News Commentary: Death follows author of The Secret


Recently the Star Tribune posted an article about Liz Neuman who died while attending a New Age retreat which uses sweat lodges and billed itself as a spiritual warrior retreat.   The primary focus seems to be on the large number of people involved in the sweat lodge ritual.  She is the third person to die during self-help guru James Arthur Ray’s retreat.

James Arthur Ray is a self-help guru promoted by Oprah Winfrey. He is the author of Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want and The Secret. There also has been a movie made promoting The Secret in which James Arthur Ray also appears.  He promotes the new age concept of Law of Attraction which generally is about directing your thoughts to think positively about what you want.

Now according to a New York Post article these recent deaths are not the first time trouble has followed James Arthur Ray.  In July of 2009, Colleen Conaway committed suicide by jumping off a mall balcony. James Arthur Ray also was reported to bully a women into shattering her hand at one of his seminars. 

The recent incidents have police considering charges.  In a recent article, a least one witness has come forward describing the events of the retreat as purposeful deprivation and embracing suffering.  It was all a focus on “mind of matter” that is part and parcel to the “law of attraction” mindset of James Arthur Rays teaching.  It seems the central tenet is that in order to overcome anything hindering you from what you want, you need to train your mind to overcome suffering.

Some of the focus on what went wrong at the retreat pertains to the construction of the sweat lodge.  Certainly the sweat lodge design may have contributed to the tragedy.  Yet the mindset and teaching of James Arthur Ray contributed significantly to the deaths and injuries suffered.  Cries of warning and signs of distress were ignored.   This is really because the teaching center on using the mind to control the universe. A central tenant the law of attraction is that life is illusory. You can get what you want by focusing your thoughts. You can overcome barriers by controlling your mind and thinking.  You can even overcome felt suffering by controlling you mind. These teachings are not new and are central to many eastern and new age religious practices and constructs. 

James Arthur Ray has turned such teachings in to  a well marketed means of income generation.  The ill-fated retreat is one costing attenders at least 10,000 grand.  He has sold millions of books, well aided by Oprah and other celebrity endorsements.  James Arthur Ray certainly has gotten what he has wanted.  Yet, James Arthur Ray star is now fading because of these deaths. It was recently reported that his publishing firm has delayed upcoming book releases due to the recent tragedy.

It is the position of this blog writer, that James Arthur Ray is more than just a slick con man separating fools from their money.  There are very real spiritual elements going on.  Now while the focus here is on fulfilling desires by training the mind, there are spiritual forces at work as well.  The spiritual practices embraced lead to opening doors to spiritual forces of darkness.  Death is around, because the forces behind The Secret and other such teachings want to destroy people.  There is always the promise of having desires fulfilled.  There is always promises of great success.  But the powers behind the words are all about destroying lives.  The suicide of the woman could be pointed at the psychological manipulations of James Arthur Ray, but in reality much darker elements were likely at work.  A clear indication of spiritual darkness at work was James Arthur Ray’s reaction to a sliver of light poking into the sweat lodge. It brought an angry outburst over light intruding on the religious ceremony.  What James Arthur Ray teaches is pure darkness.

Now there is an alternative to the teachings of James Arthur Ray.  The alternative though is not about getting what you want or having your desires met.  The alternative is about achieving true peace.  The alternative is about a spiritual power far greater.  The alternative is the Gospel.  The alternative is Jesus the Messiah.  The only true peace is found in being reconciled with the creator, and being right with God.  What James Arthur Ray offers in training your mind to deny suffering.  What Jesus and God offers is peace in the midst of suffering.  What James Arthur Ray offers is getting what you want now. What Jesus and God offers is love and true life that is not about self, but about that which is far greater and everlasting.  The choice is always in front of you.  Turn to God or find ways to seek to elevate self.  One path is life, one path is death.

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