pose.

    I had in no way been ready for the pose I was shock-and-awe ambushed into by a Dharma-inspired teacher–pushed, prodded, yanked into; and held under overpowering force to hold–at risk of grave injury if I would so much as try to break the pose myself–and despite my loud and audible protestations, which had got the attention of at least one seasoned (in chrono years) teacher about 15 feet away from me (but she had drunk the Kool-Aid and thought what happened had been reason to celebrate.)

    I also suspect that at my age, I functioned well as a guinea pig to the teacher trainees in the class.

    Okay, I DO love to grow old!!!! My FAULT!

    Either the Dharma style is for somebody far different (younger? richer? less given to home practice whether or not they are well-off?) than I am or Dharma’s students where I live will all age out and move away in a decade or two …

    Of course, there is always someone new who comes along to drink the Kool-Aid …

  26. ikcewicasa says:

    James Arthur Ray murdered those people. He had absolutely no business using Native ceremony in his spiritual warrior retreat. This tragedy was a long time in coming. The new age and self help people have been picking at our ceremonies for a very long time. They take what they want, twist it to their purpose then pack it, rack it, and sell it. They never stay long enough to go through the proper training.

    He is a murder because there is no such thing as a warrior sweat. It is the job of the leader to be compassionate and carefully monitor the health and well being of everyone in that lodge. The sweat lodge is not a place to test endurance or prove strength and fortitude. It is a place to pray and purify. Whatever James Arthur Ray was doing in there it was not a sweat ceremony and to call it such is not correct.

    Maybe the new agers and self help gurus will finally heed the calls of Indian people and stop the appropriation and twisting of our ways.
    http://ikcewicasa.wordpress.com/

  27. yogijulian says:

    so glad you felt you could speak up annie!

    i hear you – AND you are i think missing something key…. stay with me here.

    the psychological phenomenon of transference is widely understood and accepted – and is well evidenced by the ability of gurus and other power figures to exert great influence over people's lives.

    whether it is your yoga teacher, guru, therapist, college professor etc all of us are vulnerable to regressing into a child-like compliant mode of relating – it takes us back to very early psychological dynamics, back to your first grade school teacher, back to your parents who were these giants that had complete power over us who we totally idealized.

    we idealize our teachers and healers in ways that echo these very young attitudes.

    its the reason why there are such strict criminally prosecutable laws about how therapists relate to patients. they cannot be seen to exploit them sexually or financially and would lose licenses and even face jail time were their misuse of power bad enough.

    imagine then how much more amplified is this idealizing, compliant, vulnerability when the authority figure is claiming (as gurus may) that they are actually divine or have the hotline to god, enlightenment, ultimate truth etc… or (as james ray claimed) that they know the secret ways of the universe and can give you the key to complete happiness, power, wealth etc…

    the kinds of people who are taken in by teachers of this ilk are usually VERY vulnerable. it is not enough to say they shouldnt have given their power away. they were hooked by their weakness, they were exploited by someone's manipulation of their needs.

    followers like this have a weak sense of self, they have early needs that were not met, they have traumas that have made them vulnerable and needy and confused about who to trust, they are seeking to feel better, to be more empowered, to heal…..

    when someone comes into your class and you stand in front and tell them what to do, when to breathe, how to behave, what the purpose of yoga is and how it relates to their lives – you better believe they are idealizing you, they are vulnerable to you and if you guide them into something dangerous and unsafe and they hurt themselves – it is your fault!

    it is only the more experienced student who has enough body awareness, trusts their own judgment and has become empowered through work with a healthier teacher – that knows how to pick and choose what to do in a class where everyone is simply following the guidance of the teacher move by move.

  28. matthew says:

    i'm not sure of the paycheck! is there something i'm missing in my EJ contract?

  29. matthew says:

    Hey Julian — good work on a tragic story. Happily, James Arthur Ray and his followers are a tiny minority of the demographic of this book/pitch/concept.

    I wonder about the “extinction rate” for The Secret, in behavioural psychology terms. How long will people actually try it for, given that it doesn’t render the desired results? The material results they do perceive come through subjective validation and confirmation bias – but these tend to wear out.

    But before the behaviour goes extinct it will have cognitive results – perhaps some positive ones — attitude shifts, for instance. Or perhaps resistance to learned helplessness.

  30. Yogini5 says:

    "it is only the more experienced student who has enough body awareness, trusts their own judgment and has become empowered through work with a healthier teacher – that knows how to pick and choose what to do in a class where everyone is simply following the guidance of the teacher move by move."

    That is key.

    I have since then, run—not walked—from that very studio I talked about above.

    I won't patronize studios that need to appear trendy or kick butt.

  31. yogijulian says:

    also annie – before you make pronouncements as to who is to blame in a situation where life was lost i would HIGHLY encourage you to become more familiar with the details of the case.

    ray set it up that they were to overcome their fear of death – and that even if they begged to be let out he would play hard ball with them per their agreement to want what he was claiming to offer – namely complete freedom from fear of death in this life and the next…. put yourself in their shoes, after three days of fasting in the desert, after paying 10 grand, after having the leader you revered say this was so good for you and would be the most important spiritual breakthrough of your life…

  32. sashen says:

    My vision board had a picture of a naive self-help guru going to jail for the tragic results of his misguided thinking. See, The Secret DOES work!

  33. kjk says:

    Unfortunately, the movie The Secret, is a very superficial explanation of rather complicated concepts. I don't believe that anybody can get it after having only seen this movie. Try looking at Jane Robert's The Nature of Personal Reality or The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events (Seth Books), and maybe, just maybe, you might begin to understand concepts that are truly revolutionary.

  34. Lisa says:

    How about each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and not allowing others to manipulate, control, direct us, and tell us what to feel/think/believe? How about listening to our own inner voice and trusting that we indeed have the power and the knowledge to create a better life for ourselves? We so easily put all of our faith into one idea, one person/guru to guide us and lead us and show us the way. I think if we empower ourselves more and do the work that needs to be done for our own growth and transformation (whatever that looks like to the individual…be it the Law of Attraction, or facing "reality" as you say in your article), tragedies like this won't happen. And it is so easy to throw stones (or worse) at Ray and focus all of our anger and disgust towards him, but how about looking at your own life and recognizing the places where you hold on to others' ideas, opinions and beliefs as your own. Have you been a follower in your life? Is that where some of the disgust and anger might come from? Perhaps it is time to start looking in the mirror, loving what you see, and working towards self-empowerment and freedom. Perhaps not. Just a thought.

  35. yogijulian says:

    respectfully – you are missing both points here annie – slow down a little… 🙂

    1) it is not as cut and dried as adults being responsible for their choices in this black and white extreme way.

    2) i am suggesting that you personally find out more about the case, even more than i have written before you make strong statements of opinion about the responsibility of people who died under tragic circumstances.

    when i take people away on retreat as i do several times a year, their safety is my responsibility. they pay me expecting that the property will be safe, that their bodies will be safe, that their psyches will not be traumatized etc….

    there is nothing disempowering about me taking that responsibility or of them expecting me to take it.

    also: they know me as their teacher, their healer, their guide. i know more about everything i am sharing with them than they do, they look up to me, they take risks physically and emotionally and open themselves up to new mental perspectives based on that trust and admiration.

    it is a sweet and sacred and powerful dynamic and my responsibility to handle it as carefully, kindly and authentically as i can.

    i do all i can to reasonably empower them – to listen to their bodies, think for themselves etc, but i am still the teacher/leader and in that setting it is on me to hold the space responsibly.

    i, like the judge and jury in the james ray case, would find him guilty.

    3 people DIED. several others were hospitalized with serious organ problems.

    the attitude you are reflexively expressing verges on a fundamentalist libertarian every-man-for -himself position as jeff pointed out.

    i would ask that you slow down and feel into it. imagine it was your daughter or son or spouse or mom who died under the guidance of james ray. imagine they had paid ten grand and trusted that he would take them on a profound journey and they would return happier, more integrated and empowered, that they spent 10 K for the privilege and were killed by his negligence……

  36. yogijulian says:

    oh yeah matthew – i make about $10 per view on these articles – so at 2215 views so far i am gonna take around 22thousand after taxes on this one article so far!! hahahahahahah right.

  37. yogijulian says:

    all good points – not sure they have much to do with me or the article; but thanks!

  38. Bill Turner says:

    Of course, this is just the “new age” version of the long-standing Christian belief that god will give you what you want if you just pray long and hard enough. Notice that what these people always seem to ask for is some material boon — money, a new car, a boob job, etc. Never an end to war or hunger or anything selfless like that. It is true that some elements of reality depend on collective belief — the space shuttle, for example, only came to be because lots of engineers believed in the possibility of a reusable space flight vehicle. But that’s a good example of faithful engagement with reality, as you recommend.

  39. Powerful stuff, Julian. It seems like you outdo yourself every time. Thanks for being here.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  40. Amy C. says:

    I think you raise some good issues, but the Secret does have both good and bad points. There are two major issues for me– the exorbitant price tag on the retreat, and the fact that here is a white man trying to do a Native American ceremony and totally screwing it up. Not many people seem to mention this. People have been doing sweat lodges for thousands of years.

    What ikcewecasa said!! There is sometimes an apolitical tone to this rhetoric which also denies real inequalities between the New Agers and the cultures where this stuff comes from.

  41. yogijulian says:

    yea i read those books in the early nineties. they are nonsense. sorry!

  42. yogijulian says:

    no matter how complex you make magical thinking (or astrology, numerology, prophecy etc) it is still bullshit.

  43. yogijulian says:

    appreciate it bob. 🙂

  44. yogijulian says:

    i respect your right to champion your traditions but frankly think that is a bunch of hokum! 🙂

    40 years ago people were saying the same thing about westerners teaching yoga.

    there is no special healing power that can only exist within a culture and be passed down in special magical ways.

    he should have run the sweat lodge safely, but could have consulted with people of any ethnicity who knew how to do so.

    what you are both saying also honestly also sounds both like a mythologizing of ancient culture and like some reverse racism.

  45. yogijulian says:

    well said memeo.

  46. yogijulian says:

    there is no baby. 🙂 simply because there is no magical causality.

    goals, intentions, positive attitude – yes, sure – go all the way. "manifestation?" give me a break.

  47. yogijulian says:

    the problem is matthew, people who get into this stuff think that reason and evidence are the enemies of spirituality – so they resist thinking critically about their beliefs.

    they also are very good at selectively attributing the kind of causality to events that make it seem as if their magical thinking is "working" – it is called "confirmation bias!"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

  48. yogijulian says:

    what matters is he ran the sweat unsafely and it resulted in deaths. i dont care that he is a white man – that does not handicap him anymore than being an asian woman, black lesbian, or transgendered polynesian would have – had he been better prepared.

  49. Yogini5 says:

    Oh, I forgot about that. "Confirmation bias" – close cousin to "halo effect". Halo effect being justification for much of the discrimination (age, size, race, etc.) that goes on today.

  50. John Pappas says:

    Sorry but you are missing my point. I didn't say anything about whether it is hokum or not. I said that certain rituals are not for non-natives. Sweat-lodge being one of them. I said nothing of magic but only mentioned tradition. My statements were not reflecting anything concerning Mr. Ray did.

    My comments are not about mythologizing a culture but from my experiences of how natives feel about the appropriation of their rituals by non-natives. You can call that racism if you like. There are still divisions in native communities over whether any ritual or celebration should be open to whites.

    Some reading for you: http://www.hanksville.org/sand/intellect/NAbibBelhttp://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid1398.htm
    Also "The Journey of Crazy Horse" does a wonderful job of explaining this view or you know, talk to a few natives.

    Cheers,