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Self-help guru, or helping himself?

October 26, 2009

Re "Sweat lodge deaths a new test for self-help guru," Oct. 22

I prepaid $6,000 for two James Arthur Ray seminars. I left the first, "Creating Absolute Wealth," following one of the "warrior games" after realizing that what I'd purchased was not only a waste of time but a wealth-creation vehicle for only one person.

Approximately 175 participants, outfitted as homeless people and instructed to leave money, ID, cellphones, etc., behind, were loaded on buses and dropped off in downtown San Diego without money, food or water, to "go beyond our comfort zones" for the next several hours, on our own.

I spent months trying to get my money back for either seminar (including the one not taken) to no avail, even though I'd been assured, verbally, when I signed up that Ray would absolutely "stand behind his product" (as proclaimed on the Larry King show).

This guy is a charlatan at best. And at worst? Remember Jim Jones.

Donna Fleming



I've noticed that people who attend self-help seminars excel in one area: taking more self-help seminars.

The Times' article mentions a woman who has been on two "spiritual warrior" retreats (more than $9,000 each), and another participant who has spent $9,000 and wants to sign up for more.

I have no doubt these believers have shelves full of self-help books and CDs.

If we can understand that people can be addicted to gambling, shopping or the Internet, why not recognize that for some people, self-help is an addiction, and people such as Ray take advantage of them?

Mike Peduzzi

Huntington Beach


Ray feels qualified to perform sacred Native American healing ceremonies?

I think he is abusing the rituals of our first Americans.

I've studied many of the customs, and a Navajo medicine man prepares for years before being initiated to conduct sweat lodge ceremonies. The calling to become a healer is usually passed from generation to generation. This gift is to be used for the good of the people, not for personal gain.

I believe Ray has defiled the American Indian traditions.

Karin Finell

Santa Barbara

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