James Ray Tragedy and the Price of Transformation
When I read about the sweat lodge deaths at the event hosted by James Arthur Ray (“The Secret”) , I was saddened. My heart goes out to him, his well-intentioned program and those who suffered and died. This story is tragic beyond the lives lost, but of a greater failure in the self-improvement industry as a whole. Searching for a cure for life’s ailments, whether physical, mental or spiritual, people are desperate for happiness and there are plenty of willing gurus who promise the key and charge you top dollar for a ticket to a better life.
The participants spent about $9,000 per ticket for the transformational weekend and I couldn’t help but wonder if the attendees believed they were buying their way to enlightenment. In our society, we all want to lose weight, find our soul mate, and get a million dollar check by doing the minimum amount of work. Whether it is an ab-lounger, a special attraction perfume or a lottery ticket, we are ready and willing to purchase the results if it comes quick and easy. I am not coming from a place of judgment, but from experience. I spent tens of thousands of dollars myself over the past twenty years to discover the secret to life and was mostly disappointed because my expectations were so unreasonable. There was always a disconnect with the promise and the results.
Honestly, real life shifts can be hard. You buy the exercise machine and never use it, you get your self-hypnosis programs but complain you do not have the time to listen to them and continue to buy those lottery scratch-offs hoping that today will be your lucky day. Some people do make the effort to try to work-out a few times but stop right away because they are not seeing the results fast enough.
The same process is witnessed in so-called transformational workshops or retreats. You feel so pumped up afterward and those good feelings last about a week. Then, you return to your old routine, do not follow-up with the recommended homework and then tell your friends, “Ah, that workshop did not work for me.” You blame the teacher or the method and dwell on the money you have wasted. Little did you know that you were set up for failure when you thought the workshop was supposed to do something to you and you were going to leave as a new person with a new life with minimal effort on your part.
Most of the experts have good intentions but fail to communicate that you need to do some work too. Claiming that attaining happiness and enlightened way of being is as fast as following their five simple steps, many people end up thinking that something is wrong with them when the program doesn’t work.
The real secret is that there is no easy button to get your dream life without your involvement. You cannot simply listen to a visualization program once and all of a sudden attract your true love or the job of your dreams. The subconscious mind does not like to change and it takes time and effort to allow your so-called new, improved self to gel into a different reality. The self-help industry has done a poor job of communicating this important fact. Changing behavior and thoughts take practice and work. Most people are not up for it.
So let this story be a wake-up call for both the students and the teachers. A true inner journey takes patience and time. Workshops are great and can truly be helpful, but be prepared to roll up your sleeves afterward to carry the momentum for lasting transformation. The sacred path is not for the weary but is filled with wisdom, life’s true riches. You will discover that the magic element has always been inside of you and it comes included in your life’s package.