Wednesday, December 11, 2013


IT'S JUST DOWN THE ROAD A MILE----from my campsite---I'll go get the story for you.

A lovely little valley perhaps 10 miles as the crow flies from Sedona, Az.

Through this entrance, down a steep drive
Till the road ends here.
Into a private drive across this bridge
I park and walk around
looking for headquarters and permission to walk around---which I received
A giant labyrinth (a confusing network of paths or passages)
Don't know what this is---Assume it's used in rituals of some sort.
Or this---but it's lovely
Those fabric covered sheds may not be related to the deaths I mentioned.  Probably not----suspect it was destroyed.  Anyway it was a temporary building covered like these to make a sweat lodge that the deaths occurred.  Are you beginning to remember the story?  It made national news.
Here is where a "guru"--charging thousands for the "experience" persuaded a large number of people to endure a super heated enclosure for the spiritual growth it promoted.  Two went beyond their limit and died.  The guru is now in Jail.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I'm not proud of this story---am reluctant to share it with you because it is too easy a target---maybe even a "cheap shot".  Nor does this "accident" fairly represent spiritual seekers.  People suspecting there is more to life than the obvious----go questing on every continent for that something more:  American Indians in their spirit quest----Australian Aboriginals in their walk-abouts.  Sedona and its environs is the American mecca for such quest.  People herebouts believe incredible things----take the new-age philosophy to wild extremes.  I've met several just camping in this spot.
People I respect and love are believers---and the new-age religions are less toxic than the old age religions (fundamentalist) so that I don't know exactly where to draw the line between harmless and harmful believing.  I think I need help from my readers. 


Anonymous said...

If the beliefs comprising a belief system may not be openly questioned you can rest assured that, if it is not already, it will become little more than a means by which some people try to control others.

Anonymous said...

The line between harmless and harmful believing is easy.

If one's beliefs motivate them to do good, then those beliefs are good. If one's beliefs motivate them to do harm, then those beliefs are bad.

Anonymous said...

"Harm" is a good word, it's a hard word to argue with and argue does happen when you are talking about taking a belief on "faith".
"Faith" is the word you have to keep in mind when you are talking about a religious like belief on something.

Wayne (Wirs) said...

"I don't know exactly where to draw the line between harmless and harmful believing."

One of the reasons I'm so transparent about my personal life (and why I often write on the subject of transparency/opacity) is that for someone to believe something as life-altering as faith, they (in my opinion) should be able to judge the person who is espousing/teaching that faith. Is their hero/leader/teacher/guru really living the life they teach?

If you can't judge your teacher because they are opaque about their lives, then I suggest you find another teacher.

In other words, being a believer doesn't mean you have to be gullible.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Interesting question to ponder. I know/have known personally, a number of the acclaimed motivational speakers, writers, gurus of our time. My serial entrepreneurial life has allowed me to cross paths with people at all levels of our society. I do my best not to pass judgment on what others believe or how they choose to live, but being a very pragmatic individual, I find myself shaking my head and rolling my eyes at how gullible people can be. I guess that's because, when I look in the mirror, I see one of those people. I believe people want to believe in and belong to something that grounds them. Unfortunately, we all too often buy into charisma or hokus pokus. Add to your sweat lodge story the story of Bernie Madoff. Same story essentially, different stage.

Mary Matzek said...

Untruths are in and of themselves harmful. Though much good is done under the name of religious teachings and by religious people; and prayer and belief are soothing to practitioners, to be awake as a non-believer, I find such freedom and empowerment to be a natural citizen of my planet with no encumbrances that defy logic, the better way to live life. Not much help, but even as a child when I was very devoted to my church and religious teachings, I didn't actually "feel" love for Jesus. I questioned, mentally.I couldn't understand how fellow students I knew to be "wicked" according to religious teachings, were treated with such deference and respect by teachers and nuns. I guess I was always questioning and I'm glad I did. One of my five brothers was ever mentally confused by his religious training and the reality he saw about him. (negatively). Others I know who continually press religion on others because they want corroboration that it is right, mentally battle and forcefully proclaim and reject non belief and doubts. To live with it, they invent their own comfort around their teachings. But, when they are confronted, they are defensive and can't stand to let a doubt creep in. Religious leaders thunder hate, under the title of love from their pulpits. Let the truth be out and religion go the way of the witch hunters.
Mary Matzek

Gayle Maria said...

Walk a labyrinth, any labyrinth, and you will find that it is NOT a "confusing path of networks," but one long, concentric path that switches the seeker back and forth, but always forward -- just like life does -- sending the seeker ever forward to the powerful center where energy exists that powers answers to the seeker's life questions. It is a comforting experience to ask a question of the universe as one walks into the labyrinth, and walk forward towards the answer which awaits in the center. The labyrinth is an age-old modality existing since the Crusades. Google 'labyrinth Chartes Cathedral, France, for more inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Robert Anton Wilson wisely wrote something to the effect of:

"It's no coincidence that the abbreviation for Belief System is BS."

Anonymous said...

People trying to take your money can usually not be trusted. In my experience, that goes for all religious organizations and their adherents. If there is a spiritual leader to the organization, then 99 times out of 100, he is trying to take your money or get you to take other people's money and give it to him. He live a lifestyle that is lavish and he has an insatiable need for your money to ever increase it.

Randy said...

Thank you Gayle---re; Definition of labyrinth. Yours is far more inspirational than the one I got from the dictionary.

Thank you Mary for sharing your experiences and insights. Also love your scintillating blog: On the road with Jim and Mary.