Thursday, November 28, 2013

James Ray Has Nowhere to Sleep

The rise of "New Age" philosophy in the last five decades can be viewed as a positive phenomenon. The gestalt of self-help, motivational psychology, holistic health and a distillation of global religions into a secular western approach fit our evolutionary pattern as we enter into the Age of Aquarius. Thomas Aquinas, roll over.

The gurus of the New Age offer a mixed bag of goodies: many ideas and the tools laid forth on the table of delights do have some usefulness in prying the western mind out of narcissism and self-doubt. But the price of grazing from this table comes at a cost, usually from one's bank account, but sometimes in a more horrific form.

James Ray models a worst-case scenario of faux teachers whose business savvy catapulted him to New Age stardom. His pricey $10,000 weeklong seminar ended with the death of three people in an overly heated sweat lodge. Literally roasted alive, they expired in the midst of a group motivated to expand their consciousness. (The bullshit meter moves off the charts on this one.)

The most interesting aspect of this case comes from a statement James Ray made on a nightly talk show. After spending 20 months in prison for manslaughter, he appeared to have genuine remorse. Nothing like being shackled by guards when showering, or losing all his millions, to make a man think. But he hasn't thought enough.

When asked by the TV host why he ran away from the site of carnage at his sweat lodge and didn't stay to help, he gave some nice pat answers about being scared and not perfect and that he listened to his lawyers advice. (Perhaps he never listened to his own conscience?) But the most astounding explanation that came out of this man's mouth even after his admission of hubris: he had been locked out of his hotel room by authorities and had nowhere to sleep.

James, did it ever occur to you to ask if you could share a room? Or perhaps sleep in a rolled up tarp on the ground next to the dying and sick ones, offering comfort? Have you ever tried to live like a homeless person to understand how they feel? Or gone on a camping trip at the very least?

On this Thanksgiving Day, perhaps he might reflect on all those who have nowhere to sleep and nowhere to eat. And lest this one who points the finger forget, she too shall try to remember that our comforts come at a cost. May we repay our gifts a thousandfold.

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