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Contemplative Recovery vs Spiritual Bypass

While the psychological community may have a conflict with a spiritually oriented recovery program, calling it a “spiritual bypass;” however, the reality is AA is based upon spiritual recovery, and they are recognized as the most effective recovery program around.  Also, most religious movements have significant numbers of people who entered that religious movement to successfully enter recovery.  So, to reject the spiritual component of recovery is to completely ignore the most potent aspect of recovery, which is leading a contemplative life, which we consider as a synonym for the spiritual life.  And, part of the mission statement of the GWV is to recognize the spiritual, or contemplative, component of recovery.

Nonetheless, I would agree that “spiritual bypass,” which is burying one’s underlying emotional baggage under a faćade of religiosity, is certainly a common failure of religious movements and the reason why using them as a means of recovery, can often produce profound failures in recovery.  We would also have to add that most religious movements lack a functional recovery model other than pure abstention and the consequence of guilt for failure to live up to the model, which we do not feel is a functional recovery model.  We have to also consider that religious movements also do not recognize the value of leading a contemplative life.

To get to the core of the recovery model that the GWV wishes to advance is spiritual recovery is not enough if it does not include leading a contemplative life.  And, we believe at the core of the failure of the spiritual bypass, is most spiritual movements are not contemplative and are essentially naēve belief and faith-based religious movements, which we believe are not sufficiently mature to effect genuine recovery in anyone.

But, even more importantly, the contemplative life, to us, is not just endlessly practicing cognitive mental exercises, which is what the practice of meditation is generally interpreted as, but a recognition that the practice of meditation, which is a specialized set of cognitive mental exercises, is intended to lead somewhere, and that somewhere is the religious experience in the form of altered states of consciousness, and by consistently attaining and saturating oneself in those altered states of consciousness one attains genuine recovery from ALL addictions.

Arguably those who saturate and suffuse themselves in altered states of consciousness that are called Samadhi in Asia, not only eliminate addictions of all kinds, but it very often renders its subjects with a profound lack of motivation.  This lack of motivation is often perceived as not being a “productive” member of society, which is not bringing in a large income and thus not being a high tier taxpayer, or donor to a religious movement.  This “deficiency” in a Protestant Christian society, such as the materialistic western cultures, tends to be viewed as socially problematic.

We would argue that the Protestant Christian work-ethic model is fundamentally flawed, because it does not take into account the dedicated contemplative.  And, if we closely examine US culture, as a leading Protestant Christian western society, and penetrate below its faćade of Puritanism, we find that when it has more people per capita in prison than any nation in the world, and more of its prison population is there due to drug and/or alcohol addiction, sexual addiction, prostitution and/or gambling, and we find its priesthood often succumb to the same addictions, then we know that these failures of morality are its shaky underlying fabric.  This means that the entire Protestant Christian-based western societal model is founded upon a naēve puritanical model of spiritual-bypass that fundamentally does not work, as evidenced by the hypocrisies of its priests, and the number of people in prison. 

Love to all, Jeffrey S. Brooks (Jhananda)

Links:

Essays:

The Psychology of Gnosis Ecstasy, Kundalini and Jhana in a Christian, Buddhist & Yoga Psychology

Video:

Jhana and Contemplative Recovery
How does Jhana help one overcome addiction?

Forum:

Contemplatives in Recovery

Recorded Dharma talks:

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