by Aletheia Luna
is a very
persistent shadow of spirituality,
What comes to mind when you think of 'spirituality'?
You might picture,
ethereal instruments, golden Buddha's, gardens and forests of
paradise, the faces of enlightened masters, angels, mountain
ranges, sunsets, or any number of other dazzling images.
We tend to associate
spirituality with transcendental, heightened states of being
that are invariably associated with the feelings of happiness, joy,
deep inner peace and contentment.
While all of this is true and wonderful, many of us become
intoxicated, distracted and ensnared by these highly attractive
images of spirituality, avoiding the darker, painful and more
exhausting sides of such a path.
At its core, spiritual bypassing is like any other form of avoidance
that rewards us with a false feeling of security and happiness,
while undermining our deeper path of self-growth and transformation.
Bypassing - An Enticing Form of Escapism
C. G. Jung
For a long time, I struggled with understanding what 'true'
spirituality looked and felt like.
I would look in the
newspapers and find ads from kooky looking psychic women promoting
their services, or browse the Internet and find alluring pages
dedicated to finding your 'guardian angel'.
I would read books about
"optimism" and articles about casting spells to attract love and
prosperity. But amidst all of this searching, I just never felt a
connection with any of these things.
They felt somehow amiss,
something, somehow, seemed intuitively off-center and "wrong" about
It was only in the past year that I discovered why I had always felt
this way about certain spiritual practices. The answer I found was
that many practices falling under the guise of spirituality
are actually forms of spiritual bypassing.
My simplified definition of spiritual bypassing is this:
to spiritually bypass
is to use spirituality to avoid, suppress or
escape from uncomfortable issues in life.
These issues could be,
...or any other problems
To many people, spirituality becomes a sort of crutch used as
a way of standing back up again in the face of life's turmoil - and
sometimes this is necessary.
We all need support at
some time or another in our lives - but the problem comes when
spirituality is used as a drug for which we become dependent on
in order to bypass the darker elements of our lives.
When spirituality is used as a defense mechanism to ward off the
gremlins and dirty little devils of our existences, it actually
becomes our greatest hindrance, preventing us from developing true
courage, authenticity and wholeness; qualities that refine our
While the use of
spirituality can provide us with a solid wall to hide behind, in
doing so it traps us in an all-is-happy-and-perfect jail cell of
Search for Meaning)
The reality is that not everything in life is 'love
and light' as is the slogan for many spiritual seekers.
Pursuing the light and
living enlightened, raw and deeply interconnected existences is also
about setting yourself on fire.
It is about
creating an inferno of your false beliefs, illusions and
separating desires, ideals and prejudices.
It is about
surrendering to the destruction of every limiting thing you
ever thought and felt about yourself, other people and the
Spirituality is not
In fact, often times it
is the most shattering, tumultuous and testing experience we can go
through in life. But only once we emerge from the embers of our
destruction can we be reborn - like phoenixes - into new lives of
clarity and purity.
The truth is that there are many types of spiritual bypassing
that we sometimes don't recognize (or refuse to recognize) in life.
I have listed a few
examples below that you are free to add to in the comments.
We've all come across people in life who love to laugh and
smile, yet seem to be forcefully optimistic.
"Focus on the
positive!", "See the glass as half full!", "Don't let a
frown get you down!" are some of the catchcries of
these people who tend to use optimism as a way of avoiding
the more somber and troublesome realities of life.
bypass is often a side product of anger-phobia, or the
inability to deal with negative emotions.
This is a type of self-delusion that some spiritual seekers
use as a way of masking their perceived deficiencies and
aggrandizement bypass is adopted by those who seek to feel
enlightened, superior or having reached
higher planes of existence.
It is sometimes
used by self-proclaimed masters, leaders, awakened
souls, and gurus.
The Victim Bypass
When one becomes a victim of their gifts, or of other
people, this takes away the pressure of responsibility for
shaping a satisfying life and taking responsibility for
one's happiness - such is the case with the Victim Bypass.
This type of
spiritual bypassing is often used by spiritual seekers who
believe they have extrasensory gifts of some kind, but due
to their gifts they are unable to feel happy or healthy.
Identifying as an
Empath is sometimes a good example of this type of
bypassing, as it can be interpreted as the fault of other
people and their emotions for behaving in self-destructive
and volatile ways.
Many spiritual seekers explore the frontiers of the mind,
the soul and reality through the use of
psychedelic drugs such as
LSD, DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and other
entheogens that expand the mind and perception of existence.
While this is a
fascinating way of exploring reality,
entheogens, like any other
drug, can sometimes be used as a way of escaping reality and
avoiding committing to personal development and soulful
When we frequently look outside of ourselves for help and
guidance, as is with the case with Horoscopes and Psychics,
we are failing to tap into our inner wellsprings of wisdom
and strength and are allowing external predictions to
control the outcome of our lives.
Bypass is derived from a fear and mistrust of ourselves,
our inability to make decisions, and our inability to deal
with anything tough that comes our way.
The Saint Bypass
Since we were little we were taught that spiritual people
were kind, compassionate and saintly.
We continued to
repeat this story to ourselves when we ripened into
adulthood, and for some of us it turned into our biggest
Bypass is a reflection of extreme "black or white"
thinking, promoting the underlying belief that spiritual
people can't have dark sides because that would make them
This type of
bypassing is essentially an avoidance of one's own
Shadow Self by
overcompensating with the guise of a sweet, heavenly,
a major symptom of this type of bypassing.
The Spirit Guide
"I have an angel called Raphael who protects me." In some
spiritual traditions it is a God who protects, in
others an angel, an animal or an ascended being.
No matter who the
Spirit Guide is, the belief
that they are there to "protect" us is pleasing to the mind,
but harmful to the soul.
When we place our
faith in another being's power to ward off danger and keep
us safe, we are committing a classic spiritual bypass: that
being avoiding responsibility for ourselves and our lives,
and sidestepping the tough development of courage and
We are not
children, but when we think of ourselves as being so we mold
our lives in such a way that we fail to develop strength of
serve to teach us rather than to babysit
Similar to the Spirit Guide Bypass, the Praying
Bypass circumvents personal responsibility by putting
faith in a higher being to solve all of our problems and
While praying can
be a healthy practice, it can easily become limiting and
The Guru Bypass
Often it is beneficial to latch onto a particular guru,
shaman or spiritual teacher to learn and grow from, however,
too much attachment can serve as another form of spiritual
everyone has the ability to independently follow the path of
spirituality, when we begin to worship another living being,
we fall in love with the rose-colored illusory image we have
of the teacher rather than the essence of their teachings.
Not thinking or
discovering truth for ourselves by treating the words of a
guru or master as scripture subtracts from our growth and
our own mastery on our personal spiritual journeys.
On our spiritual quests we begin to see through the lies,
delusions and crazy behaviors committed by our fellow human
beings and this can make us angry, downhearted and greatly
However, when we
get caught up in "everything that is wrong" with the outside
world and other people, dedicating our lives to the
self-righteous quest of finger-pointing, this can be
another form of spiritual bypassing.
Finger-pointing instills us with a false sense of
righteousness, taking away our responsibility of looking
inside and working on ourselves.
At its roots, the
Finger-Pointing bypass is sourced from fear and
avoidance, and is a powerful form of procrastination.
Certainly, there are many
other forms of spiritual bypassing, but here I present the most
common ones that are easily observable in everyday life.
From what I have learned, it can be absolutely terrifying to
personally expose yourself and the most profoundly vulnerable parts
of your being to the process of purification.
But slowly as you set
afire all illusions and falsities, you see that life is much
clearer, more connected, deeply satisfying and indescribably joyful.