Posts Tagged ‘James Arthur Ray’

18
Jan

How does Lance Armstrong compare to James Arthur Ray?

   Posted by: Britt    in General

I thought the Lance Armstrong interviews were fascinating. I tend to err on the side of trust, so I tend to believe in Armstrong’s remorse. His was a colossal fall from grace.

A similar fall happened to James Arthur Ray, an entrepreneurial guru featured in The Secret and really rocket-launched to fame through an interview with Oprah (Feb 8, 2007).

On October 8, 2009, three people died in one of his sweat lodges (a five-day, where about 50 people paid $9,000 to $10,000 per ticket). Colleen Conaway committed suicide in an earlier event. Ray was a crook and a shyster who did have some good things to offer. But for the most part, his credentials were almost all fake (like many in the Law-of-Attraction business). When in court, JAR’s tactic was deny-deny-deny. Keep your mouth shut, head down. His defense team even went so far as to get an expert to speak to the possible presence of organophosphates on location as a possible contributor to the deaths of his students.

Putting Lance Armstrong side-by-side with James Arthur Ray, I am impressed that Lance Armstrong admitted doping and is contrite. He too had a lot to offer, especially when it comes to the amount of money he raised for Cancer research. I DON’T think he should be resurrected as a hero. I don’t think he should be given an easy out. He let a lot of people down.

The hole he dug is MASSIVE, and his sense of entitlement was equally massive. And repaying his debts (beyond finances, into the emotional with personal relationships) will take a whole bunch of time.

I also happen to think that most of us have experienced entitlement to some degree. I know I won’t be throwing the first stone here.

I am not saying that he should be instantaneously forgiven. He wreaked havoc of an unimaginable scope. He damaged reputations, legally and personally. He falsely lashed out at others, leveraging his FALSE image to intensify the both the wrath and the damage that was inflicted. I’m fine if his ban is for life. He cannot wipe this slate clean with a single apology.

I am saying that I need to live in a world where we believe people can change. No in a la-la fairy-land, everyone-must-feel-good sort of way. There are people who cannot. Psychopaths for one. Because they (as far as our understanding goes) live in a mental state where the world-view is completely different from the one in which most of us reside (ie, total lack of empathy accompanied by an unfalterable sense of entitlement).Our corporate world is heavily infested with these types. There is, of course, much conversation about whether or not Lance is psychopathic. I am not qualified to go there.

Granted, Lance’s change ONLY came about because the massive fall from grace was scientifically and undeniably presented. And even the time that it took for him to own up was painfully prolonged for the people he affected. A simple, public apology will by itself not put things right. It’s a start, but time will tell if there’s “momentum” behind this swing.

It is impossible for us to see anything beyond the surface of a person. The recent unveilings of the Jimmy Savile’s sexual predatory nature is crystal clear evidence of that. And the bullet-proof facade build around Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a known misogynistic womanizer. Without a personal admission, we’ll never know what’s really real. And then, as in the case with Lance, arises the question, “Is it believable.”

On a much much smaller scale, I can look at my own life. I have lived through my own sense of entitlement. Indeed, every time we buy something knowingly manufactured in China or Taiwan, odds are we are contributing to near slave-labour and the oppression of women and children. But then we in turn think of how hard we worked for our money, and how we need to stretch a dollar in order to survive to the next paycheque. In most cases, this is grossly exaggerated. Regardless, it’s a sense of entitlement that directly and indirectly damages others.

Also, there’s the team of two who are directly responsible for the events in my life that led to bankruptcy. The short version is that they learned a quick way to make money, which was to “teach” people about their entitlement to wealth. It was very standard Law-Of-Attraction stock. I did not know that at the time. But having since delved heavily into the teachings of T. Harv Eker, James Arthur Ray, Jack Canfield and the like, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s one voice with a slightly different drone. And very effective at that. And the handful of success stories continue to uphold the lie that “anyone can do it if you just think positive,” propped up by half truths backed by false stories of successes (fake-it-till-you-make-it is a perfect example touted by Anthony Robbins, effective and necessary on one hand — ie you need to believe in yourself — and a complete and utter lie on the other, esp. when you start to manipulate the lives of others).

This team of two convinced me (and many others) to invest money in these sure-bet investments. They used their own lives as proof of their success (turned out to be a lie, they were faking it till they would some day make it, and I suspect that most of their income came from commissions on investments and teaching their courses), and wickedly effective marketing. Most of their investments were duds. Most people (like me) lost all their equity and fell deeply into insurmountable debt.

The team of two fall heavily on the mantra used by Law-Of-Attraction types, which is to say that if LOA doesn’t work for you, you must be doing something wrong. Thus, an apology will never be forthcoming.

A part of me believes that this team of two was naively and genuinely interested in helping others. They got caught up in their own social sense of doing good for others, and bucking the system that “wants you to stay poor so that they (ie banks) can get rich.” If they themselves became rich along the way, all the better. And when their mini empire crumbled, they resorted to lashing out and blaming others. Kind of like what James Arthur Ray is doing, sitting in prison, convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Whereas an apology to me would have gone a long way. I cannot undo what has happened to me. But boy oh boy would an admission of their responsibility have gone a long way with me toward forgiving this team of two. I’ve let go much of my anger since it does nothing for me, but not all.

Lance Armstrong does not exist for me as an individual human being. I don’t know him as a person and don’t care to. He’s a sports superstar elevated to success by a public’s crazy need for heroes and sports champions. In a week’s time, I won’t even be thinking about him. He will never be short of money as his biography and following Hollywood flick will ensure a steady income. He leveraged his cancer story quite nicely and have no doubt this tragedy will be converted to cash in too. I have no doubt in my mind that he consulted with a lawyer before hand to mitigate the damage. He’s a smart, crafty and manipulative person.

Perhaps naively, I am believing the surface presentation. In part because many of the people who do inflict massive damage spend all their efforts on publicly denying their dark sides in order to preserve the shining light of their (falsely constructed) surface saint. What Lance did by admitting and apologising was very unusual for people of his level of fame and wealth. James Arthur Ray is currently in jail doing time, still professing his saintliness.

I see the apology as unique, and yes, somewhat genuine. At least I hope so, though I can also see how, after years of lies and lashing out and damaging the lives and reputations of others, it is hard to swallow. If it’s genuine, it’s a start (start being the keyword here). If it’s a salvaging tactic to gain sympathy and support without any genuine remorse, then it’s very very sad. Time will tell. Maybe.

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18
Nov

Sweet Harmony

   Posted by: Britt    in On James Arthur Ray

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?

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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.”

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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Well, today is my birthday. Today is the day that I turn 46. Today will also mark the beginning of my blogging about my own process.

For anyone following this blog regularly, you will know that I too was taken in (“scammed” is another great word for it) by the Law of Attraction. My husband and I were “students” of what I now call quasi-gurus (those who had learned from the gurus and decided to make their own little fist-full of money teaching their watered down version of it … subconsciously perhaps having come to the realization that what made these gurus wealthy in the first place was not their own entrepreneurial ventures but their teachings).

The thing is, the whole reason why I fell for these quasi-gurus was anchored in the fact that I had known the husband of the woman teacher for about ten years. I trusted him implicitly — indeed I looked up to him — and through him I trusted his wife. The wife who I’ll refer to as Missus, had taken seminars from Robert Allen (Real Estate guru). She teamed up with another gleaming-toothed salesman (who I’ll call Snake) who had taken a number of T. Harv Eker courses (I’m assuming the one on teaching seminars as well). The two, I now know, were armed with their little success, which they puffily expanded in their free introductory course.

Selling us on a myriad of products, ranging from tax strategies to paper investments, the pressure was on to “start now,” as nothing was worse than financial gains delayed — nay lost — due to failure to act NOW, in the moment when an opportunity presented itself.

Before this, I had a pretty good financial situation in life. I had a credit rating of 825, which is in the top 15 percentile. Me and my husband had bought a condominium (mostly using my funds that I have saved for the down payment) that had doubled in value over three years. And thanks to a private contribution from my father given in perpetuity against my inheritance, our mortgage was pretty much paid off.

So I really thought I had a good foundational understanding of how money worked. And what the quasi gurus taught us made sense. And I’m one to shoot from the hip if it feels right. And their information felt right. They were very convincing. And even though I had little voices sounding off in the back of my head, we wanted the future they promised us. For us, but also for our newborn daughter. We wanted to secure a future for her. So on the “good” counsel from Missus and Snake, me and my husband tapped out our credit (their mantra is getting rich on OPM — Other People’s Money — which in this case meant the bank’s). We tapped into the “cheap money” available in our home (took out a second mortgage). And we purchased a range of “products” from their snake-oil business (which btw promised intentional wealth).

For about a year, we were held in the high esteem of these quasi-gurus, featured as star students for the other classes that came behind us (my husband was in their first seminar group, and I was in their second). They even went so far as to have me as a guest speaker on one of their many free seminars they held for bootcamp grads.

Fast forward a few years. One by one, slowly and painfully, each and every “product” or investment purchased from this “wealthy by intention” group flailed, then failed. They stopped touting our success as it was essentially a recognition of their profound failure. At first, Missus told me to stay the course. I just needed to stay strong, keep my mind on course. I could let a few failures make me stop investing (and of course the ultimate sales pitch is the frenzied cry, “If you stop, you’ll never get rich”), or I could stay the course. Believe it, and I will conceive it.

I got poorer and increasingly bitter. The relationship between me and my husband became strained. The quasi-gurus changed their tactics and started moving away from third party products and towards real-estate. And they definitely stopped looking in our general direction. We went from being their star students to being dust bunnies, frantically covered over least anyone should see us.

In our final consultation with these quasi-gurus, I distinctly recall Missus not-so-gently reminding me and my husband that no one forced us to make our decisions, that it was us, not them, who signed on the dotted line. And note that the Law of Attraction gurus are all notoriously good at this one: Failure can never be attributed to the teacher but rests solely on the shoulders of the student. (I am keenly following the James Arthur Ray trial to see which way this goes.)

I’ve given this a lot of consideration over the years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the teacher also holds a portion of responsibility. By virtue of being a teacher, you step into a trusted position of authority. If a teacher abuses her or his trust (say by teaching unethical concepts or practices), that teacher is also responsible for the outcome. If I as a teacher teach my students to hate a certain category of humans, and then one of my students goes out and kills someone, I might not have pulled the trigger but I am guilty of directly contributing to the death of another person.

Likewise, this particular agency presented their success under false premises. Missus and Snake each proclaimed they were financially free and were teaching this course from the goodness of their hearts. We later find out that that proclamation might have been true for a month or two, but not as a perpetual state of living. They also taught us the “five pillars” upon which all successful investments were based, and then showed us how each of their products lived up to at least four of the five (and they always had a great way of spinning the fifth). And then they’d backed it with the claim that their financial successes were all based on previous versions of these products. (In some cases, the revisioned versions were to salvage the first iteration. So essentially they were selling products in the hopes of salvaging their own original investments. Aka a ponzi scheme. Again, something we found out at a later date, when it was much to late for us.)

So, yes, we did sign on the dotted line. Not that accountability is an issue, as every single day I am confronted with the results of my signing on the dotted line. I have to live with my decisions, and I have to try to move forward each and every day. But without their “goodly” (snake-oil) guidance, we never would have made the decisions we did.

Fast forward to today. I’m working with a bankruptcy consultant. Our monthly cost of living is upward to $13,000 a month. It is unsustainable.

In an attempt to protect the money my father contributed toward my mortgage, I explored putting up their loan as a lien against our house. I consulted a lawyer. (Two emails cost me $180!!) In wanting to at least protect his investment, I  finally had to tell them, him and his wife, about my financial outlook. Not the details, because I’m still incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about having gone from almost mortgage-free with a credit rating of 825 at age 41 to bankrupt at age 46. But I did state that I wanted them to register a lien against our house so that they would be paid back should we have to go that route.

Turns out, the money came from his wife, so my dad turned it over to her. And she laid into me today, telling me how disappointed and troubled she is, that I’m trying to get them to register a lien on an already fully mortgaged house. She seems to have spun this around into me further taking advantage of them. And she’s laying it on thick and heavy.

Sadly, there’s nothing she can say or do to make feel worse than I’m already feeling. She cannot rake me over the coals anymore than I’ve already raked myself. I’ve lived in the depths of utter despair. Suicide had been a serious contemplation for months.

The money was given by them against my future inheritance, and it was given without a repayment plan. As the house increased in value, so to did their share. And whatever the value of the house was at the time of their demise, that was to be taken from my inheritance. We all signed papers to that effect, without lawyers.

And now my step-mother feels cheated, hurt and angry, and deserving an explanation. And I stand here in my midlife knowing that I’ve screwed up beyond repair. I’ve squandered my future, and I’ve also damaged my daughter’s financial future. My relationship with my husband is strained. And while the money was given with an initial intention of being permanent and without payment, it turns out there are tremendously thick strings attached. So when all this is said and done and put squarely behind me, when I can finally laugh about, “Oh, and remember the time where I got screwed over by … hahaha oh wasn’t that something,” I am determined to get this last financial monkey of my back. No idea how I’m going to do it yet, but I am going to pay that woman back and free myself from the burden of her disappointment. And firmly close that door behind me.

So the disintegration of family begins. Bankruptcy is truly just the beginning. And as far as the first day of my 47th year in life goes, it truly sucks.

I’ll keep you posted, because the only thing I have left is my story. And maybe it can help someone else travelling this same path beside me. Or prevent someone from going down that path in the first place.

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So there’s this company out there called Butterfly Global. The actual website has come and gone, and the only thing still in existence seems to be a Facebook fan page.

It’s somewhat obscured, but the main driver behind it is a fellow by the name of Bret Treadwell.

When I first started down this “rabbit hole” in 2007, I was introduced to LOA, financial wealth “education” and Bret Treadwell (at the time, known under the ABF–or autobiographical feedback– banner). It was all new to me. I hadn’t heard of Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, James Arthur Ray, Jack Canfield or any other of their ilk. (In hindsight, I was better off NOT knowing about them. Oy, the tuition of life….)

Bret Treadwell was introduced to me by the people running the “Financial Wealth Seminars” I was attending.

In his intro (which as in all LOA Guru cases is free), Mr. Treadwell tells the story of being inspired by God. He was taken (up) by God who told him many a secrets, and told him the ultimate way that people can hypnotize themselves into a state of permanent happiness.

It was a secret method used by the monks, the mere human was told. And then God whispered in his ear and told him this:

The monks had a secret. The monks had a system of anchoring all positive messages into everything they saw. When I am done with you, you too will know this system. And it will become incumbent on you to pass this along to all other plebes who deign to give you thousands of dollars for the secret.

The secret, God went on to say, is to anchor you messages into numbers. For numbers are all around you. And whenever you see a number you will recall a particular message.

The number-system you need to know, God concluded, goes thus:

# Sound Example
1 S, Z, C, X city, xylophone
2 N, KN, GN know no gnome
3 SH, CH, J, G shame change john’s giant
4 B, P better pay
5 R run
6 T, D to do
7 M money
8 K, C, X, Q, G kissing cats exist quit God
9 F, V, Ph for various pharmaceuticals
0 L, Th love that
Vowels, YHW and ING are free

This system is then further anchored into body and into a total of seven different places. For each additional layer of depth, another tuition must be paid.

I admit it. I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. I paid something like $10,000 to attend this fellow’s “university.” In hindsight, I now know he is essentially teaching a re-packaged version of Tony Robbin’s NLP (neurolinguistic programming) melded together with Deepak Chopra’s enlightenment spiel, using T. Harv Eker’s train the trainer style. This fellow has done the circuit as a student and now figures that he too can teach it. Any why not? Really, Jack Canfield, James Arthur Ray, Byron Katie, they’re all knock-offs from the same system, just each brings in her or his own twist.

Here’s the kicker though. Years after I paid this fellow (and he consequently fizzled and died and is nowhere to be found on the Internet), I find what’s called the Mnemonic Major System, which has been around for about 500 years now. I stumbled upon it quite by accident. You see, I had paid Treadwell Technologies several thousands of dollars for a wide range of courses. I had taken the free one, and a second was eventually offered a few years later. So I set out to find him on the Internet. And I did it by plugging in his trademarked system, using the numbers 0-9 to copy all the constant sounds in our alphabet.

You can image my shock (and yes, dismay that I’d been had) when I stumbled across this Mnemonic Major System (MMS).

It goes something like this:

Numeral Associated Consonants Mnemonic
0 s, z, soft c “z” is the first letter of zero. The other letters have a similar sound.
1 d, t d & t have one downstroke and sound similar (some variant systems include “th”)
2 n n has two downstrokes
3 m M has three downstrokes and looks like a “3” on its side
4 r last letter of four, also 4 and R are almost mirror images of each other
5 l L is the Roman Numeral for 50
6 j, sh, soft “ch”,
dg, zh, soft “g”
a script j has a lower loop / g is almost a 6 flipped over
7 k, hard c, hard g,
hard “ch”, q, qu
capital K “contains” two sevens
8 f, v script f resembles a figure-8. V sounds similar. (some variant systems include th)
9 b, p p is a mirror-image 9. b sounds similar and resembles a 9 rolled around
Unassigned Vowel sounds, w,h,y These can be used anywhere without changing a word’s number value

So really, this one fellow’s “divine intervention” and subsequent conversation with God turns out to be a re-organization of a 5 century old system that I can only assume he found and thought he’d tweak, and sell back to the hungry masses.

MMS

Numeral

Associated

Consonants

Treadwell’s # X-ref

with MMS

0 s, z, soft c l, th (#5)
1 d, t s, z, soft c (#0)
2 n n, kn, gn (#2)
3 m sh, ch, j, g (#6)
4 r b, p (#9)
5 l r (#4)
6 j, sh, soft “ch”,

dg, zh, soft “g”

t, d (#1)
7 k, hard c, hard g,

hard “ch”, q, qu

m (#3)
8 f, v x, c, x, q, g (#7)
9 b, p f, v, ph (#8)
Unassigned: Vowels, w,h,y Free: Vowels, w,h,y

In trying to find out why Butterfly Global had dropped out of the Internet Universe (okay, so I could find cached bits, but nothing current), I came across this posting (which is also copied here and here), which reads:

This is a response to this question: (1) Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins are all great. So is Michael Beckwith. However there is a “new guy” on the scene that I should warn anyone about…he name is Bret Treadwell and he is the founder of a website named Butterfly Global. This is a guy you should be aware of and be careful with, unless getting sucked into paying a ton of money to a guy with right wing political apsirations is your thing. See below:

As someone who knew Bret Treadwell (and this whole Butterfly Global project/website – AKA Treadwell Technologies) for many years I can honestly say that despite the outward appearance of th Butterfly Global website, there is another agenda. Bret Treadwell told me personally when he was working in landscaping and housesitting on Whidbey Island in 2001 that he seeks to “become a multi-millionaire within 5 years”. Well, that clearly didn’t happen. He told me then that his ultimate goal was to “never work again”. Back then he kep living in other people’s homes, suriving on his charisma and ability to charm others. He rarely “worked” and in fact bragged to me that it was amazing that he could get pretty much everything he needed without actually have a job.

Although I was his friend, it was clear to me then that his aim was to re-package Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and others and “re-sell it”. What is more disturbing is that he also has a political agenda that is far right of the Tea Party activists, although he will rarely admit this publicly. I used to be his close friend. When I questioned his agenda and methods on Facebook, he quite aggressively attempted to silence me by sicking his “followers” on me, and when that didn’t work, he blocked me. Open debate was not invited, au contraire, it was discouraged, but in the must cunning of ways. “I invite debate” he would say – all the while enticing his loyal lemmings to verbally assault every quesiton I posed…and over time the effect of my questions was interferring with his attempt to bring in new followers, so I was blocked.

I never thought I would ever find myself warning anyone in the world about another person I know. However one of his ex-students wrote to me recently on Facebook and said, and I quote “I just spent a buttload of money on this guy, and discovered sadly that he simply reconditioned a bunch of other people’s work, sold it as “revolutionary” and when all was said and done, I was like “oh my god, what a con artists”. I wish I knew in advance, but self-help people are like boxed surprised, you never know if you are getting the real deal or a bunch of repeats at a premium cost. Only afterwards do you really see what just happened. I am sure some people like his “stuff” because Bret Treadwell is like any con artist, charismatic, talkative, controlling and he never lets you see it. He makes you think he is on your side, as his hand is in your pocket. Oh well, lesson learned!”

…So beware folks. As they say in the used car business, “buyer beware”. I used to be a close friend of this guy, and if he was simply reselling other people’s stuff and making money, I would probably not say a word. It is his life, his karma. But when he uses that money to then support right wing politicians, the outrageous tea party folks and crazy Ron Paul – all in the guise of being a self-help expert, then I think he is doing more harm than good.

Bret Treadwell and (his Butterfly Global project) is nowhere resembling “guru-status”, but is instead a salesman operation, a very charismatic, self-absorbed, very deceptive salesman operation. As I said above, “buyer beware”.

Noah Levine

I have a few concerns with the posting. First, I disagree that Chopra and Robbins are “good” gurus. It’s all snake oil as far as I’m concerned. Second, I’m not too sure that “Noah Levine” is the actual name associated with the writings.  But having said that, it echoes my own findings, that he is a copy-cat guru, selling a system loosely wrapped into a garb that’s over 500 years old.

Here’s the cached information from “Butterfly Global”

Hailed as the “Darwin of Personal Development” Bret Treadwell is best known for his contributions to the fields of human potential, peak performance and spiritual development with his proprietary integration processes of Autobiographical Feedback™ (ABF) and the Language of Enlightenment™ (LOE). Both of these integration systems are designed to create ‘instant’ as well as ‘sustainable’ change for individuals and the collective consciousness of people worldwide.

Bret’s work comes from a deep desire to significantly contribute to humanity through the fields of cellular biology, body-mind communication and conditioning, self healing, social engineering, psychoneuroimmunology, theoretical physics, the neural linguistic sciences and cell regeneration. In addition to his breakthrough ‘integration processes’ Bret also works diligently to create community support systems designed to assist his clients, himself and society as a whole through the emotional, physical and psychological challenges of personal growth.

At age 25 Bret was inspired to sell his first business and begin putting attention on his life purpose and hearts passion when he was told he had softball-sized tumor in his back. For the next 10 years Bret focused on the study of self-healing, peak performance and the creation of Autobiographical Feedback™ and the Language of Enlightenment™ in order to address what he saw as a ‘soft spot’ in the personal development industry and a way to contribute to humanity as a whole.

Bret recognized an undeniable abundance of great information that had the ‘potential’ to affect a more common experience of personal and global empowerment, yet he also witnessed that the ability to realistically and sustainably integrate that knowledge was leaving clients and instructors in the industry with results far beneath the potential of what was offered.

In 2002 Bret set out to BETA test Autobiographical Feedback™ and the Language of Enlightenment™ in order to see if what he had created could be a contribution to what he saw as the ‘soft spot’ in the industry and a benefit to peoples lives. In 2007, after 5 years of BETA testing across the US and Canada Bret saw that what he had created had the potential to do everything he had hoped for and more. Bret took the next few years off in order to refine and improve the support systems within ABF™ and LOE™, launch his new business Butterfly Global and spend time with his young boys Percival and Cincinnatus Treadwell.

For over 2 decades Bret has had the honor and privilege of working with organizations and individuals from all walks of life, including investment banking, indigenous peoples, military and police leadership academies, “at risk” and youth leadership programs, Fortune 500 companies and rehabilitation facilities across the board.

Bret has shared the stage with many peak performance leaders including Dr. Deepak Chopra, Mark Victor Hansen and John Assaraf. In addition to working from the platform Bret has also co-stared in the educational movie “Pass It On!” with Dr. Denis Waitley, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen and is included in the best selling anthology “Seizing Your Success!” with Greg Reid, Wayne Dyer, and John Assaraf.

Certified in a wide variety of change technologies and recognized as an expert in how the human body-mind interacts with the biological and cosmological rhythms. Bret lives a lifestyle that is congruent with the message that he shares. His idealistic intentions, willingness to fail, steadfast commitment to excellence and consistent action both on and off the stage are what separate him from the pack, draw attention to his message and set a standard for humanities potential.

Bret has dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man.

Behind the Scenes at Butterfly Global

It takes a tribe and Butterfly Global is no exception. Along with Bret  the visionary and creator, Tanja Diamond and Max Bellasys are in the background of Butterfly Global.

The technology behind Butterfly Global is so immense and pioneering that it has taken many starts and stops and different people’s input to will it into existence.

After many years of attempting to get Butterfly Global to fly Bret met Tanja and Max.

Tanja Diamond is Bret Treadwells’ right hand woman at Butterfly Global. Tanja is the Project Manager, marketing director and confidant.  Tanja brings a very unique skill set to the project as a life strategist and business/marketing consultant. She is the creator of Tantra for Business ™ www.tantraforbusiness.com and Modern Tantra ™ and is a co-owner with Max of www.Diamota.com

Max Bellasys owner of StarLogic Systems www.starlogicsystems.com, and Head Above Code www.headabovecode.com is a  technology systems architect. Max is the  needed brilliance to bring Bret’s dreams of the Geronimo system into action.

You will be seeing more and more of the amazing technology ButterflyGlobal has to offer in the future. Stay tuned as we bring you one of the most amazing systems for human transformation there is on the planet.

The makings of a false god. Watch for the trappings. Fought immortality and won. Selfless, though charges copious amounts for redundant information. Stolen wares. Heightened claims (not too sure who calls him the Darwin of Self-Development!).

I guess my point here is really do your research before spending money stupidly in pursuit of wealth. Much of the crap out there is repackaged stuff, and if you look into what it is that the so-called originators are preaching, you can find a ton of cracks in their logic.

Or, you can do what I did. Spend like an idiot. Then look on stupidly afterwards and wonder how in the hell you’re going to explain it. And look to see if you can find a cheap saddle in a second hand store so that you can actually afford to get back on to your horse — your own goddamn horse — and move just one step forward today.

Addendum

Mr. Treadwell was also a small contributor to a virally-intentioned book called Seizing Your Success[1]. You can read his two page auto-biographical story here. Note the shared attributes of all the other gurus: childhood suffering, severe adolescent rebellion, extreme “street smart” (this becomes the official “degree” for many, see Bill Bartmann), despair, whispers of suicide (aka wandering on the cliffs, contemplating one’s future) and the intervention of God saying something divinely beautiful, finding the one true path to happiness, and teaching it to others.

Note that I do not think Mr. Treadwell is an evil monster. I don’t think that of any of the gurus. I honestly think that each believes they are doing good for others, and have no issue with reaping the financial rewards. And there’s nothing wrong with reaping financial rewards either. But I do think that each is susceptible to mis-interpreting their own existence with that of God, or at the very least, a divine messenger of God’s. A critical self-analysis might turn up a success rate of less than 5%.[2] These gurus typically blame it on the student.

The reason why I am posting this really is so that those contemplating this path of self-development, and those deigning to do an ounce of research before they spend wads of money, don’t get sucked in as I did. Bret Treadwell is one name among many. I can’t blame a person for pursuing wealth on easy street because if we were all honest with ourselves, we too would be beating down that door. What I can do, though, is to put out a warning flag for the consumer.

If you brought a book written in ink that only 5% of the population could see, you’d demand your money back. If you purchased a product that worked only for 5% of those who bought it, or went on a cruise that could only house 5% of those who paid … well, you get the picture. Yet, for some reason we think this is different.

It’s not.

There is a gem in what each of these gurus offer. And these gems are readily available everywhere. These fellows (and ladies) know how to hide it behind a veil of secrecy and then charge $2,000 to $10,000 to $sky’s-the-limit for the unveiling of these secrets.

And let them. That’s the nature of capitalism. They have that right.

But you don’t need to buy it. You can surf the Web, you can buy a $20 book, you can go to the free information seminars. Just leave your credit cards at home…

NOTES

1. Throughout the Web you’ll find notes claiming that he “co-authored” this book, but really, his is a two-page essay inclusion. Co-authoring, in my books, is about sharing the writing of an entire book, not contributing two pages.

2. Apparently, Tony Robbins still “winces” that only 5% of his students get it.

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