I was horrified when I heard of the deaths of the people in the Arizona sweat lodge. My husband was equally horrified because he knew that it was one practice I have been enjoying with some new and wonderful Native friends in the Dells. The people I practice with are very spiritual and the process is ritualistic from the heating of the stones to the entrance into the lodge. The entire process if filled with love and honoring of the Spirit that they call upon for the well-being and health of those entering and their families and friends.
My experiences have been life altering and beautiful. I gained an understanding of the true essence of the people I shared the experience with and learned a new way of healing and sharing. They had specific rules and guidelines from what you were allowed to wear to what you did once inside. The event cannot occur without certain Holy people present.
This life altering event cost me absolutely nothing but gained me world of new spiritual awakening.
The people in Arizona were not as fortunate in their experience as I. They paid $9695-a-person for a "Spiritual Warrior" retreat. This retreat left people scarred and three people dead. There is nothing spiritual in any of these things.
It is heart rendering that someone profits on stealing a sacred ritual and turning into a money making opportunity. I find it to be a disgrace for him to shame the Native American community and focus his opportunistic endeavors on their spiritual success and turn it into a question as to whether these practices are "safe."
Native Americans are not looking to profit from their spiritual activity. They are looking to help friends and family with a centuries old practice that has rules and guidelines. It is one of the practices they have kept through their generations of hardship in surviving the progression of being overthrown by greedy land developers and cheated out of their properties by over eager settlers relocating for whatever reasons in the 1800's.
James Arthur Ray was not looking to instill a new spiritual awakening in the people he converted, he was looking to make a profit with his charismatic presence. He spoke of being on top and how many material possessions he had and how he had to regain them after his loss.
Ray's lessons for spirituality come with a high price tag. His "Practical Mysticism" classes cost a whooping $5,295. What I find mystifying is that anyone believes that the only people that can help you become spiritually adept are the ones that make you pay so much for it. The price tag doesn't indicate a man wanting to help others as much as someone wanting to line his own pockets.
Spirituality is free, you just have to open yourself up to the possibility. Some of us may not be nearly as rich monetarily but we are rich in so many other areas of our lives. Money does not make you successful, it just give you the appearance of being so.
And not allowing people to leave when they felt too much pressure was negligent. Not allowing someone to help that had the proper training was criminal.