This weeks HUG touched me so much because it was an call from God. Nearly a week ago I went to listen to a talk from this weeks guest to hear a confirmation, a confirmation on the truth that God was calling me to share in the www.TheArtToHappiness.com happening June 2-14. When I heard Francis talk about his book, I AM That I Am which you can get on Amazon as well as on his website www.findinggraceatthecenter.com –
Listen to this life changing and absolutely freeing interview –
Francis Bennett was a Roman Catholic, Trappist monk for a number of years. He lived in two monasteries of the Trappist Order in the US and was also a member of an urban, contemplative monastic community originally founded in Paris, France in 1975. He has lived in France at several monasteries, including Saint Gervais et Protais in Paris, at Mont Saint Michel along the coast of the English Channel and in Canada at a small monastic community in Montreal Quebec. He received a five and a half year monastic/spiritual formation with the Trappists before he made his vows as a monk at Gethsemani Abbey in 1982. He graduated from the Pontifical College Josephinum with a BA in Philosophy and completed a two year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education with Ohio Health Hospital System in Columbus, Ohio. He has worked in ministry in the area of pastoral Care in the hospice movement, as a hospital chaplain and in pastoral care of the sick and dying in parish settings. He has lead retreats in both the Vipassana Buddhist Tradition and in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition. He has been offering spiritual direction and helping guide people in their spiritual quest for a number of years. He was an avid spiritual seeker throughout his entire time as a contemplative monk and studied deeply in both the Theravadan Buddhist practice of Vipassana, working primarily with Mahathera, the venerable Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (from whom he received a temporary monastic ordination in 1999-2001) and with several western Vipassana teachers. He studied Zen and practiced with Soen Sa Nim, the founder of the Providence Zen Center, in a kind of “correspondence course study” via the telephone, with Charlotte “Joko” Beck of the San Diego Zen Center and briefly with several other Zen teachers in both the Rinzai and Soto traditions of Japanese Zen.
In 2010, while in the middle of a Church Service in his monastery in Montreal, Francis suddenly experienced what he has come to call, “a radical perceptual shift in consciousness”, in which he discovered the ever present presence of spacious, pure awareness. He came to see that this awareness is actually the unchanging essence of who he really is and always has been; the Supreme Self, talked about by many sages and saints from many spiritual traditions down through the ages. He also came to see simultaneously, that this vast, infinite sense of presence at the center of his being (and at the center of the being of everyone else on the planet) is actually not at all separate from the presence of God, which he had been looking for during his many years as a monk and spiritual seeker. Francis is now living a “new incarnation” as a spiritual teacher in the contemporary, Non-Dual spiritual Tradition. Francis offers a blend of the Buddhist Traditions he deeply studied, the contemplative Christian mystical tradition which he lived during his many years in monastic life, as well as the Hindu Advaita-Vedanta teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi, who has been a very profound influence on Francis for about the last 12 years or so.