After Sweat Lodge Deaths, Will Self-Help Pause to Reconsider?

Another follower, Brian Essad, who works in event production, was attracted to Ray because he wanted to take his finances to a higher level.

"I want to attract the money to my life that I'm entitled to and I deserve," Essad said, speaking with ABC News, near his vision board.

Essad had to reach deep into his pockets to attend several Ray events, scraping together the nearly $10,000 fee for the Sedona retreat. "That's a huge chunk of my yearly income,'' Essad said.

But Essad credits Ray with teaching him to be more responsible with his money, even if he admits that he now has less of it.

"I don't actually have enough cash in my account to pay all these bills,'' he told ABC. "So I'm just kinda putting out there what I need to attract the money I need to pay all these."

"Once they hook into you and they realize they have a live one, they just keep coming -- until they pump you dry," said Steve Salerno, author of "Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless."

Another guru featured prominently in "The Secret" is Joe Vitale, a self-described "metaphysician." Instead of running high-intensity seminars, he prefers to sell individual "Rolls Royce Phantom Mastermind" sessions.

For $7,500, Vitale spends three hours with clients tasting the good-life in his Rolls. He also markets his own margarita mix,"Fit-O-Rita," and another drink called "Youth Juice," and a sticker of a Russian doll, for wish fulfillment. List price: $39.

But on that horrible day in Sedona last October, three of Ray's followers who thought they were joining him in the desert to enhance their lives and fortunes died after the sweat lodge. Twenty others were treated at hospitals. For most participants, the five days preceding the sweat lodge incident had been filled with limit-pushing exercises, including a 36-hour solitary fast in the desert with no food or water.

James Ray: A Pied Piper?

"You trust a man like James Ray to show you those limits," said Salerno. "You trust the fact that he's not going to lead you over the cliff. These people become pied pipers."

The tragedy wasn't just a physical and emotional trauma. For Ray's followers, it was a philosophical crisis as well. After all, how could such a horrible thing happen to people practicing the Law of Attraction?

On Monday, ABC's Dan Harris put the question to Ray himself, on Ray's subscriber-only Internet radio show:

James Ray: So who do we have on the line, I apologize I don't have the nameā€¦but I know you are holding?

Dan Harris: Hi James. My name is Dan Harris, I am from ABC News. And my question is, If the Law of Attraction really works -- and you know how to use it, why have so many bad things happened to you and your followers?

James Ray: Well, you know Dan, um, Mickey, I think we need to flush Dan right, right on down the stream, because, um, that's -- that's not something that we are going to talk to here. And if you had been following along, you would recognize that part of going down the stream is getting in the rapids.

Ray: Holocaust Brought 'Opportunities'

Ray has a history of finding the unlikely bright side of tragedy -- even history's greatest tragedies.

Back in 2007, Ray tried to explain the Holocaust and 9/11 in an interview with ABC.

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