To me, business is a spiritual game. This is something that you may have heard me say before, like in my most recent interview of Jay Abraham. With the right mindset, running marketing campaigns and growing your business can transcend the transactional and offer tremendous opportunities for personal growth. I find it extremely satisfying when I can use my business to help others and be a part of something bigger than myself.
My guest for this episode #214, Doug Bentley, also comes at his business from a spiritual perspective. Doug isn’t just a gifted web designer and entrepreneur, he’s also one of the most spiritual people I know. This is due in no small part to his 10 years as a Oneness monk in India serving under Guru Sri Bhagavan.
Doug has created a lot of value for me and for many others. He really demonstrates that businesses can reveal a lot of light in the world. I’m confident you’ll glean some great insights to help you to do that very thing in your marketing. So let’s get started!
Doug, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Thanks, Stephan. Thanks for having me.
Let’s talk about consciousness in marketing and in business because I see business as a spiritual game. When I say that to people, they’re like, “Wow, that’s profound. That’s deep. Tell me more.” I’d love to get your perspective because you’re one of the most profound, deepest, conscious people I know. We met first at a Tony Robbins event. That was all about oneness. You were a monk at the time. You were blessing all these people, giving us deekshas, and I got a powerful deeksha from you. In that context, I would love to hear how you see consciousness and awareness is integral to business and marketing because this is a marketing show.
Sure. Just a little bit background on me for those listening, I think I was about 19 years old in the year 1999 when I got into the whole web world. I had gotten very deeply into web development, branding, graphic design, and online marketing. I was lucky enough to land a job in Washington DC. I was nestled away in my office in a job that took care of me.
I tried doing a bunch of freelance work on my side to try to grow my own work and my own business. I just didn’t have much success, it just didn’t unfold. I tried as best I could and I was lost. As you mentioned, I found myself really called to just working on myself. I want to become happy inside because one thing I really saw after having a great job, a house, and a car in my early 20s, was I’m just miserable inside. I’m lonely. I’m sad. I’m dealing with anxiety. I’m depressed.
That sounded like an existential crisis.
It was. Imagine everyone’s working so hard to get something great and they’ll be happy. I was given the whole thing right out front at 22 years old.
So you had a midlife crisis at 22?
Yeah. I’m sitting here in this super nice townhouse, with this brand new car, with different relationships, and I’m just dying inside. My co-worker happened to be in spirituality. He was a monk when he was very young. He’s an older man at that time. He started to teach me meditation and that led me to the initial search. I went to India and lived for 10 years. That 10 years was a major journey of just healing. We’re just downright getting out the pain inside of me, of whatever was stuck inside.
The whole time I was there, even though I thought I was going to run away from the IT world, the one thing that my school in India needed was an IT guy. I was constantly doing design, branding, marketing, and web development. I kept up with technology over the last 10 years. In fact, I really hone my craft at that point.When you come from a place of nonresistance and clarity, and you hold a firm intention of what you want, the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Click To Tweet
I was just growing in my level of happiness and I could say happiness for me equals being vastly, intensely aware, and honest with yourself, of where you’re at each moment, like what is going on? Are you able to actually hold space for that? Let your heart actually feel that and be with that. That’s the great piece.
That really found me, and at a certain point in my journey where I got really settled in that reality where I wasn’t running anymore, I was accepting, and I was able to hold space for myself each moment. My teacher saw, “Hey, you’re pretty good where you’re at. It’s an endless journey but you’re in a great place to help others.” And he said two years ago, “Why don’t you go back home and help people with that, and live your life?” It felt really right, and I came back home.
Here I am back in America, I haven’t been employed for over a decade. My specialty is this online world, but it’s a no joke competitive environment. How do you succeed in this reality? In America, I have a wife, I have a baby, I have a dog. I need to bring in a pretty thick income to survive and feel abundant in life. So, how do you do that when you’ve been out of the game for 10 years?
What I found was very fascinating. What I found was, inside myself knew I needed help and inside myself, I knew I needed to be successful. There’s helplessness, where I just felt a call to the whole universe, like, “I need help. I want to be successful. This is what I want,” and I could feel it very deep inside of me.
At the moment, I really felt that. At the moment, I had the clarity that I wanted to start my company called Inner Vision Studios. The moment I felt that I’m ready to be successful with this and this is what I want, I could hold it inside of me, client after client came out of thin air. I’m literally telling you, I went to my laptop an hour later, and I got a client. The next day, two more clients. The next day, three more clients. As of this day, we’re very successful at what we do. It’s a growing company and I’ve never done one inch of marketing.
What I really was able to see was that, when you’re able to be in a place where you’re not resisting life, you’re deeply accepting and honoring where you’re exactly at, and there’s a lot of honesty inside, it makes you have a tremendous amount of clarity. When you come from a place of nonresistance and clarity, and you hold a very strong intention of what you want, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.
These days when I get too many clients, I just feel inside, I’m getting overwhelmed, it slows down. The moment I say I’m ready for more clients and feel it strongly, all of a sudden two, or three new clients suddenly comes into play. It’s a very amazing thing to be in a place where the success of your life is coming from a balanced place of what’s needed for you, and it’s very holistic.
It’s like you’re tuned in to the fabric of creation and you’re just part of it. You’re so integrated into it. It’s like you’re being set up to succeed because you have this higher purpose and this bigger vision. When you’re saying that nonresistance and the clarity being so important, that also resonates for me because I’ve been to a number of Abraham Hicks seminars. Abraham talks about not resisting, we create all this resistance for ourselves, we kick this resistance and kick problems into our way. We don’t need to be, we could just be in the flow and in the vortex.
It’s really true. If you believe that you’re going to have to go through a lot of struggle to get to your end goal for whatever thing is you’re after, you’re going to make that real for yourself even if you’re just a die-hard atheist and very into what is only tangible. You’re still going to be able to say, “Well, my reticular activating system is a real part of my brain. That is going to seek out the problems subconsciously, or unconsciously, those roadblocks and landmines. My reticular activity system is just going to be on the lookout to create those for me because that’s what I’m expecting.”
I just had a conversation yesterday with somebody and I was saying, “You know? Before the world of spirituality, I was just a massive intellectual person. I prided myself on my philosophy, my mind is cunning to be able to really think and contemplate, and I felt like I know and grasp everything. I felt like I was able to sum up the whole creation, that I knew it all.”
The journey of spiritual growth was one of such healing that my heart softened and love came into my heart, unconditional love. A deep spaciousness is there. My whole attention from this intense thinking that wears me out at the end of the day, just very gently move to this vast state of feeling each moment. Each moment, I’m just resting so nicely in this deep state in my heart, that feels so nice that I have nothing really to think about. I could care less what the answer is because I’m not needing a sentence, or a conversation, or an answer to get me anywhere.
Speaking of another spiritual discipline, Buddha taught non-attachment. That’s what I think you’re describing there, too.
Yeah. For me, being in that space and just being in my heart all the time. The most unique thing about that is that, anytime I’m interfacing with clients and any time I’m taking on projects, there is this tremendous sense of intuition, direct knowingness, and a massive amount of creativity that just simply pour throughout of that silence inside. It’s strange that I found myself working with clients that I’m able to deliver them really great solutions, really creative ideas, and amazing workarounds, not from my intellect in my 20 years of experience in the field. It’s literally coming from a spontaneousness of the silence inside.
My whole approach with our company is first of all having outstanding relationships with whoever our clients are. We’re actually not about quantity at all. We’re about tremendous quality and just having a handful of great clients that you just listen from that silence inside and such fantastic solutions come out. Where before, you would do so many revisions and variations to find something for the client, these days we’re hitting the target almost every time directly just because of that intuition and knowingness.
It’s such an interesting thing to see how does growing in consciousness or how do you become a happy human being and how does that make you more successful in life. It’s because you become tremendously in tune with life itself and with your relationship to how you deal with things. You start listening from that knowingness from the heart which doesn’t come with instructions, it doesn’t come with logic. It just comes with the feeling. When you can trust that, you fall out of the mind’s rigidity and knowingness. Life becomes a very vast and unknowable experience that you just enjoy the dance.
That’s profound. I think to add on to that, there’s a difference between your intuition and just trusting that the creator, or the universe, or however you want to refer too, God, or higher power, or whatever is assisting you. You’re channeling something that is greater than yourself and that’s different from intuition. Would you agree that that’s an evolution of this concept of just trusting your gut?
First of all, the beauty of all spiritual growth is each person will really discover it in their own way and the journey is endless. Each of us will be at different places at different times to see it in different ways and circle back around things to see it differently. It’s a really personal thing.
The strangest thing that I found when I started my spiritual journey was there are these very heavy concepts. What is free will? What is divine will? What does it mean to hear the call from God? Is there a God? And various things like that.
What I found at least, wherever I’m at in my journey is that the whole journey is from the mind to the heart and that the mind is simply a tool or a mechanism that labels everything and measures through comparison. It’s just this machine that is constantly taking in sensory input, putting it into a database, then every new experience it’s pulling from that database, comparing, trying to give an analysis, and a summary.
The whole thing is, is that it’s a very limited perception of things. It’s based on such limited perceptions that it’s basically assuming everything and trying to come to concrete logic about why things are the way they are. When you’re really deeply unaware, you believe that. You’re walking around believing whatever your mind is spitting out, but if you look at it, you’re bumping your toes everywhere you go because to act on an assumption, you’re pretty much always be having to correct yourself.
Then strangely enough, as you journey, and your heart opens up, and you fall into that silence inside, you’re coming to a space where there’s no logic being spit out, there’s just unknowingness. What one discovers as they really trek along the journey is the space in your heart somehow is the network of collective consciousness.Happiness is being vastly, intensely aware and honest with yourself of where you're at each moment. Click To Tweet
That’s why when you feel about something, it’s like the communication of the brain of the universe. It’s like the feeling that sends signals out to creation, or to other people. What other people feel about you, it comes back to you.
When you get in touch with the feelings inside and each moment you’re abiding by that leading the way, you find yourself completely in tune with life, because the unique thing about consciousness and life is it’s constantly changing every second. There’s no way the mind can wrap logic around that because the whole thing is shifting and swaying as needed, as evolving. When you’re in the heart, without logic needed, you just feel each moment.
That’s why for me, there’s no such thing as the great truth. There’s just the truth of each moment. That truth isn’t logic. It’s a feeling. I’m all the time going by the feeling and I find myself never strayed off-course. The moment I give in to the mind’s logic, I’m all the time wishing that I followed my heart’s feelings.
That reminds me of something I learned not too long ago about truth. That there’s the truth with a small t, but then there’s also a capital T. Truth which is the ultimate truth that we’re trying to know, or we’re assuming that we already know. We come from this place of self-righteousness if we think that we know the truth, that this person is doing something wrong and I need to correct this person, or I need to let them know. It’s the opposite of coming from a place of knowingness and feeling your way through. You’re just pushing your own agenda and that’s the height of that limited perception and ego.
That was a profound paradigm for me, that letting go of trying to know what the Truth is, with a capital T and just recognizing that we all have our truth, with the small t. If mine is going to be different than the other person, just let it go. Also, let go of this craving for knowing everything.
The paradigm that worked really well for helping me come to terms with that was from Kabbalah, and understanding that the tree of life is what we want to connect to, rather than the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge is all about good and evil, and trying to understand how could Hitler do what he did, how can that even be possible, and how could all these people facilitate that evil, is there any speck of decency in that soul?
That doesn’t take you anywhere good. You’re focusing, first of all in the negative, instead of focusing on the light. When you focus on the negative it brings more negative, more darkness. Focus on the light, it’ll bring more light. That also inspires others to reveal their light. Then, if you’re focused on just the tree of life and not the tree of knowledge, then you don’t have to have this craving, this urge to continue knowing everything. You can just relax into the knowingness of, this is all happening for me, not to me. It’s pretty powerful.
I want to know how you integrate, what some marketers would refer to or entrepreneurs would refer to as a side hustle into your core business that is paying the bills, that’s Inner Vision Studios? You do some beautiful work. I’ve seen some of your portfolio and it’s really nice work.
And you also have this bigger mission to change the world and help people awaken, especially here in the west. It’s funny when I met you, you really stuck out. Especially then, when Orion and I went to the Oneness University campus, you really stuck out. I think you are the only westerner there among all these monks.
That’s absolutely true. I have this extremely beautiful photo of myself meditating with all the monks. It’s just so funny because you can surely spot me out, the palest guy who is western and everyone else is Indian. It’s such a funny thing.
That’s awesome. What courage, knowingness, and just trust to drop everything, go to India be so outside of the norm and outside of what most people would consider their comfort zone. That was amazing.
It’s a good question. I remember what my dad always tells me when I was a kid. He said, “You know? If I had to sum you up, you were a seeker. You were searching for something ever since you’re a little kid.” My dad is an entrepreneur, a business owner, same with my mom. If I could sum myself up, I would say I’m a pretty grounded person. I just don’t believe anything unless it’s my direct experience. Even that was my whole journey for 10 years in India, I’d be told something and I would say, “Yeah, yeah whatever.” but if with my experience then I could say, “Okay, that did happen for me, that’s how I experienced it.”
When I was in third grade, I was just walking in the hallway. How old were you when you’re in third grade? Like seven years old or eight, and literally, there was a ball of light that came into my head when I was in third grade and it spoke to me. I went black. It went blank inside and I could see this light. It was a very profound experience, it wasn’t a mild experience. The light said, “The entire purpose of your life is to move into a state of cosmic consciousness, a state of oneness with all that is.” And then it just faded off. I was transformed. I was on a mission at seven years old. I couldn’t stop it.
Fast forward when I was 18 years old, I started having these dreams. In the dreams, there was this profound saint or being with his white beard. He was no joke, it wasn’t some spiritual teacher, it was something pretty epic. Then, when I was 25, working in Washington DC, that’s when I saw a photo on the internet when I was searching for the spirituality of this great avatar, spiritual master in India, and his name was Shri Bhagwan. I saw a photo of him and that was the guy in my dreams. One of the main things he teaches is a state of oneness with all that is. I just knew, I said, “Oh my God.”
I was in my IT office—this again, I’m a real grounded person, I’m not a mystic—I was staring at this photo and this energy came out of my computer and hit me like a storm. For 45 minutes, I sat there at an almost breathless state of consciousness and meditation. I had this massive awakening experience where I saw, I chose to come to this planet to help humanity awaken and that my work starts now.
I immediately within that week or so, booked a flight to India to go meet this great avatar. I had a chance to meet with him, and I spoke with him, and I just basically said, “This is what I’m here to do.” He let me live there for 10 years and undergo very intense processes to help me push myself into that state of oneness.
It just happened in such an organic way, and there was just no question about it. It was that, I need to go do this, this is that next step. It’s really mind-blowing to me to now be back in the west for the last two years and then just seeing my life unfold in whichever way the wind blows, however life makes use of me.
Wow. It gives me chills or goosebumps. It’s really cool. Your story really speaks to me. I can very much relate. When we met in Udaipur, I had an experience and it was Uma G that I think was the one who had touched me. I’ve had dikshas before. It’s at the Date With Destiny event of Tony’s, on other Platinum trips to Cabo and Jerusalem. They were awesome. They felt really good, but I was agnostic my whole life, up until that point in Udaipur.
Then, when I got touched, I got the diksha that time, everything just opened for me. I felt this connection to a higher power, to the creator, to God, and to everybody, to the fabric of creation. I felt this deep sense of peace, trust, and knowingness. Then I went right outside afterward. I remember all the grass and the trees, the green, everything was this most brilliant technicolor green, like in a cartoon. It was just bizarre like I was on an LSD trip, or something, and I have no idea what that’s like because I have never done drugs.
That opened and changed me. I felt different from that point forward and then it just unlocked all these miracles. I started having conversations with my divine. I think this is an important distinction that I learned from you and from the other monks, is that there is a personal divine, an aspect of the divine that shows up for you in a way that you’re looking for. If you’re wanting a very strict judgemental divine, that’s what’s going to show up for you. If you want one who’s very forgiving, loving, and just there for you, that’s what you can get. It’s up to you. You create your own reality in that way.
Then all these miracles started showing up in my life, stuff that you just hear and you think, “Okay, that doesn’t seem real. That doesn’t seem like that’s even possible.” Like this one guy that had sued me. I had fired without notice. He was talking about me behind my back to other staff, so I fired him. Then, he filed a frivolous lawsuit against me. This dragged out, I would have won but I just paid him off. We settled so that he’d go away and he did, he went away. He disappeared. We were living in the same city for a number of years and I never saw him again, never heard his name, nothing. He just vanished for 15 years.
I gave him a remote diksha. I didn’t even know if that was a thing. I asked you afterward when I was back in India at the Oneness campus if there’s such a thing as a remote diksha because I just gave a bunch of people one while I was blissed out on the floor one day, including this guy that I just didn’t really think about for 15 years. He’d never came to my mind until that moment and then I had blessed him, prayed for him, and give him his remote diksha, “Is it even a thing?” And you said, “Oh yes, it is. It’s an intent diksha.” That was really cool and guess who called me four days later on my cell phone.Life literally is a tremendously interconnected and mysterious experience. All the time, it's trying to relate to you and take you on an amazing ride. Click To Tweet
To apologize and to tell me that he understood now what it was like to be a business owner because he’s one himself and he felt bad and he wanted to call me and he’s thinking about doing this for a number of times, but now he finally did it. I’m like, “I’m not surprised at all that you called me now and there’s nothing for me to forgive. It was a gift. Because of you and that interaction, I am a better boss. I implement progressive discipline, I don’t fire people on the spot. I am also more mindful of contracts and clauses in contracts and so forth, so I probably saved myself a lot of money and potential legal problems by being more careful in reviewing contracts.”
We ended up having dinner a few months later, shared some DVDs on relationships with them from Tony Robbins. Then I randomly see him a couple months after that at a PetSmart with his girlfriend and I was with one of my daughters. That had never happened for 15 years. I mean part of those years, I was in a different country, but at least seven or eight years, we were in the same city, not even a huge city, it was Madison, Wisconsin. It’s pretty wild and you think, “Okay, that seems a little far-fetched that that would happen four days after,” but that’s how things work when you’re plugged in.
That’s correct. Life literally is a tremendously interconnected and mysterious experience. All the time it’s trying to relate to you and take you on an amazing ride. A slumber of humanity is that each of us are just filled with so much hurts, pains, anxieties, fears, and we’re so gripped by compulsive thinking that we’re half-asleep. Half-asleep just in this ongoing compulsive dialogue that kicks up constantly so much pain, hurt, fears and things like that, that we’re not able to actually see the vast mystery and divine hand that life is, each moment.
Life is constantly trying to nurture and take care of you. But because we feel so disconnected, in a state of isolation, and in a state of constant judgment towards ourselves and everything else, that we cannot allow life to silently take care of us. We’re all the time in fear and in need for security. Security that the mind deems it can control as opposed to allowing life to take us down its river.
And you mentioned judgment and that reminds me of another principle I learned in Kabbalah, which is that when you’re judging, you stop loving. When you’re loving, you’re not judging. You can’t do both at the same time, which I found to be very powerful and helpful concept for me so I could get out of the judgment which I think is my tikkun, which is a Hebrew word, in Kabbalah, it refers to your soul’s correction, that you’re here in this incarnation to address. My tikkun, I’m sure it has to do with my judgment. I’m very good at judging. Knowing that I have stopped loving when I’m judging someone or something, allows me that awareness that I should stop that or I can’t stop that and get back into love. That’s been very helpful for me.
There’s one other thing I want to circle back on to, in regards to your describing these amazing experiences that you had as a young child and then when you were in your late teens and so forth is that, as a seeker myself—so I can totally relate to this, somebody who’s just been on this journey to get as much information, knowledge and transformation as possible—I ended up spending probably up to $1 million in personal development courses, seminars, masterminds, big experiences, and stuff. I think like you were at least, is that it had to be my own direct experience in order for me to really, truly believe it or take it on board.
Taking that to another conclusion here is that this is something that you had mentioned in India. This was in 2013. You told me, “God or the divine is an experience, not a belief.” That’s one of the most profound statements of my life. That encapsulated my whole journey of seeking, that hunger and all that, and how I could just let that go. That I can just trust and it’s not that I am believing that it’s not faith. It’s just it is. God is an experience, not a belief. That’s a very powerful bumper sticker. If you actually experience what God is, like I experienced that whole technicolor thing, the diksha and all that, that was God. That was a direct experience of God. I went from agnostic to spiritual and I’m never going back.
Yes, it’s beautiful. In so many ways, you could say the isolation a human being experiences, is if we look at what’s the chip on everyone’s shoulder is everyone feels really alone. That core of loneliness is tremendous fear. That fear is this idea of death, or ceasing to exist, or losing control. Each person is walking around in this little island feeling very separate from everything. When you look at mechanically speaking, like what’s going on? What it actually is, is that the mind is not allowing senses to just fully experience the very moment you’re in and have this tremendously rich and immersive silent experience of the moment.
With the mind is in such analysis, such heavy thought, and such resistance to anything it doesn’t want to experience emotionally, that is in the way of that. When you start flowering consciousness, diksha is a fantastic thing. It’s a massive blessing directly from my spiritual master that he’s given to the world. What it does is it puts a hole through the wall of that thick mind and moves you into a state where senses are once again experiencing reality, as it is each moment. One of his teachings, my ex-master said that I found utterly profound—I actually didn’t understand it until years later where I really fell into this—was that trying to find God is like a fish in the ocean, swimming around trying to find water.
What ends up happening is, we identify ourselves as some name and life experiences, “I’m Doug and I’m related to so and so. I’m from here and from there. This what I want in my life.” Then I have a concept of some god, “My God is like this is and is like that and it helped me like this and like that. I have a story.” And then I have some concept, or philosophy, or perception about life, “This is my dad, my mom, and this is my dog. There’s my car. This is nature. This is the city,” and so I have a philosophy around that. As you truck along on the spiritual journey, what ends up happening is, the very thing that holds the concept of who you are, who life is, who God is, is only the mind itself and its constant analysis and judgment.
What it ends up happening is it slows down profoundly. You get to such a place where the mind starts really losing its grasp and the heart really starts opening up, that the walls of separation between the external world, who I think I am and who I think God is, all starts crumbling. What is left is this vast infinite eternal witnessing, that is just forever gazing out of the eyes and it makes up your whole being and it’s looking out through the senses. What it’s looking at is only itself. It’s only seeing that all of creation is it in form. When it looks inwards, it realizes that that which it thought it was God as something separate, that wall has fallen.
Suddenly you, that, and the end of life, all become the singular one and you live in this. It’s just a living moment by moment reality. It’s such a common sense. It’s such a natural experience that has nothing to talk about to anyone because you would only realize, if you’re not having that experience, then the mind’s got the best of you. It’s a journey that a person has to truck along, as everyone’s going through their journeys. That’s why for me, each moment, I’m literally experiencing the divine, but I don’t feel separate from it at all and as I gaze out into life, I’m only seeing the same thing. As I look at what I am, I’m only seeing the same thing.
It’s not that I became more or became greater, it’s just that the sense of Doug has faded off. There’s not like Doug is in control. It’s only that I clearly see, all that is there is eternity staring out of my eyes. All that is being experienced is it in form. There’s this great un-nobleness to anything and a tremendous sense of I guess you can say, humbleness. There’s just like being tremendously surrendered to the will of life each moment and a tremendous concern is there for life itself. I feel like I’m here to help life, as opposed to filling my plate up anymore. It makes sense.
Maybe a way to frame it, too, is to think or to describe it as not just awareness because it’s good to be aware, but this is almost like meta-awareness, awareness of your awareness. Awareness of your mind chatter, but that you’re aware that you are aware that your mind is chattering is even more profound and way deeper down that rabbit hole. Pretty cool.
The best I think the way I would describe it is that for each of us, there’s something at the very core of you that is perceiving. I always called the great silent perceiver. There’s just something at the core of you that without any of your control, whether you like it or not, is silently experiencing. When a person falls into that, they fall into the oneness of life.
There’s a very beautiful quote from a saint, named Rumi, I’m summing the quote up to make use of it in a statement, but he basically says, “Oh, how I begged, oh, how I pleaded, knocking on the doors of heaven. Oh Lord, let me in. Alas, the door swung open, only for me to discover I was already inside the room.”
That’s good. I love Rumi’s poetry. One of my favorite quotes or poems of his is, “Gamble everything for love.”
Let’s circle back to this concept of the side hustle and how you’re doing some really amazing things, retreats, YouTube shows and things like that to help inject light and reveal light out in the world and help our collective consciousness awaken. That’s not necessarily what pays the bills. You’re doing Inner Vision Studio work with designing brands and websites and so forth. Yet, you have the time, the wherewithal, and the financial means to do these other things, as well that “side hustle.” For you, it’s more like your mission and purpose. I’d love to hear more about how you’re able to juggle those two things, balance them, or integrate them together however you want to describe it, that makes that work for you.
I’m doing the same thing myself, in a different way, because I’ve got my Get Yourself Optimize podcast and working on a self-help book on spiritual transformation and awakening, and also physical, mental, career and all that. That’s the book I’m working on. I’m trying to work that into what I’m doing overall with my business because the business is really driven by SEO consulting. Yet, I have this bigger mission to change people’s lives and not just their Google rankings, so I’m working on this myself, trying to balance these two things. I want to hear more about how you’re pulling that off.
First of all, the big conversations that my wife and I had when our master told us to step into our own two shoes, to go out there and help humanity in our own way as we had to define. Are we going to make a big business out of this? Or is this going to be a way to actually just help humanity in a form of service? Both of us felt very strongly, “Let us build up Inner Vision Studios and let us make that very successful,” in that way there’s not a pressure that we can, out of our heart, offer our work called Sacred Wisdom School as a way that we’re not relying on it to put food on our plate. That way, it’s not something that money is a major focus on it.When you come from a trustful place in your heart, you fall out of the mind's rigidity and knowingness. Life becomes a very vast and unknowable experience that you just enjoy the dance. Click To Tweet
It gives a lot of freedom actually. Our business model is that our heart and our feelings in life is to just help people grow and flower, however that looks. With that being said, everything we do with Sacred Wisdom School is trying to either give it away for free or just make it just really affordable for anybody to have the experience of it. Our stance in general with Sacred Wisdom School is we’re letting it naturally flower at its own pace. We actually don’t have a deep sense of motive behind it. We feel that when it comes to work where we are in service to help a person evolve in consciousness, we both feel very strongly that we should allow higher intelligence to naturally let that open doors.
We kept that since the very beginning and we watched it naturally take its own evolution, it’s natural growth. I think we’re going to keep it at that. Sacred Wisdom School maybe something that we are only able to affect several thousands of people throughout our life. It could get much bigger and it affects many more people, but for us, our whole thing is that it’s very important that we’re genuinely helping a person and that person is getting all of us from our heart, without any other motive involved. We’re there to help you actually grow and help you take that stuff wherever you’re at
That’s what brings us tremendous joy. That’s, I would say, the reason why we have Inner Vision Studios and I actually have two other companies outside of that. With Sacred Wisdom School, it allows us to have this really beautiful place where we’re just really trying to help a person and we don’t know what it’s going to look like. We let it unfold each moment when it comes.
In fact to add on to that, even the model around what we offer, which is our retreats, we actually don’t have names for any of our retreats, we don’t ever plan to have names. We simply column three-day silent retreat, five-day silent retreat, seven-day silent retreat, something like that.
Why we do that is, we believe very strongly that when you go to help human beings in a situation where they come together to grow because of our work in our very strong connection to higher consciousness, all the wisdom to be shared and the process we put people through arise very spontaneously. We want an environment where we’re not promising somebody anything. We’re not guaranteeing anybody anything. We’re saying, “You come here, you be with yourself. We’re going to help you. We’re going to let that happen in a very divine way. We’re going to let higher intelligence work through collectively through all of us.”
We’ve found that that’s incredibly impacting and extremely effective on people because it allows in the space to know that they’re there to grow. In every retreat we do, everything we do is completely different because it’s spontaneous and it’s coming from higher intelligence. That’s the model with Sacred Wisdom School.
Wow. What you’re describing reminds me of the definition of a brand being a promise delivered. You’re talking about you don’t want to promise anything in particular that it’s going to be their own experience, what it ends up being. By giving it a name, it’s like you give it a construct and an expectation is formed around what they’re going to receive. You’re basically not branding it, so there is no promise associated with it. It is completely open and can be morphed into anything based on what they’re looking for and what they need.
Exactly. The thing that’s tricky with spirituality is that spirituality is in no way linear and there’s no such thing as reaching an endpoint, it’s just an ongoing eternal growth and expansion. The whole thing is, if we point the mind saying, “You’re going to get this, this and this,” then the mind is now on a track to achieve and to have something and then to look at what’s next. When you pull somebody into a situation where they have to maintain silence and they don’t know what’s going to happen next, they don’t know what the next lesson is, they don’t know what the next process is, and we put them in the state where we move people into the very big awakened states in our retreats.
A person will go into a very big state of consciousness and whatever unfolds for them is their journey. We’re just there monitoring and helping, gently guiding to help support whatever life is producing for that person. That’s our approach to helping a person grow, everyone’s a beautiful flower in the process of budding. We’re just making sure the lights are hitting properly, your well-water get the right soil and just letting life itself bud you and it’s correct timing.
That’s awesome. When is your next retreat?
January 18. We are taking a group of people. We believe in very small retreats. We’re taking 40 people to Costa Rica in the mountains, the rainforest mountains for six days silent retreat. There are some spaces available. I think there are seven spaces still available. That calls anybody listening, go to sacredwisdom.school and there’s information on that. We look forward to that retreat a lot actually. I think every year, we’re going to be doing a retreat in Costa Rica.
I love Costa Rica. That’s where Orion and I got married.
Drake Bay Osa Peninsula, magical. That’s amazing. I love Costa Rica. A memory or thought that was triggered when you were describing having this open idea or not constraining or constricting what the event is going to be like or whatever the thing is that you’re marketing is that, are you familiar with Jay Abraham‘s work?
No. I’ve heard the name a lot. I know it’s a very respected work.
He’s awesome. He’s actually become a friend and there are three episodes on this podcast of Jay. Listeners, go check that out for sure, but one of his principles as preeminence. Preeminence is about referring the client or prospect to your competitor even if they would be better served than by taking their money and delivering a product or service to them. That is a powerful concept and one that might be counter-intuitive to some because taking the opportunity of making a sale and escorting it out the door and yet, I believe in business karma. I believe in karma just generally but also business karma to loop back to one of my original thoughts from this episode was business being a spiritual game.
You reap what you sow and if you are preeminent and you are just putting your prospect or client’s best interests at heart number one, then that is going to reap rewards for you in the end even if you lose this immediate opportunity. Something will happen. There’s a bigger picture, that you will gain something, not that that’s why you should do it, but the scales will balance out. Just trust that you’re doing the right thing and just keep doing it like what you were describing with Sacred Wisdom School that you’re out there doing it. You’re not worrying about trying to maximize profit or whatever. It’s just you’re out there to reveal light or to help the collective consciousness and it’s all going to work out.
Exactly. It’s a service to humanity. I’m a huge fan of what you were just speaking about. The team under Inner Vision Studios, the things that we speak about is that we want to be a company as tremendously transparent and extremely honest integral that we don’t overcharge, that we don’t play all the games people play. The clients that come to us, the quotes they get from other companies, and the games that were played, and the quality that actually was delivered, it just makes our head spin. We roll our eyes saying, “You poor soul,” you were taken.Everyone's business model should aim to help people grow and blossom. Click To Tweet
For us, I remember hearing a quote once a long time ago, it said, “Any being who are truly growing in the realms of consciousness must come face-to-face with the principles of karma,” and for me, my life and my spiritual growth has been a very bumpy ride. For me, I had to learn my lessons by bumping and smacking my face into the rocks many times. I act out of two reasons for myself. One is, now I feel a lot of love in my heart. Inside that love, I just genuinely love other people. I don’t want to do anything bad because it goes against the feeling in my heart.
The second thing is, I’ve learned painfully not to rip people off, not to cheat people, not to lie, not even to BS. I found everything I do just comes right back to me. It just smacks me right away. I strive with my team to be as completely integral as possible. It’s not like you’re perfect, but we strive for it. I found that the moment you stand in integrity, the whole life showers you. It’s like light literally honors the one you can stand in tremendous integrity. That’s our footing. We strive for that as the core of our company.
That’s powerful and that also reminds me of a distinction I learned from Ephraim Olschewski who was a guest on this podcast and my other show, too. Talking about how being in integrity is also about giving full information. A lie by omission, oftentimes referred to as a white lie, is just as egregious as is a bold-faced lie.
You just happened to leave out some crucial bit of information that you know there’s an information asymmetry there that’s going to lead to your advantage and their disadvantage and you just happen to leave that out. That is just as bad. If you want to live in integrity, you need to just come clean and share all the information. Some people might think that putting yourself out there is like a doormat to be taken advantage of, but it’s not. It’s like you’re living in truth and in integrity, and then as you say, “Life will shower you with gifts and blessings.”
If you’re trying to get something out of people, even if it’s just some gratitude, you hand some money to a homeless person and you expect a reaction from that person, some gratitude, some kind words or whatever, that’s all you get if you get that at all. But if you’d have no expectations for this—again, I learned this from Kabbalah. One is in Kabbalah are just two sides of the same coin to me. I’m just really loving it—if you hand that money to the homeless person with no expectations and in fact if they do something socially unacceptable and maybe spit at you or something or call you a name as you’re giving the money, that’s okay because you’re not seeking the approval or the blessing or whatever of that person. You’re seeking it from the creator. You’re just not attached to whatever that person’s reaction is and then the blessings come.
First of all, it’s interesting to even get used to help another person. It is okay to come from a selfish place at first, it just happens, but as a person hearts flowers, all you actually see is the complete suffering of a human being and the misery inside that’s led them to have that external experience. From there, you don’t care if they bite. You don’t care if they yell back. You don’t care what happens. You just know you need to help. Compassion arises very spontaneously when you can really see and experience the suffering of another person. That’s where you realize, “Of course, you can’t say thank you back. I totally get it. There’s so much pain. Of course, you don’t even understand what’s going on. No problem.”
One of the things I found is that when you even see your clients as a way that you can help another human being or help a vision of a team of people and you see it actually as a contribution, to help light, that’s I found the correct relationship to have. When you see clients as a way to just simply get money, unfortunately, you’ll be in such a divisive state and such a state of judgment towards them that the real energy of light doesn’t flow, and the creativity is not there. For us, every time we take on a project, we actually are very picky who the client is, we really make sure that it’s just a great buy and then we see it as actually really helping them. It’s such an amazing auspiciousness that surrounds the entire project.
It’s like a mirror for the bigger picture that when you isolate yourself from the creator and from the fabric of creation, you become this little island, and you suffer, and you’ve lost, and you don’t have that knowingness, that connectedness, and so forth which is what I was experiencing my whole life. I was agnostic until that moment in Udaipur, but then in business or just even in marketing, if you are seeking not to get an unfair advantage over the prospect or the client’s, but instead you’re just there to help them to evolve their consciousness or to elevate, then it’s like you’re helping yourself because we’re all one. We’re all part of the same network of creation.
That win-lose mentality is the same thing as choosing to isolate yourself from the creator, and live as an island, and be lonely, and miserable. Don’t do that. Just see this as everything is a collective win-win and not like a negotiation to be gained as far as an advantage over somebody else.
It’s interesting. If I had to give any advice to anybody about conscious business, also just being a happy human being, and I had to sum it up in a sentence, I would say this. It’s all about living your life each moment in a state of gratitude. Gratitude is just one of the things you can actually practice psychologically that yields tremendous results.
All suffering, psychological suffering, begins the moment you move out of a state of gratitude. It’s really important to know that for me at least, literally almost every day I’m telling my wife, “I just can’t believe how fortunate we are. I feel such gratitude towards life,” and I find that that’s the bedrock of success for me is that I am in awe of the great supreme consciousness just holding me, and taking care of me, and me being in a state of tremendous unknowingness and surrender to it.
Gratitude is extremely key for a person to attract the success in their life in whatever way success is for them and is really beautiful because the gratitude begins the moment you see that you’re not in gratitude. It’s okay to catch yourself and realize, “I lack gratitude entirely,” because the moment you see that, you’re catching your mind that it’s act and it makes you then move into a place where you can reflect on things, to feel grateful. The moment you feel grateful, you stop resisting and you’re in the heart. The higher state of gratitude you’re in, the more a person embodies gratitude, that is higher states of consciousness. It’s not a higher state of consciousness and there’s something else called gratitude. One who falls tremendously in gratitude is in a fantastic state of being.
That’s amazing. On a conversation I had with David Allen, I interviewed him on my other show and I’ll actually republish those two episodes on this show, but one of the things he taught with the GTD—Getting Things Done—is that it’s easy to fall off the wagon, but it’s easy to fall back on the wagon, and now I just made this connection that not only does that apply to GTD which is a productivity methodology, it applies to gratitude, too. It’s so easy to fall off the wagon, but it’s so easy equally or even easier to fall back on the wagon and get back into a state of gratitude.
You know it’s fascinating, I always hear this in my spiritual journey. Everyone’s talking about the ego. I got to get rid of the ego. I got to get past the ego. It’s just very funny because years later as you flower, you suddenly realize the very person trying to end the ego is only the ego itself. If a person is really trying to know what is the best and healthiest place for the sense of self, it is when you’re in a state of gratitude. If you’re really trying to flower, it is constantly moving into states of gratitude. Even just each day for three minutes, if you’re just reflecting on things you’re grateful for and feeling that feeling, learning to hone into so that each time is such a fast track in a lot of ways.
There was one last thing I want to quickly circle back to that we were talking about a few minutes ago and that’s giving money to the homeless person. I want to share quickly a story and get your thoughts on it.
My wife, Orion, came back from grocery shopping last week or a couple of weeks ago. She was profoundly affected and I asked her, “What is it? What’s going on?” and there was a homeless woman in the parking lot and she asked for money. Orion didn’t have any small bills, but she wanted to help this lady. She seemed like she really was in dire straits. She gave her $20. The woman was just so grateful and just affected by this. She was crying. She hugged Orion. Orion started crying and when she came home and started telling me, then she was crying, and then I’m tearing up now myself. There was such a gift. It was powerful.
We have an opportunity to do that every day. Not just with homeless people, but with everybody we interact with. Whether it’s our target audience, whether it’s our clients, our colleagues, business partners, employees, friends, family, random strangers, every moment is an opportunity like that.
For me, every person I come across or interface with, I make it an absolute point to show them respect, love, and deep eye contact. I always try to think of something that authentically I feel nice about with them. It means a person behind the counter at a restaurant, if there’s something that I genuinely like about them, I’ll immediately say it. My whole stance is, it’s important to express love and make another person happy any chance you can. I do it because I can so deeply feel the disconnection, and the sadness, and loneliness of people.
Anything I can do to just make them perk up that moment, and smile, and to feel nice, I always do that because it hurts me to see people in pain. The funniest thing about the spiritual journey that I think so profound is that right now, to everybody who’s listening, your name is Tom, and Jane, or Sarah, or whatever, you so believe that you’re encapsulated in this body, and there’s such a struggle. There are so many uncomfortable feelings inside and you’re hoping it all gets better.
What’s so amazing is as a person just heals, they flower, and awakening finds them, you don’t just find out that the person you thought you were inside was just a small layer. You don’t find out that you’re something much bigger. You literally come face-to-face with the actual moment-by-moment experience that you, the divine, and all life are the one singular being, that which is you, that’s still silence looking out is eternity itself, and that all the creation is this amazing divine dance of that eternal aspect experiencing itself and every possibility.
It’s not that you find out that you’re not just a little bit greater than you think you are, it’s not that you find out you’re a great angel of some sort. You literally come face-to-face experientially moment by moment that you are the great one dance of life and that you’re eternal, and that’s a nice look at a person. I see that they have no clue of that and they’re so scared of their own death, their own mortality, and of their own psychological struggles.
I feel so bad for them because it’s like, awaken. If you knew the truth, you would just be dancing. You couldn’t believe the truth and it will free you from all of that struggle. That’s what I think really drives me to help other people and I feel on the planet to help with.
That’s beautiful. What you described reminds me of a quote from Wayne Dyer but it’s actually what you described as a whole other level of that and the quote is, “You’re not a human being having a spiritual experience, you’re a spiritual being having a human experience.” But take it to another level what you’re describing. You’re one. You’re everything.
That’s the most beautiful thing. That was my big awakening. Although awakening comes in many stages. It’s not that it’s over, but that’s one very big milestone cross was where I saw that the entire creation was my body. I saw who I was praying to the whole time was only me, but not me being encased in the body, not me knowing myself as Doug, but the eternal one. There was no other, that all of creation was this eternal dance. I even saw that this was one of infinite numbers of creation just simply manifesting for its own delight, every possibility of discovering and experiencing so. I just fell over and enjoyed because I realized I am free. I am free from the illusion of being something that is just something that will fall off one day. You know your place in all of creation and you can just relax and let life just simply unfold, and be an experiencer of this great mystery.
That’s a great way to end this episode. Beautiful. Thank you.
This was a very different episode, listener. I hope that you got a lot of light, awareness, awakening, love, joy, and purpose out of this episode. Do take a moment and send me an email. Let me know how this landed for you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak. Again, if you are at all interested in doing this Six-Day Retreats that Doug mentioned, go to sacredwisdom.school and if you’re interested in working with his web design, digital media branding agency it’s innervision.studio. Thank you again, Doug.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, listeners, we’ll catch you on the next episode.
If you love this interview of Doug Bentley, you will definitely want to listen to my interview of him on Get Yourself Optimized – that’s my personal development podcast – episode number 141. That is a consciousness expanding, beautiful, amazing interview. You’ll get a ton of value out of it.
- Inner Vision Studios
- Sacred Wisdom School
- Facebook – Sacred Wisdom School
- Instagram – Sacred Wisdom School
- Youtube – Sacred Wisdom School
- Jay Abraham – previous episode (Episode 8)
- Jay Abraham – previous episode (Episode 62)
- Jay Abraham – previous episode (Episode 207)
- Ephraim Olschewski – previous episode
- Get Yourself Optimized
- Ephraim Olschewski – GYO previous episode
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Embark on a journey of healing. Make sure that my body and mind are prepared for the challenges of running a sustainable business.
Be clear about what my goals are. Meditate and keep myself in check regularly so that I am aware of my own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running a company.
Embrace what life has to offer. Welcome abundance with open arms and know that I deserve to live a blessed existence.
Create a balance in my life. Prioritize what is most important and always make time for rest.
Get in touch with my spirituality. Find the true meaning in my life and work by connecting with the Divine or higher power.
Develop an excellent and authentic relationship with my clients. Make sure that their best interest is my main priority.
Focus on producing quality over quantity when it comes to my clients and my workload.
Have faith in humanity. Always look to the positive side of things and don’t be dissuaded by failure.
Hold tight to my values and principles. Always be aligned with what I believe in and make sure that my business resonates with my values.
Check out Doug Bentley’s website, www.innervision.studio.
About Doug Bentley
Doug Bentley is a former monk who now runs a successful conscious digital media and branding company, Inner Vision Studio.