On my mindful journey i have come across many different spiritual groups who’s teachings embody mindfulness in some way, shape or form whether it is Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or new age teachings. I find that people often address life’s most difficult questions or issues with generic spiritual #hashtags so to speak.Many people go to a spiritual teaching to get answers to life’s most profound questions and many teachings claim to have all the answers. And maby they do but i have also observed the phenomena of spiritual bypass.
So what is spiritual bypass? Wikipedia describes it as follows:
A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.
I would simply say that spiritual bypass happens when people use spirituality as a coping mechanism for dealing with issues that we don’t always have the answers too.
For example I study Adviata Vedanta which is a branch of Hinduism and i find that amongst the mainly white and middle class audiences. I get the all too familiar “who is asking that question” response to any difficult questions raised in an attempt to re-locate the focus to the questioning of the questioner. This is a pseudo attempt at questioning the questioners identity with the intention of inducing a realization and is akin to a child questioning every answer with WHY!
You can see how easy it is to use this as a cop out!
This phrase has been abused and normalized to play down life’s tricky and unanswerable questions. It is also a problematic statement as it totally discredits any real questions that emotional and intelligent human beings ask. The other common phrase is “we are all one” or claiming oneness in the face of any questioning of morals or differences in value systems. I believe that separateness is an illusion but i also i see how problematic spiritual bypass is when it comes to any real human issues. the “We are all one” scapegoat is very similar to the “All live matter” response that embodies animosity and discredits other human beings suffering under the banner of equality.
When we dismiss issues and justify everything from a spiritual frame work spiritual teachings can get distorted.