The Spiritual Bypass

Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

How many of us are so spirituality evolved that we don’t EVER feel anger, hurt or frustration? Am I the only one raising my hand!? I kid of course, but this mentality around uncomfortable and so-called “negative” emotions is pretty pervasive. It fits right in with the surface approach taken in so many others ways in our society: the quick fix, pop a pill and avoid-discomfort-at-all-costs approach. No matter how spiritual we may proclaim ourselves to be, and despite what we may think, or have read or been told about spirituality, NO ONE gets a “get out of feelings” free card.

We can’t be happy all the time. Not only is being happy all the time not realistic, it’s a glossing over of our authentic human experience here on earth. But somewhere along the way, negative emotions got a bad wrap. Yes, they are uncomfortable, so that’s one strike against them. They can make us feel weak and vulnerable — that’s another strike. We cannot always control them – strike three. The case for allowing and experiencing these feelings is not looking good, is it? It’s no wonder that the idea of a “spiritual bypass” has so much appeal! This term was used by Charles Whitfield, and was later developed by Robert Augustus Master (see Har Prakash’s comment on this) to bring to light the tendency for folks to use spiritual principles and concepts as a way to avoid doing the hard work (ie. feeling feelings!) that’s required for genuine spiritual and personal growth.

As people gravitate towards spirituality to find meaning in their lives, the messages we receive can often encourage us to “rise above” our “lowly” feelings, the idea being that if somehow we hold enough love in our hearts, we will be granted immunity to them. Then, when we have a natural (and usually justified) reaction, like anger or frustration, we instantly judge ourselves for these negative feelings. Can we not hold love in our hearts AND experience anger (and have  compassion for ourselves in the process?)?
I’m here to tell you (among many other things, it would seem), that those “bad” feelings are totally, 100% OKAY! In fact, it’s when we DON’T allow these feelings and express them in a healthy way that they can become toxic. Suppressing these feelings by pretending they don’t exist and acting as though we are “above” them only causes them to go underground and fester. This festering is the real cause for concern, for that’s when the accumulation of unexpressed feelings gradually seeps into your daily life and creates major physical and mental health issues, and can also start to impact those close to you.
So have your feelings. ALL of them. And have LOVE — for ALL of them. Be REAL! The only way out really is through.
I was shocked and appalled to discover I have not yet posted about chocolate avocado mousse. Avocado, known to some as “nature’s butter,” makes a decadent, smooth, creamy, velvety rich mousse. By no means did I invent this recipe! Peeps have been onto this one for ages. I’ve seen variations that use everything from dates as a sweetner to maple syrup. I like agave or maple syrup. When my girlfriend brought this over for dessert the other night, I was reminded of how ridiculously good and easy this is to make. Never mind what’s for dinner. This is where it’s at!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

2 avocados

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa (more or less to taste)

1/4 cup agave or 1/3 cup maple syrup (again, to taste)

pinch of salt

Combine in a food processor and whiz until creamy smooth. Refrigerate or eat at room temperature. Nature’s butta I tell ya!

5 thoughts on “The Spiritual Bypass

  1. Hi Bryanne,

    Nice article on an important topic in “spiritual circles”. Transcendence without including what’s being transcended readily lends itself to spiritual bypassing. Do you know Robert Augustus Master’s book “Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters”?

    Here’s an audio interview link between Robert and Ken Wilber:

    With blessings and gratitude, Har-Prakash.

    • Sat Nam Har Prakash,
      Thank you for taking the time to post a comment! I am not familiar with that book….YET! Thank you for the info and the link!
      I look forward to discussing further with you next month!

  2. Thank you so much for this — it validates my experience as a psychotherapist with clients who are terrified to feel anger because of past traumas in their lives. Yoga and other modalities, including therapy, can be so important in creating a safe place to express anger — getting all of that “toxic energy” out, and not have it continue to be focussed inward, resulting in depression, self-hatred and hopelessness. The trick is to slowly break down the veil of spiritual bypassing that keeps the anger stuck. This sure requires patience on the part of the therapist!!

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