11 episodes

When we face challenges in life, we seek answers from people we believe can help us. When tragedy strikes an exclusive retreat with a self-help superstar, many people are left to wonder: how far is too far? James Arthur Ray was an Oprah-endorsed self-help teacher who achieved fame, fortune, and influence. But friends and family members of his followers questioned his unorthodox methods, and tried to stop him. From Wondery, the makers of “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “The Shrink Next Door,” comes a story about the dark side of enlightenment. Hosted by journalist Matt Stroud.
New episodes will come out weekly.

Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment Wondery

    • True Crime
    • 3.7 • 6.7K Ratings

When we face challenges in life, we seek answers from people we believe can help us. When tragedy strikes an exclusive retreat with a self-help superstar, many people are left to wonder: how far is too far? James Arthur Ray was an Oprah-endorsed self-help teacher who achieved fame, fortune, and influence. But friends and family members of his followers questioned his unorthodox methods, and tried to stop him. From Wondery, the makers of “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “The Shrink Next Door,” comes a story about the dark side of enlightenment. Hosted by journalist Matt Stroud.
New episodes will come out weekly.

    Introducing: Smoke Screen - I am Rama

    Introducing: Smoke Screen - I am Rama

    Hosted by award-winning journalist Jonathan Hirsch, I Am Rama tells the story of Rama, a teacher whose brand of spirituality leaned hard into the burgeoning tech industry. This new season in an unflinching investigation that’s reflective and personal into the rise and fall of this spiritual leader of the 80s and 90s who blended meditation with computer programming.  By following his advice, some students found wild success in computer programming. Others lied their way into jobs and were shunned from the industry.  You’ll hear personal stories from the people who studied with Rama, a mix of students who loved and loathed Rama and much more. See our Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and our California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 5 min
    Introducing: The Devil Within

    Introducing: The Devil Within

    It’s a case that has haunted Jefferson Township, New Jersey, for more than 30 years. On a snowy January night, 14-year-old Tommy Sullivan did the unthinkable: he murdered his mother in cold blood, set fire to their house, and then took his own life.

    Out of the flames of this horrible tragedy, investigations revealed that Tommy was, himself, a part of a Satanic Cult, sparking a nationwide hysteria now known as the “Satanic Panic”

    This monumental moment in American culture led to communities nationwide enforcing draconian measures to protect their children from what they perceived to be the devil’s influence. Even the Catholic church was convinced this was a case of demonic possession.

    On the new podcast, The Devil Within, the truth of the grisly murder is finally revealed. 

    Did Tommy act alone? Did he really commit suicide? Is his cult still in power? The Devil Within finally sheds light on questions left unanswered for decades...

    Listen Here: wondery.fm/TheDevilWithin See our Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and our California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 8 min
    Cult Buster

    Cult Buster

    Matt Stroud speaks with cult expert Rick Ross about his controversial “cult busting” career and how it led to his involvement in the James Arthur Ray case.

    Binge ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/guru See our Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and our California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 35 min
    Seeking Safe Self-Help

    Seeking Safe Self-Help

    Matt Stroud, Ginny Brown and Laura Tucker sit down with Laura Beil, host of Dr. Death and Bad Batch, for a live Q&A at the GURU virtual listening premiere.

    Binge ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/guru

    Support the show by supporting our sponsors!

    Simplisafe - Head to Simplisafe.com/GURU for free shipping and a 60 day money back guarantee.

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    ShipStation - Use offer code GURU at ShipStation.com for a FREE 60 day trial! See our Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and our California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 40 min
    The Business of Redemption

    The Business of Redemption

    Ginny gets an unwelcome interruption before Thanksgiving. And a fan of James Ray’s faces a stark choice.

    Binge ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/guru

    Support the show by supporting our sponsors!

    Simplisafe - Head to Simplisafe.com/GURU for free shipping and a 60 day money back guarantee.

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    ShipStation - Use offer code GURU at ShipStation.com for a FREE 60 day trial!

    • 37 min
    Play Full On

    Play Full On

    The trial may be over, but Ginny’s family are not finished with James. And when another incident from James’ past comes to light, they get another chance to confront him.

    Binge ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/guru




    Support the show by supporting our sponsors!

    Simplisafe - Head to Simplisafe.com/GURU for free shipping and a 60 day money back guarantee.

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    ShipStation - Use offer code GURU at ShipStation.com for a FREE 60 day trial! See our Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and our California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5
6.7K Ratings

6.7K Ratings

Firedancer71 ,

It was listen worthy

Not one of Wondery’s best podcasts, but still with a listen. I think it’s important for people to be educated on this subject matter. Between this, Nxivm, and other recent cult activities seen in the media, it seems that what once had a heavy focus of drawing people into some kind of attainment of enlightenment that had a heavy religious focus drawing people in back in the 70s, 80s and 90s has shifted into this self-help/be your strongest self garbage these past 20 years that is used to slowly manipulate and brainwash people. It is absolutely abominable.

Sozz2 ,

Compelling and Crazy story

Hey Matt, I really enjoyed this crazy and compelling story about James Earl Ray and the way that you told it. I couldn’t wait to hear each new episode. Scary how much certain people can hold influence and control over other human beings like that. Congrats on the gig with Wondery and Great work on this podcast! Give a shout to Lindsey Graham for me, I also LOVED his wicked game podcast. #NAforlife. 😉

Hoopstar83 ,

Disturbing & informative

I’m a huge true crime buff, but this story upset me more than any other I have heard. I don’t remember if there was a trigger warning in the beginning... but the first episode has a dramatic retelling of the terrible event and it was so visceral and disturbing to me, that I had horrible nightmares that night. Which hasn’t happened in a long time.
I’m glad I listened through the whole podcast, because the later episodes had discussions about how to be a safe self help practitioner, and generally left things on a more uplifting note. I would just be aware if you have a trauma history, you may not want to listen to this. Especially without researching the crime before so you know what you are about to hear.

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