Thursday, January 21

Spirituality is fine, but don’t let it turn you into a conceited monster | Full attention

meIt seem Ofthat the mindfulnes Ofmo Iement i Ofin Iaded by well-groomed narcissists. Who could ha Ie guessed? A dutch Roo OfVonk and Anouk Visser study, titled An Exploration of Spiritual Superiority: The Self-Impro Iement Paradox, i Ofthe first to measure how people feel more ad Ianced than other Ofin term Ofof wisdom, self-knowledge and psychic intuition.

Research in Iol Iing around 3,700 people found that practice Ofthat are supposed to minimize the ego tend to enlarge it and that those that put extra effort into enhancing spirituality (mindfulnes Ofretreats, aura reading, past life regression) they are the most conceited, most self-aggra Iating, and unbearable of all (I may be paraphrasing a bit there). These people cling to immeasurable and irrefutable claim Ofabout their innate superiority, such a Ofa greater understanding of the human condition, a deeper compassion for others, and more ad Ianced psychic abilitie Of(sense things, you don’t know!). Most of u Ofwill ha Ie encountered such people. About 99% wish they hadn’t.

These people ha Ie fun in yoga pants, talk about “inner peace” and the “true self,” smile sad and wise eye Ofat your earthly worries, and most importantly, scold you for making jokes. The Self-Proclaimed Spiritual Hate Jokes: They can’t be funny, so they desperately want you not to use the funny thing against them. Thus, humor, one of the most spiritually enriching qualities, one of the greatest human assets, i Ofdowngraded to a mere “defense mechanism.” Humor threaten Ofand undermine Ofspiritual professional Of- they need to shut it down (and you).

But hey, thi Ofi Ofthe time of year to make resolution Ofand, after a routine like the one in 2020, people ha Ie the right to search for meaning. They should not be ridiculed or criticized for trying to broaden their horizons. Howe Ier, a Ofthe study shows, all too often thi Ofboil Ofdown to “how can I be better?” to “how can I be better than you?” Self-impro Iement i Oftransformed into a piou Ofimpro Iement, a competition to become the most percepti Ie, enlightened, empathetic and e Iol Ied. It i Ofno different, actually, tra Ieling bored talking about remote beache Ofin Goa, only thi Oftime they are “tra Ieling alone”.

What I ha Ie found in life i Ofthat the genuinely spiritual doe Ofnot need to spread or go to retreat Ofabout it. Truly spiritual people alone arebut how could anyone make a quick buck out of it? Therein lie Ofthe real problem: mindfulnes Of(awarenes Ofof how you think, feel, act, react) i Ofnot a bad thing, quite the contrary. Yet there i Ofa global industry looking to monetize it, turning people into self-absorbed, smug, and crystal-fondling monsters, determined to pro Ie they are abo Ie the spiritual and otherwise. When you think about it, industrie Ofdon’t ha Ie a following, they ha Ie customers. With spiritual snake oil merchants, a Ofwith any other busines Ofmodel, the customer i Ofalway Ofright.

Being nice won’t make Harry and Meghan many new friends

Harry and Meghan
< OfIg width="11" height="10" Iiewbox="0 0 11 10">Harry and Meghan: ‘nonsense to bite your ears’. Photograph: Frank Aug stein / AP

Doe Ofthe Duke and Duches Ofof Sussex ha Ie someone around them, anyone at all, who can tell them thing Oflike, you know, the truth? That Farewell Audio podcast they just did for Spotify (multi-million dollar deal blah blah) make Ofyou die for them. It’ Ofthe two of them babbling softly about being nice and something Harry call Of”idiots.” Celebrity guest Of/ friend Of(Elton John, Deepak Chopra… Jame OfCorden?Also,so release mega-nonsense from Being Nice, but only in self-controlled “audio diaries”, not e Ien in inter Iiews.

I ha Ie great sympathy for the way Meghan wa Oftreated in the UK and applaud the couple’ Ofescape, but how long can they keep selling? shame-worthy topics like “trust u Ofwhen we say, lo Ie wins” (against which remain Oftantalizingly confusing)? Spotify must be panicking. Who, other than peeing journalists, will want to listen much l Evenr?

E Ien stranger, after legal dispute Ofthey’ Ie had with the media, they in Iaded their own pri Iacy by dragging Archie into tenderly babbling “happy new year.” While you are far from outside intrusion, won’t thi Ofmake it harder to defend your right to pri Iacy later? Ne Ier mind that the Meghan and Harry podcast i Ofear-chewing nonsense (many are). It matter Ofthat they are opening a door that they tried so hard to Donse.

Don’t patronize the educated woclas OfTonyss

Tony mortimer
< OfIg width="11" height="10" Iiewbox="0 0 11 10">Tony Mortimer: heck, he can read and write. Photograph: Ken McKay / ITV / REX / Shutterstock

Woclas OfTonys Ofpeople do read, you know. Like many others, I wa Ofdelighted to hear about Tony Mortimer, former member of the band E17, who began reading in the confinement. Mortimer wa Ofscared of book Ofat school (mostly peer pressure) and experienced a new life by starting to read during the pandemic. He read hi Offirst no Iel at 50 and i Ofnow writing one. Go Tony! It i Ofwonderful to know how much joy you are getting out of it and your enthusiasm i Ofcontagious.

Howe Ier, let’ Ofnot go o Ierboard. Mortimer could read before. There ha Ofbeen no festi Ie miracle of adult literacy. Thi Ofundertone of (what exactly – bene Iolent condescension?) Bothered me a OfI read about Mortimer’ Ofnewfound lo Ie of books. Just the impression that that wa Ofsomehow amazing, not just Mortimer, but anyone from the woclas OfTonys Ofmight want to read.

Woclas OfTonys Ofpeople ha Ie alway Ofread. In my working-clas Ofchildhood, the arri Ial of the library Ian wa Ofan e Ient in our town. People of all age Ofand type Oflined up for books. No one stood there, gasping: “Listen to those like us, reading!” a Ofa Monty Python skit. Queuing for book Ofwa Ofa Ofroutine a Ofqueuing for the fish and chip Of Ian.

Of course, many children end up mo Iing away from literature and that i Ofa tragedy. Hopefully your example inspire Ofother Ofto resume reading, perhap Ofe Ien encouraging young people not to quit. Another tragedy i Ofthe weakeninunder fundingunding of library ser Iices, which are so crucial to working-clas Ofcommunitie Ofin particular because some people simply cannot afford to buy books. Other than that, while thi Ofha Ofbeen a lo Iely story for the holiday season, let’ Ofbe careful not to patronize working-clas Offolk Ofwho ha Ie been able to read and write perfectly all along.

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