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Non Duality Support

Spiritual Crisis and why some Spiritual Seekers bypass therapy.

There is an amusingly ironic story where a very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

Spiritual Crisis Support, Awakening, Enlightenment, nonduality


“Yes you did my child” replied God. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.” (Source Unknown.)


This reminds me of some modern Spiritual Seekers during the often rough and painful journey along the pathless path. When we are dragging our terrified selves through another Dark Night, and the ego is thrashing and flailing to stay intact. When this seeking brings up all the demons of our past and forces us to confront Every. Single. One. Yet, some Seekers spiritually bypass this phenomenon in favour of more meditation, more reading books, more diets, more listening to their teacher, more mind altering drugs, more anything other than admit they might need therapeutic guidance and support at this stage, but why?

Is it a lack of understanding by the modern Seeker that therapy too is just another method to help dissolve the clutches of the separate self? Is there confusion around what the ego actually is? Is it just plain old fear around the stigma that still seems attached to therapy?


As one of my own teachers said, "The idea of liberation seems like a more noble path. Therapy makes us feel broke. Whereas Enlightenment makes us feel special." Whatever it is, it's certainly a common problem.

Psychology Today says, "Spiritual bypassing is a defence mechanism. Although the defence looks a lot prettier than other defences, it serves the same purpose. Spiritual bypassing shields us from the truth, it disconnects us from our feelings, and helps us avoid the big picture."

Robert Augustus Masters, PhD says, "Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many ways, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow elements, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being."

I use the terms ego, ego-mind, separate self, personal self, conditioning and conditioned self to point to the same thing; that which is everything other than our true nature.

Let's take a look at the ego. Spirituality commonly says it's the separate self. The self that keeps us asleep, and unenlightened from our True Nature. Psychology says it's the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. Philosophy says it's (in metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

Through whichever lens we study the ego, one thing is clear, it is who-we-think-we-are until it drops away or is glimpsed through a genuine Awakening and Liberation.  My view, and probably one that encapsulates most ideas,  is that the ego is absolutely everything we are as a personal and separate self. Everything. From our ideas in politics, to our childhood woes. From our deep psychological conditioning, to our persona. Our likes, dislikes, fears, preferences, ideas, beliefs;  and it keep us stuck and often spinning in circles. This is Maya and her hall of mirrors, the illusion, the self.

Many today think the ego is something to push away, and be disgusted at. It is often used as an insult. "He's full of ego." "Wow, she's so egotistical!" Some people think that by suppressing it, and faking goodness, kindness, and forcing themselves to try being happy all the time, bigger, better, and the more-spiritual-than-you-attitude are showing the world they are void of ego, that they are good people and dare I say, superior to those that don't subscribe to the chase for perfect happiness and bliss.  Perhaps some have caught on to the sticky and subtle illusion that this is the ego playing its favourite game. If it hides its dark shadowy side that is made up of feelings of rage, anger, pain, neediness, weaknesses, then all will be well. People will love us and we will be safe. It seems to survive by hiding all that psychic phenomena; the energies, the psychological trauma et all, and buries it deep into the unconscious part of the ego (psyche) where it amasses strength to keep reinforcing itself as a seductive entity.

But, let's make this clear; if you are alive and consciously aware, you have an ego. Even your favourite teacher has one, albeit not one that masks their true nature any longer, but more a way to have differentiation between you or I, him or her. The Enlightened and Awakened amongst us are not ego-less, but unattached to their ego. It has a function, but it is no longer controlling their life. It is what Jed McKenna meant when he says in his book something along the lines of casting off a heavy coat to then put it back on again, or he would have been the invisible man. We are not meant to denounce all worldly things, but let go of the attachment to them. Why would God go to the trouble of making such a phenomenal playground to then tell Itself It couldn't enjoy any of it? Enjoy things, but don't need them to fulfil you.

Perhaps the ego is not the entire mind, but a function that has been hijacked. Without the mind there would be no conscious awareness. There would be no cognitive understanding of a current experience. When one is at the point of the journey towards Awakening  and Liberation we see this, we notice that the mind is actually a describer of past experience and this has many practical uses; to keep the body safe by remembering to not swim in shark infested waters, or run out into a busy  motorway. It reminds us with the function of memory where we left our keys, or what we physically look like. It helps us plan and organise, but when the ego (personal self) begins to take over the mind, we are lost in the illusion of suffering. It creates a very believable self with likes and dislikes, fears and joys.

Try and explain what the mind is in relation to the ego . . .look at Jung et all here.

It sucks in energy to create reactions in our nervous system to further reinforce its realness.

The body absolutely blows me away with its wisdom and intelligence, but it has no clue as to what is real and what is imagined. It will still react to alert us to a perceived danger; whether that is being run over by a car that is speeding, or panicking because of an imagined zombie apocalypse. It's mode of experience is pure sensory awareness through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling which comes in both physical touch and interior kinaesthetic affects . It doesn't think in the way the mind does. It uses a nervous system that monitors every minute detail of experience through a biofeedback loop, and sends corresponding signals to the brain, the gut, the heart, the lungs and other bodily systems to keep us in homeostasis: Meaning it keeps itself balanced in a state of growth or rest. It is biochemically conditioned with responses though; some from nature (pre birth), and some from nurture (upbringing) - but either way, those that have sat with their raw bodily sensations have noticed, when taking the labels of various feelings away, the body expresses in one of two ways. There will either be a sense of contraction or expansion. The problem then is that the mind comes in to interpret the current experience, but is then hijacked by this sense of self who begins claiming it as it's very own personal experience. Me, Mine, I am . . .

So from what I can tell so far, the mind remembers, plans and organises as some of the practical applications to directly experience this happening called life. The body uses raw senses or feelings as its mode of experiencing life.

It amuses me when I remember that life itself is one big fat, phoney illusion. Albeit a stunningly beautiful one.

I saw a bumper sticker many years ago that said Don't Believe What You Think, and as a wet-behind-the-ears psychotherapist I grinned ruefully because I got the joke. Today, I sit in awe at its power as a clear and direct pointer to the Truth. Shakespeare said it so eloquently in Hamlet;  . . . for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Did the clever chap actually mean that each direct experience is neutral and what makes it right, wrong, good or bad is our personal thinking? Perspective? Perception? Our personal 'window' we see expereince through?  Is the resultant reaction based on our own psychological conditioning? Our upbringing, culture, or socio-economic-environmental whatevers? Is this then why there are a myriad of differing opinions on one subject? Why some of us will go to war to prove our rights over another nation's religion or political views? Why we might have those nit-picky arguments in relationships where each tries scoring brownie points to be more right over the other? Better yet, having that nit-picky argument when we're driving in our car and the person we are arguing with isn't even in the car! Yet we get home and react (usually in a foul mood) like they actually said all the things are own imagination told us they said! Perhaps God likes playing at being neurotic?

I digress . . .

Many teachers talk about therapy tidying the cage. Meaning helping the apparent person suffer less. Helping the separate self more able to cope with the struggle inside the illusion which we call everyday life. I can understand why they say this. But in the initial stages of the journey the ego-mind has to be used to investigate itself. It's great at analysing, dissecting and investigating; looking for the gold at the end of its rainbow. Why else would we drag ourselves through hell if we didn't secretly think we were going to get a huge reward and be the Chosen One? But as those who have reached that subtle crossroads suddenly realise, they as a person, are going to get nothing at all. It slowly dawns on us that this entire 'me, myself and I' is the very thing that prevents us seeing our true nature. And it has to go!

What then, if psychotherapy could dismantle the cage instead of tidying it and help loosen the grip of the ego so it isn't clinging on for fear of its own apparent life, but instead removes the layers of conditioning so that each layer that is let go of thins out the ego/lens, letting it unravel back into Source? As Ramana Maharshi said, " . . .dissolving like a sugar doll into the sea."

Imagine for a moment that your psychologically conditioned, apparent self was a dirty window. In order to see through the window we would need to remove years and years, and layers and layers of grime, filth and grease. So eventually the window was spotless, the hot sun could shine through and eventually shatter it into pieces, removing the barrier and letting everything become One. Now imagine the window was your apparent self, and the grime and grease was all the emotional pain we suppress, but carry around with us on a daily basis.


One could use psychotherapy to loosen up the energy that creates the bodily contractions that cause us to believe we are inside the body. Or let it help the fragrance of the separate self drift away and dissolve into the wind as Rumi might have said. Or let it help us understand the Ouroboros  snake that eats its own tail in a slightly different way, and see the benefit of the separate self cancelling itself out through its own digestion and analysis. Or maybe letting psychotherapy help us polish our Zen Mirror so eventually nothing else can be reflected back but our true nature.


What if we explored why we avoid therapy on the Seeker's paths and come across a fear of being seen to be un-spiritual, damaged, or weak? Or we feared ideas of being not normal, or bad,  or wrong, or unlovable, or unimportant, or not wanted . . . or believing it means we are mentally ill? Wouldn't that need to be worked through too so we can let go of that sticky attachment that holds us tightly within the illusion of separation?

I can appreciate the purists amongst Spiritual Seekers that like to stay with kaftans, top knots, meditation, satsangs, and reading the classics to reach Enlightenment because that is what the old masters did. But as everything seemingly evolves, perhaps psychotherapy with a therapist, who at least has had some personal experience on this path, is a modern and credible method towards the same ending of the illusion of a separate self.

Each path, in itself, is unique. How we get up the mountain is unique.

The point is, the apparent person suffers - through identifying and living from their thought stories, their beliefs and ideas of who they 'think' they are.

Learning to observe, witness, stand back from these thoughts and stories, and noticing how they act like windows and distort our perceptions and view of actual reality is a powerful way towards Acceptance, Surrender and Love.

Perhaps God / I AM has gotten fed up with falling back to sleep after it has sent itself rescue boats, canoes and helicopters to find Itself.

With love . . .

If you would like to explore your reality a little more, then get in touch with Tanya. 


Psychology Today

Oxford Dictionary

Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

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