James Arthur Ray, author of Harmonic Wealth is someone I have admired since first hearing him speak in The Secret. His subsequent interviews on Oprah were inspiring, and I have benefited greatly from Ray’s philosophy about living a life of wealth. His business is built on the theme of teaching you “the secret of attracting the life you want.” At this moment, I’m not sure that James Arthur Ray is happy about the circumstance he’s attracted into his life.
On October 8, 2009 Ray’s empire started to crumble when two people died during a sweat lodge ceremony held in Sedona, Arizona. Another ceremony participant died a week later and close to twenty other people were injured. What was meant to be a personal cleansing experience turned into a death trap for some and an emotional, life changing experience never to be forgotten by the others there that day.
Put aside for a minute the fact that there have been a number of complaints registered against Ray’s organization by people injured during his programs. Perhaps if someone had taken the collapse of a male participant in a 2005 sweat lodge activity seriously, the tragedy four years later could have been avoided.
I have to wonder if Ray’s rapid rise in the world of motivational “guru”dom began to cloud his judgment. It seems quite possible that he has not been listening to the concerns of his community. No safety personnel on sight during an exercise that clearly had the potential to become a disastrous problem is unthinkable. In the crush to up the competitive ante in the world of personal development products, did Ray’s organization go too far with the Spiritual Warrior vision quest retreat? It would seem so. From the looks of things, Ray’s business is shutting down. At least temporarily.
The tragic deaths of people who expected nothing more than to improve their lives during that Sedona weekend with Ray are a reminder of the harsh consequences of what can happen when a company has forgotten who they serve.