The Pitfalls and Traps of the Spiritual Path

The spiritual path is referred to as a labyrinth because it is fraught with perils. Learning what to look out for can reduce the consequences of detours that appear as “the way”. The following list of pitfalls and traps will arm you with the tools to traverse safely. Keep in mind that direct experience is the only way to own the process, and sometimes that comes in the form of diving into the trap or cleverly avoiding it. Either one adds to the wisdom feathers of your hat.

1 – Spiritual ByPassing

A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks”. The term was introduced in the early 1980s by John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. Spiritual bypass can be addressed with various forms of psychotherapy, including focusing and motivational interviewing.

American psychologist John Welwood came up with the term in 1984 after noting that some people, by resorting to spirituality to avoid difficult or painful emotions or challenges, tended to suppress aspects of their identity and needs and stall their emotional development. Charles Whitfield later used the term in recovery literature. The term has seen little systematic study.

Some neo-Advaita teachers, such as Jeff Foster and Andrew Cohen, have admitted that their own insight or “awakening” did not put an end to being a human being with personal, and even egoistical, feelings, aspirations, and fears. Although he did not use the term “spiritual bypass”, Cohen admitted that his “misguided efforts to create breakthroughs” caused “much harm” to some of his students.

2 – Getting the Inner World mix up with the Outer World

The Inner world is a different realm than the outer world. It is where anything is possible. The outer world has limits and not all things are possible. The hard knocks of the natural world teach us the difference—it is called “growing up”. Children naturally have invisible friends, but when they grow into adults, they learn they are imaginary. Occult students can use these powers for subjective exploration without confusing them with the real world. The inner world is a self-contained ecosystem with its own language and powers.

3 – The Illusion of Ascension

Focusing on escapism rather than awakening from escapism is the treadmill toward New Age Ascension. Looking for the bright shiny object (ascension) rather than the mundane work that leads to human awakening (authenticity) is to be trapped in the light of delusion. Ascension, or enlightenment, are buzz words for becoming aware of our unconscious darkness. We “ascend” when our consciousness has been freed from the dungeons of blind suffering.

Ascending into New Age fantasies is nothing more than a detour from the real work. The key is to understand that it is a concept that points to rising out of unconsciousness rather than going deeper into it. Going into the light isn’t always as it seems. The hero must descend before he ascends. The seed must be planted before it will grow. You can’t buy a stairway to heaven just because it looks, sounds, and feels good— The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The path to awakening will challenge everything, especially one’s most cherished ‘light & love’ dreams/beliefs . . . that’s why its called “awakening”. If you want to ascend, bring to light the darkness in your life. Become aware of the inner workings of your blind sides and educate yourself on the landscape of the inner world through psychology, neuroscience, cognitive therapy, and direct experience with subjective states.

4 – Pretending to be Spiritual

The real inner path has to do with confronting all that is false within us. Because this is hard work, pretending to be spiritual gives us the false sense that we have arrived. It is a clever device to obtain the attention we crave. This is born out of a psychological complex of feeling “less than” or that we “don’t belong” or “not good enough” or “something is wrong with me” which usually is based in a deep and abiding sense of shame and guilt. The “desperate” need to escape from this feeling compels seekers to avoid the work and pretend they have arrived. It is the desire to become spiritual that can deceive us into shortcuts, and therefore concepts like ascension are so appealing. Rather than “know thyself” they disassociate from thyself into fantasies about their selves. They adopt the fake for the real – counterfeit, a copy and they become poisonous teachers spreading the illusion or maya. Arrogance and divine narcissism.

5 – Identification with Eastern Religions

Eastern religions can become idolized rather than used as steppingstones to one’s personal evolution. The pitfall is, rather than translating concepts from eastern paths, the seeker “becomes” the concept of the path. This identification offers instant access into a group where one can appear special…this is the basic primate drive to belong, it is herd mentality and not extreme individualism, which is required for radical transformation.

Nothing wrong with groups, but for the seeker of self, unless they SEE they are participating in an experience, then they are subject to identification, which is a part of the journey to WAKE up FROM. All experiences are food for awakening. They wear robes and adopt all the items that come with the religion. Instead of a temporary exploration, they avoid the work in their “true religion” that being “their lives”. Nothing wrong with being part of a Buddhist path as an educational experience if its secondary to your real path. Your items, images, totems, memories, clothing, etc., should be discovered from your deep work. Your life’s path contains its own religious content. The only religion is your life to be discovered in an ongoing adventure.

This identification also leads the seeker to feel more special than other people, they are “in the club” and all it took was joining and changing out of their regular life into a special life. They judge others from a sense of divine narcissism; they feel entitled to lecture others about “the way”. It is a substitute for the real work which will produce real insight into others.

6 – Sexual Suppression & Manipulation

Any ideology that diminishes the sex drive or puts it in a lower vibration should be avoided. Suppressive moral judgements should be eradicated through radical acceptance and psycho-emotional processing (lust is natural and can be used as a vehicle for release). The kundalini energy is rooted in the base of the spine and is inseparable from the sex drive. The sex drive is the primal force of creation and should be purified from shame and guilt. Blocks around one’s sexuality will inhibit kundalini release. Shame and guilt are the basic toxic elements and can fuel humiliation, dependency complexes, delusion, control & manipulation of others. Using sex to prey on others will block the full spectrum of psycho-emotional experience. It will limit the exchange of energy. The goal of clearing one’s sex drive is to rid it of toxic elements such as self-hatred and abasement and purify it into a beautiful, blissful, sacred power.

All manifestations of sexual interact should be seen as beautiful, aside from the debased misuse of it to harm to others. Trauma and religious programming are the poisons that infect this sacred energy. Sex should be revered as the creative power of life, and attraction to others should be seen as a wonder of nature. Sexual freedom is one of the major keys to psycho-emotional freedom. Confusing sexual paths to enlightenment from the real work of inner processing is a trap. If you identify with yourself as “the sexual path” rather than using it as a vehicle for psycho-emotional release and bringing to light the unconscious, then you miss the “objectivity” or “observer mode” necessary for awakening.

7 – Candy-Cane/Feel-Good New Age-ism

New Age ideology uses “light and love” to lure seekers, like a moth to a flame, into their traps. These traps lead to financial gain at the expense of the seeker by exploiting their vulnerabilities, innocence, trust and need for guidance. Adult children and those suffering from childhood trauma are their primary targets. New Age teachers & spiritual gurus use love and information bombing to overwhelm and disarm seekers into their web of dependency giving the student the illusion of their own empowerment.

Their main device are teachings based in the denial of reality by reversing the natural world with the subjective world thus trapping the individual in their inner mirror. It is the belief that the natural world is an illusion and the inner world is reality. This idea locks the seeker in their subjective (trapped in the mirror) and keeps them in the dreamstate which serves the aims of the guru. They remain on a perpetual treadmill dishing out money for the next revelation or awakening toward ascension which is the unattainable Imaginary goal. It is the old carrot and stick method of control.

For example, one sees their teacher in their mind from the other side of the world, and the guru tells them that he literally transmigrated to them. Another example is the aliens are promoted as real external entities and the seeker sees a vision of them and interprets them as real autonomous beings rather than metaphorical manifestations of their Bio-Imagination.

Feel-good spirituality deludes seekers into a false sense of achievement on the path. True growth does not always feel good, and in many cases, can be a traumatic initiation into the next phase of one’s life. Confronting delusion within you is what its about, not attaching to delusions of grandeur and permanent bliss. Ultimately, an overall sense of acceptance of both the light and dark brings a seeker into a place of personal solidarity. Addiction to temporary states of spiritual bliss completely bypass self-realization and become a trap from which some never wake up from because the pain associated with discovering the truth of their being is too great. When you are correctly taught how to approach your inner falsehoods, you gain courage, strength, and confidence, naturally.

I concluded that human primates are ghost makers, phantom producers, magicians on the highest level able to fool even themselves with their own magic and even create self-inflicted booby traps they can’t unlock.

unSpirituality: Permission to be Human

8 – Forcing, invalidating, suppressing, ignoring, medicating & dismissing your Inner World

Do not repeat how your primary caregivers and other authorities treated you. Most everybody has experienced someone invalidating, shaming, dismissing, and forcing our essence to align with their will. The trap is when you repeat this abuse within your inner world. This produces conflict and causes the various parts you are trying to develop a relationship with to do the opposite of what you want. They withdraw and hide. They return from whence they came back into the unconscious. The key is to learn how to listen to your body (Focusing Method) and apply radical acceptance to EVERYTHING within your Bio-Imagination.

9 – Believing in Fortune Telling & Prophecy from perceived Authorities

Believing in the supernatural fantasy that the future can magically be foretold outside of observational prediction is a trap. The only reality is the current of life. The future is nothing more than a field of probabilities/possibilities based on current events. One knows that an oak seed will turn into an oak tree, but one cannot predict what will happen along the way. Maybe it will get hit by a truck, cut down midway, die from a fungus etc. Believing in “voices of authority” that predict the future seduces the seeker into a false sense of security and further delusion.

What is going on here is the adult child’s need to trust the parent’s guidance. Those individuals who have been disappointed or lied to by their parents fulfill this need by consulting authority figures (psychics) who use magical thinking. The ability to predict the future is based on knowledge, its as simple as that, the more you know about a subject, the better qualified you are to observe the direction of trending topics.

10 – Feeling and Intuition over Critical Thinking and Curiosity

We are feeling beings. Feelings are the river of our bodies and never are we not feeling. Even when we feel numb, we are FEELING numb. To say “I don’t feel anything” is itself a feeling of emptiness. The problem that comes with feelings is when they are misinterpreted. When a person feels absolutely certain that they have found their soul mate, or that god has spoken to them, and then nothing turns out the way they thought it would, they have confused the language of the subjective (inner world) with reality.

The inner world operates within its own ecosystem. Feelings of certainty are referring to something deeper, not something literal. For instance, you feel certain this person is your soulmate, and yet this person turns out to be absolutely incompatible and makes you miserable – what happened? The feeling of certainty came from a deep yearning to be connected and may even be rooted in the emotional pain of rejection and separation … thus the desperate move to project and believe.

Additionally, the natural bonding agent of the sex drive can override our logic. Magical Religious and spiritual beliefs fuel these feelings and keep critical thinking out of the picture. These beliefs give the person the illusion that intuition is the ultimate guidance, and no matter how many times their intuition fails them, they keep doing the same thing over and over completely blinded by the obvious.

This why the manipulators emphasize feeling over thinking and demonize the “head” as something to be overcome. This was promoted by Eckart Tolle (ego is the enemy) and Alcoholics Anonymous. The key is to learn how to operate counter-intuitively without invalidating your feeling/intuition.

Our biological drives can deceive us because humans are highly susceptible to trance and illusion. The only way out is to develop a sharp intellect through direct experience; to learn how to operate counter-intuitively while maintaining radical acceptance with our feelings.

Deconstruct your certainties like a good scientist, if they survive the scrutiny, then you can rest assured they are rooted in reality. Take a 360 approach to everything.

11 – Dysfunctional Masculine and Feminine

There is much confusion in spiritual teachings that promote the balance of male and female energy. This is because they teach, we are spiritual beings rather than human beings. Humanity is generated by the opposite sexes uniting in passion for procreation.

If you are a spiritual being in a human body, you can be anything, and completely bypass genetic reality. With gender roles, men can identify as women and women as men but that doesn’t change the fact that words and biology matter. A penis is not a vagina any more than a tree is not a cow. Same goes with born hermaphrodites who have a mix of both genitalia. They really ARE a mix of both sexes. The point here is, psychological identification can be dangerous if you lose sight of the real world just like religion and New Age beliefs, based in dualism, can lead to profound delusion and psychosis. If a man feels strongly that he wants to be a female, then that is his right and society should accept that. But society doesn’t have to accept being told that the sky is green when it is obviously blue.

From a Jungian perspective, we do have male and female within us, but keep in mind that these are subjective elements. Placing subjectivity over the natural world is a slippery slope. I do support gay and lesbian rights, and I do believe there is a genetic factor in the spectrum of sexuality. Thus, it is not my place to judge another persons heart in who they identify as. But it does matter to me what is taught to our children and whether its based in science or fantasy. The Bio-Spiritual path is about going deeper into your life, your real religion, and waking up to reality.

12 – False Awakenings

One of the biggest traps on the Bio-Spiritual path is the belief that you have arrived, that you have reached enlightenment and awakening. Although a permanent state of awakening or truth realization does occur, the temptation to cheat is great. This is because the pain of confronting the false within us and the desire for quick enlightenment is too great. Truth realization is the most epic journey, in fact THE only journey, of life.

It is the journey that all myths and religions are based on and what they mimic. But the path is compared to a labyrinth for a reason, it is fraught with dangers. Ancient myths tell of dragons guarding caves with pearls and virgins, and the hero’s journey is full of battles, victories, trials, temptations, detours, delusion, death, resurrection and overcoming obstacles. It is about initiation into the mysteries of life. The great pearls of wisdom and insight that can only be found through direct experience into the underworld of the unconscious. You cannot buy a stairway to heaven BUT YOU CAN FAKE IT.

Those who believe they are enlightened promote “Maya” or illusion, they teach the very dreamstate they believe they have awakened out of, and they lead their student on a perpetual treadmill to nowhere. A true awakened teacher will challenge the seeker to trust themselves by walking into the jungle and forging their own path rather than do it for them. These teachers in general will not get paid because they confront the blind sides of their students. They expose their beloved illusions, the one the student never thought were delusions. They are more likely to be at the blunt end of a beating stick then be admired at times. True respect is born out of an honest relationship, not a manipulative one where students put their teachers on pedestals.

True awakening is not what people think it is…it is a sobor awakening to the existential meaninglessness of the universe…not another state of glee heading toward the ascension. False teachers are easily revealed in times of conflict as they will demonstrate their immaturity and hypocrisy on the very things they teach to their students. Not only are they not awake/enlightened, but they are far more deluded than everyone else and they demonstrate that with every word that comes out of their mouths.

13 – Instant Enlightenment & Weekend Ascension Seminars & Online Enlightenment

This one overlaps many of the prior pitfalls, but it serves to clarify that the Bio-Spiritual path is an extended process over many years and even decades. It is exactly like the growth of a plant. You don’t see plants going from seed to sprout or stalk to fully bloomed flower overnight, neither should you think you can get there in a weekend seminar, magical moment, kundalini experience or drug induced trip.

Consider them as steppingstones on the path. This is the main reason people fake enlightenment, especially if they want to profit off the new identity that makes them feel special…it is THAT identity that must be destroyed…which ultimately will make them angry. The convenience of online enlightenment is very alluring and can easily distract one from doing the real work of their lives by directly confront what is false in them. Watch out for candy-cane enlightenment by channelers and alien messengers.

14 – Demonizing & Denying Darkness/Shadow

Polarizing toward the light and love side is a major trap. Projecting every negative event, including your disturbing unconscious feelings, onto an external villain such as negative energy, reptilians, the matrix, Satan, evil, your spouse, boss whatever…etc., is guaranteed to keep you stuck. The light can blind you by its glittery enticement…don’t be fooled. The path is all about the dark depths of your being FROM WHICH “light is born. Its not the other way around. Darkness is natural and shadow work can be scary. Therefore, the word “initiation” was born. No one experiences initiation on the love and light path, just one feel-good experience after another leading to deeper levels of delusion and confusion, ultimately ending in a psychotic break if not interrupted properly.

Spiritual awakening is not about rising above darkness but about penetrating it. Love and light people are scared people that lack the courage to look at the truth face to face and confront the devil him/herself…which, btw, is themselves.

15 – Romantic Fairytales about History

It is a common theme in spiritual talk to admire ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Atlantis, the Druids, the Mayans, and Aztecs as a wonderful innocent magical time in history. But the truth is the farther you go back in history the more barbaric humanity is. This is a trap and can only be undone by the study of history from academic sources. That’s where you get a 360-degree overview of history. New Age fairytales about ancient aliens and Atlantis have overwhelmingly been proven false and all these civilizations revered by the New Age were involved with slavery, rape, human sacrifice, infanticide and genocide.

16 – Romantic Fairytales about Soul-Mates

Plain and simple, all of us have experienced falling in love with what was certainly a soul-mate only to discover later they were a nightmare. The truth is that we can be compatible on a soul level with many different people and qualify for lifetime mates. Its not entirely based on feeling but intelligence/life experience.

17 – Misinterpreting Spiritual Experiences

Out of body experiences and near-death experiences are simply projections of the brain. They are illusions that are projected onto the natural world. In truth they are all happening within. They are “inner body experiences” and no less significant as the language of the subjective.

18 – Substance Dualism

Mind–body dualism is the view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are non-physical or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object—it is the mind–body problem.

From unSpiritulaity: Permission to be Human:
The etymology (root definition) of the English word “spirit” is the Latin word spiritus which means “soul, courage or breath.” Spiritus replaced the classical Latin version animus which was derived from the Indo-European root meaning “to breathe.”

The word “breath” is an Old English word meaning “air exhaled from lungs.” As you can see, it is a natural definition. If one were religious, speculations could arise to support the belief that air is a product of the supernatural. This word, however, is not characterized as anything esoteric in its base definition. It appears that the earliest definitions infer a much less spiritual meaning than how it is understood today.

Throughout the ancient world the soul was treated as part of the body. It was no different than breath or wind. Victor Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii, states in his book, The New Atheism:

The Hebrew word for soul is nephish, which is translated as “life” and connected to breathing. Also in Hebrew, ruah is translated as “wind” or “breath,” and sometimes “spirit,” “soul,” “life” or “consciousness.”

The association of the soul or life force with breath also occurred in the isolated Hawaiian Islands. According to one undocumented story from an oral culture, in old Hawaii, when someone died, native shamans tried to breathe life back into the body by shouting, “Ha!” in the body’s face. When Western doctors came to Hawaii and were observed not to do this, they were called “Ha-ole,” which meant “without breath.” To this day whites are called “Haoles” in Hawaii.

So, for most of the history, the soul was considered part of the body—as material as wind. The ancient atomists assumed the soul was made of atoms just like everything else. And Christianity maintained a unity of body and soul, with Jesus being fully resurrected in the body.

Substance Dualism creates dissociation from the natural worlds, and that’s why its dangerous. When children dissociate form trauma they enter imaginary worlds and become perfect candidates for religious programming based in dualism.

The fact of the matter according to modern neuroscience is that the software of the mind is generated by the brain. The soul is a concept from an outdated time when humankind had no other explanation for it. It was born in an era when humans believed the earth was flat. Biology creates spirituality, not the other way around.


Published by Zzenn

Zzenn Loren is an author, musical artist, philosopher, bio-spiritual teacher/guide, subjective explorer and podcaster. His books challenge long held ideas about religion and spirituality and offer a body-based alternative.

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