SPIRITUAL DECEPTIONS THAT HALT GROWTH

The problem with the spiritual journey is that it is often laden with traps of many kinds.

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Spiritual bypassing:

Spiritual bypassing is the practice of using spirituality to avoid, suppress or escape from certain emotions or situations in life. Common types of spiritual bypassing include:

  • numbing one’s emotions through “spiritualized” repression and avoidance
  • unhealthy obsession and attachment to the positive (e.g., positive thinking) and adopting a passive-aggressive “nice” mask
  • debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow self
  • anger-phobia
  • weak personal boundaries
  • blind or excessively tolerant compassion (to the detriment of oneself and the other)
  • forcefully trying to “kill” the ego and condemning it as “bad/evil”
  • exaggerated detachment
  • getting stuck in theoretical spirituality and dogmatic beliefs about “truth”
  • denial of self-responsibility by placing it on another higher being (e.g., spirit guide, angel, ascended master)
  • delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being
  • using spiritual practices to escape unpleasant emotions; for example, using meditation to dissociate from emotions, rather than transmute them.

 Superiority trap:

The trap of superiority can be seen as a subtle feeling of “being better” than others who aren’t “spiritual.”

In more extreme cases, this trap can appear as the tendency to lash out at people who are still “asleep,” “blind” or “sheep” of society – or even become a spiritual narcissist.

This kind of reactive behavior can often be seen in people who have just “woken up” to the state of the world, yet have undergone minimal spiritual growth. We need to remember that everyone is doing the best they can at their level of consciousness. When the time comes, they will awaken too.

Wanting to help others:

This trap is closely entwined with the previous trap except it is more geared toward giving others advice.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help others, as long as you respect their personal boundaries.

But sometimes developing an expanded spiritual perspective gives the ego an opportunity to feel more “knowledgeable” than others still trapped in illusion. When unsolicited advice is given to others, the results can be disastrous (think anger, upset, offense, triggering trauma responses, etc.).

Wanting to help others can also be used as a way of escaping our need to help ourselves. Under the guise of being “spiritual” and compassionate, helping others can be just another form of spiritual bypassing.

Meaninglessness:

Once we experience divine and transcendent states of being in which we become One with all, we can fall into the trap of spiritual nihilism after the experience passes.

In other words, once we realize, from the perspective of the Universe, that nothing we do ultimately matters because all is passing, we can fall into a depressive mindset.

Using truths such as “All is an illusion,” the person who falls for this trap tends to filter life through the mind. By mentally clinging to these truths, they become beliefs that the spiritual ego uses as an excuse to paradoxically feel separate from existence.

 Avoiding everyday responsibilities:

Some people get so infatuated with the spiritual path that they avoid dealing with ordinary, everyday affairs. This form of escapism can lead to leeching off others, not paying bills, evading taxes, obsessing with “living off the grid,” etc.

When avoiding everyday responsibilities is worn as a badge of being consciously elevated or “more spiritual” this too is a form of egotism in disguise.

Avoiding ordinary responsibilities which are not perceived as being “spiritual enough” can also be a form of distraction that the ego uses to limit spiritual growth. The more concerned and obsessed you are with living an outwardly “spiritual” looking life, the more distanced from your inner work you become.

Attachment:

After experiencing profound and expansive mystical experiences which often come after significant spiritual growth, it is common for us to attach to the experience.

It can be painful to come down from these experiences and return back to usual, “unenlightened” reality.

We then can also attach to our “stories” and beliefs about spirituality. In other words, because the mind tries to make sense out of this transcendent experience, it will often latch onto various ideas as a form of control.

But the more we attach to our beliefs, stories, desires, and mental interpretations, the more we suffer. We forget that everything passes, even transcendent experiences. Enlightenment isn’t a destination, it is a complete surrender; a fundamental shift in the way we approach life.

Attachment is perhaps the most common trap that sabotages our spiritual growth.

 

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