Features of Spiritual Bypass
The great 'miss' when striving for goodness, pureness, perfection
Below we list several features and forms of spiritual bypass, and a short video speaking directly on spiritual bypass as part of the path.
A short 3 min video highlighting
Identifying with the role of the healer, facilitator, teacher….
Developing the ability to be with our whole self, including the parts we can’t accept.
Moving through pain or discomfort into a pure awareness which can energise us
The power of deep questioning and uncertainty
The requirement to feel, yet not stay stuck there.
Authentic awakening is not about a role, or about being anything.
Suraj Arya has practiced meditation and healing for 40 years. She is an International Teacher, and Teacher of Teachers. For the past 15 years she has been invited to teach extensively throughout China, Taiwan, South East Asia, Israel, India & Australia, mostly on intensive retreat, teaching and mentoring teams of teachers in Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. She speaks to the romanticisation and elevation of "teachers", the authentic awakening, and the trap of spiritual bypass.
FEATURES OF SPIRITUAL BYPASS
AVOIDING PAIN OR NEGATIVITY
When we try to pull people out of their emotions or responses into a state that is more comfortable for us and (by our belief) for them too.
When we shy away from pain or negativity, we protect the wound, rather than the person. In repressing pain (pushing it away), we keep it dormant (alive).
BEING OVERLY IDEALISTIC
Side-stepping heaviness, to lift it into a spiritual or idealistic frame. When we are overly idealistic we cover up problems instead of working with the core issues and origin. It is a form of rejecting reality. The “ideal” that is being projected, is either not being experienced by the person before you or does not meet their core need which is asking to come first.
BEING OVERLY DETACHED
Spiritual bypass is a power dynamic. Being overly detached replaces the feeling of helplessness, with the superiority of 'understanding' which doesn't connect or attune with the person or issue. In effect, we’re disconnected and assert power through walls of peace, calmness, and a stance of being unaffected. This often belittles or minimise the other person's experience.
UNGROUNDED OR DIS-EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY
When we attach our identity to a spiritual path, we are at risk of judging other-ness, of constructing within ourselves a spiritual superiority, or "protectedness" from the world. If we start to defend our spirituality, we can be unavailable to the person before us.
REDIRECTING TO ONENESS, TOGETHERNESS, SAMENESS OR UNITY
When we redirect to sameness, or oneness, we are in effect saying we are unable to process the world as it is. “There is no separation,”, “You and I are one”.
These kinds of responses summarise the above; they show detachment or disconnection, idealism, focus only on the positive, and often reflect a power dynamic (the speaker can avoid the issue).
It is also a form of ‘Global Think’ (one tribe, follow the leader), rather than the task to come to know yourself first, and then be part of the whole as a complete individual.
When we know ourselves and can celebrate our uniqueness, we become more whole. When we can celebrate our differences, and the rich diversity that excites our world; our food, music, dance, dress, celebrations, grief, healing, landscapes, living environments, ceremonies, and protocols (values). Our natural world is diverse, and as a deep aspect of it, so are we.
BEING OVERLY COMPASSIONATE
Robert Augustus Masters expresses this well;
“Blind compassion is rooted in the belief that we are all doing the best that we can. When we are driven by blind compassion, we cut everyone far too much slack, making excuses for others’ behavior and making nice in situations that require a forceful “no,” an unmistakable voicing of displeasure, or a firm setting and maintaining of boundaries. These things can, and often should, be done out of love, but blind compassion keeps love too meek, sentenced to wearing a kind face. This is not the kindness of the Dalai Lama, which is rooted in courage, but rather a kindness rooted in fear, and not just the fear of confrontation, but also the fear of not coming across as a good or spiritual person. When we are engaged in blind compassion we rarely show any anger, for we not only believe that compassion has to be gentle, we are also frightened of upsetting anyone, especially to the point of their confronting us.”
BEING SPIRITUALLY ELITE
“It’s ok if you don’t get it”
“We can agree to disagree. I’m sorry if it hurts you and you’re not ready to hear this”
Spiritual bypass provides a ‘safe place’ to disagree from, a detached, “advanced” vantage point.
If we cannot come to ‘ground’, to our human connection and listen or hold space with someone, we are not spiritually resourced, we are spiritually bypassing.
THE SPIRITUAL RESUME
“I’ve studied this….,”
“I have BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color) friends… teachers…”,
“I have other experiences, I’ve had this in past-lives”.
A spiritual resume is a disclaimer.
The disclaimer comes either (1) before speaking or acting in ways that are contradictory, or (2) to diffuse responsibility instead of actively self-examine. i.e. Referencing a BIPOC friend as a crutch to not self-reflect, making them responsible to check you, “they would have said something to me”.
THE EMPATH SPONGE
“I feel and take on others’ pain. My tears are yours, my back pain is from them, I transmute for people without even realising it.”
When we have unresolved pain in us, we attune to it in others and feel it deeply. It’s easier to feel through other people. However, empathy is a gift, both ways. It also shows us where our pain is, and what needs healing. It can reflect an unconscious connection through the pain-body.
As empaths, it’s our job to feel and move energy. Our experience is an invitation to deepen our resilience and attunement.
~ Haaweatea Bryson (excerpts of features from The Spiritual Bypass Trap in Relating and Racism)