Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to spirituality. Something, that at its heart is so noble and worthy, underwent a terrible transition into dogma and creed around the time that certain men found it could be harvested, packaged and sold like any other commodity.
At the same time that those who extracted and distorted its core values were doing so they also accidentally discovered that it was also possible to use religion as a control mechanism. This was, and still is, a method through which the minds of the masses are indoctrinated with a whole raft of erroneous ideas that is ultimately designed to extract money, or energy, or even both, from the unsuspecting.
Most of us are attracted to the modern spiritual movement because we feel that these disciplines are entirely free of the bigoted BS and rigid control mechanisms of all our major traditional religions. We feel that through the cultivation of our own spiritual lives we are free to develop that all-important connection to the Universal Consciousness by utilising a process that is unhampered by limitations and which is free from the shackles of conformity.
We generally remain rather comforted by these thoughts; that is until some wise-ass comes along and, with no sense of remorse or penance regarding what they are doing, disavows us of our cherished belief in the authenticity of our spiritual practices.
J. P. Sears just so happens to be one of those very smart, smart-asses – someone who appears to want to pull the rug out from under everyone’s spiritual feet. In fact as those who visit his YouTube channel AwakenWith JP will tell you his approach to spirituality is very anarchic, totally irreverent, and mostly disrespectful of the spiritual status quo.
To cap it all off he also seems to think that spirituality needs a sense of humour. I don’t know why. It has survived for thousands of years without one thank you very much.
Higher Than God’s Hat
In his book How to be Ultra Spiritual, Sears wields the English language around like it is a scythe cutting this way and that through the core fundamentals of politically correct New Age beliefs. The stubble that remains does appear to be spiritual but as a reader you sometimes wonder whether what is left has any value or sustenance to it any more.
The goal, as far as Spears is concerned, and it is a little odd that Spears rhymes with shears – another implement used to prune excess, is to shift the readers consciousness into a plane of endeavour that he feels resonates to a higher cosmic vibration. He refers to this by the term Ultra Spirituality but to reach it you have to be prepared to jump higher than a gurus string of prayer flags.
One of the first casualties to be caught up in the Sears sights is that most treasured staple of modern spirituality, ‘feelings’. These, according to the author are the first and last refuge of the vacuous and vain…and he has little time for either it or them. This, quite naturally, creates a problem given that a good fifty percent of all popular psychology and self-help books are focussed upon the ‘emotional nature’.
Instead of wallowing in self-absorbency the author recommends that the reader cultivates happiness as an alternative. Happiness? Does he not realise that there can be no place for such a thing in spirituality. It’s all about suffering don’t you know!
Anyway, what else is in the book? Well, Sears and his shears then goes off after those vitally important members of our spiritual community – the mindful gurus and awakened teachers. Surely, one thinks, he cannot actually be suggesting that the world of modern spirituality no longer needs their over-price books, dull enlightenment workshops, and even their kundalini-raising trips to Manu Picchu? After all, without them all we have left as aspiring light-beings is recourse to our own feelings. (See above)
And so the book continues on in much the same vein with many cherished aspects to modern spirituality falling foul of the Sears scythe. Finally, in what seems to be a deliberate attempt to wrench the final dying gasp out of the carefully-cultivated life style of the average spiritual New Age initiate, Sears drops a philosophical bombshell. In his scurrilous book he poses the question:
Are you reading this book or is this book reading you?
After ploughing through two hundred and fifty odd pages of a total brain fart one is seriously left wondering.
This book needs to receive two awards in my view. Firstly, it deserves a prize for winning the Worst Book Cover Ever Award (we do not like our gurus to be depicted as if they are posing in a photoshoot for a hippy magazine, thank you) and secondly for being one of the cleverest, most humorous and genuinely challenging pieces of spiritual writing it has ever been my pleasure to digest.
The key to this book is, in a sense, its utter ruthlessness when exposing the accepted mores inherent within modern spirituality. Sears incisive examination of many of the New Age’s core values finds that they are, in fact, as old, tired, decrepit, and defunct as the religions of old that they like to think they have replaced. In fact as Sears points out time and again, modern spirituality with its age-old theme of self-negation, its tired mystical verbiage, and false veneration of those who still engage in the centuries-old ‘messiah complex’. can have no place in the process of true and authentic psychospiritual liberation.
How to be Ultra Spiritual is a book that will polarise attitudes within the world of modern spirituality, for it is often rude, offensive, and sacrilegious – but then, are these not the very qualities that frees us from dogma? (See Monty Python’s film The Life of Brian is a good example of this at work.)
By way of contrast the book is also very funny, highly insightful, and poignant to a point that it almost hurts. Above all else though, it reveals the nature of paradox by, rather ironically, being paradoxical itself.
So, whilst the deliciously warped mindset of J P Sears takes some getting used to, once you tune into his Ultra Spiritual vibe you suddenly awaken to the fact that actually his book on the subject IS indeed actually reading YOU rather than the other way around. Through its ability to painfully expose your foibles; as well as to highlight your misconceptions about yourself and your place in the spiritual world, you finally reach the last page of this book realising that in fact this is an utterly transforming, and occasionally mind-blowingly-brilliant, work of contemporary spiritual philosophy.