Could a well-known self-help guru have prevented the tragic deaths of three spiritual seekers at his retreat in an Arizona sweat lodge?
And some thoughts from Roscoe Pond on it:
Dateline NBC 2010 Episode Called Deadly Retreat
I just liked the way Pond put it. People have a stereotypical notion of noble savages and Native spirituality. It's based on the modern-day stereotype of the spiritual warrior: a wise shaman playing a flute beneath a soaring hawk on a mesa.
This is a benign version of the old savage stereotype. It comes from a huge number of movies and other media sources in the last few decades.
James Ray repackaged and sold the stereotypes. "You can be as strong and serene as a Native if you undergo a series of Native rituals. Just $9,000 for a Native-style weekend."
Because of Ray's inexperience, his sweat lodge killed three people. The stereotypes played a critical role in the deaths.
Here, let me spell it out:
Genuine Native lore => stereotypical beliefs => New Age repackaging => dead people
Summing it up: The stereotypical beliefs are what have created the New Age industry. Without them, few people would be seeking or paying for Native spirituality. Millions have lost their money and three have lost their lives because they believed what they saw in the media.
For more on the subject, see Ray Charged with Manslaughter and Courting Death in Ray's Sweat Lodges.