There seem to be two main movements in spirituality and personal growth: the ascension path, and the descension path. These could archetypically be called the male and female paths.
It's confusing! Are we to rise above the body, or identification with the body, and emotions, and what seems to be "the world?" It would seem so, from pretty much all the traditional spiritual paths on earth, both Western and Eastern.
The pathway of ASCENSION has a lot to offer: you rise above the suffering of the 3-D plane, you return to heavenly or "higher" realms, which are pain-free. Your higher brain or prefrontal cortex is dominant. From your place in the cortical gallery, you look down on and "witness" from above the orchestra and mainstage action within you, aka the two lower and older brains, having their dynamic and challenging experiences The oldest or #1 brain is called the reptilian, and it governs instincts like sex, hunger, territory, competition, me-against-you. The next and much more recent brain, evolutionary speaking, is the #2 limbic or mammalian brain. Mammals feed their babies with their mammary glands, and tend them through long periods before they are out on their own, so this brain carries powerful drives for attachment with others, or powerful wounds where this has been broken. Painful stuff.
Who wouldn't go for that ascending path?
You've probably gone for that, at some point, if you're reading this.
And you've probably also realized or heard that there is such a thing as "spiritual bypassing," which isn’t really spiritual at all, because by going up, up, up, you've been avoiding what is "down there," within you and others, that is hurting, still stuck in pain and shadow, and still has its own validity and importance.
I first came across this dilemma in the early 1980's when I had already been a monk, in an Eastern spiritual order, under vows and practicing hours of meditation, service and satsang every day for 12 years! Yes, TWELVE YEARS.
I entered that lifestyle when I was 18 after a dramatic awakening into a divine presence (there's more about this here). Talk about ascending! I learned how to access the Presence on a fairly continuous basis, and I was flying high for years as my then-teacher sent me around the world teaching meditation. Nothing much bothered me, even when I was arrested by Franco's Fascist guards in Spain, etc. etc. (in other words, see my BIO).
At a certain point I left the order, because the dysfunctions were impossible for me to ignore (although I know many who are still ignoring them). The main dysfunction was myself! I had bypassed my own feelings that I didn't even know I still had. I had bypassed body awareness, in spite of the fact that my initial awakening had come by experimenting with, no, not plant medicines (even though the hippy era was all around me), but moving energy, awareness and breath through my body!
By the time I emerged back into the world I had accidentally become an American, and was overwhelmed with love addictions and physical symptoms. I realized I had been going up up, up and ignoring the