With a myriad of people grasping Indigenous cultures left and right it was only a matter of time before someone was hurt or killed. Latter Day Healers and so called Sweat Lodge practitioners have filled the classified columns promoting their New Age connection to spirituality. With many people being poisoned from the misuse of herbs to the deaths of two people in a *sweat lodge this weekend in Arizona, there is a price for playing with something that is not of your tradition. From an Indigenous point of view these deaths are more of a sign and not a good one at that. The sign is, “the medicine was bad”.
The commercialization of ancient traditions has gone on for years. In quest of the all mighty dollar entrepreneurs used props and gadgets and bastardized Native American traditions. For the most part they don’t have a clue what they are doing. It was a horribly tragic event that transpired at the Angel Valley Retreat Center and there is no question people of all paths have offered prayers for the dead. But what was this guy Reverend James Arthur Ray thinking? It is obvious to me he was thinking of money and now two people are dead and 14 hospitalized from obvious greed.
Mixing medicine (or traditions) has always been verboten with all ancient traditions including the main stream dogmas. So why was it OK to dilute and bastardize Indigenous religions for fun and profit? I rolled my eyes when I learned this monstrous lodge was packed with 60 or so people. This was commercialized and billed as a “Spirit Warrior Retreat” guaranteed to change your life. In this shameless exploitation by **James Ray International, ancient tradition was used for monetary gain. Now two are dead but it was only a matter of time because it is incomprehensible for me or my people to mix our medicine.
The mixing of medicine is likened to have little or no faith in a dogma one purports. Walking into a home and finding icons from a bazillion religions shows little faith to any of them. And for the most part this is quite scary when someone’s home looks like the inside of a New Age Shop. There is no way one could have absolute faith when they follow the combined axioms of a zillion dogmas and spend half the day praying too many entities. Bet the smoke alarm gets plenty of use from all those incense burners. James Ray would profit from the sale of fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and DVD players with his “Million Dollar Mindset”.
In a time when people are trying to make sense of what is going on in the world opportunists have taken full advantage of this quest for spirituality. James Ray International is just one for there are many, all possessing the “Key” to spirituality. Hungry for direction innocent people buy into all their gadgets, DVD’s, incense burners and meditation mats, holay. Spirituality can not be purchased for it is something that is gained. When you follow a path or religion you must have absolute faith, not have “extra” dogmas in the wings when you think the other one does not have your back. It does not matter if it’s the Christian Faith or the Path of Sweet Medicine; all dogmas follow this basic rule of thumb. Exploitation has its consequences and there will be more events like this as others exploit religions for their corporate bottom line.
Taking advantage of innocent people seeking out their personal spirituality is an accepted lucrative business these days. But from the Indigenous point of view it’s a sacrilege with dire consequences. The event’s that transpired in this spiritual retreat exemplifies the cause and effect when one chooses to play around with ancient customs for monetary gain. Shame on you James “Schlock” Ray for the murder of these innocent people for you have blood on your hands. You had no business playing around with our customs and traditions for cash. Now two families have been destroyed from this bold and callous act of greed packing 60 people in a lodge. Basically it’s your entire fault for you were nothing more than a child with a loaded shotgun and you pulled the trigger. If a person wants to sweat go to the people who’ve practiced this cleansing for generations not a snake oil salesman.
Your Devil’s Advocate