Full Circle Awakening ~ Transcending and Including Your Personal Self
Francis Bennett is a former Trappist Monk who spent many years in monastic orders in contemplation, surrender and service in search of the presence of God. Since experiencing a radical shift in perception during mass, Francis left the monastery and has been teaching around the world. Francis lives a life of devotion to the compassionate heart of pure being and it is this lived freedom that provided the foundation for her to begin a very personal transformation, coming out as transgender in 2016.
Fran’s signature teaching is Full Circle Awakening, through which she guides and encourages us to truly live the wisdom of the compassionate heart. Her own journey of transformation is an example of a life lived in deep acceptance to the truth of her heart. Francis has recently said that it would not have been possible for her to transition gender in a public teaching role were it not for the abiding foundation of an awakened heart.
Much of post-modern spiritual teaching about awakening has focused almost exclusively on transcending our personal self and dwelling in the absolute. However, full-circle awakening not only transcends but also includes the personal sense of self.
In this event we’ll be reflecting on this integral journey of transcendence and embodiment; the transpersonal that always includes the personal.
Join us for an evening of talks, guided practice and Q&A.
About Francis Bennett
Monastic Life and Training
Francis Bennett was a Roman Catholic, Trappist monk for a number of years. She lived in two monasteries of the Trappist Order in the US and was also a member of an urban, contemplative monastic community originally founded in Paris, France in 1975. She has lived in France at several monasteries, including Saint Gervais et Protais in Paris, at Mont Saint Michel along the coast of the English Channel and in Canada at a small monastic community in Montreal Quebec. She received a five and a half year monastic/spiritual formation with the Trappists before she made her vows as a monk at Gethsemani Abbey in Trappist Kentucky. She graduated from the Pontifical College Josephinum with a BA in Philosophy and completed a two year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education with Ohio Health Hospital System in Columbus, Ohio in 2004. She has worked in ministry in the area of pastoral Care in the hospice movement, as a hospital chaplain and in pastoral care of the sick and dying in parish settings.
Buddhist Teaching and Practice
She has lead retreats in both the Vipassana Buddhist Tradition and in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition. She has been offering spiritual direction and helping guide people in their spiritual quest for a number of years. She was an avid spiritual seeker throughout her entire time as a contemplative monk and studied deeply in both the Theravadan Buddhist practice of Vipassana, working primarily with Mahathera, the venerable Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (from whom she received a temporary monastic ordination in 1999-2001) and with several western Vipassana teachers. She studied Zen and practiced with Soen Sa Nim, the founder of the Providence Zen Center, in a kind of “correspondence course study” via the telephone, with Charlotte “Joko” Beck of the San Diego Zen Center and briefly with several other Zen teachers in both the Rinzai and Soto traditions of Japanese Zen.
A Radical Shift in Perception
In 2010, while in the middle of a Church Service in her monastery in Montreal, Francis suddenly experienced what she has come to call, “a radical perceptual shift in consciousness”, in which she discovered the ever present presence of spacious, pure awareness. She came to see that this awareness is actually the unchanging essence of who she really is and always has been; the Supreme Self, talked about by many sages and saints from many spiritual traditions down through the ages. She also came to see simultaneously, that this vast, infinite sense of presence at the center of her being (and at the center of the being of everyone else on the planet) is actually not at all separate from the presence of God, which she had been looking for during her many years as a monk and spiritual seeker.
Francis is now living a “new incarnation” as a spiritual teacher. She offers a blend of the Buddhist Traditions she studied, the contemplative Christian mystical tradition which she lived during her many years in monastic life, as well as the Hindu Advaita-Vedanta teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi, who has had a profound influence on Francis.
She is also interested in offering spiritual accompaniment, encouragement and teaching to the LGBTQI community in light of her recent coming out as transgender.