Two people have died after participating in a "spiritual and physical cleansing" ritual at a sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona led by James Arthur Ray, an author who appeared on Oprah as one of the teachers of The Secret.
Ray, who bills himself as "an internationally-renowned Personal Success Strategist, Visionary and New York Times Best-Selling Author" who is "transforming the way the world thinks," was reportedly behind the ceremony, which packed 50 people into a sweat lodge that CNN describes as "a dome-like structure covered with tarps and blankets." Nineteen other participants were taken to the hospital after the ceremony, according to the Associated Press, and one remains in critical condition.
Yavapai County sheriff Steve Waugh tells the AP that participants in Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" retreat entered the sweat lodge after fasting for 36 hours, and that the sheriff's office is "focusing on self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray and his staff as they try to determine if criminal negligence played a role in the deaths." Though no charges have been filed against Ray or his staff at this point, we can add Ray to the list of embarrassments for Oprah Winfrey, whose credibility in endorsing certain "gurus" grows ever thinner.