What type of people spend £85,000 + VAT for seven days of therapy? The answer is millionaires… of which Leicestershire appears to have more than its fair share. And the ludicrously expensive therapy referred to is provided, ever-so-kindly, by Jamie Smart — author of the just released #1 best-selling self-help book, Clarity: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results (2013).
Until last year Smart worked from Aylestone, Leicester, as the owner of Salad Seminars — which appears to be “one of the premier NLP [Neurolinguistic programming] and hypnosis training companies in the UK.” He then sold this business to an old NLP friend, and has since set out upon a new therapeutic trajectory which he has trademarked as Innate Thinking® and which he administers from his new base in Mayfair, London.
So if you have a spare £85,000 to hand, then Smart offers exclusive Clarity Retreats where he says: “You and I spend 7 days together in a beautiful location of your choice doing 1:1 coaching and mentoring to create your most wonderful life.”
This is apparently a holiday strictly reserved for those wealthy capitalists, or idle rich, who have “found the limits” of their “current ‘game plan for living’, and have an adventurous spirit”; unfortunately, the rest of us will simply have to make do with his book, or attend one of his many public talks.
So what is the secret behind what Smart has termed Innate Thinking®? Well it turns out that Innate Thinking® is a fairly shallowly disguised rehash of the theosophical mysticism that was made popular in the mid-1970s (in Smart’s homeland of Canada) by the late Sydney Banks (1931-2009).
As Smart recounts in Clarity, his path to eventual clarity was not an easy one and he had to “read hundreds of personal development books” and attend dozens of self-help courses; and even then, despite raking in millions via his NLP enterprise, Smart sadly “wasn’t having a feeling of success.” This had been an ongoing problem for Smart, and he writes:
In brief: I grew up in an alcoholic household and started drinking heavily when I was 12 years old. By age 19, I was a scholarship engineering student and a full-blown alcoholic. The alcohol was like rocket fuel for my life — I got jobs, was promoted rapidly, and started experiencing many of the trappings of success – expense accounts, foreign travel, luxurious surroundings — but on the inside, I was slowly falling apart.
This very brief background might help explain his dedication to self-help books, but as to shedding light on his own financial success it is useful to know that he was born to wealth – having, as a boy, attended Shawnigan Lake School, which could be likened to Canada’s own version of Hogwarts (where fees are currently £26,000 a year).
In Clarity, Smart thanks Sydney Banks, the Canadian theosophist who brought clarity to his own life “for sharing what you saw…” But who one might ask is this Banks fellow?
Well other than his handful of best-selling theosophical novels, not that much was known about Banks, until, that is, he gave a one-off interview to a newspaper in 2007. As a result his critical interlocutor surmised:
In a nutshell, Banks teaches that people are unhappy because they choose to be unhappy. To put it bluntly, Banks’s psychological approach to past emotional trauma is basically: Deal with it. Get over it. Move on.
As Smart reiterates:
Strange as it may seem, “insecurity” is the result of a misunderstanding; the result of the mistaken belief that our feelings can come from somewhere other than our thinking.
Or as Banks himself puts it:
All humans have the inner ability to synchronize their personal mind with their impersonal mind to bring harmony to their lives.
None of these spiritual tips are new, as they are merely the perennial “truths” of the self-help industry. Unhelpful tips that suggest that change lies within, and external factors — be they abusive relationships, drug addiction, or poverty wages — can all be remedied by clearing ones mind and forgetting about them. As Smart says: “Think less, achieve more.”
Smart is not the first self-help coach to become one of Sydney Banks’ fervent and well remunerated disciples: others include big-name feel-good authors, such as Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (1997), and internationally renowned success coach Michael Neill, whose latest book is titled The Inside-Out Revolution:The Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever (2013).
With the ongoing crisis of capitalism, corporate and political elites are now flocking to self-help consultants (like Smart and his friends) in a desperate bid to bring meaning to their otherwise predatory and destructive lives. In turn, in exchange for thousands of pounds, Smart and his congenial colleagues then help the ruling class feel good (or better) about leaching off the rest of society: while the corporate media preach confusion to the rest of us, misinforming us that the solutions to our very real problems actually lie within ourselves, and not within anything silly like socialism.
Following on from this austerity-facilitated growth in the highly profitable self-help industry, in 2011 something called the 3 Principles Professional Institute was formed to propagate Sydney Banks’ spiritual insight: that is, to follow the three principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought to awaken people to their innate health. One significant faculty member of the Institute is Don Donovan, who most recently “served as president of BAE SYSTEMS’ Electronic Warfare Line of Business” and is presently the executive director of the Three Principles Global Community.
Another interesting member of the 3 Principles Professional Institute is clinical psychologist, Cathy Casey, who “is especially known for pioneering the 3 Principles to prison inmates in the California Correctional System.” She is noteworthy in the context of this article because Smart tweeted (late last year) that he had “Just spent a phenomenal 3 days with Cathy Casey & the wonderful group on Trainer Training.”
Clearly Smart has now seen the short-sightedness of his NLP days and has latched upon the one real cure for all the world’s ills, the 3 Principles. So it should come as no surprise that earlier this year, Smart tweeted that he was “on the team for Michael Neill’s London Supercoach Masterclass” (as part of Neill’s highly popular Supercoach Academy); and announced that he was honoured to have Neill speaking at the April launch for his book.
Befitting a man whose recent life has been devoted to the cultish practice of NLP, and now the 3 Principles of innate health, Smart is truly ignorant of working-class history; as exemplified by such books like Howard Zinn’s amazing A People’s History of the United States: 1482 – Present (1980). Instead Smart dismisses historical accounts that illustrate how normal people have organised and fought, long and hard, for democracy and all of its conveniences; as according to the 3 Principles, material struggles for democracy and socialism are futile.
However, unlike his guru Sydney Banks, who frowned upon reading books — perhaps only because Banks simply didn’t need to read as he was in contact with the entire world’s collective unconsciousness — Smart, as a more down-to-earth practitioner, clearly enjoys reading. Unfortunately the type of books he consumes may not be contributing much to the clarity of his mind, as in one recent tweet he writes: “I’m reading the superb book ‘The Science Delusion’ by @RupertSheldrake – mind-expanding, evolutionary stuff. Highly recommended!”
Dr Rupert Sheldrake is yet another theosophist, albeit a more scientifically orientated one, most famous for coining the term morphic resonance, which was first expounded in his popular nonsensical book A New Science of Life (1981). Sheldrake is faculty chair for Holistic Science at Wisdom University, a so-called university, which as I noted in an earlier article, serves to provide “spiritual guidance for corporate and political elites who have lost their way (and inner peace) in the harsh capitalist, individualistic, secular world that they promote as the panacea for the world’s problems.”
It is funny to note that just a few months before Smart left his post about the “superb” Sheldrake he tweeted that one of his “favourite TED talks” was Richard Dawkin’s “Why the universe seems so strange.” This is deeply ironic given the well-known fact that Dawkin’s is one of the most unrelenting critics of the type of mumbo jumbo promoted by theosophists like Sheldrake. (For more on this, see David Marks’ book The Psychology of the Psychic.)
Learning from historical lessons is of course vital if we as the human race are to collectively move forward in time to a more just, non-capitalist, political and economic order.
Unfortunately, there will always be people like Sydney Banks, Jamie Smart and the Tim Luckcock’s of this world, who, in the name of equality and justice, actually stand firmly in the way of its fruition. Thus what we need to learn from them is not that all change lies within ourselves (although some does), but that nearly all progressive social advancement has come about through individuals joining with one another to fight our very real material and capitalist oppressors… just as the staff at Uplands Junior School in Leicester succeeded in doing today through their exemplary strike action.