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November 25th, 2013
10:02 PM ET

James Ray: "The most difficult thing I can ever imagine is investing your entire life in helping people, and then finding them getting hurt"

Roughly four years since a tragic series of events at an Arizona sweat lodge cost three people their lives, on Monday evening "Piers Morgan Live" welcomed James Arthur Ray for an exclusive, live interview.

The host and leader of the retreat near Sedona, Ariz., Ray was found guilty on three counts of negligent homicide, and sentenced to two years in prison. He was released in July, and joining Piers Morgan in CNN's Los Angeles studio, Ray reflected upon the heartbreaking events of October 8th, 2011:

"I think the most difficult thing I can ever imagine is investing your entire life in helping people, and then finding them getting hurt," Ray told Morgan. "It's just the antithesis of anything that I had ever stood for or wanted. And so that anguish has continued every single day since that moment."

As he prepared to serve his time, Ray struggled with knowing that he would no longer be able to care for his mother, who was undergoing cancer treatments. Things proved even more difficult than he imagined, when Ray began his sentence entirely isolated from the general population, and the outside world:

"The first month that I was in, I was, the better part of the first month I was in solitary confinement. The first couple of weeks I was in what they called 'the hole,' which is where death row is," revealed Monday's guest. "The point being is that I wasn't able to be in contact with my loved ones for the better portion of the first month."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with James Ray, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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Filed under: The Piers Morgan Interview
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. tmcfeeley

    Why didn't you allow any victims family members on your show? Why did you allow Mr. Ray to dictate the terms of the interview. You were given the SEEK Safely Promise for him to sign and you ignored it

    November 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Peter Stockfisch

    Today Piers Morgan had a bad day: First he very tamely gave James Ray an ample stage to polish his image, without ever interrupting him or asking critical questions which he normally does so effectively. After all, James Ray was the man who, with highly questionable methods, made lots of money from people who were looking for help for their problems. His methods killed three people.
    Secondly, he showed a complete lack of humor when it comes to his own person correcting very seriously a comic statement in a scatch about him and his show in 'Saturday Night Live'.
    He is normally much better than Monday night. I mostly like his show.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandra

      I think peirse DID interrupt ..and he DID ask tough questions..he just did it with calm ...perhaps because mr ray was not arguing or even defending...... I think James Ray it truly regretful and is trying hard to learn as much as possible about his wrongdoings...I applaud him...
      Pierce didn't say a positive thing to him...personally I think he could have used that stage to do some teaching..mr ray was taking full responsibility for everything and I think pierse could have found a way to 'recommend ' to others that denying, covering up and defending is not the way to begin to atone....I would like to know if there us a way I could get in tough with James Ray and offer him a pat on the back for a hard job well done last night....he has been punished for his crime and from what I can see will continue to punish himself ....he deserves a but if warmth

      November 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Sandra JEANNERET

        Mesmereyes1 ...exactly!

        December 4, 2013 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mark Thomas

    James Ray sat on the show crying about his Mom that was sick, what about the people that died because of his greed and self ego....I mean come on this guy is guilty of the death of three people and he puts on this pity party on CNN.
    He rambled on about bla bla how about God teaching him and learning... brother just a infomercial about himself. Disgusting...

    November 26, 2013 at 12:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Eugen Burri

    Pires Morgen should have been a lot more stricked with James Ray. Watching the Show,i think James Ray is fake and made a lots of Money from "stupit" Poeple and some of them payed with there lifes!!

    November 26, 2013 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Stephan Davies

    CNN interview of James Ray is a joke. Leave it to CNN and Piers Morgan to ask all the wrong questions.
    I am not Native American, but I have been in many sacred sweat lodges, almost always run by Native Americans.
    Questions I would have asked:
    1) The Sweat Lodge is a Sacred Place of prayer, a Church of the Native American culture. Normally the right to run a sweat lodge is handed down to the person running the sweat from a Native American mentor, and it is considered a great honor. Which Native American, and from which tribal lineage ( or sweat lodge lineage ) was the right for you to run a Sweat Lodge handed to you from?
    2) Normally the Sweat Lodge is free, and money is offered by donation only. Why did you charge a fee? Why did you not realize that the business of your retreat center is just that, a business. The sacred rights are to be free ,and are the birthright of humanity. Why did you not honor this?
    3) NEVER is a plastic tarp to be placed on the outside of the sweat lodge blankets. The sweat lodge needs to breathe. This is a fundamental law in running sweat lodges. Never in all my years of experiencing sweat lodges have I ever witnessed a plastic tarp on the outside. This is common knowledge, and common sense. Why CNN never brought this point up I cannot understand.
    And WHY on earth did you not realize this? The reason why the temperature rose the way it did was solely because of the plastic tarp on the outside. James Ray violated this very serious and blatantly obvious important rule.
    4) Repeatedly Pierce Morgan asked James Ray a technical question of the process of running a sweat. James Ray most often said “I do not know how that could have happened. I do not understand why this ( or that ) could have happened”.
    Let me tell you: That is the job of the sacred man running the sweat lodge. His job IS TO KNOW. That is what experience and training in the ways of the sacred ARE ALL ABOUT. The person running the sweat lodge is always ( in the Native American way of training ) absolutely and completely conscious and experienced in ALL aspects of the people’s healing processes. The person running the sweat is expected to be an adult and to be completely mature, conscious and experienced in the ways of healing, and capable of HOLDING THE ENERGY of the entire sweat lodge. NOTHING ever goes wrong with the experienced and wise individual ( usually Native American – and if not – always trained and mentored by a Native American ) in a sweat lodge. I have seen and experienced difficult and challenging physical and emotional processes in a sweat lodge. But NEVER was there a tragedy. Never did things get out of control. Sure, things got difficult, and not because of the lodge, but because that was the dynamic of that person’s ( or my own ) healing process at the time. That is o.k., as long as the process is conscious, aware, well overseen and above all compassionate. Sweat Lodges are designed to be run so that there is a transformation and hopefully healing in any of the participants. But it is always PERMITTED to happen – it is never forced to happen. That is what healing is all about, and it can only happen thru an open heart, gentleness, perhaps a reverence for the sacred and interconnectness in all things, an appreciation and love for our elders, family, society, co-workers and loved ones and however each one of us visualizes our own healing. Sweat Lodges were never intended to be mass production. I have personally NEVER experienced a lodge greater than 10 people – and that is a big one.
    It sounds to me that James Raya did not understand any of these values at the time of the tragedy, and in fact, even after 20 months in prison to reflect where his lack of wisdom and maturity fell short to cause the tragic deaths of two women and one man, that he still does not.
    I only wish that CNN had invited experienced Native American elders to ask James Ray these questions. As usual, CNN did not even think to bother to invite our sacred and wise Native American culture, of which this country owes EVERYTHING to – and that is a significant tragedy also.

    November 26, 2013 at 1:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • slk

      Stephan, thank you for your ? and your statements. You are correct that a Native American should have been on the interview....but as usual none were asked. Even in this month, Native American month real stories about our past never gaet out.Probalbly because they would be to painful for the general American audience to hear or remember.....so instead this individual who killed 3 people who still does not understand what happened.....ya right.....is in this article, at this time......just another cover story,about someone doing something he has no buisness doing.He is not worth the air time. he will do the same again. It is just a matter of when and where.

      November 26, 2013 at 9:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ben

    I think hearing from James Ray was good.

    It's definitely a tragedy when someone loses a life for any reason what so ever. But Mr Ray didn't kill those 3 people.

    McDonalds also make lots money with highly questionable methods and market junk food to children.

    There does come a time in every persons life when they need to take responsibility for the choices they make in their life. These people chose to attend the event run by Mr Ray and were not forced to go.

    We lose our independence when we position ourselves as a victim "when convenient"

    We need to give respect to the people who died, but also remember freedom placed them in the environment where their life was lost. Whether or not you endorse or disagree with Mr Rays teachings and practises, all the participants willingly attended and need to accept their own responsibility. Mr Ray has served his time and no deserves his side of the story to be heard.

    November 26, 2013 at 1:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephan Davies

      We place our life in the hands of a surgeon at the hospital. The doctor is as much a confidant as a healer. In both cases we place our very life in their hands. The individual running a sweat lodge has the same responsibility, and most, if not ALL other indigenous cultures around the world understand and acknowledge this very important rule. If there is a tragedy at the operating table at the hospital, there is full accountability. It should be the same with James Ray.
      If you want to see how grueling the spiritual training of a Shaman ( healer ) really is ( and should be ), then read “The Secrets of the Talking Jaguar" by Martin Prechtel. Maybe then you will see how much of a great responsibility, and privilege, it is to have other people put their trust, and often life, in your hands. That is why the person running a sweat lodge is required to have the utmost knowledge, experience and maturity so that nothing unforeseen will catch him off guard – and lead to tragedy of the guests. When James Ray often conceded to ignorance, that is proof that he was not qualified to run any type of sweat lodge, nor should he ever have been involved in any aspect of decision making responsibility effecting the lives of other people.
      I hope you read the book, and if James Ray reads this blog, I hope he reads the book also.

      November 26, 2013 at 1:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Cynthia D

    It is obvious that James Ray is not an experienced healing or spiritual teacher. One basic rule is when one enters a process like a sweat lodge the student and teacher are to enter into agreements before the process begins. A couple of the important agreements is that the student will not harm him/herself or others. Additionally, so that no harm happens to the student, the teacher agrees when the student makes a request for the teacher stop the process, the teacher STOPS the process. I understand in this case the students pleaded to Ray to STOP the process many times and Ray refused to stop the process. Needless to say Ray is guilty of bestowing harm and is guilty as charged.

    November 26, 2013 at 2:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Annie

    He continues to display hubris because basically, James Ray is a con artist not a "healer".

    November 26, 2013 at 5:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Harlan

    James Ray is a very successful con man and has been conning the public for years.
    His appearance on Piers Morgan was his first step towards his next con job.

    November 26, 2013 at 6:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sandra

    I would like to comment James Ray on the way in which he handled this interview....even the fact that he DID the interview..he could have skulked silently away. he took full responsibility for that terrible nigh and he examined himself and admitted to arrogance and being a bit over the top...he didn't argue with a thing or try to justify or defend..he clearly knows he made some mistakes and oversights and they lead to a disastrous end..nothing he can say or do can return live to those people or restore the ones who were injured and clearly he KNOWS that. I would like to give him a pat on the back for his courage to face the people...of course he knew that this would open up more dialogue and people will be slamming him...I of one wish him every success in his future and I would like to thank him for demonstrating to us how to accept these very painful experiences...some of the writers here are upset that pierce didn't attack him and challenge him harder and more brutally...because he couldn't folks, you can't argue by yourself! James accepted and admitted, and a couple of times when pierce pushed James said 'I can't argue with that' ....give the man some credit, I would like to know how to reach him so I could offer him a warm pat on the back and wish him well in his future...

    November 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. gracielake

    I'd attended a James Ray's event (the one he recorded for a DVD) and I think a lot of the personal development that he offers is good, solid stuff. But I never bought into the physical challenge part of his programs – and ultimately was turned off by his drive to push people in that direction. Some people thought that was valuable (hence, Sedona) and it was their choice to take part in it.

    Sure, he should've provided more safety, and was rightfully found guilty. Of course he's sorry. Of course he's remorseful. I'm not sure what else he's supposed to do to satisfy those who've suffered losses.

    Piers could've driven harder with his guest – he does that sometimes, but the story here is not in proving guilt. That's already been done. This was about letting viewers hear from a guy who'd fallen from grace. That's where Piers played this and it's a fascinating story that only Ray can give us a glimpse of.

    Piers challenged him somewhat, but what's the point of having the guy on the show if we don't let him tell his side minus the lawyers and the courtroom and the threat of further legal battles?

    November 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sally

    Shouldn't there be some sort of disclosure that Piers Morgan's talent agent is the SAME AGENT Jame Ray now uses? Some sort of conflict of interest that should be addressed?

    November 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mesmereyes1

    James Ray hired a company to set up the lodge, trusting they knew what they were doing. Was that a mistake? Yes. Did it end in tragedy? Yes. Nothing can bring back the lives of those who died. By law, he was tried, convicted and has served his time. I am sure he will deal with internal consequences for the rest of his life.
    He put himself in the position to be interviewed knowing he would be asked difficult questions and was willing to admit to the whole of the audience his mistakes. Frankly, I find it refreshing to see someone admit they were wrong and take the responsibility of the consequences because it is not an easy thing to do one on one let alone in a very public arena.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Anonymous Insider who testified on behalf of James Ray.

    THINGS that were secretly revealed to me from James Ray"s end of trial testimony, release from Prison up until the Piers Morgan interview. "DECEPTION, LIES, AND HIS HIDDEN AGENDA;
    Not long ago I sent Pierce Morgan an email with facts. I do not believe Pierce read my message. I do know that James Ray begged a mutual associate in the entertainment industry to be on the show and quickly get public attention for his new hidden agenda.
    Should I go public.?

    December 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandra jeanneret

      Only if you have facts that without question prove what you are saying

      December 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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