Doing the work is not the same as thinking you are doing the work!
There are three types of Spiritual Bypassers:
These are those who stay in the midst of toxic lives, unhealthy habits, negative environments and damaging relationships putting up with all kinds of nonsense in the name of “detachment”, “positive thinking” and just plain delusion.
They confuse detachment with numbness.
The Martyrs believe that their spiritual progress and inner work shows up in their ability to put up with toxicity.
Very often they are gaslighted by their partners, friends and family through the use of something along the lines of “you are responsible for your own emotions.” or “If you choose a different perspective, you can choose to be happy. It is all up to you.”
Their boundaries are being constantly perpetuated and any push-back from them is framed as lack of emotional control or spiritual prowess by their perpetrators.
And while owning our emotions and choosing healthy perspectives are useful tools – to an extent – they are used as a weapon to manipulate someone into staying in a bad situation and believing that what must be changed is not the situation but their feelings about it.
Plenty of people in this group end up in abusive relationships, unfulfilling jobs, tolerating disrespectful family members as well as creating excuses and reasonings for why their life is this way.
Long story short – they assume a role where they are convinced that the more pain they can put themselves through (without blinking an eye) the more evolved they are.
They become spiritual martyrs and find nobility in having their boundaries stepped over (by themselves and others) without reacting.
Yet this is a ticking bomb, because a Martyr is only adding dirt under the rug.
The resentment is building up and the self-imposed numbness can only hold so much before it turns into blind rage, shows up as a chronic illness, depression and anxiety.
So what should the “martyrs” do?
First of all, understand that your pain, hurt, anger and grief make sense.
It is okay for you to feel upset.
It is part of your human experience.
Do not let anyone control you or manipulate you into shaming, judging and suppressing those emotions that arise within you.
Yes, you can choose a better perspective and you get to choose how you feel, but before you do so – you gotta pay attention to what you are feeling first.
Open the door to the unpleasant energies moving within you and ask them “What message do you have for me?”
Use the pain you feel as a compass that guides you towards the understanding that there is something wrong.
Unconditional love is not unconditional if you are not able to give it to yourself first.
So if someone is forcing you to compromise on your values or break your boundaries under the pretence of “loving unconditionally” remember that this is not love.
This is manipulation.
Love is not putting up with pain so others can be happy.
Love is the truth that cuts through the veil!
Love can be a fierce NO!
A solid boundary.
A break-up conversation.
Quitting a job.
A difficult conversation.
A renewed commitment.
On the other hand, how do we stop contributing to this dynamic?
We stop telling others to “just be happy” or anything along those lines.
We stop using a change of perspective as our go-to cure-all solution (at least in the very beginning).
And we start with compassion.
We make room to feel their pain. To acknowledge what is happening. To be present to the suffering.
Spirituality is not about becoming happy.
It is about becoming whole – and this means shaking hands with our anger, our sadness, our trauma, our confusion, and our every feeling that we’d rather avoid.
And to make room for someone else’s pain, we must have this skill within us.
We must be able to sit with our own discomfort fully present, not wanting it to change it.
Not wishing it was any different.
Taking it all in as it is – and in the process, listening to that part of us that is hurting, for it has a message for us.
Now the second group of spiritual bypassers:
These are those who find themselves more and more distant from our everyday, “mundane” things.
They look down at others who live life in a different way (especially if they do not meditate, do as much yoga, take as many psychedelics, eat as healthy or stare at the sun as often).
They are too spiritually evolved for mundane, unimportant stuff that may steer them off the path – stuff along the lines of getting a stable job, learning to have healthy commitments, embracing responsibilities and having any fun.
They confuse spirituality with disconnection.
The Pure Ones believe that their spiritual progress is marked by how different they are from the ‘superficial’ world.
The believe that the more books they read, workshops they take, plant medicines they consume, hours they meditate, trauma they regurgitate and horoscope charts they dissect, the better persons they are.
And while these are really useful – within the right context and with the proper integration structures in place – they are only tools that are aimed to help us live better.
They are not means of escaping life altogether.
Let alone using them as excuses to feel more distant and disconnected from those who are different or “asleep”
We could also call this group the “Spiritual Materialists” because they have changed money, status, fame and power for a “greener” alternative – yet they keep using external sources to create separation between them and the others.
In fact, very often in their self-awarded sense of “goodness” and “purity” they forget to be human.
(I might go all the way and say they are ashamed of their humanity).
They are “good” by repression not by progression.
Their personality has just been replaced by a pseudo-spiritual version of it.
You can find them in very tight-knit, exclusive groups where they praise each other’s “progress” and together, they judge the inferiority of the rest.
They are the new-age version of the Religious Fanatics.
Anyone who is not following their path is therefore lesser.
Anyone who is not part of the “tribe” is therefore not evolved and part of the “system”.
They just changed the doctrines of a bible and the concepts of heaven and hell for “spiritual” practices and the concepts of “waking up” and being “asleep”.
They could go live in a cave for 10 years and come back the same person that left.
However, it is in our day to day relationships, interactions and frustrations are where the rubber meets the road.
In short, The Pure Ones are those who find extreme pleasure in pretending they are above all human emotions, habits and desires, in being strict with their practices.
You wouldn’t see them eating a piece of meat, drinking a glass of wine, dancing under the rain, showing their anger, working hard on their business or saying a bad word.
You also wouldn’t see them socializing or connecting very much with people outside of their group.
They are too good for any of that!
So how do we avoid this?
By recognizing that true spirituality shows up as a newfound love, appreciation and deeper involvement with life.
Not by a rejection of it!
Especially not by the judgement of it.
If we find ourselves judging those whose choices we consider “lesser” than ours it means we may be falling blindly into spiritual materialism.
For judgement creates nothing but distance and disconnection.
And the way forward is through – not around.
With. Not without.
So a good measuring bar is to see how fulfilled, present and appreciative we are able to feel in seemingly mundane situations.
What’s the flavour of your heart as you make your bed?
Where is your awareness as you eat your meals?
How’s the quality of your integrity as you go to work?
What amount of love do you share with those who do not share your beliefs?
How do you get along with people you dislike?
It is through living that our soul blooms, not isolated in a dark corner.
Of course, distance from all kinds of stimuli feels like progress because there is nothing bothering us or triggering our shadows, however it doesn’t mean that the shadows went away.
Not because you ignore and avoid touching the wound it means it has healed.
Instead, ignoring it leads to it getting infected and spreading.
Those who have fallen into this way thinking do so because they are living in a dual state – meaning that for them, there are things that are expressions of God and others that are not.
So it’s a good reminder to know that God (Source energy, great spirit, The One, etc.) created everything.
Including that one neighbour you dislike!
And if you seek a closer relationship to that creative energy/light, it would be a good practice to be like the sun: shining and warming “sinners” and “saints” alike.
Without dismissing anything or anyone.
True spirituality is learning to accept, embrace and love life as it is.
Not as you imagine it should be.
There is more spiritual progress in a person who does not subscribe to any religion, does not meditate, eats meat and drinks beer but treats everyone with love and compassion, than in someone who prays/meditates for hours every day, eats raw vegan, chants mantras, practices yoga and then goes out to judge, belittle and distance from the rest of the world.
And if you are still wondering,
just remember that even Jesus drank wine! 😉
The Connected Ones are a relatively new group that gravitates towards an “alternative” lifestyle.
They very often they confuse intoxication with connection.
They frequent festivals like a nun goes to church.
However, they tend to be completely out of it (or into it) from the amount of LSD, Ketamine, Weed and other substances they consume.
This group tends to equate drug induced states of consciousness with being fully alive, free and connected.
They are also often promoting promiscuity under the pretence of “open, free-flowing love”.
However, sex (like drugs) are used among them as agents of distraction instead of as agents of connection.
The main characteristic of “The Connected Ones” is that they speak of consciousness, of unconditional love, of spirituality and human development while they destroy their bodies with substances, are unable to enjoy themselves free of stimuli and can’t stand time in solitude.
Very often, they see every ancient sacred tradition (like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote and Santa Maria) as just another experience to be had.
Another “item” to check in their list of substances. And in the process they turn the sacred into profane.
They are eager to “show off” and speak of their tales and trips and stories of plant medicine but are rarely willing to acknowledge, honour and respect the ancient traditions.
They can jump back from an ayahuasca ceremony into drugs and drinking without blinking an eye or realizing the irony of their actions.
These people believe that spirituality = “freedom”.
However they confuse Freedom with giving Into their addictions.
They believe that freedom is to follow each and all of their impulses – So when dating, they will often label their enslavement to lust as “an expression of free love”.
Or they will reframe their lack of commitment and responsibility as “going with the flow.”
In fact, if you talk with them they will give you very good arguments about their choices but at the end of the day it is nothing more than a polished way of making excuses for their addictions.
They believe spirituality is the freedom to give into their every desire and fail to see how much they are slaves to their sexual urges, substance habits, “connected” parties, “conscious” communities and so on.
So what to do if we are gravitating towards this group? (Or are already here)
First, do not judge the space you are in.
Spiritual Bypassing is a very well orchestrated tool of control, not any different from TV and the mass media.
The fastest way to deviate someone from the truth is to provide them a fake substitute and rationally convince them it is the real deal.
However, to those in this group, I invite you to consider if you are truly free or if what you call freedom is nothing but a love for the chains.
If you cannot be mindful and say no to your urges, you are not fully free.
If you cannot feel connected or reach altered spaces of consciousness without substances, you are not fully free.
If you cannot have a good time without hyper stimulating your system (through events, people, drugs, sex and experiences) you are not fully free.
And nothing wrong with that, however, I invite you to consider that you are short changing yourself.
The true freedom and connection that is available to you, once you learn what you need to from this place, is irreplaceable.
If an experience, person or substance is necessary for you to feel connected, then you are in fact, disconnected.
And these tools (although they carry a profound potential) become a source of distraction instead of propellers of a healthy journey.
If you’ve read this far, you may know some people in each group.
You may have been in some of these at points…
The truth is that was!
This is why I understand the dynamics so well.
I went from being addicted to experiences and thinking I was free, to putting up with toxic environments in the name of spiritual progress, to disconnecting from all of it and feeling “too good” to relate to anyone or anything.
And eventually I realized the irony of all of it and came back to a more simple yet practical spirituality.
So I invite you to look at whether you’ve stirred off the path and have become either too permissive and numb, too disconnected and judgemental, or too addicted to sensations in your quest for a richer, deeper spiritual/life experience.
True spirituality looks like deep involvement without attachment.
Deep love (to self and others) and connection.
And sometimes it looks like cutting people out of our lives, saying ‘NO’ and affirming our boundaries.
Sometimes it looks like cleaning the toilet, making our bed and folding the laundry.
It also looks like being in bliss without the need for external stimuli.
Sometimes it is a wild emotion, sometimes it is committed, grounded warmth.
And always remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience just as much as we are humans, having a spiritual experience.
PS2: If you enjoyed reading this you will probably enjoy the Newsletter I just launched called Mindful Mondays where I share tips on practical spirituality, No-BS insights, road-tested relationship advice, practices and much more.
Click the link to (occasionally) receive straight forward content, reflections as well as invitations to the events and retreats I am organizing.