Remember The Secret? It was back in 2006 when the New Age-y film on DVD and subsequent self-help book by Rhonda Byrne flowed across the land -- mostly by word of mouth until it received Oprah's blessing -- filling people with fantastic notions that they could attract the good things in life simply by concentrating on them. One of the weavers of that dream was James Arthur Ray, a "philosopher" featured on the DVD.
A seemingly sincere, sweet-talking guy, he was a hit and began making the talk-show rounds.
Ray even made several appearances in Salt Lake City after The Secret came out, hawking his books, CDs and services as a life coach, filling up meeting rooms in downtown hotels, challenging audience members to step up and pay for his inspiration to change their lives. It didn't come cheap. I know because one of my friends bought his CDs and listened to them religiously every morning.
My friend hasn't listened to them lately, though. In 2009, Ray led a "spiritual warrior" retreat in Sedona, Ariz., that involved a sweat lodge ceremony. Instead of the transcendental spiritual experience the group of 50 was expecting, they were dealt a crushing tragedy when three members were overcome by the ceremony and died.
In September 2011, Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide and today was sentenced to two years in prison. In addition, he is to pay $57,514.12 in restitution. According to a story in the Arizona Republic, his attorneys say they will appeal.
Appealing? Isn't that just continuing to focus on negativity? How do you get what you want when all you think about is what you don't want, which in Ray's case is: "I don't want to go to prison." Ray, who still has a Website, though it's "under construction," will have time to work on his positive thinking behind bars.
The burning question is what to do with his books, CDs, and DVDs. Is the landfill the best place for the words and ideas of defrocked gurus? Do collectors want them? How about the DI -- is donating them to a second-hand store bad karma? Can they be recycled and made into something useful, like living-room furniture?