spiritual bypassing

And now a few words on spiritual bypassing.

Spiritual bypassing—the use of spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs—is so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed. The spiritual ideals of any tradition, whether Christian commandments or Buddhist precepts, can provide easy justification for practitioners to duck uncomfortable feelings in favor of more seemingly enlightened activity. When split off from fundamental psychological needs, such actions often do much more harm than good. -from "Spiritual Bypassing" by Robert Masters

I get really angry sometimes. Like seething, bubbling cauldron of fire within angry. And I'm okay with it. However for some reason, I expect others to be okay with it too and that's where I run into trouble.

I don't mind feeling everything I'm feeling with my whole entire body. When I am happy I am blissfully ecstatic. When I am sad, I spiral down and settle into Hades' nook. When I feel nurturing I am Mrs. Butterworth. And when I'm angry, I pretty much feel like this:

(Oh, divine Kali. Your lessons are many.)

This is the goddess Kali- goddess of death and destruction who removes the ego and liberates the soul from the cycle of birth and death. She's not pretty which is why I think a lot of people forget that she is just as real and valid an aspect of the goddess as any other. I thought I was down with the Divine Mother until I started understanding Kali and her wisdom and when I didit was like a whole other door to life was available to me. But I didn't start understanding her until I could finally spend time with her- looking at her, pondering about her, wondering what her message was ("what is it with the skulls, dude?")

Then one day it hit me. She's like "Join the bloody party, Pema!" Letting me know it was okay to express full anger or joy or gratitude or confusion or whatever the wind was blowing that day. She also let me know it is okay to chop off the head of anything that doesn't serve me because a. people or things like that are like a hydra- you chop off one head and two grow back in its place, but the good news is you let someone else deal with that because you did what you needed to do and b. you are in your right to make your life YOURS, no guilt or explanations necessary.

All this being said, I have very little patience for spiritual bypassing. In case you are still unsure of what spiritual bypassing is, it looks like this:

Me: I'm so freaking angry at _______.

Person: You shouldn't be angry. You should take a deep breath and find your center. All is God and all is love.


Person: Jesus loves you.


Person: You need to do yoga to rid yourself of all anger.

I'm not saying all is not God or all is not love, but I'm angry. And I'm going to probably be more angry if I don't allow myself to be angry. Spiritual bypassers come disguised in many forms but usually they come with a false sense of calm with buried denial and explosives just below the surface making them much more dangerous than the people that actually buck up and are honest with themselves and others about exactly what they are feeling and why. For this reason when I encounter one, I try not to engage because I know that I have no patience for people who do this. I cannot stand for people who do not allow me to be me at my most ME. Those who go around saying "The most important thing is to just BE" are often notorious bypassers whose message could actually more accurately be interpreted as "Just be more like me". Maybe this is all a bit dualistic of me since I am complaining about certain kinds of people and not letting them "just be" but I surely am not going around chanting "just be" in peoples faces and shoving mantras down their throats at my own behest.

I just wish people weren't so afraid of emotions and -more specifically- of anger. It's ok! Yes, it's scarier than feeling happy but it's a real emotion and one that deserves just as much attention as any other. Change comes from there. Growth is simply discomfort cloaked in fear and anger. There is so much good that can come from it when it's not left to fester inside (or to run wild either). Now that I think about it, in a way, I thank my bypassers for being teachers- showing me another level of anger to dig up and take a look at and then discard when the juice has run dry. But I would never be able to allow that to run its natural course if not left to really feel.

I feel like I am constantly telling the world who I am. So here's another declaration of me-ness: let me be angry. It doesn't last because everything is passing. But I must be allowed to feel my anger in a safe and supportive container and if you cannot provide that, it's all good but just BE somewhere else where I am not.