Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual bypassing uses a spiritual practice or concept to hide from an aspect of yourself that is painful or broken.

It’s a con game dressed up in spiritual garb, and it’s very slippery.

The more pious and dedicated the practitioner, the more likely they are to fall into this trap.

Here are a few ways this happens:

  • Protecting the imaginary self image.
  • Bad habit/unexamined motivation.
  • Effective short term way of avoiding what we don’t like.
  • Comes to mind if we are engaged in spiritual practice.
  • Comes to mind if we are inclined to hide to begin with.
  • Easy to argue position/handy excuse.
  • Using the absolute to try to avoid or skip over the challenges of the relative.

There may be many more – you can come up with your own list if necessary.

Why does it happen ?

1) People follow a spiritual practice to feel better, driven by suffering. Living things tend to universally move toward the pleasant and away from the unpleasant.

2) Humans have a very well developed capacity for deception.

3) Spiritual practice exists ostensibly in order to see the truth beyond the expected/already known.

4) The truth often appears in unpleasant forms, such as a jarring glimpse of an ugly image in the mirror.

5) Add these all together and stir. Let sit.

Spiritual bypassing is dishonesty, adorned in spiritual vestments.

The antidote to spiritual bypassing is the same core antidote to many other spiritual problems: relentless honesty through clear seeing, open eyed and unflinching adherence to reality, a.k.a. the truth.

Every moment, no matter what.

No exceptions.

No excuses.


For more on spiritual bypassing :



The fellow who coined the term and first described spiritual bypassing gives a very lively description at this site: http://www.johnwelwood.com/articlesandinterviews.htm

The mirror pic came from here: http://vi.sualize.us/view/dc6052c4a589a146fdddfc2b2d60f440/


About dominic724

A former seeker starts blogging.
This entry was posted in Buddhist Practice, Human Experience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Spiritual Bypassing

  1. Pingback: Blogging as a Spiritual Practice | afternoonstorm

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