The spiritual bypass is what we call our unwillingness to explore the difficult aspects of our process. There can be a tendency for spiritually minded types (like me, and you if you are reading this blog…) to want to transcend. We love transcendence. The space! The freedom! The brush of angels wings! I am not being facetious. Well – maybe a bit, but opening the heart and freeing the wings of the soul to love and soar, and adore – yes, it is a good experience, one of the best human experiences possible.
But it is not the whole story. It is not, maybe, even half of the story. In the Islamic tradition there is a saying ‘I was a Hidden Treasure, and I so longed to be known…..so I created the world, that I could be known’. Lets open this up a bit. It is God speaking here, God is the ‘I’ in this saying (or instead of ‘God; you can say ‘the Cosmos’ or ‘Life’ or ‘the Universe’ or ‘Being’ or ‘the Source’ – whatever word is comfortable for you to express this particular inexpressible).
So….. the Source says ‘I was a Hidden Treasure’…. and then the words ‘and I so longed to be known’. Longed. Yearned. Loved. These words are so compelling….. the love. The world is created through love, this saying is showing us. I so longed/yearned/loved to be known. ‘To be Known’…..what are we to make of that? It is relational. To be Known, means that there is one who knows, and one who is known – it is God coming out of One-ness in to multiplicity. In to relationship. ‘So I created the world’. And there is the meaning of existence. There is the meaning of life. The purpose. ‘So’ ‘Therefore’ ‘Accordingly’.
The world was created so that the Origin did not have to be lonely and unappreciated anymore. When I feel, or sit with a client who feels, lonely and unappreciated, at least there is the comfort here of being in very good company (and think of the implications of that…..).
So when we seek to ascend, transcend, go ‘up’ in search of our ‘spiritual’ life, we are going in the wrong direction really. Look down at your feet. Or if you are a bit less concrete thinking – look out at your life, this very life, right now, that you have because that is what is created for you right now. That is the face of ‘God’ to be known right now. That is a radical thing that I am saying here – behold your life, this circumstance, this freeze-framed moment in all its complexity, and there it is. The face of the Beloved. The face of Source. The face of God. Yes. Why did you think it was something else?
As psychotherapists we can see this in our work. People bring us a difficult situation that they are struggling with and one question we can ask is ‘what face of God is being shown to this person in this situation? What do they have to know now? What is seeking to be Known through this?’. This is a way of working with circumstance as theophany. Ibn Arabi explored this at some length in his writings. Most mystics from most traditions had something to say about it (Julian of Norwich ‘All will be well ,and all will be well’ – she was noticing this).
The spiritual bypass happens when we forget all about the face of god being visible in the day to day. The spiritual bypass is when we try to run away from our life, and ourselves actually – our limited, cramped selves, in order to find the Hidden Treasure in the sky. It is not in the sky. It is to be found by staying with what is created, what is seen, and what is known through being thoroughly, messily, beautifully human.
‘I was a Hidden Treasure, and I so Longed to be Known, so I created the world, that I could be Known’.