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 Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:26 pm

Spiritual Bypassing by Robert Augustus Masters

Spiritual bypassing—the use of spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs—is so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed. The spiritual ideals of any tradition, whether Christian commandments or Buddhist precepts, can provide easy justification for practitioners to duck uncomfortable feelings in favor of more seemingly enlightened activity. When split off from fundamental psychological needs, such actions often do much more harm than good.

While other authors have touched on the subject, this is the first book fully devoted to spiritual bypassing. In the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa’s landmark Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Spiritual Bypassing provides an in-depth look at the unresolved or ignored psychological issues often masked as spirituality, including self-judgment, excessive niceness, and emotional dissociation. A longtime psychotherapist with an engaging writing style, Masters furthers the body of psychological insight into how we use (and abuse) religion in often unconscious ways. This book will hold particular appeal for those who grew up with an unstructured new-age spirituality now looking for a more mature spiritual practice, and for anyone seeking increased self-awareness and a more robust relationship with themselves and others.

"This is a wonderfully significant and important book, and is highly recommended. Its contents are truly mandatory for this day and age."
—Ken Wilber, author of The Integral Vision

"This timely and penetrating analysis of spirituality’s shadow provides a much-needed counterpoint for those who tend to get blinded by its light."
—Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs

"There is much wisdom and good information in this book. Robert joins a growing number of wise teachers who understand that the personal and the universal must be combined to bring true and genuine spiritual awakening."
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

"Traversing the muddy waters of contemporary spirituality requires a willingness to meet its seen and unseen challenges with ruthless self-honesty and keen discernment. Robert addresses 'the many faces of spiritual bypassing' with intellectual rigor, hard-earned insight, and emotional intelligence. It is a lucid, well-written, and practical guide for both new and seasoned practitioners on the spiritual path."
—Mariana Caplan, PhD, author of Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path and Halfway Up the Mountain: the Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment

"Robert Masters has given us a great gift—a tremendously useful guide to examining our tendencies to spiritual bypassing, clearly the most comprehensive and accessible treatment available on this crucial topic. His work is a great contribution to the ongoing integration of psychotherapy and spiritual practice, and to our understanding of the meaning of spiritual maturity."
—Donald Rothberg, PhD, author of The Engaged Spiritual Life

"In Spiritual Bypassing, Robert Masters eloquently reminds us of something we have unknowingly misplaced on our spiritual journeys: Mother Earth. In our efforts to bypass our earthly challenges, we have disconnected from the Ground of our very being, seeking our wholeness on a pogo stick to the stars. In poignant and clarifying language, Robert calls us back home, confronting us with our avoidance, inviting us to find our spirituality in the heart/depths of our humanness. In an era where detachment models for spirituality are becoming dangerously prevalent, his inclusive message is of profound importance. It may not appeal to the part of us that wants the path to be easy, but it will speak loudly to the part of us that longs for the truth. I recommend it wholeheartedly."
—Jeff Brown, author of Soulshaping

"In Spiritual Bypassing, Robert Augustus Masters offers a wake-up call—more of a shout—to those of us who have unwittingly fallen prey to all manner of promising and seductive antidotes to our pain and suffering in the form of detached spiritual teachings and New Age magical thinking. The book is a sobering and powerful reminder that our present embodiment, in all its flawed, messy humanness, cannot be conveniently sidestepped, and so invites us inward to a face-to-face encounter and embrace with the raw truth of who we really are. Masters’ unique and at times disarming prose style blends a poetic sensibility with a surprising stark clarity that points us to 'What Really Matters.'"
—Eliezer Sobel, author of The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments

"There is much hard-won wisdom in this work. Spiritual Bypassing is a detailed, point-by-point description of how so-called spirituality can be used by some to actually avoid individuation, adulthood, and the daimonic. When Carl Jung noted that “neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering,” he hinted that, especially for the Western psyche, spiritual practice itself can be just such a sneaky neurosis. This insightful, firm, confrontive yet compassionate book promotes and encourages the complementary marriage of spiritual practice and psychotherapy, recognizing that they are—and, at best, have always been—basically two integrally related sides of the same existential coin: The most profound psychotherapy is essentially spiritual; and the deepest spiritual quest includes some depth psychology. Neither approach can be excluded on the unpredictable path toward selfhood. But even the powerful fusion of spirituality and psychotherapy cannot offer transcendent perfection. Selfhood or spiritual enlightenment is never about escaping or distorting inner or outer reality to serve our egos, but requires lovingly accepting and embracing reality as it is and on its own terms."
—Stephen Diamond, PhD, author of Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity

"Uncompromising and truth-telling, this book is an antidote to spiritual obesity. What emerges is the call to psychological clarity as essential to the mature spiritual life. Here is soul-fuel for those who would enter the road less traveled—the deeply examined life as part of spiritual practice."
—Jean Houston, PhD, author of A Mythic Life

"The escape act and forms of denial and self-delusion that Robert Masters diagnoses as 'spiritual bypassing' have been with us for millennia — perhaps since our early ancestors first discovered psycho-spiritual experiences that seemed to relieve the pressures of living and dying. But the syndrome has become endemic in our frothy age of virtual everything — so we are all blessed by the appearance of this diamond of a book. Here a priest of our true wellness has distilled the blood, sweat, and tears of his decades of fervent triage work in trenches of bypassing into essences of truly healing wisdom. Every spiritual practitioner would do well to study Spiritual Bypassing again and again. So would every one of us who presume to teach any spirituality at all. Thankfully, it's as much compassionate antidote as prophetic critique. May it be put to grateful use as long as the illness it treats continues to ravage human bodies, souls, and lives."
—Saniel Bonder, founder, Waking Down in Mutuality, and author of Healing the Spirit/Matter Split and Waking Down

“Spiritual Bypassing casts a critical eye on our deeply entrenched misuse of spirituality… Masters provides a framework for how to deal with and integrate ‘negative’ emotions such as anger, fear, hate and judgment into a more authentic way of living. While most self-help books these days seem to simply tell you to ‘just be more positive,’ ‘avoid negativity’ or ‘have more compassion,’ Masters suggests a method where we can simultaneously choose to be compassionate while also still choosing to acknowledge our heartfelt anger—without expressing it with excessive aggression or repressing it through denial or other practices that might numb our real feelings... Spiritual Bypassing is a must read for anyone who is looking for a more integrated spirituality, authentic relationship with themselves and others, and practical methods for dealing with unresolved wounds.”
—Spiritual Media Blog

“In my opinion, [Spiritual Bypassing] will become as important as Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism… Masters seems to be, based on his writings, one of the most important minds working in integral psychotherapy.”
—Integral Options Café


Last edited by Jcbaran on Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:19 am

I ordered this book! Thanks for the recommendation.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:40 pm

I probably won't read this but the premise, as articulated in your description is a valuable one. I believe a fault to be found in many religious sects of any number of traditions is the idea of transcending the world, as if we could. My 63 years have taught me that we are not here to bypass, or escape the world, but to incarnate, express, and live out fully, each in our own uniqueness, what is deepest and truest in us. What I found taught in my involvement with celibate monastic forms in both Christianity and Buddhism is the idea that theirs was the highest expression of the spiritual life because of its separation from worldly involvement, that sexual expression, human attachments, spousal love, and love for children and friends are all obstacles to realizing the truth of our nature.

What became clear for me is that these monastic expressions hid from the world using their "higher" path, hid from their own humanity, and sought a kind of safety in a coldness and often cruel forms of denial of humanity and human expression. What is true for me is that through my spouse, my child, and now my grandchild, is that I, and all of us, are on a journey of learning to love, learning to incarnate and express the Light that is within us all. Meditation is not an escape from but an incarnating of that Light in the gift of our beloved humanity. I have been told more than once, that we are not learning to be spiritual beings, since we already are, we are learning to be human beings in a life-long journey, through all the phases of the life cycle.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:44 pm

As an addendum to my above post:

The dismissal of the field of psychotherapy and mental health at Shasta Abbey and the OBC is not an incidental fact. It is central to the problem I cite above, the attempt to bypass our humanity, especially its most wounded and painful aspects, in the name of a false "transcendence." The facing of our human pain, our human need, and full embrace of it, acceptance of it, as the means by which we learn to bring forth self-giving love is the path to the healing of soul, our capacity to abide in true humility, and to befriend our deepest longing and see it as the doorway in to incarnating love, rather than the enemy.

At Shasta Abbey and at a prominent Christian monastery I witnessed a striking parallel of two leaders of spiritual community, each with a contempt for the healing arts of psychotherapy, and each with a propensity for emotional abuse of subordinates,and a demand for absolute loyalty. In each case as a practitioner of psychotherapy I can safely say that the pathological patterns were utterly transparent manifestations of deeply ingrained patterns of defense and denial of the psychological pain and need of their own humanity, and exercised under the guise of religious teaching and training, enormous self deception, and a cleverly cultivated image of perfected spiritual master or teacher.

Bill R.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:53 am

I would add to Bill's commentary that when the OBC monks withdraw from worldly pursuits, they escape the relentless demands of earning a living. Several people here have talked about the difficulties of running their own business. It's something of a cliche, but having to meet a payroll, find clients, deal with suppliers, and hang on through business down-turns focuses the mind!

Depending upon others for gifts of food, shelter, and medicine -- while it is an ancient Buddhist tradition -- leaves some monks ignorant and unsympathetic about the difficulties of making a living, supporting a family, putting kids through college, saving for retirement. This is especially true for senior monks who have spent most or all of their adult lives cloistered in a monastery.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:59 am

And what about unemployment? Almost 10% of American workers are out of a job. Monks on the other hand enjoy a guaranteed position for life. (Subject, of course, to behavior that complies with the Order's expectations of celibacy, etc.) Please explain that to one of those middle aged men and women who have been out of work for over a year, submitted hundreds of resumes, are highly qualified, but can't find work. Many Americans are in that boat today.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:24 pm

@Carol

What you are saying is too true. The culture of the monk mind of escaping this world with its relationships and challenges with other human beings in the world of family, friends, and work in the name of what is "spiritual" is a form of dualism that that is destructive and deluded. Meeting the world fully, incarnating the Light of meditation, in all we do, in work and relationships is our purpose, not avoiding it. And asking lay people to support them in this escape is a double delusion, fraudulently promising that some special form of merit and spiritual favor redounds on the those in the "lesser" calling who dig deep in their pockets and hand over their hard won assets to support those in this "higher" calling. Not much different than selling indulgences or taking money to have Masses and novenas said for favored intentions. My observation is that such persons end up as immature individuals, lacking in basic human development, incompetent in both work and relationships, two of the primary aspects of human life.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:59 pm

Josh, Bill, Carol, et al.--I would be curious to learn whether you think meditation experts are gainfully employed.



That is, do they provide a legitimate service to others, in helping them get started in meditation with correct posture and mental orientation?



Does it take time and practice to qualify yourself as a meditation teacher?



I'm not talking about just within official Zen Buddhism, where the answers to these questions are self-evident through tradition.



Thanks for your thoughts.

--Dan
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:39 pm

@Dan

Good question. I have taught meditation to many initiates, all the while employed in my longstanding profession of mental health counseling. When leading retreats, or conducting a workshop, I have at times charged a fee as compensation for my services and the extensive time, expense, and effort involved, but it was never the source of my livelihood.

I have been taught by numerous meditation teachers in my life. Most of them did not rely on their role as meditation teacher for livelihood. It's hard for me to imagine someone having a full time job as a meditation teacher. One undertakes learning a meditation practice out of the desire for transformation. Undertaking it for the purpose of making money and having a livelihood is inappropriate in my view.

Certainly in a monastic setting people have work roles related to maintaining their communities. For myself I don't see the benefit of using something of my own livelihood to maintain communities because they are devoted to "spiritual" and therefore higher things, and somehow are unwilling or unable to maintain a livelihood for themselves. Any spiritual community worth its salt has figured out some kind of enterprise to maintain their existence and doesn't rely on the livelihood of others to stay alive.

That's my take.
Bill R.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:00 am

Dan -- The monks provide service by teaching meditation. (In the OBC, lay ministers provide the same services.) Monks of course also give dharma talks, run retreats, and give spiritual advice. But there is no real connection between these services and any monetary compensation. Some monks do none of these things but are still provided food, shelter and medicine through donations from the laity. I have no problem with someone earning a living providing these services -- as Protestant ministers do, for example. but Protestant congregations have the power to fire the minister if she/he isn't doing a good job.

My point is that the monks of the OBC are not held accountable for any services they may or may not provide. Living off donations without being held accountable for the quality of their service or for the harm they might be doing invites abuse and dependency by the monastics. Teaching meditation and giving talks on a part-time basis is nothing like being out in the world trying to make a living and facing the prospect of unemployment and facing the real risk of being unable to support oneself and one's family.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:25 pm

Hi Carol and Bill, and thanks for your thoughtful responses.

I would only add that the monks are not exactly living in the lap of luxury, nor do they have the wicked home entertainment system that I have (50-inch plasma 1080p, Playstation 3 and more blu-ray movies and games than I can count without effort). Nor do they have their own car. And they have to accept virtually anyone who comes through the door of their temple.

I realize that the job of master comes with some significant percs, such as having a jisha (spelling?), and religious authority has about as much alpha-dog prestige as you can get this side of being President or a Nobel laureate.

I don't know whether any positives of being cloistered can outweigh the negatives (or vise versa), but if places like SA and Dharma Rain and the City of 10,000 Buddhas all did not exist, then I wouldn't have known where to get meditiation and Dharma instruction. So, even if I were to grant that the monks are not fully employed, it still wouldn't trouble me all that much to drop a few bucks in the dana bowl now and then.

Not saying "you're wrong!" by any means, just trying to sort this out. Maybe I should read Spiritual Bypassing for myself (groans at the thought of adding yet another book to the must-read list).
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:09 pm

ddolmar wrote:
it still wouldn't trouble me all that much to drop a few bucks in the dana bowl now and then.

.

I'm thinking the decision of giving alms to monastics is a matter of personal discernment. I would still like to hold a critique of monasticism being presented as a "higher calling" where worldly responsibility and accountability are to be avoided, and where the course of human development is bypassed in the name of transcendence and "spiritual" values. I would like to dispute the contention that full scale growth in meditation practice and spiritual growth must take place in special communities ruled by clergy/monastics who are "freed" from those responsibilities of life and living that in my view are an essential aspect of human growth and development.

The structures of sangha, where teaching and practice are best transmitted, in my view are most sustainable and most healthy when they are led by lay people who share the life and challenges of lay people. Such lay leadership present models that can actually be emulated by other lay people. More often than not lay people are always held as second class and the temptation for lay people is to come to think that because of their own inadequacy they must "hitch their wagon" to some monastic "saint" rather than actually seriously take the journey themselves, the journey we are all on, of being a spiritual being taking the human journey.
Bill R.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:50 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:

I would still like to hold a critique of monasticism being presented as a "higher calling" where worldly responsibility and accountability are to be avoided, and where the course of human development is bypassed in the name of transcendence and "spiritual" values. I would like to dispute the contention that full scale growth in meditation practice and spiritual growth must take place in special communities ruled by clergy/monastics who are "freed" from those responsibilities of life and living that in my view are an essential aspect of human growth and development.

Bill, count me in on that discussion -- I'll be back shortly to pick up on this theme. I have a seen a few things, and heard of others, especially concerning former monks who have difficulty going back to work and earning a living. I'm told it represents to them a failure, to pick up the activities they once did when they were "lesser" than monks.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:27 pm

ddolmar wrote:
. . . I would only add that the monks are not exactly living in the lap of luxury, nor do they have the wicked home entertainment system that I have (50-inch plasma 1080p, Playstation 3 and more blu-ray movies and games than I can count without effort). Nor do they have their own car. And they have to accept virtually anyone who comes through the door of their temple.

The thing is, these days, luxury can be seen as: not ever having to think about a house/rent payment, grocery bill, medical insurance premium, utilities, clothing expense, gas money . . . in a way, a monk's day-to-day life in one of these well-funded temples is very secure. They don't lack for anything . . . the wolf is never at the door . . . they even get int'l travel from time to time. Not hard to imagine how that could foster a mindset of dependency, if not outright entitlement, after X number of years -

On dana, I also like to drop a few bucks in the bowl. I'm a little disconnected each time I do it, kind of like I'm offering it to the larger "good purpose of Buddhism" and not necessarily "this particular group of people I've just visited". I have more faith that the good intent will land somewhere, so I don't care as much about the actual $$ and who spends them. Once out of your hands, they're gone, can't be called back -
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:11 pm

To add something to the above posts by Bill and Lise . When the general attitude in a monastery or a temple, Priory, doesn't quite seem to coincide nor reflect that laity and monastics are equally dependent and supportive of each other. and when one views themself as more "important" or superior to the other it just shows that duality has in reality not yet been transcended. I sometimes thought that perhaps those monks that still seemed to have a problem with accepting dana, in other words that it somehow made them feel "uncomfortable" and that therefore they then needed to somehow "retaliate" in subtle ways, sometimes, perhaps even unconsciously, in order to prove that they were actually superior. An attitude such as this still displays a lot of negativity and immaturity and can be
the cause of harm and engender feelingsof rejections in those that may still be struggling with their own spiritual immaturity . Those monks that no longer seemed "burdened" with such feelings seemed to be mostly gracious, kind and saw no such division between one and other.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:19 pm

Not sure where to post this, but this is probably a good a place as any. This is from an interview that the Catholic priest Richard Rohr did for PBS. Not being a Catholic / Christian, I don't go for the whole "God" / monotheistic story, but setting that aside, Fr. Rohr makes some very good points that are worth sharing about he spiritual life and shadow boxing. Facing shadows has been a practice that the OBC / Shasta / Kennett have never understood - except in a small, limited degree over the Eko situation. Kennett's shadow still remains the big elephant in the Zendo that will not be addressed.

By the way, Rohr is a major Enneagram author and teacher. You can watch the video using the link below.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/november-11-2011/richard-rohr/9902/


November 11th, 2011 - PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly
Richard Rohr​


RICHARD ROHR: There’s no place where you can’t pray.

JUDY VALENTE, correspondent: Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest, is addressing a packed house at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

ROHR: I love beautiful spaces. But if creating beautiful spaces like this for one moment leads you to think that God is not equally out there on the streets of Portland, then religion is not doing its job.

VALENTE: For the past 25 years, Rohr, a Franciscan [priest], has run the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. He calls himself a “radical traditionalist.” For example:

ROHR: It’s not correct to say Jesus is God. Now, don’t run and report me to the bishop, all right? It’s not correct to say that — Jesus is the union of the human and the divine. That’s different. I’ve been a priest 43 years. Most of the Catholics Christians I’ve met would for all practical purposes believe Jesus is God only, and we are human only. We missed the big point. The point is the integration, both in Jesus and ourselves.

VALENTE: Such provocative ideas make him an enigma to some, and a modern day prophet to others. Richard Rohr is one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world. His ideas appeal to people across faith traditions, and to spiritual seekers as well. Rohr argues that most organized religions dispense doctrine when they should be encouraging personal transformation.

ROHR: Without transformation, you can assume you’re at a high moral, spiritual level just because you call yourself Lutheran or Methodist or Catholic. I think my great disappointment as a priest has been to see how little actual spiritual curiosity there is in so many people.

VALENTE: Rohr’s popularity may be surprising since his ideas are highly nuanced and draw deeply from mythology, philosophy and psychology. He’s lectured across the globe. And his books have been translated into numerous languages. His latest book is called “Falling Upward,” and addresses the importance of the spiritual journey.

ROHR: It feels like falling but it isn’t falling, it’s learning. It’s transcending.

VALENTE: In what he calls the first half of life, Rohr says we’re mostly concerned with everyday interests: building our self-image.

ROHR: Our culture is made to order for that. Defining the self almost entirely by external achievements, by external appearance, by skin color, by the car you drive, where you live, and so forth. You know, that… all great spiritual traditions will call that illusion. Illusion. Foolishness. There’s a further journey. There’s something more than, you know, accumulating more money in the stock market.

VALENTE: But in the second part of life, the spiritual part, we are more likely to see meaning in the losses, disappointments and failures we have suffered. It is not necessarily a chronological period. It can occur at any age, but is always characterized by a greater ability to appreciate mystery and paradox.

ROHR: It’s the holding of tensions, of ambiguity, of pain, if you will, that in fact teaches us wisdom. There’s an increased capacity for compassion, forgiveness, love.

VALENTE: He calls himself a loyal Catholic, but maintains too many churches emphasize teaching, which can leave us stranded in a “religious comfort zone.”

ROHR: We ask Catholics to believe that Mary was a Virgin and Jesus is God and you know, that’s no skin off your back. I believe that. Believe that, believe that, believe that. So what?

VALENTE: Rohr says that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and that religious doctrine has its place. But he maintains that a rigid adherence to doctrine is sometimes part of the problem.

ROHR: Without honest self-knowledge religion ends up, I’m going to say it, being more a part of the problem than the solution. I mean, we’ve seen it now for centuries, that people who call themselves Christian can be utterly racist, utterly sexist, utterly greedy, no questions asked. This is the kind of religion we end up with when you don’t do your shadowboxing.

VALENTE: Shadowboxing, to Rohr, means taking a hard look at our flaws, our weaknesses and biases. It’s an important first step, Rohr says, toward uncovering what he calls “the true self.”


ROHR: The spiritual life is very much a matter of cleaning the lens, clarifying how you see. So the shadow is what you don’t want to see. Shadowboxing never stops, that you keep seeing the parts of yourself that are paranoid, angry, defensive, accusatory, fearful, attacking.

VALENTE: Rohr calls solitude “a cure for loneliness” and describes it as an essential element for living a more contemplative — and compassionate — life.

ROHR: Whenever you have a return to solitude and silence, you know that there’s been a rediscovery of the contemplative mind. I think we should close down every pastoral program in a diocese and just teach our people how to pray. It’s the built-in therapy to let go of your addiction to yourself and to your repetitive obsessive thoughts, which just screws up just about everything.

Without the contemplative mind, which at this point in history we have to be taught, you simply don’t have the wherewithal to deal with great spiritual truths.

VALENTE: According to Rohr, our society has plenty of elderly people, but lacks true “elders.”

ROHR: Elder is a capacity of soul that allows you to patiently understand things, and again I’m going to repeat our word for that is wisdom. It is not chronological maturity. It’s how you’ve dealt with the dark side and how successfully you’ve dealt with disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, failure, and rejection.

VALENTE: Do you think that the spiritual journey only begins in earnest when we hit rock bottom?

ROHR: Only at that point which they call powerlessness do you learn to draw upon a bigger source. There’s no other reason you will. And that’s what I would call the spiritual journey. Up to that point, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but up to that point it’s largely religion. Religion isn’t bad, but until religion becomes actual spiritual experience, it is just religion.

I think of the Catholic parents who’ve demanded that their kids go to Mass every Sunday, but then they’re sitting there themselves bored to death and hate every minute of it and walk out early and, I mean, the kids knows by three, “This is not a good thing to go to Mass,” you know?

VALENTE: The things he sometimes says have, so far, not gotten him into trouble with the official church.

ROHR: You can’t just have Catholic truth, Methodist truth, Buddhist truth. If it’s true, it’s always true, and that’s what we mean by the perennial tradition. This desire to find the big patterns that are always true. I think that’s been my desire and right on the heels of that has been my equal desire to show that Christianity has always taught those truths. So in that sense I’m very traditional Catholic, even though I often say it in different ways that make people think I’m not.

VALENTE: He maintains he’s neither a skeptic, nor a rebel. He speaks of faith and mystery this way:

ROHR: I love to define mystery as not that which is unknowable, but that which is endlessly knowable. So you never get to the point where I know it all. And wouldn’t we assume that would be the nature of God? That God will always by definition be mystery. More knowability, more knowability, deeper experience, deeper surrender. So that’s the meaning of faith, and why faith has such power, not just to transform people but to keep them on an ongoing path of transformation and growth.

VALENTE: To take that path, Rohr says, is to choose a life of growth, over spiritual stagnation.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Judy Valente in Portland, Oregon.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:19 pm

Thanks for posting this interview with Richard Rohr. He has been a big figure in the inter-religious dialogue. I've read a number of his books and find great favor with them. He is a zazen sitter and his center has hosted a number of Zen retreats. He speaks of Jesus and the Buddha as his two great teachers. I admire the way he integrates the path of meditation and social justice. He was in Portland in Oct. sponsored by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (I imagine they invited him because he's so strong on social justice.). I talked to some people who went to the talk and seemed touched by it. He's been able to stay grounded in his own tradition while maintaining an open system of learning and growing. And he correctly understands the conceptual aspects of his tradition metaphorically, which irks the fundies no end. Anyway.. a pretty good guy all the way around, and doesn't pretend to be much of anything except a fallible and mostly good guy, not always. I might add in deference to this thread that he's pretty strong on no cheap bypassing of the dark side of one's self.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:02 pm

Here is an article about a cultic Catholic organization - worth reading. The specifics might be different, but the mind-set of these kind of isolated organizations are similar, even identical.

Pope’s envoy for cult-like group linked to disgraced Legion of Christ says rules invalid

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, November 24, 6:16 PM


VATICAN CITY — The pope’s envoy running the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order says the 1,000-plus rules governing the cult-like life of some of its members are invalid and will be whittled down to a core set of norms.

The rules that the Legion’s consecrated women and men live under cover everything from how to eat a piece of bread (tear off bite-size pieces, don’t bite into it) to what they can watch on television to how they interact with outsiders and family members.

Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion last year after the order admitted its Mexican founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered three children. A Vatican investigation determined he was a fraud and discovered serious spiritual and psychological abuses within the Legion and its consecrated branch — abuses the pope’s delegate says he’s now trying to fix.

The Legion scandal ranks as one of the worst in the 20th century Catholic Church since Pope John Paul II held the Legion’s late founder the Rev. Marciel Maciel up as a model, even though the Vatican knew for over a decade about credible allegations he was a pedophile.

One of the greatest scandals concerning the Legion’s consecrated members is that for years they were told that the 1,000-plus rules they lived by had been approved by the Vatican, when in fact only 128 general statutes had been approved.

Former members have complained that they were told that disobeying any one of the rules was tantamount to disobeying God’s will — a heavy onus that created an unhealthy striving for perfection over the most meaningless of norms.

But in a Nov. 21 letter, the pope’s delegate for the Legion, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, said the rules had no legal status since they were never officially approved. He said a small commission would be formed soon to “extract” from the rules only those that are “strictly necessary” for the life and governance of the group.

This core set of rules will guide the consecrated until their whole governing statutes are revised, he wrote. Significantly, this revision process will be carried out almost independently of the Legion — part of the autonomy De Paolis envisages for the consecrated members.

The rules aren’t public but were at one point posted on Wikileaks. The etiquette norms specify how to eat specific types of food: an orange (with a knife and fork); spaghetti (cut, not rolled around a fork) and chicken (with a knife and fork, except on picnics when it can be eaten with fingers).

Members have defended the rules as a way to create unity in an international movement with people from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Critics have said the excessiveness of rules masks a lack of spirituality and constitutes a red flag about the cult-like nature of the movement.

Mary DeGoede, a consecrated woman at the Mater Ecclesiae College in Rhode Island, recently blogged about some of the “idiosyncrasies” of her life in the movement, including living in a dorm of 18 women and shooting out of bed at the crack of dawn.

“When was the last time you used a fork and knife to eat an orange? How about a buffalo wing?” she wrote on the movement’s blog. “I find myself alternately amused and alarmed that this type of behavior no longer strikes me as the least bit strange.”

She said her family and old friends tease her about the rules she follows “but I find these odd habits endearing. Maybe it’s because they’re a sign of the deep unity that underlies our life together.”

The consecrated women live like nuns, teaching in Legion-run schools and running retreats, youth programs and other initiatives to raise money and attract new members to the Legion’s lay branch Regnum Christi.

They have no legal status in the church, however, since they’re not members of a religious order like nuns are and aren’t members of an independent institute of consecrated life.

In his Nov. 21 letter, De Paolis said members must now reflect on what type of canonical status they should have as an autonomous movement from the Legion.

Some “dissident” Legion priests and many former Legionary priests have complained that De Paolis isn’t moving decisively enough to reform the order and that none of the Legion’s superiors have been disciplined for having covered up for Maciel.

Dozens of priests, more than 200 seminarians and hundreds of consecrated women have left the movement since the scandal broke in 2009.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribute
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:47 pm

Indeed.. but what would really be a story and a revelation of cult dynamics would be an expose of Opus Dei, although the abuse of children is a more serious matter. I recall reading about the Legion of Christ a couple years back.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:44 am

The following is excerpted from Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters, by Robert Augustus Masters, available from North Atlantic Books.

Avoidance in Holy Drag: An Introduction to Spiritual Bypassing


Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing "solutions," regardless of how much suffering such "remedies" may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects. It is a spiritualized strategy not only for avoiding pain but also for legitimizing such avoidance, in ways ranging from the blatantly obvious to the extremely subtle.

Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many forms, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one's negativity or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.

The explosion of interest in spirituality since the mid-1960s, especially Eastern spirituality, has been accompanied by a corresponding interest and immersion in spiritual bypassing -- which has, however, not very often been named, let alone viewed, as such. It has been easier to frame spiritual bypassing as a religion -- transcending, spiritually advanced practice or perspective, especially in the fast-food spirituality epitomized by faddish phenomena like The Secret. Some of the more glaringly facile features, such as drive-through servings of reheated wisdom like "Don't take it personally" or "Whatever bothers you about someone is really only about you" or "It's all just an illusion," are available for consumption and parroting by just about anyone.

Happily, the honeymoon with false or superficial notions of spirituality is starting to wane. Enough bubbles have been burst; enough spiritual teachers, Eastern and Western, have been caught with pants or halo down; enough cults have come and gone; enough time has been spent with spiritual baubles, credentials, energy transmissions, and gurucentrism to sense deeper treasures. But valuable as the desire for a more authentic spirituality is, such change will not occur on any significant scale and really take root until spiritual bypassing is outgrown, and that is not as easy as it might sound, for it asks that we cease turning away from our pain, numbing ourselves, and expecting spirituality to make us feel better.

True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as something to dabble in here and there. Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for the healing and awakening we need.

Most of the time when we're immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat. And when we're caught up in the grosser forms of spiritual bypassing, we'd usually much rather theorize about the frontiers of consciousness than actually go there, suppressing the fire rather than breathing it even more alive, espousing the ideal of unconditional love but not permitting love to show up in its more challenging, personal dimensions. To do so would be too hot, too scary, and too out-of-control, bringing things to the surface that we have long disowned or suppressed.

But if we really want the light, we cannot afford to flee the heat. As Victor Frankl said, "What gives light must endure burning." And being with the fire's heat doesn't just mean sitting with the difficult stuff in meditation, but also going into it, trekking to its core, facing and entering and getting intimate with whatever is there, however scary or traumatic or sad or raw.

We have had quite an affair with Eastern spiritual pathways, but now it is time to go deeper. We must do this not only to get more intimate with the essence of these wisdom traditions beyond ritual and belief and dogma but also to make room for the healthy evolution, not just the necessary Westernization, of these traditions so that their presentation ceases encouraging spiritual bypassing (however indirectly) and, in fact, consciously and actively ceases giving it soil to flower. These changes won't happen to any significant degree, however, unless we work in-depth and integratively with our physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social dimensions to generate an everdeeper sense of wholeness, vitality, and basic sanity.

Any spiritual path, Eastern or Western, that does not deal in real depth with psychological issues, and deal with these in more than just spiritual contexts, is setting itself up for an abundance of spiritual bypassing. If there is not sufficient encouragement and support from spiritual teachers and teachings for practitioners to engage in significant depth in psychoemotional work, and if those students who really need such work don't then do it, they'll be left trying to work out their psychoemotional issues, traumatic and otherwise, only through the spiritual practices they have been given, as if doing so is somehow superior to -- or a "higher" activity than -- engaging in quality psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is often viewed as an inferior undertaking relative to spiritual practice, perhaps even something we shouldn't have to do. When our spiritual bypassing is more subtle, the idea of psychotherapy may be considered more acceptable, but we will still shy away from a full-blooded investigation of our core wounds.

Spiritual bypassing is largely occupied, at least in its New Age forms, by the idea of wholeness and the innate unity of Being -- "Oneness" being perhaps its favorite bumper sticker -- but actually generates and reinforces fragmentation by separating out from and rejecting what is painful, distressed, and unhealed; all the far-from-flattering aspects of being human. By consistently keeping these in the dark, "down below" (when we're locked into our headquarters, our body and feelings seem to be below us), they tend to behave badly when let out, much like animals that have spent too long in cages. Our neglect of these aspects of ourselves, however gently framed, is akin to that of otherwise caring parents who leave their children without sufficient food, clothing, or care.

The trappings of spiritual bypassing can look good, particularly when they seem to promise freedom from life's fuss and fury, but this supposed serenity and detachment is often little more than metaphysical valium, especially for those who have made too much of a virtue out of being and looking positive.

A common telltale sign of spiritual bypassing is a lack of grounding and in-the-body experience that tends to keep us either spacily afloat in how we relate to the world or too rigidly tethered to a spiritual system that seemingly provides the solidity we lack. We also may fall into premature forgiveness and emotional dissociation, and confuse anger with aggression and ill will, which leaves us disempowered, riddled with weak boundaries. The overdone niceness that often characterizes spiritual bypassing strands it from emotional depth and authenticity; and its underlying grief -- mostly unspoken, untouched, unacknowledged -- keeps it marooned from the very caring that would unwrap and undo it, like a baby being readied for a bath by a loving parent.

Spiritual bypassing distances us not only from our pain and difficult personal issues but also from our own authentic spirituality, stranding us in a metaphysical limbo, a zone of exaggerated gentleness, niceness, and superficiality. Its frequently disconnected nature keeps it adrift, clinging to the life jacket of its self-conferred spiritual credentials. As such, it maroons us from embodying our full humanity.

But let us not be too hard on spiritual bypassing, for every one of us who has entered into the spiritual has engaged in spiritual bypassing, at least to some degree, having for years used other means to make ourselves feel better or more secure. Why would we not also approach spirituality, particularly at first, with much the same expectation that it make us feel better or more secure in various areas of our life?

To truly outgrow spiritual bypassing -- which in part means releasing spirituality (and everything else!) from the obligation to make us feel better or more secure or more whole -- we must not only see it for what it is and cease engaging in it but also view it with genuine compassion, however fiery that might be or need to be. The spiritual bypasser in us needs not censure nor shaming but rather to be consciously and caringly included in our awareness without being allowed to run the show. Becoming intimate with our own capacity for spiritual bypassing allows us to keep it in healthy perspective.

I have worked with many clients who described themselves as being on a spiritual path, particularly as meditators. Most were preoccupied, at least initially, with being nice, trying to be positive and nonjudgmental, while impaling themselves on various spiritual "shoulds," such as "I should not show anger" or "I should be more loving" or "I should be more open after all the time I've put into my spiritual practice." Fleeing their darker (or "less spiritual") emotions, impulses, and intentions, they had, to varying degrees, trapped themselves within the very practices and beliefs that they had hoped might liberate them, or at least make them feel better.

Even the most exquisitely designed spiritual methodologies can become traps, leading not to freedom but only to reinforcement, however subtle, of the "I" that wants to be a somebody who has attained or realized freedom (the very same "I" that doesn't realize there are no Oscars for awakening). The most obvious potential traps-in-waiting include the belief that we should rise above our difficulties and simply embrace Oneness, even as the tendency to divide everything into positive and negative, higher and lower, spiritual and nonspiritual, runs wild in us. Subtler traps-in-waiting, less densely populated with metaphysical lullabies and ascension metaphors, and cloaked in the appearance of discernment, teach non-aversion through cultivating a capacity for dispassionate witnessing and/or various devotional rituals. Subtler still are those that emphasize meeting everything with acceptance and compassion. Each approach has its own value, if only to eventually propel us into an even deeper direction, and each is far from immune to being possessed by spiritual bypassing, especially when we are still hoping, whatever our depth of spiritual practice, to reach a state of immunity to suffering (both personally and collectively).

As my spiritually inclined clients become more intimate with their pain and difficulties, coming to understand the origins of their troubles with a more open ear and heart, they either abandon their misguided spiritual practices and reenter a more fitting version of them with less submissiveness and more integrity and creativity or find new practices that better suit their needs, coming to recognize more deeply that everything-everything!-can serve their healing and awakening.

If we can outgrow spiritual bypassing, we might enter a deeper life-a life of full-blooded integrity, depth, love, and sanity; a life of authenticity on every level; a life in which the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal are all honored and lived to the fullest.

May what I have written serve you well.
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PostSubject: Re: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters   

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