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Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  35 reviews
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 seemin ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by North Atlantic Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Start your review of Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters
I’m seriously late with updating goodreads with books I’ve read, so I’m starting with this review.
Read for the lecture I’ve done. Absolute must-read for every person even remotely interested in the topic. The main subject is a spiritual bypass - ways people use spiritual practices to escape from their psychological wounds, emotional conflicts and developmental issues - to avoid individuation and adulthood. So much hard-won wisdom and healthy standpoints conveyed in such an accessible way, with
Nhien Vuong
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
While I do not agree with everything Masters asserts, I agree with much of what he observes about spiritual bypassing and its barriers to experiencing a mature spirituality and our own wholeness. This is an important and timely book for anyone who identifies as having a non-dual spiritual belief system. From my experience, in myself, and from my interactions with those in spiritual community, spiritual bypassing seems to be the modern version of the tradition hypocrisy of traditional Christian c ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An important book for anyone who counts themselves as a seeker, or as being on a spiritual path.
Robert Masters challenges our use of spiritual methodologies, asking us to consider in what way we're using them to deny our pain, our own issues. Do we use meditation to keep a distance from the real world? Do we make excuses for the behaviour of others in the name of Love, to obscure our own denial?
Is our spiritual seeking simply an alternative to alcohol, drugs, food or any other addiction you care
Xanthyros Member
Jan 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Please be informed that Robert Masters was once the leader of a Cult named Xanthyros where he used brain washing techniques and damaged the lives of many of its members. This cult ended in 1994 when Robert had a drug induced near death experience that left him in need of constant care, at which point the members disbanded. Please, do not trust this man with your emotional and psychological well-being. Truly, he should not be able to practice any form of psychology with the atrocities he committe ...more
David Simoni
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dharma
Along with Eyes Wide Open by Mariana Caplan you have a foolproof bullshit detector which will keep you from fooling yourself and avoiding the the ersatz, megalomaniacal gurus out there in the spiritual marketplace!
Emily Alp
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book within 24 hours of my yoga teacher in New York (Jivamukti studio) folded mention of it into his dharma talk--"if I could recommend one book to everyone for the next ten years, it would be Spiritual Bypassing," he said.

Since he spoke with such resonance on other matters, I trusted him. Glad I did. This book is essential. We are going through a powerful shift and the human collective is gaining so much access to information and experiencing a transition into being seekers as
Neelesh Marik
Authentic spiritual life is the opportunity of a lifetime. It is a constant dying into a deeper life.

Emerging from our own ashes becomes no big deal; it's just the way things are.

Here the ten thousand sorrows and the ten thousand joys intermingle in unparalleled song, we their infinite notes and the music that goes on, in the moment that is all moments.'

- (Chapter 22).

This book is likely to tear you apart into pieces. If you can enjoy that process, all the better!
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just so folks know, my completed review of this book was lost by Goodreads. I spent hours writing a review of this book last night (11-25-17) but when I went to save/upload it to the Goodreads page, it completely disappeared and I lost all of my writing.

Lesson learned? = NEVER write your review in their pop up window. ALWAYS write it in your own word processor that auto-saves your work.

So there's my review (until I find another 2-3 hours to rewrite the damn thing).
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is a very important for anyone interested in spiritual growth. The main point is to identify ways in which we use "spirituality" as a way to avoid pain and emotion. The concept is powerful and the exploration of the specifics of such spiritual bypassing is thorough. The style is also simple and incredibly easy to read.

My main qualms is:

In focusing on the ways in which we use spirituality to build our egos and avoid emotions, Masters rarely shows the positive aspects of spiritual pract
Jason Gregory
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is for anybody who is sincere about the totality of spiritual liberation. Masters really cuts through all the "new-age" spiritual fallacies which have become as pop-culture as reality TV. With humor and a tender heart Masters re-orientates our focus to the real spiritual liberation which does not exclude the physical or psychological planes of consciousness. In understanding that time and eternity are the back and front of each other, so to speak, Masters beautifully explains that the ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
some chapters: Let's Stop Being Negative About Our Negativity | The Anatomy of Magical Thinking | Making Wise Use of Anger | Disembodied Spirituality and Embodied Being | Bringing Shame Out of the Shadows

"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
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought about giving this book 4 stars - it has some apparent biases, for example while acknowledging that tantric practices can serve our wellbeing (p. 110) Masters uses several pages to cover how such practices may in fact be inhibiting the resolution of sexual issues, which comes off as "dumping" on tantra where that may not be the case. It's not a quick read. It demands careful reflection. It deserves as much - there is some deep insight and a profoundly healthy perspective at work here.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A very uncomfortable book to read. Although the author has never met me, he is very good at calling me on my crap. I think it's a message to take to heart and to be given considerable thought and reflection.
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A good book about psychotherapy, spirituality, and life. Spiritual Bypassing is common to all of us who don't want to face certain emotions. This book teaches us how to live with awareness in the present moment and to embrace the emotions and experiences that come our way.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
a few interesting points, but otherwise a bit woolly and verbose
Luke Halpin
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found it quite interesting over all and think its save to say that a couple of its chapters where actually life changing.
Jan 20, 2017 added it
Must read for anyone who is on a conscious spiritual path. An eye opener
Teo 2050


Masters RA (2010) (05:36) Spiritual Bypassing - When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters

01. Avoidance in Holy Drag: An Introduction to Spiritual Bypassing

02. Cutting Through Spiritual Bypassing

03. Let’s Stop Being Negative About Our Negativity

04. Blind Compassion: Neurotic Tolerance in Caring’s Robes

05. Healthy and Unhealthy Transcendence

06. Cutting Through Spiritual Shortcuts

07. Bringing Shadow Work out of the Shadows

08. What Generates Spiritual Byp
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Good overview on how we bypass doing the work of living with our darker sides, such as anger, loneliness, shame, etc.

The book also does a great job in how we often fail to recognize and integrate these darker, shadow parts of us in which we tend to avoid that are also part of our growth and journey. The author also mentions that not only do we avoid these growing parts, we can also shift responsibility to others when we ourselves need to address our own emotions.

The author has many years of ex
Blair Hodgkinson
There were lots of interesting and valuable insights on offer in this book about how the abuse of spirituality can actually harm us, the very opposite of what's intended in healthy spirituality. It is easy to skip steps and "assume" a "transcendence" but unless we actually do the work of facing our pains, our angers, our fears, those shortcuts are empty and we are just floating above our pain rather than transcending it. The book does slip into some overtly Buddhist spirituality toward the end t ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely speechless...please read this book. I will have to re read some of the chapters, in particular the one on relationships and the one on sex!!! Mind blowing!!!! In this day and age, with the rise through social media of all those "gurus", "spiritual coaches", "spiritual teachers", "intuitive coaches" etc etc etc it is SO vital for anyone to understand that you're not as safe as you think you are with most of those people and that you might also be wasting a lot of money in their "spirit ...more
A really important book for anyone involved in, interested in, or in relationships / friendships with people who are involved in any form of spiritual practice or spiritual life. I don’t agree with everything in the book, and it gets a little all-encompassing sometimes, but the heart of it is really clear and solid.
Tamara Suttle
While the author made some good points, this book didn't satisfy me. I was looking for it to provide guidance on spiritual bypassing as it relates to racism and it really didn't address this at all. Not even what the author was promising so perhaps my rating is a bit harsh; nevertheless, I was disappointed.
Mary Montanye
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was an important, no nonsense book about the current phenomena in our culture to spiritual bypass. I wasn't sure what that was exactly, but understand it now. Masters gives good examples of what this is, why it is dangerous, and what to do about it. I definitely recommend.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank goodness for this book. We have a lot of misguided spiritual ideas these days which need correcting!!!
Pat Jennings
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Insightful book. Will keep for reference.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poetic, and because it's at the meta level, highly abstract. Still, I found its repeated emphasis on looking into one's own pain personally helpful
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
A quick, good read for all writers. You will feel buoyed and validated in Goldberg’s hands.
Jay Booth
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Main Takeaways
This book is beautifully written with elegant and cutting language that really gets points across
The author is a psychotherapist and feels that spiritual teachings can serve to distance people from addressing their personal issues and dissociate
People should face their past and integrate it
Don't fight negative feelings, spirituality sometimes focuses on an impossible peace and love state of being which distances us from feeling
Essentially he argues that we should focus on being and
Richard Curry
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book accessible (I only had to look up one word in the dictionary: numinous). It is just under 200 pages (excluding index). In this current book (my only point of reference for this author) I found an insightful, helpful, intellectually rigorous, down-to-earth, common sense, and even confessional: e.g. in Ch. 19 he uses his own personal medical issue as an example of how to consider the question of whether (and to what extent, if any) we create our reality by thinking, wishing, or a ...more
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Robert Augustus Masters was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1947. From an early age he was an avid artist, but in high school switched to the sciences, with which he stayed until he found himself at the age of 21 in a PhD program in biochemistry. Little more than a year later, only a few hours after a dream of dying, he left his doctoral studies, and began an odyssey of intense travel, initi ...more

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12 likes · 7 comments
“When transcendence of our personal history takes precedence over intimacy with our personal history, spiritual bypassing is inevitable. To not be intimate with our past—to not be deeply and thoroughly acquainted with our conditioning and its originating factors—keeps it undigested and unintegrated and therefore very much present,” 3 likes
“Blind compassion is rooted in the belief that we are all doing the best that we can. When we are driven by blind compassion, we cut everyone far too much slack, making excuses for others’ behavior and making nice in situations that require a forceful “no,” an unmistakable voicing of displeasure, or a firm setting and maintaining of boundaries. These things can, and often should, be done out of love, but blind compassion keeps love too meek, sentenced to wearing a kind face. This is not the kindness of the Dalai Lama, which is rooted in courage, but rather a kindness rooted in fear, and not just the fear of confrontation, but also the fear of not coming across as a good or spiritual person. When we are engaged in blind compassion we rarely show any anger, for we not only believe that compassion has to be gentle, we are also frightened of upsetting anyone, especially to the point of their confronting us.” 1 likes
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