Savannah Hanson: Human bypassing |

Savannah Hanson: Human bypassing


I came up with a term I have never heard before, yet for me it can play an important role in some peoples’ lives. I call it human bypassing. You may have heard of spiritual bypassing. For me, that is when we use spiritual practices such as mediation to medicate ourselves from the suffering of being human. We may push our suffering away or try to use the breath of some other technique to banish what is arising in the now to the basement of consciousness.

Human bypassing is different. For me, human bypassing is when we try to pretend we are not human at all. This can be a way of interpreting the “A Course in Miracles” teaching “I am not a body.” I have seen people use this teaching to ignore physical symptoms, using magical thinking to try to make them go away. Yet what I am speaking of goes even deeper. It is when we try to ignore the fact we are human living on earth and prefer to act as though we are simply divine and nothing else.

Sounds good in theory, right? Yet I have known people who use this way of being to bypass their own and others’ suffering. They become inhuman in their response to others, lacking even basic compassion. One friend calls it being above the field, watching the play but not participating. Now in many ways this describes the spiritual journey very well. We are in the earth but not of it.

Yet in my experience, this core truth can be misused to simply dismiss the fact we are on earth and many appear to be suffering. It can lead to ignoring or abusing the body, ignoring the desire, suffering, needs of ourselves or others, refusing to deal with the physical world.

The form I saw it take was a cruelty to others, a willingness to totally ignore their suffering, calling it not real. For example, since life is an illusion, who cares if you are in deep pain. Get over it. I heard it famously said that one of the original A Course In Miracles teachers, Ken Wapnick, said if you need to go to the hospital, don’t ask an A Course In Miracles student, they will tell you the body is not real.

It may seem harmless enough yet it can lead to incredible self rejection and hatred. I have often had members of my groups try to ignore their own suffering, using spiritual platitudes to pretend they are not in pain. I myself have used spirituality to wallpaper over my current human desires and needs. Yes, ultimately if we “wake up,” we access a place of peace where all is truly accepted in the now with grace.

Yet if we use human bypassing, we can walk past someone lying in the street in agony and not bat an eye. If a friend tells us of their own trauma or triggers, someone in the midst of human bypassing can continue to ill treat another by cutting themselves off from empathy, rather unkindly spouting teachings.

I often notice an absolute lack of willingness to allow any vulnerability. I suspect it is a deep trauma response yet it can wreak havoc with the recipient of such treatment as well as the one who refuses to accept that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience.

I write this advisedly as at the level of ultimate truth, this is absolutely accurate. Yet I have seen too many bash themselves with self judgment and rejection for being where they are in consciousness, trying to be more advanced than they are. The guilt that arises paradoxically prevents the very inner freedom being sought.

I have seen this teaching used to be cruel to another, shaming them for feeling sad or lost. This can be quite subtle yet as I have seen it so often, I feel the call to name it. I too have been humbled seeing myself use this to cut myself off from feelings of incredible vulnerability, rage, grief and what I see in the world and in my own and others’ lives.

Another way this plays out is as those who believe in reincarnation yet claim they will never be born again as they have had it with life on earth, wanting no further part of it. Also trying to negate our authentic desires, visions, personal will. Here we can pretend to be all loving and deny what is truly alive for us, deny our actual feelings.

What I witness is true denial and false denial. We can try to pretend we are not touched by the suffering of the world when in fact our current level of consciousness is screaming out in agony. Ultimately, we can reach a state (or so I am told) where we truly are at peace, where no matter what arises we remain in presence lending grace to the great human horrors and depravity that exist on earth. This is the true denial A Course In Miracles is pointing us to. Think Tolle and Byron Katie.

As our “path” continues to organically arise, accessing the awareness of our true nature, may we be kind and compassionate to ourselves and each other until that embodied and absolute knowing lands.

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 30-minute mini session, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or

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