I’m sure we’re all familiar with the trial of James Arthur Ray, a professional and motivational speaker who was indicted on three manslaughter counts for the sweat lodge deaths at his retreat on October 8, 2009. His teachings were described as “a mixture of spirituality, motivational speaking and quantum physics”. He labeled himself as the “practical mystic”. Critics say Ray is one who preys upon the insecurities of rich ones who are looking for meaning in life.
During the weeklong seminar in 2009 at the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Arizona, there was one activity that took place which included a sweat lodge. The sweat lodge consisted of a sweltering, over-heated, overcrowded, sauna-like tent with approximately 60 people crowded into it. The overall time inside the lodge was more or less two hours with a total amount of about 58 large heated rocks. Three participants died from heat exposure, organ failure and a number were treated.
Participants said they were not allowed to question Ray, “things were not optional you just did as you were told or were reprimanded in front of everyone” said one witness. Another witness testified that Ray said, “you had to meet death in order to overcome it”. It was also told that Ray had some type of mental or psycological ‘control hold’ over them that made them afraid to speak up or speak against his wishes, afraid of appearing to him as a failure! Some say the people were so mentally conditioned that they trusted his judgments over their own. One witness said personally, the purpose for attending these seminars was to seek and gain personal growth, wisdom, spiritual insight and enlightenment. They were told this “rebirthing ceremony” would result in a life-altering experience.
Ray has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in the death of the three self-help seekers and now sits in a jail with bond set at $5 million.
Many questions are left unanswered like why didn’t they just crawl out of the tent? Were they really afraid of this man and what he thought of them? Did they feel they had to live up to others expectations? Well as human beings we have a universal instinct to worship God and to meet certain standards that will better our future and eternal existence. Nature causes the birds to go north and south, the ants, the bees and all other creatures know by instinct how to carry out the creator’s plans on their own peculiar life for the future. Everything in creation obeys its natural instincts except for man! He is most capable of ‘choice power’ to better himself or not, now and forever. He has the most outstanding instincts to worship and prepare for eternal life. Is man the only creature that nature lies to and fools? Are the birds fooled and controlled by other forces whether not to fly north or south? What happened to following and seeking the creator? Since the creation of time the sun never fogot that it is to rise in the east and set in the west. The moon never gets confused over what its purpose is — it never shines during the day — it only shines at night as originally ordered…what happened to man’s divine order? Every creation has obeyed the Creator from the beginning and has not forgotten how — but we as humans appear to have become, in some way, confused over our created choices and natural instincs.
Christians are to be loyal to the universal principals of life, making righteous decisions (decisions that are based clearly on what is right and wrong) in both word and action; upholding standards that guide & encourage others.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:3