25 January 2014

Bentino Massaro--AMENDED 1/29

Recently Bentinho Massaro has begun charging for skype sessions at a rate of $600 an hour. Receiving 80% negative responses on Facebook for this tactic, he concluded the only explanation possible was that people were jealous (of his success).

Bentinho never thought for a moment the 80% negative comments might be telling him something about his focus on turning spirituality into a quest of fulfilling desires, and feeling good, rather than focusing on Self-Realization, knowledge, and devotional service to others.

He added that feeling jealousy meant these negative people were ready to move on past their limiting and negative core self-judgments, and join him in personal and world abundance through adjusting their “vibration” levels so as to live in “Endless Well Being and Fulfilled Desires for All.”

How is this a spiritual life?  How is this different from what Gordon Gekko of Wall Street who said: “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”?

It works like the placebo effect. You feel better for a time because an authority gave you a medicine. Sometimes that is the only thing you needed for that illness of the moment and you report to the world your cure. But it is inevitable that the good news of that happiness fades and a few months later an even bigger "illness," psychological or spiritual, will manifest itself and you begin to see through the shallowness and repetitious nature of the medicine.

Fulfilling desires is an endless treadmill of goal-directed actions in order to stay happy through actualizing the self through successful acquisition of objects or implementations of goals. You are always on the run, climbing mountains in his case.

With Bentinho we find a young man, filled with himself and his mission, with the briefest understanding of pop psychology and feel good spirituality, preaching to an unsophisticated audience, “Follow me and I will help you get whatever you want.  I will free your fettered self to claim its world thereby actualizing your “higher self.”

Bentinho next said it did not strike him as odd or unusual at all to charge $600 an hour which was a frequent criticism.  In fact, he stated:

I feel that what I offer is worth so much more than what I charge that I never feel like a fraud even if I would charge a million dollars.

This is pure narcissism. He is so carried away by his “success” to this point, that he considers his words more valuable than gold.

Let us take a closer look at his methods.

His overarching belief is that it really does not matter what is going on in the now (our inner and outer world); our problems arise from core negative beliefs about ourselves, as well as negative evaluations of others and about what it happening in the world. What we need to do is identify those negative thoughts, realize they are our thoughts, and therefore we can toss them out and create a subjective world of “endless well-being and fulfilled desires for all” by getting rid of negativity and blocking concepts.

First of all, this method does not work except as a band aid for a moment.  It suggests he believes that just by changing our evaluations about ourselves and the world, we can get what we want. If it were only that simple.  This is just magical thinking.

Ending negative thoughts about ourselves can free us to a degree and certainly make us feel better, and even make us better able to function in the world. The technique of monitoring and dropping negative self-talk is part of cognitive behavioral psychology which is known for its short-time and short term fixes. 

It is also called cognitive reframing, where we look at some point of suffering in our lives, find the thoughts that cause guilt, depression, fear, or functional blockage, and find a new interpretation that dissolves the suffering.  This usually requires outside help to get out of our frame and cast the situation in a new and conflict-free light. That is where the $600/hour consultation comes in.

For Bentinho it is always the mind that is the problem.  If the mind gets rid of negative, self-defeating concepts, it magically opens a way for desires to be fulfilled. That is, feeling positively about goals creates situations whereby they will be fulfilled, either because the mind now can find ways to succeed, or magically, opportunities will open up because you “vibrate” on a “higher” level, and “resonate” with a “higher truth” of a “higher self.”

But these methods are only effective on the level of mind and emotions and goes no deeper into our Consciousness.  It only deals with thought forms and emotions arising in the Now, and can never get deeper into the Subtle body, the unconscious mind, the Causal Body, or the Love/bliss body (Turiya) that Ramana, Nisargadatta, and Robert Adams speak of. Nor is there much room for God or grace; salvation is always my doing.

Thomas Burns summarized the cultic implications of Bentinho’s method thus:

Ed, thank you for calling this. It isn't really about Bentinho. He is representative of the very natural tendency people have for an easy answer, and the 'teachers' that emerge to cater to that need. His new thrust of late has been a wholesale copy and paste of the Law of Attraction with an Advaita cloak, 'Believe it and you can be it'. Indeed! That snake oil prophesy has found a new messenger and as always needy and eager consumers.

Bentinho is not alone in his teaching a positive spin on spirituality. The spin is so compelling because it allows his followers (more like fans!) to believe that they too can be mythic heroes in their own transformation stories. Initially cognitive shifts, insights and good feelings can come. These temporary insights can seem very convincing and the 'good' feeling states themselves can be quite addictive. A state of bliss can be an efficient way to end any real curiosity about our odd and conflicted natures. It also leads to a trend of bragging on social media about MY story of how 'I' changed, the classic Before and After picture! This creates a very public echo chamber of bliss stories and the not so subtle invitation for others to join the bandwagon. Critical discernment suffers as people self censor to stay on the side of the new 'good feeling' norm and of course, as in the case of all manner of sect like thinking, criticism and critics are slowly and surely banished, or shamed to look at the their own so called 'limiting beliefs'.

Bentinho says we can identify the negative beliefs and get rid of them.  But who or what is the "we" who is doing all this, the I?  Surely it is the mind, and the mind cannot move beyond itself to the Self, to Turiya or even most of the Subtle Body and certainly not the unconsciousness, reachable only through psychotherapy with a trained analyst.

Accessing these levels requires entirely different methods, such as following the thread of ‘I Am’ to the root of Consciousness, where true happiness, true joy, Self-Realization, and utterly complete self-confidence lie because you have found yourself at your root, rather than on the surface in the Now where the objects, feelings, and understanding are constantly changing.

Bentinho has you dealing with whatever arises in awareness in the Now which will forever hide the source that is being reflected in the Now.  You will never reach the source, the true Self, the divine aspect of You, until you follow the thread of awareness of the I Am downwards into the Self.  Otherwise you stay on the surface and do pop cognitive/behavioral psychology.

Also, Bentinho’s method of taking frequent 3-5 second "inner breaks" to get a fresh view of "what is," certainly does not compare with hundreds or thousands of hours or meditation or self-inquiry required by Advaita and other traditions as a method of discovering all aspects of yourself.  Nor do those 3 second snatches allow you to really find the empty expanse of the interior space that contains all inner phenomena, and allows for the stillness necessary to experience Consciousness lighting up by means of its own awareness.

His method also requires us to abandon discriminative wisdom which is often critical, and which arises from experience. For example, wisdom allows us to see our realistic limits, such as having no talent, yet wanting to be a famous actor, artist, or mathematician with no math ability.  Using his method we would attempt to cast off that accurate recognition of our limits in order to free ourselves to become a successful actor or mathematician (fulfilled desire).  Our desires would be at war with our own wisdom about our limitations.


The same thing about the rest of the world: there really are “bad” things in the world that just don’t go away if we don’t judge them, from wars, to dictators, to environmental degradation, to animal cruelty. In this world, our empathy for the suffering of others leads us to compassionate action to change things for the better against the status quo acceptance of misery and pain as being part of life. We become our brothers’ keeper.

36 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post, Edji. I wish more of these "spiritual" cranks could be exposed. But perhaps they and their hapless clients deserve each other. Guess the Universe is educating us all in Its own ways. Some of those ways are not very pretty.

    Serena

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  2. Yet another illustration of that old saying, "style over substance." He's just riding the wave of youth and vitality to project an illusory image that he capitalizes on. This makes him the "Matt Damon" of the spiritual world ( I reference Matt because on another spiritual site, the person running it saw the similarity of the two).

    Mark

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  3. yeah, he's young and attractive like adyashanti and the rest. makes 'em popular with the lonely housewives. the teaching is shallow, or rather, comes from a shallow place. not meaty, doesn't stick to the ribs....

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    1. Please do not compare Bentinho to Adyashanti. Adya is nothing like Bentinho.

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  4. If people are willing to hand over their cash to hear nothing much in particular.. more power to him.

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    1. Fine, except that easily results in their becoming disempowered a fate I wouldn't wish on someone so vulnerable. Instead I prefer to meet the Buddha(substitute "Bentinho" here) on the road and then slay him.

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  5. BM failed the smell test on the first whiff—full stop.

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  6. "This is pure narcissism" says it all. Pity the fool.

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  7. Unfortunatly there are many desperate people who take this shit for real.
    Better not comming in front of my car this girly Bentinho.
    Did I say that?
    Shanti :).

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  9. if people have not yet realized that they can 'feel good' by ignoring unpleasant aspects of their life, then they need this lesson. pay $600 for it? if they we're intuitive enough to understand this simple lesson out on their own, then obviously they aren't intuitive enough to realize they are being ripped off.

    look, it's not as if this guy will retain life-long cult members. people will realize this is a suface band-aid fix after some time, then will and move on to more substantial lessons. pop gurus are a necessary presence - it makes real teachers like edji stand out

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    1. Probably right on that(how transient the "pop star/guru" could be) except that being the spiritual "chameleon" he is, don't expect him to just give up without a fight. While I referred to him earlier as the "Matt Damon" in the spiritual arena he's morphing his way to becoming the Justin Bieber in that arena.

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    2. Paying $600 an hour to know that one is already the Self is a typical case of
      idiocy. The one wo charges that kind of fee and the one who is paying this are still under the delusion that one is the person in the body. LOL.

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  10. If one knows or has realized that one is the Self and not the body then he or she will know that the other person seeking help is also his/her own Self. Then this greed and nonsense of charging any fees will not happen. Only an ignorant person who feels he or she is the body and the other person is separate from him or her will charge such fees.

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  11. I forgot to mention another point. When one realizes that one has always been Self and has never been a body or an individual entity there is an automatic release of love toward one and all without preferences because there is no feeling of differences..So how can such a loving being charge $600 an hour to another who is none other than his or her own Self?

    If it is his or her livelihood and only source of income then a reasonable fee charged if any is apposite. Otherwise no fees should be charged for this kind of service. I can understand living expenses in USA is very high and Gurus also need an income just like others. But charging $600 an hour shows the person who is taking the money is deluded by ignorance and greed. The person paying such fees is an imbecilic nincompoop.

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  12. I just recently found out about BM. After seeing him interviewed on Buddha At the Gas Pump, I was curious to find out more. Then, after watching a couple of videos where he talks about "New Earth", I concluded that he's deluding himself with magical thinking. He seems to have a nose for what will sell. First, it was some form of pseudo-advaita; now it seems to be a mixture of that with Law of Attraction, some pop psychology and the "Ascension" meme--the notion of mass transformation to a higher density of consciousness, i.e. "New Earth". So far, there is not even the slightest evidence that this is happening, despite the hype from its many proponents.

    There is in BM a distinct lack of empathy and compassion for the suffering of others. He's altogether too glib in his simplistic formulae for fulfilling desires and has nothing to say about anything that goes beyond personal desires, such as social justice for humans and animals. He manifests a dangerous level of moral relativism and nihilism. So it really doesn't surprise me that he's trying to justify charging egregiously rip-off prices to exploit the needy and vulnerable.

    He looks angelic and can talk the talk. In this he reminds me of the early Franklin Jones aka Bubba Freejohn aka Adi da--another very bright narcissist--and will probably end up being just as destructive to those who follow him.

    I find your assessment very accurate. Thank you.

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  13. He will make them feel good during an hour, but after the session when they see the bank account they will come back to themselves.

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  14. Wow. This article, while attempting to make good points, could not be more wrong. I have read many different teachings from Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, THE BIBLE, many others, and they are each saying VERY similar if not the same thing. Compare Eckhart Tolle's New Earth with Bentinho's and you get very little contrast. While I am not saying the 600 dollar price is feasible for everyone, at least this way he can honestly reach out to those who are ready to release this ridiculous concept of money and work on what is important.

    Because you have a PhD does not make your words hold any validity either. I have met some incredibly stupid "educated" people. If anything I could point the finger and say YOU are unrealized within yourself because you're seeking outer fulfillment through a University and job security. What were your intentions? I am sure from different people, different accusations and judgments could be made behind your intentions, but at the end of the day only you really know. You're just doing what feels right for you, which is what Bentinho encourages from everyone. Oh, what a narcissist. And what's funnier is nobody hears people calling the Dalai Lama a fraud....why is that? oh right...because he is the Dalai Lama. Gotcha.

    oh and p.s. he does encourage us actually to look at WHY negative beliefs have been serving us and WHY we hold on to them and all the inquiries on our selves we actually DO have the power to unfold ourselves and don't need psychotherapy, an OUTSIDE source to tell us what's "wrong" within us.

    another p.s. he actually doesn't say go out and become an actor or singer and encourages people to follow what is unique to them. He literally SAYS that.

    Also there are books by other people with these fancy Phd's like Frequency and The Field which do talk about these higher vibrations and aligning ourselves with them to improve ourselves and aid those around us.

    You people are just as ignorant as you are trying to make him and his "followers" seem.

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    1. You forgot to write in ALLCAPS, dear.

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    2. you must be a follower. Anyone who follows anyone will walk off the cliff - dont drink the kool aid.

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    3. i just saw his page and one woman called him on saying his followers or the people who follow him. any real teacher would tell people not to follow them!!!! she is right.

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    4. Marissa G. - I believe in an All-Powerful, All-Loving God Who has made Full Provision for the consequences of all of my negative beliefs, Which Said Provision daily, moment-by-moment provides me with with full assurance that my ENTIRE created being is aligned with the Will and Purpose of the Creator of me and the entire universe -

      Do you consider that to be a NEGATIVE belief?

      I sure don't -- I have a tremendous amount of joy in that belief - daily, moment-by-moment - God only knows it just FEELS REALLY RIGHT

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    5. I am not a follower but I have listened to his free talks just to check them out. I hear similarities to other non dualists plus some new thoughts. I will say if we use charging fees as a criteria for a guru (and perhaps we should), we would eliminate ( and perhaps we should) all spiritual teachers out there who charge for their teachings and we would be down to ? Just a few rare handful, mostly never heard of. So I see many in the spiritual guru crop as interesting teachers or life coaches and one does pay teachers for courses after all. My life's experience is this: if one is truly seeking an enlightened guru to learn from they will appear. There will be no questions if ones heart is open and ones uses good discernment. There will be no hiding if one truly asks for one to appear. Maybe we get what we are ready for.

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  15. I agree with Marissa. The writer has spent little time investigating Ben. If you think Ben is a narcissist (educated adepts certainly understand the potential for this), listen to him speak for twelve to twenty hours and entertain questions. Really check it out. He is the real deal as are many others.

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    1. I agree. We must remember that no human is perfect. Therefore no one of us will ever be able to perfectly illuminate the "right" path using the light of our incomplete understanding of existence. I think the hearts of both Been and Ed are in the "right" place.

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    2. there Is One Perfect Human - many follow Him - to a much happier conclusion than Ben or any other human will ever be able to provide

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  16. here is a quote from bentinho yesterday,"Pain and suffering has its place in the bigger picture, that is why some beings choose to be raped at an early age. It's not that they are doing something wrong with their vibration, it's that they want to learn specific lessons in this life."
    he believes that. i Know he is a deluded narcissist POS. aloha~

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  17. His message aside, I find his method of tearing people down for their own good extremely unspiritual. He takes a few minutes to assess a person by the words they use to point out where they are going wrong spiritually in his enlightened opinion. Based on no knowledge of the person whatsoever. So his assessment is highly subjective yet he puts it forward as info from the universe granted to him as truth they must face. Should they disagree with him he then points out their spiritual corruption. If you dont agree with me then you obviously are lost spiritually. This is disempowering to that person and places him above his followers driven by ego. Recently he weighed in on womens experience on Facebook letting women know how they should behave spiritually. When a huge number of women found this distressing he confronted each woman individually using the method I describe above peppering each comment with hearts and the word love. Then posted a group response calling anyone who disagreed with him ridiculous and lacking in intelligence. This speaks volumes on how he perceives his followers. Anyone who did not break under pressure when he and a few of his disciples weighed in to inform each woman individually of how shes spuritually lacking was blocked and their comments deleted. That says it all as far as Im concerned.

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  18. Agreed.

    I came across BM just this afternoon. About 20 minutes into the video he talks about how he moves into some $4.5m mansion and desires to own a fancy car, and then seeing 5 cars of that type shortly thereafter.

    That's all nice and dandy, and it's certainly a legit desire, but it's Law of Attraction / Tony Robbins type stuff.

    Spirituality, let alone enlightenment are something else.

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  19. i saw this too on the internet just yesterday. I look at this justin beiber of spirituality and laugh and yet i also know it is dangerous. I read the thread described above with awe. he is a narcissist. He is a manipulator. He called people stupid who disagreed. I myself dealt with a very dangerous sociopath narc teacher ten years ago and was grateful to get away with my life. I see through him. I see through his shit and so i cam sit back and say i learned my lesson well in this life as i can spot a phony narcissist right away. Anyone who "follows" this poser can be in danger- one of the dangers of following anyone is losing one's sense of right and wrong. He talks about keeping things out of his reality. He builds his wealth and surrounds himself with model type women and then is confused when people react with disgust to what he posted about women. Not only is he dangerous but clueless. Be weary of following anyone. I see this too with that woman Teal who uses her looks to get followers- look up Teal swan and see how these people work. I am spiritual, but i go directly to G-d and never ever will follow anyone. There are wonderful spiritual teachers out there but they are the ones who are not in their ego like this man and their teachings are not full of the narcissism and also the ego he shows. he is deluded. I assume he believes people in the holocaust brought it into their own reality. What a schmuck. Be your own guru people!

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  20. Just another add on about him. I saw that on his thread anyone who questioned his beliefs (even the ones not attacking him at all just questioning and calling him on his stuff were deleted and banned. This is a big red flag of any "spiritual" teacher. He was also triggered on the thread but when someone else was triggered would blame them saying they had blocks. Another classic sign of a narcissist. Someone who was truly enlightened as he seems to think he is would not have to ban people for actually having opinions.

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  21. All of the commentis I am reading about this "young man" on this site are highly contradictory, For anyone to "declare" this person a false prophet, or a Charlatan they must also understand their own arrogance for they are no different to him. You are now declaring, as is he, that you know better. Excuse me for wondering why you think you have it right and he is so wrong. From the outsiders point of view and I truely am, you bloggers are more of a problem than anyone. Be careful always to comment without knowledge on such matters as physics, astrophysics, relativity and subjects such as parallel universe, galactic cohesion and time travel. I don't claim to have all this knowledge but enough to know there's something in everything.

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    1. I like your comment. I do believe only a completed enlightened being can read the spiritual level of another and that is not me well to be more accurate I do not usually locate there. I do have a few personal fail safe guidelines, FOR ME. Five of which are: teachings must be free, no sexual misconduct with disciples, no political bias, no great desire to accumulate objects, and no harming animals. Another thing which admittedly could be unreliable... my heart has to feel like it's about to explode and I lose the ability to form words!

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  22. The truth is that Self Knowledge is essential for the ultimate understanding.
    Bentino gives brilliant advice on living a successful life (which is the waking dream) but we know a dream is a dream.
    You can't fix the illusion which is what he advocates, you have to move beyond it.

    I listened to him often in the begining when he was really humble and clear.
    Then he started the law of attraction, posting pictures of himeself in Dubai etc and I thought ooops, away you go, back to the Vedas for me.

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  23. su I had the exact same experience, in the beginning when he first came on the horizon I liked to listen to him, but now i'm also 'ooops'.....

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