In this Episode
- [03:28] – Doug talks about his process of going from a web designer to a monk in India, describing his background in the process.
- [07:01] – We learn that Doug was the only Western monk during the time he was there, and was one of the first Westerners to be a monk there at all.
- [07:50] – Doug takes a moment to describe what an avatar is, and explain how people in India see holy people.
- [11:13] – Are an avatar and a guru two different things?
- [13:22] – Being awakened permanently is something to be sought after, but having awakened states doesn’t compare. Doug goes into depth about the differences between the two, despite the similarities of what they’re called.
- [18:58] – Stephan points out that we easily get caught up with identifying ourselves with our roles in life, such as thinking of oneself as a lawyer instead of someone who practices law.
- [22:33] – When and where did Doug start having profound experiences?
- [25:09] – Doug discusses some ways to achieve a better state of consciousness, which include jogging, eating well, and living a balanced life.
- [28:05] – We hear one of the things that Doug has always appreciated about Sri Bhagavan.
- [32:05] – The more helpless you’re willing to become, the faster and deeper your progress will be, Stephan explains. Doug then digs into this idea.
- [35:05] – Doug shares his thoughts on whether he thinks that the process he has been talking about is also happening at a meta level with humanity in general.
- [36:29] – Stephan shares a personal story about a very powerful experience that he had between his two trips to India.
- [40:23] – Doug has watched similar things happen many times during his ten years in India, he explains.
- [43:47] – For listeners who may not be familiar with the concept, Doug takes a moment to describe Maya.
- [45:49] – What is liberation? Doug describes it simply as awakening to the truth of reality and what you are.
- [49:03] – Doug returns to clarifying various terminologies, this time explaining dukkha among other terms.
- [52:14] – If you believe that your god or divine is a punishing god, that’s what you’ll experience, Stephan clarifies. Douglas then takes the concept a step further.
- [56:00] – How can listeners find Douglas to take the next step with him or learn more about the subjects he’s been discussing?
Yes, yet another spirituality focused episode. I promise we’ll get back to biohacking, wealth building, and productivity, but this interview was just too good to sit on. I’ve been waiting to get this particular monk on the show for literally years. I feel very fortunate to share his wisdom with you on today’s episode, number 141. I met Doug Bentley in India in 2012 when I was attending an Oneness Intensive hosted by Tony Robbins, specifically for his Platinum Partnership which I was fortunate to be part of. Tony personally invited Doug, at the time a monk at Oneness University, to be one of the main teachers at this Intensive. Doug had a profound impact on my life, in fact, that Oneness trip with Tony and the subsequent trip to the Oneness University Campus a few months later lead to a major spiritual awakening for me. Doug was a monk in India for over a decade studying directly under Sri Bhagavan. He’s now returned to the West serving as a teacher and spiritual guide. Doug, it’s great to have you on the show.
Thanks so much. I appreciate you inviting me to be on this show.
It’s just such a pleasure to have you on because you had a big impact on my life. We met in 2012 in Udaipur in India at a Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership trip. That was where I had my first awakening experience where I felt connected to the divine really for the first time in my life. I was agnostic my whole life up until that point. It was a deeksha, it was a blessing where, I don’t think it was you, it’s one of your colleagues, another monk, put his hands on my head and I just had this incredible experience. I felt so connected, so peaceful, and just certain that God existed, and loved me. I went outside right after that, I saw all the beauty of the scenery and I just remember the green of the grass was the brightest, most technicolor I ever seen, it was like a cartoon. It was beautiful. Boy, it was just so blissful. There was no going back from there. I felt connected ever since. You had a profound impact on my life. You and Uma were just really fundamental in my spiritual awakening. Thank you.
Yeah, you’re welcome.
Let’s talk about your process of going from a web designer to a monk in India and staying there for a decade studying under somebody that is considered by many in India to be essentially a deity.
First of all, I come from a very normal grounded family. My dad owns businesses. I’ve always come from a very grounded background and I’ve never found myself so drawn to be necessarily a part of anything, I’ve always been a very independent person by nature. But when I was 17 years old, I started having these very profound dreams, and very strangely, one of the most profound dreams I ever had was where I came face to face with a great being in my dream who gave me some great wisdom. Later on I come to find out that that that was who ended up studying underneath and being a part within India as my master. When you’re from Washington, DC and you have no background to spirituality, I wasn’t at all religious. I also was more of an atheist myself. The mystical world and things that are unexplainable were not a part of my reality up until these points. But I had this very profound dream. I left it as it was, never thought too much about it afterward.
I jumped into a career building websites, and being a graphic designer. It happened to be that my co-worker was actually a monk in his childhood and he’s a very spiritual being. He took me under his wings teaching me meditation. As I started meditating with him, I started having these very profound, mystical experiences. I would go on the internet just trying to explain what’s going on to me. I came across a photo of Sri Bhagavan which is my master that I studied underneath for a decade. It was exactly the way he looked in my dreams when I was 17 years old. I’m 25 years old at this point. That was just one of those moments that I can’t explain. I have no idea what this even means. But the moment I looked at his photo, again I’m not from a mystical background, I felt a burst of energy come out of the photo and hit me, right in my office. I went into this awakened state of being where I had this great realization that I was here on the planet along with many, many other people from all faith, and all paths that are just simply here to raise our levels of consciousness and inspire and guide and help others to do the same. Just simply make the species a flowered species and a happy humanity.
I was very curious about this and I went into India I think that year and I spent several weeks there with Sri Bhagavan, attending a class that his monks were teaching. It completely changed my life and I fell very deeply in love with my teacher. And I requested could I live there and they thought about it for a while and they eventually said yes and I spent almost basically 10 years there, learning from Sri Bhagavan. It’s really neat when you have a chance to bond with a great teacher like that. I had such a great bond that just being around him was such a fantastic thing. After 10 years, he just looked at me and said, “You’ve gotten to a point of growth. The journey is completely endless but you’ve gotten to a point of growth. I feel very comfortable with you helping other people flower and grow. Pack your bags and get back home to the West and help people who are searching the growth in the internal world and help guide them.” I packed my things and came back to Washington, DC several months ago and settled down and now I’m just helping people in their journeys.
That’s pretty amazing. You were the only Westerner who was a monk there, right?
Yeah. In the time period that I was there, yeah, I believe so.
Did they have other Westerners come in as monks? Or were you first?
I think before me, there was one or two people from South America who stayed for maybe a year or so. But I definitely was one of the first Doces that was there. They call them Doces. I actually had a friend who was there for several years. I think he was probably the first Western person. He was there for several years and he headed off to go back. But I was there the longest being the Western person. While I was there, I was the only Western person.
Right. Sri Bhagavan is considered by many in India as an avatar or a deity of some sort. Maybe you could describe what an avatar is and how Indians view holy people?
Sure, I’ll share two points on it. I remember asking Sri Bhagavan once, “What is an avatar?” I asked him privately. He basically said it’s a being that is born for very specific purpose to help the whole. It’s not a person who’s born, who’s here to just fulfil their lives, it’s a being who’s immensely concerned about helping humanity at large. Beings like this can come in various degrees; so you can have people who come and they’re literally here to deliver principles of advanced mathematics or physics, something that takes the whole species one step ahead in a very big way. And then of course you have spiritual avatars which like Sri Bhagavan, it’s a being who wants to help raise the levels of consciousness for the species. Amongst the spiritual avatars, you could have a variety of them. You could have some that specifically help towards healing, you could have some that just give profound teachings. And then amongst those, you have a very rare set which is a being that not only gives and delivers wisdom, but is able to actually transfer higher states of consciousness to people.
That transference—which in the ancient Sanskrit languages was the word deeksha, that’s a very ancient term—is a very special thing. Sri Bhagavan happens to be a being like this; is a being that his entire life, he’s only concerned and focused on raising other people’s levels of consciousness. He could see people were struggling very deeply with their minds, that was causing tremendous psychological discontentment and making them feel separated and isolated from others and was the root cause, that since the separation was a root cause of a lot of problems that our species faces as a whole. He found himself that he wasn’t in that kind of state, he was in a very holistic state, a state of being where he didn’t feel separate from anything. His whole concern was how to get people in that state. He found that at a certain age, he had the ability to transfer that high, energetic state that he was in to people, pushing them towards that direction, or initiating a process that will lead a person eventually into much higher states of consciousness.
In India, it’s always been understood that when these kinds of being are on the planet, it’s a very rare thing. It’s something that’s to be honored and to be cherished. He’s the kind of being that, the Indian belief, and many people across the world have also found this, that you could have a bond with as a friend inside of yourself, and that kind of high level of consciousness, that cosmic reality would naturally come and affect you as well in a positive way. He had that kind of relationship. But Sri Bhagavan has always maintained his work is to help awaken you so you get in touch with your personal divine. You have this natural bond with whatever the divine is to you and then the rest of the journey is between you and that divine. But he’s here to just simply help get the engine started.
When I was in India and I saw the taxi drivers would have pictures of their guru on the dashboard, sometimes that guru would be an avatar like Bhagwan but sometimes it was just a guru who was a very good teacher, right?
An avatar and a guru are two different things.
I don’t necessarily know the exact differences but I could say an avatar is like the heavy hitter. It’s a being that rarely comes, and when it does, it brings upon tremendous change. You could say a guru is a being like yourself or like anybody who’s on a spiritual path that crosses certain milestones, where their life experiences are able to really impact people and they’re maybe in a high enough state that their state can also help impact people. You can say an avatar is higher consciousness that comes to the planet, a guru maybe could be termed that a being that has evolved in this lifetime to a certain consciousness where they can impact others.
Let’s go back to this idea of awakening. Because if Sri Bhagavan is here to assist humanity in raising our consciousness to become more awakened, there’s a big difference to having an awakened state like I did where I went outside and everything was just the most technicolor, amazing colors I’d ever seen, but that didn’t stick. I felt a connection that didn’t go away but that sense of bliss and deep connectedness was something that peaked at that moment. I had other peak moments, other awakened states as well, I came back to India a few months after that and went to the campus there at Oneness University and I saw you there again and had more awakened states. But the permanency of awakening is where you don’t just peak and then fall back down, maybe you’re better off than you were before but it’s something different is my understanding that being awakened permanently is something to be sought after but having awakened states is not sufficient in comparison. It doesn’t compare, I guess.
This is something that takes a long time for people to really grasp. The service of it is that they just sound like they’re two of the same thing. The awakened state, awakening. We could actually replace the word of awakened state, we could actually replace it with a peak state of consciousness which means that the life force energy in the Eastern philosophy, they believe that there is this dormant life force energy called the Kundalini that sits at the base of the spine. When this gets triggered—many things in life can trigger it—and it goes up the spine, you naturally move into these very vast states of consciousness and they’re extraordinary, like what you experienced. It can last for weeks, it cold even last for years, but you absolutely know you’re in a very different state of consciousness, and a lot of times it’s an amazing experience. You’ll feel tremendous, unconditional love, you’ll feel connectedness with all of life, it’s very vast. When it goes away, it brings a lot of suffering for people because why would you not want to be back there and how do you get back there once you lose it.
But awakening, strangely enough, is actually vastly different than the awakened state. I’ll explain it. Awakened state, it comes and goes whether you’re awakened or unawakened. It initially comes with the initial start of the process. Meaning that the energy’s pent up inside of you but something in life pushed it out. Near-death experiences can cause initial awakening. A great master’s blessing with a deeksha can cause that initial awakening. Various breath work processes can cause it or even a tremendous depression, like Eckhart Tolle had that kind of happening. He was extremely depressed and at a certain point, the whole engines just fired on him. They have their place because it’s a part of the phenomenon of awakening. It does bring upon tremendous realizations. But, awakening is actually a process of the identification that happens very naturally. What this means is that once you can say the engines have kicked on, a person whether in their awakened state or they’ve fallen back out of it, I’d imagine how you are, you’re probably very aware of yourself, probably way more aware of yourself than you were before that big experience.
Because that’s sort of the after-effects of a big state, you’re suddenly like I’m not in that big state anymore but I’m very in tune and sensitive and aware with what’s going on inside of me and externally as well. In that awareness, because you’re now seen, all this unlearning start taking place. The unlearning is you start seeing that the sufferings of a person’s life, you could literally bring it right into yourself. The suffering of my life is that I’m caught in this constant daydreaming. I’m caught in this grip of anxiety of the mind. I’m angry and frustrated because of the stance my mind takes towards situations. Of course all the time, we probably may experience—I do—that every time I think I know how the situation really is, I take a stance, I say it’s because of this, it’s happening because of that. I come to find out I’m completely wrong, almost 90% of the time. This unlearning starts happening where you start realizing it is the mind that’s causing me all the suffering. As you go down that rabbit hole further, you start realizing wait a second, I’m not these thoughts, I’m not this mind.
If you go further down that rabbit hole, you go what am I? Who am I? And these big questions lead to big discoveries. You suddenly realize I’m somehow the silent, still consciousness that’s just witnessing behind thinking. I’m not this mind, I’m not the body, I’m not these emotions, I’m just witnessing, I’m watching. You start falling into that deeper and deeper. As you take that journey deeper and deeper to identifying with what you really are, at the core, that’s still, silent, vast consciousness, you start letting go, you start allowing the mind to rise and cease but you’re not getting into it, you’re not jumping into the ring with it to battle it out or to believe in what it takes a stance on. You let it all just rise and fall. Same with the body and same with life itself. Great acceptance starts taking place. That’s the journey of awakening. It’s actually returning to being completely vastly authentic, very, very intensely aware, and a deep state of none resistance, a deep state of beingness. You can see that that’s very different than a person moving into a vast superstate of consciousness because you can say it’s a very peak state. However, when you move more in the journey of awakening, peak states come and go very easily. The moment you sit down in meditation, you start breathing, you move into a very awakened state. But you’ll come right back out of it. But awakening is awakening to what you really are, which is infinite eternal consciousness and letting go of the illusion that you’re anything else.
In a way, it’s like a death of the ego.
It is. Literally, you start seeing through that there is actually nobody home. Or what is home is just witnessing. There is not a person that was there all along. It’s just the mechanical functions of thoughts arising, personalities engaged in those thoughts, nothing more. It’s geared to a machine, nothing more.
We so easily get caught up in identifying with our role in life. Somebody might think of themselves as a lawyer instead of that they practice law. Their ego is blinding them to their true self.
Yeah, absolutely. And great suffering comes from that. Because the one thing for sure in life itself is that it’s always changing, it’s always rising and seething, it’s always building up and crumbling down. If you’re identified with the body, if you’re identified that you think you are the sixth person inside, if you’re identified with what you think you own, and who your friends are, who your enemies are, what your points of view are, what they aren’t, if you’ve identified as these things in a rigid way, the sad part is what part of any of those things is not constantly either growing or fading off, or constantly changing, undergoing a process. That’s a great suffering, is trying to control everything because you’re identified as the part of you. You could say freedom is when you finally realize all these things are part of life itself, they come, they go, they happen, it’s all something I can’t control. I can just be a part of the process. It’s a great freedom in that.
Yeah. The impermanence of it and it’s that you are not your thoughts, that you’re not your body, you’re not your mind.
Yeah. It’s a great awakening to realize what I am is eternal, what I am can’t be affected by life, what I am is just peacefully watching all things unfold, it’s untouchable. There’s a great piece in that. I see, I’m just this, and everything else is a great happening and I’m allowing that to happen. Life goes on, you’re a very busy person, you do your things, you have your families, you live. But you live in a place of just beingness and just watching.
Yup. It’s a really profound shift.
Yes. It’s so common sense, when it happens, you literally go how did I miss this the whole time? Why did this take so long just to realize this?
It sounds so simple and it sounds so logical. Just like when I heard for the first time that God is not a belief but an experience, when I was on that trip, in Udaipur in India, that sounds great. That’d be a great bumper sticker, but then when I actually experienced the deeksha, and I had experienced deekshas before and they felt pleasant, and calming, and really nice. But this one in particular, that just zapped me. It’s like almost indescribable. When that happened, I felt like I was plugged in.
I wish that for everybody. I really do. When I got to experience that, now I really got it in a visceral way. That expression that God or divine is an experience, not a belief.
Where did you start experiencing these different profound experiences like that? Was it when you were still in the States and doing your meditation practice with your friends, your business partner who was a monk as a child, was it once you started getting into when you were in India?
How did the journey unfold?
Yeah. How did that go for you?
Yeah. I think this is right back to the awakened state experience. I had a lot of awakened state experiences with my co-worker. Every night, meditating was these very big experiences and I had no idea what awakening was about. That just didn’t make any sense to me. After being with Sri Bhagavan for many years, I still had no understanding really what awakening was. Because until it strikes you, until it slaps you right across the face, it’s just some kind of concept. It’s kind of boring, actually. It makes awakenings a very ordinary thing. That’s the last thing the minds want to hear, that’s not what I signed up for. For many years, I kept having a lot of awakened states and experiences, and at a certain point, Sri Bhagavan started putting me through these very big processes. They basically had very, very little to no teachings at all. I was going through these very, very big processes and that’s when I could say, in so many ways, the sense of self broke, the sense of separation started dissolving in a very way, I started experiencing cosmic consciousness. These were all during the process. These very, very large states of consciousness that were happening.
But I started experiencing the oneness of all life, I experienced that me and my divine became one and I saw the cosmic reality of things. It’s sort of like if you’re blind your whole life, your eyes were opened up for two or three days, and then you close your eyes again, you can’t deny what you saw. Those experiences over the years that were given to me started this very large internal process for me. It just became a very, very internal process at that point. At a certain point, I just suddenly realized these truths very deeply. Upon those realizations and settling insight more and more, that’s actually when Sri Bhagavan just took a look at me said, “Pack your bags, and off you go, kid.” It’s definitely a journey. I can say that teachings are very helpful, they are. But it’s very deep processes when the Kundalini gets fired very powerfully in the right circumstance, at the right time in your life, on the right conditions, that lead to a very vast, awakened steps in the person’s journey. I’m very grateful that life aligned me to those opportunities. I was able to go through those things.
Would pranic breathing be one of those jumpstarts to get that Kundalini fired up and have that powerful awakened state or experience?
This is a very big debate many people have. Yes, first of all, just jogging in the morning will lead you in a great state of consciousness for you to be in a great place for half an hour and an hour afterward to just be very highly aware and sensitive and just looking inside yourself. Something as simple as that. Eating very healthy, taking care of your body, and moving into leading a very balanced life will all lead you to being in a very good state of consciousness. Those are important to note, that a good state of consciousness happens when a person really starts taking care of themselves and being concerned about the quality of state they’re actually living in. Physically with their body, in their relationships, and their mental health, etc. Because it’s definitely spirituality is not a break from what you’re at right now to just go do some heavy breathing or some exercise and that will solve something. For me, my whole journey was a very big journey of first taking care of the most foundational things, my relationships, working on the quality of how I relate to my mother and father, and then finally learning to take care of myself more and more the best I could. My life came into more balance, that’s when these much bigger processes actually opened up.
In regards specifically, yes, there is definitely a lot of breathing techniques that you can learn to do, like Kundalini Yoga could be very helpful, a kind of stretching based yoga. That’s very involved with the breathe and raising the Kundalini. And there’s many different types of modalities out there, but please know that for anybody who’s listening, the journey is about taking a gentle journey. It’s never about rushing anything. Life will give you or produce for you the moments where a larger experience happens. Like as you mentioned, life had lead you to India, lead you to that event, you had tried deeksha before and it was okay, it gave you some experiences. But you were ready, life lined you up and that experience took you a great step forward on your own spiritual journey. Life has it in store for a person, but a person must always see where they’re actually at and trust with what they most resonate with, as far as where the journey is taking them to grow. It would just be a gentle thing, and certain moments it might be a little bit more energetic to help you grow further.The journey is about taking a gentle journey. It’s never about rushing anything. Click To Tweet
Certain moments might be a catalyst. A sort of pranic breathing exercise that you go through or Kundalini Yoga exercise, or a repetition of a mantra for some number of minutes may be that time that catalyses you into a very powerful awakened state. Or could be that you have a really deep, dark depression like Eckhart Tolle did that instead of going further down the depression, it triggers something catalyses you having an awakening experience or awakened state.
One of the things that I’ve always really appreciated about Sri Bhagavan was his stance has always been that your effort can get you through the door, get you to the door, but it takes divine grace or higher intelligence to pull you through. I can tell you that the spiritual journey is not a journey of achievement, and that was a very big mistake that I made. It’s not this journey that you jump in and you’re constantly trying to achieve something. You did all that hard work and you followed the instructions properly and you arrived at your great awakening. It’s actually exactly the opposite. Spirituality is this journey of the mind’s need to become, the mind’s craving for something other than what’s happening in the present moment, that deep sense of becoming, that deep hunger drive of the mind, is the opposite of awakening. I don’t know the term for it, but the opposite of awakening.
When that mind finally can’t go further, has tried everything and it’s not working, when it really gives up inside, that’s the tendency to become, is awaking itself. That normally is active grace, it’s a moment that it really occurs for you. How grace does that, what circumstances you find yourself in, is completely unique to each person. That’s why there’s a stage where seeking awakening is helpful but there’s another stage where one must become aware of the craving for awakening, the craving of that sense of becoming to become something like I want to be like a Christ, I want to be a Buddha, I want to be a great spiritual teacher, whatever it is, I want to be something. That sense of becoming, you start becoming aware of that and you see all the suffering underneath it. Eventually, it dies its death very slowly. That’s basically the journey is not a journey of achievement but it’s a journey in a sense of failure, it’s a journey of the mind finally giving up, and what’s left is awakening itself.
Like surrendering. Your mind or your consciousness may be surrendering and allowing grace in to do the hard work because it’s not all up to you, you don’t have to solve everything, you don’t have to do everything, you actually are not that powerful if you try to do it on your own without the divine’s help, you’re going to be doing it for a very long time and that can’t get very far.
True. There’s a very strange thing about it. Divine grace is always working with people, all the time, actually. The whole universe is nothing but literally the supreme consciousness. Everything we see and experience is only that supreme consciousness and it informs, simply experiencing itself, discovering itself. You can say grace is always there, but when the ego, when the mind’s involved and it wants to try to achieve something, you can say grace waits in the background. But the moment when the ego can’t go any further or calls out for help, you can say it doesn’t practice surrender. It’s caught in the corner where surrender happens. It’s made the surrender. Underneath anything in life. All of a sudden, you can say divine grace in a lot of ways is like a safety net. It just simply comes in an X. That’s why on the spiritual journey, you could say that grace is with you but it’s waiting for the beast inside, that thing is trying to rush forward to just simply get caught and get stuck, can’t go any further. The moment it gets stuck and yells out for help, grace comes and right away takes you one step further down the rabbit hole. It’s an endless journey. But there are stages of the mind losing its grip in a good way and the vastness of being, that vast state of cosmic reality or that vast witnessing starts coming forward. That’s what you say the whole journey is basically that.
The more helpless you’re willing to become, the faster and the deeper your progress would be, right?
Sure. In that sense you could say the best way to see that is starting to see how you’re not even able to become helpless, learning to become aware of I’m not even able to be helpless, I can’t even surrender. You could say that that very realization is the first step of it all happening. That in itself is the doorway into surrendered helplessness, when you realize I can’t even surrender. Because I tell you if any of this was practicable to where it then lead to it, I think all of humanity would have awaken a long time ago. The visualization I’ve always had in my journey is I one time saw a YouTube video of these cinematographers, there’s this massive glacier, maybe Iceland, massive glacier the size of Manhattan. It was about to start crumbling and slide off, that’s a very big event. They went up there and they filmed it, they stayed there for weeks because they just know it’s going to happen like any moment, they want to film this thing.
Literally, by just life itself, moment by moment these cracks happened and then the whole thing slipped. Spiritual awakening is exactly like that glacier, is that the glacier didn’t build itself up further and further to become something great, it was that melting started happening and small cracks started happening all throughout, and small cracks joined together as larger cracks, and by just sheer physics of so many factors, the whole thing crumbled. As awareness starts increasing inside of you, as the mind stops having its grip on you, as you start awakening out of the tendency of the daydream, as you call out the mind’s labeling and perceptions as false, all these things are hairline cracks. As you start looking deeper, what makes me feel uncomfortable inside, oh, it’s resistance. As awareness increases, you stop resisting. Use all these things, another crack, another crack, another crack, and eventually it accumulates to where it starts breaking apart, chunk starts falling off. It’s a happening. It’s not that the mind can do something to get there, it’s that a natural habit of seeing takes place outside the mind, the great witnessing taking place, and the very mind itself that wants to grow or become, starts chunk by chunk falling off. Then what’s left is just that supreme awareness.
Wouldn’t you say that this is also happening at a more metal level, like with humanity? As these hairline cracks or fractures happen in the glacier of humanity, more and more people are becoming awakened, that will would tip the entire consciousness collectively to awakening?
Yeah. It does seem that right now we are going through a great awakening. It does seem that way. I go on YouTube all the time and I see so many people having conversations like you and I are having right now. There are so many people emerging and you see it in their eyes, they’re very clear about what they’re talking about. Each one is speaking about in a very different way. Of course, I think technology’s really helped us well as far as being able to give exposure to so many ideas and thoughts and also to educate people on so many levels. On a collective level, you said the internet has really helped everyone see what’s going on in other countries, and it bring awareness to things, and share so many ideas. My teachers, Sri Bhagavan, has always made a very strong statement that one person who awakens in a very great state of consciousness affects about 100,000 people across the planet because we’re connected in consciousness collectively. I’ve noticed that when I started my journey in 2005—now we’re 2018—I’ve watched a lot of evolution happening and I’ve watched how spirituality become a very mainstream thing now. It’s not a strange thing. When I got first started, spirituality is a very strange thing, I couldn’t talk to anybody about it. These days, it’s like common sense. People are talking very openly.
Yup. I remember this one really powerful experience I had after coming back from the second trip to India working from the Oneness Campus. It’s actually right before that trip, that was between the two India trips. I went to an event called Ultimatum which was Donny Epstein’s event. Do you know who Donny Epstein is?
I do. He is my friend. He’s a very good guy.
Yes, he is. Amazing. I was at his event, and he does these energy healing type things, called entrainments, and it’s very hard to describe what it is but it’s incredible. After one of them, I was just so blissed out. The other participants lift you off of the chiropractic table onto the floor, onto the carpet. I’m just lying on the carpet, completely blissed out, and I get this divine inspiration, this divine download that I can give remote deekshas. Because I had learned in India on that first trip—not where I had gotten the awakened state—that I could give a remote deeksha. I learned in India to give an in-person deeksha using my hands on somebody’s forehead. While I got this divine inspiration, I could give a remote deeksha without even touching the person. I was just blissed out, lying on the floor, thinking of all these different people and blessing them one after another, after another.
It was probably 50 people and one of them came to my mind who had not come to my mind for a very long time. It was years and years since I had thought about him. He’s somebody that I didn’t even like. He had filed a lawsuit against me after I had fired him, he was an employee and he was talking smack about me behind my back, other employees, and I didn’t like it, and my ego wanted to prove something. I just summarily dismissed him from the company, walked him off the premises, and it was very embarrassing for him so he filed a frivolous lawsuit because it was a work at will estate so I could fire him for the color of shoes he was wearing. We eventually settled, it was a protracted battle that I would’ve won and it would’ve cost me more than I would’ve spent just paying him off, so I paid him off. He disappeared from the face of the earth for many, many, many years. We were living in the same city, we never saw each other, never heard his name again, he just disappeared. And then he comes to my mind while I’m blissed out on the floor and so I give him a remote Deeksha, without even knowing that I could do that. I had to guess, an inner knowing that I could do that. Guess who calls me on my cellphone four days later?
All those years, after 15 years. Yeah, he calls me to apologize and we had this beautiful conversation for 50 minutes and we ended up meeting a couple of months later after that. I gave him a Tony Robbins DVD on relationships which I think had helped him. And then I randomly saw him a couple of months later at PetSmart. I was with one of my daughters and there he is at PetSmart with his girlfriend. It’s pretty funny. I know we’re all connected and having those kinds of experiences where it can’t be coincidence. The creator, the divine is revealing himself to us in little ways that are beyond coincidence. I believe that there are no coincidences, that it’s all divinely timed for us. What are your thoughts about this?
I completely agree. I’ve watched that happen so many times in my 10 years that I was there in India. I’ve watched that exact same thing happen where people will set right inside themselves, they’ll heal something that needed to be healed from many years. Upon that healing happening in that relationship towards somebody else, we watched the next day literally somebody would call up and because they healed inside, the other person was healed as well and their relationship gets back together. What’s so interesting for me at least, being a person from Washington, DC and just having very specific view of life in some level, is that how the reality actually is and actually really does function compared to how at least I was raised and perceived to how life I thought was and I thought I figured it all out. It’s so vastly different and it’s so much more holistic and intimate than how I perceived it. It’s so true, we’re so intrinsically connected in our relationship to others, our relationships to nature, our relationships to animals, and our relationship to just simply life itself.
When a person keeps seeing on the most subtlest levels that connection and this person starts to really realize, there’s a place in a spiritual journey where you realize that you have work to do and what that means is you start allowing yourself to actually experience and face and process what’s actually coming up inside of you. As opposed to getting hurt of feeling hurt inside, shutting it down, and then just simply blaming the other person. But you actually see that somehow the circumstances, situation has brought up pain inside of me. You actually allow yourself to experience and process that pain. Amazingly enough, as you heal inside, you actually then realize that your circumstances somehow change or the relationship quality between the other changes, life responds very positively, and you suddenly are in a more abundant kind of living of life. You’re in this place where life starts being more favorable or seems to be working with you in a more auspicious way. A person naturally catches onto that at a certain point in their journey and they just finally allow themselves because they start seeing how that if it hurts inside, I got to heal it, I got to let myself stay with that and process it, cry it out, feel it out, and that’s going to be very big benefit for me, at the same time it also heals my relationships externally as well.
I remember telling you about this a couple of weeks after when I was back in India. I asked you, is this such a thing, like a remote Deeksha, is that real? And you’re like yes, it is. It’s called an intent Deeksha. And I’m like, I knew it!
Yeah, it’s true.
Pretty cool. Let’s go through a bunch of spiritual concepts and shed some light on them, some of these are ancient and from Eastern philosophies, various philosophies wisdoms, and let’s just go through some different terminologies and different meanings and so forth.
The ancient, they spoke about something called Maya. Let’s describe that for our listeners.
Sure. The most important thing a person can realize is that if you’re feeling emotionally uncomfortable inside yourself, if you’re caught up in fear, caught up in loneliness, sadness, hurt, these are things that may need to be a process through you. But we’ll notice that with these pains comes the way you think about things, it’s like your perception in life, “No one loves me.” You’re walking around thinking no one loves you. You’re seeing life through the filter of the mind commenting no one loves me. Somebody else could have a different program that could say, “Everyone loves me.” They’re walking around thinking everyone loves me. The term Maya was mostly used in the sense that it says, “You’re living in this daydreaming of thoughts.” You’re walking around experiencing life caught up in your daydreams, and you believe whatever the daydream is.
Your conditioning has lead you to such a sense that you think your daydreaming is the true definition of life. But as an awakening happens to a person, a serious awakening, they break out of the conditioning of the mind, they break out of that story, and they realize there is no meaning to life. Life is as it is. It’s still, it’s silent. You just experience it blankly as a consciousness you’re witnessing. You start seeing how the mind is trying to label life, add meaning to it, but you see it’s just the mind’s perception and that perception itself is a source of a lot of suffering. Maya, you could say, is the daydreaming aspect of the mind that we’re engulfed in as we live life. And coming out of Maya is awakening out of that daydream.
Okay, got it. Liberation is a term that is pretty universal in many Eastern philosophies and religions. From your definition and from your understanding of the ancient wisdom, what is liberation?
First of all, please know that many different schools of thought will have different definitions for this. The way I would simply describe it is that liberation is when you come out of the psychological suffering or the identification and with thoughts, the mind, the body, and life itself. When you awaken to the truth of reality of what you are, and you learn to abide in that, there’s a vast freedom, that eternal consciousness that is just all the time gently looking out in your eyes. When a person moves out of the illusionary belief that they are anything but that and they nestle themselves, they embody into the fact that they are just as eternal witnessing, that you could say is the great liberation, the great freedom. It’s the end of the tearing of the mind and the false identification that you are something other than eternity itself.
To expand on it a bit more, the witnessing, we are essentially like FM radios tuned into whatever level of consciousness and receiving thoughts that match that wavelength, that vibrational state. If we are in a more elevated consciousness, we’re receiving higher quality thoughts. If we’re in a low vibration, we’re receiving lower-quality thoughts. Those thoughts aren’t our own, they’re part of a collective consciousness and we’re just tuning in, right?
Yes. In both ways. You could say that it’s a real cool thing to experience that. Go walk in nature, no one around, and just pay attention to how you feel, and also the kinds of thoughts that are flying through your head. Then go right into the Manhattan, go into to a major city and just watch what ideas, thoughts, things arise inside of you, and emotionally how you feel. You might suddenly feel that the more dense population you’re in, you might feel a lot more anxiety, you might suddenly feel a lot of intense emotions. You might also see that your mind is running, there’s a lot of things that are going on. When you suddenly realize that because when you’re in nature you didn’t have these things. You suddenly realize, I get it, this is thoughts that’s coming in or I’m being exposed to because I’m around the field of other people. You stop taking it personal. Not taking something personally to say is de-identification. You suddenly start saying, okay, there’s some pain here but it may not be mine actually. I’m around a lot of these people right now and they seem kind of sad, I might be feeling that. But you’re having tremendous compassion towards what’s flowing inside of you, you’re not judging it, you’re accepting it because you realizes it’s arising and it’s ceasing. It’s just there right now that’s happening. You’re just letting it naturally play out its course but you’re watching it, and the watching itself is the freedom.
Very cool. Let’s jump back to some of these terminologies, Dukkha.
Sure. This is I believe a Buddhist term. I think Buddha described it as a cart that has square wheels. You’re on this nice cart but it’s got square wheels and it’s bouncing you up and down. It’s uncomfortable. The core of any human being that is deeply engaged in the mind is that the very core of them, there’s a great discontent. In a sense, since they’re engaged in the mind, they’ve moved away from the essence of what they are, they moved away from the truth of their own actual being. They’re actually bouncing around from thought to thought and they’re not fully experiencing the present moment. This inability to experience the present moment cause you’ve gotten lost in thought, which is trying to move away from the present moment through the past and the future. It’s surviving by that activity, brings upon a great discontent inside. This is called existential suffering. That Buddha called Dukkha. But when a person has that awakening, they move out of the mind back into the eternal self, that deep beingness or awareness, when they move back into that, then all of a sudden the existential suffering that’s off. That you could say is the journey of awakening, is moving from the past and the future and coming straight into the present moment, being out of resistance into beingness.
Okay, awesome. Let’s move into ancient Sanskrit terms. [Paktha paradima], pronouncing that right, I don’t know.
I believe it’s [bhakta paradna].
Okay, thank you.
This is something that my master would always teach. This is such a profound teaching, it’s very ancient. You can say it’s a very core thing of Hindu thought. But basically, it means that God is actually dependent upon the devotee. The whole beautiful thing I think that I discovered in India as far as that is a culture is that each person is absolutely free to relate to God in any way they want. The ideas that God is your personal being, that’s your friend, and resides in your heart, and you can relate to it in any way you want, and it can be whoever you want. You have that complete freedom. Because of that, the understanding is that however you relate to supreme intelligence, your higher self, is actually how it starts relating back to you. That’s why you can go to some people’s house and they literally have photos of their divine and there’s literally honey pouring out of it. Because they see that that’s possible with their God and God should respond that way. You can see other people that any time they ask a question, the divine responds inside and they had that kind of bond. Somebody else, they could touch somebody and healing happens because their divine does that, their divine does that as well. The idea is how you relate to supreme intelligence is actually how it starts relating back to you. It’s a very, very important principle when a person wants to really develop and flower their bond with their divine.
If you believe that your God, your divine is a punishing God, then that’s what you’re going to experience.
Yes. It’s the whole nine yards. It goes even further. It goes into the sense that you could say if you take the stance that there is no God, and that God doesn’t relate to you, or if there is, it’s just way out there in the universe and what does it have to do with you, you’ll actually experience that kind of relationship. On every level, it’s a person has to awaken with what is my actual belief system I have when it comes to relating to the divine, my divine? That’s a very beautiful set of questions to start asking yourself because it leads to a big transformation.
Wow. One more and then we’ll wrap up the episode. [Entre yamen].
Sure, [entre yamen]. This is another very ancient terminology. Basically, what it means is the divine within. In many different depictions of saints and sages, I believe even Christ, they depicted the heart as the sacred throne of God. The [entre yamen] is this idea or this understanding that supreme intelligence resides in the heart. You could say the ego resides in the mind, the head. In so many ways, the head’s praying to the heart. When you start relating and worshipping the divine inside of you in the heart, they call that the [entre yamen], the personal God.
Right. When I learned in India that I should be having a relationship with my personal divine, that’s my [entre yamen] and it’s also my [bhakta paradna].
[Bhakta paradna]. I’m probably not even pronouncing it properly. I’m actually terrible pronouncing these words. To sum that whole aspect up is that supreme intelligence, or God, is a very real thing, it’s an absolute reality. A person is all the time being guided by their divine. Life’s supreme intelligence all the time is guiding you, but we’re not awakened to that because we have such strong beliefs about what we think God is or isn’t, how it works in our life or it doesn’t. Life mirrors that for us, unfortunately. But when a person starts awakening, they start actually seeing the hand of some kind of supreme intelligence in their lives, it starts this journey of realization eventually, where they go, “Wow, it’s inside of me and it sits in my heart.” And then it comes down to that higher teaching. How I relate to it, my beliefs towards it is how it responds back to me. And when a person catches onto that, a great unlearning takes place, they can start unlearning bad habits and start developing very good habits to strengthen that bond. And that what’s make a saint or a sage a saint or sage, is a being who has a vastly powerful connection to their personal divine and that’s an endless journey. When a person has a very powerful connection to their divine, they’re a great help to others.
Wow, this has been such an amazing, beautiful conversation. I hate to cut it short, but we do need to wrap up the episode, I’d love to have you back and we could go deeper on all the stuff. How would people take the next step with you, because you teach weekly webcasts and things like that, how would they take the next step with you?
Sure. I just have a website, it’s douglasbentley.com. Every other week, I come on live stream and give talks on spirituality and I have online classes that people can attend, and I also travel and do retreats, etc. It’s all in my website. If somebody wants to check that out, they feel connected to attend them, I would love to connect with you.
Amazing. Alright. Thank you so much, Doug.
Thank you so much.
Yeah. I’m very excited to have you back here. We’ll do that some time this year. Listeners, go ahead and check out Doug’s website and sign up for his email list and start attending his weekly events. I think you’re going to love it. This is Stephan Spencer, your host of The Optimized Geek, signing off. We’ll catch you on the next episode.
Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Nurture my spirit. I must take care of my spiritual needs to find balance and clarity in life.
Find a community and a mentor who can help and support my spiritual awakening.
Know the difference between an awakened state and awakening. An awakened state is temporary whereas awakening is becoming aware and in tune with myself and others.
Keep my self-awareness intact and balance my state of consciousness. This will help me in my journey of awakening.
Let go of my ego. Ego is the inner voice that promotes self-centeredness. Spiritual awakening is all about selfless actions.
Treat God as an experience more than a belief. Find it in people and nature by staying present and grateful.
Take care of my body by eating healthy and exercising. My physical state is my spirit’s temple therefore it should be regularly taken care of.
Don’t forget about my mental health. My mind is very powerful and positive thoughts bring forth positive events.
Strengthen my relationships with the people I love. Finding balance within myself depends on how I treat others around me.
Reset and refocus. True awakening is a constant journey wherein I need to evaluate myself and reflect.
About Douglas Bentley
Douglas Bentley was a monk for 9 years in India. He was asked by his Spiritual Master to move back to USA and start teaching spirituality.
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