Via Rev Max, here’s a really interesting website with tips about spotting people with fraudulent claims to shamanism. It’s written from the perspective of Native American shamanism, but I wonder how much of it could we apply in a broader way.
Just to warn you, this list is extraordinarily harsh. But then, that’s part of what I think makes it so very interesting. I’d like to go through a few of the more compelling items here to maybe start a directed discussion on them, but definitely check the whole thing out for yourself and see what you think.
Let’s start with this item:
Leaders who demand exorbitant lecture fees and offer to travel all over to country to spread their spiritual ‘knowledge’ should be avoided at all costs. Native American spiritual practices are specific to geography. Legitimate teachers DO NOT LEAVE THEIR COMMUNITIES. Our spiritual practices vary greatly from region to region. Anyone who is entitled to be a spiritual leader would remain in a living, thriving Native American community. Plastic Shamans who travel all over the world are usually cult leaders. They can only damage their followers spiritually, emotionally and financially.
I know this is probably going to sound drastic to a lot of people, but let’s look at what they are saying. I feel like they’re making a really interesting point about what the role of a shaman or a spiritual teacher is. Namely: they are supposed to have a relationship to their community. The whole reason they exist is to provide their community with spiritual support. The reason they wouldn’t travel is because their community needs them, and because their teachings and visions are particularly tailored and fine-tuned to meet the needs of a specific small group of people. This is very antithetical to how most of have been taught to think about spiritual teachers, but I feel like maybe there’s really something to it. Maybe we’re really missing a key component of the formula.
My Experience of James Ray (And What We Can Learn About Parenting)
by Rhonda on December 10, 2009
child meditatingBear with me because I will tie this story back to a parenting lesson at the end of this post…
I took James Ray’s weekend course, Harmonic Wealth a few years ago. A friend of mine had an extra ticket and asked me if I wanted to attend the event in Chicago with her.
I jumped on a plane and the opportunity, being the self-help junkie that I am.
Even though it appeared to me pretty early on that James had a slight arrogance and superiority about him…I looked passed all that because his techniques were powerful…though I recognized some of them from a wide list of other programs I’d taken. Plus, he was charismatic, handsome and seemed to genuinely care about people. AND I was getting a TON out of the weekend.
The course was experiential in nature…so a lot of the breakthroughs I had stayed with me till now. It was a really eye-opening and empowering course. Except for a few strange things that took place…I was glad I went.
The strange things that happened during the weekend went as follows…
At the end of each evening, James would have the entire room (about 1,000 of us) STAND UP holding hands FOR AN HOUR OR MORE after an extremely long day with very little time for lunch. By this time, it had to be like midnight. He would walk around the room, in the middle….just talking and talking and talking about saving the world…but his voice seemed to be getting lower and lower and his words starting blending into each other and I could hardly understand what he was saying…even though he wore a microphone.
My feet were killing me from standing for soooooooo long.
My friend and I finally decided to sneak out when he wasn’t looking. We were afraid he might “call us out” if he saw us “escape”, even though I never saw him do that to anyone. There were others who broke off from the circle and “escaped” too…who also complained about the bazaar situation.
Some people in the circle were older and this was clearly hard on them to stand this long after such a long day. Heck, like I said, it was hard for me and I’m in my forties.
Next day…same thing. Wonderful, amazing day followed by this weird closing at the end, where everyone was instructed to stand in a circle for an hour at midnight or 1 am…(I don’t remember the exact time but I know it was around there. Actually, it might have even been later!). And guess what happened? I believe two people fainted. I know it was at least one-but I believe two. Like I said, it was two years ago…and an ambulance had to be called!
The people who fainted were taken into the area outside the ballroom so quickly that I never even saw it happen. I just remember seeing paramedics outside the door whizzing by and helping someone right outside the door.
We were quickly assured by James that everything was okay…and directed to focus on him and what he was mumbling. It was clear that NOTHING was going to take him away from talking to us while we were holding hands…STANDING…for an hour while he kept sharing the importance of his mission…OUR mission…to make a difference and change the planet….and eventually his words turned into more of a mumbling and I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying!
I remember wondering if he was drinking too much chlorophyll and if that could be affecting his brain at this point which caused this ranting and mumbling. That’s what he drank all day long while on stage.
Again, my friend and I (and others) “escaped”. And when we made our “run for it” through the double doors and back to our hotel so we could get some rest, others in the group made negative comments about us leaving. I don’t remember the exact comments they made, but it was clear that some of the people that stayed thought we were bailing out on humanity by breaking off from the circle.
I’m no psychologist, but I bet this is part of the psychology of what happened in the “sweat lodge” incident. Not wanting to be singled out by the group or group leader as someone who bails. Not wanting to be in the spotlight in a negative light. Not wanting to be embarrassed or humiliated.
And so I came home with my board that I karate chopped in half during one of the exercises (Ray’s equivalent of Tony Robbin’s walking on fire) which proudly symbolized my breakthrough of busting through my money barriers…and I felt wonderful and empowered…and yes…in the back of my mind…a little disturbed by the holding hands/standing for an hour/mumbling James/people fainting incident. However, being the generous person I am…tried to overlook the bad and focus on the positive and give him the benefit of the doubt.
So here’s where I tie this whole thing back into parenting. I knew what “didn’t feel right to me”. And it didn’t feel right that James Ray would have all these people of all different ages and degrees of strength and health stand for this long.
The vibes I felt was that something wasn’t right here. It didn’t jive with me and I needed to take care of myself…and so I left. Twice.
This is such an important lesson to teach our kids. We need to teach our kids to honor their vibes. We need to let our children know it’s okay to listen to the voice inside of them…to follow their heart.
Were the people in the sweat lodge following their hearts or were they cast under a spell…giving all their power away to someone else?
Trust your instincts, even if the person is a “Guru”. What is a guru anyway? The only real guru we should be following is the one within ourselves. Yes, we can learn from others…but learning is different than giving your power away.
Here’s some of the words and questions you can use when talking to your kids:
Follow your gut
What do you think?
How do you feel about that?
I’ll tell you what I think – but first tell me what you think…
Follow your heart
Follow your instincts or intuition
These are all questions and phrases we can say to our kids to help them exercise that all-important muscle of intuition.
Intuition is the sixth sense and we are in the age of the Sixth Sense, folks. Let’s encourage intuition and trusting your vibes in our kids and teenagers so they can have the personal strength to break away from the group when things just don’t feel right.