Diane Gimber was kind to give me a copy of a book she has found useful entitled, Spiritual Bypassing:
When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. The title and even what follows the colon
may not quite explain what Robert Masters, the author, has in mind.
Masters provides the following to help appreciate what is meant by spiritual bypassing. “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, regardless of our apparent capacity to rise above it. Instead of
trying to get beyond our personal history, we need to learn to relate to it with as much clarity and
compassion as possible, so that it serves rather than obstructs our healing and awakening.”
I thank Diane not only for this gift of a book but for her timing in giving it to me. Over the past
month I have had many challenges from students about the usefulness of looking at our “personal
histories” and its relevance to spiritual growth. Masters may overstate the challenge of spiritual
bypassing, but his point is well taken. The past, our own histories, our family histories and the
larger histories of community and humanity play a vital role in the awakening or obfuscation of our
spiritual selves—for through them we gain awareness of the challenges to overcome.
Kabbalah emphasizes that we need to look at the details of the seen reality to uncover the parallels
found in the unseen reality. Therefore, in seeking spirit, we start first from the level of manifestation.
Having gained insights from those objects that are “closer then they appear” we can look again in
the mirror and see forward—transcending the past without bypassing it.