Self-Help Guru James Ray Arrested

jamesray-0608We have been following the criminal investigation into the deaths at a sweat lodge run by self-help guru James Ray. Ray has now been arrested Wednesday and charged with manslaughter in deaths of three people at the Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.

His temporary self-help zone will be the Camp Verde Detention Center.

There were roughly 65 people attending Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” program at the Angel Valley Retreat Center near Sedona in October. They spent two hours inside the sweat lodge — in addition to the three deaths there were 20 others who fell ill.

This may all be a bit of a distraction for Ray’s spiritual evolution. He tells followers that “[y]our gut instincts tell you life is not really meant to be a struggle, yet you’ve been brainwashed to think that only sweat and hard work will get you where you want to be. Here’s a better way…” He may have to struggle a bit longer with this one, though the Constitution allows for self-help through self-representation.

On a related subject, I will soon be offering self-help courses on spiritual awakening through the criminal process: “Use Criminal Charges to Take Charge of Your Life” and “It is not about the felonies but what the felon needs.” For just $50,,000 a person, I can put you in a segregation cell for your own path to self-realization and personal acquittal.

For the full story, click here.

19 thoughts on “Self-Help Guru James Ray Arrested”

  1. My 17 year old son and I did a couple of sweat lodges in New Mexico this summer. The cost: nothing. Leave something of value if you received something of value from the experience. We left tobacco and chopped wood for the fire…

    Religion, spiritual awakening, etc., are free.

  2. RJ,

    What you propose does not seem to make people any money. What is wrong with your ideal is basically wrong in the entirety. You must be the UNAMERICAN’S the I hear about so much. Please. Stop this dribble, we need the money to stimulate the economy. You see it was not the subprime mortgages that caused the economy to collapse. I heard this on FOX News so it has to be true.

  3. Hi,
    It is a tragedy as to what happened at the Sweat with James Ray. While sad, I don’t believe that he is the only one responsible. There were grown people there who went against their better judgment and either fell ill or passed on. To hold him soley responsible is crazy.
    I have attended many Sweats and they are of tremendous value when used for the correct purpose. When white men come into the traditions of Others and try to use it without proper leadership, this is what happens. Now the Sweats must be purified for their true use of Purification and Spirituality rather than for what it was used for that day.
    Clearly it was out of order. James Ray should answer for what he is responsible for and so should the others.


  4. I attended a 2-day $1,100 event with this man, attrended by 900 people. James Ray is the son of an Oklahoma bible belt minister. He runs a whoop it up event hoping to get you dizzy and hand over your credit card. A large portion of each day was spent trying to upgrade you to the $9,000 and $18,000 events. He was ignored by girls and bullied by boys in High School. He need for attention is so great that he has 2 jumbotrons on either side during his talk. They include picures of him with Tony Robbins, at the Pyramids and lots of semi nude photos in body building poses. he does a doggie dance on stage which is little more than copulation. he tells everyone that he is not in a relationship but hopes to make love REAL SOON. he pitches the girls, bullies the boys and shakes money out of everyone. None of his ideas are his own nor does he practice them. His professional background is in sales and marketing. He states that money is a yard stick and your value to the planet can be measured by your tax return. I hope this huxter does serious time and is sued into poverty.

  5. Your blog is hilarious. It’s nice to have a good laugh in light of this very, very sad tragedy.

    I have attended hundreds of sweat lodge ceremonies led by a people who were trained by elders, who were trained by their elders, etc. All of these people who led the sweats said the following: money is NEVER involved in the sacred ceremonies, the leaders are not”gurus”, and the leaders’ responsibilities are many, including the well-being of all participants.

    I read the JR’s attorney’s letter to the prosecutors and I thought it was well written and explained many things. (White page 1 and White page 2)

    I believe this is still a case of criminal negligence because it was JR’s responsibility to ensure EVERYONE was doing okay on a frequent basis during the sweat.

    During our sweat ceremonies, the leader often asks: “How’s everyone doing?”. He does so in between rounds and during rounds.

    Not addressing someone who as passed out during the ceremony is negligent because a person who is doing this in the first place should be knowledgeable and well trained or should not be doing this at all.

    Mr. Turley, having a legal background, what is your prediction of the outcome of this trial?

  6. Prof Turley,

    I graduated from your law school in 2003 :: I was wondering if it was too late to ask for a refund?

    I write a blog about Internet ConMen :: so I’d like to sign up to be an affiliate for your “Take Charge” program. I think I could move some units!

    I’d like to point out that someone also died at a Ray seminar in San Diego this July :: :: and that James and his staff covered up the death. Colleen had signed up and paid for the “Spiritual Warrior” event … but she died first. Still no refund from JRI for any of the events she attended … or could not attend because she was dead.

    @JohnCurtis :: you leave that same comment on every story about Ray. Is this really a situation to be exploited for personal gain? Don’t answer that question … it was rhetorical.

  7. “I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” – George Carlin

  8. It’s easy to vilify Mr. Ray and applaud his arrest! Now, at least, he will be tried in court and made to face the consequences of his actions… but what of the REST of the self-help “industrial complex?”

    I respectfully submit that we (consumers and producers of self-help) establish the “Association of Self-Help Professionals” or whatever name seems most appropriate to elevate the professional and protect the public.

    All that is lacking now is the motivation and leadership. If you consider yourself a self-help expert OR if you are a consumer of self-help products, I urge you to consider working together to turn the Sedona Sweat Lodge deaths into a legacy that salutes the virtuous work of the earliest self-help experts like Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carneige, honors the efforts of legitimate, self-help professionals of today, and turns the deaths of those who died in the Sedona Sweat Lodge… Liz Neuman, Kirby Brown and James Shore into a legacy for the betterment of the self-help profession and society.

    Any help you can provide in this regard would be greatly appreciated!

    John Curtis, Ph.D.
    Americans Against Self-Help Fraud

    “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it” – George Bernard Shaw

  9. I was going to mention NLP, but Anonymous beat me to it. Good show.

    NLP and cybernetics are the sciences behind practical mind control (NOT bionics – that’s a different subject from “cybernetics” proper).

    I suggest all readers learn more about these subjects.

    You’ll never look at organized religion, advertising, branding or the news media in the same light again. Not to mention how it affects your perception of propaganda.

    Words have power. Learn to defend yourselves from the “Dark Arts”.

  10. Of course the willing participants have to accept the consequences of their decisions. Some paid the ultimate price. But that does not excuse Jimmie Ray for his arrogance and negligence (at best), and yes, it may very well be criminal.

    Prior to the pseudo sweat lodge, participants were subject to fasting (food and fluids), sleep deprivation and exposure to the elements overnight. Their judgment was seriously impaired, and Jimmie Ray knew this. (Jimmie Ray was not subject to the same physical and mental deprivations).

    Consequently, the physical stress of the pseudo sweat lodge would affect them quicker and more severely. Some (perhaps all) did try to leave; one fell in the hot rocks in the process. But by the time they realized it was a problem, it may have been too late.

    And while not physically impeding participants, Jimmie Ray wasted precious seconds ignoring their suffering, intimidating their would-be rescuers, and saying some really sociopathic things. As the sponsor, Jimmie Ray should have been the leader he claims to be, facilitating the rescue efforts. Even at the height of the crisis, Jimmie Ray did nothing to help, and continued to blow off the suffering all around him.

    The fact that Jimmie Ray’s previous pseudo sweat lodges had resulted in similar medical emergencies also tells us that he knew there was a problem. Native Americans had told Jimmie Ray there were serious problems and that he should stop, but Jimmie Ray continued.

    Finally, Jimmie Ray’s refusal to cooperate with authorities, and subsequent statements, demonstrates his lack of any sense of responsibility… including leaving one of the victims unconscious in the critical care unit as a Jane Doe for more than 24 hours, never notifying the family.

    Jimmie Ray has much to answer for.

  11. “If some Japanese self-help guru haphazardly stacked up a bunch of rocks to imitate a Gothic cathedral, then held a mock-Catholic mass where people drank rubbing alcohol, then had the “church” collapse on them, we wouldn’t say “people die in botched Catholic mass.” ”

    What if he was Italian?

    Just kidding, I love this analogy.

  12. To pass on an interesting comment I’ve found elsewhere:

    …Also interesting issues of mind control and thought reform. James Ray, like L. Ron Hubbard, was an experienced hypnotist. Ray also studied NLP and general mind-fuckery with Tony Robbins among others.

    It would be nice if the guru/cult leader fad went away after this. Thanks, Oprah.

  13. What are the precedents to this sort of case? From what’s been reported, he never restrained or physically prevented people to leave the faux sweat lodge, nor did he threaten people if they tried to leave. He just “told” them to stay.

    Is this where the distinction between manslaughter vs. murder comes in? Would I be right in understanding that he created a very dangerous situation and then encouraged people to do something that he should have known was dangerous?

    (By the way, from what I’ve heard, we should not be calling this “a sweat lodge ceremony” or “a sweat lodge.” Apparently , this was at best an imitation of a sweat lodge ceremony held in a poorly constructed imitation of a sweat lodge. If some Japanese self-help guru haphazardly stacked up a bunch of rocks to imitate a Gothic cathedral, then held a mock-Catholic mass where people drank rubbing alcohol, then had the “church” collapse on them, we wouldn’t say “people die in botched Catholic mass.” We would use qualifiers like “imitation of” and “mock” to clarify that is was problematically in-authentic.)

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