Just when I was starting to think that things would stay quiet on the James Arthur Ray front until his trial begins on August 31, Dateline ran an hour-long segment about him.
If you’ve been following his story as close as I have you wouldn’t have learned anything new, but the survivors’ sense of disillusionment and personal betrayal is something to hear and especially to see. Beverly Bunn recalled how the moment they walked in the door Ray started pitching his forthcoming book and even pricier future retreat packages to participants who’d just forked over $10,000 for the one they were about to begin; her account of how she and her fellow Spiritual Warriors sat up all night in the hotel in Sedona afterwards, waiting for their leader to come and comfort them, or to at least offer up a prayer for their dead and dying friends, was devastating. Another survivor had spent tens of thousands of dollars on Ray seminars over the years (money he insists he still considers well-spent). He thought of Ray as his friend and mentor; he couldn’t believe it when he didn’t even visit him in the hospital.
I thought the best soundbite came from victim Kirby Brown’s mother Virginia, who said, quoting one of her other children, that James Arthur Ray is a faulty product who needs to be recalled, to be permanently taken off the market. It goes without saying that his “philosophy” is false, his spirituality shallow and self-serving. But the pressure he put himself under to deliver the kinds of breakthrough experiences that would keep his customers coming back for more (Inc. Magazine reported his company had grown 547.4% over its last three years) would tempt even the most responsible and caring of Personal Success Strategists and Visionaries to take untoward risks–and Ray, as everybody now knows, is something of a sociopath.