There are several stages of expression in a spiritual journey toward development and growth. The 3 main stages that we often get stuck in are important to understand and recognize within ourselves in order to move forward; no matter your religion, deity or philosophy. These all apply: (I) Spiritual Bypass (II) Spiritual Materialism and (III) Spiritual Activism.
Spiritual Bypass is the stage of using your spiritual practice to avoid uncomfortable truths, thoughts and feelings. Such as avoiding things that might inflict shame, guilt, anger, or jealousy because you believe those things to be a sin, or because you believe they distract you from receiving the good. The problem with this is that by avoiding, we still hold on to the feeling or belief and we do not process that which holds us back. To grow spiritually and connect more deeply, we must recognize, acknowledge and process the discomfort. You cannot transform until you have understood.
Spiritual Materialism is the stage of applying external forces and/or needing something outside of you in order to *be more spiritual* or more connected. Such as believing that doing a handstand or going to yoga will make you more spiritual.. or buying oils, singing bowls, burning incense, or hanging crosses all over your house will amplify your spiritual connection. This can include the belief that you can only associate or connect with others who share your beliefs, philosophies or whom represent what you believe you want/need to be and achieve. You are left without…when dont source from within.
Spiritual Activism is the stage of using your convictions and beliefs to “save the world” because it keeps you within a container of doing what you believe is right, & reducing what you believe to be wrong. In this stage, we believe that our activism is a calling that which lifts us to a higher level of spirituality. The problem: activism is often still a form of violence. No matter how peaceful, when you impose your values and beliefs onto others, you are attacking the core systems of existence and it can cause pain. To truly bring about positive change in the world around you, you must shift from activism to *influence*.