It has now been two years since Kirby Brown, age 38, James Shore, age 40, and Liz Neuman, age 49, died following a sweat lodge ceremony led by self-help guru James Arthur Ray. Ray charged thousands of dollars for his Spiritual Warrior retreat held in Sedona, Arizona in October of 2009. The sweat lodge ceremony was the final event in a grueling week where the participants were sleep deprieved and had limited food and water.
In June of 2011, an Arizona jury of eight men and four women took eight hours to find James Arthur Ray GUILTY of three counts of NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE. After many postponements, Judge Darrow has set the sentencing hearing to begin November 8. The State will present witnesses from November 8-10; the Defense will present witnesses from November 15-17; and Judge Darrow will finally sentence James Ray on November 18 at 9:00 am.
The story of James Arthur Ray is a modern-day cautionary tale. Here is a man who was given wisdom and the platform to teach valid life lessons, but allowed his ego to take over. He ignored the cries of his followers (literally and figuratively), put them in dangerous situations with no medical back-up, fled the scene when he realized the sweat lodge had gone terribly wrong, and continues to present himself as if he has no part in the tragedy that he created.
Surprisingly, James Arthur Ray still has a following. He is still selling his books and self-help products on his website. There are many Twitter followers and James Arthur Ray Facebook friends who defend him on a daily basis. Ray consistently posts on his Twitter and Facebook pages.
Many, however, will be forever haunted by James Arthur Ray’s unsympathetic actions after the tragedy and his ego-driven behavior leading up to that fateful day. In her riveting book, “Tragedy in Sedona, My Life in James Arthur Ray’s Inner Circle”, Connie Joy describes Ray as a man consumed with ego and obsessed with power.
When excessive power mixes with ego, negative consequences can happen. Unfortunately, the negative consequences almost always affect others.
As I wrote in a previous article, James Arthur Ray “was given the opportunity and platform to truly help others, and he allowed his ego to take over. That arrogance cost three people their lives.”
The lesson: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” (Author unknown)
It takes self-awareness and great compassion to put ego aside when Life puts you in a position of power. Always use your powers for good, leaving ego out of the equation.
James Arthur Ray faces the possibility of years in prison for the deaths of Kirby, James, and Liz. Regardless of Judge Darrow’s decision, James Arthur Ray is sentenced to carry the stigma of being a convicted felon and will live with the memory of the lives he shortened, all because of his ego, for the rest of his life.
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