Read an amazing story yesterday. It may be old news to some but it was very new to me. The Guardian published an article by Christopher Goodwin entitled, “At the temple of James Arthur Ray”.
sad story but something to learn
For those not so acquianted, I first heard of James via Rhonda Bryne’s The Secret. A well-known self-help guru, this guy was on track to become the first new-age billionaire. But reading the article, you get a glimpse of the cold, dark side of the man, quite the opposite of what you would expect to find. The short of it is that at one of his retreats, held in Arizona, three people ended up dead as a result of taking part in a sweat lodge. They were promised an intense experience. People suffocated, became unconscious, had difficulty breathing, collapsed, struggled to bear with it throughout what appeared to be a two hour session through hell. People were disorientated and upset. And there were three deaths. Read the article.
My point – you really need to have a sense of self. People go to these self-help gurus because they feel that they’ve hit a ceiling and they want to move to the next level but lack the know-how. We want to learn more, experience more and feel more in our lives and why not? But what happens when the people you trust fail you? What happens when the trust you place in someone whom you believe in and whom the industry argues is believable and worth listening to, shows you that indeed he cant be?
Whatever information we seek from the outside world, we need to be centred. We need to trust in our own instincts and what we believe to be fair and right and true. If we ignore that, and choose to believe in someone else, when we choose to ignore what our heart, mind or body is saying to us, it can sometimes be fatal as some of the people at the sweat lodge experienced. Many were against the idea of it but tried it out. Many could not last but stayed nevertheless at the behest and due to the anger and strong emotion James displayed. People put their trust in him that he knew what he was doing. And he failed them.
In the final analysis, it is what we experience that guides us. We experience what we experience and not what someone else does. We can take the words of another in terms of what their experience is but we need to pay attention to our own thoughts and emotions as we go through our own journey as well. And why not? Why should we place greater value in the thoughts and words of another, who lives outside of us, who is not going through what we are? While there are similarities in our journeys, the individual roads we journey down, all are marked by differences, big and small. These make each experience unique.
You have to make your own judgement calls. You can take advice but you need to make your own mind up. If you fail, you take the heat for it. If you succeed, you have the confidence to move on. If you rely on others, you never learn to rely on yourself. If you fail when relying on others, blaming them will not allow you to progress. Don’t you think?