The Pitfalls of Spiritual Bypassing

pitfalls of spiritual bypassing

The Pitfalls of Spiritual Bypassing

By Alan Waugh

A Term coined by Psychotherapist Jon Welwood to emphasize what he was witnessing in his own Buddhist community, where he noticed people were using spiritual ideation to avoid dealing with deeply held psychological or emotional wounds.

Of course it feels really nice and cozy to be dwelling on uplifting experiences and elevating thoughts. To use terms like “I’m holding that in the light” or “at I’m one with reality” sound really nice, smart and deeply esoteric but what do they really mean? Its really the intention and authenticity behind the words and the thought associated with them that can ring really true and authentic or really bogus.

It is the authentic action of expressing the words from a place deep within your being, that connects to your soul’s truth and level of self-awareness, that allows for true articulation of deeply perceived connection to ones truth.

When spirituality is used to avoid or repress feelings or unresolved mental or emotional challenges, then what purpose does it serve us on our spiritual path? Is it not just another addictive behavior that keeps us anaesthetized from our core issues that will continue to hinder us on our unique and individual journey into heightened states of BE-ing?

To ‘be in the light’ is a beautiful place to be. To feel joy, expansion or personal liberation is after all what we all as humans strive for on this challenging human life assignment. But what if you place yourself in the light, as an escape from earth bound dense experiences that carry with them tension and restriction, fear and self doubt? To escape to the light as a way to avoid being in the dark is similar to taking drugs or drinking alcohol or any other addiction that keeps us from facing our shadows.

To live a true spiritual life is to accept that you have to be present with all the conditions of your experience.

pitfalls of spiritual bypassing (2)

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with spiritual bypassing, or judging those that choose that as a suitable route to express where they are at on their spiritual journey. We do what we can with the personal skills and emotional/spiritual tools and maturity that we have. It’s important to be aware that it is not really allowing for true spiritual development.

This journey through life is all about experiencing the joys and the pitfalls that is the human experience and learning to best maneuver the challenges and conditions that come our way. Spiritual ‘bypassing’ is just another phase of that journey and at some point through the development of insight and wisdom, the path will lead to true transcendent experiences that take us to another phase. We walk our spiritual journey alone and evolve alone and as such we have to make those choices alone. We cannot evolve for someone else and neither can another evolve for you.

I am always brought back down to Earth when I see or imagine images of Shakyamuni Buddha, sitting solidly on the Earth as he touches the Earth with his right hand. Despite all the taunts and temptation of Mara (representing delusion or illusory states), The Buddha is touching Gaia to ground himself. In spite of his highly elevated state of awareness he is still very present on the earth. To be fully aware one must also be aware of earthly conditions and human bodily experiences. In other words, it is really important to stay grounded or Earthed throughout your own spiritual practice, thereby avoiding a disassociation of Spirit that can actually be harmful to your mental/ emotion and physical state of wellbeing. It is in our challenges and afflictions, that true personal power and awareness is realized.

“Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special, it’s not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred. I meet a lot of people who think they are enlightened and awake simply because they have had a very moving spiritual experience. They wear their enlightenment on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They sit among friends and talk about how awake they are while sipping coffee at a cafe. The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it. Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence.”


In the place where I live there are many people who can offer you a truly remarkable experience, as they help you enter star gates or connect with ascended masters, Middle earth high priests and priestesses or beings from different star systems. I am sure you will have a wonderful time with them and maybe experience reality in a more expanded state during your time with them. Maybe you feel that in spending time with star beings you can avoid doing your own inner work and just be elevated to an ascended state of being? Unfortunately you will find that unless you are prepared to go into the trenches, ultimately nothing will change other than holding sweet memories and photos of your ‘spiritual tour.’