Amsterdam Weekend Retreat
Friday Aug 26th 2011
Questioner: What’s life like for you now, after all you’ve went through before and after your enlightenment?
Bentinho: “Well, I’ve let go of my image of enlightenment, and my pursuit of some kind of super consciousness . . . I’m just very confident in the fact that I am perfect as I am, that my well-being is not in anything per se, because I’ve confirmed to myself that this is the case many times over. A lot of doubt has fallen away. So there is a natural ease, a natural joy.
And of course there is the availability of a lot of states of mind, which are also available to you -- it isn’t anything special or out of the ordinary. It’s not about any state of mind. If anything it’s about being very certain experientially of the fact that this is perfect. And then you don’t have to be conscious of awareness twenty-four seven. You don’t have to beat yourself up about that, that will be much more natural. And of course there will be a heightened awareness throughout daily activity. And sometimes, maybe not, and you won’t beat yourself up about that either, because you see, you recognize in a moment of recognition that even your periods which you would have previously called unconscious, were actually totally infused with awareness -- and we’re not ever separate from this aware life. How could we be? Is your experience ever anything outside of that? So your experience of unconsciousness is awareness experiencing unconsciousness -- is Life, equal to this moment where it recognizes itself.
So even the recognition, or the non-recognition are essentially equal. Enlightenment and ignorance are essentially equal, they’re both life experiencing itself. The recognition of awareness is just another experience . . . but it’s a very clarifying one, and it liberates us of our sense of inadequacy more and more. So it’s just a knack, it’s a trick . . . It doesn’t change you.
But you cannot find awareness to have a form or point of view of its own. How can I stay as awareness as one particular state of mind. Awareness has no form of its own, which means that it is present with every experience equally, but never as something. You can’t find awareness. Try to find it. You can only find your personal experience which seems to be aware of itself, but you cannot grasp awareness, and you cannot grasp experience either . . . . of course you could say, “I’m touching wood,” that’s just a description, that’s still just a sensation appearing.
And so when I recognize awareness, there’s an intensification of the brightness, like your computer screen, it’s the same light. And you could either turn down the brightness or turn up the brightness, it’s a bit like that. Once you know you’re perfect, you can still stop to recognize it, and that’s very enjoyable. Or you can just have a conversation with someone about what movie you went to and you can forget that for a while.
But, more and more there will be a natural brightness. A natural knowing that you exist. It becomes this inescapable sense. It doesn’t mean you have to have the same experience all the time. So this is very subtle stuff and it’s very difficult as long as you have an idea of what it has to look like, that’s why I try to emphasis that awareness has no form of its own, the only form it has is your present experience, you cannot find awareness, more, or more enlightened than right now. The only form it has is whatever you’re experiencing right now.
So there’s not even an awareness that is aware of experience, that’s just a way of saying it, that’s the only form that awareness takes, awareness has no form of its own. Its present as your present experience. Your present experience changes, so awareness changes, yet it’s aware of that, but it has no form of its own, so you cannot identify it, you can only notice that it is the case, and that’s enough.
It’s enough to know the very fact that you exist with your present experience, and emotion, and thought, as it is; and notice that that’s being noticed, is being recognized. This experience exactly as it is, is aware of itself, there’s an awareness of this experience, that’s all we need to recognize.
And even that is, essentially, equal to not recognizing it, and that’s what you’re recognizing. You’ll recognize that there’s nothing to recognize. As long as you still believe that there’s something to recognize, then you keep beating yourself up, but a moment of relaxation induces the recognition that there’s nothing to recognize. So you recognize that there’s nothing to recognize until you’re sure that there’s nothing to recognize.”
Questioner: Do you choose, do you make choices?
Bentinho: “Sure, I make choices, if that’s the basic question. I choose sides, if that’s the basic question.”
Questioner: Would you feel sad if you chose the wrong one?
Bentinho: “It rarely happens now. But there have been occasions in the past year or so when it did happen. But I’m not sure I had the sense that I made the wrong choice. I can recall one moment right now when I felt like that. Where I made the wrong decision, that sense was there. And I had the sense of needing to fix that. But other than that, I pretty much feel whatever I want to choose -- and that is pretty much obvious, moment by moment. It pretty much happens naturally. I would say it’s just clear intuition.
And sometimes there’s a bit of un-clarity, where something seems to be at stake, at least relatively, in the story, where there seems to be something at stake, whether you choose this, or that . . . . and there have been a few occasions where I’ve felt like that . . . . which was interesting . . . . and, let me see what I did . . . . (short pause with his eyes closed) . . . . yeah, so I realized that was basically due to desire, having a personal preference for a particular outcome . . . . where I noticed that it appeared that something was at stake . . . . so a part of my well-being was projected into the situation. . . . and so . . . I felt like shit . . . “If I choose this, I might lose that, etc.” -- but then you become aware of that . . . . and then you giggle. . . (everyone giggles) . . . and then it basically resolves itself and you know what to choose . . . or not, and they stay like that, which is fine too, where you find your enjoyment in not being able to choose. And then the tension will pretty much flow out of you. And you still may not know what to do, but at least the poison is out of the wound, so to speak.”
Questioner. So, essentially, you have the same problems as everyone else does, except you don‘t really see it as a problem.
Bentinho: “Yeah! Definitely!”
Questioner: I have a question about my feelings. Sometimes I have a feeling but I don’t know what the feeling is. And that makes me worried, or I get crazy in my mind. Is it a happy feeling, is it a sad feeling, I don’t know. So I get confused about my feelings. Sometimes I don’t know what the feeling exactly is.
Bentinho: “Oh, well . . . I experience that all the time. That’s good! Because once you “know what it is,” it becomes a “thing,” to manage. Whereas if you don’t know what it is, you can let it be.”
Questioner: Well, it’s more about feelings in the context of decision-making.
Bentinho: “Oh, ok. Well, like in my example, there was some personal investment in the outcome of the situation. Which is totally natural, and totally fine. Of course you have a preference, so there is a preference for a particular outcome. But when there’s fear involved, then that clouds intuition. When you’re able to free-up your present mind-set from fear, when you’re able to relax into it, allow it to be, and to feel your well-being to be already present, to soak in loving your confusion and your fear, then gradually, or suddenly, you will feel that you are not the fear, you’re the love which loves the fear, and you’ll find a relief from being tied to the question or to the decision.
Like, prior to that when there was still a lot of investment in the fear, believing that you were the one fearing, your focus is tied to the object of your worry, in this case, your decision-making, so you‘re tied to it, as if it‘s a problem.
The moment . . . (sigh). . . you find relief from the fear, and also the excessive need to focus, drops, there’s more of an ease, a relaxation, and from that relaxation, most of the time, intuition becomes clear, and you know what to do. So if you relax into the fear, into your present emotions, just allow it to be confused, love the confusion, like a mother loves and cradles a baby in her arms no matter how fearful or confused the baby is, she is steady in her care and love of the baby. And if you embody this, if even for a few seconds, that’s already enough to create an opening in the fear, for this freedom to be recognized. And this will gradually, or suddenly, make the fear drop. And often-times you’ll be totally clear on what to do, and if not, then at least you are enjoying the situation.”
(long pause, Bentinho with his head down, then looks around slowly)
Bentinho: “Any last questions?”
Bentinho, very quietly: “Thank you.”
(Bentinho puts his head down and holds his hand over his heart, and smiles, and closes his eyes)