Cultivating the Direct Experience of the Self

When the self in you becomes aware of itself rather than of objects, attention placed on objects decreases and the awareness of Self—the Eternal Subject, that which has never changed—increases and becomes more powerful and magnetic with further practice.
— Bentinho Massaro

This blog post is a transcript from a talk Bentinho recently gave in India.

**After 30 minutes of silence, Bentinho welcomes everybody who came to attend and begins his talk.**

Bentinho: The most powerful teaching is silence. However, if you don’t know silence, if you don’t know what to direct your attention to, then the silence is not that productive. So, I will speak about it a little bit. There’s no right or wrong. You can’t offend me; so just be completely at ease.

From Awareness of Objects to Awareness of Self

The discovery that we’re after is not knowledge; it’s not information. Rather, we want to gain experience of the Self; to gain the experience of what we are, which no knowledge can touch. Knowledge can’t take us there, ultimately. What's helpful is to make a few distinctions that the mind can understand—a few key understandings that will help us in allowing our attention to become aware of what we are.

First of all, let's make the distinction between the Self and the not-self. We could say the Self is the subject (even though that's not entirely accurate) and the not-self is the objects. Objects mean misery to some degree. As the Buddha said, "Life is suffering." As long as we are aware of objects, as long as there is an object-based sense of self, we will suffer to some extent. If the objects are pleasurable, we will suffer less. If the objects are painful or confronting or catalytic, then the suffering is greater. To one who has matured into wisdom, any object-based relationship feels like suffering because it is not Truth.

We can either be object-oriented and object-aware, or we can be aware of Self; we can be aware of what we are. Whereas awareness of objects is suffering to a greater or lesser degree; Awareness of Self is bliss to a greater or lesser degree—depending on how fully our attention is absorbed… how fully our Awareness is aware of Self rather than objects. As awareness of Self increases, peace and bliss, vastness and oneness increase as well.

You want to become aware of the potential, the possibility, and the opportunity for your attention to shift from being focused on objects to being aware of Self. What is Self? Self can only be felt or experienced. It can only be experienced as oneself—as that which is not an object. Self is that which is aware of objects. When the Self becomes aware of itself rather than aware of objects, attention placed on objects decreases and disappears and the awareness of Self—the Eternal Subject, that which has never changed—becomes more prominent, more self-evident and more powerful in one's experience.

Instead of focusing on what you see, begin to focus on the seeing itself, or on the seer. We could also say focus on being, because ultimately seeing is being and being is seeing. If you become aware of the fact that you are currently looking or seeing, you will increase the awareness of seeing and you will find that objects will start leaving your attention—even if only for a few seconds at a time. For a few seconds, the world of objects disappears and the sense of a deeper me or the sense I exist, I am, I am seeing (not the words but the direct experience of I AM) becomes aware of itself. Instantly you find some form of ease, some form of liberation. With practice, you will become more of that and less aware of the world. There is nothing wrong with the world—except that it doesn't exist.

Note: To ensure your mind does not distort this last statement and turn it into a conceptual ideology or a nihilistic approach toward everyday life, here’s a rule of thumb to apply: outwardly act as if the world does exist (i.e., be kind and helpful to people and take responsibility for yourself), but inwardly we want to act as if the world does not exist (realize it’s an illusory projection existing only inside of consciousness, not outside or independent from awareness).

The mind is conditioned to be aware of objects pretty much all the time. It is aware of things; it is seeking for objects. Without objects, it's quite helpless. It doesn't quite know what to think or what to think of itself. It doesn't know how to know itself. In the naked, empty void of objects, the mind reaches, grasps and seeks for more objects of knowledge, more concepts—something to know itself by. But anything used to know yourself by or through is secondary; it is not direct. It is not I-Am, but rather I am this or I am that—I am this object, I am this person, I am this body, I am this world, I am these finances, I am this relationship, I am this emotion, and so on. We all know this state.

Life in the state of object-focus equals suffering to a greater or lesser degree. Again, the Self is not knowledge, at least not in the typical sense. It's awareness. It can only be directly experienced by Awareness or Consciousness itself.

Instead of focusing on what you see, begin to focus on the seeing itself, or on the seer.
— Bentinho Massaro

Imagine There Is No World

All we've ever known ourselves through or by is this idea of ‘the world of form.’ We've only known reflections of ourselves, we’ve only ever decided we are something based on what we see, hear, touch or think about. Our self-knowledge has been entirely based on thoughts, beliefs, and inference; most of us have never known ourselves directly.

So, to make this easier, it's really helpful to pretend or imagine that there is no world. Allow attention to snap loose from the mind (which is object-based) and instead become aware of the sense of me that is deeper than the idea of me. This is the feeling of I exist, I-Am. It comes with a clarity, a lucidity, an awareness.

For a moment, just imagine that the world doesn't exist; that the world never happened. You may find your body relaxing; you may experience a sigh of release. Pretend for a moment that you have no world to return to, to think about, or to be responsible for. What if there is no world? What if you don’t have a life that you have to attend to? What happens to your attention when you really imagine this? What happens to your Awareness when it's freed up to become aware of Now, of Being, of Self?

You see, the idea that you have a world to attend to is usually very distracting to spiritual/meditation practice. It creates many objects of attention and unrest; it pulls the mind out of the Self. It creates ideas and memories of what you are and heavy feelings to go along with it, etc.

But before all that, you already are. So for the time of your intended meditation, pretend the world simply doesn't exist and rejoice in seeing what happens to your attention when there is no world to return to. See if, even if just for a moment, you become aware of a stream of Consciousness, a soothing feeling of being, of existing. This is the feeling of Consciousness becoming aware of its own consciousness; of the fact that it's aware. This is Awareness watching Awareness, or Awareness being Awareness, or ‘staying with the I AM or I Exist.’

If you noticed such a moment… that stream of consciousness noticing itself, then that’s it! That was a brief, subtle, beginner’s moment of Enlightenment. You’ve found the entrance to the rabbit hole that will take you deeper into Bliss, if you dare follow it down into the mystery of Self.

That brief moment of Self-recognition, is you BEGINNING to directly know your self as the Self, rather than as a series of ideas you believe in, based on the assumption of an independently existing world which you’ve let define you, and that has pulled a veil over your Soul. The practice described today is the antidote to the illness of indirect—and therefore ultimately wrong—self-knowledge or self-awareness. This is the experiential, practicable science of Self-Realization, or Enlightenment. And anyone can do it, because everyone is already the Self.

You will have little glimpses at first, but it will become easier and easier. The stream of Consciousness becomes experientially ‘thick’, like oil. At first it's like little droplets of water, hard to grasp and very subtle. Easy to dry off from and forget. But as you let go of the sense of an external world more and more in your periods of meditation, and turn attention to attention itself, the stream of Self-Awareness becomes thick like a stream of oil. Oil is not so easy to wipe off and forget. It sticks with you for much longer, even after your moments of direct Self-Awareness.

So again: when you're in meditation, pretend the world doesn't exist—that it never happened, that you have no responsibilities for anyone or anything. For that period of time, the world is not there. This allows attention to become aware of the seer and the seeing; the Is-ing, the Being, the I-Am that is already here.

What you are is already here; therefore it cannot be created by anything you do—you will never create it through thought, knowledge, any type of activity, reflection or even meditation. You will merely discover it. You are not responsible for creating your True Self. It already exists. What you are is timeless and eternal, therefore it must already be here. It has simply gone unnoticed; it has simply been overlooked. It has been replaced with attention on illusory objects and concepts.

This is the experiential, practicable science of Self-Realization, or Enlightenment. And anyone can do it, because everyone is already the Self.
— Bentinho Massaro

All you have to do is allow what is naturally present to become known to your attention in a very effortless, gentle and relaxed way. Don’t try to force anything. Simply give up the world and become aware of what remains. What is the natural sense of being here now? That is your access point in meditation. Meditation is nothing other than being aware of Self versus being aware of the world, which no one has ever experienced outside of their own definitions anyway. That’s the illusion: we believe the world we define is actually there the way we see it in our minds.

But without our definitions—in direct experience of the only thing we can rely on to always be true: the direct state of I AM—where is ‘the world’ in that state, if you’re honest? Are you ever directly experiencing a world?

You have to bring back inference, assumptions, thoughts, ideologies, references and descriptions before the world comes rushing back into your Awareness, which you in turn assert or assume to be ‘real’ just because you’ve generated an experience of it using thoughts, descriptions, definitions, etc. And as soon as you re-assert that the world is real, you suffer to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the circumstances you are fabricating with your mind.

Take a Moment Every Day

Take a moment every day to let ‘the experience of the world’ be left alone, and become aware of the Self that is right here, right now. Allow the stream of Consciousness to pick up flow inside you. Again, at first it starts out like little drops of water, then it becomes like a more constant stream of water. After that it becomes like a continuous thick stream of oil. The experience of yourself as the subject, with practice, becomes almost solid, almost like an object—a foundational object underneath all illusory, temporary objects; it becomes tangible.

It's like a thick stream of oil running through your awareness creating a sense of ease, a sense of I-Am, a sense of clarity and lucidity, and a deep sense of unconditional love. It becomes intense and palpable; you can taste it and you can rest in it, take shelter in it. Then simply wake up more in that stream. Intensify it. Allow more and more of your attention to be drawn to it. The stream becomes magnetic; it becomes attractive. It starts to pull you in. Self knowledge—direct, immediate attention on Self—is the most delicious, the most fragrant, the most true state of Being.

Every perception confirms that you’re already here. Every thought confirms that you’re already aware of the thought. Every emotion confirms that you’re already here to witness the emotion.
— Bentinho Massaro

With practice, this will become more and more automatic in your everyday life, even while the mind is operating in the world. When the mind is operating in the world, it’s a little harder to maintain, but it's not impossible. Set aside periods of time for meditation every day, and take short moments throughout your daily activities in which you remind yourself that the Self is not an object—that ultimately, the world is an illusion, a projection, a perception inside of Consciousness, inside of Self.

The Self is all-encompassing; it transcends whatever perception may arise. Just like a movie projected on the screen, the light that is projected through the images will always be the light. The screen will always be the screen. The movie is projected on top of the screen, just like the world is projected on top of the I-Am, or Consciousness—the pure existence that we are and that we share.

To be aware of the world is to forget the Self. To be aware of the Self is to forget the world. One brings suffering to a greater or lesser extent, and one brings bliss to a greater or lesser extent. One is false to a greater or lesser extent; one is true to a greater or lesser extent.

(You will find three videos spread out throughout this article. They are on a very similar topic and you might find them valuable in your deepening, but these videos are not from the session from which this text was taken.)

You Exist Prior to Knowledge

You exist before knowledge, do you not? Before you can know anything conceptually, verbally, intellectually—using thought—you first have to be here; you first have to exist. Therefore, the prerequisite to ALL knowledge and perception is I AM. Before the world is known to you, you must already be here first, only to then generate the perception of ‘a world’ later on.

Being is already here; it is simply obscured by the thinking mind. But in truth, it is right here. And it's radiant, it's self-luminous, it's thick like oil, it's bright, it's dense, it's solid. It is more solid than the world. And yet it is free and open like the sky. Untouchable.

The I AM isn't a vague, abstract concept. It's formless, yes, so it's difficult for the mind to recognize it, but it isn’t vague; it’s right here now in you hearing these words! The mind is used to perceiving form—shapes, sizes, dimensions, labels, concepts and words. So it's difficult for the mind to grok the formless; it's almost impossible for it to understand or see something that doesn't have form or dimension. But you are more than just your mind, and recognizing the formless Self becomes possible simply by remembering that you are… that you exist… that you are aware.

In order for you to know any kind of form, you must first be here. There is an existence that is prior to anything you can perceive. Every perception confirms that you're already here. Every thought confirms that you're already aware of the thought. Every emotion confirms that you're already here to witness the emotion. Otherwise, how could you even talk about the emotion? How could you get lost in the emotion if you weren't first present to it? To whom could a thought arise and be believed in, if you weren’t already existent and conscious?

Simply stay tuned to the Self. It will deepen, it will carve itself out. It will expand to reveal itself as the essence of everything and beyond. All you have to do is become aware of the deepest, innermost sense of me, of I exist. That is the teacher. That is the guru. That is the guide.
— Bentinho Massaro

Stop believing in the world of thoughts, emotions, forms, relationships, businesses and so on, for at least a chunk of time every day, and for brief moments throughout your daily activities. Allow for the stream of Consciousness to begin to know itself; for the peace and bliss to begin to show itself. It is already here, but that doesn't mean that no work is required. A little bit of effort is required. To get to know it, you must place the attention there. You must inquire. But once you’re able to experientially identify the isness of being, which comes with the clarity of self-awareness, returning to it throughout the day becomes incrementally easier. Especially with some dedication.

Be curious. All that this requires is genuine curiosity.

Notice how when you see a very young child playing in the yard or even just sitting down, they are curious. They have no labels yet for themselves; they don't speak language yet. They mainly just are. And from that isness, from that empty, naked beingness, they may see a bug or a plant or they may hear a sound. And there's a curiosity about what it is. They are not yet lost in the head; they are still open, bright, awake and unfiltered, for the most part. You want to go back to that state and explore it consciously—it's your natural state. That same curiosity can be applied to the Self, so that Awareness becomes inquisitive, aware and curious about itself, rather than focused on the endless array of carrots the world dangles in front of our faces every day—luring us away from eternal happiness and superconsciousness.

Don't look for objects. Take 2 to 5-second moments throughout the day and radically forget all about objects. Drop the whole world for that instant. Become aware that you are. Become aware of what naturally remains when you’re not thinking. Every time you do this, the stream of Consciousness becomes thicker, more delicious, more fragrant, more activated. In essence, the experience that you are, is God. It is the essential Self in all things. If you can become aware of the subject, that's your doorway. Your individual sense of I AM is like an open door to Brahman, or God, or the Universal I AM.

The individuated I AM is not separate from the universal I AM. When you're inside your house looking through a window, you can see what's outside—you can see what is ‘universal’ to all neighbors. You're inside your little individuated home and you feel like you're an entity over here that is bound to this location, this space and time, this life. But the essence of your I AM is actually everywhere all at once; there is no limitation to it. This truth generally does not experientially present itself until some time into your dedicated practice, but it is definitely possible and it merely awaits your will to discover it.

There is a point in the practice of I AM where your individual sense of I exist begins to expand. This happens when attention is purely placed on I AM, and associations such as body, mind, world, relationships, space and time start to be filtered out during your meditations. In other words, the additions your mind has placed on the Pure Existence-Bliss-Self begin to fall away.

During this process, your very own everyday consciousness begins to become aware of its universality, its totality, its all-transcending nature; its inseparability with God. This is where liberation begins—when the individual realizes experientially that the personal sense of I AM is not separate from the Great I AM, the omnipresent I AM, the all-pervading I AM (also sometimes called the I-I).

You will begin to intuit, to instinctively understand and see and know, that what you are is All. You are not just here and now; you are All. The same essence that is present here and now is present as the essence of all of Creation. This can only be experienced directly and it is truly magical when it begins to occur. You will, probably for the first time in your life, know the true meaning of the word BLISS.

Simply stay tuned to the Self. It will deepen, it will carve itself out. It will expand to reveal itself as the essence of everything and beyond. All you have to do is become aware of the deepest, innermost sense of me, of I exist. That is the teacher. That is the guru. That is the guide. That is the fishing line that will reel in happiness, peace, bliss, oneness, and Self awareness. Just stay with the deepest sense of I exist, I exist, I exist...

Any time we judge or hold an opinion about a situation, we are effectively disagreeing with God and the fact that all things are God.
— Bentinho Massaro

You Exist Prior to Experiences

Everything you experience is confirmation that you exist.

Let's say a situation arises between you and your partner or your sister or your boss. Or just between you and yourself. You can either focus on your description of that situation—what it is, what it means, where it comes from—or you can see it as a confirmation that you exist prior to it. It is only because you exist that the situation can be there... Let this really sink in: If you didn't first exist, the situation would not even be experienced. Recognizing this foundational fact throughout every situation can become gratitude in the deepest sense of the word. You can become aware and grateful for the fact that none of your complaints would even exist if you didn't first exist.

Turn your complaints into a source of gratitude, rather than perpetuate further complaint. Any time we judge or hold an opinion about a situation, we are effectively disagreeing with God and the fact that all things are God. We are actively enhancing egotism, separation and suffering.

As soon as we imagine or remember there is no world, the mind loses a lot of fuel for ‘describing the world’, and protecting itself with these descriptions and labels and categories. The mind is only doing this because it believes there is an actual world to begin with, which if we’re honest, will only ever remain an assumption.

If we believe there is no world, at least during meditation, then almost all of the reasons for the mind to think and distract us from our chosen focus disappear. As more of our attention is detached from the mind, which is always projecting a world, our focus becomes available to us to use instead for realization of the Self, which is already here and eternally free and glorious.

Can you feel this? I AM… This is not a thought; it is the recognition that you exist before your thoughts. Train your attention to become more aware of this. Don't believe that these periods of meditation and recognition should look a certain way or be for a certain amount time. Over time, you will naturally become less distracted by your millions of assumptions of a world. Just take these moments throughout the day. Be grateful for the fact that you exist, and that if you didn’t already exist, you wouldn’t experience your suffering to begin with.

So the next time you are tempted to complain about your suffering, take a moment instead and turn it into existential gratitude. "I could not suffer if I didn't first exist. I could not have this opinion or this emotional trigger if I didn’t exist prior to this appearance." Everything is appearing to you as Consciousness; there's a you that knows of the appearance. Become more aware of this seeing, this being, this is-ing, this knowing. Know the knower rather than what appears to be known by the knower.

Know the knower, be the being, see the seer. Ponder this and make it your mantra. When you do this, a shift will happen. It's like something clicks in Consciousness. It's unusual at first because you're not used to it. Simply, gradually and gently (but with some effort and dedication), commit to being curious enough to make this click experiential. Develop it, make it more usual. Shift from thinking to noticing Being.

It's like an experiential click—for a moment, you get it; you lock onto a deeper sense of yourself. And then two seconds later, it seems to be gone; forgotten. That's OK. Repeat it. Identify the feeling of ‘I exist and I am aware’ again. Keep repeating the two seconds of stopping the mind and recognizing what remains. Two seconds will become five seconds. Five seconds will become 10 seconds. And 10 seconds will start to naturally arise, even when you're not intending it.

Your mind will become more transparent to its underlying Self. When you're interacting with the world, you may not be as pristinely aware of Being, but with practice, the mind will become more transparent to this deeply divine sense of Pure Ever-Present Timeless Existence.

Even while you're talking to someone, there will be a greater and greater percentage of your Awareness that will be aware of the deeper unified Existence in all beings. For example, you might be talking to a person, and perhaps they are triggered. Or perhaps you are triggered; your emotions are flaring up. Maybe you're talking about something that went wrong or something that should be amended or who should take responsibility for something. You're engaged in the dialog, perhaps even going into the drama (which can serve a purpose on a relative level; it's not necessarily a negative thing). But even while you're interacting to that extent with the mind, if you've practiced enough of the short moments of clicking into I exist before the mind, before thoughts, then the sense of I exist becomes all-encompassing; it becomes like an all-pervasive space.

Then you're having the dialog, but you're having it inside of the space of pure existence. You can choose to be more aware of that space or to be less aware of it and more aware of the drama and endless, mostly fruitless descriptions. Either way, with practice the mind will become more transparent to the natural state.

Can you feel this? I AM… This is not a thought; it is the recognition that you exist before your thoughts.
— Bentinho Massaro

Look for that click in which you simply remember that you exist. That's it. Just for a second remember that you are and notice that I AM has consciousness/lucidity. Notice that there's an awareness, a knowingness, the direct experience of I exist. A few seconds is enough to begin with, but repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. Then, depending on where you're at in your life and what your interest level is, you will either go more in this direction or you will just use it as a casual tool to bring a little more peace into the suffering-filled existence of your illusory separate identity.

Over time, as you suffer more and more and you see that your arguments don't really work—that your opinions don't give you lasting peace, joy or harmony—you will begin to mature. You will grow up, becoming wiser and wiser.

What is wisdom? Wisdom is usually born out of suffering and repeated experience, or cycles. As wisdom develops, your desires shift from everything you think you want, to desiring to rest in the bliss and peace and purity of the Self. You go from petty-minded wants and needs, to opening the inner eye to God, the Creator, the Infinite Principle in all things.

Again, all this beauty and enlightenment is most directly accessible through the experiential recognition that I exist before thoughts. This is the gateway, the door. The door is wide open and it leads to the Greater Self. But you have to approach the door; you have to go deeper into it. Some of you may become more interested in fully exploring this, and some of you may just be more casually interested because you have a lot of stuff to do. Which is cool. I have a lot of stuff to do too.

The more intense your desire is for this (God/Self/Source), the fewer the obstacles there will be to it. All obstacles are illusory and they disappear as soon as you want it badly enough. Life is suffering, but bliss is possible.

Know the knower, be the beingness, see the seer… Ponder this and make it your mantra.
— Bentinho Massaro

Buddha's first noble truth is Life is suffering. Buddha's third noble truth is There is an end to suffering. This requires a different understanding; a different attitude and focus. It requires that you shift from objects to objectlessness—from world to Self. The mind that has for many years been engaged with the world has a very difficult time embracing this as a valid concept. To give oneself eternally to the formless Self seems like a negation of the world. And it is. But the more you do it, the more you see that the world never really existed. You see that there is an intelligence behind the entire illusory phenomenon we see as the Universe, and that it’s OK to be left as it is.

You know how the scriptures say that everything is an illusion, that it's all maya? You will begin to experience this directly and your fears about what that means for you and your life will begin to be answered with experiential conviction that these are, in truth, non-issues. They are made up.

This doesn't mean you become an asshole; that you stop doing the things you're responsible for. There is an Intelligence that takes over the separate ego. You will be able to perform most of your duties and responsibilities. You will stop doing some of them out of free will because you will see that they no longer make sense. But you won’t be incapacitated and unable to act, operate and to take responsibility. You will most likely begin to simplify your life—which wouldn’t be a bad thing for most of us anyway, regardless of our passion for true Enlightenment.

An Intelligence will guide the body and the mind to make decisions according to a deeper connection rooted in Awareness, rather than coming from a biased, conditioned and reactive mind-program. You will be plugged into the motherboard of all of Existence, so your actions will be inspired by a sense of Oneness, a sense of freedom and harmony for all. They will be less based on "I feel separate, I am suffering, and I need this or else I will suffer more." Decisions will come not from need, but from an abundant sense of wholeness which is followed by a natural courage, humility, sincerity and nobility. [The transcript continues below the video.]

Q & A Session

The Intelligence of Childlikeness

Questioner 1: Can childishness be a form of Intelligence?

Bentinho: Let's call it childlikeness. The term childish generally describes someone who is overly attached to their own ideas, as well as stubborn. But someone who is childlike has spontaneity. There is a spontaneity and a naturalness to the being and behavior of infants and young children. You will find that the more you let go of the mind-based identity, the more childlike you become, in some ways at least. You will also become more quiet and wise.

There are a few moods you will notice naturally arise the more you trust in the Self and let go of your control on your body, mind and its projected version of ‘the world.’ These moods typically range from sort of a deep seriousness, sincerity, earnestness, ‘no-bullshit allowed,’ love for truth and focus, to sort of a light-hearted childlike playfulness that is spontaneous, free, contagious, silly and unfiltered. In the spectrum between these two your outward life as an expression of Source, will flow. To others, you will seem somewhere in the range of serious, deep and mysterious, to perhaps silly and playful. So yes, there is definitely an Intelligence to childlikeness; one that is inherent to the Self.

The Usefulness of Mantras

Questioner 2: I sometimes experience an emotional charge that makes me forget myself. In these situations, is a mantra or knowledge useful?

Bentinho: A mantra is a tool. Certain tools, like mantras, offer us insight. They are like a thought that carries a certain vibrational wisdom, which acts like a pointer pointing us back to Self. You don't forget yourself when you become emotionally charged; you forget yourself and then you become emotionally charged. So if you are emotionally charged, this means you've already forgotten yourself. We tend to increase this forgetting as soon as the trigger or charge arises by narrowing our focus around it. Then we really feel the extent of our forgetfulness.

So yes, it’s helpful to have some kind of intellectual thought to hold onto at first; to weed out the emotional stuff. We need a thought such as, "This is what my teacher told me," or "This is God," or "This is what will lead me back to the I AM." Find one that works for you; one that's as direct as possible in pointing you back to pure Existence.

The Magnetic Pull of Awareness

Questioner 3: The more you are in Awareness, it becomes magnetic?

Bentinho: Yes, it becomes magnetic. The world-based personality begins to be absorbed into the Self.

Questioner 3: So my Awareness is pulling me inward?

Bentinho: Yes. It’s always pulling you, but we've built up so much stuff that we usually don't feel it. But when you become aware that everything except Awareness is suffering and ultimately delusional, this shows that wisdom and maturing are happening. Because right now you're still satisfied. As long as you're still satisfied with what you have, you won't have the desire to burn through all the stuff. Your life is still engaging and entertaining; it still gives you gratification and relief.

We suffer intensely and then we settle for ‘suffering a little bit less’ and we mistakenly call this peace or happiness. We say that things are going well now. But over the years to come you will see that the swing back and forth from pleasurable suffering to painful suffering is still only ever suffering. You will also see that it truly has no end. Seeing this will tire out your allegiance to the personality’s never ending hope for redemption in form, or even its notion that in the embrace of the suffering is found the end of suffering, which is only very partially true.

You will stop believing in the hopes and desires and expectations that the mind projects into an illusory timeline. And then, very naturally, that which is already here and without time, begins to know itself more pristinely, more clearly and more directly. The density of Light, of Consciousness, becomes more intense, like turning up the brightness of a lightbulb. The sense of Awareness becomes radiant and magnetic like the Sun. A gravitational field develops and sucks in the mind, and it becomes harder for the mind to escape from this radiant Black Hole at the center of the Light of All That Is.

First the mind will be sucked into the Light of the Universal I AM, which we could also call the Essence of All That Is. Later on, even the Self will become magnetically absorbed into the black hole of the One Infinite Indescribable Perfection beyond Beingness or non-Beingness. We could call this the Source of All That Is. The source of even the essence. The One which is older than God, older than the Self, older than the ever-present existence of Beingness-Isness-Love-Light.

Tools to Help with Meditation

Questioner 4: When I meditate I try to be aware. It comes and it pulls. But is there some tool that will make me stay there longer? It is better to practice in silence or with tools?

Bentinho: You have to find what works for you. One of the tools is to simply be aware. It's a pretty direct tool, so it may not work for you yet. Are you able to recognize that you exist?

Questioner 4: Yes.

Bentinho: Great. That’s a tool. Recognize over and over that you exist. Even during your daily routine, keep recognizing the fact that you exist.

Another tool is to imagine there is no world so that attention will drop out of the projection and back into the Light of Isness.

Another tool is to seek for the root of the mind itself. Instead of thinking, inquire: "Where or what is the mind?" It's kind of a hack. As soon as you start looking for the mind, the mind disappears and there's an increased sense of Awareness and spaciousness. Have you tried it?

Questioner 4: No, but I'm very curious to try it.

Bentinho: It's kind of like the mind doesn't see that one coming. We always talk about the mind as if it's there, or we use it to get somewhere. We even use it to meditate on something. But when you consciously look for the mind itself, with great intensity and curiosity, in that openness and attentiveness the mind is suddenly not there! And we then begin to wake up to this pristine space of I exist or Existence itself.

Another tool is to see that whatever arises, it is not you because you're there as the observer. Are you your hand? Are you this pillow? Does this pillow define what you are? No, because you are there being aware of it. There's a you that's aware of the pillow. There's a you that's aware of your hand; you wouldn't ever say that you are your hand.

It's the same with thoughts. If you notice that you are aware of the thoughts in the mind, in that moment you know that you can't possibly be that which you see. For that split second, there are no objects in your attention. You might not notice it at first, but looking back upon that moment of clarity you will realize, “Actually, there was no sense of an object; there was only me being aware of being aware; me being aware of pure and lucid existence."

That is a small moment of enlightenment, a small moment of awakening. If you repeat this many times throughout the day it will become more automatic, more of a habit, more natural. But it does require some effort, and the effort follows your desire for it. The more you desire it, the less effort is needed. Effort really is a way of trying to compensate for your lack of desire. "I don't really want to, but I know I should," or "I know it's good for me so I'm going to try really hard." But if you want it more than anything, there's no real feeling of effort, even when you’re focusing intensely. You're just there, you're just being it, wanting it more than anything else, and so you’re not as easily distracted by other experiences that will show up along the way of your practice. With proper desire, it is much easier to stay focused. And more fun too.

Like anything in life, even on the relative plane, you always have that which you really really want. If you don't have it, then you don't really want it. If you have it, you somehow must want it. You are infinitely powerful, so if you really didn't want a particular thing in your life or, if you really didn't want to believe that you're separate, you wouldn't. Therefore, you must have other priorities. And this is OK; it's not a judgment. But it does cause you endless suffering. Just notice that.

This is how we gain understanding of what we've been doing all our lives from a state of conditioning. It's very humbling and sobering and helpful to acknowledge that you don't really want what was talked about today. You think you want it—and there must be a little bit of an appeal there, otherwise you wouldn't have shown up—but if you really wanted it, you would have it. You would be it. So you still have other priorities.

This is the maturation process—a playing out of the desires that are based in delusion and separation. You play them out over and over again, hoping they will lead you to the end of suffering. But they never do. They just lead to temporary moments of pleasurable suffering. To the sage, associating oneself with pleasurable moments is still suffering; they still hurt. Pleasure is nothing compared to the bliss of the Infinite; there is no pleasure that could ever approach it. Once you've tasted infinite bliss, even once, you realize that Buddha's statement was literal, that life as we know it (not the True life, but life as we know it) equals suffering.

You can't escape this, no matter how much pleasure you experience. If pleasure is based on the delusion of separation, on the delusion of a separate self, it will always carry with it the undertone of suffering, because it's not true. You are not a separate individual. in fact, ultimately, you’re not even an individual at all—it's a mistaken identity that can never attain happiness. Happiness is the nature of All That Is. You have to pause your cultivated feeling of self long enough to become aware of the Isness, the Existence that is all you are. You are making up stories that you’re something in addition to Existence, but there is no proof of it; you only have assumptions (a lot of them). In one moment of clarity, you will see as Existence sees, as the Creator sees, and you will shift closer into the purity of Being.

Use any tool that works for you. At first, your tools might be a mantra or thinking about something or doing something. But as you make a little bit more progress and your desire increases, you will feel that you can go there, which is here, much more directly. This is because your desire is there. If you really want it, your attention will guide you. Honestly, that guru, that principle of going from darkness to light, is innate in all of us, and it's activated through desire.

If we desire something strongly enough out in the world, we will create it, we will attract it. This is the same principle of desire I’ve been talking about today, except applied outwardly—to a place where there can never be full happiness or truth. This same principle operates when turning within. As we turn inward towards the Creator—the essence of all things, the True Self—if we want it, something becomes activated. We start being of a higher intelligence, of a higher Consciousness.

This applies to every life form. If the desire is there, the teaching instantly becomes available internally; you don't need someone to teach you at that point. You only need someone to teach you now because you haven't yet discovered how to activate that desire. But from that desire follows everything you need, always—both in the relative world, as well as in the Absolute direction.

So for now, use whatever tool makes you feel the closest to that sense of Presence before the mind. Over time you won't need a tool, you will simply recognize it, in fact you will simply be it and increase the brightness of the being of it. It will become obvious that you are not the thoughts. It will become obvious that you are not the emotions. It will become obvious that you are not the body. It will become obvious that you can either focus on the body, thoughts and emotions, or you can focus on the fact that you're not the body, thoughts and emotions. What remains is the Self becoming evermore aware, becoming evermore radiant, like a light bulb being turned up. This is when bliss and peace become thick like oil, become radiant and dense.

You are increasing your spiritual mass. This is not the mass of matter, but the mass of Spirit, the mass of Awareness. Humans are generally very dense in matter because of their focus on the world, but that density of matter can become a higher density of Spirit, a density of Self, of Consciousness, of Love, of Bliss. You can become more dense, more vibrant, more densely packed with an awareness of the One True Life. This requires desire and meditation. The greater the desire, the less meditation is required; the less the desire, the more meditation is required.

So start by meditating. Meditate more and more, and that meditation will activate desire. And then that desire will remove the need for meditation, because again—whatever you want, you have. You have to become intense. When you want Self at the exclusion of all else, then you will have it—instantly. There will not be a second of delay. The moment you want it more than anything else, it opens up right then and there.

But we generally want to pursue it like a hobby right? Like going to a grocery store and getting a bag of chips. “Oh, I'd like a little bit of enlightenment…” We go on with our separate lives for a while and we notice that the fridge is getting empty; our lives are getting empty of peace. “I'm in need of a little bit of peace, so let me go to the grocery store. Let me go to satsang. Let me go and abuse this teacher’s time, because I really don't want the Self. I just need to restock my hobbies, my pantry, so that I can continue to suffer more according to my own arrogant beliefs.” *chuckles*

But if you want Self more than anything else, then everything I’ve just said makes so much sense. It's like all my words come flooding back in, and the true meaning is exposed. You realize how little of what I’ve said you understood before. A soon as the degree of your desire for this increases, you are instantly more intelligent. Instantly! With no brain training, no discipline, no focus, no meditation. When you want it more than anything else, you’re suddenly vastly more intelligent and aware of your own tricks, thoughts and delusions… and everything you've ever heard on the topic makes sense to a whole new degree. It instantly becomes embodied and experiential. You'll see.  

 This picture was taken during the actual session that you are right now reading as a transcript. The man sitting to Bentinho’s left is 96 years old. He refused to take a chair when everyone else was sitting on the floor. He sat cross-legged without a single complaint and hardly any motion for 2 hours. He has trouble hearing, so he could not hear the session. Still, he showed up. We transcribed the audio so he could read it afterwards.

This picture was taken during the actual session that you are right now reading as a transcript. The man sitting to Bentinho’s left is 96 years old. He refused to take a chair when everyone else was sitting on the floor. He sat cross-legged without a single complaint and hardly any motion for 2 hours. He has trouble hearing, so he could not hear the session. Still, he showed up. We transcribed the audio so he could read it afterwards.

In Closing: An Alternative Hack — Immediate Confidence and Faith

Remember—you are already That. You just have to allow your confidence to arise. Become convinced of the fact that you could not possibly be anything else but the One Infinite Creator; the Supreme Being that pervades All That Is. How could you ever be separate from That? There is only one infinite Existence. There is not one infinite Existence and then you. There is one infinite Existence that gave birth to the form which you started associating with the Self. In truth, you have never been that form; you have never been anything but the True Existence which generated that form as inseparable part of the Grand Illusion of experience. Rest in that confidence.

If you find it hard to focus or meditate, simply relax completely. Allow yourself to be exactly as you are. There are no bad thoughts and there are no good thoughts. There is no right or wrong in what can arise in the emotions or in the desires or in the beliefs. It's all perfect, and ultimately not real nor lasting. So let it be, and simply reach for that confidence using a mantra, if you will. The mantra becomes less verbal and more experiential over time. The mantra is to become more confident in the fact that you are God. That you are All. That you are the Supreme. That you are liberated. That you are already free.

Use any of these sentences, or all of them—whatever works best for you; whatever clicks you into a deeper state of peace and confidence:

I am already perfect.

I am already free.

The mind is just thinking, the body is just doing, the emotions are is raging, but I am already That One Infinite Freedom..  

I am already liberated.

Become more and more convinced of this.

This is a form of Faith. Without the need for actual experience or meditative confirmation, go straight to the confidence that you would have after direct experience with the Self. Start with the confidence and the experience will follow. Instead of experiencing the Self and then becoming confident in your infinite perfection and letting it permeate your whole understanding, do it the other way around.

It's another hack. For some people this works better because it doesn’t require as much stopping of the thoughts or investigating. It's simply pretending, as in fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend that you are already Self-Realized, but not as a thought. Stay with it; it's a sincere mantra. This is not something you say to your neighbor because it feels good and your ego gets a boost. There must be a sincere desire and intention behind it, and with that sincere desire you can state to yourself:

I am already enlightened.

I am already the fully liberated state.

I am already that Infinite, Timeless, Formless Awareness.

I am already God and beyond.

I am already the infinite peace in and beyond all beings.

Choose the words that work for you; whatever represents to you the state you desire. Grow confident in that achievement, without any proof of that achievement!

It's sort of like a poor man pretending to be rich. What does it feel like for the poor man to be rich, even though he hasn't started a company yet? He doesn't have the experiential proof of being rich. He skips all that and goes straight to the feeling of being rich and then allows the means for that to show up.

It's kind of like that. Become more convinced. Have faith, in other words. Faith means that you know something without knowing it yet. You know it without proof. Without any kind of evidence, you believe it anyway. To have faith means to have faith in that which is not yet seen or experienced. Can you have faith in the fact that you are ultimately free? That you are the Absolute Self? That you are one with all things? Can you cultivate faith in that?

And then the meditation will follow. The experience, the clarity, the sense of freedom will follow from that faith exercise. It's much easier to meditate, to naturally fall into a more heightened state of Self-Awareness, from an attitude of, “I got this. I'm already That,” than it is from the state of, “I'm not there yet. I'm having too many thoughts. This is blocking it and that's blocking it. I can't do it.” It's much easier to drop into the natural state of clarity about Self, the objectless state of freedom, the sense of ease and bliss, if you meditate with the attitude that you have essentially already accomplished it, that it's already here. From that confidence, the meditation or clarity or stream of Self-Awareness will follow quite naturally. You’ll see.

Know that you are enlightened, whatever that means to you. Don't believe any other thought, don't believe any doubt, don't believe anyone else, don't believe any scripture, don't believe any teacher. You decide that you are fundamentally and ultimately already That. Stay with that confidence as much as you can, and the clarity of meditation will follow naturally. Your experience will always shift to reflect what you believe in. This applies to the external world as well as to the internal path. It is the same principle. Believe that you already have it, believe that you already are it, and suddenly the experience you thought was so difficult to obtain—as if it was behind a thick wall of ego—is right there. Why? Because your confidence took you beyond the illusory wall; it took down the illusions.

You project illusions of limitation; you project that you're not there yet. Ultimately this can all disappear. If you have enough faith, the faith will lead to meditation, and the meditation will lead to a greater capacity to have faith. They will reinforce each other, and your freedom and liberation will become more and more automatic. Your confidence will rise.

You are worthy of this! You are absolutely worthy of this bliss. You are absolutely worthy of much deeper and greater happiness. You are capable of it and you are it, in essence. You are definitely worthy of it. So accept that; accept that gift to yourself.

There is only God. Only God is, although it seems like there are many other things. There are not. Only God has Isness; only God has Existence. Everything else is a projection of thoughts. Isness equals God. Believe in Isness, disregard thoughts, and you will begin to know yourself as God.

Sometimes we just need to see that something is possible, and then we feel, “Oh! I actually  want that!” Whereas, if there is no evidence of it in our experience, we kind of forget about the possibility; we settle for a more mundane mindset. So if anything, the teacher is meant to inspire. It's not so much about learning how to do this or how to do that, which is very mental. It's more about knowing, I know I can do this; it's possible. I can see that it's possible and it's inspiring to see that it’s possible. I can drop in deeper. I can know the Knower and let that stream take me into Infinite Peace and Love.”  

Thank you all for coming here today.

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If you are fascinated by this topic and want to learn the ins and outs, and be continuously inspired to practice and drop-in using guided meditations, tools, drawings, and countless direct pointers, we highly recommend you check out Bentinho’s Self Realization School, Season 1-4 and the Sedona 12-day Retreat.

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