America's New Gurus

2021, Religion  -  42 min Leave a Comment
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In this feature, the search for enlightenment is brought into focus. It follows several individuals who are considered to be religious leaders by their communities. These communities tend to proliferate in the United States, especially since entities that register as a religion can spread their message freely and they also enjoy some economic kickbacks. Among the movements are what can be called 'New Age' communities, which are reminiscent of the 90s New Age movements.

The followers of these movements are searching for meaning, healing, and even contact with extraterrestrial life forms. They include people from all walks of life and to a large extent the rich and famous since access to some of these spiritual leaders can cost thousands of dollars.

One shaman, who also happens to be the husband of a princess, connects with spirits and in one session can offer any client that is feeling a sense of emptiness some sense of release, energy, and fulfillment.

Another leader uses the toxic secretions from a frog to offer healing sessions to clients with conditions such as cancer. This session is usually done in a group and the side effects of exposure include vomiting, palpitations, and dizziness but are said to have anti-microbial and antibiotic properties.

James Arthur Ray is another of the leaders with an interesting story that includes death, imprisonment, and a big comeback.

We also get another interesting perspective from one 'cult' whose message is all about communicating with aliens and sparking controversial conversations.

This documentary raises questions about the true cost of enlightenment, to the spiritual leaders and the followers and also asks the question of who really benefits from the exchange. Often, followers are put in danger and risk their health because of the level of dedication these leaders spark into them. Should there be more legal regulations around the formation of these communities? Should they simply be ignored as frivolities and superficial movements or are they genuinely harmful not just to the members but to unwitting members of society in general?

One thing is certain. The search for life's meaning is a centuries-old phenomenon that is likely to continue for generations. The non-traditional paths towards this endeavor make for an interesting watch.

Directed by: Gary Grabil, Flora Desponts