The Fall of James Ray – What Went Wrong?

by Dan on February 14, 2010

It’s a little odd seeing James Ray walk around in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.  When I saw him speak this past summer, he was standing tall, proud, and full of confidence that he was on the way to the top.

There’s some definite discomfort for the New Age community to see him fall, even if for a moment.  He was a prominent speaker in the movie “The Secret,” and featured on Oprah several times.  Some fundamentalist Christians have taken this opportunity to criticize Oprah for this, as if she is responsible for promoting someone who would sometime in the future cause some deaths no one saw coming.

When someone on top slips down, it’s when all the spectators of the world can become psychologists for the stars.  People that have never dared to put themselves in the public spotlight can theorize on why someone so rich and powerful could be empty inside enough to blah blah blah…

As an example, if you’ve even hinted about why Tiger Woods would cheat on his wife, you’re definitely in this category.  In your luxury of being out of the public eye, you take the arrogance to assume you know the motivations of someone you don’t know, which gives you the satisfaction of thinking you’re better in some way.

Because of this, I’m not going to share in the theories of what caused James Ray to lose his edge.  Note that I am agreeing that he DID lose his edge, but the best I can do is point out when, not why or how.

Some say that his success from being featured in The Secret swelled his ego, and made him feel invincible.  This would make the situation far easier for us to understand and learn from, right?  If you want an excuse to not pursue fame, you can justify that it leads to ruin. If you are courageous enough to pursue fame, you can treat it as a lesson to keep yourself grounded and ignore the hype.

I don’t think it’s that simple in this case.

I’ve listened to or read at least some of every James Ray product, and the change in him, at least in his products, came well before The Secret.

If you listen to the Science of Success product, it is simply great.  It reminds me of Tony Robbins in his prime, only more spiritual.  James Ray lends a motivating yet loving voice to gently prod you towards achieving your goals.  There’s a spiritual side to the recording, but Ray always makes it very clear you must take massive action to go towards your goals.  It’s almost a perfect balance between the ideas of spiritual manifesting and personal productivity.

If you listen to the “Science of Success” and implement the ideas exactly as James Ray recommends, and even take the seemingly excessive task he advises of listening to each CD over and over again for one week each, you WILL achieve your goals.

What’s more, there’s a humility in Ray’s tone, despite the irony that he’s telling you he knows all the laws of the universe.

I didn’t implement the program to the maximum extent, but I can vouch that when I began following what he said to the letter, things immediately began to change in the outside world for me.

After Science of Success, he wrote Practical Spirituality, which I didn’t read, but which was written early enough to capture some of the same magic.

And unfortunately, this is about where it stops for the glory days of James Ray.

Post Science of Success, Ray completed his next audio package, Million Dollar Mindset (released 2005, according to  The ideas are still very solid in this recording, but there is a very noticeable change in James Ray’s tone, as well as his language.  Where once he was describing the laws of the universe in an amazingly humble fashion, he is now explicitly telling us how much he knows better than us.

There’s a common, almost cliché, phrase among self-help gurus, “Don’t believe a word I say.”  They tell you to take everything they say for checking and see if it works in your own life before believing it.  Some gurus seem to mean it more than others.  Ray doesn’t even pretend that’s what he thinks.

A quote from the first CD: “If there’s something I say, and you don’t believe it, listen to the recording again and again until it makes sense.”

Another stunning statement is when he says, “If a teacher says you can’t know the ways of the Universe, run the other way.  Any good teacher should know the laws of how the world works.”

It’s almost the polar opposite to Wayne Dyer encouraging us to embrace bewilderment in how the universe is run.  It’s here where Ray’s arrogance is on full display, and it’s not even a delusional pride in himself.  It’s a very pained conceit, and you can tell he’s not happy as he speaks these words.

Looking through his Harmonic Wealth book, and seeing him speak this past year, I saw the same thing in his words and on his face, pained arrogance.  It’s difficult to say “disregard everything after Science of Success,” because I’ve found little in terms of content that I actually disagree with in his later works.  His ideas are still very good, but I still question whether it’s good idea to listen to instructions on how to live your life from someone in such a negative state.

What’s more, as we see James Ray at risk for up to 36 years in prison, these visuals and newspaper headlines can taint our experience with the gold that is him in his prime.

For people that feel that way, I can offer a superb, possibly better alternative:  Bob Proctor.

Bob Proctor was actually James Ray’s mentor, and while he does not always have positive reviews of his off-stage personality (who does?), in his products, his kind tone and care for his students never wavers.  He puts forth the same principles that Ray does, and explains them just as well or better.

His two big opuses are:

You Were Born Rich – Audio/DVD Set

Science of Getting Rich Home Study Course

Both of these are excellent.  If I had to pick one, I’d say start with the audios of the Science of Getting Rich course.  It has Jack Canfield and Michael Beckwith featured as well, but they say very little.  It’s Proctor’s show.

I’d say that Bob Proctor’s material brings you the simplest, no nonsense way of attaining riches of any gurus out there, including the Release Technique.  The reason I favor releasing for myself is that there’s a far greater spiritual component, which is important to me.

The way I could explain it is that assuming the New Age/Buddhist/Eastern view is correct, releasing will take you to both riches and to final enlightenment.  The Science of Getting Rich will take you as far as you possibly can without actually being enlightened, but if there’s reincarnation, you will be coming back. :-)

As for the fate of James Ray, let’s just hope the courts do a good job of figuring out what to do with him.  If he’s as in control of the laws of the universe as he says he is, then he should get off scot free, and be back to his millions in no time.  If that happens, then maybe I’ll reconsider this article and suggest you buy everything he has.   Until then, go by my previous recommendations.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephen February 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

Dan wrote: “What’s more, as we see James Ray at risk for up to 36 years in prison, these visuals and newspaper headlines can taint our experience with the gold that is him in his prime.”

From a Christian perspective that mean nothing. We worship a man who became a convicted of the crime of treason and was sentenced to death. But on the other hand, Jesus was convicted (by the Roman government who later blamed it on the Jews) on false charges, and the same cannot necessarily be said for Mr Ray.

On a different topic, what you call “the New Age/Buddhist/Eastern view” does not exist. For starters, Buddhism (a very diverse set of beliefs) is only one part of “Eastern” religion/philosophy, and it has often been persecuted in China. And most traditional forms of Buddhism eschew any concern for “getting rich”, because to focus on getting rich (materially) is a form of attachment. If you want an “Eastern” philosophy that REALLY preaches “getting rich”, then you’ll want to join today’s Chinese Communist Party. ;-)

2 Jack June 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

Ironic, as a foreigner living in China for a decade, there are more rich people here than anywhere else. The Chinese only think about money which is opposite to eastern philosophy. In fact, the chinese culture is basically, say one thing and do another! And that’s what the Chinese Communist Party does, say one thing and mean something else more sinister. But, there’s lot of money here to make! LOL.

3 Matt June 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

I think James Ray has brought a dark cloud over the personal development industry. However, it’s up to all of honest and caring life coaches to continue HELPING other people who need help, even if it’s free of charge. Watching people break through mental blocks is the most rewarding experience in this industry and I find that rewarding, even more rewarding then getting paid to help somebody.

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