This is crazy, and it’s kind of sad I didn’t hear about it until just now, given it happened pretty much in my backyard.
More than 50 followers of spiritual guru James Arthur Ray had just endured five strenuous days of fasting, sleep-deprivation and mind-altering breathing exercises when he led them into a sweat lodge ceremony.
It was supposed to be a religious awakening, the culmination of a $9,000-plus-a-person retreat outside Sedona, Ariz., aimed at helping people find a new vision for life. But it wasn’t long before the ceremony turned into a terrifying experience.
People were vomiting in the stifling heat, gasping for air, and lying lifeless on the sand and gravel floor beneath them, according to participant Beverley Bunn. One man was burned when he crawled into the rocks, seemingly unaware of what he was doing, she said. Ultimately, three people would die.
It’s beyond comprehension to me. It is inexplicable that anyone would pay this kind of money, first of all, to sit in an oven for five days. It’s even more strange that people, once in the oven, would endure this to their deaths. The only thing I do get is that James Arthur Ray was a con-man and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. What drove him – greed – is understandable, if reprehensible. What drove the poor saps who paid him $9,000 a piece is harder to figure out.