Spiritual Connection or Spiritual Bypass?By Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
May 03, 2009
Many people want to grow spiritually and finally experience God's love. Find out what Inner Bonding offers that most spiritual practices do not.
I used to belong to a spiritual community, a place where I would go to weekly Reiki healing circles. This community also regularly invited "highly enlightened" spiritual teachers to come and give talks and workshops. Each one had dedicated years to their spiritual practices and each offered the way to true enlightenment and connection with God. At first I would wonder what was wrong with me, because everyone else seemed so enchanted and I clearly not getting it. Indeed, I have had this experience repeatedly over the years. Gradually, I realized that what was true of each of these teachers was that I could not "feel" them at all. They were not present. If that was where their practice would lead, it was not something I could believe in.
In contrast this, I remember as I write this column, going to hear Margaret speak at an Association of Humanistic Psychology conference in Indianapolis, a 4-hour drive from here. It was 1992, I think. I had just read "Healing Your Aloneness" and I wanted to find out if she was the real deal. Looking back, what was different was that I could feel her. She was present, connected to herself and maybe that is why what she offered felt right to me.
Margaret has written about the spiritual bypass as a form of spiritual addiction, a way to escape our feelings by connecting with God and that is certainly true. But I think that the various spiritual practices that amount to recipes for spiritual bypass also appeal to people because they want to have a spiritual life and these practices have been presented as the only way to do it. The recipes include concepts like: your life is not real, it is just a drama that is not worth paying attention to or the truly enlightened person does not react to anything and reacting to things is a sign that you are "attached," an undesirable thing so you have to discount your own feelings. Admittedly, when translated into Inner Bonding terms, much of what these practices offer can make sense, but for the wounded self this is a prescription for active disconnection in the name of spiritual growth.
I know many people who are deeply spiritual and at the same time totally disconnected from their inner child. Some of them have been going to God since childhood, leaving their bodies, leaving the horror of what was going on, and truly connecting with God's love. Others seem to have learned this as adults. They are often deeply intuitive. They experience great bliss. The information they get about how much God loves them, the guidance they get about the nature of spirit are profound. I have known people whose dissociated parts could have easily written the book "Conversations with God." Yet this has no effect on their wounded selves. They still feel empty and unsafe much of the time. They still get deeply triggered by interactions in their real lives. Since this does not make sense, the solution, in their minds, just like the solution for all of our wounded selves, is to just do more of the same in the hope that doing it enough will make everything okay.
At the same time, in Inner Bonding, connecting with love from spirit is essential and is the core ingredient in our healing. Why does one work and not the other?
The problem with going "out there" to meet God is that when we are out there, we are dissociated. We are energetically disconnected from our bodies. Nothing we "get" out there can be brought inside where it needs to go. No matter how intense the experience of God's love is out there, our abandoned inner child is just a lonely bystander and it is as if this is happening to someone else. There is no way around this.
The truth is that only we can get to where our abandoned little ones are. No other person can and without our help God can't either. So with Inner Bonding, we are "inside" when we connect with God's love. We are energetically connected to our inner child and to God. We, as loving adults, as the spiritually connected parents that we did not originally have, are the only conduits thru which this love can and does get in and change the experience of the hurt children inside.
Margaret writes about intent, how we must be in the intent to learn about loving ourselves in order to heal. I understand this in a deeper way now. A lot of people are in the intent to access God, to experience God's love. A lot of spiritual practices offer ways to do this. However, what we need to understand as we undertake our spiritual journey is that only by taking the job of learning how to bring love to our inner kids will it ever be possible to have the deep spiritual connection that we want. A spiritual bypass experience might provide a temporary fix, but for permanent results that translate into real healing, only having a spiritually connected loving adult, the one who truly wants the job of learning to bring love to the child inside, will do the job.
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