Duff McDuffee has written two great posts about this tragedy:
Read the whole post.
written by Duff McDuffee on October 9th, 2009
The news is going around that our pal James Arthur Ray has two dead participants and 19 hospitalized after a 2-hour long sweat in Sedona, AZ. Some partipants paid up to $9000 for this “Spiritual Warrior Event.” From the AP release:
Many people began feeling ill after about two hours in the sweat box, emerging lightheaded and weak, said Verde Valley Fire District Chief Jerry Doerksen.
Two hours in a sweat lodge!? This is insane. (UPDATE: I’ve been informed–by my girlfriend–that 2 hours or even much longer is commonplace for sweats. I still think this is insane.) I remember doing a sweat with the Boy Scouts, and it was about 15 minutes before we got out and dumped ourselves with cold water. Ever spent 2 hours in a sauna with no break?
But this is the logic of these kinds of workshops–break you down to build you up. Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within is very similar–long hours, no breaks, constant full-on exercises. While there is usually no explicit instruction that you must remain with the group, the pressure to do so can be enormous even when way beyond your limits.
I’m guessing that these deaths and injuries were not a result of “carbon monoxide” (which tested negatively) but intense psychological pressure to remain in a dangerous situation far beyond the limits of safety and sanity.
I know several people who have gone to the hospital for various reasons after “large group awareness trainings” such as Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior Event.” Many people online have complained of received mild to moderate burns on their feet after Tony Robbins’ firewalk, for example. It’s time we brought these gurus to justice and demanded that personal change workshops be safe for all.When something goes wrong in such a seminar due to it being overly intense and dangerous, usually the victims are blamed for “not taking 100% responsibility,” thus dodging the responsibility of the seminar leaders. Personally, I think we should hold James Arthur Ray 100% personally responsible for the death of these two seminar participants, up to and including going to jail.
Read the whole post.
The Dark Side of The Secret: Reading James Arthur Ray’s Sweat Lodge Disaster through a Magickal Lens
written by Duff McDuffee on October 10th, 2009
As I reported on yesterday, participants of James Arthur Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior Event” got more than they paid for (and they paid $9,695 each) when two people died and 19 were injured in a large sweat lodge with 64 people.
What can we learn from this?
One thing we might conclude is that all spiritual teachers or personal development gurus are bad, and should be avoided. Or that James Arthur Ray specifically is a greedy, evil person. Or that the Law of Attraction and The Secret are total bullshit. And these would indeed be ways to read the situation that have some merit. I’ve been tending to take this more cynical view of personal development and spirituality lately.
But what if we read this event through the eyes of magick? James Ray claims lineage in the Western esoteric or occult tradition, so perhaps we could learn something interesting from reading this terrible event in this way that would deepen our understanding. Perhaps we could even find some ideas for moving forward in a positive new paradigm for personal development.
When I begin to think about the deaths of Ray’s seminar participants in this way, I find myself having a change of heart towards the man, far less cynical about his words and basic message while still holding him accountable for what transpired. Perhaps you will have a similar change of heart.
There are lots of useful links in each article.