James Ray’s Harmonic Wealth & Sweat Lodge Tragedy

James RayI had actually rented from Netflix James Arthur Ray’s DVD called “Harmonic Wealth” at the end of July prior to the tragedy of a few people dying in a sweat lodge in Sedona at one of his events. I did not rent it out of any morbid curiosity, but rather I quite enjoy “The Secret” and I had actually attended an event here in San Diego where James Ray was pitching his Harmonic Wealth program.

However, the DVD sat in my pile untouched until about a week ago. For some reason I’ve just not been able to bring myself to put it in the DVD player and watch it. And when I finally did, I just watched about twenty minutes of it before I turned it off, then a couple days later resumed where I left off, paused again for another couple days and then finally finishing it off today. I just couldn’t do it in one sitting.

I think part of it is due to the fact that following the event I wanted to say hello to James Ray and give him a copy of a mix CD I made of songs that have a “Law Of Attraction” feel about them. I wanted to present a copy of it to James Ray as a thank you for the inspiration I got from his segments in “The Secret.” And when I finally got my opportunity to present it to him, he quickly handed it off to his assistant and asked me if I was going to come to one of his Harmonic Wealth weekends and I said that would not be able to do it at this time, he had absolutely no interest in me or my presenting him with a sign of my gratitude.

I guess I was a little disgusted with his response because he wasn’t getting money out of me right then and there and it’s certainly lessened my appreciation of him and his message. Had he have been a bit more gracious, I think I certainly would have considered attending one of his events because I did feel like he had information that I would like to learn. But since he was kind of an asshole to me, I definitely ruled out every giving him any money for a seminar event.

While the DVD sat in my pile, the whole tragedy where some people died during a sweat lodge component of one of his events, occurred and it definitely put an additional cloud of doubt in my mind of how much faith I should hold in his information. Afterall I had my negative experience when I met James Ray already hindering me and now some people who have put their faith in James Ray in the hopes of getting a spiritual awakening are dead as a result of the faith they placed in him and his teachings.

And now that I’ve watched the DVD, I’m just not sure what to think. I do think the information does have merit, but at the same time, I’m having a hard time getting past his being an asshole when I met him. He had complete disregard of me and my CD that I presented to him. It literally went from my hands into his and handed off to his assistant in less than twenty seconds. He didn’t even look at it, or really acknowledge that I had presented a token of my gratitude and then became even more dismissive of me when I wasn’t able to part with any of my money for his program.

By contrast, I had also had the opportunity to meet and present a copy of the CD to Bob Proctor, also from “The Secret.” a couple of weeks later and not only did Bob look at it, he even looked me right in the eye and thanked me for it, and asked if I had included my contact information with it. I hadn’t because I thought he might think that a bit too self serving, but he specifically asked me to provide it and gave me the opportunity to give him one of my business cards as well and he then thanked me again. I never did hear another thing from Bob Proctor if he ever listened to the CD or not, but in the moment, he was considerably more gracious than James Ray was and even though I was also unable to purchase Bob Proctor’s program that night, he was still very kind and generous with a few moments of his time. I have complete respect for Bob Proctor where I’m not so sure with James Ray.

So I’m just not sure what to think at the moment. Should I allow my negative experience with James Ray in person and the recent tragedy to be a reason to dismiss the message he has to offer? Or should I learn what I can from it? I just don’t know. I suppose deep down, my gut feeling is that his teaching is more profit driven than an actual desire to help people. But being profit minded doesn’t necessarily mean the information he offers is any less valid or true. So that is my dilemma of the day.



24 thoughts on “James Ray’s Harmonic Wealth & Sweat Lodge Tragedy”

  1. Ryan the difference you experienced is the difference between a Master – Bob Proctor and an Initiate. When I met Proctor, I had a similar experience. When I met Ray, ditto. I did not offer any gifts to either, but at least Proctor made eye contact and connected with me on a human level whereas to me Ray seemed shy and uncomfortable to be around people.

  2. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear my experience with James Ray and Bob Proctor are not unique. I couldn’t say that I found Ray to be shy and uncomfortable around people, he seemed over confident and pretty arrogant. But I can definitely agree with the feeling that I did connect with Proctor on a human level. Proctor was also complimentary about Raymond Aaron when I mentioned it was Aaron’s teachings that introduced me to The Secret and Proctor’s work. Very professional.

    Thanks again Terry for writing in a comment. I appreciate it.


  3. My pleasure Ryan. I personally think Ray over compensates for his shyness with his confidence. There’s a saying in the coaching world “if you spot it, you got it”. 😉

    According to my Briggs-Meyers profile, I personally in the 3% most introverted/shy people in the world. I also am a pretty good professional/inspirational speaker. I learned early on that as a speaker (in front of the room) allowed me to be on complete control and have people approach me. Whereas when I am part of the crowd, I’m awkward.

    I may be totally off on Ray, but he “presence” certainly seemed familiar to me…

  4. Ryan,

    James Ray has pieced together a program based on the work of others. He may present it in a way that speaks to you, but the message itself is nothing new (and much of it is highly manipulative). If there is anything in it that works for you, use it, but never, ever confuse the teacher with the teachings. Personally I think Ray is a sociopath, but lots of sociopaths have talents and value…you just can’t trust them as individuals. Van Gogh still made nice paintings.

    I saw Michael Beckwith recently in Detroit. $30 bought me three hours with him and his incredible wife, plus he gave us all a hardcover copy of his book for free. His message is no different (perhaps more faith-based, as he is a minister)but his demeanor is VERY different from Ray’s. Everyone has their flaws, but Beckwith never puts out an “I am better than you” quality that so many of these businessmen (and women) do. Beckwith also has training and education, while Ray only has a HS diploma and his background is in sales and marketing.

    Trust your instincts. Ray is so far removed from his own that he is responsible for destroying lives. And understand that no teacher has anything that you don’t have within you. Enlightenment is always free.

  5. Hi Ryan…

    Coming here may help solve your “Dilemna”. It’s not Ray’s message, by the way — since he is incapable of formulating any original thought whatsoever.

    We have spent hundreds of hours researching the man — and believe him to be as vile and low as they come.

    The bottom line is that your instincts about the man are 100% correct.

    For more insight, please visit our 2 Facebook pages…




    All the best,


  6. Hi Ryan,

    Check out Byron Katie. She teaches an extremely valuable technique and gives it away for free on her website. I also found her to be very loving and genuine in person.

    I think the vibes you detect form teachers is VERY important. If they give off a bad vibe means something is “off” with them or their lives. If that is the case I would question their teachings.

  7. Hello Ryan, What you experienced with James Ray is pretty much what I would have expected. As a former agent, consultant to the speaking industry and a speaker/author myself, I knew James early in his speaking career and personally witnessed, as well as experienced myself, his indifference to people unless an encounter served his own needs. It’s a shame, too, because with his charismatic persona, gift for oration, and the knowledge he possesses, he could have taken his career to an enduring place in the history of of some of the greatest speakers and authors, such as my dear friends Og Mandino and Wayne Dyer. Instead, James Ray chose greed, power and adulation over purpose. And now three people have died to prove where James’ goals exist. To serve himself first.

  8. Hi, Ryan,

    We often evaluate information by evaluating the source, and in general, this is a good idea. Get financial advice from someone with a history of success, not someone who’s destitute, etc. However, I think you can sometimes get good information from “jerks”, and there are perfectly wonderful people who will give you misguided, useless, awful information, or no information at all. I don’t think this needs to be a dilemna. There’s no reason to invalidate the good things JAR has done for people because of recent events, nor should all the good things he’s done excuse his irresponsibility in providing such an unsafe experience for his followers.

    Other than that, there’s plenty of good information around that’s much cheaper and safer to get than through JAR.

  9. Hello again Terry,

    Thanks so much for sharing your opinion of James Ray overcompensating for shyness. Thank you also for sharing your Briggs-Meyers personality profile type and how it affects your abillity to speak publicly with confidence. It does give a different perspective than the impression I got having met James Ray.

  10. Hi Chelsea,

    Thank you for your thought on James Ray. I agree that his program is pieced together from the works of others. I would expect that to be true of most self help programs. I liken it to how I describe religion, “same bullshit, different way of telling it.” It all comes down to which way of having the information taught to you resonates with you the most.

    I have not yet had a chance to see Michael Beckwith in person, but I get the feeling he would not give me the same kind of reaction I had to James Ray.

    Again, many thanks for your comment,


  11. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your information on James Ray and the links. I had no idea when I wrote this blog post that it was going to spark as many comments as it has generated. I appreciate your time to share some of the results of your groups research of him,


  12. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for suggesting Byron Katie, I’ve actually already been introduced to her techniques and have written two blog entries about my introduction to her materials. Click here to check out my blog entries about Byron Katie.

    Thanks again for checking out my blog and writing in a comment.


  13. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate your insight into your experiences with James Ray. I agree he definitely is charismatic and tells a good story, but his interpersonal interactions ultimately undermine where he could have taken his career had he have been more genuine in where he’s coming from.

    Thank you for taking the time to write in,


  14. Hi Liz,

    Thank you for your comment. I do agree that despite James Ray coming across as not the nicest person in the world, that he does have some information that is of value. I think the video was a good presentation, but based on my experience with James Ray, I wouldn’t want to invest more than $20 in anything from him in particular. The disaster that resulted in the deaths of a few of his followers is something that he will certainly have a challenge to overcome if he is going to continue soliciting people to attend his training events. I would hope the experience serves more as an eye opening for him on things he needs to do differently to regain the public’s trust.

    And yes, I do agree there is plenty of good information from other sources that are presented in cheaper and safer ways than James Ray has done.

    Again, thanks so much for writing in.


  15. This is interesting, because in early 2007, I went to a seminar to hand deliver a song I had written for James (recorded to CD), and he was very grateful for it. He looked into my eyes, touched my shoulder, and said “thank you” with meaning, and then later wrote me a hand written thank you note. It was a very powerful moment for me. I did end up taking two seminars with him – just as much as I needed. I had an intuitive feeling to stop going though, so I did.

  16. Hi Karen,

    It sounds like you met James right around the same time I did. It was in early 2007 as well. I’m glad to hear you had a better experience presenting your song to James than I had with the CD I had prepared. I think it does provide some nice counter-point to some of the other comments I’ve gotten so far. Had I have gotten a similar response, I would have later come back for a seminar when I could take one, but I did not, so ultimately I decided I wasn’t going to invest any of my money into any of his Harmonic Wealth Weekends.

    Thanks so much for a positive comment about James Ray.


  17. My guess is that Karen is an attractive woman. Just a hunch.

    Please do be careful with all Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGATs). I took est (Werner Erhard’s precursor to this whole movement)in the early 80’s, and strange things happen when you get large groups of people together, use sleep deprivation, fasting, and other controls to break down defenses, and provide an intense experience. By the end, you’re so open and suggestible. That’s when the pitch for the next (bigger, better, more pricy) experience comes in. It sounds like you’ve been smart enough to avoid these things so far, but please believe me when I tell you they are not worth the risk. Even if you have some kind of peak experience, it’s in a vacuum and will not, in the long run, change your life the way only you can.

  18. That is interesting! I guess you never know how people will respond at any given moment – plus I had dedicated the song to him. I did know when to stop seminars though – and I sensed intuitively early on that I didn’t have the right constitution for Spiritual Warrior, so I never took that class. I still feel like one of those people who knew not to get on an airplane that crashed. I imagine this incident has affected a lot of people!

  19. Hi Chelsea,

    I know what you mean about those high pressure environments, hell, anyone who’s attended a time share presentation has undergone one of those situations albeit without as much of the sleep deprivation, fasting, and intense experience. But I do know what it’s like to be suckered into an expensive seminar, so I can’t say I’ve been able to completely avoid the experience, but overall I don’t regret any of the events I’ve attended I just haven’t been able to translate them into profitable experiences yet.

    Thanks so much for writing in.


  20. Hello Karen,

    Welcome back to my blog. You must have had good intuition to know when to “jump ship” and got out at the right time. In any case, I hope you found some value in what you learned at the events you did attend and feel relieved you didn’t take it to the next level. Thanks again though for your comment about having a good experience initially meeting James, it provides a good contrast from the the other comment to show he wasn’t always interacting badly with everyone. Thanks again.


  21. And thank you for posting my comment in your blog. You didn’t have to, and it says a lot about you that you did! I have not posted anywhere publicly about this situation, but was drawn because it was interesting to see how he had responded to another’s gift of music. Chelsea, I’m not sure if he found me attractive – although I am younger than him, he tends to date women half his age. It is disappointing when people or groups that have a lot of good information to offer coerce people to take more classes/buy more products, and say that if you aren’t willing to buy it, it means you aren’t willing to grow. It is a sure way to lose me as a customer. I still saw value in his seminars, but took what I needed and moved on without getting too caught in the system. I think it’s important to let your own intuition make your decisions, not anybody else. Otherwise, you are living according to somebody else’s values and will never find inner satisfaction. It never occurred to me until now that this was a life saver, on top of being a soul saver.

  22. Hi Again Karen,

    My pleasure to post your comment. I like to showcase the variety of opinions, that don’t necessarily agree with what I wrote. And I think contrasting opinions are beneficial to see as well because they’re always more than one side to every story. It helps paint a more complete picture when more than one side is shown.

    I also don’t like that tactic of peer pressure to claim you aren’t willing to grow by choosing not to continue paying for additional courses. Obviously if you’ve gotten what you need out it, there’s no need to continue, but there’s no reason to alienate the person because it just closes off the potential of coming back at a later time because that kind of pressure just sours the good feelings towards good experiences.

    I agree that intuition is an important instinct to trust. You instinctively know when you’ve gotten what you need and when its time to move on. The trick is learning to recognize it and act up on it.


  23. Ryan-

    Thank you so much for your honesty, humility, and willingness to ask the opinions of others. I have read 100’s of articles, blogs, etc. regarding JAR, LGAT’s, the sweat lodge incident, cults, etc. I am thoroughly impressed with how you are sharing your opinions & thoughts here. I hear you taking responsibility and are owning them vs. blaming, blasting, attacking others (JAR, the participants of his retreats, etc.)

    I get really down when I read comments on the internet that are so hateful; for example-the postings that say James’
    “followers” deserved to die. How awful!

    Yes, I am pissed about the sweat lodge deaths. And, I am very disturbed about James’ handling of the event he was responsible for and his refusal to cooperate with the authorities. There is no excuse for that!

    I have participated in a variety of seminars, transformational weekends, healing events, etc. for 15 years, including Holotropic Breathwork (which Ray may have included in his Spiritual Warrior retreat). I also studied transpersonal psychology in grad. school.

    I highly value and seek out professionals with the proper education, training, license, etc. I am very wary of all sales people. I prefer not to focus on “getting rich” or wealth creation. (perhaps, not enough)

    Anyhow, James did have great things to say in “The Secret”. I have not read his books, met him in person, etc, so I can’t share my personal experience with him.

    I can say I have learned (sometimes painfully) to trust my inner voice, AKA “gut”, intuition. Also-when I remember, I ask my Higher Power what lessons do I need to learn or messages do I need to hear-when I am taking in information from other individuals, groups, belief systems, etc.

    Again….Thank YOU!!! for creating this intelligent, open, honest, and respectful dialogue.


  24. Hi Sherri,

    Thank you very much for your compliments. I appreciate the comments about allowing others to share their opinions. I, of course, have my own opinion of everything I discuss here, but I don’t feel my opinion is any more or less valid than the opinion of anyone else. If someone takes the time to write in a comment, I appreciate the opportunity to see the topic from their point of view. I am always happy to publish thoughtfully written comments regardless of whether or not I agree with the comment because it adds depth to the discussion and an opportunity for me to learn how others came to their opinions. I’d much rather have a quality discussion of a topic exploring several opinions than a bunch of “me too” post that don’t add nothing new .

    I have not paid a lot of attention to the media, mainly because I find the media to be too negatively focused and I don’t want to waste my time and energy dwelling on negative news items. So I don’t know a lot of the details surrounding the deaths at James Ray’s event, such as James Ray refusing to cooperate with authorities as you mention. I agree, that is no excuse for it. It makes it look like he has something to hide. Sure he may end up being completely responsible for it but had he have been open about it, fully cooperative, and offering sincere condolences to the families when the news broke, would have gone a long way towards credibility in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion seems to have more importance than a court of law, just ask O.J. Simpson.

    Like you, I am sadden by hearing that some people are suggesting that followers of James Ray should die. Wow. That’s terrible. I had not heard that one prior to your comment, but I am not surprised by it at all. There always seems to be naysayers that are there to chime in the moment something goes wrong. I remember being disgusted by people who felt people who live in Malibu deserve to lose their homes the last time there were major fires in the area. I see no benefit in blaming the people who chose to put their faith and money in James Ray’s teachings since I would imagine most of them were looking for a sense of spiritual enlightenment. Whether they were there because of high pressure sales tactics or because they felt James offered the best opportunity to meet what they were seeking, the fact is something bad happened that was not the experience they were looking to have.

    In any case, I again want to thank you for finding my blog and taking the time to write in. I really appreciate your comments here and thank you again for the compliments.


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