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Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?

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Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/27/19 12:45 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/27/19 2:08 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/27/19 6:50 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/28/19 1:09 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/28/19 8:43 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Eudoxos . 5/28/19 9:15 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/28/19 9:47 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/28/19 7:21 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Derek 5/28/19 10:27 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/29/19 3:25 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Chris Marti 5/29/19 6:59 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 7:39 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Derek 5/30/19 12:19 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/30/19 4:40 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Chris Marti 5/30/19 7:10 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/31/19 4:53 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Nick O 5/30/19 7:36 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/30/19 12:09 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Nick O 5/30/19 7:28 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 1:44 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 4:50 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Nick O 5/31/19 7:12 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Nick O 5/31/19 6:54 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 7:31 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stirling Campbell 5/29/19 11:11 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 11:15 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/30/19 4:00 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stirling Campbell 5/30/19 10:48 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Lars 5/27/19 5:05 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Ryan 5/27/19 9:21 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Nick O 5/28/19 7:42 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 5/28/19 8:45 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? P A HP 5/28/19 9:22 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stirling Campbell 5/28/19 1:10 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Derek 5/28/19 5:09 PM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Ben V. 6/1/19 6:40 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/1/19 6:55 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 6/2/19 6:12 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/3/19 9:06 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Stickman2 6/3/19 9:55 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Raving Rhubarb 6/4/19 7:26 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/4/19 10:46 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Georg S 12/8/19 8:38 AM
RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ? Milo 12/8/19 1:47 PM
Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/27/19 12:45 PM
So, watching Leigh Brasingtong talking about concentration practices and spiritual bypassing gave me a few questions

1) Did the original Gautama spiritually bypass his stuff, and if not why not ?
2) Is this a concept that's just a product of post-Freud culture, and the way modern psychotherapists judge function and dysfunction ?
3) What did contemplatives do before the invention of psychotherapy, in Western culture and elsewhere ?
4) If modern people need buddhism + psychotherapy, doesn't that show that the promise of buddhism to alleviate suffering is false or incomplete ?

thanks, Stick

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/27/19 2:08 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Morality training can take many shapes. Pscychotherapy is but one. Morality training was always part of the eightfold path.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/27/19 5:05 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Yes, it's a thing. The insidious part is that it can feel quite convincingly "spiritual" until you recognize what's going on, and the hangover is a kick in the teeth. I suspect Gautama didn't have this issue due to his well developed morality. When I went through this I was being dishonest with myself (even if at a subtle level), otherwise it couldn't have occurred. The more mature, honest and morally developed the meditator, the less likely i'd imagine this to be.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/27/19 6:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Well, psychotherapy isn't a morality training it's a cure, supposedly.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/27/19 9:21 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
I'll leave #2 and #3 to someone trained in psychotherapy, but on #1, I’ve always wondered if his wife and son Rahula didn’t feel something just like this! Leaving your iron-age wife and son to get by while you go become a mendicant sure sounds like some bypassing to me. On the other hand, even if that's so, it seems like spiritual bypassing has worked out really well at least once, so maybe it's not all bad. On #4, I think they are just aimed at different tasks. While Buddhist practice can certainly help some folks work through some of their “Stuff”, I don’t think that’s the point, and it’s probably not more likely to help than other modalities like psychotherapy. 

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 1:09 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Well, psychotherapy isn't a morality training it's a cure, supposedly.



It’s about working through your stuff, all your unhealthy defense mechanisms and repressed shadow sides. If that isn’t morality training, I don’t know what is.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 7:42 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Does TMI spiritually bypass the dark night? emoticon

There seems to be two categories. There's the personal psychological bypassing of inner "stuff" and then the more worldly and politically-charged finger pointing of bypassing of social issues. I'd be interested in hearing people's experiences where they were fooled and bitten by their bypassing. The most obvious example from my practice would be getting attached to being at a "good" place.  

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 8:43 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stickman2:
Well, psychotherapy isn't a morality training it's a cure, supposedly.



It’s about working through your stuff, all your unhealthy defense mechanisms and repressed shadow sides. If that isn’t morality training, I don’t know what is.

Morality is superego stuff. You could get on a plane and the next country you land in could call your freshly cleaned personality immoral.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 8:45 AM as a reply to Nick O.
Nick O:
Does TMI spiritually bypass the dark night? emoticon



Don't know, capitalism took all my money away so I can't afford the book

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 9:22 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Maybe more extreme forms of "stuff" do require extra support when you don't have enough tools to have meditation do it for you, or maybe you're not supposed to be healed completely in this life? I have had my issues, obviously, but so far all I've seen in my life ever since I've started is improvements in all areas. I don't think I'm bypassing (in a bad sense) but I do think I am not engaging unnecessarily and sometimes I'm helping others not engage unnecessarily, and that tends to be for the better. There is a "this world is a joke" attitude, but mainly as an instrument to overcome biases and keep an open mind. I do take care of my stuff so that my one joke of a life/world is a more bearable one and hopefully others', and little by little I get less and less concerned with how my self-image and other ego-related stuff is affected by my actions, focusing more naturally on how much I can contribute to my environment. If one is essentially lost, then one is less and less lost by following the right path, until one is not lost anymore. Not that I think that becoming an arahant implies getting rid of everything, but in a certain concept of "bypass" you are actually dealing with stuff at a deeper level. The view that there is content to deal with apart from the Path might be reflecting already a flawed understanding. The problem is we might not know without having our own deliverance.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 9:15 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stickman2:
Well, psychotherapy isn't a morality training it's a cure, supposedly.


It’s about working through your stuff, all your unhealthy defense mechanisms and repressed shadow sides. If that isn’t morality training, I don’t know what is.
Morality is superego stuff. You could get on a plane and the next country you land in could call your freshly cleaned personality immoral.


You are each using "morality" in a different sense. Linda in the sense of sila-sikkha (first training, translated as "morality", but perhaps better rendered as something with less ethical tone, such as "personal integrity") while Stickman2 talks about morality in the Western sense (whichever of them you pick - Christian or non-religiously ethical).

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 9:47 AM as a reply to Eudoxos ..
Yeah, exactly. I’m talking about the kind of training that is included in the eightfold noble path but not in meditation per se. Insight meditation alone does not take care of all junk that is involved in the human psyche and the human sociality. The Buddha never claimed that meditation alone would do the trick.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 1:10 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
So, watching Leigh Brasingtong talking about concentration practices and spiritual bypassing gave me a few questions

1) Did the original Gautama spiritually bypass his stuff, and if not why not ?
2) Is this a concept that's just a product of post-Freud culture, and the way modern psychotherapists judge function and dysfunction ?
3) What did contemplatives do before the invention of psychotherapy, in Western culture and elsewhere ?
4) If modern people need buddhism + psychotherapy, doesn't that show that the promise of buddhism to alleviate suffering is false or incomplete ?

thanks, Stick

From my perspective:

The Buddha, if he existed and was represented correctly, did NOT bypass. Bypassing happens when you have some insight and attempt to use that insight to "bypass" the very real feelings you still have about life events. Despite your insight, you still see from the perspective of a "self" that has a story. So, you might have wisdom about the non-dual nature of reality, but still somehow get freaked out about your taxes. Pretending that you aren't and shouldn't be freaked out to yourself or others is bypassing.

Bypassing has probably existed as long as there has been wisdom/insight, and would be a problem until "self" is entirely dissolved (arhat).

It's no coincidence that psychotherapy dates to the middle of the 19th century, just like the Industrial Revolution, when people actually began to have "1st World" problems that weren't primarily around basic survival. Before that you would probably talk to your minister/shaman/roshi, etc. Meditation is actually pretty good for working through small to medium level obscurations/mental issues, though in a world with recourse to other modalities, anything beyond that level is worth taking to a professional, if you have access to one.

Even without psychotherapy meditation will make you calmer and less reactive, though it is likely to also stir up buried psychological issues/obscurations. For those issues that are mild enough to process without psychotherapy, I'd say it is a success. This is probably most people. It is only wisdom/insight into the nature of reality that offers any complete alleviation of suffering.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 5:09 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
[quote=]
Stickman2:
So, watching Leigh Brasingtong talking about concentration practices and spiritual bypassing gave me a few questions

1) Did the original Gautama spiritually bypass his stuff, and if not why not ?
2) Is this a concept that's just a product of post-Freud culture, and the way modern psychotherapists judge function and dysfunction ?
3) What did contemplatives do before the invention of psychotherapy, in Western culture and elsewhere ?
4) If modern people need buddhism + psychotherapy, doesn't that show that the promise of buddhism to alleviate suffering is false or incomplete ? 

thanks, Stick




As to what Gautama Buddha did or did not do, I can't say. I never met the guy! But he apparently spent a lot of lifetimes doing it.
I do know that in the Theravada Vinaya there is reference to how to respond to monastic transgressions that took place when the monk was out of his mind. And there's the sutta where 32 monks commit suicide after hearing the Buddha's talk on (repulsiveness of) the body. For better or worse, the Buddha didn't seem to worried about it...

I haven't listened to Leigh's talk, and can't say anything about his particular comments or perspective. But my general sense of spiritual bypass (from a Theravada perspective, I'm not really versed in DhO): 

You have karma, right? It's your one true property. And you have karmic knots - which are deep patterns, conglomorate masses of tendencies, experience, childhood stuff, pastlife stuff, what appears as your central existential issues, deep personality traits, etc. All of this is still "not-self" but it's stuck on there more firmly. It's stickier. Working through a karmic knot, says one Burmese teacher, is a ten-year minimum. 

So, if you try to avoid your karmic knots - you might be spiritual bypassing. But how do you know if you're doing that? It's tricky...

A mild example of spiritual bypass might be someone who has a lot of social and interpersonal anxiety spending all their time on silent retreats, hoping to be freed liberation or whatever but really just running. Chances are you're not going to resolve your interpersonal stuff without doing interpersonal work.

Or someone who thinks they are free from anger but is actually just deeply repressed, totally afraid of anger.

A more extreme example: a teacher with deep wisdom, spiritual powers, very charismatic, have legion of followers, but the teacher physically and sexually abuses students - that teacher most definitely bypassed some stuff along the way, and it has profoundly negative impact on others.

Modern psychotherapy is a huge field, and each therapist has different strengths and shortcomings - so your mileage may vary. But I think one reason for contemporary lay teachers to suggest therapy is because many lay teachers teach only retreats, or *maybe* talk to students once a month. This is a relatively impersonal endeavor, and if someone is really struggling it may be more suitable, as well as easier - and "safer," in a ligitation-prone world - to refer someone to a therapist. Hopefully the therapist can roll up their sleeves and dive into the challenges side-by-side, in a way that many lay teachers just can't or aren't willing to. Silent retreats, etc., don't have the time or flexibility to accomodate a lot of people's different needs in that way.

Is that ethically sound, though? Personally, I'm wary of any teacher that promises (or at least advertises!) to guide their students to the end of suffering, but is quick to peace out & refer you to a therapist when it hits the fan.

That being said, it is a good question to ask, to look deeply over time: what is the Dharma for? what do the teachings provide? what don't they provide? what are the skills of a particular teacher, where and how can they support you, and where do you need someone or something else?

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 7:21 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah, exactly. I’m talking about the kind of training that is included in the eightfold noble path but not in meditation per se. Insight meditation alone does not take care of all junk that is involved in the human psyche and the human sociality. The Buddha never claimed that meditation alone would do the trick.

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/28/19 10:27 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.

Maybe it would be helpful to know what is your interest in practicing? 

In Theravada Buddhism, sila - the training in ethical conduct - is foundational to the path. It is not optional. The basic principle is a deep commitment to non-harming. The Buddha outlined basic areas for particular attention, including: wise speech, wise sexuality, not taking life, not stealing, not abusing or full abstaining from intoxicants. To me, that list seems to transcend time and place - areas where people get caught, time and time again, and cause themselves and others suffering.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 3:25 AM as a reply to Derek.
Derek:
Stickman2:

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.

Maybe it would be helpful to know what is your interest in practicing? 

In Theravada Buddhism, sila - the training in ethical conduct - is foundational to the path. It is not optional. The basic principle is a deep commitment to non-harming. The Buddha outlined basic areas for particular attention, including: wise speech, wise sexuality, not taking life, not stealing, not abusing or full abstaining from intoxicants. To me, that list seems to transcend time and place - areas where people get caught, time and time again, and cause themselves and others suffering.
My interest in practising is alleviation of suffering and transformation, like anyone else.
I still don't see anything therapeutic, in the modern sense, in the list you show. Psychotherapy isn't all about following the social practices from 500BC India.

OK let's put it this way. It's 500BC, and you live in a village near Gautama's monastery. Your parents beat you and argue with each other while you hide under the table, your uncle fondles you, your mad aunty is always giving you hashish. Bandits attack and murder your family leaving you traumatised and ending up at the doorstep of the monastery.

Is the buddha's teaching going to be enough for you, or will you have to wait 2500 years for some psychotherapy ? Or will life in the monastery amount to a life of bypassing ?

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 6:59 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
A synergistic path to consider: find a really good therapist who is also an accomplished meditator (Buddhism optional). These people do exist in the world.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 7:31 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah, exactly. I’m talking about the kind of training that is included in the eightfold noble path but not in meditation per se. Insight meditation alone does not take care of all junk that is involved in the human psyche and the human sociality. The Buddha never claimed that meditation alone would do the trick.

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.


I agree that there are many parts that are normative and culturally conditioned. As I understand it, however, it is also about finding a way to live with oneself (or one’s no self) in a society containing other people (even if they are ultimately part of the same nonduality). Today we have other ways of doing that, and psychotherapy is one of them. It is tailored to values that we regard highly today, such as individualism and self-actualization. The values change over time and between cultural contexts, but the mammalian need for sociality remains, as well as the complexities of the psyche with regard to normativity. Psychotherapy is not the same thing as monastic training, of course, but the need for dealing with stuff is not new.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Derek:
Stickman2:

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.

Maybe it would be helpful to know what is your interest in practicing? 

In Theravada Buddhism, sila - the training in ethical conduct - is foundational to the path. It is not optional. The basic principle is a deep commitment to non-harming. The Buddha outlined basic areas for particular attention, including: wise speech, wise sexuality, not taking life, not stealing, not abusing or full abstaining from intoxicants. To me, that list seems to transcend time and place - areas where people get caught, time and time again, and cause themselves and others suffering.
My interest in practising is alleviation of suffering and transformation, like anyone else.
I still don't see anything therapeutic, in the modern sense, in the list you show. Psychotherapy isn't all about following the social practices from 500BC India.

OK let's put it this way. It's 500BC, and you live in a village near Gautama's monastery. Your parents beat you and argue with each other while you hide under the table, your uncle fondles you, your mad aunty is always giving you hashish. Bandits attack and murder your family leaving you traumatised and ending up at the doorstep of the monastery.

Is the buddha's teaching going to be enough for you, or will you have to wait 2500 years for some psychotherapy ? Or will life in the monastery amount to a life of bypassing ?


Obviously I don’t know, but I would bet that there were people for whom monastic teachings weren’t enough back then as well as now. However, if you entered the monastery early enough (and did not suffer from any kinds of abuse there), maybe you didn’t have so much stuff to work through. The normative teachings were supposed to protect you from that. Maybe some of the monks were good therapists as well, only they didn’t call it that. Just as there are alternatives to psychotherapy today, I’m sure some people were able to work through their stuff outside of formal therapy back then as well.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 11:11 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.


In Buddhism, the basic set of precepts is something like this (though different schools have their variations):
I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
I undertake the training rule to avoid sexual misconduct.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

In my opinion, what these codes of ethics are primarily aimed at is helping the student/monk learn to work with their attachments and aversions, primarily, and avoid situations that create them. They are guidelines to help "protect" the student from creating more karma... not laws exactly. The student does not answer to a god for transgressions, though in some schools they may be asked to leave a monastery.

The precepts tackle the basic areas where people hold their attachments/aversions, and are broad enough to cover many variations on the basic themes. An individual student could in some cases be better served to identify the SPECIFIC issues in each of these areas that they have trouble with (if they are self-aware enough to spot them) and vow to stop THEM. As an example, a married man who has regular sex with his wife that doesn’t cause him to have problems with his self image, or become a source of pride or obsession is probably not having an issue. But, a married man that has a secret affair that no-one knows about is lying to himself and others and carries the guilt, fear, and shame of doing it. See the difference?

So you may have a drinking problem, or be obsessed with having sex of one variety or another, or be an inveterate liar. Each of us has and knows what our attachments are with great specificity. The reality of dogma and renunciation practices is that it is incumbent on us to identify what these attachments or aversions in our lives are and learn to work with them and weaken their hold on us. Stopping them, or at least mostly ending them, begins to create space for these attachments and aversions to loosen up. Weakening the hold on them begins to soften and dissolve the processes we use to solidify the idea of who our “self” is. These are often statements we might make about ourselves such as: “I am a liar”, or “I am addicted to sex’, or “I drink too much”. It is logical that if we attempt to lessen our activity in these key areas we lessen the building of our “self”. Just as important, are the POSITIVE attachments we build, such as, “I’m smarter than other people”, “I am very powerful in my job”, or “I’m the kind of person that always tells people the truth”. These ALSO build self. We can renounce these attitudes too. It can help to be honest with yourself and make a list of what these things are you think it would be good to renounce, and do your best to honor your intention to do so, but NOT create NEW aversion by beating yourself up about when you fail, which is inevitable.

What doesn’t build self? The empty, silent space between thoughts. The more time you spend there during your meditation, the less you spend building self by taking the world of separate people and things seriously.

Again, just my perspective.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/29/19 11:15 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Well put!

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 12:19 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Derek:
Stickman2:

Well, I'm looking at the eightfold path on wikipedia and it looks quite superegoey to me, injunctions to follow the morality of the time. Other societies simply have different moralities. There seems to be some overlap with the Ten Commandments in terms of obedience to social custom. Great for keeping people out of trouble with The Man, but not much scope for crazy wisdom.
I can't see much that you would call therapeutic in it either, apart from the contemplative practice bit.

Maybe it would be helpful to know what is your interest in practicing? 

In Theravada Buddhism, sila - the training in ethical conduct - is foundational to the path. It is not optional. The basic principle is a deep commitment to non-harming. The Buddha outlined basic areas for particular attention, including: wise speech, wise sexuality, not taking life, not stealing, not abusing or full abstaining from intoxicants. To me, that list seems to transcend time and place - areas where people get caught, time and time again, and cause themselves and others suffering.
My interest in practising is alleviation of suffering and transformation, like anyone else.
I still don't see anything therapeutic, in the modern sense, in the list you show. Psychotherapy isn't all about following the social practices from 500BC India.

OK let's put it this way. It's 500BC, and you live in a village near Gautama's monastery. Your parents beat you and argue with each other while you hide under the table, your uncle fondles you, your mad aunty is always giving you hashish. Bandits attack and murder your family leaving you traumatised and ending up at the doorstep of the monastery.

Is the buddha's teaching going to be enough for you, or will you have to wait 2500 years for some psychotherapy ? Or will life in the monastery amount to a life of bypassing ?
I think it depends on the person. I can't say about the Buddha's day - I don't remember it too well! Certainly there are stories of monks and nuns in the Buddha's time, who suffered profoundly like you describe, who were liberated from suffering. No therapist needed.

Likewise, today, the Buddha's teachings will be enough for some, no therapy needed. I think this is, for instance, Thanissaro Bhikkhu's perspective - he says Dhamma has nothing to gain from therapy. For others, like Jack Kornfield, therapy is a very helpful compliment to Buddhist teachings. It seems to depend on the person, what they need, etc.

But the fact that some monasteries have problems with sexual abuse says to me that spiritual bypass is definitely possible, even for people ostensibly following the Buddha's path.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 4:00 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
I still don't see any mention of the necessity of therapy. In the scriptures did Gautama say he had found the way to purify the defilements of the mind and overcome suffering, except for those who need therapy because his methods won't work for them ?
I'm not knowledgable about scripture, so perhaps I'm missing the bit where he says he's liberated from suffering but privately admits that he's full of regrets and has bad dreams about his starving ascetic days, and maybe needs a bit of CBT for a few issues.

Maybe someone could point out some of the buddha's failings and imperfections for me, so I don't have an idealised image of what awakening is ?

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 4:40 AM as a reply to Derek.
"I think it depends on the person."

But isn't it supposed to depend on the teaching ?

Hence the big pronouncements that this is the way to end suffering etc.

I notice that buddhist scripture suffers a lot of the same problems as other scripture - ie., unreliable and copied by unreliable people.

"But the fact that some monasteries have problems with sexual abuse says to me that spiritual bypass is definitely possible, even for people ostensibly following the Buddha's path."

Well, it's more than that because renunciates won't know if they would have the sorts of sexual issues that people go to therapy for, because they've given up sex, which is (possibly, depending on the person) a pretty big bypass, which might include (again depending on person) bypassing any issues with bringing up kids too, and all the rest of the stress of householder life - another massive bypass.

I can imagine monastic life being a magnet for perpetual children and damaged people stuck with issues. Given that the story of buddha includes remembering childhood jhanas as the path to liberation maybe this isn't surprising.

ie. “I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite
secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’
Then, following on that memory, came the realisation: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’
“I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’
I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’"

Which reminds of Freud's claim that contemplative bliss is a regression to infancy

And if you're in a monastery, taking your childhood happiness as the starting point for wisdom, then you might expect such a community to have some issues. Or maybe it's an opportunity to start over with a clean slate like the Buddha.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 7:10 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hence the big pronouncements that this is the way to end suffering etc.
And if you're in a monastery, taking your childhood happiness as the starting point for wisdom, then you might expect such a community to have some issues. Or maybe it's an opportunity to start over with a clean slate like the Buddha.

When the Buddhist scriptures talk about ending suffering, what do you think they mean by that word?

I think the word "suffering" refers to one thing - the habitual ignorance of how the human mind processes information. That's the primary focus and the fulcrum on which everything else is based. That's the source of the Buddha's awakening and everyone else's before and since. The claim is to allow us to see that process in play and know it for what it is and what it does, and thereby avoid its worst effects. The promise is that if you follow this prescribed process, you can awaken to what you really are. Yes, there are normative aspects to that and there are obviously values and morality written into the Eightfold Path and other scriptures, and avoiding transgressions is another way to reduce suffering by reducing the effect "bad" actions (and thoughts, btw) have on you and those around you and affected by you. But the gist of the thing is the process, the method, and the results of using it.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 7:36 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Well, it's more than that because renunciates won't know if they would have the sorts of sexual issues that people go to therapy for, because they've given up sex, which is (possibly, depending on the person) a pretty big bypass, which might include (again depending on person) bypassing any issues with bringing up kids too, and all the rest of the stress of householder life - another massive bypass.

I think about this often when viewing claims of emotional perfection or the fetter models. I don't doubt that monastics arrive at places where they drop fetters but one would say that this the effect of living in a monastic enviornment rather than the results of a practice (a bypass).

This is why I have somewhat of an issue with the term "spiritual bypassing" in general. Where does one draw the line between "bypassing" and skillfully avoiding situations, lifestyles, or substances that cause one trouble? As an obvious and maybe overly simplistic example, one could have complex issues with social situations but find themselves completely content living a solitary life. Is one "bypassing" or finding a more skillful way to live? I don't want to have kids. Am I just "bypassing" the complexities of becoming a father?

This is why I was only half-joking about TMI "bypassing" the dark night. If one finds a way to liberation and happiness without facing some underlying issues in the raw, is one simply "bypassing" or finding a better way?  Where do you draw the line between "spiritual bypassing" and skillful living?     


      

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 10:48 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
I still don't see any mention of the necessity of therapy. In the scriptures did Gautama say he had found the way to purify the defilements of the mind and overcome suffering, except for those who need therapy because his methods won't work for them ?
I'm not knowledgable about scripture, so perhaps I'm missing the bit where he says he's liberated from suffering but privately admits that he's full of regrets and has bad dreams about his starving ascetic days, and maybe needs a bit of CBT for a few issues.

Maybe someone could point out some of the buddha's failings and imperfections for me, so I don't have an idealised image of what awakening is ?

There wasn't any therapy. Now there is therapy. If it is available, why not avail yourself of it? Therapy isn't going to reveal the non-dual nature of reality, but it might help tuck away some of the obscuration that is in the way of seeing it. 

Once the "self" is dissolved, there is no-one for regrets or bad dreams to belong to. Possibly, as a thought, they arise and pass like the sunrise, or your breakfast or any other standard impermanent phenomena. emoticon

There is no "self" in a buddha to have failings or imperfections, which isn't to say that YOU might not care for his/her/it's/etc. actions.

Since we are on Mr. Ingram's turf, why not use his quite clean definition:

The non-duality model is without doubt my favorite of them all. It essentially says that the goal is to stop a process of identification that turns some patterns of sensations into a doer, perceiver, centerpoint, soul, agent, or self in some very fundamental perceptual way. By seeing these sensations as they are, the process can be seen through gradually until one day the last holdout of duality flips over and there are no more sensations that trick the mind in this way.

My favorite quote that articulates this model is from a sutta called the Bāhiya Sutta in the Udana (Ud 1.10). In it, the Buddha was talking with Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth (gotta love it!) and said that realization involves this direct insight: “In the seeing just the seen, in the hearing just the heard, in the sensed just the sensed, in the cognized just the cognized”, and then Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth was promptly killed by a cow. On his passing, when asked about his future rebirth, the Buddha said that, having practiced according to that pithy instruction, Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth had become fully unbound before his death, meaning fully awakened. [This story reminds me of the time that foot travelers and I who were walking on the road between Gaya and Bodh Gaya in India had to jump off the road and into a drainage ditch to avoid being run down by a charging water buffalo.]

I may repeat this quote about the sense doors just being exactly themselves without any additional complexity just to make the point of how preposterously profound it is. Basically, there is just a field of sensations, as there was before, but now all these sensations are progressively just seen to be as they are, and all the sensations that we generally call “me” are just a part of this process. In this model presented by the Buddha, direct experience of sensate clarity provides the basis of awakening and eliminates the sense of separation and the dualism of the perceiver. Remember, the Buddha was not into unity as the answer, having rejected that on numerous occasions, nor was he into duality, clearly, which yields (you guessed it) non-duality. - Daniel Ingram, MCTB2


https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/the-non-duality-models/

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 12:09 PM as a reply to Nick O.
Nick O:
Well, it's more than that because renunciates won't know if they would have the sorts of sexual issues that people go to therapy for, because they've given up sex, which is (possibly, depending on the person) a pretty big bypass, which might include (again depending on person) bypassing any issues with bringing up kids too, and all the rest of the stress of householder life - another massive bypass.

I think about this often when viewing claims of emotional perfection or the fetter models. I don't doubt that monastics arrive at places where they drop fetters but one would say that this the effect of living in a monastic enviornment rather than the results of a practice (a bypass).

This is why I have somewhat of an issue with the term "spiritual bypassing" in general. Where does one draw the line between "bypassing" and skillfully avoiding situations, lifestyles, or substances that cause one trouble? As an obvious and maybe overly simplistic example, one could have complex issues with social situations but find themselves completely content living a solitary life. Is one "bypassing" or finding a more skillful way to live? I don't want to have kids. Am I just "bypassing" the complexities of becoming a father?

This is why I was only half-joking about TMI "bypassing" the dark night. If one finds a way to liberation and happiness without facing some underlying issues in the raw, is one simply "bypassing" or finding a better way?  Where do you draw the line between "spiritual bypassing" and skillful living?     


      


I use the term spiritual bypassing only for issues that a person only avoids dealing with but does not avoid manifesting. For instance, someone who is convinced that they are never angry but manifests passive aggressive behavior because of all the repressed anger that has to come out somehow.

I don’t get why it would be spiritual bypassing to live a solitary life if that is one’s calling.

Going into a monestary in order to avoid dealing with a messed up sexuality due to abuse might be spiritual bypassing if not dealing with the wounds makes the person abuse others. But otherwise... since when did people use the term for healthy life choices? That doesn’t make sense at all.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/31/19 4:53 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Hence the big pronouncements that this is the way to end suffering etc.
And if you're in a monastery, taking your childhood happiness as the starting point for wisdom, then you might expect such a community to have some issues. Or maybe it's an opportunity to start over with a clean slate like the Buddha.

When the Buddhist scriptures talk about ending suffering, what do you think they mean by that word?

I think the word "suffering" refers to one thing - the habitual ignorance of how the human mind processes information. That's the primary focus and the fulcrum on which everything else is based. That's the source of the Buddha's awakening and everyone else's before and since. The claim is to allow us to see that process in play and know it for what it is and what it does, and thereby avoid its worst effects. The promise is that if you follow this prescribed process, you can awaken to what you really are. Yes, there are normative aspects to that and there are obviously values and morality written into the Eightfold Path and other scriptures, and avoiding transgressions is another way to reduce suffering by reducing the effect "bad" actions (and thoughts, btw) have on you and those around you and affected by you. But the gist of the thing is the process, the method, and the results of using it.
Well, thing is, buddhism is full of pronouncements about "I have overcome the defilements", "I am liberated from craving and aversion" etc., rather than "I have seen through the I that suffers, craves and averts". So yeah it often does look like a super therapy that has scrubbed the self clean of emotion forever. Maybe a translation problem. I know the truth about this is subtle and not immediately apparent to the layman.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/30/19 7:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Going into a monestary in order to avoid dealing with a messed up sexuality due to abuse might be spiritual bypassing if not dealing with the wounds makes the person abuse others. But otherwise... since when did people use the term for healthy life choices? That doesn’t make sense at all.

The first time I heard the term was on Michael Taft's Deconstructing Yourself. During his discussion with Christopher Titmuss, Michael asked whether practice should include activism and whether meditating quietly in a monestery was "enough" in a world full of problems. Christopher responded earnestly that there should be places for these people who do not wish to engage with the world. Michael sounded unconvinced. I've heard Michael use the term "spiritual bypassing" in this context and it's bothered me a little. Here's the crux: If "right view" for the person does not entail engaging in politics and activism, it is a "healthy life choice" for that person, therefore not "spiritual bypassing".   

I see now from this discussion that the definition is more broad than I assumed. The other issues being discussed here under the term "spiritual bypassing" simply sound like "wrong view" to me but that point is arbitrary. 

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/31/19 1:44 AM as a reply to Nick O.
That’s the problem with words. I need to remember to define what I’m talking about rather than assuming that people use the words in a similar way.
As an autistic person I spend a lot of time in solitude because that’s how I rest. I could totally see myself living alone in the woods. I don’t have a problem with that. What scares me, though, is when people stop caring about other people’s suffering because suffering is only an illusion and things like that. To me, that is spiritual bypassing: being convinced that wordly problems don’t matter and therefore being coldhearted to other people’s suffering. Not caring. Legitimizing oppression. Stuff like that. Not everyone has to be an activist, but using the dharma to legitimize oppression is more than not being an activist.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/31/19 4:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
That’s the problem with words. I need to remember to define what I’m talking about rather than assuming that people use the words in a similar way.
As an autistic person I spend a lot of time in solitude because that’s how I rest. I could totally see myself living alone in the woods. I don’t have a problem with that. What scares me, though, is when people stop caring about other people’s suffering because suffering is only an illusion and things like that. To me, that is spiritual bypassing: being convinced that wordly problems don’t matter and therefore being coldhearted to other people’s suffering. Not caring. Legitimizing oppression. Stuff like that. Not everyone has to be an activist, but using the dharma to legitimize oppression is more than not being an activist.



At least if people stop caring about suffering, I think it would be decent to just mind their own business instead of rubbing it in when other people do suffer. Telling people who are suffering from oppression or from serious illness that they only suffer because they choose to do so does not really help. Yet I see that happening. These are people who think of themselves as spiritually superior. Most of them are probably not into hardcore dharma, but more active on the new age scene.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/31/19 6:54 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
That’s the problem with words. I need to remember to define what I’m talking about rather than assuming that people use the words in a similar way.
As an autistic person I spend a lot of time in solitude because that’s how I rest. I could totally see myself living alone in the woods. I don’t have a problem with that. What scares me, though, is when people stop caring about other people’s suffering because suffering is only an illusion and things like that. To me, that is spiritual bypassing: being convinced that wordly problems don’t matter and therefore being coldhearted to other people’s suffering. Not caring. Legitimizing oppression. Stuff like that. Not everyone has to be an activist, but using the dharma to legitimize oppression is more than not being an activist.

Agree 100%. 

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
5/31/19 7:12 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
[quote=Most of them are probably not into hardcore dharma, but more active on the new age scene.
]

Exactly. The "meditate the problems away" "I'm so spiritual" types I figured weren't being addressed here under the umbrella of spiritual bypassing just because it seemed so obvious, but perhaps I was arrogant in that assumption.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/1/19 6:40 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Although I'm writing this on clicking reply to the original poster, this is more some reflections I had reading the entire thread.

Certainly, spiritual bypassing (i.e. using spirituality defensively to avoid dealing with problems that should be dealth with) is a thing, but we can use anything as bypassing, including psychology (psychological bypassing) and social activism (activism bypassing). 

Psychological bypassing: I read a story once about a woman who, after a 3 months vipassana retreat, felt anxiety related to seeing her sense of self dissolve. She consulted an american dharma teacher who told her to enter therapy. But she felt the anxiety had something to do with meditative stages she was in (I guess the mushroom culture did not recognize thid?). So instead of going into therapy, she went to Burma, ordained, and got stream-entry within a year. Had she went to therapy and not push on with her practice, she may have just avoided (bypass) the difficulties of dealing with the dukkha nanas. I also find some therapists (I'm also a therapist) chronically try to find psychological defenses behind their patients` spiritual practice, as if the drive to awaken was alaways a defensive process. I think the drive to awaken is a natural drive, with as much validity (meaning it exists just as other drives) as the sexual drive or the drive to bond emotionally with others. The need to be alone at times should also not always be seen as defensive, but a genuine need.

Spiritual practice exist because of the existence of suffering and death. some people are more aware of the implications of these realities and thus the drive to contemplative practice awakens. The field of psychology has often avoided these greater questions of life (with some notable exceptions), so when a patient addresse them, it would at times be seen as a displacement of some other, more worldly anxieties. But sometimes contemplating the great questions of life life pervasive unsatisfactoriness, death, and impermanence, is a genuine, non defensive (non-by-passing) phenomenon; one that made the Buddha who he was. Over-psychologizing everything can be a way to bypass too.

I agree with Titmuss that there is a place in society for monasticism and seclusion. We all have individual gifts, abilities, and ways to contribute. Social activism can be the way for some. Secluded monastic life can be the genuine way for others. Both are valid, and both can be used as a bypass as well.

Social activism: As a therapist, I have seen social activism used defensively. Some people who are activists are really just, unconsciously, projecting their family of origin issues on the wider society. They go out, often self-righteously, protesting and fighting "causes" that are really just projection of the type of family environment (or childhood environment) they lived in. What they should do is address this (their childhood and its impacts), make it conscious, and grieve it. But they bypass this task by creating an enemy "out there" (i.e. "society") and fighting it. Even if the cause they fight are real causes, it is still social activism bypassing.

When we realize we are bypassing, it doesn't necessarily mean we should let go of what we are doing (meditating in a monastery, stay in therapy, or doing social activism). It often means doing it more consciously and more freed from one`s personal issues.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/1/19 6:55 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Very good points!

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/2/19 6:12 AM as a reply to Ben V..
It's a thoughtful and informed response, thanks.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/3/19 9:06 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
In this Deconstructing youself postcast, https://deconstructingyourself.com/podcast/culadasa-on-meditation-and-therapy, Culadasa talks about how spiritual bypassing threatened his health because he downplayed negative emotions.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/3/19 9:55 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Gets straight into a particular interpersonal issue in my life. Nice.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/4/19 7:26 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
I'll have a guess, based on common sense:
Stickman2:
So, watching Leigh Brasingtong talking about concentration practices and spiritual bypassing gave me a few questions

1) Did the original Gautama spiritually bypass his stuff, and if not why not ?
Living as a monk means you don't have to face many challenges you would otherwise. But probably other challenges. That could probably be called SB. No one has any idea what original buddha actually did there.
2) Is this a concept that's just a product of post-Freud culture, and the way modern psychotherapists judge function and dysfunction ?
No.
3) What did contemplatives do before the invention of psychotherapy, in Western culture and elsewhere ?
1. Not live in a society that leads to mental illness.
2. Practice brahmaviharas, lots of.
3. Find out by themselves how to change their mind, aided by their hard-won powers of self-observation.
4. Despair.
5. Not being admitted to the monastery in the first place.
6. Be admitted to the monastery, be unable to cope, get thrown out. Go to step 4.
4) If modern people need buddhism + psychotherapy, doesn't that show that the promise of buddhism to alleviate suffering is false or incomplete ?
Yes. But then Buddhism has the 10-fetters model, so we already knew that Buddhism is full of shit.
emoticon

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
6/4/19 10:46 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
It’s a good point that meditation hasn’t always been accessible to anyone. I think those six points adressing question 3 were quite spot on.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
12/8/19 8:38 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hello and greetings to all of you.

Isn't spiritual bypassing not just another word for ignorance? 

To me it absolutely makes no difference and I think this term brings more confusion than doing anything good.

Questions 2,3,4)I don't want to offend someone, but what else than psychotherapy are the teachings of buddha? The end (or step by step reduction) of suffering- isn't that the aim of psychotherapy (in a general sense) too?

In my understanding so far, not every medicine is right for each person, thats why buddha gave (individual) discourses to different sort of people (or groups). So, I think that the teachings of buddha do not need more ingredients if understood (and tought to one individual) correctly, because they include everything to end suffering.

And If not understood correctly a good teacher (who not necessarily has to know anything about buddhism) is able to guide you through your own ignorance, so that you are able to see it by yourself, step by step, layer by layer. 

It would be interesting what you think about my view about this topic.

RE: Is spiritual bypassing a real thing ?
Answer
12/8/19 1:47 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Well, in the ancient world there wasn't a distinction between 'dharma' (Spiritual teachings) and secular / science based approaches (Therapy/psychology). If you had something impeding you from spiritual training, you had a karma problem that needed to be addressed by preliminary training in sila, or if it was really severe you just had to live with a limited range of practice available in this lifetime and your practice was aimed at a rebirth that would allow you to fully practice.

If you were a monastic in the ancient world and you transgressed, then either you were reprimanded and made amends or in severe cases you were considered to have failed and were exiled from the sangha.