James Ray rejects his own teachings (and his supporters don’t notice)

November 26, 2013

James Arthur Ray, the motivational torturer convicted of three counts of homicide, has served his jail time and completed his probationary period in Arizona. Now he’s back in his old home in Carlsbad California and is giving interviews again to the uncritical media and speaking publicly. And of course, continuing to cut a path of destruction through the lives of his customers.

But there has been at least one change in this recurring nightmare. In his new blog post, he has rejected all of his previous teachings. That’s right all of them!

None of his fawning supporters have noticed it, but there it is in black and white:

One of the biggest fallacies for the students of the Law of Attraction (that became so popular all over the world a few years ago), is the belief that “If I understand the LOA, and execute it perfectly… then nothing bad, ugly or challenging will ever happen again in my life.” This is a lack of understanding; an illusion of the grandest proportions.

An illusion of the grandest proportions. But this illusion is exactly what James Ray had been teaching up until now. This is what he wrote in The Science of Success, (which I wrote about just last month):

Anyone on Earth can apply this science, and it will make them successful every time. That’s because the Science of Success works with universal laws, laws as fundamental and unbending as the law of gravity. If you follow these laws I guarantee that you will succeed – every time, and in whatever endeavor you undertake...

So there you have it folks. James Ray now says that the product he used to sell is “an illusion of the grandest proportions” Write and demand your money back (ha ha).

This won’t bother his supporters of course. It didn’t bother them when he failed to act according to his own teachings in court, and it didn’t bother them when his own claim of “mastery” was contradicted by his jail time. So it won’t bother them that Ray’s new teachings contradict the old ones. (The product he is promoting isn’t really a set of teachings anyway. Rather, what Ray is selling is his own persona; and that product has proven itself to be completely reality-proof.)

It will, however, bother his potential customers, and it is for them that I will briefly outline a few things about the product James Ray is offering.

The law of attraction, of course, does not exist. Those who teach it (at least the famous ones like those who appeared in The Secret) know this and do not attempt to use it in their own lives. This is demonstrated by the infighting and acrimonious court cases, cut throat business practices, blatant fraud, and general nastiness they all engage in.

Attempting to apply this nonexistent “law” to your own life is dangerous. It makes you overestimate your potential resources and your control over reality. Most importantly, it makes you ignore events that you would have recognized as a warning sign if you were using plain common sense. The course that James Ray’s life has taken over the last decade or so illustrates such failures clearly.

Participants in Ray’s events were injured doing the risky “motivational” exercises he was giving them. He ignored the complaints, the broken limbs, the cut faces, etc. Then a participant, Colleen Conaway, died during one of his events. Any sane person using basic common sense would realize that they are not only risking the health and lives of others, but their own business interests as well. Ray lied to police about Colleen’s death and managed to avoid any criminal charges, but failed to recognize that he was asking for trouble.

Two and a half months later, Ray found himself lying to police again. This time his lies didn’t work. (He claimed that he was not in charge of the deadly fake sweat lodge that killed three and sent two dozen to hospital, and — incredibly — tried to blame it on the fire keeper. This pattern of inventing excuses and lying to shift the blame onto others continued throughout his trial, and is still going on today.)

Ray claims that he did not know that people were in distress during the sweat lodge (in which he crammed about 60 people into a low, dark sweltering tent from which there was no escape (the sides were secured), and in which he controlled the air supply and the only exit.

Well actually, he doesn’t always claim he didn’t know that people were in distress. During the pre-trial investigation his lawyers claimed that, but they dropped the claim soon after reading the witness testimony. In court, that line of defense was not raised. What came out was witness after witness saying that Ray both heard and responded to people calling out that numerous people were in trouble, wanted to leave, had passed out, were not breathing. He refused to help and simply closed the exit and kept going.

It seems to me to be entirely likely that he had a narcissistic belief that “everything happens as it should” and it’s up to the universe to pull people back from the brink of death, that any deaths would be for the “highest good” of the victims. He felt no responsibility to follow through on his promise that people were safe and would be cared for should they pass out. He does seem to have spiritual ideas about out-of-body or near death experiences, and was probably trying to induce altered mental states through heat stroke.

His recklessness not only killed three more people, but also ruined his business, his finances, cost him his freedom for two years and stained his record with three convictions for negligent homicide.

The only way to make money with the nonexistent law of attraction is by selling it to others and taking their money. You can then point to that money and success as evidence that the law of attraction indeed does exist. But Ray can’t really do that anymore, can he — he turned his own in life into a quagmire. He’s a failure, and it’s entirely his own stupid fault. So instead of the law of attraction, he has suddenly invented a brand new “Law of Polarity”. (*See Update 2 below.) This is something makes bad things to happen to nice innocent homicidal psychopaths like James, for mystical higher purposes. Here’s the relevant sample of James Ray’s profound wisdom. Fasten your seat belts….

I was speaking to a group recently, and I reminded them that every coin has two sides—both a heads and a tails. You absolutely cannot have one without the other. This principle in the world of physics is called the Law of Polarity.

James Ray is on safe ground with the bit about the coins — that doesn’t over extend his 8th grade mathematical abilities. But the rest of it is nonsense. I would suggest people take a short cut avoiding both the law of attraction and the Law of Polarity and follow something called the Law of Common Sense instead. Common sense is wrong sometimes too of course, but it’s a LOT safer than any of Ray’s teachings.

Ray and his bullish, cut-throat and greedy supporters want to convince you that Ray’s “suffering” in jail was a deep mystery.

It’ll probably take the rest of my days to even begin to understand and describe all that I’ve been gifted to see and experience.

But it’s no mystery and it needs no cosmic laws or quantum physics to explain. Ray was convicted and went to jail because he cooked three people to death and stood there gawping while others were desperately administering CPR. Then he went and had a shower. He was sitting in his undies eating a sandwich when the police knocked on his door. Then he tried to blame it all on Ted the fire keeper. And now he wants to tell you that he is a wise expert on human life. 

Below is a video of part of state prosecutor Sheila Polk’s summing up from Ray’s trial In it she lists the pathetic attempts at evading the charges that Ray’s attorneys made. In fact she spent more time on them than the defense did in their summing up

Sheila Polk: “Three people are dead because of the conduct and the actions of this man, James Ray. They are dead because he intentionally used heat to create an altered state and he was criminally reckless about the consequences. To use the words of the manslaughter statute, they are dead because James Ray consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his conduct would cause death…”

(The jury, prevented from knowing of Colleen Conaway’s prior death or of previous life threatening sweat lodge events, eventually convicted Ray of the lesser charges of homicide.)

Update 1As always, the Salty Droid has the background story on Ray’s slippery, slimey return to grace with the uncritical media.

Update 2: LaVaughn has pointed out in the comments that Ray has in fact used ideas about “polarity” in the past, and reminded me that this was even alluded to in the “Letters of Support” sent to the judge in Ray’s trial. Ray follower, Wendy Benkowski had this to say:

James has integrity and his message has integrity. I am witnessing the power of his spoken word. I am witnessing the shadow side of Harmonic Wealth. The 2009 Spiritual Warrior Retreat is a great lesson. The LESSON has touched the consciousness of the world. I respect and honor the sacrifice of Liz, Kirby, and James. I request compassion for my friend James Ray.

Potential customers should note this. If Ray causes your death, it will be considered a “sacrifice”, according to his teachings. My apologies to the bereaved for posting that again, should they happen to read it again here.

Posted by Yakaru


  1. Hey! Just to let you know, I posted your most recent blog article on IFHP.

  2. Thanks for the posting on https://www.facebook.com/hatepseudoscience

  3. Excellent analysis, Yakaru. Actually Ray has been playing around with that polarity idea for a while and the implications of it — his interpretation of it — are really rather chilling.

  4. Thanks for commenting, LaVaughn, I appreciate it.

    I hadn’t come across anything about polarities in his ideas before, but I freely confess to having kept my contact with his teachings to a bear minimum. I’m not surprised to hear that it’s rather chilling what he’s made of it. His psychological peculiarities do seem rather to spill over into his overt teachings.

  5. Ray’s teachings could drive a person mental. He contradicts himself all over the place. But this gave me chills. Granted it’s based on third party renditions but the implications really gave me chills. Look here and scroll down to the Benkowski letter: http://celestial-reflections.blogspot.com/2011/11/observations-on-james-rays-sentencing.html The so called “law of polarity” is specifically addressed in Connie’s book, which I have quoted there. It is, like most LOA teachings, an absolute mangling of mystical thought which sees all things in wholeness. The object is to get OUT of polarity, not to enshrine it as a law. This is black magic. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

    Meanwhile he’s recasting himself Jesus Christ and painting himself as the victim because he had to face some consequences for killing three people. http://celestial-reflections.blogspot.com/2013/11/on-watching-piers-morgan-interview.html The man’s a menace.

  6. Thanks for that background info. I’ve added a footnote to the post.

    Yes, on my understanding, plenty of mystical traditions would consider the loa black magic — along with any other attempt at twisting reality for egotistical purposes or personal gain. And Ray has pushed it even another step further.

    What I’ve noticed is that all the exercises he sets his students are ones he’s stolen from someone, having claimed to have learned it personally from them, and then twisted it in such a way that it builds up his own authority, and places his students at enormous risk.

    He did it with Stan Grof’s methods, with that weird and brutal “God game”, with that shamanic method of sitting isolated for ages in a small circle, and of course with his sweat lodge.

    Even that homeless event which killed Colleen was rip off of a South American tradition (which had of course already been ripped off and distorted by plenty of other “wealth gurus”). I’ve read of it being the final phase of the sitting in circle technique. Although there it wasn’t a “survive and thrive” game, rather the idea was that the initiate learn to find the same inner state that they learned sitting in nature while sitting in the market place. Doing it in a strange town, disguised as a homeless person was just to make it easier to dis-identify with the ego.

  7. Another excellent post, Yakaru. I would think that Death Ray’s recent performance would be sickening to anyone with a sense of decency. I really feel sorry for anyone who would fall for all that B.S. It sounds like Ray and his supporters are using their version of the Christian teaching that “God uses everything to his glory”- a popular way of explaining why bad stuff happens and a popular excuse for when a guru-teacher doesn’t have the spiritual insight he claims to have.

  8. One of the things that protects Ray and makes him more dangerous is that his claim that it was a “tragic accident” makes more sense than the idea that he would deliberately try and cook people within an inch of their lives and then either not give a hoot when they die, or (more likely the case) positively get off on it.

    The jury could hardly believe it, and needed to hear it from dozens of witnesses. The investigators spent ages checking for poisonous gases because they also couldn’t believe anyone could be so mind-blowingly stupid as to kill people like that.

    He is incredibly stupid, has a genuine, if somewhat latent brutal streak, and has learned to run an incredibly slick scam that was developed by others over many decades, and as a psychopath/sociopath, knows no respect for lives and needs of others. And CNN gives him free advertising.

  9. Precisely, Yakaru. I know when I first heard about this I thought it was an accident. An idiotic accident caused by incredible ignorance, but an accident. I was stunned by the trial. Not saying he consciously meant to kill people, but the guy is sadistic. As you said, he takes solid methods from much smarter people like Stan Grof and weaponizes them. It was only a matter of time before there were fatalities.

    You’d think, though, that more people would notice that there is something very wrong with someone who was convicted for causing the deaths of three people casting himself as the victim because he had to go to jail. You’d think that might set off some alarm bells. Especially when the people who died are a footnote if they’re even mentioned at all. It’s like Dick Cheney — shoots a guy in the face and that guy has to apologize to Cheney. It’s the same mindset and it’s freaking dangerous.

  10. …and he can’t imagine anything worse than trying to help and people not being helped. REALLY???!!! Aw, poor wittle Jamesy.

  11. Thanks for that insightful analysis/synthesis and update, yakaru. You have a way of pointing things out that are kind of obvious when you think about them, but easily missed or glossed over or ignored (and they will be missed by the woo addict). It reminds me of someone recently discussing a self-help book on stopping smoking, which impressed them by making them face facts they previously kept pushing into the back of their minds. Eventually, the idea “I need to smoke to be calm” or “I like smoking” becomes untenable as other facts are brought forward, like “I am slowly committing suicide when I smoke”.

    The woo addict will evaluate optimistically statements like “James Ray is a wise teacher with integrity” because it temporarily calms the empty feeling inside, the rudderless feeling of not having a spiritual leader to take responsibility for their decisions. But this becomes harder if they allow themselves (having found an article like this, for instance) to assess the facts. Yes, my guru ignored people’s repeated pleas for help, ignored attempts to save people’s lives in his care, and blamed someone else for deaths he caused. Parents lost children. Children may have lost parents. He caused terrible suffering.

    It is scary to see that certain addicts will “assimilate” this sort of challenge to their belief in what he preaches, subtly or grossly altering their credo, adding an ammendment that allows for such “sacrifices”, identifying (inventing) higher ends to excuse the dreadful means.

    I guess this is what Ray himself has done. Presumably, it would have been very convenient in the short term to blame the indoctrination he suffered and renounce the LoA nonsense altogether as the dangerous cult it is. Someone genuinely making such a realisation would be likely to develop more self-responsibility, even to the point of over-caution or “paranoia” that they might harm someone again.

    Someone with Ray’s dim awareness and human capacities would probably avoid that, because he probably doesn’t know how to earn an honest crust, and he would have to find another scam, and he might be seriously hampered in that by the very public history of his wrong belief in the LoA. It was probably a better outcome for him to do some time and say he was basically right all along, but the “experience” has made him wiser somehow, and he can now be even MORE valuable to the philosophy. Now he can stick to the same career path and even compete more successfully in the LoA market by selling a twisted interpretation of his “experience”.

    Things probably won’t get better until we improve general education. Hardly anyone coming out of school can think. Children aren’t taught logic and how it relates to language and debate, science and belief, so they’re prone to believe anything. It’s easy, without any literary or logical understanding, to think that “responsibility” means the freedom to choose to do whatever you like, as long as you’re prepared to live with the consequences. And pleas for help will go unheeded.

  12. One of the unusual aspects of this case has been that so many of Ray’s former students, as well as a few employees have publicly opposed him and/or were prepared to testify against him.

    The message was sent through his network of followers that they should not talk to investigators, who “don’t understand James’ work or mission”. Those who agreed to testify in court were of course cross examined by Ray’s $5 million lawyers, who of course, tried to humiliate them.

    And speaking out on the internet or in the media of course exposed former followers to ridicule. I don’t know how often I read comments saying “Ha the gullible fools got what they deserved.”

    What disturbs me most about Ray is that he’s not just cashing in human vulnerability, like perhaps Louise Hay or Bruce Lipton are. He actively dismantles people’s psychological defenses and MAKES them vulnerable.

    As we all know, anyone can fall for a scam once; and with Death Ray, sadly once is often enough. Apart from at least four people dead, there are countless others who were financially ruined by him, and many others who were ridiculed and humiliated by him in a most devastating manner.

    Last time it was Oprah who set him up, followed by Larry King and many others. all wanting to get in on the act. CNN supported him throughout the trial, and are setting about setting him up all over again.

    The people who will come this time are the ones who have never heard of him, of heard a little but not enough to figure out what was going on. CNN certainly promoted the idea of his innocence VERY hard for a VERY long time.

    And yes, he is an evil and utterly useless twit. A good for nothing. Or as the mother of one of his victims described him, a product recall.

  13. […] – Yakaru on James Ray’s rejection of the “teachings” of James Ray […]

  14. […] we’ve sharpened our blog-swords, adorned our finest WordPress-gauntlets and mounted on our Cosmic-stallions … and to the Battle of Justice we rode once more. […]

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