Right Way: “… Take your stand in awareness and watch the I-image and its cortege of fears and desires fade away in the splendor of your eternal presence …” ~ Francis Lucille
In this series we are exploring Francis Lucille’s work primarily through his book Eternity Now … and also through his teachings from other sources (e.g., his retreats, or posts from the old Stillness Speaks archives).
In this part 3, we explore (through a Q&A format) Francis’ teachings that help address some practical, real life questions specifically to do with the right way to live : how to live the right way and whether that comes out of the mind? … how to know that we are acting from totality (& what is totality)? … how to navigate maltreatment from another while ensuring that one is acting from wholeness? … how to navigate difficulties in interacting with others while using it to deepen understanding … how to remain equanimous in the middle of problematic interactions? … continuous deepening of understanding through every day actions … does one have to be a devotee and undertake worshipping? … the problem with identifications (or labels) like woman/man, wife/husband, engineer/psychologist, worshipper etc. …
This series’ parts 1 & 2 offered a foundation to understanding Francis’ teachings … and for subsequent posts …
… the 1st part provided a summary of what Francis calls the “presence of this witnessing background” … it includes Francis’ remarks on Present Moment and the entire Foreword from Eternity Now … which offers a framework for the teachings in the book …
… the 2nd part is about Francis’ view on Love (or rather “universal” love) PLUS his awakening “story” – as expressed by himself …
All text below (except for the blockquotes) is from the chapter titled You Are in Love with Love from Eternity Now … and is published here with his permission. The format is a question from a satsang participant followed by Francis’ answer.
What is the Right Way to Live?
Question: I often feel that there must be a right way to live, to reduce the noise in my life, so to speak. Is that something that I should impose on myself or is that something that arises naturally as understanding deepens?
The right way of living comes only from understanding, through a self-correcting process. When we understand that the old ways of facing situations were not appropriate, we naturally change our ways of doing things. This change doesn’t involve any effort.
Question: It doesn’t come out of the mind?
The mind may be used as an instrument, but there is no resistance. When you clearly see that it is necessary to take or to avoid a specific action, you just act or refrain from acting. Since your action or non-action comes from a clear vision, there is no conflict, no effort.
Question: You often suggest that we act from our totality. What is this totality, and how can we know that we are acting from it?
Totality means the absence of the division generated by the I-image. In this absence, we are in our wholeness, our undivided ground.
The action that comes from undivided understanding falls in the right place. When you are solving a jigsaw puzzle, looking for a piece to match a given hole, and find the matching part, you know beyond a doubt that you have found the right piece. In the same way, when you find the right answer to a given situation, you know it, not because you follow all the written “dos and don’ts,” but because it is the right thing to do here and now, given the circumstances.
Question: If I am confronted with someone who is in a position to maltreat me, and I am in a very difficult situation, are you suggesting that I somehow act without a separation between myself and the other person? It isn’t easy to see how I could incorporate what looks like someone else’s ill intent into me, and not separate myself from it. In fact, my tendency would be to walk away from it. How is that done?
If this person is maltreating you, why would you stay? Your decision to leave may be the right one.
Question: And it would be acting from my wholeness?
Absolutely. You see the situation in its totality, including your feelings and thoughts, and out of this seeing an action arises: to stay or to leave; to say something or to remain silent; or perhaps, to offer a piece of candy to that person. This action will be perfect both for you and the other person.
Navigating Problematic Interactions & Equanimity
Question: I have a very taxing profession, and I find it difficult to stay on the path. Events throw me aside. For example, I experience difficulties in interacting with others. Is it possible to make use of these experiences, so that they deepen my understanding rather than take me away from truth, or do they only act as diversions?
They are here to help you, to deepen your understanding. The sage Krishna Menon allegedly considered a job in the police force or in the military as a good choice for a student of truth, because such challenging environments represent an excellent test for the degree of equanimity achieved by the disciple. It is a case of, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” I am not sure whether Krishna Menon actually made such a suggestion, or if he did, whether he was serious about it, but this illustrates the fact that challenging events give you an opportunity to grow spiritually and are a measure of your maturity.
These events come to you because they have something to teach you. However, you don’t have to passively accept everything. Maybe the appropriate action is to leave. For instance, if someone is abusive to you over the phone, you hang up. There is no point talking to that person. You don’t have to submit yourself to that.
Question: When I am in the middle of such a problematic interaction, it is rather difficult to remain equanimous. How can I achieve that?
You have to see the situation from your wholeness. By that I mean not only to see the person in front of you, what he says, how he looks, and how he acts, but also to be aware of your own reactions, fears, desires, bodily sensations, and thoughts.
This will bring about a positive change in you and will enable you to face situations in a creative way, instead of repeating the same automatic responses again and again. The upcoming emotions in you are not necessary. You can face a situation without any personal involvement. The situations are there, in a way, to teach you this equanimous attitude. It is a purification process through understanding.
As soon as you take yourself for a personal entity, you feel threatened, and you have to protect yourself, whereas if you see the situation from your wholeness, there is nobody in need of protection, nor is there anybody attacking you. From this understanding, an action or a non-action will emerge, a gesture, a smile, a welcoming silence, or an unexpected intervening event we could call a miracle, which will bring about a resolution.
Question: So, people who think that work, the usual lifestyle that we need to live in society, is an impediment to being a seeker, have, to a certain extent, a misconception of what being a seeker is. Living a normal busy life, you can use every moment of the day to try to deepen your understanding.
Absolutely. The purpose of any situation is to deepen our understanding. Our existence is a constant learning through and from the situations. They are life itself teaching us happiness. The teacher is always with us under the guise of the ever-changing circumstances. We have to welcome them with the same love and listen to them with the same attention we give to the words of our teacher. In this way, the causeless bliss once experienced in the glorious presence of our instructor is discovered as the permanent background of our daily activities.
Navigating Everyday Labels or Identifications
Our everyday lives have seemingly inescapable and endless identifications such man/woman, husband.wife, brother/sister, CEO/vice president, scientist/psychologist, devotee/worshipper – the list goes on and on … Such identifications tend to directly or indirectly influence, or even direct, our everyday interactions with others … which tends to inevitably create some suffering. How do we navigate these unavoidable identifications as we endeavor to live the “right way?”
Question: I used to think that devotion and worship were all that was needed. However, since I began delving more deeply into the sacred literature, and even more so through our conversations, something has happened, and I don’t think of myself as a worshipper any longer, nor anything else for that matter.
That is good!
Question: I was going to ask whether it would be useful for me to understand the nature of what has happened here.
If you think of yourself as a worshipper, it prevents you from being a perfect devotee, because perfect devotees don’t have any image of themselves. The only object of their thoughts is their beloved. When you love, you lose yourself in love. When you become deeply interested in your real nature, you unknowingly become a perfect worshipper, beyond all images. Your love for the ultimate truth is pure. It is purer than the love you have for a person, even your teacher, as long as you take him for a person, or for any other image of the truth, any personal god, for example. Your love for truth is free from limitations and from attachments.
If you identify your self with the body-mind complex, your longing for the object of your love is tainted by a secret demand, the desire to be loved, to be happy. When you seek truth itself, you aren’t projecting any anticipated outcome. Your desire remains innocent, devoid of any personal and emotional flaws. You aren’t seeking understanding for yourself as a person. You are seeking intelligence for the sake of intelligence, love for the sake of love. You are in love with love. There is no room for an ego, for attachment, or any other negative emotion.
Question: I continue to think of myself as a woman, a wife, and a psychologist, and these identifications are reinforced every day through my interactions with others. I know that they are labels, analogous to thinking of myself as a worshipper. I haven’t experienced a weakening of these labels in the same way as I have experienced a weakening of my notion of being a worshipper. Why is that so?
What you have experienced is a shift from being an worshipper to being a truth-seeker, which is a more impersonal position. From this position, you have the opportunity to clearly see that to take your self for a person is a fatal addiction which makes your life miserable and prevents you from being a perfect worshipper, wife, or truth-seeker.
As long as there is a worshipper, adoration is imperfect. True adoration takes place when the worshipper is completely consumed in the fire of adoration. This implies a total absence of resistance, an absolute surrender. If you surrender to the ultimate, but you want, at the same time, to be present as an adorator in order to enjoy the proximity of your beloved, your giving up is not complete. The worshipper needs to die for the final fusion to be achieved. When this happens, the notion of being a worshipper, or anything else for that matter, is not simply weakened but totally destroyed.
Having understood that the worshipper can’t bring about this fusion, that there is nothing you can do, live in this non-knowing and non-doing, welcoming your thoughts and sensations. When the decisive moment comes, when you hear from the depth of your being the call of your beloved, make sure that your giving up is total, at all levels. Surrendering body and mind, heart and soul, let his sweet appeal give you the courage to face the imminent death of your illusions. Be bold. Take your stand in awareness and watch the I-image and its cortege of fears and desires fade away in the splendor of your eternal presence.
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Stay tuned for more from Francis in this series … where we’ll continue to explore questions that matter …
Like other, similar series (e.g., Rupert Spira’s views on our True Nature), this series is meant to just whet your appetite – give you a sense of Francis’ teachings … and if it draws you then we invite you to undertake a deeper exploration by purchasing his book Eternity Now.