133. Francis Bennett

Francis BennettFrancis Bennett entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in 1981 and in the ’90s subsequently lived at a “daughter house” of Gethsemane in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Until recently, he was living in a small urban monastery in Montreal Quebec. He has been a “spiritual seeker” during all those years, practicing in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition and working deeply with teachers in both the Vipassana and Zen Traditions as well. In 2010 he experienced a profound perceptual “shift” in which he realized the ever-present presence of pure Awareness, which some would call, the Presence of God.

He has worked in the field of Spiritual Care in Parish Communities and with the sick and dying in Hospice and Hospital settings. He has led retreats, offered spiritual talks and has accompanied many on their spiritual journey. He graduated from the Pontifical College Josephinum with a BA in Philosophy and completed a two-year chaplaincy residency with Ohio Health Hospital system.

Francis’ book: “I Am That I Am: Discovering the Love, Peace, Joy, and Stability of the True Self“. Here’s a review of the book by Scott Kiloby:

I gave this review of Francis Dale Bennett’s book “I Am That I Am: Discovering the love, peace, joy, and stability of the True Self” without being solicited to give a review.  I think it is a marvelously simple but radical book.  Anyone can read this and feel into the direct experience of what he is saying, whether one is a long term spiritual seeker, someone raised in a Christian church, or someone right off the street who has never looked into these things.  There is a flow of simplicity and clarity in the pages that made it very readable.  I didn’t have to stop and ask myself what he meant by certain words.  I could see he was using words very lightly, inviting the reader into an always, already present freedom, peeling apart many of the self-beliefs and beliefs about reality that keep so many people spinning their wheels in this lifetime.  Francis’ background as a Catholic Monk makes this book even more delicious to me.  He has the ability to speak to those in the Christian Church in a way that is fresh and transforming.  Do read this book if you are seeking.  It keeps it simple, yet utterly profound. – Scott Kiloby

Transcript of this interview.

Interview conducted 8/4/2012

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

YouTube Video Chapters:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction to Buddha At The Gas Pump
  • 00:04:45 – The Origins of Centering Prayer
  • 00:09:31 – The Tussle Between Experiential and Belief-Oriented Approaches in Spirituality
  • 00:14:00 – The Awakening and the Joy of Being Present
  • 00:18:33 – The Practice of Mindfulness and Vippasana Meditation
  • 00:23:30 – A Shift in Awareness
  • 00:28:59 – Recognition of Consciousness in Others
  • 00:33:44 – A Big Shift Happened
  • 00:39:03 – The Possibility of Integration with Practical Life
  • 00:44:16 – The Integration of Relative and Absolute
  • 00:49:28 – Changes in Sleep and Dream Experience
  • 00:54:14 – The Acid Test of Self-Realization
  • 00:58:42 – The Essence of God and Translations 
  • 01:03:28 – The search for happiness and the nature of true happiness
  • 01:08:37 – The Illusion of the Mind
  • 01:12:29 – The Illusory Nature of the Mind and Ego
  • 01:16:43 – The Search for Happiness
  • 01:21:07 – The Temporary Role of Self
  • 01:25:41 – Language as a Tool for Communication
  • 01:30:40 – “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form”
  • 01:35:24 – Resting in Spacious Awareness with Gentle Effort
  • 01:39:24 – Finding Awareness within Turmoil
  • 01:43:42 – The Importance of Direct Realization 
  • 01:48:11 – The Importance of Hidden Impact
  • 01:52:25 – Abiding in Devotion and Bhakti
  • 01:56:19 – Presence in Deathbeds and Ministry Transformation
  • 02:00:04 – Questioning the historicity of Jesus and religious teachings
  • 02:03:58 – Uncertainty about Future Direction
  • 02:08:04 – Independent Spirit and Evolving Spirituality
  • 02:12:10 – The Value of Interviews with Regular People
  • 02:15:53 – Sign up for our Newsletter