James Ray Defends Himself
The self-help guru—and sweat lodge homicide suspect—ends his silence in this exclusive interview.
Michael Joseph Gross, Jan 24, 2010
Overnight, James Arthur Ray went from being a star of the self-help movement to homicide suspect.
He was admired by Oprah and Larry King; a peer of Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins; a teacher whose followers paid as much as $60,000 a year to attend his seminars, where his best-selling book, Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want, was cited as if it were scripture. Last September, James Ray International, the organization he founded in 1992, was named one of America’s 500 fastest-growing companies by Inc. Magazine, with revenues close to $10 million. Then, on October 8, the last night of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat in Sedona, Arizona, Ray led a sweat-lodge ritual that ended in tragedy.
Three died, and about twenty others were hospitalized, as a result of injuries sustained in the ritual’s extreme heat. The local sheriff’s office launched an investigation of the deaths as negligent homicides, and Ray’s trial in the court of public opinion began. Former followers and employees made allegations of irresponsible behavior, and Ray canceled all public appearances and retreated into silence (but for some blog posts) so that he could “dedicate all of my physical and emotional energies to helping bring some sort of closure to this matter.”