Francis Bennett and John Mark Stroud Transcript

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Francis Bennett and John Mark Stroud Interview

Rick Archer: 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. Thank you, Francis and I, I’ve been helping Francis teach a weekend retreat down here, which has been tremendous funds. 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 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 the show. So about a week after he left the monastery, we did the interview, and Francis’s life went from relative quietude to several 100 emails a day and Skype calls and all kinds of stuff going on, people sending in 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 little bit different. Not that all my other guests aren’t pure and sweet, but people found it refreshing and many people who had had a religious background, and who had perhaps become disillusioned with that, or as a result of that, found that kind of a fresh hope, and rediscovery of of, you know, 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. And 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 hadn’t seen that interview. And I’d like to know the backstory a little bit. But I would like to also first 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 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 Stroud: 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 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 I event in my mid 20s, I was really successful in business type A personality, you know, I got my goal, I’m gonna 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 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 my business career. When I was 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 turn toward words what I had been avoiding for 15 years. And as soon as I consciously made that turn, my whole life got swept up and what I call a tidal wave of miracles and, you know, books and teachers and revelations and all kinds of things started happening. And that culminated will 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, who is Jesus, Jesus, Yeshua, whatever name you want to guess you, whatever he’ll answer to love, whatever we call it. So I started having this dialogue. And he guided me to his channel teachings, beginning with the Course in Miracles, of course of love the way of mastery and current one that’s out as I am the word. So I began to follow that inner voice.

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

John Mark Stroud: 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 Archer: Yeah. And could there be an evil god 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? Yeah,

John Mark Stroud: a very expansive egoic attempt to impersonate love. Yeah. 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 that 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, to recognize within my own being the contrast between my egoic identity and what he was trying to help me learn,

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

John Mark Stroud: Well, I don’t know. Okay, and you can be as obstinate as you like.

Rick Archer: I don’t 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’d like to anticipate questions people might have so not sitting there frustrating thing I wish he would ask this. Sure.

John Mark Stroud: Well, yeah, I think it was, Peter was a saint peter that said, test the spirit. So I mean, I had this open St. Paul thing I was, 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 that that was there already. And what he shared with me was, he didn’t, 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. You know, where I would want to discipline my children, my children harshly, that would be a more loving message in a different way than when 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 follow that voice and follow that voice and follow that voice and follow that voice. And as the trust grew, my openness to hear a deeper message also began to reveal itself because what any inner guide that we’re working with, where you can call it, your Higher Self, your Ontari, Atman, 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 it 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 I 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 begin to expand your consciousness, you know, 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, which happened about a week apart, which were the, you know, I think Francis has described his it’s just a moment of knowing your 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. I mean, it was it, you could almost sense that was making some some tiny effort, but it just never got enough momentum to kind of get up. So I spent maybe 10 weeks eight weeks in a really weird state, because it was 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 Archer: To make the short story a little bit longer. You told me earlier that you now have remembered like 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 spiritual aspirant through a number of paths live,

John Mark Stroud: there was some of that not 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 into 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 Yasha, when when he was on the planet, which I came to learn later, that’s why our connection was so you know, open and available, when I made the the soul level choice to awaken.

Rick Archer: And you made that soul level choice in this life thing, or was it some before this life? Your thing? Okay, I’m coming in now, at the age of such and such I’m going to awaken? Or does it not? Is that a ridiculous question? Because it’s not so linear and time bound? Is that

John Mark Stroud: 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 who wakes would be in this timeframe at this time? And 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 sure.

Rick Archer: Yeah, just like a person might say, Well, I’m gonna go to college and study biology and then I’m going to medical school and something else, my sure not happening. Yeah. So Francis, for those who didn’t watch the first interview with you, could you give us you know, synopsis of your life, your path, your awakening? You know, just 510 minute version of it?

Francis Bennett: Well, I’ll try. I guess my background is Catholic Christian background. I went to seminary very early right out of high school. And then at the age of 22, I went to a monastery and I was at the TRAPPIST Abbey of Gethsemane and Kentucky, with 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 in the that he had written while he was in the monastery. I read them when I was in high school and was very deeply influenced, 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 their left subsequent to get Seminary in the 90s I lived in the TRAPPIST Abbey of Our Lady of napkin in South Carolina near Charleston. I lived a monastic life, eventually transferring to a French community, living a bit in France, some in Canada, and got involved in some pastoral ministry. You’re doing work with the dime. I went back to school did a kind of Clinical Pastoral Education residency, a two year residency. My second year residency was specially 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, and also worked as a hospital chaplain, did some pastoral care in parishes, was going along happily living my monastic life and doing some pastoral work. And 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 always been there, and that the presence of God, but I called God that I had been seeking for so long. This presence, I’d had experiences of it coming and going and coming and going and coming and going. Again, and again. And again, after a while it 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. And what I realized in that kind of split second was that, that presence in my simple presence, in the eternal here, and now you could say, are the same presence. So that was kind of maybe 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 my wonder at that happening. I guess that’s a kind of nutshell version, a Reader’s Digest condensed version.

Rick Archer: And actually, you nutshell version, recounts the outer circumstances of your life leading up to that epiphany, but really, you know, under the surface of those outer circumstances of this Abbey in this job and whatnot, was an ardent spiritual in our desire for God for for oneness with Jesus for, you know, however you’d like to phrase it, you were kind of burning with some intensity for a couple of two, three decades?

Francis Bennett: 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 in all mainline Christianity was a kind of neo pentecostal movement, that really stressed a personal relationship to Christ. And, and all that that entails, you know, just spiritual experiences, visions, speaking in tongues, prayer experiences, all these things, were part of that movement. And I was pretty thoroughly immersed in that and loved it and really felt a very strong intimacy and with Jesus, a devotion to Jesus, a sense this weekend, I shared some things about my aspirations. As a young man, we’re 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, of that Jesus kind of represented the presence of God, kind of shining through a human life. And 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. And I just felt like, yeah, that’s what I want, when I wouldn’t sometimes encounter different people in the Charismatic Renewal. You know, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a big influence on me. Because precisely because of that, her, her Christ’s likeness, her 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 the kind of compassion, you know, and 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 I did, I 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. And I did for a very long period of time, Rick was talking about a lady of interviewed that was a practitioner of the Jesus Prayer, which is is just a prayer that the in using the name of Jesus repetitively like a Mantra. And in the Jesus Prayer literature, the Philokalia, the early fathers in the church that wrote about this prayer, that kind of monastic spiritual practice that developed over some centuries. And they 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, to send it into the heart, and then the person’s heart awakened in this Christ presence, and there was kind of sense of Christ’s being present in the heart. I mean, it’s one maybe very Christian way of talking about awakening, but I think is true awakening nonetheless. And so yeah, I would say, that’s, that’s very right. My my impetus my, the kind of driving force was, in many ways, symbolized in the person of the Christ of Jesus, Jesus Christ.

Rick Archer: Interviewed Timothy Freek, twice, and if you’ve ever had any interviews, yeah, but um, he contends that there was probably no historical Jesus, that you can look at the traditions of Egypt and about half a dozen other cultures that he mentions and see the same patterns born of a virgin, three wise men, you know, killed a crucified in some way raised from the dead after three days, and that there the whole story of Christ was just some kind of archetype, that culture, one culture after another keeps repeating and turning into a, you know, sort of a source of inspiration. So I’m not sure if that even needs to be addressed. But I’m kind of curious about it. And I guess the the underlying question is, you know, who is Jesus? Who was Jesus? Who is he now? There’s obviously a kind of a fundamentalist, absolute attitude toward him in certain circles. When fundamentalists call me on the phone, I start talking about astronomy to them and discuss how many inhabited planets there probably are in the universe? And is he on tour? And does he spend 33? And if he does, how can the university only be 6000 years old? Because there’s a lot of planets, and that they usually hang up on me after a while. But what do you guys say? I mean, do you give any credence at all well, how would you respond to Timothy? And what is your personal sense of, of Jesus on an experiential level, and also as an historical person?

John Mark Stroud: My own experience was, of course, all I can relate to, is I have found his consciousness shared with me to be very real, very real. And in my own, looking back and seeing my lifetimes, there was one that was at the same time as his. So I had that symbol. Is it real? Is it illusion? Is it dream? Does it matter? I mean, 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 1000 Other ways to find the truth

Rick Archer: about events as

Francis Bennett: well. I mean, I think in modern theology these days in Christian circles in the mainline denominations, certainly the Catholic Church, there’s 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 kind of debated about the various scriptural accounts of the words of Jesus things Jesus said, and they go through and rate them. You know, we think that Jesus very likely said this. We think he maybe said this, we think it’s probably an ice cubes chance in hell that he said this. They got through and raided the hole, all the all the canonical gospels. And I think even though it seems to me that they even did that with some Gnostic gospels that weren’t in the canon of Scripture, and there is a lot of concern about the historical Jesus, and was there even historical Jesus, some people would say, personally, I think it’s probable that there, there was a historical Jesus. Now whether or not all the things that are attributed 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 in 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 that 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, 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 you know, when they come into Buddhist temples and Buddhist countries, they bow down to the Buddha. And 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, you know that historically, there was a historical Buddha and 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, that there’s, there’s this potentiality in human beings of, of waking up of realizing who they are, you know, 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, you know, 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. And I know that was certainly in my mind as a child. And 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? You know, 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, that’s, it’s a bit irrelevant. Yeah.

Rick Archer: I think maybe the question is, was he represent for you now too, because obviously, in your experience, you know, he’s primarily not some guy who lived 2000 years ago, he’s a living presence now that communicates with you now. And, you know, millions of Christians feel that their lives were transformed, once they made the conscious kind of connection with Jesus, the changes took place. And of course, then the fundamentalist mentality comes in, and 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, you know, is there for anyone who wishes to form a relationship with them, 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 established 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?

John Mark Stroud: 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, I see Ramana. I mean, we there are lists and lists of them, and that they all perceive each other as absolute equals, equals they, 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 can be whatever that is, love will show up and work with you with whatever works. Yeah. And in the, in his teachings. The way of mastery, he makes it very clear. You don’t have to believe in Him to awaken, right, 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 like, prerequisite. If you don’t believe in Jesus, then you’re screwed.

Rick Archer: When you are saying that he is like part of you know, there are a number of beings who can do this, I was sort of thing. Okay, so it’s like a team. And then when you said that relative that thought, but that sounds like Little League, and Jesus is on the Yankees, you know, that seems like, you know, levels of professionalism in terms of these teams. But I guess maybe what you’re saying is whatever works for you. I mean, 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, and it’s too and, and so on. And so you connect with whatever is helpful. And then maybe you move on to another one. And once you graduate from the first grade.

John Mark Stroud: Sure. Well, I had other teachers come to show up to work on specific things, and 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 in guiding me there.

Rick Archer: Whether you live in the south, more or less Bible Belt, although you’re in a little island of sanity and Asheville. Some would say insanity, but depends on your value system. But would you have what do you make of this saying that so often repeated that I am the way, the truth and the life no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. And you know, they have they use that to hammer people into dismiss anything other than the path there. Well, I, by the way, please answer,

John Mark Stroud: I am the Way the Truth and the lie, 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 presents 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 not by no means him saying, Look, I’m special, and I’m the anointed, or it was saying, I am the one just like you. And because they went on in that gospel to say you are the life the truth in the way, and you

Rick Archer: concur with that, I’m sure.

Francis Bennett: Yeah, I would concur with that. And then 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 Scriptures 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 may be 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, 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 is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by the I Am, in the I Am, is the I am in me the I am in you, you know, so I am the way the I am within me is the way the truth and the light, and the I am within you is the way the truth and the light. Yeah. So it’s, you know, I it could be taken as a very sectarian, narrow kind of thing that Jesus of Nazareth, this dude who lived back 2000 years ago in the Middle East, is the way the truth and 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, or there’s other scriptures, Teresa’s I and the Father are One, you know, and I said in the in the book, I just put out, you know, what if he meant that to mean something a little broader than how we normally interpreted what he meant, instead of I and the Father are one in some exclusive way, maybe 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 2000 years ago off in the Middle East. That’s the Christ right now in Wapakoneta, Ohio, is taking the kids to soccer that’s the Christ right now in Chicago, Illinois, you know, getting on the train, and that’s the Christ right now getting interviewed by Rick Archer,

John Mark Stroud: by the Christ

Francis Bennett: by the Christ, Christ interviewing Christ. Yeah.

John Mark Stroud: There’s an important distinction. I’d like to make it 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 here, 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 the X the X didn’t have their sense of existence. So the interpretation in that way, is often treated very harshly, I kind of look at it as like 100 storey building, if you’re on the first floor, your view is of a brick wall, right? If you’re on the 50th floor, it’s this beautiful panorama. Neither one is wrong. Yeah, the first floor can’t see what the fifth the 50th can, it’s just as right. And it’s, it’s, 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. And if we would allow people to walk their path and be on the floor that they are. And just let it be.

Francis Bennett: Good analogy. You know, the other day I was thinking about, I was talking about kind of development in the process of awakening and how it needs to be integrated, and it grows, and it expands. And 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, in our presence can only be infinite. You know, it can’t be finite, how could it? And it’s, it’s a lot like if you had a little baby, you know, we look at little babies, there’s a little baby this weekend here that was just precious, beautiful, perfect little beam. You know, you look at that. And you think what a perfect being this is smiling and happy and radiant and radiating that joy of being in a very innocent way. And you would never say, Oh, well, you know, this isn’t this isn’t a very good, good person, because they’re not fully grown. And they can’t talk and, you know, you have to feed them and change diapers, they can’t even go to the bathroom by themselves, you know, far from perfect? No, we don’t look at it that way. We see that baby, we say, that is a perfect baby. You know, now if that baby looks like that 30 years from now, and you still have to change your diapers and, and do all those things. Well, you know, there’d be something a little off winter, maybe take her to the doctor, and she hasn’t grown much something wrong. But that baby is perfect as a baby. And 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 know, you’re awake, or you’re not awake. I mean, 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, you know?

Rick Archer: And each level incorporates the previous one. Absolutely. No, it’s like, you have the circumference keeps growing. Yeah, you know, you can say to the person on the first floor, the second floor of the 10 foot. Yeah, I see what you mean, you’re totally right. But there’s also

John Mark Stroud: this, but there’s more sure, but you don’t ridicule. I mean, that was his message. Let those who have ears to hear, hear, yes, they’ll take in all they can take in from where they preached where they perceive themselves to be. But within all his teachings, which that 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 and 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 oneself, no matter their level of dreaming.

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

John Mark Stroud: And wouldn’t it be different if we read that and said, Wow, that’s my point of view right here right now. Yeah, 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. Yeah, 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 pedal it on other people, or judge other people who 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, we talk about spiritual paths, like it’s Christianity, or Buddhism, every person’s life. Is there a path period, you can think of the Course in Miracles is or you might use on your own little river, or Buddhism or is in their 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 Bennett: Yeah, good news, golf. Yeah. Yeah.

John Mark Stroud: So walk your path, if other 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 Archer: So do you feel that people who put most of their energies into trying to convert other people to their way of seeing things to their religion, or sect, or cult or whatever, are fundamentally insecure in their own in their own situation, or, and they’re trying to compensate for that by getting others into it, or

John Mark Stroud: it’s all fear. If, if my belief more people believe what I believe, then I

Francis Bennett: feel more secure and more sure I’m right.

John Mark Stroud: But you know, where you’re going when you get to the top of this building is beyond all belief. So 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 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. History, thought and belief.

Francis Bennett: Well, and like I shared today, in our little gathering that I, you know, it’s not really a matter of really even knowing yourself, like 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, it means 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 looks good on your battle. So it’s one of those things that you know, who you really are, can’t be defined, because who you really are is not an object. It’s been itself and who you really are, can only be lived. You know, and I talked a little bit the other day about the early Fathers of the Church called humankind, a K packs day, which is a Latin phrase meaning a capacity for God. You know that who we are, has nothing to do with some separate little individual. This, what we think of as the separate little individual is actually simply an emptiness a capacity. I think that’s what, what the Buddhists are getting that when they talk about that quality of a not top, 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, you know, so on one level, there is this emptiness on this other level, there’s this fullness, they don’t, they’re not mutually exclusive, they don’t fight with each other. You know, and the other thing too, when you were when you when John Mark was talking, I was thinking of, I often think of this, this comes to me, you know, the truth needs no defense, the truth can take care of itself. And again, 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 kind of interacting with various people in this and I, you know, and I’m pretty familiar with the kind of concept in 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, you know, we’re right, and they’re Those ones are wrong, you know, in dividing up the world, and what is that? Who likes to divide things up? You know, it’s the ego, it’s the it’s this, this this kind of false self that thinks of itself as the separate entity, rather than as a kind of unified whole. And you know, the ironic thing is a lot 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, and I’ve run across just as much narrowness and Advaita, Neo Advaitins, as I did in Christianity, maybe more sometimes a little nastier, you know, 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, you know, what is that it’s all the same kind of reality. And I think, being like Christ, this kind of this kind of symbol of Christ points to something that transcends that this kind of petty, little, you know, divisions and all that.

John Mark Stroud: That was yesh was teaching of let your cup be empty of the small self. And the big self will fill it and it your couple runneth over, through your love will. So you know, same same teaching. And then when you really wake up into them, you see the same teaching in every, in their in Buddhism, they’re, they’re all pointing at the same thing. They’re I mean, they’re all saying the same thing using a different language. Nice. It’s really the 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 AI 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 better.

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

Francis Bennett: Well, I mean, you know, and I say this kind of thing a lot. But I don’t think our conversation was really that important. I mean, like when when John Mark walked into the room, and he came down here, and we kind of our eyes met, and the Christ in me could see the Christ in him. I mean, there’s something funny about that isn’t there that, that when you awaken to this reality within? You see, it will for one thing, you see it in every single human being on the face of the planet. You know, after this happened to me, I would be in a metro and Montreal and there’ll be a lot of people, some of them look kind of grumpy. And yet I can 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, you know, 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. I, you know, when I awoke to that reality in me, it wasn’t just in me. I came to realize, you know, this Christ, this reality, this beingness, the spacious awareness, whatever name you want to slap on it. It’s 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. You know, it’s just like a, if a family member that you never knew, kind of walked in, knocked on your front door, and you might look at them and go, Oh, this might be my brother or my sister or something. Because you recognize, you recognize the resemblance. It’s like, Oh, they got mom’s eyes just like, whatever. There’s something about this. There’s a flavor of the Christ’s spirit, the Christ, kind of consciousness. There’s a flavor to it. There’s a you know that prayer is shared by Carl Newman talks about the fragrance of Christ. Let me spread your fragrance everywhere I go, flood my soul with your spirit in 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, and when 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, you know.

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

John Mark Stroud: but it is special when that self is looking back consciously?

Francis Bennett: Yes. That’s,

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

Rick Archer: the talk of heaven on earth, you know, or a society in which a large percentage of people are awake in this way. Do you guys have a sense that and you know, in Christian terms, I guess they call it the Second Coming and the Golden Age, and it’s supposed to come after the Second Coming and so on. Do you folks have any thoughts or thoughts on that and have any kind of intuitive sense of that being on the horizon?

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

Rick Archer: Instantaneous, or me you snap your fingers, or it’s something that’s actually under underway now?

John Mark Stroud: Yes, but it’s underway now. But there will it will reach a crescendo? Yeah, when it happens, monkey Yeah. Now, the way time works is not linear, so that that potential could happen tomorrow, it could happen 100 years from now, right? It depends on how many beans 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 ones I mean, you know, when Buddha and Jesus walked, there were very few, you know, I know 10 or 12, personally. So it’s happening with great, great, great speed, when you look when you see it energetically. What’s happening? It is this quantum kind of movement. Yeah.

Rick Archer: 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? And, you know, it seems like everyone would want to drop it if they knew of the possibility. So what’s the, what’s the handle, or the fulcrum that that could enable a much more mass dropping of the surveyed? Well, fear

John Mark Stroud: is the fulcrum, they’re scared. And this, people being able to see that it’s normal people, and then it’s right here and fragile for the last couple of years. It’s not high and mighty, it’s not white Roe v. Right? tacitly, every person in this room and every person that will see it, something inside them goes, Well, why not me? Why not nail? 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. But what the truth is, so this is what’s accelerating the Christ. And for me, you don’t need any spirit. 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 here, and it’s there. It’s there. And there’s no criteria, except the souls 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 Archer: One of the themes that Francis and I have been talking about this weekend is, you know, whether you 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. Like, you know, Francis, for instance, just recognized that one day it was in the process of putting away for in his mouth or having it put there and all sudden bingo been 30 years. That was 30 years. Awesome Zen monasticism, you know, you’ve, you know, you’re a pretty ardent seeker. And, you know, there’s the old Zen saying that Enlightenment may be an accident that practice makes you accident prone. So sure, you know, so I would agree with you. You don’t have to do that. But I wouldn’t prescribe it. And I would say, if you’re inclined to do that, don’t be dissuaded by such statements. Do what seems to work for you and could be conducive to

John Mark Stroud: awakening and I had practice is to, but we don’t make the practice the purpose, right. But oftentimes that becomes the purpose within the ego or conscious. So that’s a

Francis Bennett: means to an end. It’s not an end in itself. Yeah. And 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 know that which hears that which, you know that, in other words, to become aware of consciousness itself, before it’s conscious of anything in particular, just consciousness itself. And that is, guess what, folks a practice. You practice doing that, because it’s just a slight shift of attention, isn’t it? You know, normally, we notice when we when we’re hearing things, we notice what we’re hearing, we noticed the symphony, we noticed them, rap music, we noticed the bird whistling, or we noticed the jackhammer, or whatever. And we’re focused on the, 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 seen through our eyes, that’s hearing through our ears. You know, all 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 the silent awareness. That’s aware of whatever we’re aware of. But how often are we aware of that? You know, and I think awakening is just when that wakes up to itself. You know, 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 Archer: You and I were talking about Andrew Cohen’s idea of evolutionary Enlightenment, which I don’t think he really originated. It’s, it’s an age old idea, perhaps. But the reality is, yeah, he’s articulating it nicely. Yeah. And the gist of it is that, you know, there’s a sort of fundamental force within the universe itself, a kind of a guiding principle that has the intention, or the fact of weight, having consciousness wake up to itself. And, you know, there’s, you know, the blood in our veins, the cells in our bodies, the the evolution of, of various species, are seem to be all be moving in the direction of forms, which are more and more capable of enabling consciousness to wake up to itself within those farms, or by virtue of those farms. That’s more of a statement than a question, but you guys can riff on it if you’d like.

John Mark Stroud: Well, despite I don’t know about that theory, I’ve never really heard it. The truth has been through the whole town.

Rick Archer: From Big Bang onwards. Yeah.

Francis Bennett: I think Andrew Koan would be perfectly willing to admit that he did not have

Rick Archer: the idea excites him. So yeah,

Francis Bennett: he’s good at it. I like what he’s saying.

John Mark Stroud: I’ll share with you one of the things Yeshua told me when I was walking my path is 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 lit less of it at the Big Bang, you know, it’s all right here right now. How open can you be taught all that is now and drink it in?

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

John Mark Stroud: Paradoxically, that’s the thing. There’s it’s unchanging and unchangeable. Yeah, but yet it’s revelation is beautifully ongoing. And you know, you just know that will never end right never end. And that’s the excitement of it. It’s life really starts at awakening. That’s when you really start opening and then the mystery of love, takes great delight in my experience in revealing itself to you in an ever deeper way. 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 I take that job. We think God’s wills, all kinds of stuff other than this full inheritance, the 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 Bennett: And we’re fearful also, because it’s unknown, isn’t it? 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. 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. I mean, anymore, you know, a lot of people in the whole data scene and they’re like, oh, that’s all nothing you know, you said somebody says it’s just a speck of dust. Doesn’t matter. Nothing to it. It’s like well, okay, but But then why is it here? It seems to be here anyway, apparently it’s here. You know, I 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? You know, I’m always amazed anymore I go out in nature or I just go out I can I can get get excited over cracks in the sidewalk anymore. Just because, you know, I think what a wonderful what a wonder this form is here. Yeah, what a miracle. You know, like that your song and yeah, that song. What was the what was that one lyric?

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

Francis Bennett: that anything is here at all? Yeah. Since I used to look for miracles and now the only wonder is, know what is I used to

Rick Archer: love the greatest miracle is that anything is here at all. Something like that said, Yeah, you guys can look it up. It’s a song called

Francis Bennett: Everything is holy now. Everything is calling our mayor mayor.

Rick Archer: Beautiful song, right. So yeah, when I was coming down here, I had a, you know, 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 kind of electron microscope pictures and artists renditions of nanoparticles, really microscopic stuff. And so I stopped and looked at and I read the little captions underneath. And it was just like, Isn’t that wonderful that you know that the incredible intelligence that goes into structuring things on this level of creation? And what why should these little, you know, molecular structures be like that, and, and, you know, it’s not billiard balls just arbitrarily banging into each other. There’s this kind of beautiful order, brilliant, infinitely unfathomable intelligence that’s governing it. And you know, 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 a in an ocean of that, as the ocean of that.

John Mark Stroud: And the true joy of Enlightenment is the exploration of that infinitely unknown and completely unknowable, but yet, intimately experienceable exploration and that’s the innocence of a child that Yeshua spoke about.

Francis Bennett: Well, and it’s funny, because Jesus says, in the canonical Gospels, Jesus talks about becomes a little child, you know, and when you wake up there is this little child. Yeah, it’s fun. Yeah. Five. Yeah,

Rick Archer: they’re fascinated with everything. They’re putting everything in their mouth. Exactly.

Francis Bennett: 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 when 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? What is, you know, it wasn’t even a thought. It was just the wonder of that, of looking at things with this, the innocent eyes of a child that, you know, I don’t know what all this is, but boy, it sure is cool.

John Mark Stroud: Marsha is absolutely benevolent and innocent. All of it. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Marsha gave this beautiful lecture one time with Marsha Mahesh Yogi where he talked about how if there were a man who, you know, really appreciated the paintings of a particular artist and just, you know, was fascinated, totally loved them and just adored the paintings, you know, on. And then eventually the artist who would come to the artists attention, I really have an admirer in some of this guy. And the admirer wouldn’t have to go and seek out the artists. The artists would come to him when he when he discovered that there was someone who appreciated his paintings. And then now algae 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, you know, the, it’s so deep that God ends up revealing himself in much greater richness. Yeah.

John Mark Stroud: What is the 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 it’s like an infinity, gratitude just isn’t big enough. And gratitude, of course, always had a choice, usually because something had happened. Whereas this, resting in infinitude is just a causeless. Joy. Yeah, Joy. And, and it’s really this open invitation, that the soul 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, it’s, I can’t even there’s no way to put words on how intimate that void of nothing is. It’s, it’s this, 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.

Rick Archer: And you could easily call it fullness, it’s nothing. I mean, sure, that’s a good

John Mark Stroud: well, or you could just be silent. And that’s probably

Francis Bennett: not call it anything. Just enjoy it. That’s kind of what I’m tending to more and more,

John Mark Stroud: is just the silence.

Francis Bennett: Soon as you call it, anything you get into trouble. You know, Meister, Meister Eckhart has a famous scene where he said, we know God, the path to knowing God is a path of unknowing that, you know, there’s more in this is kind of on the strand of Christian mysticism is called the apophatic. path, the path of darkness to the intellect, where we kind of 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. You know, people say the Buddha was an atheist, it’s like, well, you know, maybe on some level, you could say that, but I think the Buddha is pointing to this, this awakened awareness that all the saints and sages of all 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, you know, and that’s what the Buddha was pointing to. So he’d say, maybe what it wasn’t. In a certain sense, that’s much safer, isn’t it? That the neti neti neti neti in Jhana, the cross nada, nada, you know, it’s that same thing, it’s, you can’t really say what it is, you can only be in an experience what it is even experiences in a good word. But for lack of a better word, it’s a direct scene, it’s a direct knowing. You know, it’s not, it’s not like an object that you can describe and take measurements on and say what color it is. And that’s not the nature of what we’re what we’re talking about here. And that’s

John Mark Stroud: part of the wisdom of the Buddha in not giving it too much description, describe it too much. There’ll be a mind out there that says, Oh, I know exactly what that is. Yeah, and that mind will rest in the concepts and won’t go any further.

Francis Bennett: Sounds familiar? You know, I think that is a big weakness of the whole Neo Advaitic scene. So many of us have said, in words, what we, 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, you know, I say a lot lately, that, that kind of basic, mistaken thing of, of taking concepts to be reality. That’s the basic human dysfunction. That’s what we call Maya or illusion or original set 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 in Facebook, 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 point poorly. At best, at worst, they point very miserably. So why get upset about words? Words? Don’t get it anyway? Frankly, not ultimately.

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

Francis Bennett: can somebody get an apple? Oh,

Rick Archer: yeah. Throw us an apple or an orange or something. We do crap. That right there. Francis. An orange, we’ll do

Francis Bennett: an orange. Yeah. So if somebody comes up to you and says, Hey, describe the taste of an orange, I would go. Yeah, right.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I bite into it. And I might bite the skin and say, Oh, it’s bitter. You’re right, you know, because I’m just getting the outer aspect of the orange and the sweetness is in the inner? Yeah.

John Mark Stroud: And I would take it and say, well, that’s great. Your mind is blue. I know what this is. What’s the mechanics behind all that? It’s creating an experience. We stop at form, the mind is form. It’s in words, it’s in concepts. So it stops it 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 Bennett: Yeah, and one of the ways of exploring the mysteries is to bite into the orange. Without the

John Mark Stroud: without the Oh, it’s good. Or it’s bad. Oh, it’s, oh, I had a better orange 10 years ago, the oranges suck. Now. You know, we do that kind of stuff all the time.

Rick Archer: Yeah, same with apples. But I’m not? Well, one thing I find interesting as a, as a sort of a tool of understanding is also just as an, you know, a non scientific person, but to get to use a layman’s understanding of physics and to analyze down a saw apparently solid object to the point where there’s no object left. You know, it’s just all sort of unmanifest potentiality. And, you know, if you look closely enough with the right instruments, that’s what you’d find here. Nothing of any physical substance. I mean, I said this

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

Rick Archer: Exactly. And you know, the outer world, we all 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 are the essence of the orange. And, you know, 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, you know, and even though and then that grain of rice, get it down even deeper, and it’s just probabilities, strings, whatever it is, there’s really no physical world of any actual solidity.

Francis Bennett: And yet, and yet, here we are.

John Mark Stroud: And how exciting is that? Yeah,

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

John Mark Stroud: Sure. The world as we know, it, is an expression of our collective consciousness. So all the military weapons, all the debris, all the Hibernate, I’m all well and and the destruction was taken on the planet, right? 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 app. 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’s I mean, it was a, it was a total global event not 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 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 Archer: I guess what I would say to that is, you know, skeptic comes up in the, you know, I can’t envision it as being instantaneous, and maybe instantaneous in the big picture of things, but may take a generation. I mean, is the Amazon going to regrow instantaneously, or the fish population is going to repopulate? Are all the store nuclear waste going to somehow go poof and disappear? It seems to me it’s going to, there’ll be a change in the collective mindset. But it may take a while and even scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in you know, new solar technologies and whatnot 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 Stroud: you’re welcome to see

Rick Archer: however you’d like. Well, there’s no precedent in our experience for in my

John Mark Stroud: experience of awakening, and Franciscan, it is a what was there before is gone?

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

John Mark Stroud: And I think yes, she was 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 Archer: Yeah. All possibilities means all possibilities. You’re right.

John Mark Stroud: Yeah. And I would I just simply default to the choice of the highest possible imaginable beneficial choice. Yeah.

Rick Archer: But, I mean, there’s the whole sort of 2012 mindset, you know, people weren’t expecting to wake up and find a different world on December 22, or whatever it wasn’t. I just sort of feel like there’s certain laws of nature that are always going to they have their own way of functioning gravity is gravity. And even though Jesus walked on water, let’s say,

John Mark Stroud: so was it really gravity? Or is that because we all believe its gravity,

Rick Archer: gravity was still working, he was just operating at a level more fundamental than gravity, therefore, he had command over that love nature,

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

Francis Bennett: Okay, you should stick here.

John Mark Stroud: Because you’re speaking with such great authority. so have at it. I’m here with you

Rick Archer: playing devil’s advocate,

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

Rick Archer: dirty job, but somebody’s got it.

John Mark Stroud: And that’s okay, that’s fine. Yeah, that’s what I’ve seen will will, when that comes to pass it.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And again, you know, even if it took a generation for the rainforest to be restored, and the nuclear waste to be properly disposed of, in the, in the oceans to repopulate. And, you know, and the temperature to drop again, it does is, it is like, once a generation, you know, some 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

John Mark Stroud: out. Good. Yes. Stay tuned. Okay.

Francis Bennett: You know, I’m more and more happy and perfectly content to say, I don’t know what either. I’d be happy either way.

Rick Archer: But in terms of the optimism part, you know, even if it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, I’m optimistic, just like, this lifetime. And it doesn’t matter what I think, but since I’m interviewing you guys, I do I do think or feel that. You know, the subtle is more powerful than the gross and spiritual awakening is the ultimate in Subtle, subtle phenomenon, and it proliferating, and this proliferation can’t help but result in a very powerful shift on grosser more powerful levels of life. And it’s already happening, I think, I mean, changes we’re seeing in society, so societal attitudes and other sorts of things are shifting. Even regular people on the news are saying, Wow, this things are changing so fast. You know, Republicans are coming out for gay marriage, whatever. And so that could accelerate and who knows how greatly it could accelerate and you know what? How much change we could see within our lifetime. But how much has happened in the past 100 years?

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

Rick Archer: and Anita Moorjani she was in a coma 70 pounds full of lemon size tumors, check it out, and you know, an hour or two to live, she came back from a near death experience tumors went away. She was healthy and happy and strong. So,

John Mark Stroud: so what difference between one body and all cosmically, and the earth is just another body?

Rick Archer: Yeah, to shake the planet.

Francis Bennett: You know, there’s a concept that is called realized eschatology. eschatology is the study kind of of the End Times realized is what you think it means realized, actually actualize. And there’s this theological concept that the second coming of Christ we talk about as a second coming to Christ is actually a Realized eschatology. And there was a little group of 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 get seminary called Pleasant Hill. And I went over there and was so struck, I’m a kind of, I’m an artist in some ways. And I saw 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, in 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 them by the world because they shook with emotion in their meetings. So they call them shaker, Delaney. Yeah, well, it was like an Christians would say, the Holy Spirit. And, you know, 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 founders of the shakers, mother, an LI 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 into and an Armageddon comes about and seven years of tribulation rapture, and so on, and so forth. That’s a kind of a sort of literal sort of 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, and then 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 you know, think of the ramifications of that in the areas of like, social justice, you know, peace, the environment, financial stuff, questions, all those things. You know, I don’t 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 and 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, you know, it’s a it’s a beautiful, yeah, idea.

Rick Archer: What you both said is really actually shifted my perspective a lot in what you said about Anita Moorjani, he’s healing also, you know, it almost seems like devoid of the Spirit devoid of, you know, being or whatever we want to call it matter is very rigid and intractable and things don’t change easily but infused with that, you know, change can, you know, in previously unchangeable things can happen quite radically. And in health, and on every level. Yeah, I mean, Loaves and Fishes, you know, all kinds of things are possible. Yeah,

John Mark Stroud: 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 mean, I can’t imagine God breaks a sweat because one’s harder than the other.

Rick Archer: And the physicality is really as non physical, as I was just saying that made the conscious thought. It’s just probabilities appearing to manifest as something solid. You know, poof, the solidity could just take a new form. Sure, well,

John Mark Stroud: really collective consciousness, and humanity has a threshold that says, things beyond this limit aren’t possible. So they don’t express 100 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. Yeah. I mean, 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 1,000,000,002 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. I mean, can you imagine 100 years? Well, I could just ask a question. And the answer would appear. Sounds like magic. Well, so yeah, I wouldn’t under always

Francis Bennett: the right answer, though, that appears.

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

Francis Bennett: Well, I read something recently, where it said, you know, the just exponentially the development of technology and so on, is more in the last 100 years than it’s been for, like 1000 years previous to that the speed of it has speeded up so fast, that nobody 100 years ago, could have ever in their mildest dreams imagined. It’d be like Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s court or something, then, you know, this person from the future, going back to the past, and in having the ability to do all these things, and it just amazes everyone, you know, so if it’s speeded up that much in the last 100 years, how much may it speed up in the next 100 years, you know, it’s anybody’s guess isn’t.

John Mark Stroud: 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 re unified as one, and you can communicate with any being non locally, whatever, there won’t be any need for time and time itself will. So that’s what’s happening, all of these things represent time being compressed and compressed and compressed and compressed, to the end of time. When that happens,

Francis Bennett: you know, who knows, and when Christ comes again and you, you are eternal, that’s the end of time, when you you know, when part of what happens when one wakes up, at least for me, was the end of time. Like time no longer I mean, time, you 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 and probably helpful on a just a practical level to know so that I don’t miss my plane. So that’s like, Eckhart Tolle calls it clock time, you know, and yet, on the most absolute kind of real level, in my own direct experience, right here and right now, there is no time. You know, 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? The End Times, and all that? Yeah, and all those are true. Upon awakening, all those 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 their pointers to this reality. And you know, in every single religion these these exists in Christianity, it’s in one form with certain set of words that 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 in, isn’t it amazing how they, they all point to the same when you actually have a living experience of the reality? You come to realize that what’s the same reality? I can pick up any Upanishad and read it. Somebody sent me a pasta teacher sent me absorbtion text, and he said it was like one of the most kind of a difficult Xhosa I picked it up and I like understood every word it’s like, because the reality that I’ve awoken that I’ve awakened to is the same reality these zoeken 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, and loves timeless.

Rick Archer: Time is a concept to measure eternity and was once said,

John Mark Stroud: We’ll, it’s going to come in the realization, the second coming of Christ, whatever you want to call it, within each beam, 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, will be the most joyous celebration ever was for me. Yeah.

Rick Archer: And it may not be the end of time as a practical tool for catching planes. Were watching all but it’ll be sort of a kind of a dawning of the, of the timeless and collective consciousness. Yeah,

Francis Bennett: yeah. There’s lots of concepts that are useful, you know, the concept of the United States and Canada is useful, you know, 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 gonna see a line saying, US, Canada, you know, but it’s a concept that we use that’s helpful, helps us know where to send our tax money. You know, 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, we’re, it’s the basic human dysfunction, we’re taking a bunch of concepts. And we’re thinking the concepts are real. And the real is concepts, but they’re not reality with a capital R.

John Mark Stroud: 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, the reality must reflect shoreside differently? Surely,

Rick Archer: I would say that that’s the only way it’s going to change outside, changes in the collective consciousness within

John Mark Stroud: 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 Archer: I was participating in these, 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 100 guys doing long meditation programs, 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 in Central America, where Nicaragua was having its revolution, and all that, and there, and scientists who admittedly had a sort of a bias in terms of use of PR tool, but nonetheless, looked at the whole thing quite carefully, all sorts of societal trends and crime rates and death rates from wars and all that stuff. And really found the various statistically significant correlation between the arrival of these groups in these areas, and there’s their stay there. And then their departure again, you know, big fluctuations in death rates, and due to war and crime rates and, and other kinds of measures, even economic measures, we had a group of 8000, at one point for several weeks in the winter of 1980, or something, and there was big changes in society that we measured during that period. So, you know, the attempt was to demonstrate that just a change in consciousness and enough people and the sort of the super radians effective, all those people in there, together as a group, as opposed to scattered all over the place, could ripple out through, you know, through the instrumentality of the underlying field of consciousness, and create an enlivenment in the entire society and culture that could be measurable.

John Mark Stroud: And that’s not withstanding the power of God.

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

John Mark Stroud: My point is, all of that on the level of form is infinitely small compared to the absolute. Right That power is. I’ve seen that absolute

Francis Bennett: Yeah.

Rick Archer: And so you’re saying, I’m

John Mark Stroud: saying that that’s where the change will come as we wake up not to bodies, but to that oneself?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, that’s basically what these people were experiencing. They were in meditation and waking up to that oneself to whatever degree of clarity and you know, 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 8000 people that attend together, it was palpable, it was thick, that, you know, there was an effect

Francis Bennett: when I was a monk, thank you. It

John Mark Stroud: may have contributed to my awakening.

Francis Bennett: When I was a monk, every day, we would have a period of like prayerful meditation in the very, very early morning. So the whole community would be there. And even that, you know, he’s talking, we were talking in Montreal was like maybe 3040 people. And yet often, there would be a sense of presence of that. There was a more kind of concentrated sense of it. When we were three gathered, yes, yes. And I think there is a reality there that, you know, 8000 people, it must have been really kind of incredible. But imagine a whole planet. Yeah, of that. You know, 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, this kind of new Heaven and new Earth won’t necessarily come about by Gods waving a magic wand over it, but it’s a kind of, it’s a kind of actualization of God present in the earth itself in, in all those things, those forms, you know, that they somehow actualize? They, it’s consciousness, again, becoming aware of itself, within all that, and the transformative effect of that is like, infinite. And that’s, I think that evolutionary Enlightenment, it’s, it’s just amazing that, you know, there’s no end to it, I think is what they’re saying in that, in that in that field of thought that, you know, 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. And it’s amazing.

Rick Archer: To add anything,

John Mark Stroud: infinitude. And just wonder,

Rick Archer: I’m not as familiar with you and your work as I am with Francis is, do you want to talk a little bit more about what you do with people and for people? And you know, and what kind of, if someone were to get in touch with you, what would they do?

John Mark Stroud: Okay, they can go to my website, one who informations on there, I do teachings, one of the favorite things I do, which Yeshua did with me and my own awakening, I asked, How can I speed up my awakening? He said, we’ll use movies, and really movies. So he would just like smoothing? Well, and he teased me because he said, you know, 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 ego and judgements 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, you know, 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. So you started watching a bunch of movies, we watched over 100 movies together. So me and Jesus,

Rick Archer: oh, we making popcorn?

John Mark Stroud: No, he’s not. So he would tell me to pause and he would, we would look at what was going on in my

Rick Archer: head. He said it like analyze what you’ve just seen in the movie and discuss it or whatever. So

John Mark Stroud: now I extend those same teachings by showing waking up to the movies,

Rick Archer: which is a lot of fun. Did you send I have a file on my desktop that says waking up to the movies. And it must be maybe I don’t I guess you didn’t say that. I don’t know where it came from.

John Mark Stroud: And then I do teachings around much of the Christ consciousness stuff. I went through the Course in Miracles, the way of mastery 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 Archer: so back to the movie from it. I mean, you watch I mean, we watching this like just uplifting movies. You’re watching slasher movies or what kind

John Mark Stroud: of whole spectrum I mean, we weren’t we watched. Well, I’d had plenty of that already. 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 law allows all things goes you know, it’s letting it all happen. So we we watched everything I mean, the whole spectrum but from metaphysical teaching movies, kind of like the matrix. We just did one last night in touch bubbles, which is a beautiful symbol about meeting people as equals rather than Scene disability is 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 Archer: That sounds like fun. I’ve often thought that, you know, when you get a movie, like close encounters, or Star Wars, or, you know, some of these reels, or the matrix, or these interesting movies that have come up, they’re not just the brainchild of Steven Spielberg or some or George Lucas, they’re the steel, Spielberg or lupus or like channels for some higher, bigger intelligence that wants to infuse a particular concept into the mass consciousness. Would Jesus agree with that, of course,

John Mark Stroud: I think love has been trying to wake us up very gently for quite some time. And using movies, songs, I mean, 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, you know, 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 the infinite absolute kind of view,

Rick Archer: thinking and messages that are trying to be, you know, conveyed to us. Do you have any opinion about crop circles?

John Mark Stroud: Well, I don’t know, do just asked Francis a question and I’ll go find out. Okay.

Rick Archer: So and the reason well, I’ll just, I’ll just riff for a minute. Well, I, well, he finds out. The reason I asked the question is it’s 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. I know. You know, it seems like a booger seems new agey, but it just sort of felt like there was actually you know, higher beings or, you know, alien races are 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’re part of the whole scene of what’s going on, you know. So did you find anything?

John Mark Stroud: Go listen to Bashar on crop circle.

Rick Archer: People have been telling me to interview this guy. There you go. Okay. Should you know, but he must have known about him already. You didn’t just you weren’t just told about him last year. He said,

John Mark Stroud: he’s come across the radar before. Okay, yeah, consciousness is one it’s infinitely vast. And as Jesus said, knock, and it will be shown to you it. Were so rooted in this idea that we have separate minds that were oftentimes not open. I mean, all channeling is is open to that other consciousness. Nothing is hidden behind the veil. Nothing is hidden.

Rick Archer: Well, along the same lines. And in terms of this vision of much brighter age dawning. Does that brighter does that vision include membership in a much larger brotherhood of civilizations beyond our own planet? Yes. And you’ve kind of gone the details of that somebody you

John Mark Stroud: know, other than knowing that as we wake up into our one, all outs 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 bias to form okay, just from consciousness.

Rick Archer: Right from the perspective of and the implication of that is with regard to this point.

John Mark Stroud: 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 Archer: and the universe is my family are correct, correct.

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

Rick Archer: keep coming up with questions and they keep percolating never stops for as much as anything

John Mark Stroud: I would it some of that stuff can get very scintillating and

Rick Archer: Mind Candy just wake up. Yeah,

John Mark Stroud: I’d say that. Wake up, wake up, you know, it all is going to be revealed. Just wake up first. Yeah, 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 Archer: I asked John Mark, about what people would do if he were to get in touch, they would get in touch with him. How about you, Frances?

Francis Bennett: Well, I have a website. Now that’s very fresh and new. It’s only been up a couple of weeks. It’s called www dot finding Grace at the all lowercase, all run together, finding Grace at the center. I’m very active on Facebook. So if you look up Francis Bennett, there’s several Francis pendants, but I look like this. If you look up on Facebook, and 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 is 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 kind of 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, or an angry cat, or an angry cat, or a video of one. But, but I basically just post spiritual posts, you know, four or five, six times a day, they just come to me and this kind of stuff just seems to be coming to me a lot, are you for some reason. And so when it does, I, 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 kind of write it down, stick it in my pocket and post it later. I do a lot of kind of interaction engagement with people through the Facebook, and I do Skyping. If you come to my website that finding Grace at the center website, there’s a one page that tells you how you can kind of Skype with me, I have a Pay Pal, 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, 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. And so we kind of organized it together as a book, I presented it to a publisher, non duality press, and they wanted to publish it. So here it is. So all of those things are ways to kind of get in touch with my message, what I’m trying to share with people.

Rick Archer: And, you know, the Buddhist 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 they love best and what the world needs dearly as a full time thing. So you know, 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 him. He’s been up to Alaska, places. Carolina, reach out to Francis and he’ll be happy to travel someplace and mail to you too. Yeah. Okay,

John Mark Stroud: because I don’t have a day job. Yeah. I love for a living.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And I need to actually although I don’t quite

Francis Bennett: the oldest profession, I love for a living.

John Mark Stroud: And live to do nothing but love.

Francis Bennett: Yeah, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t make fun of it. Oh, it’s cool. Thanks

John Mark Stroud: for joining.

Rick Archer: I was just saying that, you know, 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 100 of them back in the old days, but I was a parent, you know, and these days, I feel like it’s got to come from you know, genuine, direct experience and I feel my experience needs maybe it’s 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 and really be a value to people. But I was I really enjoyed doing this one as your sidekick.

Francis Bennett: Yeah, thanks, Robin.

Rick Archer: The Lone Ranger.

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

Rick Archer: Oh. So you know me We’d love

Francis Bennett: You’re Batman – BatGap.

Rick Archer: So maybe we’ll have some more such opportunities.  Yeah, hope. So we got invited somewhere we did. So James invited us to. That’s true. Like, go to Virginia Beach in the fall and do one at the Edgar Casey Foundation. Yes. 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, book, your book, have you read the book. And, 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 could 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 100 of 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. And if you don’t like Pay Pal, and don’t want to mess with that, there’s a tab which explains what my address is, in case you want to send the 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 know, you could retire now, and I thought, you know, maybe, but I’m not totally, number one, don’t have that kind of audience. Number two, I’d sort of like 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 interviewed, because they would have a larger audience than if there was 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 with who wishes to watch. But I do rely on the support. And that’s 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 hadn’t met you at all yet. And it’s really fun to do him in person over Skype all the time. And so thanks for those who’ve been listening or watching and we’ll see you next week.