In the case of the tragic deaths of three participants in a sweat lodge during James Ray’s mega-bucks seminar in Sedona, how easy it would be to say, “That’s what you get for messing with spirit.”
But it had nothing to do with spirit of any kind except the spirit of responsibility. In this case, to simple common sense.
Ray knows he’s involving people in a seminar that puts the physical body under a significant amount of strain. By his own admission, that’s how he designed it. As a seminar leader who places high value on the power of individuality, he must recognize each person’s constitution is different.
The physical aspects of the sweat lodge process involves filing people into a confined, light-tight space with super-heated rocks in a central pit. The rocks get doused with water, producing, in some cases, scalding steam. This was not Ray’s first lodge. He knows what happens and what CAN happen.
Logic dictates, given that the people had just come from highly physically-stressful environments, there would be some person being designated as Gatekeeper to assure, in each round, no one is too distressed to enter.
No mention was made of anyone designated as watchdog of some type for any reason. Reports said people were passing out and vomiting and no effort was made to attend to them. Their care was even discouraged by Ray.
Fifty (+) people are a lot of people thrown in together, but when each person is disempowered to take lifesaving action, either for others OR themselves, now we have a SERIOUS breakdown in logic.
If no one else in the process is aware of the physical safety of each and every person involved, it MUST be the Sweat Leader, because he has control of the amount of added stress he imposes on his charges. In Ray’s case, it could not be more clear: he neglected his responsibilities and it had fatal consequences.
Of course, all this is hindsight. Who’s expected to predict the future? I’ll tell you who, the Lawyers.
James Ray is head of a machine influencing millions of people and generating millions of dollars. Where there’s money there’s lawyers. Where there’s that much money, more Lawyers. Every lawyer is charged to act like a Gatekeeper by troubleshooting to save his/her client from areas of potential liability.
Maybe the life lesson for James Ray is to get Gatekeepers.
Where would anybody’s client be most vulnerable? In ANY area where he puts another human being in physical stress! Just like situations that could lead to a charge of sexual harassment, anything that could remotely be construed as assault would be a red flag the size of Texas.
How many Lawyers must you have to spot that kind of vulnerability?
I guess in James Ray’s case it only took one; the guy who advised Ray that once the Release from Liability form was signed, he could play God.