There are many pitfalls that often leave spiritual seekers, even those with the best intentions, to lose themselves to illusions. Illusions conjured by their desire to be spiritual, elite or an attempt to escape their internal turmoil. We have all fallen into them, and some are difficult to detect because they feed our spiritual ego.
It is important to recognise when we are spiritually by-passing our real issues and behaviours.
John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist, in the early 1980s first coined the term spiritual by-passing – “the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practises to side-step or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds and unfinished development tasks.” This beautifully sums up what many do, often unintentionally and yet with conviction.
It is easy to become lost in denial, especially when we run an internal narrative that feeds the illusion of transcendence or transformation, before we have even identified the truth of our emotional selves.
- When we fool ourselves with spiritual beliefs and practices, it becomes easier to oppose being truthful. Life has a way of revealing the truth to us, and all spiritual journeys are fraught with crossroads of decisions that basically come down to either:
Acknowledge the rawness of our truth, while being willing to explore the truth with an open mind. Get real about it.
- Cling to the story we want to believe, while protectively deflecting an evidence that proves we don’t understand our truth. Create a distraction that ensures we don’t even look.
We do the latter by ignoring and justifying any behaviour that exposes what is unresolved within or is used to shield us from having to face our own reality.
Spiritual by-passing is telling ourselves what we want to hear to justify our denial of our reality. It is attempting to remain in a performance derived from a spiritual illusion, to not only avoid facing the reality of our emotional issues and behaviours, but to also feel in control of our suppression of them.
Spiritual by-passing: Ignoring the reality of yourself, while clinging to a spiritual belief or illusion that distracts you from being honest. Using spiritual concepts, words and beliefs to deny self-responsibility and soul-accountability. (Sourced from glossary of Spirituality, Evolution & Awakened Consciousness)
Feet-on-the-ground spirituality means the opposite of spiritual by-passing. It means to get real, face our emotional issues and behaviours with honest self-observations. It is being prepared to acknowledge the truth of our unconsciousness, and do the work required to resolve it.
Doing the work means to be truthful, acknowledge the emotions, feel the reality of them, develop an understanding through self-reflection and contemplation. And then use that information – awareness, to apply a conscious response to what was once an unconscious aspect of ourselves.
Feet-on-the-ground spirituality is to be spiritual in reality, not to create an alternate reality to be spiritual in.
When we acknowledge part of any spiritual journey is learning the truth of our emotional reality, we become willing to confront what we have suppressed and hidden within with self-compassion.
Life is a rise and fall from grace journey. We can be operating extremely authentically and then stumble and fall into embodying the unconsciousness of our soul – some refer to it as the shadow-side.
Feet-on-the-ground spirituality means we are willing, sometimes reluctantly, to recognise and take self-responsibility for the energy of our unconsciousness. Spirituality is knowing that we are souls, and when exposed to the truth of our own energy, we accept that there is an opportunity to learn from ourselves. This requires truthfulness, which we all know at times is difficult to muster, as we compete against all the embedded beliefs, fears and triggered emotions that cause us to fall from grace.
Fall from grace is operating separated from our soul’s consciousness – the divinity within, our authenticity. This is, in contrast, to rise with grace, which is to operate in unification with our soul’s consciousness and truth. Spirituality is the journey of creating unity within. Spiritual by-passing is sustaining the separation while believing there is no separation, and filling the void created with spiritual illusions and performances.
Grace stems from our acceptance that it is truth, in all its forms that will aid us to be honestly present, willing to objectively observe ourselves as we endeavour to discover the truth of who we are, as we resolve what oppresses our soul-awareness.
Spirituality is the recognition that there is a continuum to our souls, and life is a part of that journey. When we are willing to resolve what is unresolved within, which is to heal.
Resolving what burdens our soul, enables us to evolve beyond the limitations of our unconsciousness, because we will no longer carry the energy that burdens our soul.
Feet-on-the-ground spirituality is honouring the consciousness of who we naturally are and of our origins, by being prepared to face, learn from and deal with what impedes our relationship with truth. It is then the practice of being truthful, especially to ourselves about ourselves. Applying what we learn to our day-to-day existence. This improves our relationship with ourselves – our souls, truth and our origins. It also enables our consciousness to flow freely, expanding our awareness of truth. This is evolution.
Feet-on-the-ground spirituality is to be conscious of your soul journey, seeking what nurtures your soul, while respecting that life and all the messy emotional adventures are positioning you to discover the present reality of yourself.
I believe if you took the time to continue to read this to the end, you seek to be spiritually authentic.