December 27, 2018

Ever heard this phrase: Spiritual Bypass?

It’s a New Age term that implies that a person is not doing their inner work and is hiding behind spiritual values, for example non-attachment and flow.

While sometimes this may be the case – if a person chronically refuses to look at their own shit, for example, other times it’s totally not.

In his new book Radical Brilliance Arjuna Ardagh speaks about 4 phases of creativity.

Phase 1 The phase of pure being. That’s the prerequisite for any further work. We need to recognise that we cannot be in a constant alpha state of going and getting. We need to discover the silence of being. And watch how everything else emerges from this place.

Phase 2 The phase of new beginnings. When you have a spark. A new idea. It is exciting and stimulating.

Phase 3 The phase of work. To move anywhere you have to work. And that’s challenging. That’s where many people fall off the track.

Phase 4 The phase of inner work. The challenges of Phase 2 naturally bring you here. That’s the time to dig deep, face the shadow, get raw and real.

And then it goes back to Phase 1. Arjuna suggests regarding these phases as clock times.

Phase 1 is 12 o’clock

Phase 2 – 3 o’clock

Phase 3 – 6 o’clock

Phase 4 – 9 o’clock

We may also find ourselves in the in-between phases. Or in two phases at the same time.

I love this model.

Those who are accusing people of spiritual bypass are usually implying that a person should be constantly in the 4th phase – the phase of personal development.

I’ve lived continuously in this phase for long stretches of time, and I can say this for sure: prolonged duration of Phase 4 is a form of self hatred, and it can result in a very low depressive state. That did happen to me.

I tried “pushing through” that depression. Meaning, really letting it take over.

Although I’m a big advocate of feeling our feelings, we need to do it with clarity.

I have done my fair share of pushing through resistance, wanting to break through that particular Samskara (traumatic imprint). I’ve descended to the deep abyss, and I came back to the surface to say that not only is it not necessary, but it doesn’t even work!

I must have some powerful angels supporting me, because that “pushing through” could have ended up really badly, at a certain point.

I know many people who seem to be forever stuck in Phase 4, while their life is passing by.

We will never be completely fixed. Our personality will remain forever flawed.

But we can be fixed enough to serve what we came here to serve.

No-one is broken. Naturally we are whole, yet we pick up lots of conditioning along the way.

Learning to see through this conditioning is what personal development work is needed for.

If everyone waited until they were completely fixed before they could shine, none of us would be touched by great light and great wisdom. This wisdom and light do not belong to anyone, but it is our responsibility to let them move through us. It is our responsibility to create, when we feel the creative flow.

Holding back your creative genius is the worst way to sin.


So here is a pass for you: you don’t need to be constantly working on yourself.

Of course someone who NEVER works on themselves is a different story. We need to have those phases of deep inner work from time to time.

When you are in this phase you may find yourself judging people for “bypassing” or “not doing the work”. In reality, they are just in a different phase.

I also know lots of people who are in Phase 1, and judge those who are active in the world as “not spiritual”.

This realisation of Phase 1 is the background of our being, and all phases should rest on it. But if we are in a constant state of being and non-doing, we tend to become pretty dysfunctional in the world. We lose interest in the world and disappear into hermitage.

Phase 2 feels delicious, so fresh.

But it may result in starting projects and not being able to materialise them, or bring them to completion.

Phase 3 is the phase of working on manifesting ideas, continuity and commitment to your creative project.

This phase, although not easy, can be incredibly satisfying. You may need to disappoint many people because you cannot prioritise anything over your work. You may have a very tangible experience of feeling the Spirit moving though you, feeling that that is how you serve the Divine. I’ve spent nearly the entire time over the last three years in this phase. I feel how it is gradually and totally naturally transforming now, and I don’t even need to do anything for it. I am still launching projects and teaching nearly full time, but the energy is different than it was.

We need to honour all these phases. I find that having clarity around where exactly we are at, helps us have healthy boundaries. We don’t need to force ourselves into any of these phases, but we can learn to feel what is available right now and where we are naturally drawn.

Photo by Jen Armstrong on Unsplash

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