The Secret and The Law of Attraction have drawn a great deal of interest from main street folks, not just the so-called new age followers. Bob Proctor, a Secret teacher, asserts that a fellow teacher, James Arthur Ray attracted his own demise — the Sedona disaster. So let me start by asking you to participate in a mind experiment. The idea behind a mind experiment is to actually explore an idea by participating in a sort of vicarious way. So, let’s use some imagination and see where it leads.
What if you found yourself at a retreat? The leader is excited as he invites everyone to experience their real unlimited selves. The tempo of his voice increases as the pitch and cadence of his delivery rise and fall like a compositional masterpiece. The excitement is contagious and soon everyone in attendance is feeling the excitement –some are even experiencing genuine goosebumps. All of this is leading to a special exercise that will cleanse everyone forever of their doubts and fears. It’s as if you’re about to get asked to walk the hot coals — but that’s not the deal today. No, today it’s not a fire walk, not repelling down some steep building edge or cliff, not a bungee jump or anything like that — no, today it sounds much safer and so you have ventured here to undertake the Native American sweat lodge tradition.
When the group is adequately prepared, the leader shows them into the lodge, a large tent. The air is very hot and thick. Some chanting begins and the leader speaks much softer now, as though he is about to guide all through a dream. As time passes the air grows ever heavier and you have more and more trouble breathing. You are all told not to leave the tent. “Don’t quit when you’re almost there. Don’t quit just before the miracle,” the leader urges.
The person next to you is gasping. You look at her and can tell that she is about to collapse. Across from you someone else falls backward from her sitting position as though she has just passed out. You can’t believe how hard it is to breathe. The sweat pours off of you. You are oscillating between some form of full ordinary consciousness and some sort of out-there trip. You question yourself, “Am I supposed to feel this way? Are they burning some kind of hallucinogenic? You’re about to speak out when another woman attempts to stand, only to fall on her face. You think, “2 down and a third, maybe a fourth counting me, are about to fall.” It then dawns on you like a sudden epiphany — “You could die in here and no one would know until much later.” Then you think, “Are those two women OK?”
At what point do you take the initiative to check on yourself and others? At what juncture do you realize that your leader may just be a little unreliable for this kind of thing? Let’s assume that you are lucid enough to recount how you got here. You did not fill out any health record, or any other form for that matter that might disclose either physical or mental conditions. No one asked you about your fitness for this sort of thing. Some of those in the lodge are clearly fitter than others and some are closer to the tent entrance and so they are both further from the fire and more able to breathe easily.
You are here to gain spiritual insight. Are you responsible for what is going on around you? Are you responsible for those that are going through this with you? Or have you abrogated your responsibility by turning everything over to the leader? Do you just blindly do as you are told or do you take responsibility for everything you do?
In October, 2009, the New York Times reported, “Midway through a two-hour sweat lodge ceremony intended to be a rebirthing experience, participants say, some people began to fall desperately ill from the heat, even as their leader, James Arthur Ray, a nationally known New Age guru, urged them to press on.” The Times article continues,
“There were people throwing up everywhere,” said Dr. Beverley Bunn, 43, an orthodontist from Texas, who said she struggled to remain conscious in the sweat lodge…. Dr. Bunn said Mr. Ray told the more than 50 people jammed into the small structure — people who had just completed a 36-hour “vision quest” in which they fasted alone in the desert — that vomiting “was good for you, that you are purging what your body doesn’t want, what it doesn’t need.” But by the end of the ordeal on Oct. 8, emergency crews had taken 21 people to hospitals. Three have since died.
Did Ray somehow attract this? Is this how the Secret works? Did the participants receive their just deserts based on the law of attraction, as well? Is there a dark side to the so-called law of attraction?
According to the Arizona Republic, on November 19th, James Arthur Ray “was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for the deaths of three people at a sweat-lodge ceremony he led near Sedona, punishment years less than what relatives of the victims had hoped for.”
You decide — law of attraction?
Thanks for the read,
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions
For more mind experiments testing one’s beliefs, see my book, What If?.