Saturday, October 10, 2009

Duff McDuffee - James Arthur Ray’s Spiritual Warrior Event Kills 2, Injures 19 in Sweat Lodge Fiasco

This is freaking bat-shit crazy - if this guy isn't sued to the point he is living in his car there is no justice in the world (and there isn't or these people would not be dead).

Duff McDuffee has written two great posts about this tragedy:

James Arthur Ray’s Spiritual Warrior Event Kills 2, Injures 19 in Sweat Lodge Fiasco

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.

Read the whole post.

There are lots of useful links in each article.


Anonymous said...

He has taught himself his greatest lesson. If you are going to talk War, then you better expect to attract in some Death. ...didn't he say that himself? well kind of. :)

My heart semi, goes out to him during this. I met him once. He totally twisted something I shared with him privately to his public that were there. But that made me realize he is really just learning everything he teaches through his participants. And doesn't take the time to learn it on his own. He has a lot of technical grasp on ancient knowledge, but doesn't know how to translate that into todays world. Nor how to lead without people empowering them not blindly follow.

If anyone is telling you that they have the answers for your problems. Do yourself a favor, save your money, buy their book, watch them for a year, learn to live their info for that year. And if you are still feeling self empowered and not like some looser cause you didn't achieve by the end of it. Then you have the right person to take advice from. But if they make you feel less than, in some way!! head the other direction!!

As for the sweat. If it was being used properly, they would have been opening the door at various intervals, to let the heat out! though I am not sure how much it could cool down with that many people in there. This was total disrespect for this ceremony. (even my 13 yr old, knows this is too many people)

And also, no one who is a first timer in the sweat is ever forced to stay, or is ever put through intense heat. this is always something you learn to tolerate over time. Not in one sitting. Sweats with first time people are always shorter and cooler!!! Always!!
And people are always told not to be afraid to call out and leave the sweat if they need to.

Very sad, to have created a lesson like this, but then he has done a great service for the rest of us. As we will all be a lot more leery of so called "Masters" like him. And I totally believe this will set a president on uneducated people using ancient knowledge for their own benefit. So Thank you James, and many prayers to the families as they go through these coming months.

Anonymous said...

I live very close to sedona and the sweat lodge deaths are all over the news and our local paper. If what the investigating sheriff says is true, ray refused to talk with the investigators and basically got on a plane and left. With two participants dead and several more in the hospital, what kind of guy would just take off like that? What a creep.

Anonymous said...

This is not the first death at a James Arthur Ray seminar...I know that for a fact! A friend of mine died at one in San Diego this July (Creating Absolute Wealth). They did a great job at covering up Colleen's death. I am sure they know what they are doing is wrong...if they didn't they would not have worked so hard to hide the events/details regarding her death. Her name is Colleen Conaway and she died at Horton Plaza in San Diego during one of their excursions "exercises".

He is brainwashing...please if anyone else knows of anyone else who has been injured or even killed( I know that sounds dramatic...but, it is true) at one of his seminars please inform the authorities to help with the investigation. If we all help we can STOP this crazy man!!

Unknown said...

1. We hereby and henceforth declare war against all persons who persist in exploiting, abusing and misrepresenting the sacred traditions and spiritual practices of our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.

2. We call upon all our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota brothers and sisters to actively and vocally oppose this alarming take over and systematic destruction of our sacred traditions.

3. We urge our people to coordinate with tribal members everywhere to identify instances in which our sacred traditions are being abused, and then to resist this abuse, utilizing whatever specific tactics are necessary; demonstrations, boycotts, press conferences etc.

4. We especially urge all our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people to take action to prevent our own people from contributing to, and enabling, the abuse of our sacred ceremonies and spiritual practices by outsiders. As we all know, there are ones among our own people who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain.

5. We assert a posture of zero-tolerance for any 'white man's shaman' who rises from within our own communities to 'authorize' the expropriation of our ceremonial ways by non-Indians. All such 'plastic medicine men' are our enemies.

6. We urge traditional people, tribal leaders, and governing councils of all other Indian nations, to join us in calling for an immediate end to this rampant exploitation of our respective American Indian sacred traditions by issuing statements denouncing such abuse. It is not only the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people whose spiritual practices are being violated by non-Indians.

7. We urge all our Indian brothers and sisters to act decisively and boldly in our present campaign to end the destruction of our sacred traditions, keeping in mind our highest duty as Indian people; to preserve the purity of our precious traditions for our children and the future generations so that they will survive and prosper in the sacred manner intended for each of our respective peoples by our Creator.

Wilmer Stampede Mesteth; (Oglala Lakota); Traditional Spiritual Leader & Lakota Culture Instructor; Oglala Lakota College, Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Darrell Standing Elk; (Sicangu Lakota); President, Center for the SPIRIT, San Fancisco, California, & Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Phyllis Swift Hawk; (Kul Wicasa Lakota); Tiospaye Wounspe Waokiye; Wanblee, South Dakota

william harryman said...

The Lakota are not the only native peoples who practice sweats. My Lakota friends know this and are much more tolerant. My Lakota friends teach peace, having been a part of AIM even. People should not pay for a sweat and should only go to sweats by those with wisdom and knowledge


Unknown said...

Just because your Lakota friends are part of AIM does not make an authentic representation of the D/L/Nakota people. They must not be grassroots. It is because of the timidness and generosity of your so-called Lakota friends that events such as Seonda are happening. Wade Crowe, enrolled with the Yanktonai Hunkpati Dakota Sioux of Crow Creek, South Dakota

Unknown said...

We have been fighting against the appropriation of our culture for as long as our ancestors have fought for our way to survive.

At the Lakota Summit V, an international gathering of US and Canadian Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations, about 500 representatives from 40 different tribes and bands of the Lakota unanimously passed a "Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality." The following declaration was unanimously passed on June 10, 1993.

The Declaration
Whereas we are the conveners of an ongoing series of comprehensive forums on the abuse and exploitation of Lakota spirituality; and whereas we represent the recognized traditional spiritual leaders, traditional elders, and grassroots advocates of the Lakota people; and whereas for too long we have suffered the unspeakable indignity of having our most precious Lakota ceremonies and spiritual practices desecrated, mocked and abused by non-Indian 'wannabes', hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and self-styled 'New Age shaman' and their followers; and whereas with horror and outrage we see this disgraceful expropriation of our sacred Lakota traditions has reached epidemic proportions; and whereas our precious Sacred Pipe is being desecrated through the sale of pipestone pipes at flea markets, powwows, and 'New Age' retail stores; and whereas pseudo-religious corporations have been formed to charge people money for admission into phoney 'sweatlodges' and 'vision quest' programmes; and whereas sacrilegious 'sundances' for non-Indians and cult leaders who promote abominable and obscene imitations of our sacred Lakota sundance rites; and whereas non-Indians have organised themselves into imitation tribes, assigning themselves make-believe Indian names to facilitate their wholesale expropriation and commercialisation of our Lakota traditions; and whereas academic disciples have sprung up at colleges and universities, institutionalizing the sacrilegious imitation of our spiritual practices by students and instructors under the guise of educational programs in 'shamanism'; and whereas non-Indian charlatans and 'wannabes' are selling books that promote the systematic colonization of our Lakota spirituality; and whereas the television and film industry continues to saturate the entertainment media with vulgar, sensationalist and grossly distorted representations of Lakota spirituality and culture which reinforce the public's negative stereotyping of Indian people and which gravely impair the self-esteem of our children; and whereas the absurd public posturing of this scandalous assortment of pseudo-Indian charlatans, cultists, 'wannabes', commercial profiteers, and 'New Age' shamans comprises a momentous obstacle in the struggle of traditional Lakota people for an adequate public appraisal of the legitimate political, legal and spiritual needs of real Lakota people; and whereas this exponential exploitation of our Lakota spiritual traditions requires we take immediate action to defend our most precious Lakota spirituality from further contamination, desecration and abuse; Therefore we resolve as follow:

Anonymous said...

someone is posting questions, asking if Colleen Marian Conaway died at a James Arthur Ray seminar July 2009,77450,77608#msg-77608

Anonymous said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Karim - Positive thinking

Salty Droid said...

Hi peeps. I'm an anti scam blogger. I'm writing about the disgusting Mr. Ray here {it's Rated-R}.

Please, please, tell me more about Colleen.

If she died under the manipulation of this psycho ... then her story MUST be told. From the record she looks like a suicide ... but that's not suicide ... Poor Colleen!

Anonymous said...

The friends, family of Colleen Conaway could come forward and report what happened.
If there was anyone at the James Ray seminar who saw what happened, they can come forward.
The police are looking for more information, as posted at this website.

BREAKING NEWS: Sweat lodge deaths now a homicide case
By Lisa Irish, The Daily Courier

"Because of information that we have obtained from interviews from participants in this most recent "Spiritual Warrior" seminar and from other past participants in them, we have elevated the investigation from an accidental death investigation to a homicide investigation," Waugh said.
Sheriff's detectives executed search warrants earlier this week at James Ray International's offices in Carlsbad, Calif.

Additionally, documentation on whether participants were advised of the risks before or during the Spiritual Warrior program," Waugh said.

Waugh said his office would like all participants who have knowledge of the Spiritual Warrior seminar at Angel Valley Retreat, or who have experienced something similar, to contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office by e-mail at or Yavapai Silent Witness 1-800-939-3232.

Anonymous said...

Colleen Conaway death in the news October 19, 2009,77450,77728#msg-77728

jp said...

colleen was my sister in law and her death was a shock, and a tragedy..I beleive she was manipulated out of her money, and all she stood for, by this creep, eventually choosing what she thought was no other alternative...I believe this was the fault of james ray and his organization, I am searching for attorneys interested in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against james ray, and his org. My in-laws lost a good daughter, and while money would never replace her, I believe someone needs to be held accountable for this avoidable thank you