Buddhism Unmoved: in Support of ‘Spiritual Bypassing’

The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

Anger is an object lesson, not just about hatred, which seems obvious, but lust, craving, passion, and all the rest. It feeds on itself until it destroys something, if not everything. This is one of the Three Poisons of Buddhism, along with greed and ignorance, and it would be hard to decide which is worse. Because they all destroy whatever is in their path, like fires burning endlessly and mindlessly, when the obvious solution would be to simply let them go, to burn themselves out. If any three words could sum up the message of Buddhism, it would likely be, ‘let it go.’

But it’s not always so easy, of course, given the nature of the beast, its very nature being its difficulty to let go. So, in a sense, they are all one, that fire burning, which we Westerners like to immortalize as something romantic called ‘passion,’ while conveniently forgetting that word’s roots in suffering, as in the ‘passion of Christ,’ nothing romantic about that. But so we fantasize, that our greed is our glory and our lust is our love, when nothing could be further from the truth, from any metaphysical viewpoint—at least, not in Buddhism.

Because Buddhism is a religion and philosophy of dispassion, in both the traditional meaning of ending suffering and the modern meaning of avoiding strong emotion. This drives many Western psychologists crazy, of course, because they sense any emptiness as a cause of alarm. The first thing they teach in photography class is to ‘go for peak emotion.’ And the psychologists want all potential conflicts to be met head-on. To not do so is something they call ‘spiritual bypassing,’ with obvious derision. Well, if avoiding anger is ‘bypassing,’ then I heartily recommend it. For nothing good can come from anger. One man’s religion is another man’s aversion, I suppose.