The Purest Teaching Is Silence

by Francis Bennett

In the silence of the heart, God speaks.
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Francis Bennett - PhotoThe purest teaching is silence. This will be the briefest of chapters in this book because it arose quite simply out of one of the morning times of silent stillness and peace. It would seem incongruous to make many words and concepts about this inarticulate, silent regard that lifts one above thought. I hope the stillness that permeates these few words will point you in the direction of silence and encourage you to rest there in the silent gaze of love yourself. This is the wordless gaze that rests with eyes wide open and aware, yet is not looking on anything except that which is itself looking. Just be quiet and rest in silent stillness. No more is really needed than this. For some, these words may seem obscure or abstract, but they are pointing more directly to the silence and urging you to return to it more clearly than all the other words that are here written.

Be aware of the silent watcher that sees through the eyes but cannot be seen.

Be aware of that which hears through the ears, but cannot be heard, that which knows but cannot be known as an object. One knows it only by being it. Just be the silent awareness that sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches. Just become conscious of that which is conscious. Be conscious of consciousness itself. Become aware of awareness before it is aware of anything in particular. This silent watcher and listener is always still, without words, without thought. It is the silent, alert awareness that is there before any thought arises and is there after all thought subsides.

This silent stillness is who you are and it is never separate from God. This silence is always present, even in the midst of chaos and noise. This is the now I am. Return again and again to this silence.

I say, return, but in reality you have never left the silence, you just stopped noticing it, even though you are it. When you return to silence you are actually returning to your deepest Self. You are the prodigal returning to the house of the father. Your real journey in life is always interior. When the mind is turned within to the now I am, the noise of the world begins to fade in the bright light of awareness.

The happiness you seek can never be found in anything this world can offer.

This is not to say you must renounce the world or not enjoy the good things life has to offer. You just come to realize that none of them can ever bring the absolute happiness and bliss you were created to contain within you. In actual fact you can stop seeking at any time since what you seek is what is seeking. What you are looking for is the one who is looking right now at these words on this page. That’s the reason it seems so difficult to find, it’s here already, as close as hands and feet.

Your true Self is awareness before it is aware of any object. The true Self is silence, stillness, peace. Simply rest in that as much as you can. Look beyond thinking and sensing. Thinking and sensing are temporary and so are not real at all on an absolute level. But the simple awareness of the now I am is eternal, unchanging and filled with unconditional happiness and unbounded joy. Rest in the serene silence of this Self. Abide there always. That is who you have always been and who you will always be in this one eternal now of God.

If you have ever tasted this silence, return to it again and again. Eventually you will realize that there has never been anywhere else to go, and there you will remain. To live always conscious of this consciousness, to live forever aware of this awareness, is itself the great awareness. This inner stillness and peace is the Christ within, the mind that was in Christ Jesus. Let this mind be in you, the mind that is no-mind. This profound silence and stillness is itself the true Self, the supreme identity which is no-identity, the consciousness of the indwelling Christ, the true Self which is no-self. Just be that always. Be who you are. After all, who else could you possibly ever be? Be silent and then listen to that silence without any words at all. If you don’t understand that silence you won’t understand the true import of a single word in this book, not really. Because the purest teaching is silence.

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From I Am That I Am by Francis Bennett. Copyright © 2013 by Francis Bennett. Published by Non-Duality Press.

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 1982. 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. 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.

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.