The trial of James Arthur Ray began a couple days ago.. Ray is the self-help guru who is charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three people who died during a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. A jury will decide whether James Ray is indeed guilty, or as he claims, these deaths were the result of a “terrible accident”.
There is no question in my mind that James Arthur Ray is culpable in these tragic deaths. And there is no question among my Native American relatives, for whom the Sweat Lodge Ceremony is among their most sacred, that what Ray did bears no resemblance to their traditional ceremony; they also know that if you exploit sacred ceremony you steal its spirit, and then bad things will happen.
Ray will or will not be found guilty, but the most important thing for us to learn from this tragedy will not be heard in the courtroom. We need to learn how to tell the difference between a huckster and an authentic healer.
James Ray is a huckster, a master collator who can put together a potpourri of rich material, and deliver the message with charismatic skill. A huckster will market his secrets for a successful life, and the more you spend the quicker secrets will be revealed.
Authentic healers and spiritual guides will tell you, they don’t know the secret, they’ll do the best they can, and don’t promise results because they know some things are out of their hands. Authentic healers never over-emphasize only their part in the process.
Indigenous healers get their authority to practice after long apprenticeship with a recognized elder. The apprentice learns the healing myths, how to use instruments, medicines, and conduct ceremonies. When they are judged prepared their teacher bestows upon them the gift of his fireplace; their equivalent of certification.
In Western medicine healers get certified by academic degrees. They too spend years of study to learn their stories, perform procedures, use specialized instruments and diagnostic tools.
James Arthur Ray is certified neither as spiritual leader nor healer. Yet in spite of that fact many bright, gifted people surrendered their power to him.
Beliefs in the practice and in the practitioner are critical elements in healing; learn to do diligence and find out if your Ray is an authentic beam of light.