Spiritual Bypass

“One of the great dangers of transformational work is that the ego attempts to sidestep deep psychological work by leaping into the transcendent too soon. This is because the ego always fancies itself much more ‘advanced’ than it actually is.”

— Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

I took a seminar on awakening not too long ago.  One concept that the leader shared was that it was not necessary to learn to love oneself before awakening. The definitions of the words ‘love oneself’ and ‘awakening’ are dependent upon each person’s perception.  Who knows exactly what that phrase means to someone else? However, this leader seemed to think that awakening was all that was needed.

I do know the intent of that thought runs counter to how I have been experiencing my lessons.  The more transformative work that I do with my inner process, the more clear I am about the love of who I truly am.  It just seems to me that removing the blockages produced by the ego’s energy of fear would lend itself to opening up the awakening process more clearly.

“We have no need to teach pure motives to the mind. All that is necessary to make the mind pure is to undo the negative conditioning to which it has been subjected; then we will be left with pure, unconditioned awareness.”

— Eknath Easwaran

It seems sometimes that there is a tendency to skip over psychological work in the search for a spiritual identity. This new identity, some with a different name change, is old cake with new frosting.  The same old beliefs about self, others, and the world are there chugging along.  But now the focus is on the new ‘spiritual’ self as the old self just bubbles along underneath.

If you have listened to one of these ‘teachers’ very carefully, at times you may hear the judgment and defensiveness creep into their voices when they are challenged.  Awakening by itself without the ‘soulwork’ of dealing with negative conditioning from our lives, seems to be a shaky house of cards.  It is tempting to believe that ignoring our stinky old baggage is as easy as a cat covering its poop in the box…but it just doesn’t seem to work that way.

Stinky is as stinky does.  We are all called to clear old conditioning that no longer serves us.  It means feeling the feelings, holding them in the compassionate light of the unconditional love that burns incessantly in our hearts…….that spark of the Divine that is always with us.  And some of us just don’t want to do the work.  We want to believe that we can leap-frog it over into the land of Enlightenment and forever wear the Buddha smile.  I just don’t buy it.

My experience shows me that my life is my path.  Everything I need to clear is within me.  I don’t need to go anywhere to find it.  No one else has the answer.  I am my path.  I just need to work it.  I am both the teacher and the student.

©2010 Andrea Avari Stevens, Ph.D.

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