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Spiritual Bypassing

All of my posts, in one way or another, point to some of the ideas around spiritual bypassing, because if you’re not putting in the work to be a more decent human being, then your spiritual path has you way off in the bramble. The bramble is fine, if you want to hang out with the invasive blackberries (when I think bramble, this is where my mind goes). They produce some tasty fruit, but damn, I am not trying to hang out there long.

The brambled (like my new adjective?) journey serves its purpose. We get to experience our deep issues and immense programming which acts to limit or ignite our expansive potential. ALL of us find ourselves in the bramble at some point or another. It’s like we’re walking in the dark, and before we learn how to light our own fire it’s sometimes hard to see where we’re going. And even when we have lit our own fire, we’re prone to missteps. The path isn’t always clear. Sometimes we need those closest to us to relight our fires, or just offer a little bit of extra light as we get our footing back.

None of us are perfect, but it’s often apparent when people have lost the mark on what the aim should be. In the spiritual community in particular, whether we’re talking about a more fluid spiritual practice or a specific religious following, it is easy to compartmentalize our beliefs. You can meditate all you want or go to church regularly, but often it is in the application of what we’re learning that we find it hard to follow through on. It is not enough to just focus on our inner worlds; we must put this learning and love into the action in our outer world, everyday.

In this world it isn’t easy. In its current state, we have extreme division between beliefs, and often these beliefs are institutionally contradictory. What we learn in our spiritual practices can become obsolete when we’re voting, “us versus them” mentalities running wild with hatred, a need for control, judgement and fear. Many of our places of work harbor unhealthy hierarchies, our schools so standardized to the point they limit the creative potential of our educators. Almost everywhere we go, we have rules and norms that silence us or encourage us to be people we don’t want to be. We have so few real choices now in days, and often times what we do have to choose from asks us to compromise our best selves.

As we deprogram from that world, it is like moving from being lost and confused in a completely submerged state, to breaking the surface, to climbing out and standing up, to climbing up the mountain side toward higher ground. Each level of our transcendence offers fuller perspective, and with the greater clarity of our surroundings we can offer so much more to not only those closest to us, but to society at large. The process of awakening allows us to show up in the world starkly different. When we do this, we shake up the paradigm, because we no longer participate in the collective program.

The path of awakening isn’t a straight line, for any of us. We have moments of understanding and clarity, just to find ourselves confused again when a new situation challenges us. And there is so much information out there, mixed with our personal filters of understanding, that we may not initially understand what we’re being taught. This is because the ideas begin in theory before they become embodied. It’s important to keep this in mind, as we throw around the concept of “spiritual bypassing,” as it’s easier to see this in others than to always recognize it in ourselves.

Spiritual bypassing is a thing though. We can talk all we want about love and light, the power of positive thinking and existing in a peaceful state, but if we’re not confronting our darkness then the work we’re doing isn’t grounded or helpful to the collective. It may be a personal journey, but as we awaken we realize how much of it really is a collective undertaking. The point of working towards being peaceful is so that we can hold these tones when working with others, so that we can invoke healing as we move through the world. The path requires us to actually participate.

It is easy to think of ourselves as loving and kind people when we only hang out with people we like or who don’t challenge us. It’s easy to think we care about the environment, but fail to take the time to learn about planetary issues and how our life personally contributes to those (true spiritual growth is absolutely connected to our capacity to care for the earth). It’s easy to think we’re contributing to a healthy community when we show up to our jobs, even if our work places harbor unsustainable practices (socially, economically and environmentally) and are not making us better people.

Yet, in being whole, we have our cycles. There is a time to study, a time to play, a time to serve, a time to have solitude, a time to build, a time to dismantle. There are even times we need to sit with our pain and times we need to heal, and sometimes this means opting out of other areas of our life in order to do so. In thinking this way, we can work to invoke compassion when someone else isn’t quite where we think they should be. They may not be successfully navigating certain lessons, or maybe they’re not even showing up, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t important growth and learning in the spaces we can’t see.

We are ALL learning. Spiritual bypassing is a term that can be very fitting, as at times it is apparent when someone is resisting to do their big work or when we are sensing something about another that leads us to creating healthier boundaries. These are important insights and with the right words and understanding we can help people see to their blind spots. We ALL have our blind spots though. It is part of that big work to identify them, figure out what and where they come from and remove them. As we all go through this at one point or another, hopefully we can cultivate greater love and acceptance when we see it, have the courage to speak from love about what we perceive, but also detach from the outcome of how the information is received and acted upon.

If we are to take our spiritual paths seriously, we have to hold ourselves and others accountable in all the ways we impact the people, places and everything in between in which we interact. We must also hold space in knowing that this process is messy, and we are all awakening with the perfect unfolding as in accordance with our personal soul’s growth. Through unconditional love, we all have the ability to help each other transform.

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