Feb 09 2013

James Arthur Ray: “Spiritual Warrior” Guru Sentenced to Prison

When writers resolve legal maneuvering to stop the publication of negative information, perhaps more will be known about the inner workings of personal growth weekends and their charismatic leaders.

If James Arthur Ray is an example, many of these leaders are more show than substance.This ABC video tells the story about how Ray manipulated his followers, then caused injury and death in his sweat lodge. His followers demonstrate how shocked his followers were by the incompetence and criminal neglect shown by Ray.

For Ray, his was the “big lie.” During his trial, his claims of expertise were proven to be lies and distortions. He really had no training in what he was doing, but had learned how to use his charm and ability to engage crowds in a way to make money. He knew the first rule in this game was to show your followers you knew what it took to be successful. Bluntly, you knew “The Secret” and would reveal it to them for a price.
Knowing several of the Chicago based version of this phenomenon, these individuals can be very charming and persuasive. They dress in role, whether new age jeans and silver bracelets or gucci loafers and big SUVS or flashy sports cars.

When you see them, you sort of think, “wow, they must know something I don’t…” The truth, though, is they know how to carry themselves and sell their biggest product, themselves. They can thrill you with attention and leave you wanting more or at least trying to figure out what you are doing with them.

In the USA, a large men’s program, The New Warrior Training Adventure, operated by the Mankind Project, has made an effort to create more transparency in its programs and reduce potential harm to participants. Still a client died on one of their programs and another committed suicide shortly after participating on a weekend.

Unlike Ray, no one on these weekends was arrested for negligence and while there were lawsuits and investigations, no charges were brought against any of the leaders of those particular programs.
When the guru is a psychotherapist or personal coach, the risk of harm gets amplified. Ray was convicted of negligent homocide in the deaths of three of his clients/followers. Prosecutors in the case wanted him to serve a total of 9 years, but the judge reduced the prison time to two years for each of the three counts of homocide to be served concurrently.

This means Ray will serve only two years in prison for the betrayal of trust which led to the deaths of three people who idealized him and paid exorbitant sums of money to attend his programs.

James Arthur Ray rose to fame via Oprah Winfrey’s interest in the “Secret”, a popular self-help movie and book. With Oprah’s seal of approval, Ray’s programs became more popular and costly.

Oprah has been strangely silent about her prodigy James Arthur Ray’s conviction on negligent homicide. I wonder what she really thinks.

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