05 April 2013

A Dialogue With Francis Bennett

The following is a dialogue between Francis Bennett, with whom I have had some communication over the years. Look him up on Facebook. He has deep experience as a counselor and we tend to see things very much alike.

Francis Bennett:

If we are able to watch our fear, our sorrow, our distress, our anxiety whatever it is, we prove by that ability that we are not that which we can observe. We cannot be anything we experience as an object. We perceive our true self simply by being that self.

  • Shane Sheila Very good
    2 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Ed Muzika No, we don't perceive our true self by being that self. We apperceive it, meaning at first we know it is true. It is not an experience, but an intuition, a knowledge. Gradually the feeling grows as an intuition, a conviction, that I am that which has the knowledge and is beyond both experience and knowledge. Beyond, in the sense of prior to.

    However, later comes the understanding that we are also that which we perceive, feel, love, and serve. We are everything, both the witness which is a pure knowledge of the unmanifest, and everything in the manifest, including Self as manifest, as the divine, appearing as God, but which is really us.
    2 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Francis Bennett Yes Ed, I agree with you. I think both statements are true on different levels. What I am trying to point to here is our ability to dis-identify from all our distresses, to not feel that the feeling I am feeling right now, no matter how overwhelming, is ultimately "me" or is the entirety of what or who I am. In offering a lot of spiritual direction and pastoral counseling over the years I have found this to be very useful for folks who are feeling overwhelmed and taken over by difficult feeling states. But I don't feel we are essentially in disagreement, just speaking from different perspectives, different angles. If you look at a mountain from one direction you will see a seemingly different mountain than if you look at the same mountain from another direction! 
  • Francis Bennett The key word in my above comment is that the feeling state is not "ultimately" me. In other words...while you are correct in saying that ALL is ultimately the Self. we are never CONFINED to be any one thing on any absolutr level...Does that make sense? 
  • Francis Bennett I think Ed you speak here of the "collapse" of the witness. While I know it is true that the witness does eventually collapse, i think for many, being aware of the witness initially can be very skillful and helpful in navigating difficult feeling states that they may be experiencing and feeling overwhelmed by.
  • Francis Bennett I should have said," We cannot ULTIMATELY be anything we can observe as an object". However you are right that, since that object arises and ceases in THAT which we are...that object IS INDEED, a temporary manifestation of That also. You were quite right to correct my wording, which is often quite flawed. Sorry!
  • Paul Schwartz I'm confused--wasn't it Krishnamurti that said the observer and the observed are one--was he pointing to what Ed was pointing to? 
  • Stephen C. Galleher What a great thread! Both Ed's response and Francis's dialogue with Ed and with himself have elucidated a very tricky and profound point. Thank you, gentleman!
    about an hour ago via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • Ed Muzika I agree with you completely Francis. What I see is a continuum of experiences or "rooms" of identification. Sometime you can be the witness, sometime you can be the emptiness or void that contains all inner phenomena, sometimes you can be the external space that eats up all objects in its oneness. Sometimes you can be a human falling in love with a tree, a cat or a woman. Sometime you can be ecstatic bliss that arises just before the Self reveals itself as the "other," or God inside you. Sometime you can be that arising God energy or goddess within you.

    I call it an ability to pass through various rooms of spiritual experience, and freely identify or not with any room or its contents.

    I think that some non-traditional Advaitists can all too easily be stuck in a prior to consciousness, witness or Absolute and die there as an emotionless zombie, while a neo Advaitan is caught in the beingness of now as are many Zen practitioners. 

    Personally, I now emphasize love, human love as an entrance of Self Realization through recognition of God in another, allowing it to arise in ourselves through true devotion and surrender. Or, becoming aware of inner states of bliss and energy/light that also arise through ecstatic love.

    Personally I teach this way more now because I enjoy the beings I meet in this Bhaktic room, and I think these kind of people don't ever become lifeless zombies, but saints who actually are of service to the world.
  • Ed Muzika Paul, K. was talking about an experience where there is no apparent boundary between the seer and the seen. They are one. You become one with the sunset, etc. This is just one kind of spiritual experience. One class of experience so to speak. Different teachers emphasize different classes of experience as "ultimate."

    I like my students to get to know many classes and choose where they want to spend most time, or let the rooms choose them.
    27 minutes ago · Like · 2
  • Paul Schwartz Thanks for expressing, Ed--and Francis--I've always been curious about this "experience."
  • Francis Bennett Yes Ed, I am more and more seeing the wonder of deep integration of the Absolute and relative. This is what you represent here so beautifully! Thank you! 
  • Ed Muzika Thank you Francis.
    8 minutes ago · Like · 1

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