Archive for the ‘On James Arthur Ray’ Category

18
Nov

Sweet Harmony

   Posted by: Britt Tags:

Wow. Look at the harmony here.

1 James Arthur Ray sentenced to
2 years for
3 counts of negligent homicide
4 days before his
54th birthday

Harmonic Wealth? Or just plain old ordinary shit luck?

While I think it’s still somewhat on the low side, at least the man is going to jail. I hope to hell he’s counting his blessings. Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow sentenced Ray to two years for each victim. Sadly, the sentences are to be served concurrently (at the same time). And Ray has to repay a total of $57,000 in restitution to the three families. A pittance, I say, a pittance. Especially given that he took in half a million dollars at an imitation sweat-lodge ceremony he led at the Angel Valley Resort, near Sedona in October 2009, that killed the three victims: Kirby Brown, 38; James Shore, 40, and Liz Neuman, 49.

Read the USA Today story here, which includes a video available to those in the US. I’ll be looking for a video for the rest of us. Let me know if something becomes available on Youtube.

I don’t think this will indent the lack of integrity in the self-help industry. It will just help them better cover their asses in case of, um, accidents. And it will make sure they don’t push to the point of death. You needn’t look death in the eye in order to succeed at anything.

James, enjoy your brief stay. Convert a few convicts and help them become millionaires when they get back to the outside. Look for Jesus. Pray that the one on the inside with the homemade blue-ink tattoos on both sets of knuckles doesn’t find you. And stay the hell out of other people’s business for a while. And consider this: if you hadn’t of stalled the process as much as you did, you would have been substantially through your sentence. Instead, now, you are just at the beginning. That’s a small comfort too.

My personal hope is that the judge structured the sentence as he did to avoid appeal. And if you do appeal, maybe the new judge will change “concurrent” to “consecutive.”

So. Tomorrow is the day. The day that James Arthur Ray receives his sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow morning (November 18th, 2011), from 9am to 12noon, AZ time. Note that Arizona does not do the timeshift thing, so currently Arizona is on Mountain time. So for us on the West Coast, or Pacific time, tune in at 8am. Central time can tune in at 10am, and everyone else can figure it out for themselves.

Ah, Jimmy dear, will you get what you deserve? Funny. That’s probably what you are praying for right now too. Although I suspect that what you and others think you deserve wildly differ.

Here is a timeline from Wikipedia:

Ray is an advocate of the Law of Attraction; his teachings have been described as “including a mix of spirituality, motivational speaking, and quantum physics”. In an interview, Ray answered about personal responsibility, “I fully know, for me, that there is no blame. Every single thing is your responsibility … and nothing is your fault. Because every single thing that comes to you is gift … a lesson.”[2]

Concerns were raised since at least 2000 regarding the safety and soundness of his methods.[1]

According to Grant Cardone, in 2000 Ray consulted him for methods to increase sales at business seminars, and was warned to teach only sound business practices. After this time, Ray began incorporating sleep deprivation, fasting, fire and glass walking, and sweat lodge methods after studying in South America.[3]

Former attendees of Ray’s seminars have reported unsafe practices and lack of properly trained medical staff in 2005. A New Jersey woman shattered her hand after she was pressured by Ray to participate in a quasi-martial arts board-breaking exercise. After several unsuccessful untrained attempts, the woman sustained multiple fractures during the seminar that was held at Disney World.[4]

Participants of a James Ray “Spiritual Warrior” exercise in 2006, after signing waivers, were told to put the sharp point of an arrow used in archery against the soft part of their necks and lean against the tip. A man named Kurt sustained injuries during this exercise as the shaft snapped and the arrow point deeply penetrated his eyebrow.[5]

In July 2009, Colleen Conaway attended a seminar hosted by James Ray International in which the attendees were directed to dress as homeless people. She fell to her death at the Horton Plaza Mall in San Diego. She died as a result of injuries, and according to police, she had no identification on her person.[6][7]

In 2005, preceding the tragic events of October 2009, a serious injury involving hospitalization was reported at the Angel Valley Ranch during a “Spiritual Warrior” retreat led by Ray. Verde Valley Fire Chief Jerry Doerksen’s department responded to an emergency call that a 42 year old man had fallen unconscious after exercises inside the sweat-lodge.[8][9][10]

On October 8, 2009, at a New Age “Spiritual Warrior” retreat conceived and hosted by Ray at the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Yavapai County near Sedona, Arizona, two participants, James Shore and Kirby Brown, died as a result of being in a sweat lodge exercise. Eighteen others were hospitalized after suffering burns, dehydration, breathing problems, kidney failure, or elevated body temperature. Liz Neuman, another attendee, died October 17 after being comatose for a week.[11]

With the references as follows:

  1. a b Harris, Craig; Wagner, Dennis. “Sweat-lodge guru: A story of ups, downs”The Arizona Republic, 23 October 2009.
  2. Harris, Dan; Ferran, Lee; Shaylor, Jay; Pereira, Jen. “Beyond Sweat Lodge: James Ray’s Controversial World”, ABC News, 29 October 2009.
  3. “Grant Cardone: James Ray Was Warned”Huffington Post. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  4. Macintosh, Jeane (19 October 2009). “James Arthur Ray’s past contains serious injuries and suicides at seminars”New York Post. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  5. “Man: Sweat Lodge Leader’s Actions ‘Reckless'”KPHO.com. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  6. Baker, Debbi (2009-07-27). “Woman in fatal Horton Plaza fall identified”. SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  7. Macintosh, Jeane (2009-10-19). “James Arthur Ray’s past contains serious injuries and suicides at seminars”New York Post. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  8. “Sweat Lodge Retreat Leader ‘Being Tested’ by Deaths”. FoxNews.com. 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  9. Fonseca, Felicia; Christie, Bob (2009-10-16). “Sweat-lodge deaths cast negative spotlight on guru”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  10. Hensley, JJ (15 October 2009). “Resort near Sedona had previous sweat lodge incident”The Arizona Republic. Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  11. Hensley, JJ (15 October 2009). “Resort near Sedona had previous sweat lodge incident”The Arizona Republic. Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
Stay tuned…
8
Jul

A few people following the Ray Fiasco

   Posted by: Britt

Stumbled across these resources who are also following the James Arthur Ray fiasco in much greater depth than I am, and with far more analytic process. Check them out!!

Let me know if you know of others!

29
Jun

Jury hears victim impact statements

   Posted by: Britt Tags:

The jury of the James Arthur Ray trials heard from relatives of all three families impacted at the Sedona “workshop” today.

Heartwrenching Testimony During Ray Sentencing Phase: MyFoxTWINCITIES.com

By now you’ve probably heard that James Arthur Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide. He was found not guilty of manslaughter, which reflects intent. Instead, he’s essentially guilty of basic stupidity: he should have know better. And because he should have, and didn’t do anything to prevent three deaths. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

Below is a video from Youtube of the reading of the jury’s findings.

I found myself watching JAR, trying to look inside his person. I found myself feeling his hopes and anxieties, or at least what I perceived to be his emotional landscape. At one point, when the first guilty finding is read, I found myself feeling sorry for the man. And then I reminded myself that three people (in this episode) died in his care.

There are two main money drivers in life. Fear. And greed. Our entire economy, which is governed by the stock market, is based on these fundamental drivers. I think that we as human beings are all guilty of being motivated by both. Fear of death is often the final motivator when it comes to weight-loss or quitting smoking. And greed is the want for more. More money, more toys, more leisure.

When they are not taxed at their extreme ends, both can be as good as they are evil. They make us seek a living above the poverty line, they make us seek promotions, and a better life for our children.

James Arthur Ray successfully leveraged other people’s greed. He’s NOT alone in the business, but he is (unfortunately for him) alone in the spotlight. I’m willing to bet that the higher-ups (Anthony Robbins, Bob Proctor, T. Harv Eker and the like) are paying attention. Ray is taking the fall so that the others can modify their firewalks and arrow-tip exercises so that safety becomes the number one priority.

And I hope that everyone else casting judgement on the consumer first look deep inside and see that that the same drivers, for better or worse, lurk within us all.

Meryl Davids Landau, author of the new spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog, writes an article asking the ultimate (I’m being facetious) question: Does the James Arthur Ray Trial Mean There’s No Law of Attraction?

I was shocked to discover that her answer to the question is a simple, No, of course not!

Wow. This was not at all what I expected to read from the Huffington Post. Quite the opposite indeed.

The few in this world who succeed to the point of having multi-millions and even billions of dollars at their fingertips find the concept of random circumstance too frightening. It ignores the ego. The notion that is has nothing to do with your goodness or greatness is inconceivable.

Believing that they were/are special is much more comforting than believing they got lucky. Indeed, our ego hungers to believe it received because it believed, making it exceptionally special. Godlike. As a species, we’ve spent thousands of years mimicking the gods in attempt to get close to what they’ve achieved. So when we achieve it, we believe we’ve arrived at that secret formula. So why not package and sell it? The rest of us also hunger for that validation. (The foundations of solid marketing here.)

Yet, there are far more Willy Loman’s in the world (Death of a Salesman, fellow who believed if he could just walk the walk and talk the talk then he too would become successful – a fundamental “belief” at the core of the so-called “Law” of attraction) than there are Oprahs. But LOA advocates easily rip this point to shreds by mindlessly stating that the Willy Lomans simply do not think, feel, or believe the right things. Akin to blaming the victim.

LOA is landmine of destruction. Sure, there are a few towering trees (a favoured LOA metaphor) that loom over the masses in the forest, but statistically most saplings will die before they can even cast a scrawny shadow. Not because of their thoughts, but because of the random placement on this earth, in this universe. Their potential for growth was doomed by a larger cast shadow. Or some random hungry cow. Whatever.

Statistically speaking, the popularity of motivational speakers increase in times of economic upheaval. The Great Depression launched Dale Carnegie’s career. Depressions, recessions, and natural upheavals invite the human hunger to know (and tap into the power of) God.

A fire here in Alberta recently wiped out one third the entire town of Slave Lake. Norman James’s house was left standing amidst the ruins, and he quickly commented that there must be a higher power looking out for him.

“All I can say is if anybody believes in God or a creator or whatever, I believe it’s a miracle,” said James. “I believe my house is still standing because of a higher power.”

What that blissfully simple  statement pleasantly ignores is that that same God finds James’s neighbours unworthy of the same level of protection.

Yes, it’s easy to believe in a God when you’re succeeding. Our ego craves this. And it’s easy to cling on to the notion of a God when your desperate to find your way out of disaster. It’s called Hope, and it’s there for us all. But to charge money for that, and then to blame Willy Loman for not thinking the right thoughts is where, in my books, an ethical line is crossed. When lives are lost, it becomes criminal. I think the people on the jury– not God — needs to find James Arthur Ray guilty.

Luck is random and subjected to the whim of time, place, nature, and the influence of others. Governments, banks; family and neighbours. Success is being prepared when an opportunity (should the opportunity arise) crosses your path. You can’t think that opportunity into existence. You can’t justify it into existence, using the exception (ie Oprah) not the rule (Willy Loman) to back it up.

Huffington Post, you’ve seriously let me down.

Like many others, I’m avidly following the case of James Arthur Ray. Whatever the courts find will have an impact on the billions of dollars currently being “earned” by the Law of Attraction gurus. Okay, so it might just make a tiny dent in the big picture. While I think the likes of Canfield, Robbins and Katie are avidly glued to their sets, I don’t think the typical student is even aware.

When I “fell” down my rabbit hole and landed in state of bankruptcy, my “teacher” (earlier referred to as Missus) made it clear that I was fully accountable for my own outcome. On the surface, I agreed with her as no one held a gun to my head and forced me to make the bad investments that I did. But something underneath bothered me. And slowly it boiled up and now it’s spilling over.

I’m now of the mind that education is a two-way street: The student agrees to be open (hence vulnerable) and the teacher agrees to contribute genuine knowledge delivered in the best interest of the student. The very nature of learning, after all, is suspending your disbelief and trusting your teacher.

Back in the day, I was a motorcycle instructor, and those two aspects (genuine knowledge and student safety) were embedded in our teaching philosophy. For example, some students were terrified of revving their engines. As teachers, we had genuine knowledge to the contrary, and consequently required the student to suspend her disbelief. Trusting us was imperative to her learning.  And we had to respect that trust and ensure safety, so we taught in in a safe environment — the parking lot — at relatively slow speeds. We had to minimize the potential for harm. (And should harm befall them, we were all trained in first aid.)

When a student could not perform effectively as a student (ie he couldn’t suspend his disbelief and rev his engines), we as teachers were then required to act in that student’s best interest and discontinued him from the course. It was our job as good teachers to monitor their safety. It was not their job as a student to choose their own situation. If we let them do that, we’d loose our job. They did not yet know what they didn’t know (to state the obvious) so they couldn’t make a sound decision in their best interest.

When CBC’s Marketplace found the Robert Kiyosak course practicing questionable teachings, it was because the contracted instructors were claiming false experiential expertise (claimed a tract of land was earning them passive income when in fact it was a dead investment) and consequently were not acting in the best interest of the student. Following their teachings could land them in the same dire straights as their teachers (who were, it seemed, using teaching as the tool to dig themselves out of financial despair).

I do agree that it was a tragic accident. It was never a planned event. However, categorizing it as an accident does not eradicate accountability (and landing it in the laps of the dead students is a travesty — and a slippery escape from accountability). I hope true accountability lands in the lap of James Arthur Ray (JAR). The students job is to be open; the teacher’s job was to protect their safety (this usually goes without saying) while imparting genuine knowledge.

Becoming a teacher is serious business. It can’t just be a money-making factory. It can’t just be loaded with “good intentions” (which, BTW I think JAR had). It also requires a tremendous amount of expertise that goes beyond the experiential background of just the teacher her/himself. And it comes with a very high degree of responsibility.

So while my “financial” teacher, Missus and her snake-oiled partner were teaching with good intentions, they lacked the expertise in BOTH their own experiential background and in light of the entire financial industry. I am responsible for signing the document, and they are responsible for putting the option in front of me in the first place, and for guiding me to the “learned” belief that these were good investments (they all failed, one by one by one).

The awful reality comes down to this. When it comes to dealing with the results, that lands squarely on the shoulders of the student. It is only me who can step forward with my current financial reality. The teacher remains untouched. Untouchable. I think the James Arthur Ray case is an attempt to make an ethically bad teacher (ie he failed to keep his students safe, and he failed in being genuinely knowledgable) be responsible for the outcome.

I wonder how many people, like me, sit in financial despair because of the teachings of the gurus. I don’t think that litigation is the answer. And I also don’t think regulation is either (since when is the government truly representative of the people?). I think  the real answer lies in awareness and education.

And this blog is my small kick at that big can.

The Law of Attraction is not a singular belief. Like religions and philosophies and musical tastes, we have a spectrum of flavors from which to choose. It ranges from the power of positive thinking to the belief that the universe is entirely of your own making.

Nor is it a singular course. Many (to most) of its teachers focus on wealth acquisition and accumulation, ranging from understanding your money blueprint (T. Harv Eker, Garrett Gunderson) to buying real estate (Robert Allen) to managing investment portfolios (Robert Kiyosaki). Others focus on personal growth (Byron Katie) and spiritual development (Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch).

The following table is an approximate overview of the personal responsibility assumption made to varying degrees in the Law of Attraction courses currently raging throughout North America and beyond.

I’ve tried not to pass judgment, as I am convinced that you can learn from just about anyone. While I would not personally take courses from some of the educational forums listed below, I would never go so far as to say they have nothing to offer. Each “teacher” in your life presents you with tools. What you do with them, how you apply them (if you choose to), and what you derive from them, is entirely up to you.

It is included here so that you can see the range. However, it is not definitive. What will make it definitive is your experience (direct or in-direct) with it.

Educational forum promoting…
partial personal responsibility substantial personal responsibility total personal responsibility
Philosophy You have some control over the outcomes of your life. You can shape the outcome of events that impact your life. You have created every aspect of your life.
Degree of action required Significant. Significant. Your thoughts are key, but only if you have the emotional desire to persist through and survive your trials and your failures. Insignificant. Your thoughts shape everything. That which follows is all a result of your ability to think the right thoughts.
Forums Books, counselling and therapy sessions, community workshops, one-on-one. Seminars, classes, leading to larger group. Large Group Awareness Training (LGATs).
Examples Positive-thought proponents, authors, counselors, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People

Events happen to you; how you respond to those events will have a significant ability to shape your future.

Jack Canfield’s formula E+R = O encapsulates it (Events + Response = Outcome).

Napoleon Hill advocated that you can receive what you conceive if you have an intense burning desire driving your action.

Landmark Education. Their philosophy is that personal responsibility begins and ends with one’s willingness to be central cause of all results in one’s life. Being both the cause and the effect is the ideal way to to live.

T. Harv Eker’s T > F >A > R formula encapsulates it (Thoughts lead to Feelings lead to Action lead to Results). It’s all you.

Extreme examples Your negative thoughts contributed toward your current situation. If you are down, it’s because you don’t believe you are worth better. Pat Robertson, an evangelical Christian suggests that the recent Haiti earthquake was brought about by the Haitians themselves in a deal they made with the devil to free them from the French.
Further research Irrelevant to the success of the relationship. Encouraged. The greater your exposure, the greater your chances at success. Not encouraged. The knowledge you will receive here is definitive. Stay away from the negative influence of fear-mongering newspapers and magazines.
Costs might fall into this range $20/book

Free consultation then typically $30-$50-$100/session depending on the type

Free intro nights

$100-1000/classes

$50-$500+/session

Free intro nights

$500-$30,000+/seminars

Seminars are frequently hosted by a high-profile success story, and run behind the scenes by volunteers.

Types Positive thinking

Therapy

Counseling

Community classes

Community classes

Seminars

Seminars

Several of the Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) programs

Techniques Comfort zone is challenged

Guided learning

Journaling

Peer-led group study

Comfort zone is challenged

Mental breakdowns lead to breakthroughs

Call-and-response technique

Comfort zone is challenged

Mental breakdowns lead to breakthroughs

Deprivation (contact, food/beverage, bathrooms, etc.)

Group chants or call-and-response technique

Deviation from the group can lead to personal humiliation

Independent thinking is discouraged (you are here, after all, because you are a failure and you want to learn from the successful expert so shut up and learn)

Spirituality Not typically present unless specifically seeking religious or spiritual guidance Implicit or explicit religious overtones Implicit or explicit religious overtones
Qualifications/ Status Academic achievement Track record success Cult-like status of the guru

Group conversations discouraged

Challenging the teachings discouraged (you can be physically removed from the session)

The Interpretation of Failure Failure means you haven’t yet been able to turn it around and look at it from a different perspective. Failure means you are one step closer to success. Success is built on a succession of failures. Failure means you are personally being punished. You haven’t “played” at 120%. You are personally weak. Typically, more classes will help you achieve a better rate of success.
The Interpretation of Success You can live in your current circumstances and be a happier human being. You can persist through the rough times knowing that the plan and the journey will get you there. You will be rich.

The Law of Attraction, wrapped in its mantra of self-improvement in the names of God and Wealth, makes for a lucrative industry. In 2006, the research firm Marketdata estimated the “self-improvement” business in the U.S. generated more than $9 billion in sales—including infomercials, mail-order catalogs, holistic institutes, books, audio cassettes, motivation-speaker seminars, the personal coaching market, weight-loss and stress-management programs.[1] It’s also an unregulated field, which means it’s buyer beware.


[1] PRWeb (September 21, 2006). “Self-Improvement Market in U.S. Worth $9.6 Billion.” Press release. http://www.prwebdirect. com/releases/2006/9/prweb440011.php. Retrieved 2008-12-18. “Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher, has released a new 321-page market study entitled: The U.S. Market For Self-Improvement Products & Services.”

The is an excerpt from my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman (Chapter 8).

I just read an interesting blog calling on Oprah to step up to her plate so-to-speak and explain her 2007 endorsement of James Arthur Ray. I’ll bet my socks (not that anyone would want them) that that ain’t gonna happen.

I’m personally very surprised at the entire industry’s silence on the issue, not just Oprah’s. Jack Canfield teaches what T. Harv Eker teaches, who teaches what James Arthur Ray teaches, who teaches what Bill Bartmann teaches, who teaches what … well, you get the picture here.

As an industry-in-cahoots, it appears that each is stepping away from the chastised and diseased child, and are quietly continuing plying open the wallets of those looking for a better way. Sure, they’re probably continuing with their firewalks, sword-to-the-throat, here’s-the-the-homeless and board breaking exercises, but you can bet your sweet bottom that they have the proper disclaimers and medical staff on hand these days. One man pays the price and the others now better know how to cover their own butts.

While Oprah isn’t in bed with industry, I do think she’s the one who gave them the gilded bed to begin with. (Yes, I realize I’m loosing my own chance of appearing on Oprah but I’m okay with that. Oddly enough.)

I think looking to Oprah is like looking to the Pope to explain the sex scandals rocking the pulpit: it ain’t gonna happen my friends. It’s over to bloggers like us!