Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment Cults, Famous, Investigative, Nonviolent, Wondery

Hosted By: Matt Stroud
Produced By: Wondery

Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment is a true crime podcast that tells the story of James Arthur Ray, an Oprah-endorsed self-help guru who achieved fame, fortune, and influence. But friends and family members of his followers questioned his unorthodox methods, and tried to stop him. In 2009, a tragedy struck an exclusive retreat with Ray, and three people died. The podcast explores the dark side of enlightenment, and asks the question: how far is too far?

Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment Podcast Host:

Matt Stroud is an investigative reporter with a focus on companies that do business with police departments and prisons. Formerly on staff at the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, and the Verge, he has also written for publications such as the Atlantic, Politico, Buzzfeed, and the Intercept. He lives in Pittsburgh.

Praise from Listeners*:

  • In-Depth Research: Listeners appreciate the extensive research and attention to detail, offering a comprehensive understanding of the self-help industry.
  • Cultural Impact: The podcast sparks essential conversations about personal growth, spiritual movements, and the potential dangers of blind devotion to charismatic leaders.
  • Unique Perspective: Instead of merely demonizing gurus, the podcast offers a nuanced perspective, exploring the psychological and societal factors that contribute to the rise of such figures.

Criticisms from Listeners*:

  • Length: Some listeners felt that the podcast was too long and repetitive. The podcast is 10 episodes long, and some listeners felt that the story could have been told in fewer episodes. Others felt that some of the episodes were repetitive, as they covered the same ground as previous episodes.
  • Focus on Ray: Listeners stated that the podcast’s focus is primarily on Ray, which took away from the stories of the victims.

* The True Crime Connection teams aims to keep this as an unbiased search database. In order to do this, we curate what people love the most and the least about a podcast by analysing ApplePodcast reviews.

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Both show and individual episode descriptions for listings on the TCC website have been submitted directly from the podcast featured or found online. We do our best to make sure all information is accurate, however; if there are any corrections to be made, please let us know here.