I have spent a fair bit of time over the past 25 years in the new age spiritual movement. All those years I spent as a student seeker and a decade of that as a facilitator and workshop leader. My friend and colleague Robert Masters work a great book entitled Spiritual Bypassing that was brought to my mind recently. I know the thesis well and am guilty as charged.
I used spiritual growth to avoid the mundane shit of my life as evidenced by taking a spiritual name – get me out of Stephen’s life and into Parabhakti’s life NOW. About 6 years ago I spotted this bypassing tendency in myself and turned my spiritual name back to Stephen and began the work on the reality of my life as it was – work still very much in progress. I am grateful indeed for the reality check as it is helping me grow as a human being and as a spiritual being too. Notice the order.
As I have been taking stock of my own human life and how I avoided dealing with my own dark side and closeted ‘stuff’ as a student and seeker I also started to notice that many self-proclaimed teachers were doing the very same thing! I noticed the abuse sex, power, money, and drugs – all huge distractions from life and in life – were being bent into spiritual teachings enabling the so called teachers to validate or make right their own behavior avoiding totally the accountability and responsibility required for deeper spiritual growth and more importantly deeper compassion and humanness in their own lives.
I was shocked at how common this twist of the student’s reaction to a teacher’s behavior was most often and so cleverly turned into a spiritual lesson for the student to bear! Not that there wasn’t a lesson there, more that the lesson cut both ways.
Robert wrote this piece in the front of his book;
For all those whose longing to be truly free is becoming stronger than their desire to distract themselves from suffering.
What a gem of a phrase.
I give thanks daily for having the good fortune to have been pushed off a spiritual train that I had used to avoid the beautiful reality of my own mundane, yet deeply sacred life.