by Gary Tillery
"It’s quite possible to do anything, but not if you put it on the leaders. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books—the instructions are all there for all to see. I can’t wake you up; you can wake you up. I can’t cure you; you can cure you." —John Lennon
In The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon, author Gary Tillery brings readers the first spiritual and intellectual biography of this seminal musical and cultural figure. Much has been said about John Lennon the Beatle—his rock star evolution and tragic fate. More than a mundane, temporal biography covering Lennon’s life, music, and death, The Cynical Idealist is a soulful portrait of John Lennon’s very being, illuminating the spiritual transformation of a man who influenced the world in a way few others had during the course of the twentieth century. The world could not ignore something extraordinary in Lennon. What was it that set Lennon apart from his fellow bandmates, causing the media to label him the "intellectual" of the group?
At just 23 years old, at the height of Beatlemania, the brash and young Lennon was on top of the world, even declaring the band’s popularity had eclipsed that of Jesus Christ. Despite his fame, internally, Lennon was experiencing a dark night of the soul. The turning point came for Lennon, locked in a bathroom during the winter of 1966. As he knelt at the pinnacle of his self-alienation, held hostage by his own existential and emotional breakdown, Lennon pleaded with God to show him the way. Lennon’s unrequited appeal proved to be the catalyst for his emergence as an iconoclast, albeit, altruistic leader. Tillery walks us through Lennon’s personal spiritual journey; his experimentation with drugs; his encounters with the Maharishi; his undertaking of primal scream therapy; and his relationship with Yoko Ono.
John Lennon’s spiritual death and rebirth crystallized a global anthem of planetary peace and love that transcends labels, dogma, and social expectations, offering the gift of hope for the coming generation. Praised and ridiculed in equal measure, investigated by the FBI, hounded by the media and ultimately assassinated, Britain’s “Man of the Decade” ignited a revolution of our consciousness. This extraordinary figure deserves an extraordinary book and, in The Cynical Idealist, Tillery provides readers with a new and fascinating framework for assessing Lennon’s life and works.