Friday, October 16, 2009
Sweat and tears
I was reading about the terrible tragedy where the two people died recently in the sweat lodge ceremony with sadness. Sadness that people died. Sadness that people's lives are so empty and adrift that they have to shell out $9600.00 a piece to join a "spiritual warrior" course. From a guy who was preaching a path that sounds so bereft of balance and wisdom.
"Join me outside the lines in this heroic quest for higher consciousness. There is no sacrifice - only greater and more magnificent results, wealth, adventure and fulfillment."
Unfortunately, people think that they can jump on this higher wisdom bandwagon and they tend to peddle it by the pound. Most communities have some "higher consciousness" magazine, filled with ads for people willing to balance your chakras, lube your past lives and change your akashic oil, all for a nominal fee. With no sacrifice required.
Sedona has long been known for it's vortex tours and crystal gazing and other new age hooey and is replete with this sort of garbage and hucksterism. The city is pretty much ruined. Get out a big bulldozer and start over.
San Diego was a hotbed for this kind of thing in the seventies when Terry Cole Whittaker and a bunch of other people preached a gospel of attaining wealth and prosperity. Add Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Claire Prophet, Avatar, Scientology, Arica, EST, Rama, Lifespring, John Roger, Chopra, Landmark and numerous other systems of new age mind control and you end up with a sad state of affairs. Chogyam Trungpa wrote a great book once called Cutting through spiritual materialism that cautioned against seeking spiritual rank and credentials. The idea of paying these charlatan guides and teachers makes me a bit queasy. But people are pretty much sheep and tend to want to take the easy route. Instant enlightenment and maybe a certificate to prove it.
I know people that have attended native american sweat lodges. They aren't easy. They are hard. They are difficult. People are closely confined and releasing a lot of shit. I am not much for ritual myself but was involved in this sort of thing many years ago and have a healthy respect for it, when guided by proper and legitimate road chiefs.
I don't know if these people were getting psychedelic, It sounds so lame I tend to doubt it. But when you start playing on that turf, you are playing with fire. Some people get it. Some people flinch. Some people turn into charcoal. I guess there were too many people in Sedona in a small space with far too little air. 19 people remain hospitalized, two critically. Police are considering homicide charges.
The guy that runs the program, self help expert James Arthur Ray, was an ex sales manager for AT&T who recently bought a house in Beverly Hills for four million dollars. I never thought you could buy your way in to spiritual enlightenment but what do I know? He left shortly after the incident and refused to be interviewed by deputies.
I wish people weren't so naive and could see through this kind of come on but they're evidently not. All waiting to take a big swig on the old kool aid. To hand their spiritual salvation to another "teacher" and surrender responsibility. I am not an expert on the subject but don't think enlightenment can be purchased on any online study course or by hanging out with guys like Ray or in churches where they bend spoons, practice tantric sex or sift through their past lives. In fact if you are paying money for your spiritual flight plan, I think there is a good chance that you are getting jobbed. I think there might be a little better return with a long, honest look in a mirror.