Francis Bennett and John Mark Stroud Transcript

Francis Bennett and John Mark Stroud Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and I’m down in North Carolina with Francis Dale Bennett and John Mark Stroud. Welcome to you both.

Francis: Thank you.

Rick: Francis and I, I’ve been helping Francis teach a weekend retreat down here, which has been tremendous fun. I first met Francis about a year ago when he was in a monastery up in Montreal, and he emailed me and told me he was listening to the show and recounted some of his experiences, in particular a profound awakening he had had some months prior to that. And he told me that he was going to be leaving the monastery and I thought we should do an interview. Nobody knows about this guy, but I think he’ll make a very good guest on this show. So, about a week after he left the monastery, we did the interview and Francis’s life went from relative quietude to several hundred emails a day and Skype calls and all kinds of stuff going on, people sending him money. And because, in my opinion, there was something very fresh and kind of pure and innocent and sweet about Francis’s whole presentation of this. A little bit different, not that all my other guests aren’t pure and sweet, but people found it refreshing. And many people who had a religious background and who had perhaps become disillusioned with that, or as a result of that, found a kind of a fresh hope and rediscovery of some of the teachings of their religion through what Francis was saying. So that’s a brief synopsis of Francis and I encourage people to go back and watch that interview. I’ll link to it from the BatGap page of this interview. And I’ll have Francis introduce himself a little bit more thoroughly in a minute for those who haven’t seen that interview and would like to know the back story a little bit. But I would like to introduce my new friend, John Mark, who was recommended to me by several people who lives here in North Carolina, and who has a very interesting story to tell. And he and Francis immediately hit it off when they met each other and discovered that they were really on the same wavelength in terms of Jesus Christ, although they’ve actually gone about their exploration of that in a little bit different way. So, John Mark, why don’t you just give us as much of an introduction as you’d like to give about who you are and what your path has been, and how you’ve come to sort of be where you are, spiritually speaking.

John Mark: Sure. I had little spiritual experience in my life other than my folks were Methodist missionaries. When I grew up in the Methodist church, soon as I was 18 and out of the house, I had nothing to do with religion. I couldn’t stand the born in sin, condemnation, eternal damnation. It just made no sense to me whatsoever. So, I went out in the world to find my way and enjoyed great success, great success in the world in business. But an event in my mid-20s, I was really successful in business, type A personality, I got my goal, I’m going to get it. I actually got a goal of a really high professional recognition, and I was walking off the stage and I hit the bottom step and, in an instant, I was cast into the deepest, darkest void of despair. I could not even begin to explain. It didn’t last long, but I know now that it was love, God trying to say, “You think all that accomplishment you’ve made in the world is worth something. It’s meaningless.” But I spent the next 15 years out in the world trying to fill that void that I had seen. Little did I know that that void was what I truly was and was the home of all that really is. But I went out in the world to try and fill it because it was always lurking in the back of my mind. Finally, by 2007, I couldn’t deny it any longer. I couldn’t fake it, that I was happy being successful in the world. So, like I had done everything else, I went all in- in my business career. When I was a pilot and I went all in, I built my own airplane. It was just kind of the personality to go all in. So, I went all in and turned towards what I had been avoiding for 15 years. And as soon as I consciously made that turn, my whole life got swept up in what I call a tidal wave of miracles. Books and teachers and revelations and all kinds of things started happening. And that culminated, well it didn’t really culminate, but I began to have an inner dialogue with what I thought was the Holy Spirit, kind of from Christianity. It turned out to be actually Yeshua.

Rick: Who’s Jesus.

John Mark: Jesus, Yeshua, whatever name you want to, Yeshua, whatever. He’ll answer to love, whatever we call it. So, I started having this dialogue and he guided me to his channeled teachings, beginning with the Course in Miracles, the Course of Love, the Way of Mastery, and the current one that’s out is I Am the Word. So, I began to follow that inner voice.

Rick: Okay, right now people are thinking, well how do you know that inner voice was Yeshua or Jesus? How do you know it wasn’t just your own kind of creative imagination cooking up ideas and speaking to you?

John Mark: Well, that’s the $64,000 question. Whenever any of us start on a spiritual path, discernment of what’s our egoic voice and what’s the voice for love gets to be really, really important. And at first, I didn’t know. I had those same suspicions. “I’m making this up.”

Rick: Yeah, and could there be an egoic voice that’s kind of superficial and a deeper voice which is not egoic, but which is nonetheless generated from you as opposed to some higher being?

John Mark: , Yeah, a very expansive egoic attempt to impersonate love.

Rick: Yeah.

John Mark: So, it was like any other relationship we have in the world. It started out light. It wasn’t that there was a lot of trust there because I had those doubts. But the deeper I went, the more I trusted that voice. It was always loving. It was never condemning. It was always peaceful, and it always made sure I had a choice. It never told me I had to do anything. Well, I knew pretty soon, that wasn’t the voice that I was used to in my own mind because my mind was judgmental. It was condemning. It was demanding. It was insistent. So, the gentleness of it, was what first started to recognize within my own being the contrast between my egoic identity and what he was trying to help me learn.

Rick: and not to be too obstinate and hard-nosed, but how do we know that this wasn’t just sort of a subtler, gentler, kinder stratum of your own personality or your own consciousness as opposed to some more universal cosmic being like Yeshua would be?

John Mark: Well, I don’t know. And you can be as obstinate as you like. I don’t mind at all.

Rick: A lot of times I’ll ask questions that probably aren’t my questions because, I give people the benefit of the doubt, but I like to anticipate questions people might have so I’m not sitting there frustrated and saying, “I wish he would ask this.”

John Mark: Sure. Well, I think it was Peter, was it St. Peter, that said, “Test the spirit.”

Rick: St Paul.

John Mark: Oh thanks. I had this open dialogue and I didn’t have any problem expressing my doubt. It’s not like that voice, if it were authentic, didn’t know the doubt was there already. And what he shared with me was: I didn’t have to take it on blind faith, that I could just follow that voice and follow that intuition and I would come to know the truth for myself. And when I began to follow that intuition, that voice, with things in my life, they started to go very differently. Where I would want to discipline my children harshly, that would be a more loving message in a different way than what I would do it. And I started to give that the benefit of the doubt and the more I followed it, the more things were working out. I was finding myself at greater peace. So, I went ever deeper, and followed that voice and followed that voice and followed that voice and followed that voice. And as the trust grew, my openness to hear a deeper message also began to reveal itself. Because any inner guide that we’re working with, you can call it your higher self, your Onteriyaman, whatever, our mind has to be open enough and trust enough to be willing to hear what we don’t necessarily want to hear. And that’s when the relationship got much deeper and much more authentic, when I was willing to have him share with me what I didn’t want to hear. When we got past coddling the ego, because the ego would then just turn away from it and dismiss it all as hallucination and move on. So, following that advice, following the Course in Miracles, I was guided on a trip to India, began to have some real mystical experiences. And I was so green to spirituality, I didn’t have a clue what was happening. Turns out that that ignorance contributed to the bliss because I wasn’t evaluating, I wasn’t trying to measure where I was on this illusionary awakening scale. I was just kind of present. I had beginner’s mind. And those experiences continued to reveal and to reveal and reveal even greater. And as those began to expand your consciousness, the little, tiny body-mind that you thought you were, couldn’t never even dream up that kind of stuff. So, all that culminated with two experiences in India, happened about a week apart, which were the…I think Francis has described his, it’s just a moment of knowing you’re the infinite. And you know it, at least my experience was I knew it with such clarity, that the mind that I had known before couldn’t even arise back out of that stillness. It was, you could almost sense that it was making some tiny effort, but it just never got enough momentum to kind of get up. So, I spent maybe 10 weeks, 8 weeks, in a really weird state because it was a kind of mindless state. It was real present, but it was just, it took a while for it to kind of fully integrate. So that’s the short story.

Rick: To make the short story a little bit longer, you told me earlier that you now have remembered a lot of your past lives or something. So, in remembering those, did you see yourself as having been a yogi or a priest or a meditator or whatever through a spiritual aspirant through a number of past lives?

John Mark: There was some of that, not a lot, but I’ll share with you. I saw on one level those that might be related to one beingness, one individual expression. But then ultimately all incarnations, past, present, and to come, all arise within you and are not separate from you. So, within what might have been attributed to this, to this separated or distinct ray of light, there was some of that. There was some time with Yeshua when he was on the planet, which I came to learn later. That’s why our connection was so open and available when I made the soul level choice to awaken.

Rick: And you made that soul level choice in this life, you’re saying? Or was it before this life you’re thinking, “Okay, I’m coming in now. At the age of such and such, I’m going to awaken.” Or is that a ridiculous question because it’s not so linear and time bound as that?

John Mark: Well, yes, no, and both. I think Francis used that earlier. My experience was that this would happen, so that the work that I would do through one who wakes, would be in this time frame at this time. But that’s not to say that in our waking lives we don’t alter what those kind of intentions coming into a lifetime are.

Rick: Sure, yeah, just like a person might say, “Well, I’m going to go to college and study biology and then I’m going to medical school and something else might turn up happening.” So, Francis, for those who didn’t watch the first interview with you, could you give us a synopsis of your life, your path, your awakening, just a 5-10 minute version of it?

Francis: Well, I’ll try. I guess my background is Catholic Christian background. I went to seminary very early, right out of high school. Then at the age of 22, I went to a monastery. I was at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, the monastery of Thomas Merton, many of you may have heard of. I was very influenced by him, read a lot about Thomas Merton and a lot of his books that he had written while he was in the monastery. I read them when I was in high school and was very deeply influenced. I went down to the monastery and felt very drawn to that way of life. So, I entered there at the age of 22 and stayed there for a number of years, made my first vows there. Left subsequent to Gethsemane in the 90s, I lived in the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Mepkin, in South Carolina near Charleston. I lived a monastic life, eventually transferring to a French community, living a bit in France, some in Canada. I got involved in some pastoral ministry, doing work with the dying. I went back to school, did a kind of clinical pastoral education residency, a two-year residency. My second-year residency was a specialty in end-of-life spiritual care. So, I ended up doing a lot of work with elderly people that were dying, people with terminal diagnosis in a hospice setting. I also worked as a hospital chaplain, did some pastoral care in parishes. I was going along happily living my monastic life and doing some pastoral work. In 2010, one time in church, I suddenly had a kind of epiphany, one could say. I guess if you had to put it in a nutshell, I would have to say that what I realized in that moment was that my own simple presence of being here in this very moment, here and now, that presence had always been present. I may not have always noticed it, but it had always been there. And that the presence of God, that I called God, that I had been seeking for so long, this presence, I had had experiences of it coming and going and coming and going and coming and going, again, and again and again. After a while I kind of thought, “Well maybe that’s just the nature of that sense of God’s presence. Maybe it’s just not here all the time, maybe we can only sense it at certain special times. God makes himself known.” What I realized in that kind of split second was that that presence, and my simple presence, in the eternal here and now, you could say, are the same presence. So, it was kind of a realization of God. You could say God realization, self-realization, you could call it what you would, but in any rate, it changed my life. It was a very joyous discovery. It’s never left since. So, you can imagine my wonder at that happening. I guess that’s a kind of nutshell version, a Reader’s Digest condensed version.

Rick: Actually, your nutshell version recounts the outer circumstances of your life leading up to that epiphany, but really under the surface of those outer circumstances, this Abbey and this job and what not, was an ardent spiritual, an ardent desire for God, for oneness with Jesus, or however you like to phrase it. You were kind of burning with some intensity for two, three decades.

John Mark: Yeah, I would say that early on in my life when I was just a teenager, I got involved in the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church and Protestant churches and all mainline Christianity. It was a kind of neo-Pentecostal movement that really stressed a personal relationship to Christ and all that that entails. Just spiritual experiences, visions, speaking in tongues, prayer experiences, all these things were part of that movement. I was pretty thoroughly immersed in that and loved it and really felt a very strong intimacy with Jesus, a devotion to Jesus. This weekend I shared some things about my aspirations as a young man, where very early on in my life I realized that what I really came to this planet for, what I was really here for, was to somehow live my life in a Christ-like way. I was very drawn to the person of Christ. For me, Christ represented that sort of radiant presence in the world that Jesus’ kind of represented, the presence of God, kind of shining through a human life. That was something that really sort of possessed me. It was kind of my raison d’etre, you could say, it was my reason for being on the planet. I just felt like, “Yeah, that’s what I want”, when I would sometimes encounter different people in the charismatic renewal, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a big influence on me, precisely because of that. Her Christlikeness, the sense in which the presence that she seemed to radiate in the world seemed to me very Christic, seemed very Christ-like. The joy, the peace, the serenity, the kind of compassion. That’s sort of what I was after. I think that’s what really motivated me to become a monk. That’s what motivated me to do all the things I did in terms of spiritual seeking. I studied with various teachers. As a contemplative monk, I was given quite a bit of leeway, I would say, to go where my heart told me to go in terms of spiritual practice. I did, for a very long period of time, Rick was talking about a lady he had interviewed that was a practitioner of the Jesus Prayer, which is just a prayer using the name of Jesus repetitively, like a mantra. In the Jesus Prayer literature, the Philokalia, the early fathers of the church that wrote about this prayer, it’s a kind of monastic spiritual practice that developed over some centuries. They used to talk about the mind descending into the heart. That you’d pray this prayer over and over like a mantra, and eventually what happened was that the mind that was praying the prayer descended into the heart. Then the person’s heart awakened in this Christ presence. There was a kind of sense of Christ being present in the heart. It’s one very Christian way of talking about awakening. But I think it is true awakening, nonetheless. I would say that’s very right. My impetus, my driving force, was in many ways symbolized in the person of the Christ, of Jesus, Jesus Christ.

Rick: I interviewed Timothy Freak twice. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of his interviews.

Francis: I saw his interviews, yeah.

Rick: He contends that there was probably no historical Jesus. You can look at the traditions of Egypt and about half a dozen other cultures that he mentions and see the same pattern. Born of a virgin, three wise men, killed or crucified in some way, raised from the dead after three days. The whole story of Christ was just some kind of archetype that one culture after another keeps repeating and turning into a source of inspiration. I’m not sure if that even needs to be addressed, but I’m kind of curious about it. I guess the underlying question is, who is Jesus? Who was Jesus? Who is he now? There’s obviously a kind of fundamentalist absolute attitude toward him in certain circles. When fundamentalists call me on the phone, I start talking about astronomy to them. I begin to discuss how many inhabited planets there probably are in the universe. Is he on tour? Does he spend 33 years on tour? If he does, how can the universe be only 6,000 years old? There’s a lot of planets. They usually hang up on me after a while. What do you guys say? Do you give any credence at all? How would you respond to Timothy? What is your personal sense of Jesus on an experiential level and also as an historical person?

John Mark: My own experience, which of course all I can relate to, is I have found his consciousness shared with me to be very real. In my own looking back and seeing my lifetimes, there was one that was at the same time as his. I had that symbol. Is it real? Is it illusion? Is it dream? Does it matter? It really doesn’t matter. If Jesus is a helpful symbol and tool for anyone to connect deeper into their own self, great. If they don’t believe it, there are a thousand other ways to find the truth.

Rick: How about you, Francis?

Francis: I think in modern theology these days in Christian circles, in the mainline denominations, certainly the Catholic Church, there is a lot of talk about the historical Jesus. You hear that a lot. There was a thing called the Jesus Seminar in which a lot of scholars got together, and they debated about the various scriptural accounts of words of Jesus, things Jesus said, and they go through and rate them. “We think that Jesus very likely said this. We think he maybe said this. We think it’s probably an ice cube’s chance in hell that he said this.” They went through and rated all the canonical gospels. It seems to me that they even did that with some Gnostic gospels that weren’t in the canon of scripture. There is a lot of concern about the historical Jesus and was there even a historical Jesus, some people would say. Personally, I think it’s probable that there was a historical Jesus. Now, whether or not all the things that are attributed to him as having said, whether he said those things or not, I think that’s kind of up for grabs a lot. I think maybe these scholars are probably at a better place just academically to kind of know what’s maybe likely and so on and so forth. They base that on various things and it gets kind of very complex and technical, and I’m not qualified to go into that. But I kind of agree with John Mark in a certain sense. I think that for me, especially now, Jesus is a kind of archetype. He’s a symbol and much like the Buddha is a symbol. The Buddha, many people, when they come into Buddhist temples in Buddhist countries, they bow down to the Buddha. I worked with a Buddhist teacher for quite a while and he told me at one point, he said, “You know, when they bow down to the Buddha like that, they’re not really bowing down to the historical Buddha.” Although, there was a historical Buddha in all probability also, a lot of teachings and kind of evidence that there was this being that existed, Gautama and so on. But he was saying what they’re really bowing to is the Buddha within them. There’s this potentiality in human beings of waking up, of realizing who they are. I think the Buddha represents that; Christ represents that. And for many of us in the West, Christ is the most compelling archetype of that. When we were really little kids, many of us heard stories about Jesus that were beautiful, beautiful stories about this beautiful radiant being who went through the world, radiating this love and compassion everywhere he went. I know that was certainly in my mind as a child. I think in some ways, that’s really what’s important about the person of Christ, is what does the person of Christ represent for you? Not so much whether or not he existed, I personally believe he probably did exist historically. But I think in a way, I think you’re right, it’s a bit irrelevant.

Rick: I think maybe the question is, what does he represent for you now too? Because obviously in your experience, he’s primarily not some guy who lived 2000 years ago, he’s a living presence now, that communicates with you now. And millions of Christians feel that their lives were transformed once they made the conscious connection with Jesus, big changes took place. And of course, then the fundamentalist mentality comes in, they insist that that’s the only way and so on, but that’s kind of irrelevant. So, do you feel that Jesus is like some kind of guiding deity for this planet, that is there for anyone who wishes to form a relationship with him? And then that relationship can transform their life? And perhaps that there are other guiding deities, like people speak of Ramana Maharshi coming to them in a vision, and then they establish this relationship with him, even though he’s deceased. Is that a viable theory as to who and what Jesus is and what he’s doing?

Francis: That’s what he describes of himself in the way of mastery, which is a channeling that he did where he speaks, that he is but one of many Christed beings. Ramana, there are lists and lists of them. And that they all perceive each other as absolute equals. We share one self, one ground of being, and that that is perfectly equal. And within each and every person now, whether they have woken up to that presence or not. So, he has no corner on the awakening market, so to speak. Any being, can connect with some inner guide that works for them, whether it’s Yeshua or Ramana Maharshi, or if you think of dead relative. Whatever that is, love will show up and work with you with whatever works. In his teachings, the way of mastery, he makes it very clear, you don’t have to believe in him to awaken. You only have to awaken to the truth of eternal nature, which is what he is, which is what we all are. But there’s no prerequisite. If you don’t believe in Jesus, then you’re screwed.

Rick: When you were saying that he is like part of…there are a number of beings who can do this, I was thinking, okay, so it’s like a team. And then when you said dead relative, I thought, but that sounds like Little League and Jesus is on the Yankees. It seems like levels of professionalism in terms of these teams. But I guess maybe what you’re saying is whatever works for you. If you’re in the first grade, you don’t need a calculus teacher, you need an arithmetic teacher who’s going to teach you one on one is two, and so on. So, you connect with whatever is helpful, and then maybe you move on to another one once you graduate from the first grade.

Francis: Well, I had other teachers come to show up to work on specific things in my eternal beingness. So, there’s infinite help available to all of us. It’s this thought that we have to walk the path to purification or to love, and then we’re worthy of the big surprise, rather than saying, I don’t have a damn clue how to get there, and I’ll take all the help I can get in guiding me there.

Rick: So you live in the South, more or less Bible Belt, although you’re in a little island of sanity in Asheville. Some would say insanity, but it depends on your value system. But what do you make of this saying that’s so often repeated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” They use that to hammer people and to dismiss anything other than the path they’re on. What do you make of it? Both of you, please answer this.

John Mark: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by me.” But that me does not represent a body-mind identity. That me represents the Christ, the One Presence, God, whatever that is. That’s the only way you can come to it. It’s interesting, we have to transcend our little idea of me, in order to wake up to that One that is the way, the truth, and the life. So, when he said that, he wasn’t referring to himself as a body. He was referring to himself as the One God Consciousness, which Francis talked about, about his own awakening. You wake up, that there is no difference. So, it was by no means him saying, “Look, I’m special, and I’m the anointer.” It was saying, “I am the One just like you.” Because he went on in that Gospel to say, “You are the life, the truth, and the way.”

Rick: You’d concur with that, I’m sure.

Francis: Yeah, I would concur with that. And my sense of the Scripture now is a lot different than my sense of the Scripture when I was studying in seminary and so on in monastic formation and all that. Because now my understanding of the Scripture is in the light of a kind of awakened heart that looks at it differently. And often I find that when I have a Scripture like that, that maybe seems troublesome on one level, I can just change one little word, and the whole thing takes on a different meaning. And with that particular Scripture, I’ve actually thought about it, and I would, instead of, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father,” but by me, I would say, “The “I AM” the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by the I Am.” And the I Am is the I Am in me; the I Am in you. So, I am the way, the I Am within me is the way, the truth, and the life, and the I Am within you is the way, the truth, and the life. So, it could be taken as a very sectarian, narrow kind of thing that Jesus of Nazareth, this dude who lived back 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, is the way, the truth, and the life. If you don’t believe explicitly in that particular being as being divine, then you’re doomed. Or maybe, what if Jesus was pointing to something much more universal, than just his own kind of ego sense, which I would say he probably was, that would be my guess, and he was saying, “This I Am that dwells in me also dwells in you, and you have to access that to find your way back to the source of all being itself.” The Father, he would say, but the ground of all being itself. There’re other scriptures too where he says, “I and the Father are one.” I said in the book, I just put out, what if he meant that to mean something a little broader than how we normally interpret it? What if he meant instead of, “I and the Father are one” in some exclusive way, maybe he was pointing to the idea that you also are one with this infinite source of being itself, with beingness itself. You yourself, I am, you are, you all are one with that reality. You just need to wake up and see it. And when you wake up and see it, that’s the Christ. That’s the Christ not 2,000 years ago off in the Middle East, that’s the Christ right now in Wapakoneta, Ohio, taking the kids to soccer. That’s the Christ right now in Chicago, Illinois, getting on the train, and that’s the Christ right now getting interviewed by Rick Archer.

John Mark: By the Christ, no doubt.

Francis: By the Christ, Christ interviewing Christ.

John Mark: But there’s an important distinction I’d like to make. It’s easy within the context of the world to bash fundamentalists. Jesus was simply referring to his sense of identification, what that was the whole. When those teachings go out and body minds hear “I,” they can’t hear that’s what he meant. They can only attribute it to a body because that’s what they believe they are. That’s the extent of their sense of existence. So, the interpretation in that way is often treated very harshly. I kind of look at it as like a 100-story building. If you’re on the first floor, your view is of a brick wall. If you’re on the 50th floor, it’s this beautiful panorama. Neither one is wrong. The first floor can’t see what the 50th can. It’s just as right. What tends to happen is when we rise in consciousness, we tend to judge the floors below us and envy the ones above. When you finally wake up, you recognize you took the whole trip, and there was nothing but innocence on every floor, because you could only see what you could see while you were there. So, there’s no guilt about it. There’s no wrongness about it. If we would allow people to walk their path and be on the floor that they are, and just let it be.

Francis: Good analogy. The other day I was talking about development, and the process of awakening and how it needs to be integrated. It grows and it expands. This reality that we’ve awakened to is infinite. Therefore, the understanding of it, the unfolding of our understanding, the deepening of our love and our understanding and our presence can only be infinite. It can’t be finite. How could it? It’s a lot like if you had a little baby. We look at little babies. There was a little baby this weekend here that was just precious, beautiful, perfect little being. You look at that and you think, “What a perfect being this is.” Smiling and happy and radiating that joy of being in a very innocent way. You would never say, “Oh, well, this isn’t a very good person, because they’re not fully grown, and they can’t talk. You have to feed them and change diapers. They can’t even go to the bathroom by themselves. Far from perfect.” No, we don’t look at it that way. We look at that baby and we say, “That is a perfect baby.” Now, if that baby looks like that 30 years from now and you still have to change your diapers and do all those things, well, there’d be something a little off, wouldn’t there? Maybe take her to the doctor. She hasn’t grown much. There must be something wrong. But that baby is perfect as a baby. It’s the same with us spiritually as we grow, as we develop. There is a growth. There is a development. It’s not an either/or thing. It’s not like you’re awake or you’re not awake. On one level, okay, that’s true. On another level, there’s an infinite expansion possible. And each level, like you say, with your analogy, each level is perfect as it is.

Rick: And each level incorporates the previous ones.

Francis: Absolutely.

Rick: It’s like the circumference keeps growing. You can say to the person on the first floor, the second floor, the tenth floor, “Yeah, I see what you mean. You’re totally right, but there’s also this.”

Francis: But there’s more.

John Mark: Sure, but you don’t ridicule. That was his message, “Let those who have ears to hear, hear.” They’ll take in all they can take in from where they perceive themselves to be. But within all his teachings, which he was a master in parables, is he didn’t give teachings for different floors. He was able to craft one teaching that could take you from the bottom to the top and that teaching would grow with you as your sense of self, grows as you move up metaphorically in consciousness. Because the parable of the prodigal son can be understood on the most basic, worldly form level, but yet it speaks to the greatest spiritual truth on the top level. So, the mastery of his teachings was the ability to speak to every aspect of his one self no matter their level of dreaming.

Rick: I’m sure that a lot of people listening to this, will be able to relate to that in terms of having grown over the years and then reading a scripture like the Bhagavad Gita or Ramana or the Bible or something, and each year that they read it, they discover a new level of depth that they hadn’t noticed the previous year. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper even though it’s the same words over and over again.

Francis: And wouldn’t it be different if we read that and said, “Wow, that’s my point of view right here, right now,” and not need to defend it or go out and get everybody else to see your point of view, but just rest in, “That’s my perspective now,” and know that tomorrow or next week or next year you want it to be greater. We have this fear-based consciousness that we get some level of clarity and we just want to stop there and try to protect that, and we do it by trying to oftentimes peddle it on other people, or judge other people who aren’t quite as enlightened and see it that way. There’s no need for any of that. If we would allow everyone to walk their path, and we talk about spiritual paths like it’s Christianity or Buddhism. Every person’s life is their path, period. You can think of A Course in Miracles as an oar you might use on your own little rive

Rick: or Buddhism or Zen. They’re tools to help, but your life is your path crafted perfectly. You can’t ever get off of it, and there’s no way you can screw it up.

Francis: Good news, gossip. –

John Mark: Yeah. So, walk your path. If tools are helpful, if other people’s experiences are helpful, but oftentimes we chase other people’s experiences. Just walk your life, moment to moment. You can only breathe your breath.

Rick: Do you feel that people who have put most of their energies into trying to convert other people to their way of seeing things, religion or sect or cult or whatever, are fundamentally insecure in their own situation, and they’re trying to compensate for that by getting others into it?

John Mark: Sure, it’s all fear. If my belief, more people believe what I believe, then I feel more secure in my belief.

Francis: More sure I’m right. –

John Mark: But where you’re going when you get to the top of this building is beyond all belief. No longer do you need to defend any or say one’s right and one’s wrong. Pure awareness is allowing all of them, and yet Francis and I can both tell you, we went through levels of belief on our way to realization. You end up throwing all those beliefs over your shoulder. They only can point you at their best expression. They can only point to the truth. But the mind fears not knowing itself through thought and belief, because that’s the only way the mind can know itself, is through thought and belief.

Francis: Well, and like I shared today in our little gathering, it’s not really a matter of really even knowing yourself. We talk a lot about knowing who you really are and all that. Well, what I’ve discovered is what it really means to know who I really am is that I don’t know who I am. That who I am is a complete open space of awareness. Who I am is just open consciousness. And who I am on another level is love. And define love. –

John Mark: Looks good on you, by the way. (laughter)

Francis: So, it’s one of those things that who you really are can’t be defined, because who you really are is not an object. It’s being itself. And who you really are can only be lived. I talked a little bit the other day about the early fathers of the church called humankind a “Capex Dei,” which is a Latin phrase meaning “a capacity for God.” That who we are, has nothing to do with some separate little individual. What we think of as this separate little individual, is actually simply an emptiness, a capacity. I think that’s what the Buddhists are getting at when they talk about that quality of “anatta,” no self, that there’s this kind of emptiness that is made empty in order to contain fullness. Fullness of the life of God. Fullness of being. So, on one level there is this emptiness, on this other level there’s this fullness. They’re not mutually exclusive. They don’t fight with each other. And the other thing, too, when John Mark was talking, I was thinking of, I often think of this, this comes to me: the truth needs no defense. The truth can take care of itself. You don’t have to kind of rush to its defense. And it’s funny, because since I’ve been in this whole non-dual spiritual scene, I’ve been interacting with various people in this, and I’m pretty familiar with the kind of concept and the experience of religious fundamentalism, and people getting kind of caught in a view, and then defending that view, and being sure that they’re right and you’re wrong, or we’re right and those ones are wrong, and dividing up the world. What is that? Who likes to divide things up? It’s the ego. It’s this kind of false self that thinks of itself as this separate entity, rather than as a kind of unified whole. And the ironic thing is a lot of people in the non-dual scene look at Christians, and poke fun at Christians and talk about how narrow they are. And I have to honestly admit, I’ve run across just as much narrowness in Advaita, Neo-Advaita, as I did in Christianity. Maybe more, sometimes a little nastier. People get very, very offended if you don’t have exactly their view of non-duality, and you don’t use the exact same words that they use. And what is that? It’s all the same kind of reality, and I think of a being like Christ, this kind of symbol of Christ, it points to something that transcends that, this kind of petty little, divisions and all that.

John Mark: That was Yeshua’s teaching of, “Let your cup be empty of the small self, and the big self will fill it, and your cup will runneth over.” Love will… So, same teaching. And when you really wake up into them, you see the same teaching in every… They’re in Buddhism, they’re in Zen, they’re all pointing at the same thing. They’re all saying the same thing using a different language.

Rick: Nice.

John Mark: Really, the end of judgment is the welcome mat to enlightenment. And we hear it all the time, but we’re scared to give up judgment, because what we really want to hold on to is the “I” that’s doing all the judging. And we’ll put our focus on what we’re judging so that we won’t look at who’s the judger. And of course, when you do the inquiry there, you will find that there’s nothing really there.

Rick: you two guys… You came a little late today, and as soon as we had a break, I saw the two of you go like, bees to honey, and begin having this conversation, and I was over on the other side of the room. So, I guess you began kind of exploring where each other was at, in terms of your whole orientation to Jesus and whatnot. What kind of conversation did you have? And maybe you can reiterate some of those points.

Francis: Well, and I say this kind of thing a lot, but I don’t think our conversation was really that important. When John Mark walked into the room, and he came down here, and our eyes met, the Christ in me could see the Christ in him. There’s something funny about that, isn’t there? That when you awaken to this reality within, you see it. Well, for one thing, you see it in every single human being on the face of the planet. As his happened to me, I would be in the metro in Montreal, and there’d be a lot of people, some of them looked kind of grumpy, but I could look around and see so clearly that this consciousness, this beingness, and yes, even this bliss, which is essentially blissful, and it’s in every single human being on the face of the planet. A lot of them don’t know it. A lot of them aren’t aware of it, but it’s there, nonetheless. It’s always been there, always will be. When I awoke to that reality in me, it wasn’t just in me. I came to realize, this Christ, this reality, this beingness, this spacious awareness, whatever name you want to slap on it, it’s absolutely permeating everything that exists. And when someone wakes up to that, it’s almost like the Christ waking up to the Christ. It’s the Christ recognizing himself or herself. And when people have woken up to that, it’s just obvious. If you’ve woken up and you see someone else who’s woken up, you know it. You sense it. It’s just like if a family member that you never knew kind of walked and knocked on your front door, you might look at them and go, “Oh, this might be my brother or my sister or something.” Because you recognize the resemblance. It’s like, “Oh, they’ve got mom’s eyes just like I do.” Whatever. There’s something about this. There’s a flavor of the Christ spirit, the Christ kind of consciousness. There’s a flavor to it. You know that prayer I shared by Carl Newman talks about the fragrance of Christ. “Let me spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.” And when you’re awake to that presence and you meet someone else who’s awake to that presence, it’s obvious. It’s a love fest.

Rick: The Gita has this phrase of seeing the self in all beings and all beings in the self.

John Mark: It is special when that self is looking back consciously.

Francis: Yes.

John Mark: That’s something really special that you could never put a word on.

Rick: They talk of heaven on earth, and a society in which a large percentage of people are awake in this way. Do you guys have a sense that– in Christian terms, I guess they call it the second coming and the golden age that’s supposed to come after the second coming and so on. Do you folks have any thoughts on that? Do you have any kind of intuitive sense of that being on the horizon?

John Mark: were talking about this just before we got started. Yeshua has shown me a global event of awakening.

Rick: Instantaneous? You snapped your fingers? Or it’s something that’s actually underway now?

John Mark: Yes, it’s underway now, but it will reach a crescendo when it happens.

Francis: 100th monkey.

John Mark: Yeah. Now, the way time works is not linear, so that potential could happen tomorrow, it could happen 100 years from now. It depends on how many beings decide to drop the charade that they’re not God, that they’re not Christ, and stop playing small, and simply wake up to the truth that’s been true all along. The more that happens–and it’s happened on– When Buddha and Jesus walked, there were very few. I know 10 or 12 personally. So, it’s happening with great, great, great speed. When you see it energetically, what’s happening, it is this quantum kind of movement.

Rick: What do you see as the variable that would determine whether or not people decide to drop the charade? Because in a way, when you say that, it makes it sound like people are really being obstinate, that they could drop it, but they’re not dropping it. It seems like everyone would want to drop it if they knew of the possibility. So, what’s the handle or the fulcrum that could enable a much more mass dropping of the charade?

John Mark: Well, fear is the fulcrum. They’re scared. And this, people being able to see that it’s normal people, and that it’s right here– (laughter)

Rick: We’ve been rooming with practice for the last couple of days.

John Mark: It’s not high and mighty. It’s not white robey. Tacitly, every person in this room and every person that will see it, something inside them goes, “Well, why not me? Why not now?” So, the fact that more and more beings are awakening– we’ll call it into our Christ self, others may call it whatever– what that’s really mirroring back to every soul is, “It’s okay. It’s okay. You can drop the whole charade of needing to protect your little, tiny kingdom to become the whole. You give up really nothing, but when that nothing that you thought was you is everything you think there is, it can be really frightening.” I experienced a great deal of fear at the loss of that. Afterwards, you think, “Oh, my God, how could I have ever been scared of this, what the truth is?” So, this is what’s accelerating the Christ. For me, you don’t need any fancy practice. You don’t have to go to a cave. You don’t have to meditate any day. It’s here. It’s now. It’s within every being. If you look behind the thoughts, if you look behind what’s seeing, if you look behind what’s hearing, it’s there. And there’s no criteria except the soul’s recognition of that. That’s what it really is. When our body-mind moves into alignment with that– because the soul wants nothing but to awaken– when our body-mind and our soul are on the same page, it can go very quickly.

Rick: One of the themes that Francis and I have been talking about this weekend is whether you do need to do or might want to do, some kind of practice or something as opposed to just, why not just recognize it? Francis, for instance, just recognized it one day. He was in the process of putting a wafer in his mouth or having it put there and all of a sudden, bingo.

Francis: After 30 years of practice.

Rick: That was 30 years of practice. It’s possible. Zen, monasticism. You’re a pretty ardent seeker. There’s the old Zen saying that enlightenment may be an accident, but practice makes you accident-prone. I would agree with you. You don’t have to do that, but I wouldn’t prescribe it. I would say, if you’re inclined to do that, don’t be dissuaded by such statements. Do what seems to work for you. It could be conducive to your awakening.

John Mark: I had practices too, but we don’t make the practice the purpose. But oftentimes, that becomes the purpose within the egoic consciousness.

Francis: It’s a means to an end. It’s not an end in itself. I noticed John Mark said, after he said that, he immediately said, to become something like to become aware of that which sees, that which hears. In other words, to become aware of consciousness itself, before it’s conscious of anything in particular. Just consciousness itself. That is, guess what folks, a practice. You practice doing that, because it’s just a slight shift of attention, isn’t it? Normally, when we’re hearing things, we notice what we’re hearing. We notice the symphony, we notice the rap music, we notice the bird whistling, or we notice the jackhammer, or whatever. We’re focused on the object that’s making the noise. Or when we see, we’re focused on the objects that we’re looking at. But there’s always, always, always, a consciousness that is seeing through our eyes. That’s hearing through our ears. Any good spiritual practice worth its salt, is just pointing us back to that one consciousness. That in a certain sense is unchanging, it’s always present. It’s this silent awareness, that’s aware of whatever we’re aware of. But how often are we aware of that? I think awakening is just when that, wakes up to itself. When awareness, when consciousness becomes conscious of itself. And that is, in a nutshell, what enlightenment is, what awakening is. It’s a very simple thing, it’s not rocket science. It’s not esoteric, it’s not strange.

Rick: You and I were talking about Andrew Cohen’s idea of evolutionary enlightenment, which I don’t think he really originated, it’s an age-old idea perhaps. But he’s articulating it nicely. And the gist of it is that there’s a sort of fundamental force within the universe itself, a kind of a guiding principle that has the intention or the effect of having consciousness wake up to itself. And there’s the blood in our veins, the cells in our bodies, the evolution of various species seem to all be moving in the direction of forms which are more and more capable of enabling consciousness to wake up to itself, within those forms, or by virtue of those forms. That’s more of a statement than a question, but you guys can riff on it if you like.

John Mark: Well, I don’t know about that theory, I’ve never really heard it, but the truth’s been true the whole time.

Rick: From Big Bang onwards.

Francis: I think Andrew Cohen would be perfectly willing to admit that he did not invent it.

Rick: The idea excites him, so he talks about it.

Francis: Yeah, and he’s good at it, I like what he’s saying.

John Mark: I’ll share with you one of the things Yeshua told me when I was walking my path, that all the love that will ever be, exists right now. Why not open and welcome all of it? There won’t be more two years from now when you think you’ll be happier or anything else. There wasn’t less of it at the Big Bang. It’s all right here, right now. How open can you be to all that is now and drink it in?

Rick: Do you find that your capacity for openness nonetheless continues to expand or deepen?

John Mark: Paradoxically, that’s the whole thing. It’s unchanging and unchangeable, but yet its revelation is beautifully ongoing. And you know, you just know that will never end. Never end. And that’s the excitement of it. Life really starts at awakening. That’s when you really start opening. And the mystery of love takes great delight, in my experience, in revealing itself to you in ever deeper ways. Because God has really nothing to hide, it’s everything to give. We’ve just been fearful of God’s will. We think it’s “Do I take this job or do I take that job?” We think God’s will is all kinds of stuff other than this full inheritance, this fullness of what God is, infinite creative power, infinite awareness that currently is expressing itself in a mind-boggling number of ways just within this room. And we’re fearful to wake up into that because we think we’re going to lose something.

Francis: Well, we’re fearful also because it’s unknown, isn’t it? And that’s the very nature of it. Like I say, when you know who you are, knowing who you really are is having no idea who you are.

John Mark: And not needing to know.

Francis: And not needing to know and being comfortable and being willing to rest in that openness. Because that openness is precisely who you are. And that openness is constantly manifesting in wonderful, creative, awesome new ways. And that does seem to be the nature of the absolute, doesn’t it? That it kind of manifests in all these forms we see. All these millions and trillions of forms. Anymore, a lot of people in the whole Veda scene, and they’re like, “Oh, that’s all, nothing.” Somebody says, “It’s just a speck of dust. It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to it.” It’s like, “Well, okay, but then why is it here?” It seems to be here anyway. Apparently, it’s here. And believe me, I really do get it. I know it’s not really here. But the appearance is here. And isn’t it lovely? I’m always amazed anymore. I go out in nature. I just go out; I can get excited over cracks in the sidewalk anymore. Just because I think, “What a wonderful, what a wonder this form is here. What a miracle.” Like that song. What was that one lyric?

Rick: The miracle is that anything is here at all.

Francis: That anything is here at all. Says, “I used to look for miracles, and now the only wonder is…” No, what is it? “I used to look…”

Rick: The greatest miracle is that anything is here at all. Something like that. You guys can look it up. It’s a song called…

Francis: Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer. It’s a beautiful song.

Rick: Yeah, when I was coming down here, I had an hour and a half in O’Hare Airport to kill. And I was walking from one terminal to the other, and they had this… Some science museum had a display on the wall of electron microscope pictures, and artist’s renditions of nanoparticles, really microscopic stuff. And so, I stopped and looked at them, and I read the little captions underneath. And it was just like, “Isn’t that wonderful?” The incredible intelligence that goes into structuring things on this level of creation. Why should these little molecular structures be like that? And it’s not billion balls just arbitrarily binging into each other. There’s this kind of innate, brilliant, infinitely unfathomable intelligence that’s governing it. And if we looked at a single of the trillions of cells in our body, that is jaw-droppingly amazing, just the level of intelligence that goes into the organization of a single cell. And here we are in an ocean of that, as the ocean of that.

John Mark: The true joy of enlightenment is the exploration of that infinitely unknown and completely unknowable, but yet, intimately experienceable.

Rick: Exploration, yeah.

John Mark: And that’s the innocence of a child that Yeshua spoke about.

Francis: Well, and it’s funny because Jesus says in the Canonical Gospels, Jesus talks about “become as a little child.” And when you wake up, there is. There is a little child.

John Mark: Yeah, it’s fun.

Francis: I feel like I’m five most of the time.

Rick: They’re fascinated with everything. They’re calling out, putting everything in their mouth.

Francis: Yeah, the little baby we had here today was getting to this point where she discovered her toes. And how fascinating. And they were going to her mouth, like she was feeling them and doing all kinds of things with them. And that is the way it is when you’re awake, because you realize the wonder, the awesomeness of everything. And part of it is” I don’t know what this is.” I remember the day I woke up in the church and I looked down at that Eucharist in my hand, and I was like, gosh, I’ve studied this for years. And it wasn’t even a thought. It wasn’t even in words. But there was just a look of just like, what is this? What is everything? What is life? It wasn’t even a thought. It was just the wonder of that. Of looking at things with the innocent eyes of a child that” I don’t know what all this is, but boy, it sure is cool.”

John Mark: And it’s absolutely benevolent and innocent, all of it.

Francis: Yeah.

Rick: Marshi gave this beautiful lecture one time, Marshi Mahesh Yogi, where he talked about how if there were a man who, really appreciated the paintings of a particular artist, and just, was fascinated, totally loved them, and just adored the paintings, on and on. And then eventually it would come to the artist’s attention. “I really have an admirer in some of this guy.” And the admirer wouldn’t have to go and seek out the artist. The artist would come to him when he discovered that there was someone who appreciated his paintings that deeply. And the analogy is meant to illustrate that once awakening has happened, post-awakening, the kind of awakening you guys are talking about, then appreciation really begins to deepen and become more enriched and deeper and deeper and deeper to the point where it’s so deep that God ends up revealing himself in much greater richness.

John Mark: Oh, yeah.

Francis: Yeah.

John Mark: Ways that will just blow you away. There’s a lot of talk about gratitude on the spiritual path, and it’s really important, but for me, kind of after the awakening, it’s like an infinitude. Gratitude just isn’t big enough, and gratitude, of course, always had a choice, usually because something had happened.

Rick: I’m grateful for this and that.

John Mark: Whereas this resting in infinitude is just a causeless

Rick: joy. Jm Yeah, joy, and it’s really this open invitation that the soul is just kind of wide open and wanting God to just have its way with you. Come give me all of yourself, all of yourself. And it’s, I can’t even, there’s no way to put words on how intimate that void of nothing is. It’s just, you can’t put a word to it, but it’s so here now and so close, but you can’t point to it, you can’t see, you can’t describe it, but it’s just this radiant infinitude. And you could just easily call it fullness of nothingness.

Rick: Sure. That’s a good adjective.

Francis: Well, or you could just be silent, and that’s probably the best. Not call it anything. Just enjoy it. That’s kind of what I’m tending to more and more.

John Mark: Yeah, it’s just the silence.

Francis: As soon as you call it anything, you get into trouble. Meister Eckhart has a famous saying where he said, “We know God, the path to knowing God is a path of unknowing.” That there’s more, and this is kind of on the strand of Christian mysticism, it’s called the apophatic path, the path of darkness to the intellect, where we can say more what God isn’t than what God is. That we can’t really in a positive sense say what God is. And that’s the Buddha, you know, the Buddha was certainly pointing to this infinite, absolute reality. People say the Buddha was an atheist. It’s like, well, maybe on some level you could say that, but I think the Buddha’s pointing to this awakened awareness that all the saints and sages of all the religions have been pointing to for so many years. But he said very precious little about it in any kind of affirmative way. Not because he didn’t believe in it or whatever. And in one sense, it doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not. The point isn’t to believe in it, the point is to be that, to live in that reality. And that’s what the Buddha was pointing to. So, he’d say maybe what it wasn’t. And in a certain sense, that’s much safer, isn’t it?

John Mark: That’s the neti neti thing.

Francis: neti neti, in John of the Cross, nada nada. It’s that same thing. You can’t really say what it is. You can only be and experience what it is. Even experience isn’t a good word, but for lack of a better word. It’s a direct seeing, it’s a direct knowing. I’s not like an object that you can describe and take measurements on and say what color it is. That’s not the nature of what we’re talking about here.

John Mark: And that’s part of the wisdom of the Buddha in not giving it too much description. If you describe it too much, there’ll be a mind out there that says, “Oh, I know exactly what that is.” And that mind will rest in the concept and won’t go any further.

Francis: Sounds familiar, huh? I think that is a big weakness of the whole Neo-Advaitic scene. So many of us have said in words, what we think it is or how we describe it or maybe even how we experience it. But the weakness in that, is that then people form concepts. And then they get attached to the concept. And then they might even have a very amazing, sort of compelling intellectual grasp of the concept and mistake it for the reality. And in my opinion, I say a lot lately, that kind of basic mistaken thing of taking concepts to be reality, that’s the basic human dysfunction. That’s what we call Maya or illusion or original sin or whatever you want to call it. It’s that we human beings go around, we form all these concepts in the head, and then we take the concepts to be reality. And the concepts are just words about reality at best. They might be words about unreality even. But even words about reality are not reality. They’re just the words. That’s why when a lot of these Advaitic people on Facebook and things get all upset about words and start wrangling and arguing about words, and you should use this word and not that word, it’s ridiculous. Because words are words. Words just, maybe at best, words point poorly. At best. At worst, they point very miserably. So why get upset about words? Because words don’t get it anyway, frankly. Not ultimately.

Rick: And if that’s true of something that’s so unmanifest and abstract and subtle as what we’re referring to here, even the color red, the taste of an apple. How could you describe that in words? You can go on and on forever, but it won’t do justice to it. Scientists can kind of analyze, okay, red is a certain wavelength and all, but those are more words. So ultimately, it’s just kind of a shared experience. And, huh?

Francis: Can somebody get an apple?

Rick: Oh, yeah, throw us an apple or an orange or something.

John Mark: Would you grab that one right there, please, Francis? Thank you.

Rick: An orange will do.

Francis: An orange. Yeah. So, if somebody comes up to you and says, “Hey, describe the taste of an orange,” I would go , “Right, there you are.”

Rick: You’d give me the orange, right?

Francis: Yeah.

Rick: I’d bite into it, and I might bite the skin and say, “Oh, it’s bitter.”

Francis: Yeah, right.

Rick: Because I’m just getting the outer aspect of the orange and the sweetness is in the inner.

Francis: Yeah.

John Mark: And I would take it and say, “Well, that’s great. Your mind has said, ‘Oh, I know what this is.’ What’s the mechanics behind all that that’s creating an experience?” We stop at form. The mind is form. It’s in words. It’s in concepts. So, it stops at form rather than looking at how could any of it be without exploring the mystery. Because the mind wants to stay away from the mystery because there’s no mind in the mystery.

Francis: Yeah. And one of the ways of exploring the mystery is just to bite into the orange.

John Mark: Sure.

Francis: To taste the orange.

Francis: Without the label.

John Mark: Without the: “Oh, it’s good. Oh, it’s bad. Oh, I had a better orange 10 years ago.” Oranges suck now. We do that kind of stuff all the time.

Rick: Yeah. The same with apples. But one thing I find interesting as a tool of understanding is also as a non-scientific person, but to use a layman’s understanding of physics and to analyze down an apparently solid object to the point where there’s no object left. It’s just all sort of unmanifest potentiality. And if you looked closely enough with the right instruments, that’s what you’d find here. Nothing of any physical substance. I said this in every talk.

John Mark: Turn that, what you just described, inward on your own thoughts, feelings, and experience, and you’ll find it’s just as empty. But it’ll be a whole different experience turned inward than looking outward as an object, because the body-mind is left unchallenged.

Rick: Exactly. And the outer world, we experience it outwardly through our senses, which are designed to focus outwardly. So, you want to do a 180 and do the exploration inwardly, but you get to that same reality which exists as the ultimate reality of the orange. And you are that reality. You’re the essence of the orange. And the physical world, if you took all 7 billion people in it, and got rid of all the empty space between all the subatomic particles in their bodies, you’d end up with an object the size of a grain of rice. There’s not a whole lot of physicality in the apparent physical world. And then that grain of rice, get it down even deeper, and it’s just probabilities, strings, whatever. There’s really no physical world of any actual solidity.

Francis: And yet, here we are.

John Mark: What a mystery, and how exciting is that?

Rick: Yeah, it’s cool. Next lifetime I’m going to pay attention in science class. You mentioned a while back that Yeshua told you, I forget exactly how you said it, gave you a vision of what the world might be like at this tipping point where everybody awakens. Can you elaborate, give us some particulars?

John Mark: Sure. The world as we know it, is an expression of our collective consciousness. So, all the military weapons, all the debris, all the poverty, all of it. And the destruction that’s taken on the planet. Well, in that vision that he showed me, in that moment, it’s all made pure. The earth is also purified because it’s just an out picturing of consciousness. And when the consciousness wakes up to its purity, everything will change. Not just humanity, the world itself will alter. There were colors in the sky that I had never seen. It was a total global event. Because it’s all happening in an infinite mind, in this infinite field of awareness. So, as it changes, it will all change. And that was what was so powerful was, the rivers ran clean in that instant because it was no longer needed to reflect back the inner disturbance which is humanity.

Rick: I guess what I would say to that is, a skeptic comes up in me, I can’t envision it as being instantaneous. It may be instantaneous in the big picture of things, but it may take a generation. Is the Amazon going to regrow instantaneously? Are the fish populations going to repopulate? Are all the stored nuclear waste going to somehow go poof and disappear? It seems to me there will be a change in the collective mindset, but it may take a while and even scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, and new solar technologies and what not, to actually implement it on a concrete level. But it does take a while for the subtle to percolate into the gross and become practical. Yes? No? Maybe?

John Mark: You’re welcome to see it however you’d like.

Rick: Well, there’s no precedent in our experience for…

John Mark: In my experience of awakening, and Francis can probably… It is a… what was there before is gone.

Rick: Yeah, but let’s say you had lost an arm and you could awaken.

John Mark: I think Yeshua has already showed us that he could replace limbs and raise the dead. That didn’t take a long time, whether you want to say that’s archetypal or whatever. I wouldn’t put any bet against the infinite power of creation.

Rick: Yeah, all possibilities means all possibilities.

John Mark: You’re right. And I just simply default to the choice of the highest possible imaginable beneficial choice.

Rick: Yeah. I’m with you. But there’s the whole 2012 mindset, people expecting to wake up and find a different world on December 22nd or whatever it was. I just feel like there are certain laws of nature that are always going to… They have their own way of functioning. Gravity is gravity. Even though Jesus walked on water, let’s say.

John Mark: So, was it really gravity? Or is that because we all believe it’s gravity?

Rick: Gravity was still working. He was just operating at a level more fundamental than gravity. Therefore, he had command over that law of nature.

John Mark: If you’ve got this command of accuracy, ask to see the vision from him yourself.

Rick: Okay, Yeshua, get on the stick here.

John Mark: Because you’re speaking with such great authority. So have at it.

Rick: I don’t think so. I’m playing devil’s advocate.

Francis: I was going to say, I know Rick and I think he just likes to be the devil’s advocate. And he kind of enjoys that role.

Rick: It’s a dirty job that somebody’s got to do.

John Mark: And that’s okay. That’s fine. So that’s what I’ve seen. When that comes to pass…

Rick: We’ll see. And again, even if it took a generation for the rainforest to be restored and the nuclear waste to be properly disposed of and the oceans to repopulate and the temperature to drop again, it’s like, what’s a generation? It’s the blink of the eye. And it may be that on the level of the manifest laws of nature, it does take a while for the subtle to percolate up and for things to play out. Could be. Yes?

John Mark: Stay tuned.

Francis: I’m more and more happy and perfectly content to just say, I don’t know.

Rick: Whatever. (laughter)

Francis: I’d be happy either way.

Rick: But I’m with you in terms of the optimism part. Even if it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, I’m optimistic…

Francis: This lifetime.

Rick: This lifetime. It doesn’t matter what I think, but since I’m interviewing you guys, I do think or feel that the subtle is more powerful than the gross. And spiritual awakening is the ultimate in subtle phenomenon. And it’s proliferating. And this proliferation can’t help but result in a very powerful shift on the grosser, more powerful levels of life. And it’s already happening, I think. Changes we’re seeing in society, societal attitudes and other sorts of things are shifting. Even regular people on the news are saying, “Wow, things are changing so fast.” Republicans are coming out for gay marriage, whatever. And so that could accelerate. And who knows how greatly it could accelerate. And how much change we could see within our lifetime. Look how much has happened in the past hundred years.

John Mark: Well, I’ve had my own direct physical miraculous healing and have seen them such that nothing is beyond possibilities as far as love goes.

Rick: Anita Moorjani, she was in a coma, 70 pounds, full of lemon-sized tumors. She’s checking out, an hour or two to live. She came back from a near-death experience, tumors went away, she’s healthy and happy and strong.

John Mark: So, what’s the difference between one body, cosmically, and the earth is just another body?

Rick: OK, touché, good point.

Francis: There’s a concept that is called realized eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the end times. Realized, is what you think it means, realized, actually actualized. And there’s this theological concept that the second coming of Christ, what we talk about as the second coming of Christ, is actually a realized eschatology. And there was a little group, a sect, that I found very interesting when I was a monk at one point, early in my monastic life. We had a little shaker village that was near Gethsemane called Pleasant Hill. And I went over there and was so struck, I’m an artist in some ways, and I saw all this beautiful architecture, the beautiful simplicity of the lines, the furniture. And this religious sect that started in the 1700s in England and then came over to the United States and was around up until the 1940s or 50s, with some numbers, was called the Shakers. And a lot of people know about shaker furniture and so on. And the Shakers, their name was given to them by the world because they shook with emotion in their meetings, so they called them shakers.

Rick: It could have been Kundalini.

Francis: Yeah, well it was, and Christians would say the Holy Spirit. So, the Shakers were shakers to the world because they shook. But their actual official name was the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. And what the revelation, the foundress of the Shakers, Mother Ann Lee, got was that one day she woke up to the Christ within her. She had this sense of, “I am the Christ. Christ lives in me. Christ lives through me. I am the Christ. So, Christ came again in me, of all people.” And then she shared that with other people, and they had the realization. Christ came again in them. And so, this is a realized eschatology. The idea is that the Second Coming of Christ is not some cataclysmic event that happens at the end of time, when Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives, it splits in two, and Armageddon comes about, and seven years of tribulation, and rapture, and so on and so forth. That’s a kind of a literal interpretation of it. But this concept of the Second Coming of Christ being a realized eschatology, a realized eschaton, is that when a person, an individual, what we think of as an individual person, wakes up to the reality of the Christ within them, Christ comes again. And then if another person catches that and wakes up to the Christ in them, Christ comes again, again. And that there’s a trickle-down effect, and that the coming of Christ happens that way. And that it’s actually a kind of corporate, sort of collective, wonderful unfolding that never ends, kind of. But think of the ramifications of that in the areas of social justice, peace, the environment, financial stuff, questions, all those things. I know just the results of that awakening to the Christ within in my own individual life. The fruit that’s come from that that’s beautiful. And I see that in other people. Imagine if everyone in the whole world, little by little, was waking up in the same way. What a wonderful kind of unfolding that might be. It’s a beautiful idea.

Rick: What you both just said has really actually shifted my perspective a lot. What you said about Anita Moorjani’s healing also, it almost seems like devoid of the spirit, devoid of being, or whatever we want to call it, matter is very rigid and intractable, and things don’t change easily. But infused with that, change can, in previously unchangeable things, can happen quite radically. In health, and…

Francis: On every level.

Rick: Yeah, loaves and fishes, all kinds of things are possible.

John Mark: Sure, because from the infinite point of view, what’s the difference between the body or the earth? Or creating a universe or a solar system? I can’t imagine God breaks a sweat because one’s harder than the other.

Rick: And if physicality is really as non-physical as I was just saying ten minutes ago…

John Mark: It’s just a collective consciousness, it’s thought.

Rick: It’s just all possibilities appearing to manifest as something solid, Poof, the solidity could just take a new form.

John Mark: Sure, well, really, collective consciousness in humanity has a threshold that says things beyond this limit aren’t possible, so they don’t express. A hundred years ago, it was impossible to think you could talk to someone on the other side of the planet. Now we’re all carrying around a cell phone. If you look within what is the nature of how consciousness, the symbols in the world of how that is expressing back to its unified nature, meaning there is no separation, if you look on the timeline, it’s happening incredibly quickly. Just look at Facebook. It went from nothing to a billion people in like a year and a half or something, and if you look on there, you’re seeing their thoughts. There’s collective consciousness, and of course the internet is really the mind of God. Can you imagine a hundred years ago somebody saying, “Well, I could just ask a question and the answer would appear”?

Francis: Sounds like magic.

John Mark: Well, so, yeah, I wouldn’t underestimate that.

Francis: It’s not always the right answer, though, folks, that appears. (laughter)

John Mark: True, but my point is, the growth is quickly outpacing our human limitations, which are trying to tamp it down.

Francis: Well, I read something recently where it said, just exponentially, the development of technology and so on is more in the last hundred years than it’s been for like a thousand years previous to that. That the speed of it has speeded up so fast that nobody a hundred years ago could have ever in their wildest dreams imagined it. It would be like a Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court or something. This person from the future going back to the past and having the ability to do all these things, and it just amazes everyone. So, if it’s speeded up that much in the last hundred years, how much may it speed up in the next hundred years? It’s anybody’s guess, isn’t it?

John Mark: So if you look at all of those things, all of them are the shortening of time. And we were talking of the end of times. When the consciousness is reunified as one, and you can communicate with any being, non-locally, whatever, there won’t be any need for time. Time itself, so that’s what’s happening. All these things represent time being compressed and compressed and compressed and compressed, to the end of time. When that happens, who knows?

Francis: And when Christ comes again in you,

John Mark: You are eternal.

Francis: That’s the end of time for you. Part of what happens when one wakes up, at least for me, was the end of time. Like time no longer. Time can still, of course, there’s still time on a relative level. You can use time. I got here on time to do this retreat. I’ll leave at a certain time and get back to Ohio at a certain time. Probably helpful on just a practical level to know, so that I don’t miss my plane and so on and so forth. So that’s like Eckhart Tolle calls it clock time. And yet, on the most absolute kind of real level in my own direct experience, right here and right now, there is no time. So, when Christ comes again, when you wake up to this consciousness, when the consciousness within you comes to know itself, it’s the end of time. It’s the end of the world. You know what Christians talk about, the end of the world.

Rick: Right, the end times and all that.

Francis: Yeah, and all those are true upon awakening. All those phrases actually make a lot of sense, don’t they? So, there’s something, even in very literalized fundamentalist Christianity, there are symbols, there are myths in a certain way, there are archetypes that are pointing, they’re pointers to this reality. And in every single religion these exist. In Christianity it’s in one form with a certain set of words that are used. In Hinduism it’s another form with another set of words. But the reality, as I say, it’s not the words. The words are simply pointing. And isn’t it amazing how they all point to this same… When you actually have a living experience of the reality, you come to realize that. It’s the same reality. I can pick up an Upanishad and read it. Somebody sent me, an Upasana teacher sent me a Dzogchen text. And he said it was one of the most difficult Dzogchen. And I picked it up and I understood every word. It’s like, because the reality that I’ve awoken to is the same reality that these Dzogchen Sages way back when woke up to. So of course, we’re speaking the same language, which is the language of love. It’s not the language of words.

John Mark: And love’s timeless.

Rick: Time is a concept to measure eternity, as was once said.

John Mark: , it’s going to come in the realization, the second coming of Christ, whatever you want to call it, within each being, and that will be the end of time. We as body minds, thinking time is so real, thought the end of times would be apocalyptic and bad. It will be the most joyous celebration ever.

Francis: It was for me.

Rick: it may not be the end of time as a practical tool for catching planes, because you still wear a watch and all, but it’ll be sort of a dawning of the timeless in collective consciousness.

Francis: There are lots of concepts that are useful. The concept of the United States and Canada is useful. But if you get in a plane and fly over the border, you’re not going to see the United States and Canada. You’re not going to see a line saying “US, Canada.” But it’s a concept that we use that’s helpful, helps us know where to send our tax money, so, they can make good roads and stuff like that. It’s fine. But the problem is we just take it so literally and so seriously. We think that’s reality again, where it’s the basic human dysfunction. We’re taking a bunch of concepts, and we’re thinking the concepts are real. And they’re real as concepts, but they’re not reality with a capital R.

John Mark: But what if the reality we think we’re experiencing is an expression of the reality that is held in collective human consciousness? And when that reality within changes, it must reflect outside differently.

Francis: Surely.

Rick: I would say that that’s the only way it’s going to change outside. It changes in the kind of collective consciousness within.

John Mark: Yeah, peace will come one enlightenment, one awakening at a time. Not through negotiations of any governments or family reunions burying the hatchet. It will come through individual awakening.

Rick: I was participating in what we call the World Peace Project in the TM Movement back in the ’70s, and I spent three months in Iran. And we had a group of a couple hundred guys doing long meditation programs for hours and hours a day in the middle of Tehran. And there were similar groups in Israel, South Africa, which was going through the apartheid struggles, Central America where Nicaragua was having its revolution and all that. And scientists who admittedly had a sort of a bias in terms of using this PR tool, but nonetheless looked at the whole thing quite carefully, all sorts of societal trends and crime rates and death rates from battle wars and all that stuff, and really found a very statistically significant correlation between the arrival of these groups in these areas and their stay there, and then their departure again. Big fluctuations in death rates due to war and crime rates and other kinds of measures, even economic measures. We had a group of 8,000 at one point for several weeks in the winter of 1980 or something. And there were big changes in society that could be measured during that period. So, the attempt was to demonstrate that just a change in consciousness and enough people and the super radiance effect of all those people together as a group as opposed to scattered all over the place, could ripple out through the instrumentality of the underlying field of consciousness, and create an enlivenment in the entire society, in the entire culture that could be measurable.

John Mark: And that’s notwithstanding the power of God.

Rick: I believe it’s by virtue of the power of God.

John Mark: but my point is, all of that on the level of form, is infinitely small compared to the absolute. And that power is, I’ve seen it.

Francis: It’s absolute.

Rick: And so, you’re saying?

John Mark: I’m saying that that’s where the change will come as we wake up not to bodies but to that one self.

Rick: Yeah. Well, that’s basically what these people were experiencing. They were in meditation waking up to that one self to whatever degree of clarity and not thinking about the crime rate or anything else, but by virtue of that awakening that was taking place. And believe me, being in a group of 8,000 people meditating together, it was palpable. It was thick. And that there was an effect.

Francis: When I was a monk–

John Mark: Thank you. It may have contributed to my awakening. (Laughter)

Rick: Yeah.

Francis: When I was a monk, every day we would have a period of prayerful meditation in the very, very early morning so the whole community would be there. And even that, we were talking in Montreal, it was like maybe 30, 40 people. And yet often there would be a sense of presence, but there was a more kind of concentrated sense of it.

Rick: Wherever two or three are gathered.

Francis: Yes. And I think there is a reality there that 8,000 people, it must have been really kind of incredible. But imagine a whole planet of that. Eckhart Tolle has this book called The New Earth. And a lot of what he’s saying in that book is sort of that vision. And that’s the Christian vision from the book of Revelation, that there’s a new heaven and a new earth. That this kind of new heaven and new earth won’t necessarily come about by God just waving a magic wand over it, but that it’s a kind of actualization of God present in the earth itself. In all those things, those forms, that they somehow actualize. It’s consciousness again becoming aware of itself within all that, and the transformative effect of that is like infinite. And I think that evolutionary enlightenment, it’s just amazing that there’s no end to it. I think it’s what they’re saying in that field of thought. There’s no end to it and that seems to be what the absolute, for lack of a better word, enjoys doing. This play, this Lila, this dance that’s so creative and so beautiful and so wonderful to behold. It’s amazing.

Rick: Would you like to add anything?

John Mark: Infinitude and just wonder.

Rick: I’m not as familiar with you and your work as I am with Francis’s. Do you want to talk a little bit more about what you do with people and for people? If someone were to get in touch with you, what would they do?

John Mark: They can go to my website, Information’s on there. I do teachings. One of the favorite things I do, which Yeshua did with me in my own awakening, I asked, “How can I speed up my awakening?” He said, “We’ll use movies.” And I said, “Really, movies?”

Francis: Jesus likes movies just like me.

John Mark: He teased me because he said, “Recognize, I had a stick in the dirt when I was walking the planet, but now we have the ability to go into a movie theater and expose our consciousness to things that we probably never would see.” So, by watching the movies, it caused all of my egoic judgments and desires and preferences and all that stuff to come out of the buried subconscious up into my awareness where I could, to use some Christian parlance, I could forgive them. I could let them go. I could be with them and see, “Oh my gosh, I see that I’m holding these judgments.” And it’s not really about the judgments. It’s about me wanting to be the one holding judgments.

Rick: So, you started watching a bunch of movies?

John Mark: We watched over 100 movies together.

Rick: Who’s we?

John Mark: Me and Jesus.

Rick: Oh. Does he like popcorn?

John Mark: No, his nonphysical form doesn’t. But he would tell me to pause, and we would look at what was going on in my own being.

Rick: So you sort of like analyzed what you had just seen in the movie and discussed it or whatever.

John Mark: Sure. So now I extend those same teachings by showing “Waking Up to the Movies,” which is a lot of fun.

Rick: Did you send me? I have a file on my desktop that says “Waking Up to the Movies.”

John Mark: That may be it.

Rick: I guess you didn’t send it. I don’t know where it came from. Maybe you sent it to me.

John Mark: And then I do teachings around much of the Christ consciousness stuff. I went through “The Course in Miracles,” “The Way of Mastery,” “The Course of Love,” all that stuff. But the teachings that Jesus gave me as very simple and practical practices, I extend all those. And then whatever else kind of comes.

Rick: So back to the movies for a minute. Did you watch? Were you watching just uplifting movies? Were you watching slasher movies? Or what kind of movies?

John Mark: The whole spectrum. We watched.

Rick: Porn?

John Mark: I’d had plenty of that already. (Laughter) So, we watched horror movies because I needed to see within my own being where fear resided. Where was it within my consciousness I was unwilling to look? Because, of course, love allows all things. It’s letting it all happen. So, we watched everything. The whole spectrum. From metaphysical teaching movies, kind of like “The Matrix.” We just did one last night, “Intouchables,” which is a beautiful symbol about meeting people as equals, rather than seeing disability as something that makes someone less than someone else. So, there were all kinds of beautiful teachings in there. So now people come, we have popcorn, I show “Waking Up to the Movies.”

Rick: That sounds like fun. I’ve often thought that when you get a movie like “Close Encounters” or “Star Wars” or some of these beautiful, real, “The Matrix” or these interesting movies that have come out, they’re not just the brainchild of Steven Spielberg or George Lucas. Spielberg or Lucas are like channels for some higher, bigger intelligence that wants to infuse a particular concept into the mass consciousness. Would Jesus agree with that?

John Mark: Of course. I think love’s been trying to wake us up very gently for quite some time. And using movies, songs, if you start to listen to songs, and if you’ll turn the love songs instead of this way, and you’ll turn it this way, they start to speak to you in a very deeper level. So, the message, when you wake up, it’s everywhere. It’s like, “Oh my God, how could I have not seen it?” It’s on every billboard, it’s on the radio, it’s on the movies. So, he just helped calibrate my consciousness by watching those movies to kind of the Christ mind, or that infinite, absolute kind of view.

Rick: Speaking of messages that are trying to be conveyed to us, do you have any opinion about crop circles?

John Mark: I don’t know. Just ask Francis a question and I’ll go find out.

Rick: Okay. I’ll just riff for a minute while he finds out. The reason I ask the question is that about, I don’t know, 30 years ago I came across a coffee table book about UFOs, and I just had this intuitive “Aha!” that that’s part of the mix. And I know it seems ooga-booga, seems new agey, but it felt like there’s actually higher beings or alien races or whatever that may be more advanced than us that actually are interested in our survival, if not our blossoming as a planet, and that they are part of the whole scene of what’s going on.

Francis: So, did you find anything out?

John Mark: Go listen to Bashar on Crop Circle.

Rick: People have been telling me to interview this guy, Bashar.

John Mark: Thee you go.

Rick: Okay. Did you know about… you must have known about him already. You weren’t just told about him in the last 30 seconds. He’s come across the radar before. Consciousness is one. It’s infinitely vast and as Jesus said, “Knock and it will be shown to you.” We’re so rooted in this idea that we have separate minds that we’re oftentimes not open. All channeling is is open to that other consciousness. Nothing is hidden behind the veil. Nothing is hidden.

Rick: Well along the same lines, in terms of this vision of a much brighter age dawning, does that vision include membership in a much larger brotherhood of civilizations beyond our own planet?

John Mark: Yes.

Rick: Have you gone into the details of that somewhat in your experience?

John Mark: No, other than knowing that as we wake up into our one, all else that is one will be known. But again, it’s not so much on the level of form, it’s on the level of formlessness. We’re still so… it’s kind of like run to the other side of the bridge and look at it from God’s point of view rather than continuing to be a bias to form, look at it just from consciousness.

Rick: Right, from the perspective of consciousness. And the implication of that is, with regard to this point?

John Mark: You’ll see a very different… you’ll see a world from the consciousness side, that doesn’t have limitations, lack, barrier, separateness, alien. It’s one unified whole mind, consciousness.

Rick: And the universe is my family.

John Mark: Correct. And that’s all known the higher you move in that kind of metaphorical building of consciousness.

Rick: I keep coming up with questions and they keep percolating, it never stops. Francis, would you like to say anything?

Francis: Not at this moment.

John Mark: Some of that stuff can get very scintillating and get lots of interest.

Rick: Yeah, it can be a mind candy.

John Mark: Just wake up.

Francis: Yeah, I’d say that. Wake up. Wake up, everybody.

John Mark: Wake up. It all is going to be revealed. Just wake up first. And if anything, if that adds an incentive to drop all your concepts and beliefs and self-identification of having your own one separate mind and to open to the whole, then maybe that’s more incentive to drop your self-identification. Or get on about waking up.

Rick: II asked John Mark about what people would do if he were to get in touch… if they were to get in touch with him. How about you, Francis?

Francis: Well, I have a website now that’s very fresh and new. It’s only been up a couple of weeks. It’s called All lowercase, all run together. Finding Grace at the Center. I’m very active on Facebook. So, if you look up Francis Bennett, there are several Francis Bennett’s, but I look like this. If you look up Francis Bennett on Facebook, you’ll see my little picture. And then you just click on that, and I take all friend requests. And so, I’m using Facebook as a very different… I’ve just recently been informed that it’s a social media, it’s a public forum, and that it’s used in a certain way, and I probably don’t use it in the way it was designed to be used. I’ve never posted anything about where I went to dinner or vacation. I’ve never posted a picture of a cute kitten, as far as I remember.

John Mark: Or an angry cat.

Francis: Or a video of one. But I basically just post spiritual posts, four, five, six times a day. They just come to me, and this kind of stuff just seems to be coming to me a lot, for some reason. And so, when it does, I either, if I’m on an iPhone, I can post it, or if I’m near my computer, and if I’m not, I just write it down, stick it in my pocket and post it later. I do a lot of interaction and engagement with people through the Facebook, and I do Skyping. If you come to my website, that FindingGraceAtTheCenter website, there’s one page that tells you how you can Skype with me. I have a PayPal. People can pay through that. Or I also do Skyping for free, for those who can’t afford anything. I don’t ever want this to be something that is about money. It’s not really about money for me. I just have a book that just came out yesterday, officially, and it’s called “I Am That I Am.” It’s just a book kind of that came out of my own awakening. I had a spiritual director at the time who encouraged me to journal about it. I really had no intention of writing a book, frankly, but I journaled and gave him pieces of the journal to read, and after about a year or so, he said, “You know, I think there’s a book here.” So, we kind of organized it together as a book. I presented it to a publisher, Nonduality Press, and they wanted to publish it. So here it is. All of those things are ways to kind of get in touch with my message, what I’m trying to share with people.

Rick: And the Buddha speaks of right livelihood. I just want to mention that you do have a day job. Since you got out of the monastery, you needed to support yourself. And I would like to–I’m happy to be instrumental in helping you transition from that day job to being able to do what you love best and what the world needs dearly as a full-time thing. So, if people want to invite you to come and do a retreat someplace, and you’ve already been invited to several as a result of my first interview with you. You’ve been up to Alaska and places.

Francis: Yeah, North Carolina.

Rick: Reach out to Francis, and he’ll be happy to travel someplace.

John Mark: Me too.

Rick: And you, too.

John Mark: Yeah.

Rick: Okay.

John Mark: Because I don’t have a day job. (Laughtr)

Rick: Yeah.

John Mark: I Love for a living.

Rick: Yeah. And me too, actually, although I don’t quite feel like I’m the same me as these guys.

Francis: another name for that, I think. [Laughter]

Francis: The oldest profession, I love for a living. [Laughter]

John Mark: And live to do nothing but love.

Francis: Yeah. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t make fun of that.

John Mark: Oh, it’s cool. Thanks for joining in.

Rick: I was just saying that– I also have a day job, and I’d love to be doing Buddha at the gas pump full time. I don’t feel like my role is quite the same as yours. In fact, I wouldn’t have taught a retreat by myself, even though I taught a hundred of them back in the old days, but I was a parrot. And these days I feel like it’s got to come from genuine, direct experience. And I feel my experience needs–maybe it’s a self-doubt– but I feel it needs further maturation before I would be confident or qualified to sit up in front of a group and lead a retreat and really be of value to people. But I really enjoyed doing this one as your sidekick. [Laughter]

Francis: Yeah, thanks, Robin. [Laughter]

John Mark: Oh, I thought you were the Lone Ranger. [Laughter]

Francis: I think maybe you’re Batman and I’m Robin.

Rick: So, maybe we’ll have–

Francis: You are Batman! Batgap! Batman!

Rick: It’s true. There you go. So maybe we’ll have some more such opportunities.

Francis: Yeah, I hope so. We got invited somewhere.

Rick: We did.

Francis: : So, James invited us to–

Rick: That’s true. We might go to Virginia Beach in the fall and do one at the Edgar Cayce Foundation.

Francis: Yeah. Cool.

Rick: So, what I’ll do, as I always do, is I’ll have a blog post. is a blog. And there’ll be a blog post specific to this interview, and it’ll have a little bio of both of you with links to your website, books, your book. Have you written a book?

John Mark: No.

Rick: Okay. But anything you want me to put there. And for those of you who happen to be listening to this while you’re commuting or something, you don’t have to pull over the car and write down what these guys just said in terms of their website because it’ll be there, and you can just follow the links. Also, there you will find an archive of all the interviews that have been done so far, about 170-something to date. And there’s a tab where you can sign up to be notified by email each time a new one is posted. There’s a chat group that springs up around each interview that gets usually several hundred substantive posts with each interview. There’s a donate button which I rely upon in order to continue to do all this. So, feel free to click that if you’re so inclined. If you don’t like PayPal and don’t want to mess with that, there’s a tab which explains what my address is in case you want to send a good old-fashioned check or something. And someone was discussing this with me over the weekend and said, “Why don’t you charge like 20 bucks a month the way Eckhart Tolle does, and you could retire now?” And I thought, “You know, maybe, but I’m not Eckhart Tolle, number one. I don’t have that kind of audience. Number two, I’d sort of like for this always to be free, if possible, and for people to just donate on a voluntary basis if they feel like it.” I think that would be more fair to the people I interview because they would have a larger audience than if there were some restriction. Theoretically, I could do like a 15-minute teaser and then you have to pay to watch the rest, but I don’t know. Those things seem gimmicky. So, for the time being and hopefully ongoing, it’ll be free and open to anyone who watches, who wishes to watch, but I do rely on the support. And that’s a much longer spiel than I usually give on this point. So that’s about it. Thank you both very much. It’s really been a joy doing this with you and meeting you. John Mark, I haven’t met you at all yet. And it’s really fun to do them in person rather than Skype all the time. And so, thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching and we’ll see you next week.