As I said to this group, “ If I never teach another Course in Miracles group again, I feel what I have to say today is very important for all of us. I am the Queen of Spiritual Bypassing-using spirituality, its words, and meditations to escape my inner fears, feelings, and emotions.”
I then proceeded to speak more on this topic, perhaps awakening some and disappointing others.
The term was coined in the 80s by John Welwood, a prominent psychotherapist and author of works in transpersonal psychology. In his book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening, he defined spiritual bypassing as using “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional, unfinished business to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” He claimed the goal of such a practice was enlightenment.
Robert Augustus Master, who was once a cult leader and has since written about spiritual bypassing and spiritual materialism, defined spiritual bypassing as the use of spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.
When life is full of uncertainty and threats to the world’s health physically, politically, economically, and emotionally, spiritual bypassing is very prominent yet not discussed or blatantly apparent.
Kenneth Wapnick used the term bliss ninny for those who do not want to look at the guilt we feel at the deepest level from our thought that we could separate from God, and at the level of the world, the guilt we have projected on ourselves and others that plays out in all of our relationships. Although we take our ego thoughts to the Holy Spirit where our mind can shift, it is not something that happens with words, or reading, or studying or even meditating. Healing does not occur with affirmations and convincing ourselves that what we see is just a dream or an illusion.
We are not to use spirituality in any form to cover up problems, but yet to see that the problem begins and ends in our mind. This means that we have lots of work to do to change our minds. It is best to admit our sadness, anger, and fear. Once we identify it, we can work on it. The Course offers the Holy Spirit as the ultimate source of healing, yet before we can think we are taking anything to the Holy Spirit, we have to admit that the answer may not be in a form that is satisfactory to us. We have preferences, expectations, and attachments that all come with a set of definitions and judgments to keep them in place.
We have to be willing to look at the ego and all of its judgments. If done correctly and with the goal of awakening, the Course in Miracles is the opposite of spiritual bypassing. The 365 days of lessons put us through daily work to look at the unconscious, remove the veil of forgetfulness, and uncover the ego thought system. Awareness is key before awakening.
We are not asked to avoid feelings but rather let negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions flow freely without judgment. We can look at them without beating ourselves up (or anyone else) and eventually undo these thoughts.
Our reading was – Ch 21, V. The Function of Reason. This section tells us that true reality does not need us to see it, but rather to have faith that there is a vision of reality guided by miracles. If you have faith in the ego and listen to its voice, you will “experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality.” The other vision and other Voice will guide you to perceive yourself as healed. Faith is belief is something unbelievable, but faith placed in miracles is guaranteed to change your mind.
Now going back to spiritual bypassing, you can’t just read about it. You have to see how the ego operates and watch your mind for the choices it is making. What you see is what you believe and where your faith lies. Perception is a mirror and not a fact. If you perceive yourself as tiny, vulnerable, and afraid, you will see a world that is vulnerable and full of fear.
But this perception can change by admitting your choice and choosing the Holy Spirit to help you perceive differently. The Holy Spirit will guide you in the work and process of healing. Spiritual bypassing is avoiding the Holy Spirit and choosing the ego.