Dis-embodiment in the service of spiritual awakening is another key spiritual bypassing example. Body hatred is very common in many secular and religious organizations.
Again in the Christian teachings that were part of my upbringing in Northern Ireland, one of the more vigorous teachings was about “The sins of the flesh.” It was like a mantra that formed the foundation of my religious upbringing from around age 10 to 16 years.
The word “flesh” was taken literally by my fundamentalist Sunday school teachers when it relates, not to the sense of physicality, but to the experience of the personal mind. Flesh, as St. Paul meant it, refers to the experience of separateness created by identification with the personal mind.
The word “sin” also relates to the experience of separateness and not to a set of moralistic behavior. We all feel this separateness. It is not to be judged but to be transcended via the body and not away from the body.
The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in. – B.K.S. Iyengar
In other groups such as the Krishna Consciousness Movement (ISKON), there is an emphasis on not living in a Material World but transcending the material world. This invites what Karl Marx referred to in his writings as “Alienation.” As a result, we see that we become alienated from our Mother Earth.
Rather than the focus being on spiritual embodiment, where the body and spirit are a dance, there is the emphasis on demonizing the body and sex in preference to the experience of the spiritual. This is so common that I have only ever come across one group where it was not practiced. This was within the teachings of the Master Osho, who emphasized embodiment and sexuality. Unfortunately, so many of his followers confused sexuality with intimacy.
My first experience of this phenomenon called spiritual bypassing was when I was around twenty-two years old. I was living in Manchester in the North of England. I felt lonely, having left my homeland in Northern Ireland despite the Troubles and went looking for solace. I found a meditation group being taught in a community hall on a Sunday morning. There was a lovely young woman there who I kind of lusted after.
The caretaker informed me I should be very grateful because the meditation teacher drove all the way from Bristol to Manchester to teach. Bristol to Manchester and back is an endless drive. (200+ miles one way)
Was I grateful? Not really. My gut feeling told me that this young man, who was about the same age as myself, wasn’t all there. I would later recognize that he was etheric. He was so dis-embodied from practicing meditation that he didn’t even have a voice. I don’t mean that literally but he sat on the stage and no one could hear what he was saying.