Cult Mania: Inside the Attack on Bentinho Massaro: Part 1
By Alexander Vera
Schadenfreude. The word literally translates to “Damage-Joy” in German. Which means, to experience mischievous delight in the misfortune of others. Such is the case with Be Scofield’s callous and fallacious Medium article entitled: “Tech Bro Guru: Inside the Sedona Cult of Bentinho Massaro”
In the article, which I take serious issue with for reasons I will address later, Scofield delights in successfully infiltrating a Sedona based community led by Bentinho Massaro, a 29-year-old teacher of Spiritual Awakening who, to Scofield’s dismay, has a polished website and is running a successful business thanks to paid monthly online memberships and spiritual retreats offered throughout the year.
Massaro’s seemingly overnight rise to success has resulted in his fair share of fans and critics alike. Quite disproportionately, his fans number in the thousands. Yet his most vocal critics are people you can count on one hand. Internet trolls, forum posters, a blogger, and that one ubiquitous guy nobody can shake on youtube who posts rude comments under every video. Massaro has become an internet sensation among spiritual seekers and the already enlightened crowd looking for a more relatable guru. It’s easy to see why people like Massaro. His presence is comforting. He is charming, charismatic, highly intelligent, and he’s accessible. More importantly, he’s relatable and has the ability to articulate difficult spiritual concepts with an extraordinary degree of clarity and ease. He seems like the kind of guy you can have a beer with while discussing Buddhism and quantum physics. But his raw, unfiltered, and dare I say, entertaining teaching style has gotten him into a bit of trouble lately with the overly sensitive types. This isn’t your dad’s guru.
In her report, Scofield flagrantly pushes the limits of logic and argumentation. Often going to great intellectual lengths to distort the truth and reframe benign situations into something sinister in order to elicit outrage, at Massaro’s expense. What’s fascinating is that it seems as if she almost revels in the possibility of being caught red-handed by only the savviest of readers, unabashedly stretching the truth and drawing outrageous conclusions, but doesn’t care. Like Moriarty in an Arthur Conan Doyle novel, she cleverly leaves a trail of clues and relishes in almost being caught, but gets away with it anyway. Her report reads less like a legitimate exposé, and more like a hatchet job stemming from a personal vendetta.
Scofield also makes it abundantly clear that she is either unable to grasp basic spiritual concepts like positive thinking, or she is covertly playing dumb for the sole purpose of twisting Massaro’s teachings into something malicious and dangerous for her audience’s enjoyment, as if seen through the eyes of a highly paranoid spiritual newcomer. And we’re talking really basic spiritual concepts here. Things like positive thinking and spiritual awakening seem to be completely lost on her. Which is why I’m not entirely convinced that her naiveté is genuine.
Scofield, a transgender writer, is the founder of “Decolonizing Yoga.” A website that attempts to demonstrate how practices of yoga, mindfulness, and spiritual awakening can contribute to worldwide oppression, inequality, racism, and injustice. Talk about pessimism. That is the most negative interpretation of modern spirituality that I’ve ever heard, and Scofield must have endured some pretty bad yoga classes to launch an all-out assault on every modern-day spiritual practice.
On her website, she posts articles from various authors with titles like: “6 ways Spiritual Thinking Can Reinforce Oppression and Racism,” and “Please Don’t Tell me I’m in a Safe Space,” where the author argues that yoga teachers, therapists, and spiritual teachers are in the wrong and disempowering their students when they use the phrase “you’re in a safe space,” because it causes her to panic. She goes on to argue that yoga studios make her feel vulnerable, which threatens her sense of safety and security.
“Whenever I’ve been told, as a survivor of trauma, that I’m in a safe place, my body tenses and my palms get sweaty. My entire visceral being longs to cry out, “Please don’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t be feeling.”
She then suggests that yoga studios avoid using the word “relax” because many abusers use this command to get people to comply. While my heart goes out any and all victims of trauma, this is highly paranoid and negatively oriented stuff, and there is obviously an extreme bias here. It should be no surprise to anyone that Scofield singled out a spiritual organization and a teacher of awakening as a target for her exposé given her unfortunate bias and personal history.
But let’s just give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume that her spiritual ignorance is sincere. And concepts like spiritual awakening are completely radical to her. I can tell by her writing that she most certainly has never experienced it. This might explain why she finds Massaro’s teachings and spiritual concepts so outrageous that she felt compelled to attempt to bring down his entire organization on a whim. She also really doesn’t like his tough love teaching style, or his tendency to raise his voice…but we’ll get to that part later. She mainly criticizes his teachings through the lens of an outsider looking in, without being able to grasp any of the concepts. This is akin to someone who doesn’t understand or believe in theoretical physics, setting out to destroy Stephan Hawking because his teachings don’t make sense and must therefore pose a threat to society. That’s Scofield’s logic. It’s a difficult thing to talk about with people who have never experienced it, because it’s so outside of how most people experience their day to day life.
Luckily, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on Scofield’s obtuse exposé. Unlike Scofield, I intellectually and experientially understand many of the concepts Massaro has gone to great lengths to teach on his website, and in the workshops and videos she has seen fit to crucify him for. Secondly, I have had these experiences on my own with the guidance of other prominent teachers and authors I was exposed to well before Massaro even had a platform. So, I can provide an unbiased perspective before exposing Scofield’s exposé for the calculated smear piece that it is.
Full disclosure: As of this writing, I have never met Bentinho Massaro. Nor have I ever attended a retreat, or have I ever contacted or been contacted by him or his organization. I have never met any of his followers or workshop attendees. My conclusions are based entirely on independent and thorough research of him, his organization, the articles and content presented on his websites, and the dozens of hours of videos and lectures that I have studied. So far, all seem genuinely well-intentioned and altruistic in nature.
When I had my awakening experience several years ago, I was hit with a sense of no longer being an individual personality, I was just awareness itself. It didn’t matter what dramas or challenges presented themselves in my life, I was unfazed by any of it. Good news, bad news, it was all the same. They were all just events that were occurring, and I was simply the observer of these events. And I could observe them without judgement, and without caring about outcomes. Life just became this strange, illusory dream where nothing was real. I mean that literally, none of it was real. I felt as if my life and everyone in it were just projections of my consciousness, like images projected onto a screen. These were not just ideas or concepts in my head, this was something that was happening TO me. Whether I wanted it or not.
Moreover, my life no longer felt like one long linear timeline. Instead, it felt like I was jumping from one parallel reality to another, several times per day. Like a railroad switch jumping from one train track to another, depending on what I was focused upon. I could see and feel my life unfolding in segments, instead of in a linear way. But more importantly, I understood how the circumstances and events in my life, as well as what I was observing in the world, were a projection of consciousness.
This awakened perspective is something that Scofield and a very small sect of the spiritual community are adamantly opposed to, as evidenced by Scofield’s decidedly biased website. She represents a community who is uncompromisingly opposed to any spiritual practice or tradition that places greater importance on the spiritual world, over the material. To Scofield and her advocates, the concerns and injustices of the material world transcend all spiritual pursuits, to the point of dogma. More so, they demand that focused attention must be given to every social cause and injustice in the world, preferably the causes most dear to them, and they insist that only staunch activism has any real, tangible value in effecting social change. This approach not only goes against the laws of metaphysics, but is contrary to the teachings of just about every spiritual master worth quoting. These masters went to great lengths to teach us that the world was an illusory construct, emanating from consciousness. A teaching which many modern-day Christians and even Buddhists seem to gloss over or scoff at, but which the truly awakened individual understands experientially first-hand.
The awakened mind also understands that placing focus and attention on the unwanted, only creates more of it. The awakened perspective is one of spiritual activism, or solution based activism. These instead place the focus on affirmative advocacy and solutions, over traditional, confrontational activism. Scofield’s website even takes issues with the teachings of various awakened spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, painting him as a misguided and dangerous fool for espousing that our state of consciousness creates our world, and for insisting that no amount of action will make any difference unless we change our inner world first. Scofield and her advocates are adamantly against this spiritual philosophy, and any guru or spiritual teacher that disseminates such ideas. So it should be no surprise to anyone that she singled out Massaro and his teachings as the subject of her exposé.
But these spiritual teachings are not new. When Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world,” Scofield and her cohorts would have suggested that this type of thinking is irresponsible. When Jesus said “turn the other cheek,” they would have scoffed and labeled him as dangerous and short-sighted. In other words, according to Scofield, the non-dualistic teachings contained within the various forms of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and even A Course in Miracles, are all equally dangerous and irresponsible.
These diametrically opposed spiritual philosophies are evident in Scofield’s approach compared to Massaro’s:
Awakened view: Love others as you love yourself; love and embrace all belief systems within creation as the one infinite creator expressing itself in a multitude of ways; love and forgive those who don’t agree.
Scofield’s view: Unite against, protest, persecute; go to war, discredit, dismantle; eliminate opposition; eradicate, and destroy opposing belief systems.
Scofield persecutes Massaro for his beliefs about himself, his beliefs about spirituality, and his beliefs about the world and the nature of consciousness. Make no mistake, this is spiritual and religious persecution, masquerading as news and social justice. And yet, despite the cynical and binary way she sees the world, and Massaro, I can’t help but feel sorry for her, and the painful life experiences she must have endured to arrive at such a negatively oriented, war-like mentality. I understand how great suffering can distort an individual’s world-view, often leading to a deep sense of disillusionment and pessimism. This is how the activist is commonly born, but the activist’s moral compass must be guided by tolerance and compassion for the beliefs of others. Scofield’s spiritual and religious persecution is in and of itself, the very exemplification of intolerance, exclusivity, and oppression. The very things she claims to stand against.
Conversely, Bentinho’s brand of contemplative, or inclusive spirituality is one in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, “everything belongs.” And as Carl McColman writes in his excellent Patheos article entitled “Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia,” “is a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls.” It’s unfortunate that Scofield’s brand of spirituality doesn’t extend the same level of tolerance and inclusiveness to Massaro.
Despite having an intellectual and conceptual understanding of this type of inclusive spirituality where “everything belongs,” it took me years to have an experiential understanding of it. Ironically, my experience of awakening wasn’t exactly a good time, and eventually lead to a profound sense of apathy. On the plus side, there was no more personal suffering. But there was no joy either. That was the double-edged sword.
But here’s the kicker: having an awakening experience isn’t like getting a college degree, where once you get it, you get to keep it and not have to work at it anymore. It’s easy to get sidetracked, it’s easy to get wrapped up in life’s dramas and fall back asleep. Without some kind of conscious practice, old patterns of thought and behavior can easily resurface. So in an effort to avoid falling back asleep in a society that constantly reinforces and inundates people with conformity, I made it a point to occasionally listen to video lectures from random spiritual masters and authors. Just to stay on top of my game.
That’s when Bentinho Massaro entered my awareness. In an attempt to bridge the gap between the apathy I felt from my awakening experience, and the “you create your reality” school of thought, I entered the following search query into YouTube: “Law of Attraction vs Non-Duality.” Lo and behold, there was Bentinho Massaro. A face I had seen before, but I had never seen him take such complex spiritual concepts and articulate them with such an extraordinary amount of clarity. Like most people, I was slightly skeptical of this new young guru but I tried to keep an open mind. What astounded me was his stream of consciousness, how his thoughts just seemed to flow from one concept to the next in seemingly never-ending stream. That’s not something that can be easily faked. It was obvious that he had firsthand awareness of the subject matter, and wasn’t just quoting ideas and platitudes. Impressive.
I found Massaro to be graceful, articulate, and inspired. It was the aha moment I needed. Massaro served as a reminder of something that I had simply forgotten, spirituality without conscious utilization of metaphysics is useless. The irony was that I had thrown out most of the Law of Attraction concepts I had learned years ago because I thought I didn’t need them anymore. After all, I was awakened and enlightened right? Wrong.
In one 14 minute episode, Massaro gave me the breakthrough I was looking for. I felt tremendous gratitude for that. Best of all, it was free. So when I stumbled across Scofield’s exposé, I was shocked at the unscrupulous lengths she went through to destroy him. I tried to keep an open mind, and consider for a moment that Massaro might be the maniacal movie villain Scofield makes him out to be. But after over doing my own research, it didn’t add up.
In part two of her article where she describes her arrival in Sedona, Scofield admits to having a carefully planned agenda to take down down a spiritual leader well before researching her target. She publicly and openly admits her plan to take down Massaro regardless of what she might uncover, and well before infiltrating the group. This is akin to a movie reviewer writing a negative review before even getting to the theater, then finding a way to make the movie fit the pre-written review, instead of the other way around. Scofield’s prejudice was obvious, her logic was flawed, and her tactics unethical.
Not being one to sit idly by while such woefully inaccurate and hateful narratives take hold online, I decided to do my part and address Scofield’s crude exposé point by point. Because someone has to put a stop to this nonsense. This type of thinking has become rampant in journalism and in the media at large, and we are headed down a very dangerous path. Where writers and amateur journalists become both judge and jury. We have become so paranoid of wrong-doing as a society, so eager to vilify, that we’ve lost touch with our sense of compassion and common sense. We have sacrificed the presumption of innocence in favor of our prejudices. We have become so lazy in our willingness to apply critical thinking, that we blindly accept whatever information we are spoon fed as long as it is presented in the form of news. And we have become a culture that persecutes based on conjecture, opinion, and spin, instead of facts.
I had been meaning to write an article on the topic of responsible reporting, journalistic integrity, and the dangers of media manufactured outrage for weeks. And in the current climate, there was no shortage of options. The media’s portrayal of sex scandals, the Trump administration, foreign affairs. But when I stumbled across Scofield’s licentious report, it exemplified these dangers so perfectly that it became obvious that someone needed to speak out. Rarely had I ever seen such unethical and exploitative reporting for the explicit purpose of discrediting an individual or an organization. A clearly biased, faux journalist fabricating outrage to justify spiritual and religious persecution? Not on my watch.
“Cult.” More often than not, that word has been used throughout history to describe benign and often well-intentioned organizations who refused to conform to social norms and the prevailing thought systems of the time. Ironically, the term is rarely used to describe organizations that actually pose a tangible risk to its members, and more often used to describe spiritual practices such as Tibetan Buddhism (you know, that Dalai Lama “cult”). This isn’t new, we love tearing down belief systems that don’t jive with our own. It’s our national pastime. So when I saw the title of Scofield’s article “Tech Bro Guru: Inside the Cult of Bentinho Massaro…instantly a red flag when off. Am I about to click on something of journalistic integrity? Or am I being baited? The title alone contains 3 stereotypes/labels. Tech Bro, Guru, and Cult. My mom says it’s not nice to name call. But Scofield, a self-proclaimed “journalist” went for the triple threat right in the title. Right off the bat, anyone with a decent head on their shoulders should be able to conclude that this is someone with a biased agenda. And not a nice one.
It also reminded me of the word “scam” which the internet LOVES. “Scam” just so happens to be the number one word a savvy internet marketer can add to his or her website/blog post to increase traffic exponentially. It no longer matters if a product is viable or lives up to its claims, just add the word “scam” and sure enough you’ll get clicks and internet fame. The age of internet marketing and monetizing of information has created a culture of disparaging people, organizations, and products in order to increase ad revenue and click-throughs. Gone are the days where one could conduct a simple google search for say…a natural cure to an ailment without getting bombarded with the word “scam” followed by some kind of review and an alternative recommendation with an affiliate link. Try searching for Magnesium, or just about any other natural supplement followed by the word scam and you’ll come to the same conclusion. Google research is dead.
But Scofield is smart, because the internet loves a negative review doesn’t it? Do you know another word that can drive almost as much traffic to a webpage as the word scam? You guessed it, “cult.” Scofield uses it a total of 62 times in the entirety of her report.
This is why the internet is simultaneously the greatest place and absolute worst place on earth. You can Google just about anything, and there’s always going to be at least one asshole who hates it. Oprah, Gandhi, Chick-fil-A, the NutriBullet. I don’t care what it is, someone out there hates it and has posted a negative review somewhere. Such is the case with Bentinho Massaro. Scofield is capitalizing on society’s love affair with scandals, public humiliation, and bad publicity. Ironically, spiritual gurus are pretty much the most volatile subject matter out there. I don’t care who it is, nothing incites internet outrage, bad press and negative reviews like a spiritual master. It’s right up there with Ikea furniture. Trying to find a good spiritual guru is like trying to find a good blender on Amazon. One guy gives it 5 stars and says it’s the best purchase they ever made, changed their life. The next guy says “This piece of shit doesn’t work! Broke in 2 weeks, demand refund!” How can anyone make an informed decision in an environment like that? Sometimes I just stare at the screen asking myself if I’m going to end up being the guy who leaves a 5-star review, or the guy who ends up buying the piece of shit.
So where was I? That’s right, “cult.” More often than not, “cult” was a word used to justify religious persecution. You would think that a transgender writer would be more sensitive to derogatory labels and stereotypes. Nope. Scofield eagerly jumps on the “cult” labeling bandwagon and baits her readers into manufactured outrage by showing video clips of Massaro taken out of context, and reducing them to their most volatile interpretation. Her bias is glaringly obvious, we’re talking the type of spin that would make a Fox News exec proud. And she does so with reckless abandon, often portraying herself as if she’s doing a public service.
Sedona and the internet seemed perfectly happy with Bentinho Massaro until Scofield’s article came out. Nobody had any problems or noticed any wrong-doing, except for that one blogger which shall not be named. But the moment one shitty review came out, everyone suddenly started giving Massaro the stink eye and demanding their Amazon refund. So here’s my advice to you, oh savvy internet consumer. I don’t care if it’s a spiritual master or a blender, find the product with the least amount of negative reviews and enjoy it until it breaks. Don’t go out looking for wrong-doing and deceit where none exists. And don’t let one bad review influence your decision. Draw your own conclusion from personal experience. Massaro has very few critics and thousands of fans. Use discernment.
According to Scofield’s logic, any organization based on a common idea or belief should rightfully be labeled a cult. Especially those who seek to end personal suffering or better the lives of its members. NAACP? Cult. PETA? Cult. Mary Kay Cosmetics? Definitely a cult. Alcoholics Anonymous? I mean…have you been to an AA meeting? They form a circle and chant together in unison…obviously a cult. Ever paid to attend a Bentinho Massaro event? Hate to break it to you, but you’re a “cult follower.” In one fell swoop, she proceeds to insult every single one of Massaro’s thousands of fans, including anyone who’s ever paid a membership fee, attended an online seminar, or paid for a workshop. Unceremoniously labeling all of them, as “cult followers.” And the internet, along with Sedona, just went along with it. Bravo.
Scofield begins her exposé by displaying a photo of Bentinho teaching a seminar in front of a large, well dressed and very un-cult-like audience with the caption “…large crowds of his followers.”
Oh, so someone can’t attend a workshop or an event without being labeled a follower now? I paid good money to attend a Grateful Dead concert back in 2006, am I a suddenly a follower? A dead head? This is the binary and obtuse type of thought process that infringes upon critical thinking. It’s not only impetuous, but reckless.
More importantly, Scofield also violates almost every rule of journalism ethics and standards in the entirety of her internet exposé. Namely, objectivity, impartiality, and accuracy. I would strongly advise her to freshen up and stay up to date on modern journalism standards, to avoid using persecution tactics from the dark ages by visiting the Society of Professional Journalists website https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
Here are the 7 codes of ethics established by the Society of Professional Journalists which she blatantly violates in her reporting:
- Provide Context. Take special care not to oversimplify in promoting, previewing, or summarizing a story
- Identify Sources Clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivation of sources
- Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public
- Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant
- Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences shape their reporting
- Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments
- Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness
Scofield’s article, which was less of an exposé and more of a cold and calculated smear campaign, is not so much about the dangers and perils of cults as much as it was a laser-focused take-down of a spiritually based organization without any thought to the consequences and collateral damage. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge her real motivations, but she makes it very clear in both parts one and two of her exposé that she just doesn’t like the guy, or the fact that he has fans and a large following. She simply wanted to take him down at all cost. Which she makes perfectly in part two of her report, entitled “Tech Bro Guru: Behind the Scenes, where she writes:
“I looked around. I was immediately suspicious. As a longtime journalist who’s written about gurus, my radar alerted me. I even joked with her “It sounds like a cult to me.” I googled “Bentinho Massaro cult” right there and showed her my phone. From that point on nothing would be the same.”
So, she simply googled “Bentinho Massaro” followed by the word “cult?” Really? “Bentinho Massaro cult” was your Google search query? Great investigative journalism Scofield, I wonder what kind of search results that rendered. That reminds me to google “Vitamin C scam” next time I want unbiased information on America’s favorite supplement. So much for journalistic impartiality and objectivity. Why don’t you check his Amazon reviews while you’re at it.
What I also find equally fascinating, is how she arrived at her decision to infiltrate the group and write her premeditated smear piece to begin with. Scofield also blatantly admits that she intended to take down Massaro and his organization well before she ever met him or studied his teachings. This was her goal from the very beginning. She writes:
“I messaged my astrologer in Asheville about what had transpired. I sent the photo of Bentinho as the Joker along with this message:”
“Getting a huge hit on this one. Since I arrived in Sedona I keep meeting people who are followers of this well known spiritual teacher Bentinho Massaro who lives here. He’s building a cult. I’ve seen and read disturbing stuff. Yet, he keeps coming into my awareness. He’s next.”
“My astrologer and I have a cosmic connection. He knows my uncanny history of running into dangerous, dysfunctional leaders and communities and exposing them”
Does anyone else find it irresponsible and reckless that Scofield relies on her Astrologer’s approval prior to character assassination? What is an Astrologer supposed to say to that? “Why yes, as a matter of fact, as Saturn in Capricorn transits through your tenth house of career, this month would be an excellent time for slandering and defamation. Also, Uranus turns direct on the 29th, making it a great time for spiritual or religious persecution, and organizing your closet. Your lucky numbers are 3, 6, and 19.”
It get’s better. Scofield continues:
“my body came over in complete chills. I laid on my bed and felt a cosmic download. My body was overwhelmed with tingles from head to toe. My body started to shake. I couldn’t move. I felt surges of power pulsing through me. I just knew. “I have to stop this guy” I told myself.”
Does this set off any red flags for anyone else? I find it ironic that the creepiest thing in her entire exposé doesn’t have anything to do with Massaro at all. It’s her description of chills, shaking and the “surges of power” pulsing through her body as she laid in bed thinking about Massaro that wins the award for most spine-chilling cult moment of the week. It almost elicits images from the Exorcist.
Now allow me to apply the same degree of spin Scofield uses throughout her entire reporting, permit me to get biblical for a moment, just for fun. Let us consider the possibility that Massaro really is who he says he is. Every enlightened being who has ever walked the earth has been met with violent opposition. Sinister forces have always conspired to take down the greatest masters among us. Or so our earth mythologies maintain. We don’t love and idolize our greatest teachers when they show up, we crucify them. One might call these forces dark, satanic, Luciferian, or Archonic. It’s not my thing, but whatever tickles your fancy. Now, I’m not one to entertain this spiritual warfare type of thinking, but indulge me for a moment. Does Scofield’s experience of bodily chills, shaking, and surges of power pulsating through her body sound like divine intervention to you? Does it sound like loving and benevolent source energy? Does it sound like God saying hi? Because it sounds more like demonic possession to me. Surges of power? That’s not an experience I’ve ever heard associated with divine communion. If I was the superstitious type, I would suggest that perhaps Scofield’s mission to take down Massaro was inspired by another source. Or maybe that’s just fanciful thinking.
Either way, I’m going to break down each alleged claim made by Scofield in her nonsensical, ill-conceived exposé. Because the level of spin and absurdity is so incredibly strong that it stunk up the internet and shook up the Sedona community for weeks.
First I have to take issue with the way Massaro is portrayed in the entirety of the article, and the photos that Scofield carefully selected. Featuring cherry-picked Instagram photos of Massaro in full diabolical Halloween costume?Carefully placed under the “Sedona Cult” caption at the top of the page? Dick move Scofield, dick move. Finding the most unflattering photos you can find to feature in your exposé is such a shitty faux journalist move. If that doesn’t set off red flags in your head about the author’s intentions and preconceived agenda, nothing will.
In the center photo, Massaro is dressed as the Joker from Suicide Squad, the most popular men’s costume of that year. And he obviously looks psychotic…that is the point of a Halloween Costume, after all. Oh, and he has his shirt off. Scofield hates that. She doesn’t like that at all, I suppose that’s what makes him a “tech bro.” She also doesn’t like that he smokes cigars, because she has him smoking cigars all over the place. Apparently, cigar smoking is also very “tech bro.” Kids nowadays, eh Scofield? But wait, the Hugh Hefner costume with the two bunnies? Bravo Bentinho. I’m just pissed that Massaro stole my costume idea for this year. Do you know how hard it is to find couple costumes? Well done sir, well done. Scofield would have you believe that Massaro is the leader of some new Sedona sex cult who smokes cigars and preys on innocent truth seekers while hosting spiritual retreats so he can bang chicks. Nice try.
Do I actually have to remind Scofield that Massaro is in his late 20's? Do you remember what it’s like to be in your 20's? And what’s worse, do you know what it’s like to be in your 20’s in this day and age and feel obligated to date girls who are also in their 20's? It’s a nightmare. You have to dress up every Halloween and find cool couples costumes, and there’s all this pressure to look good naked. And of course, your friends can’t think you stayed home on Halloween, so you’ll want to make sure everyone on social media knows how you spent your evening. So naturally, you’ll need to take pictures to post on Instagram and social media to let all of your girlfriend’s friends know what a great time you’re having and what a fun boyfriend you are…it’s awful. But I digress.
My advice to Scofield? Don’t be a dick. My advice to Massaro? Date older women. Preferably ones that know how to cook. And rather than dress up on Halloween and smoke cigars like an asshole, stay home to pass out candy to the kids out of a plastic pumpkin while looking out the window to make sure they stay off your lawn like an old fuddy-duddy. Because apparently you can’t be spiritual and dress up for Halloween in this great nation or risk public persecution by Scofield, the cult hunter. Now that I got that out of the way, on to my main points.
1. Claim divinity and special God like powers
Let’s get the “claiming divinity” part out of the way first. I don’t care if you’re talking about Jesus or the Buddha, Wayne Dyer or Eckhart Tolle. The central teaching of every spiritual master who has taught awakening, is that there is a spark of divinity within every single human being. We are all divine, and one person is not more divine than any other. The only difference is the personal, individual acceptance and realization of that divinity and the embodying of that idea. Massaro doesn’t call himself a guru, a God, or seek worship from his workshop attendees. Oh sorry Scofield, I meant “cult followers.”
It seems to me that what Scofield really takes issue with, is the fact that Massaro has followers. People who idolize and look up to him. This obviously rubs her the wrong way. Unfortunately, the path of the guru is the greatest enemy of the guru. It’s a paradox. If you have the misfortune of gathering fame for your spiritual teachings, you’re going to eventually earn a following. If you earn a following, you’re inevitably going to be labeled a guru. And the more followers you get, the more likely you’ll become a famous guru. No spiritual master has been able to escape it. It’s difficult for any teacher of awakening to facilitate lectures, workshops or retreats without an audience. And it’s difficult for an audience that resonates with the teaching not to look up to or express appreciation for their teacher. It’s an observable and inevitable social dynamic that corresponds to the teacher/student relationship. Asking students to feel nothing for their teacher, particularly one that teaches love in the first place, is unreasonable. It comes with the territory. What’s the guy going to do, not teach or speak his truth simply to avoid being labeled a guru? I don’t see Scofield going after Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle. God forbid they devise a nice website and start charging membership fees.
Secondly, let’s get to the God-like powers bit. Uri Geller made a career of spoon bending, despite reports that it was a hoax and he was simply an illusionist. Years later, several people claimed to have personally witnessed him bend a spoon from across a room. To this day, many people feel that Geller was the real deal. Nobody called him a God, or worshiped him for it. Nor did he ask for worship. Thankfully he didn’t try to go out and teach love and awakening or suffer the wrath of Be Scofield, the cult hunter.
When I was a kid, my mother took a mind-over-matter class similar to Geller’s spoon bending technique. She came home to experiment with the technique and ended setting off her bedroom fire alarm after laying in bed and staring at it for 30 minutes. And I assure you, my mother is certainly no guru.
The Hopi Indians of Northeastern Arizona have a tradition of creating rain during droughts, and they’re very open about their ability. Several people have personally seen them conjure rain. I don’t see America coming out of the woodwork to worship the Hopi Indians as Gods. Personally, my mind is open enough to entertain the idea that anything and everything is possible in this physical universe. And I can’t dismiss claims out of hand which I have not personally witnessed. Am I convinced that Massaro has mastered the matrix and pulled a Neo? No, and I don’t care. At best, maybe he’s able to pull a rabbit out of a hat now and then. At worst, perhaps his ego is getting the best of him and he’s made claims to his workshop attendees…sorry, “cult followers.” If I were Massaro’s attorney, I would strongly advise against making such claims in public. But he’s also a 29-year-old guy trying to come to terms with his newfound fame and guru status. As a public figure, he’s going to fall, and he’s going to experience some setbacks. He’s also bound to have some egoic moments in public. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here.
But, if he has mastered the material world and is suddenly able to bend matter to his will, I would expect him to de-materialize Scofield’s atrocious “exposé” from the internet and send it back to the Archonic realm from whence it came. And if he could take every Kenny G album with it, that would be great.
In the comments above, Scofield again quotes multiple unnamed sources, and uses conjecture and hearsay to manipulate the reader into actually believing that Massaro claims to be a God. And not just a God, but one who’s higher than Jesus. The highlighted green portion above, presents Scofield’s hypothesis, she’s actually not quoting anyone at all, she’s extrapolating and attempting to pass it off as facts.
Scofield writes: “Bentinho is a God, you see. He said Jesus was only 4th density out of 8.” She’s actually not directly quoting anyone here. Instead, she’s paraphrasing and hypothesizing. She’s attempting to draw the conclusion that since Massaro claimed Jesus was a 4th density being, Massaro must feel he is a God. What? That’s quite a stretch Scofield. How did you draw that conclusion?
What she does here is very clever, and impressively manipulative. Let’s deconstruct.
A) Scofield digs up an old Facebook post where Massaro is asked a question about how his life parallels Jesus. Massaro’s response is very clear. Jesus did not consider himself to be God (as born-again Christians believe), he thought of himself as a son of God.
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. There are millions of people who don’t believe that Jesus was God, myself included. Nothing new or controversial there. Massaro echoes the sentiments of millions of New Agers. Scofield then goes on to quote Massaro as saying that Jesus was a 4th density being. Although she provides no evidence of that Massaro actually said such a thing, I will give her the benefit of the doubt here and assume that Massaro really did say that Jesus was a 4th density being in the original Facebook post.
B) From one sentence to the next, she quickly transitions from the old Facebook discussion to a conversation that took place in 2017 during her infiltration, where one unnamed student claimed that Massaro was an 8th density being. Then she quotes another unnamed group of students who claim Massaro is a 6th density being. She quotes two unnamed sources, and still, no one can seem to agree.
Then she puts two and two together to form a hypothesis. She does the math, and combines the 4th density Facebook quote from years ago, with recent quotes from the unnamed students, then attempts to draw the conclusion that if Jesus was a 4th density being, and his students are allegedly claiming that Massaro is either a 6th or 8th density being, Massaro must claim to be God! And higher than Jesus! Don’t be duped, you won’t find Massaro claiming to be God anywhere. Scofield makes it up. Does he claim to be divine? Sure, we all are. That’s the point. Whether we came from this density or that, is irrelevant. Massaro’s views about himself, are not part of his central teachings.
Personally, I dislike when spiritual teachers attempt to place people and things into hierarchies, because it sounds incredibly egotistical. To categorize masters and their teachings into this density or that density really helps no one achieve a deeper understanding. And Massaro is certainly guilty of that here. I’m definitely deducting cool points for bragging to his students which density he is from, if in fact he is guilty of such a thing. His students can’t even agree on which density that is, which is why I doubt the authenticity of those claims. Having said that, no one has been harmed or violated here in any way. Because bragging isn’t a crime. Scofield, on the other hand, is using conjecture and hypothesis to put words into Massaro’s mouth and accusing him of claiming to be God. Which is unfair, and incredibly deceptive.
Scofield then points out that Massaro claims his teachings are currently the best “offered on all planet earth.” This is a petty and mind-numbingly dull point. If you had an awakening experience or any spiritual experience that you wanted to share with the world, would you go out and share something you thought was the second or third best spiritual path? No. Do Christians or Muslims think their paths are “pretty good” or somewhat passable? No. Do Jews refer to the Torah as a New York Times bestseller? No. Every spiritual teacher feels that what they are offering is the best in the world, why else would they offer it? Steve Jobs didn’t say hey, I’m going to come up with a pretty good phone that might do OK. The spiritual pioneers, artists, creators and inventors who create the greatest change and contribute to the human landscape in meaningful ways, all have one thing in common. The idea of excellence. Massaro believes his teachings lead to the greatest awakening, joy and empowerment. And he shouldn’t be persecuted for believing in himself, or his ability to teach this to others. Also, to denounce other spiritual teachings as being inferior to his is his right and his prerogative, especially given the fact that he is a spiritual teacher with his own curriculum.
As I have stated before, my experience of awakening was not fun. It created a sense of apathy and joylessness in my life, and I felt like something was missing. Massaro feels that his program addresses this phenomenon because it’s the single most holistic and comprehensive spiritual teaching available today. So if his teachings can lead people to an awakening experience with a deeper understanding and joy, this would certainly explain why he is so confident in his program.
2. Normalize verbal abuse as part of the spiritual path and then claim impunity as a Guru
I just have to call bullshit on this one. Here, Scofield features a video clip where an audience member is telling Massaro that’s she’s offended by his use of the term “Fuck You.” Now let’s provide some context, she’s attending a personal development workshop. So he did what you would expect him to do, challenge her. And instead of backing down, he repeated the offending phrase. He attempted to do what most personal development and empowerment coaches would do (at least the good ones). Attempt to remove victim consciousness from the equation, and make her feelings “unhurtable.” To remove the power that words have to harm an individual. This is exactly the same thing I’ve seen Tony Robbins do again and again (another “tech bro” with a huge “cult following”). If you watch Tony Robbins work with people, he uses what’s called a “state change.” He uses the word “fuck” and it’s variation to shock and elicit a response from the audience or the person he’s working on. It’s vulgar, but there is a purpose, technique, and strategy behind it’s use. It’s obvious to anyone with two eyes and ears that neither Massaro or Robbins have ill intentions for their audience. In fact, the opposite is true. These men care deeply about people, and there is nothing mean-spirited or hateful about them.
Nobody goes to a self-help seminar or a spiritual workshop to be pandered to, some people need to have their beliefs challenged. Massaro is obviously very passionate about eliciting change in his audience, and sometimes that passion comes through in the form of raising his voice to get his point across. And in every youtube clip that I’ve seen him do this, he does it from a place of humor and a genuine desire to help people move past their limiting beliefs. He does it with purpose, and with love.
The same can be said for Tony Robbins, another personal development icon Scofield apparently takes issue with. Scofield features an anti-Robbins article on her website, which characterizes him as a lewd, sexist, cultish figure who bullies his audience. Sound familiar? We’re talking about the same Tony Robbins who personally coached Bill Clinton and Oprah here. Scofield would have you believe that the 54 million people who have benefited from his workshops and training programs, are all victims and martyrs, and are simply too stupid to realize it.
The article on Scofield’s website goes on to describe a moment during a seminar where Robbins hugs a woman who had been the victim of sexual trauma, then the author reframes this endearing moment as a perfect example of how “easily women’s experiences can be silenced by fantasies of male saviorship.” Because of a hug? Talk about the glass always being half empty, you just can’t win with these people. Incidentally, this is the same Tony Robbins who has fed over 20 million people through his Feeding America program, who also provides fresh water to 100,000 people in India on a daily basis. Who’s next? The Dalai Lama? You just can’t reason with the wounded mind of a person who is perpetually offended.
Scofield doesn’t like that Massaro raises his voice or when he’s hard on people, she doesn’t like that at all. She especially doesn’t like his potty mouth. Perhaps she would feel more comfortable with a wispy, Indian guru type that’s extremely soft-spoken and gentle. I would advise that she check out Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he’s probably more her style. Super soft-spoken, humble, and he keeps his shirt on at Halloween parties. Scofield is obviously very fragile and easily offended. She goes on to highlight several posts where Bentinho actually has to rationalize his teaching style to the overly-sensitive, by stating that the shouting and raising of his voice is indeed from a place of love.
But here’s the kicker: Massaro warns his attendees at the start of several seminars that I’ve seen, that he has a very direct and sometimes unfiltered, raw teaching style. And that he doesn’t mean to offend. So far I haven’t seen anyone walk out after having received his disclaimer, and therefore if someone is sitting in a Massaro event it’s pretty safe to say that they consent. Everyone who signs up knows this. They all know what they signed up for, it’s a personal development seminar, not Sunday school. I’m not going to take my kids to an R-rated movie, then storm out of the theatre and write an exposé because someone said the word “shit.” That’s his tough love teaching style, and it’s not for everyone. And that’s ok. But to spin a story that he charges people money to berate and verbally abuse them is bullshit. And Scofield the cult hunter should be ashamed of the highly inaccurate picture she paints.
3. Have sex with your students
God forbid anyone falls in love at work. So now Scofield shames the guy for falling in love. For having the very human experience of the dissolution of one relationship, and transition into another, openly, and publicly. Oh sure, it’s ok to teach things like love, forgiveness, and understanding. But a guru who finds romantic love while on the job is where Scofield draws the line. What’s in really poor taste here, is that Scofield trivializes and cheapens Massaro’s relationship choices by making it sound like he’s just fucking anything that eats granola and walks. Like he’s just out there in the deserts of Sedona like Wilt Chamberlain getting drunk on kombucha, fasting and fucking students in his yurt. While it sure sounds like a great time in theory, it’s just not a very wise or practical way to build a good following. And it certainly doesn’t make for good online marketing.
And yet, it seems with every relationship Massaro has, he honors and publicly loves the people he’s with. Let’s not forget that these are all consensual relationships, nobody has been harmed or violated in any way. I can search Massaro’s Instagram feed and see him proudly stand by his relationships. People with big hearts, love big. Geez Scofield, did your parents not hug you growing up? Life happens, love happens. These are the experiences of being human. What I love about Massaro is that he lives his truth and he lives transparently and loves out in the open, without shame.
Now to address the rumors that he’s polyamorous. I once told my girlfriend that I think we should be poly and she told me to go to hell, so it didn’t work for me. But if that is his choice and it’s in alignment with the desires of his partner(s), then I see no reason to judge. I’m also surprised yet again, that a transgender writer isn’t more tolerant of the lifestyle choices or sexual preferences of others. And that she uses Massaro’s lifestyle choices to personally shame him. Dick move, Scofield. Having said that, let’s just pretend for a second that everything Massaro portrays himself to be, is actually true. He loves unconditionally, he has risen above the illusory nature of this physical universe and he is filled with love and compassion for all beings. If he has all that love within him, should he be limited to one tradition and conventional relationships? Is exclusively loving one person enough for him? And if not, can we as a society be ok with that? Can we tolerate that? I believe so. I believe people should be allowed to love whoever and however they please. As long as it doesn’t violate the free will of others, or inhibit their ability to choose.
Scofield goes on to feature a video clip, again taken out of context, where Massaro appears to be rationalizing doing something that seemed to be out of integrity that he ultimately felt actually was integrity after further contemplation. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that he’s not specifically referring to an affair or a relationship. But his explanation seems very reasonable, regardless of the subject matter. Nothing to see here.
4. Use disorienting methods to keep your devotees confused, distracted and in trance like states
Apparently, Massaro is a fan of dry fasting. True to form, Scofield goes on to list the dangers of dry fasting… blah blah blah. Naturally, she paints a picture of a dangerous cult leader who starves and hypnotizes his followers. Bullshit. God forbid anyone does a cleanse around here. Is fasting fun? No, not really. Is it scientifically proven to be healthy and beneficial when done correctly? Yup. Can it become dangerous when done incorrectly? Absolutely. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has free will and nobody is forced to do anything they don’t want to do at any one of these retreats. Scofield predictably quotes a doctor on the dangers of dry fasting to justify her point of view, Dr. Douglas Graham. And yet for every doctor who says dry fasting is dangerous, there’s another who says its highly beneficial when done correctly. Look up Dr.Filonov “Dry Medical Fasting” for the opposing argument that supports this practice. Scofield goes on to quote another unnamed source who claims they had a bad experience with fasting. Shocking.
5. Attack the family and encourage separation
I happen to really like this one. Scofield presents another video out of context, where she states:
“In this clip Bentinho angrily tells his members”:
“Fuck your relationships. They mean nothing. Let them go, let them go. Don’t give a fuck about your family. Don’t give a fuck about your children. Don’t give a fuck about your parents. Don’t give a fuck about your partner.”
First off, does he really sound “angry” in the video as Scofield’s caption clearly states? Nope, not at all. Passionate? Yes. Raw, enthusiastic and direct? Yes. We already know Scofield is extremely sensitive, and doesn’t like it when Massaro has a potty mouth or raises his voice even a little. We already know she doesn’t like his direct, uncensored teaching style. So, this comes as no surprise to anyone. But let’s try to consider in what context, Massaro might be justified in his behavior. Let’s try to provide some context for this seemingly outrageous claim. Let’s say you’re trying to end your personal suffering by moving past the dramas in your life and adopting a new positive outlook. Or let’s say your friends and family are completely unsupportive of your new spiritual path, your lifestyle choices, your sex change operation *ahem*or worse, they are actively trying to hinder and sabotage your spiritual growth. Massaro’s teaching? Fuck em. Well, I don’t know about you, but I like this teaching! Simple, concise, and to the point. It’s tough love over there in Sedona with the Massaro cult, but I kinda like it. Pretty sure this was Jesus’ attitude towards the Pharisees as well. Fuck ‘em.
Actually, Jesus was way more radical than Massaro in his “fuck ‘em” teachings. Check out the following two quotes from the New Testament:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
— Matthew 10:34–37
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
— Luke 14:26
Fuck ’em. Scofield would totally hate Jesus, like, absolutely loathe. Especially if he raised his voice publicly or said anything that could be misconstrued as rude. If Jesus was alive and well today I can only imagine the exposé she would unleash on the guy. Stalking his Instagram, interviewing lepers, researching alleged miracles, then posting a searing exposé featuring photos of him with his shirt off hanging out with hookers and tax collectors. Who does this guy think he is? Claiming to be divine and then loving everyone unconditionally. Performing miracles then dry fasting in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights against his doctor’s recommendation. Scofield would be pissed. I can see the headline now, “Long-Haired Hippie bro Guru: Inside the Nazareth cult of Jesus son of Mary.”