Stewart Dixon’s new book, Spirituality for Badasses: How to Find Inner Peace & Happiness Without Losing Your Cool, feels like a modern, Jeff Spicoli version of the Hunter S. Thompson novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Whereas the latter book focused on the hedonism and debauchery concurrent to the time period the novel was written (specifically 1971, post-Summer of Love era of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll), the new it factor is spirituality, and spiritual seeking.
Dixon writes with the same kind of irreverent, F-all cadence, but arguably about a deeper, more layered subject matter. The book is something of a memoir, as well as something of a leadership advice guide with an occultist twist. Literally and metaphorically the book is a sort of road trip and showcasing of different people, movements, and beliefs making up what now entombs Dixon’s own outlook on spirituality, self-growth, and self-care. Dixon has branded aspects of his spiritualist philosophy as ‘modern mindfulness’, adding a twenty first century twist to aged techniques. Ideologically, it’s sort of like dropping a sugar cube into a glass of fine wine, adding a sort of irreverent and grounded edge to the whole affair. Dixon clearly believes in what he promotes, but he’s able to poke fun at himself. He’s not interested in an excessively guru-esque demeanor, or coming across as someone who is sorely lacking in a sense of humor. The kind of approach he employs almost reminds me of the character Socrates from Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Someone who is confident enough in their having the answers, they never have to put on a somber and borderline pretentious facade.
Such aforementioned qualities include passages like the following, where Dixon focuses the discussion on the power of removing denial from one’s experiences. He christens the header with the label Spiritual Badass Lesson. “Exposing denial and then placing our attention on that which we have been denying is Spiritual Badass Kung-fu. It’s the gateway into reclaiming lost parts of our humanity, sanity and happiness,” he writes. “As evidenced by my personal anecdote, it’s not necessarily easy…but it is possible.
Knowing that it is possible and developing the courage and fortitude to proceed is where we begin. We should also acknowledge that our denial has served us, protected us and saved us. But its service, as shown in the story of the two priests and the Tao, is now outdated and no longer required. The most effective way to meet and dissipate denial is with compassion, caring and understanding. Three basic things you can do to dissipate denial: One – Select something you may be in denial about. Two – Write out the details of the denial in a letter to yourself. Three – Confide in someone about it.”
It’s this shedding of typical, formalist intonations and the possession of a good sense of fun that makes Spirituality for Badasses, along with J. Stewart Dixon, entertaining – but never at the expense of holistically sharing material. That’s to be commended.