I first heard this term on the 6 month Spiritual Development Program that I have just finished based on Sufi principles. It spoke to me and I found there was a book about it — Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters.
The term basically means that we avoid dealing with our painful feelings with the use of spiritual practises or beliefs.
I have used Spiritual Bypassing, not consciously, I’ve taken that attitude of telling people that something might be their karma, or to not to take something personally, because it’s the other person’s issue.
It all might be true, but, in that moment, it pushes people away, rather than connects them, because what is required in that moment is a sense of bonding, or compassion. Someone might be in pain and needs a hand, not a theory.
We all want to know we aren’t alone, and its far nicer to say you are sorry for something happening to someone rather than analysing why it happened to them.
Robert Augustus Masters says “Aspects of Spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgement about one’s negative or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”
That sentence says it all really, how having an emotional reaction to something, is seen as not being enlightened, or spiritually minded. How we escape into a theory about how we should handle something and bypass our humanness. How we find it hard to say NO when something isn’t the way we like it, because it’s not being positive. We can’t boundaries.
When my ex partner left me, I was off into the big picture, seeing how it was the best for us, how it was all perfect for our growth, and I could see both of our paths before us. I was so far off the planet and very disassociated from reality.
I have compassion for the person I was, because I was in deep shock, and it took me years to work through the pain, but it’s that sort of avoidance I’m talking about.
On the Sufi course I was have just finished, I was practising wonderful Sufi principles, and having such profound insights and shifts about my life, but at the end of it I realised that my head still had to keep up with the process, and know what was going on. I found it very hard to let go and trust and embody the process.
Being able to stay in my body and deal with the discomfort, and embody the practices, was key, rather than try to work out what the Arabic words meant. Of course the words do have meaning that does satisfy me on a few levels, but my goal is to stay in my body, not flit up to my head, or out into the ethers.
There’s a fine line between the detachment that is the goal of Spiritual practises,ie: Meditation, and being disconnected and disassociated. The practises should help you deal with the pain, not avoid it.
Being able to stay in our hearts is what connects us to an authentic spirituality, where we can stay grounded and real, but connected to other people, and a higher level of consciousness.
Are you Spiritually Bypassing?
This article first appeared on my website in May 2014.
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