Saturday , November 28 2020

All About Town – Advanced Spiritual Retreat

By Theresa Puskar

Douglas Bentley at Flowering Heart Center

March 9 and 10, 2019, Wheaton, IL

Theresa Puskar, Douglas Bentley and Kasia Szumal

“I was a very adamant seeker, so much so that it completely hindered my spiritual growth. There was a constant obsession to get somewhere, to achieve something. It was such a huge hindrance, but for years, I couldn’t see it! At a certain point, I had shifts that happened to me where I saw the truth of what I am. It was so extraordinary and so commonsense all at the same time, that it halted the one, horrible act of seeking.”

Every once in a while, I hear a spiritual teacher speak, and I know that I’ve just been picked up by my next major transport truck, as I hike along the bumpy road of my spiritual path. That trucker races me past the short, arduous distances I would have otherwise trekked one foot in front of the other. I am spared the exhaustion and deeper blisters that more painfully etch themselves between my toes in my well–worn hiking boots. I experienced this with Dr. David R. Hawkins, then again with Eckhart Tolle and Sri Bhagavan—and now, about six years later, with Doug Bentley.

He opened the evening with the statement above, and I was aghast. He references the “deeply committed, adamant seeker” which I drive and pride myself to be, as a hindrance to my spiritual growth. Wait a second. I thought my commitment and passion would get me where I need to go. I have a great deal vested in my belief that my adamant seeking will ultimately set me free! Not so? Despite my ego’s massive resistance, when I first heard Doug make this statement, I knew that he was right.

“If I build myself up with another spiritual seeking [modality], I am still in prison—I just now added a yoga mat into my cell!”

I probably own too many barely broken–in yoga mats or barely–read book. While some part of me doesn’t like where this is going at all, another deeper knowing within me sees that he has hit on something profound…something I need to hear!

Doug has a long history with Oneness University, as he spent 10+ years as a monk with them in India. He headed up the American student body. For those of you who are new to my column, Oneness University hosted a month-long Deepening Program that I participated in 2013. Doug was a devotee of the founders, Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma, and spent a great deal of time under their one–on–one tutelage. From the moment I met him, I was moved by his spiritual commitment and his innate ability to speak the Truth in a way that was dynamic, wise and very practical.

“The path to freedom is the path to falling out of thinking.”

Doug explained that the more we live in the present moment and witness our lives, the closer we are to letting go of the labels and how–to’s that only serve to distract us from ultimate awakening. He encouraged meditation as a means to cultivating the witness-self and learning to stay in the present, but he did not provide us with a spiritual prescription. In fact, he joked about the wasted time he spent with 10 years of seeking behind him. Once he realized that all that’s required was and is here now, he was able to be more present.

“Until you are helpless, God remains helpless… Lord, I can’t go any further. You HAVE to help me. You have to take over my responsibilities… We should ask and be soaked in miracles, constantly experiencing the supreme consciousness… It is not enough to know that your God can do something; you must discover that your God will do it.”

When Doug made these statements, I felt a huge sense of release. I can be helpless. In fact, he encouraged us to cultivate a very personal relationship with whomever or whatever we experience as our Divine. We can ask for evidence of His interaction in our lives. For so many years, I carried such shame around my lack of faith. I beat myself up emotionally for not trusting that my Divine had my back. Then when Doug stated that there is no shame in asking for that which we desire and expecting to see evidence of their fruition, I again felt a sense of release. It’s okay not to have full faith until we have evidence. It’s okay to question.

“Be vastly, rawly, honest with yourself and where you are. Drop every moment and start each anew. Dying into each moment, allow yourself to crack wide open and experience all—your heart will crack open more and more.”

Doug unlocked a treasure trove of wisdom at this event. He re–contextualized misconceptions that I have likely been carrying for lifetimes. Not only did he feed my soul, I felt a newfound sense of enthusiasm for relating to my Divine on a more personal level. Part of me was back in India again. However, I became acutely aware that there has been quite a journey from the time I left the plane in Chennai in 2013 to being picked up by trucker Doug this past weekend. There are a couple of good–sized cracks in my ego’s armor. There’s definitely more to come!

Here are some wonderful quotes from Doug that I am graced to share with you. I would encourage you to read them more than once. Many hold deep, deep truths that can be glossed over at first glance:

“Let the mind tell you about the mind, which is being run by uncomfortable emotions.”

“Thoughts are not YOUR thoughts… Any dialogues
within your mind are the brain’s commentary. We have to be cool with that. Like a teething baby, we need not react, just know.”

“When you breathe deeply, it brings up the kundalini and quiets the mind. Anxiety/shallow breathing does the opposite and as members of our society, we are all caught in the default of shallow breathing. With the use of breath, we fall into beingness.”

“Awakening is not about knowing; it is only witnessing. There are no steps. It is falling out of the shackles of becoming more to fix, more to do, etc.”

“Allow yourself to experience each moment vastly.”

“Awaken to what is already happening. Witness the witness—that is it! There is nowhere to go and nothing to do!”

“I must learn to be vulnerable to life’s situations and when others tap on that pain within me, allow myself to experience it. I, then, heal a layer between myself and the other person. Anybody can be my soulmate as long as I keep burning through the layers.”

“Experience eating for the body as opposed to the mind.”

“Nurture relationships. Every day, ask yourself, ‘What can I do that would make my mother’s day? Partner’s day? Child’s day? Boss’s day?’”

“On healing: Let go of healing others, and let God do what God does.”

Ten four trucker Doug. Thanks for adding to the many miles along my soul’s journey!

The Flowering Heart Center holds weekly blessing groups, and hosts exceptional out-of-town guests like Doug Bentley. For more info, go to Doug conducts wonderful weekly webcasts Sunday evenings that are open to all. To learn more, go to www.SacredWisdom.School.

Theresa Puskar is an author, performer, speaker, minister and motivational audiobook producer. She is the creator of the “Terri” children’s book series, as well as being an actress and director, A powerful inspirational speaker and transition leader, Theresa edu–tains her audiences, by touching hearts and minds in a way that is engaging, joyful and life–affirming. For more information, visit her website at

On Saturday, May 11th @ 7:00 p.m., Theresa will be performing her healing solo autobiographical show, Causeless Joy (formerly Beauty, Bollywood and Beyond) at Equilibrium Energy + Education located at 850 S. Wabash Avenue, Suite 300, Chicago 60605. It received a 4–star review by New York Times critic, Alex Miller and a 5–star review by L.A. critic Samantha Simmonds–Ronceros. To learn more, or purchase your $20 ticket, go to


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