Cutting through Spiritual Bypassing • Finding the Jewel in the Lotus
A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks”.
The term was introduced in the early 1980s by John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist.
Some of the hallmarks of spiritual bypassing are the delusional belief in transcendence of the human incarnation and the possibly even psycho-spiritually damaging premature forgiveness.
In 2012, I read an article in Tricycle Magazine called “Into the Demon’s Mouth” (Aura Glaser) that used the story of Milarepa to illustrate what I call compartmentalized awareness. The article talked about spiritual practitioners and even Dharma teachers who had not yet dealt with underlying trauma or childhood issues.
“A lot of times we look at the things that we do without recognizing that what is really driving us is a need for approval…Sometimes our most obvious destructive behaviors conceal something else that is even more difficult for us to acknowledge. We may, for example be willing to acknowledge our anger, but, unwilling to look at (feel) the fear and vulnerability beneath it.”.
With all the focus in the mindfulness and other spiritual communities on Happiness as a goal, I see a big opening for a lot of spiritual by-passing that is not trauma sensitive and creates unrealistic expectations for the new practitioner.
Meditation offers a great opportunity to achieve emotional balance, allows for deep inquiry and self- compassion and can definitely become an exquisite refuge of peaceful calm. It also softens you to reality. I believe that this softening and leaning into our truth is the gift of Dharma.
Auraglaser.com – “Into the Demons Mouth”