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What is spiritual bypassing ?

Spiritual bypassing is something that we all do at some point on the spiritual path. Humans have an innate tendency to go towards pleasure and away from pain, so when a lot of popular spirituality promises love and light, people naturally think that they can use it to bypass the suffering and darkness. Some examples of spiritual bypassing may look like ignoring difficult emotions in favor of "good vibes", diminishing the importance of a trauma story by saying that it is just attachment to ego, viewing the needs and messages of the body as unimportant, ignoring material necessities, and viewing some emotions as bad, negative or something to get rid of. It is an easy and understandable reaction that just comes from a fear of discomfort.

For many years on my own spiritual journey I was a spiritual bypasser, and I still catch myself sometimes trying to avoid feeling bad with "love and light". I thought, "maybe I can just escape all of my darkness by becoming enlightened". I imagined myself as a perfect Buddha being without a shred of difficulty.

Eventually, though, we recognize that we cannot avoid our suffering, that the only way out is through. We even come to recognize that there is actually a lot to learn from our suffering; we are actually enriched by what we learn from facing our suffering! It is such an amazing step when we stop avoiding and start embracing all of our darkness. This gives us the opportunity to become truly unified, whole, and holy. This loving embrace heals and makes us undivided, divine beings. So when people talk about oneness in spirituality we can't just say oneness is including the feel good stuff, but that it includes everything.

Divine love is unconditional, isn't it?

As spiritual seekers and explorers we have to get down and dirty and do our healing work. We have to be brave warriors who are not afraid to face and feel any kind of pain. In the end being willing to walk through hell, just because we want to redeem all parts of ourselves with love, is what liberates us.

Thinking about spiritual bypassing brings me back to one of my earliest spiritual experiences, of hearing a voice inside of me say "God is that which IS". God is the darkness and the light. It is such a simple phrase, but it took so long for the spiritual bypasser in me to understand, and it continues to remind me today.

I give a shout-out to my teachers Craig Holliday and Matt Kahn for helping me to realize a lot of what I wrote here.

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