Wealth Production guru James Arthur Ray (pictured) is featured in the below story. This is another tragic example of the danger of heretical doctrine. Deceiving spirits have been released in these last of the Last Days. The Word of God is our only place of safety in these days.
Sweat lodge deaths cast negative spotlight on guru
Oct 16, 8:59 PM (ET)
By FELICIA FONSECA and BOB CHRISTIE
SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) – James Arthur Ray led a group of more than 50
followers into a cramped, sauna-like sweat lodge in Arizona last week
by convincing them that his words would lead them to spiritual and
The mantra has made him a millionaire. People routinely pack Ray’s
seminars and follow the motivational guru to weeklong retreats that
can cost more than $9,000 per person.
But Ray’s self-help empire was thrown into turmoil when two of his
followers died after collapsing in the makeshift sweat lodge near
Sedona and 19 others were hospitalized. A homicide investigation that
followed has cast a critical spotlight on Ray’s company.
Critics are citing the sweat lodge tragedy as evidence that Ray is a
charlatan who is not to be trusted. A relative of one victim accused
Ray of exhibiting a “godlike complex” during the event that he said
recklessly abandoned the safety of participants. Dedicated followers
say they fully trust Ray to lead them through exercises that greatly
improve their lives.
Shawna Bowen, once a James Ray fanatic who was among those who tended
to the ill, has had a change of heart since the deaths.
“I could not imagine people looking to him after he made such
egregious errors with human life,” she said. “I don’t think he has the
right to be leading others right now. I think he needs to take a good
look at where his ego, where his power trip got in the way”
Ray wept openly during his first public appearance after the deaths.
During a free recruiting seminar for his program Tuesday in Los
Angeles, he broke down in tears, the confident pitchman momentarily
“This is the most difficult time I’ve ever faced,” Ray told a crowd of
about 200 at a hotel in Marina del Rey. “I don’t know how to deal with
Ray has become a self-help superstar by packaging his charismatic
personality and selling wealth. Those who first attend his free
seminars hear a motivational mantra that promises that they can
achieve what he calls “Harmonic Wealth” – on a financial, mental,
physical spiritual level.
But his technique is not just motivational speaking. It’s a
combination of new age spiritualism, American Indian ritual, astrology
and numerology. The sweat lodge experience was intended to be an
almost religious awakening for the participants.
Ray uses free seminars to recruit people to his expensive seminars,
starting with $4,000 three-day “Quantum Leap” workshops and moving on
to the weeklong $5,300 “Practical Mysticism” events and the
$9,000-plus “Spiritual Warrior” retreats like the one that led to the
sweat lodge tragedy.
About 50 people attended the retreat near Sedona, the center of the
new-age movement where practitioners draw energy from the surrounding
Red Rocks and various vortexes to heal others.
Sweat lodges, commonly used by American Indian tribes, also can be
part of the healing process. Stones are heated up outside a lodge,
brought inside and placed in a pail-sized hole. The door is closed,
and water is poured on the stones, producing heat aimed at releasing
toxins in the body.
The ceremonies have been part of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” retreats for years.
Few details of what actually transpired during the two hours
participants were inside the 415-square foot sweat lodge have emerged.
Sheriff’s deputies in Arizona’s Yavapai County are investigating
whether Ray or his staff may have been criminally negligent. No
charges have been filed.
The Rev. Meredith Ann Murray, spent three hours in a sweat lodge led
by Ray in 2007 that she said was done safely and helped her conquer
“You’re warned about all the possible things that might happen, how to
take care of yourself, how to listen to your body,” said the
56-year-old real estate agent from Bellingham, Wash. “I’ve done some
amazing things I never thought I could do.”
But in 2005, during a previous “Spiritual Warrior” retreat at the same
resort, a man had to be taken to the hospital after falling
unconscious during a sweat lodge ceremony.
Ray, 51, grew up as the son of a Tulsa preacher. Bored with college,
he says he pursued a career as a telemarketer and began leading
training classes for his employer, AT&T. He began honing his self-help
business in the early 1990s.
In a 2008 profile in Fortune magazine, Ray said 5,500 people paid for
his seminars in 2007. His books also are major sales drivers, and he
told the magazine his revenues went from $1 million in 2005 to an
estimated $10 million in 2006.
He soared in popularity after appearing in the 2006’s Rhonda Byrne
documentary “The Secret,” and he later was a guest on “The Oprah
Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live” to promote it. His 2008 book
“Harmonic Wealth” made the New York Times bestseller list.
Whether Ray manages to maintain his success in the wake of the deaths
depends in part on his supporters, and how long the tragedy dogs him
as he goes from city to city recruiting paying customers for his
wealth creation/spiritual harmony philosophy.
Critics point to the Sedona events as yet more evidence that Ray is a
huckster, who, like other motivational speakers, present their
philosophies as a magic bullet to all of life’s problems.
“It’s honing in on peoples’ needs, their hopes and desires, telling
them what they want to hear,” said Rick Ross, founder of a virtual
library of information on controversial groups and movements. “That’s
how any good con man makes his mark.”
Linda Jackson of Brentwood, Calif., already is looking forward to an
event Ray has scheduled in the San Francisco Bay area later this year.
The 59-year-old says Ray has a rare gift that coupled with charisma,
power and a “walk the talk” attitude only helps mankind.
Only God knows whether the recent tragedy will help or hurt Ray, she
said. “Maybe it was necessary because he has to be cautious about
Ray has no plans to slow down, said his spokesman, Howard Bragman.
He’ll continue conducting seminars and be a leader, educator and
mentor to the thousands who seek his help.
“One of his messages is about dealing with adversity,” he said. “He’s
very clear and his team is very clear that we’re going to continue his
Christie reported from Phoenix. Associated Press Writer Daisy Nguyen
in Los Angeles contributed to this report.