cover image How to be Ultra Spiritual: 12½ steps to Spiritual Superiority

How to be Ultra Spiritual: 12½ steps to Spiritual Superiority

J.P. Sears. Sounds True, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-62203-821-3

Sears translates his satirical YouTube series on spirituality crazes to a self-help guide in this humorous send-up. Ultra spirituality is the more intense, more insistent version of new age that amplifies the common claims of the spiritual-but-not-religious set. For instance: quality meditation is determined by length; truths are truer if you can cite your guru; the best intuitions are the vaguest; and being present in the now is a weaker version of the real goal of being present in the soon. Filled with unhelpful advice, the chapters cover a wide range of topics to make sure you are on the path towards more enlightenment than anyone else. The parody offers sharp critique of self-righteous vegans, image-obsessed yoga practitioners, and greedy peddlers of spiritual advice. Sears is at his best in the chapters on competitive spirituality and during his more antagonistic takes on mindfulness and the hypocritical disparaging of religion by those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”. The joke wears a little thin at times but hits its targets with pressing questions. Opponents of shallow, commercialized spirituality will be delighted, and practitioners of the practices pilloried will be reminded how their intentions and attitudes might be blocking their aims. (Mar.)