Category: Judging Others

Thoughts on James A Ray

I’m sure most of you have heard about the tragedy that occurred at last week’s Spiritual  Warrior with James Ray.  If you read my first post you will see that I have attended one of his events, Harmonic Wealth Weekend and it truly made a positive impact in my life.  My heart goes out to those who lost their lives, their families, loved ones and to those that are still ill.  I like many others are waiting for answers.  Unlike many others however, I am withholding  judgment until more information is released.

In reading around the Internet, I have been shocked at how many people are willing to crucify James, with so little information available.  It is one thing to say that it appears that the sweat lodge was improperly constructed (we still aren’t sure who built it) and that the James Ray organization could have been more prepared for any emergencies or had better monitoring of the sweat lodge or could have had fewer people in there at a time.  But I am reading headlines calling James a murderer and linking him to Jim Jones.  One article even demanded that Oprah apologize for introducing James on her show and somehow making Oprah partly responsible for all of this.

One of the biggest criticism I see is that the was a large fee (over $9,000.) for the retreat.  It’s almost like the critics are using this to say that all self help “guru’s” are only in it for the money and that greed is what killed the people.  People are saying that James charged the money for the sweat lodge and traditionally sweat lodges (a Native American tradition) are normally free.  What the money was paid for was the 5 day retreat and the sweat lodge was just a part of it. If James is guilty of negligence (which he may well be) – would he be less guilty had he not charged?

Many are saying that he is a cult leader.  I have never had that impression.  I have attended the seminar and read the book, but I don’t live my total existence based on him and I doubt few would do that. Besides, it’s not like he asks followers for their money (like many cult leaders do) without providing something in return.  He is considered (or at least was) a leader in his field.  How much would other leaders in their field charge for 5 days with them? Probably more than $9,000.  It’s all relative to what perceived value you receive.  Heck – some people pay more than that for play-off games and Super Bowl tickets.

I know that James is about pushing people to their limits and becoming a better person for it.  I do not believe he wanted harm to come to anyone.  It is unfortunate that he was not more cautious. I think sometimes we all think that we can encourage someone to do something that perhaps they really can’t or would not be safe.  I perhaps have been guilty of this myself as a former gymnastics and diving coach – luckily no one was ever hurt.  On vacation once in St. Croix we sat and watched an experienced swimmer get his friend out in very calm water and try and teach him how to swim.  The guy panicked and had heart failure and died right there before our eyes.  The teacher (the man’s brother-in-law) I’m sure meant no harm, but did not understand the fear the other man had of the water.  I’m sure he has suffered living with this, but I would not call him a murderer.

I do call into question how James has handled some of this.  Perhaps a part of him is in denial, perhaps fear, perhaps lawyers have cautioned him not to speak out now.  I hope he does the right thing.  Please understand – I am not defending him, simply not judging until we have more facts and perhaps looking at the reasons as to how something could get so out of hand, without having that intention when you set out.

On another note, some have criticized the victims saying they should have gotten out, or refused to go it, or not stayed in so long.  Sometimes the body and mind have a way of playing tricks on you.  I don’t know much about sweat lodges, but for example when you get hypothermia, you actually at some point start thinking you are warm and begin removing clothes and become very detached from your experience.  I know of a few cases where people have drowned by falling asleep in a hot tub.  So I don’t think we can put ourselves in their position and know what was happening.  I don’t feel the victims are to blame for anything.

Once again, we all have to be responsible for our actions whether we intended to harm or not.  James Ray will also have to be held accountable for what has happened under his watch.  My issue is with the immediate hateful things that are being circulated without much information.  My thoughts go out to all.

I welcome all comments, including those that disagree, just please leave the hate aside.  Thanks.

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Friendship

Yesterday we watched an old, yet timeless movie – You Can’t Take It With You (1938).  It’s a Frank Capra film (It’s a Wonderful Life) and also stars Jimmy Stewart.  The message of the movie is about friendship and enjoying your life (rather than chasing the dollar).  It’s a great film and I highly recommend it, especially if you feel you are somewhat caught up in the “rat race”.

I have many friends and I love them all.  I have experienced many changes in my life in the last year and as you can imagine, I now find myself having different view points, diets, ideas, etc. than most of the people I hang out with.  Much has been written about how when you make major changes, sometimes you have to leave friendships behind.  I would for the most part, disagree.  Of course if someone is being negative or bringing you down, then yes, it would be time to move on, but just because someone does not have the same views or ideas about life that you do, it’s not reason enough.

Most of my friends have been with me for a long time.  I don’t think any of them are vegan (like me) or even vegetarian (a few don’t eat meat, but eat fish, etc.).  Most have very different religious views than me as well as politics and my overall outlook on life.  Everyone is on their own path and there are so many different viewpoints out there that if we all had to match, no one would have any friends!!

Viewpoints come from your beliefs.  Beliefs can be quite stubborn.  Once someone has a particular belief they will attract all of the circumstances into their life to validate these beliefs.  Something really powerful has to happen for most people to step out of the box and really examine why they believe the things they do.  This is why most people go through life with the same religion, political party, etc.

You see, I believe that your world (including your friends) are a reflection of you.  You have attracted your friends into your life.  I think that I have so many friends with different viewpoints to teach me not to judge.  Despite all of our differences we have one thing in common that bonds us together and that is our love and caring for each other.  My friends are supportive, loving and kind and would go out of their way for me in just about any circumstance.  I am so grateful for them.

Look at the friends in your life.  They are there as a reflection of you, to teach you and to help you grow.  Look for positive people to enrich your life, and be sure to enrich theirs as well.  If someone is not holding up their end of the friendship, perhaps the lesson is over and it is time to let that one go, just be sure that it is for the right reason.  Friends come in all shapes, sizes, beliefs and viewpoints and I am grateful for them all.

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Judgment Free Zone

Are you living in a judgment free zone?  What I mean by this is, do you judge others by some arbitrary guidelines that you have created? I know I have been guilty of this – not to extremes or anything, but I did have my list of items that made me look at others as if they were not worthy.  Some examples were people that smoked, had a lot of tattoos, were extremely overweight or very redneck, to name a few. I had never been prejudiced against race or culture, but I still had a few hurdles to overcome.

You see it wasn’t until recently that I realized that these judgments were just reflections of me and my own growth!! They were my fears and inadequacies, not the other way around. When you judge someone, for whatever reason, you are reflecting your weakness and lack of self love. When you lack self-esteem it is easy to put others down and see how they don’t “measure up” to your standards.

Who created these guidelines and standards? We all create our own, based on our set of belief systems. Start questioning these belief patterns and ask yourself if they are serving you in a positive way. It is easy to build yourself up at the expense of others, but at the end of the day I don’t think any of us is going to really feel any better. When we begin to doubt ourselves, it is easy to become very judgemental toward others. Looking back, I now realize that I was not in the position to be much of a judge at all.

When I made the decision to live in a judgment free zone, an amazing thing happened. As I quit judging others and came to terms that everyone is on their own path, and are in my life to teach me something, I became more confident, had more self-esteem and had my spirit uplifted.

As I continue to be aware of my thoughts  toward others, I  attract more positive people and happenings in my life.  If a negative thought pops in my mind, I recognize it, dismiss it and replace it with something positive.  This will allow others to bring their best attributes to you.  Just imagine if everyone could put forth their ideas without judgment or fear.

The next time you see someone who doesn’t do things exactly like you think they should be done, or perhaps are different than you – send a little love their way!  It will be returned and before you know it, you will be attracting non-judgemental people into your life.

Hope to see you in the Judgment Free Zone!

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