A partial definition of "Spiritual Bypassing": 1. trying to get to a spiritual end goal/realization without going through the full process/work to get there (collectively or individually). 2. not owning and integrating the different parts of one's self as defined by this world/culture/society with an ultimate spiritual vision/version of self.
An example: A friend of mine recently wrote a FB post about race and how—although he is certainly caucasian—refuses to accept the label placed upon him by society as a white male, and the privilege that goes along with this.
There is no doubt in my mind that this person is coming with the purest/highest of intentions to bring about positive change and social transformation. But, my sense is there is a bit of a blindspot that is not being recognized here.
Look, I get it, I've been in this exact place before... Knowing the Truth (with a capital T) that we are all "one" and we are all children of the Divine/Universe... And that from this place there is no basis to distinguish between other humans based on the color/pigmentation of their skin. The associated feelings of deep existential frustration, sadness and pain from this, have made me want to scream... "Why don't people just wake up to our/their true divine nature and leave all this bullshit behind?! We're all divine beings, let's just create this beautiful reality together and live in love with each other! There's no more time to waste on this illusion of separation... We are one cosmic human family!"
I understand the deep desire to move ahead, to drum a new beat, to... "evolve already!" BUT, that's not how it works, evolution takes time, and trying to "jump" there is, in my opinion, an expression of spiritual bypassing.
There is SO much wrapped up in race, in the US and our world histories, that we can't just zap it away... however true the "new" evolved and enlightened future vision may be.
As a white male who has been cashing in on this privilege—whether or not I am/have been aware of it or agree with it (which is in fact a direct expression of white male privilege)—it is my responsibility to own it and integrate it into the wholeness of my self along with my spiritual vision of self as divine, name-less, identity-less, pure mysterious being. And... even more importantly, to be most sensitive to all the issues involved with me, being a white male of privilege, expressing the above "enlightened" perspectives, however true and holy they actually are.
Doing this—acknowledging and owning my white male privilege, integrating it into a fuller more whole picture of "who I am" in relation to my cosmic identity, and being uber sensitive to how my social classification impacts others (especially minorities), my self/life and the world in which I live—actually begins to aid in a healing process. A healing process which will take time and participation from a lot of other people in a magnificent number of diverse ways before we as a species can "move on".
We must honor the past, make space for deep full grieving—however long it takes, however much time is needed, and NOT just jump to a new enlightened future. This is a major expression of spiritual bypassing--attempting to access a different "healed state" of consciousness before the actual process of healing has occurred.
And, yes, we can and should grieve along with others, but we must also allow and respect them the fullness of their own space and the power of their own grief. Meaning... I am not an African American, however much I may disagree with racism and oppression of minorities, however much oppression I have personally experienced in my own life or lineage, however much it may make me sick, deeply saddened and full of overwhelming grief—I am not black or brown—and I must honor and give space to this difference. And more bluntly, "check myself", before I open my mouth.
So, difference? Honor difference? Yes! To some this may seem like a "no brainer"—honoring diversity—but in some spiritual circles, difference is seen as the enemy. (See my future post on this here)
I must admit it took me a while to come to this realization personally. Years of wanting to escape (or rally people) into the realm of "spiritual one-ness"—where differences were illusion and the sole source of all our collective issues (war, violence, racism, anti-semitism, terrorism, etc), in addition to being the main barrier to global peace and harmony--before I understood the need to embrace the differences, integrate them into the wholeness of who I am within the current time and place of my culture (not just in my own imaginary future utopia), and actively take a humble and respectful role in facilitating cultural healing.
Walking in this way with "all channels open" not only helps me feel more whole, present and fully here, but allows me to feel intimately more connected with other humans—spiritual beings of mystery, souls of undifferentiated cosmic spiritual "stuff" (energy and consciousness)—encapsulated in a diversity of earthly physical bodies, with a vibrant plethora of personal and collective stories, histories, traumas and triumphs... Humans of all beautiful shades of "color", gender, race and religion who are walking this earth in 2017 trying to make sense of who they are, where they came from, how they're going to survive and what the hell is going on here.
May each of us find the strength and courage to do our part to end racism, heal ourselves and this planet, and stop spiritual bypassing.
Gavriel Strauss is a Spiritual Counselor & Transformation Coach, he offers professional services in Holistic Spiritual Development and Spiritual Path Design.