Real Men Feel: Ep. 198, Behind The Scenes of Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment

August 11, 2020

Behind The Scenes of Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment Episode 198, August 11, 2020

Investigate journalist, author, editor, and podcaster, Matt Stroud, discusses his series on James Arthur Ray, Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment, and Andy’s part in it.

“The more I learned about James… the more I wanted to know about him, the self-help industry, and the people who were drawn to it.” ~ Matt Stroud

This episode is a rather bizarre show in that it is a podcast about another podcast, which covers events from ten years ago featuring self-help leader and featured teacher in The Secret, James Arthur Ray, who Andy had some involvement with.

Investigative journalist Matt Stroud thought was going to end up with a fluff piece on James Arthur Ray’s reintegration into society and the self-help community after serving two years in prison for negligent homicide related to the deaths of three of his students in a sweat lodge back in October of 2009. Matt found a much deeper story that made him want to know more about the self-help industry and those drawn to it.

Andy discovered James back in December, 20016 when he first read, The Secret. By July of 2009, Andy and his wife attended their second live event with James in San Diego. At that event, Andy witnessed a woman jump to her death. Following the deaths of three participants at James’ next event that October, the media went back to earlier events and discovered that death in San Diego was also an event participant.

Matt shares his experiences reporting for Guru while Andy shares what it was like to be part of it and listen to it ten years later. About halfway in, Matt flips the script and starts asking Andy many questions including, his experiences with sweat lodges, mystery schools, ayahuasca, and more. You can even see the posts I wrote about the San Diego event back in 2009, and when I learned the truth about Colleen Conoway.

Topics and Questions Include:

  • (1:38) How did investigative journalism bring you to the Guru project?
  • (4:10) Had you heard of James Arthur Ray before this?
  • (5:12) The events that the Guru series covers happened back in 2009, why look into it now?
  • (6:25) What first got you interested in being a reporter?
  • (7:42) What differentiates investigative reporting from general reporting? 
  • (8:35) What did you initially think this story on James would be?
  • (9:23) What first made you think there’s something more here?
  • (10:10) The backstory on James Arthur Ray and the deaths in Sedona, Arizona, in Oct 2009.
  • (13:02) Andy’s involvement with James.
  • (16:58) Matt starts asking Andy questions. How did it feel having your name bandied about as being involved?
  • (18:23) Attempting to police the self-help industry. Is it all a scam?
  • (23:46) James was the first person Andy heard mention being part of a mystery school.
  • (26:00) Matt attends a James event in 2015 as a reporter.
  • (35:00) The cult of James.
  • (36:13) The disconnect between what James said and did.
  • (40:08) Andy’s experience listening to the Guru podcast.
  • (42:07) Many people had positive experiences with James.
  • (43:44) Still so much to learn from Sedona and James’ response to it.
  • (46:19) Andy makes it to a sweat lodge.
  • (51:21) Matt asks about Andy trying ayahuasca.
  • (55:39) Matt asks what Andy took away from ayahuasca and sweat lodge experiences.
  • (57:37) Matt asks for some of the quality self-help leaders of today.
  • (1:01:25) What’s next for Matt?
  • (1:04:07) Do you have tips for Matt? 

“Part of me is adversarial, and journalism always has been the way to get into that adversarial part of my nature without being a terrible person.” ~ Matt Stroud

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Real Men Feel: Behind The Scenes of Guru, The Dark Side of Enlightenment with Matt Stroud
Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

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