that's all i could do when i heard about the james arthur ray incident this morning. somehow i didn't hear about it at all back in october. i have a love/hate relationship with the news...
aside from the fact that the secret is woefully incomplete in its approach--as noted by imakhu mwt shekemet in her description of her cowrie blessings book--this is an example of what happens when cultural misappropriation and white privilege go terribly wrong.
ray's assertion that he "sought out" these methods does not mean he knew the proper prayers, incantations and ritual items to ensure that everyone involved in the ritual would be safe. not everyone who seeks knowledge is taught.
his website states that a "native american expert" was involved in the construction of the lodge, but...did ray divine and/or note omens to discern an auspicious time? invoke the proper energies? or did he just learn how to build the structure?
also a little interested in how he's drawing folks to a $9,000-a-head retreat but doesn't have bail money.
other than the loss of life and injuries incurred, my concern is that a centuries-old tradition of healing and renewal will now be maligned because of the actions of folks too arrogant to realize they didn't know what the fk they were doing.
or, if you prefer a more legalized statement:
There certainly may be potential criminal exposure for Mr. Ray and others in this case as well. Among the questions on prosecutorial review would be -- whether James A. Ray intentionally and/or knowingly inflicted harm upon retreat members -- and whether he was competent to hold such an event in the first place or fraudulently misrepresented his capabilities for his own personal profit...
Such issues seem to be inherent in the realm of self-appointed spiritual leaders.
In short, one cannot attempt to monetarily benefit from the exploitation of spiritual practices of other cultures without taking reasonable precautions to assure the safety of paying participants. A person such as Mr. Ray cannot self-appoint himself as the guru, adapt his own method of spiritual enlightenment and be insulated from the general laws of negligence that apply to such gatherings. The lack of medical personnel present, as well as the apparent disconnect between reality and what Ray saw as spiritual enlightenment bear this out. Ignorance can result in fatalities or severe injuries when foresight and exercise of due care are lacking. In Sedona, Arizona, thus far it appears the evidence shows that it was.