James Arthur Ray, Disgraced Self-Help Guru, Still Hopes To ‘Enlighten Us’
A new documentary chronicles Ray’s comeback efforts.
Last week, Ray’s effort to mount a renaissance began. “Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray,” a CNN Films documentary directed by Jenny Carchman, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Carchman, who co-directed HBO’s “One Nation Under Dog,” pitched the movie to Ray as he began his second year in prison. As he tells it, she wanted to depict Ray’s “comeback” attempt. “Enlighten Us” tracks Ray’s professional origins as an AT&T ladder-climber delivering motivational talks based on Stephen Covey’s popular 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He devoured spiritual teachings — quantum physics, Joseph Campbell, Hindu mysticism — and apparently found his purpose during a 10-day trek through the Sinai desert. That calling became James Ray International. For those who bought into them, Ray’s charismatic, sometimes aggressive lectures about self-fulfillment could inspire proverbial religious experiences. Like any good businessman, he upsold audiences at the end of presentations, creating a small legion of disciples to whom he became a guru — a word that many media outlets adopted when reporting on the sweat-lodge deaths. As these American dreams go, Ray’s net worth eventually stretched into the “multiple millions,” as he told The Huffington Post during a lengthy interview ahead of the “Enlighten Us” premiere. As for the “guru” narrative? Ray won’t buy it. It’s been 20 months since Ray left jail, and he has accepted fault for the fatalities that occurred on his watch. Once his operations expanded, Ray was traveling some 200 days a year for speaking engagements. His staff grew, and he admitted to become increasingly reliant on aides. Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/james-arthur-ray-documentary_us_571fc43ce4b01a5ebde3b654