Tragic Legacy of “The Secret”

Like a lot of people who move to sunny California, I became swept up in the New Age craze the second my feet hit the ground at LAX. In 1984, when I arrived to attend school, I was consumed with anything and everything American. My dad’s girlfriend at the time followed a guru who claimed not to have eaten a morsel of food in 10 years. Even I knew this was impossible, but she shelled out big bucks to attend his seminars. She dragged me along too. They were deadly dull and frankly, a load of crap, but she believed in him…until he was caught at Denny’s eating an omelet and other lies were uncovered.

The 80s were a boom time for breeding, and often exposing false prophets. There were a ton of them. I can’t tell you how many channeling sessions I went to that were totally bogus. JZ Knight, who channeled an entity named Ramtha came under fire when Ramtha apparently urged Shirley MacLaine to buy race horses from Knight. MacLaine was at her height of nuttiness then with the past life stuff. I say nutty, because it’s apparently okay for Shirley to have past lives, but when I watched a stranger approach her at a seminar saying they’d met in another life, she became unglued.

I’ve been to a lot of seminars, mostly under duress. I blogged last year about the birthday gift I received of a visit with the Hugging Guru, whatever her name is.

Look, whoever, whatever floats your spiritual boat is okay I guess, unless you die from it. I have my beliefs, my God. I am Greek Orthodox and a practicing Buddhist who also studies Hawaiian religion and philosophy (I’m doing my Masters in this subject). It’s plenty for me…but, but…but…I too became enamored of ‘The Secret’ when it swept the Internet a couple of years ago. I particularly liked Esther Hicks and went to hear her teach about Abraham, but like so many other ‘gurus’ I was stunned at the hefty prices she charged. Also, I am sad to say, I was surprised by her gruff manner with her fans. She was plain rude and these people had shelled out a couple grand for the privilege of meeting her.

In my quest for spiritual truth, I’ve attended sweat lodges and had profound experiences. So I was shocked to learn of two deaths on Thursday in a sweat lodge conducted by ‘The Secret’s’ breakout star James Arthur Ray.

I was appalled to read news stories stating that participants of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat shelled out $9,000 and in some cases $10,000 for the chance to work with him.

I paid exactly nothing to attend the sweat lodges I went to – with actual Native American Shaman – and nobody died in the process.

Kirby Brown and James Shore died as a result of being confined in the overcrowded, makeshift sweat lodge in Sedona, NM. 19 others were hospitalized suffering from burns, dehydration, respiratory arrest, kidney failure and elevated body temperature. One man is still in critical condition.

How is this possible? Ray, who apparently left the state and wouldn’t talk to the police, posted on his Twitter account that he was saddened and shocked by the deaths. Me, I am just aghast.

I undertook a grueling course in Hawaiian spirituality by an actual kahuna and never once had to worry about my well-being. I also did not pay thousands for the privilege, either.

“The Secret” had a powerful message about tapping inside ourselves and thinking positive thoughts for a life of fulfillment and prosperity. How in the world did this feel-good message morph into people being shoved into sweat lodges and dying – and paying beaucoup bucks for it?

What bothers me is the news report I read that said that as the conditions in the sweat lodge became unbearable, the participants were encouraged to stay. encouraged is probably an understatement. I’ve attended classes and workshops where bad things happened and the teachers urge you to push past discomfort and pain. I was in a drumming workshop at The Bodhi Tree with author Hank Wesselman when a woman collapsed on the floor in an epileptic fit and he KEPT DRUMMING!

It was a surreal moment and a few of us broke away from the group and helped the distressed woman. Wesselman should have stopped immediately, and i still wonder why he didn’t.

I have no idea how much experience James Arthur Ray has with sweat lodges, but somebody in charge should have realized there was a serious problem sooner.

Ray promised his course participants a spiritual adventure that would change their lives. I guess he really did.

Aloha oe,


One Response to “Tragic Legacy of “The Secret””

  1. It’s Sedona Arizona and a true sweat led by a real Indian Holy man knows how to run a sweat. What happened was cause mainly by greed. Charge huge amounts of money and cram as many people into the sweat lodge without thought of the people and their well being. Anyone who charges thousands of dollars to reach a spiritual oneness is insane. A fake. Sometimes we get so tired of people trying to be something or someone they are not and never will be. Look into your heart the truth lies within. Namaste

Leave a Reply