By now, the news about the three deaths at a “sweat lodge” in Sedona is growing stale.  In a quest to become “Spiritual Warriors”, too many people entered a structure that may or may not have been built properly, apparently spent too much time in intense heat, and as the ceremony concluded, it appears that half of them succumbed to the conditions.  Normally, I would not be following this with much interest and most likely that is how most feel.

I have to admit that I have been searching for everything I can find about this story, but there is an explanation.  The self help guru who put on this event called “Spiritual Warrior” is a man named James Arthur Ray.  He has been on Oprah and was seen in the movie “The Secret” which is all about the Law of Attraction.  He came to Colorado Springs last spring, offering a free seminar, and I attended.  So did several of my friends and acquaintances.

The free seminar was, naturally, designed to attract people to James Ray’s very costly seminars, only one of which is “Spiritual Warrior”.  There was loud music with a pounding beat, lots of high energy, and promises that our lives would be changed.  Two of my friends signed up for the seminar he was promoting called Harmonic Wealth.  One later signed up for two subsequent workshops.  I cannot say whether or not the lives of these friends has been changed for the better, but I can say that I was not very comfortable in the presence of this “guru”.   Yes, I am a skeptic.

Now, I am not certain that James considers himself a guru but that is the title that has been attached to his name by the media.  I do know that he appears to be a highly successful and influential man who struck me as a true salesman.  I walked away from the free seminar with two strong impressions:  1. the teachings of James Ray appeared to be putting money before God, and 2. this was not in alignment with my spiritual belief that puts God before everything (God first and God only).  While he seems to be considered a spiritual teacher, it appears that he has created great personal wealth by offering his brand of enlightenment.

To me, the point of the spiritual quest is to reconnect with God and the oneness of everything.  It seems that anybody who claims to have the answers and will only share them upon receipt of payment for them (to the tune of thousands of dollars) may not be living in the Light.  Currently, there is a huge shadow hanging over James Arthur Ray.  One of the first things he apparently said at a free introductory seminar held after the tragedy was that he (James) was being “tested”.  I think the test is to truly learn how to live in the Light, remain in integrity, and learn to transcend the place of Ego.