Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

An Interview with
Francis Lucille

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Francis Lucille Francis Lucille book

Francis Lucille is a spiritual teacher in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. A long time disciple of Jean Klein whom he met in 1975, he was a friend of Robert Linssen, Wolter Keers, Yvan Amar, William Samuel and Robert Adams. He was also influenced by J. Krishnamurti, Krishna Menon and Wei Wu Wei, whom he knew personally. Many contemporary Advaita teachers have attended his teaching events. Francis transmits the ancient teaching of nonduality, the common ground of Advaita Vedanta, Ch'an Buddhism, Zen, Taoism and Sufism.

Publication: Eternity Now
(Non-Duality Press, 2008)
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Visit Francis' website,, for more information about his work.

I was sitting alone in silence, meditating in my living room with two friends. It was too early to fix dinner, our next activity; having nothing to do, expecting nothing, I was available. My mind was free of dynamism, my body relaxed and sensitive, although I could feel some discomfort in my back.

After some time, one of my friends unexpectedly began to chant a traditional incantation in Sanskrit, the Gayatri. The sacred syllables entered mysteriously in resonance with my silent presence, which seemed to become intensely alive. I felt a deep longing in me, but at the same time a resistance was preventing me from living the current situation to the fullest, from responding with all my being to this invitation from the now and from merging with it. As the attraction towards the beauty heralded by the chant increased, so did the resistance, revealing itself as a growing fear that transformed into an intense terror.

At this point, I felt that my death was imminent, and that this horrendous event would surely be triggered by any further letting go on my behalf, by any further welcoming of that beauty. I had reached a crucial point in my life. As a result of my spiritual search, the world and its objects had lost their attraction; I didn�t really expect anything substantial from them. I was exclusively in love with the absolute, and this love gave me the boldness to jump into the great void of death, to die for the sake of beauty, now so close, that beauty which was calling me beyond the Sanskrit words.

As a result of this abandon, the intense terror which had been holding me instantaneously released its grip and changed into a flow of bodily sensations and thoughts which rapidly conveyed towards a single thought, the �I�-thought, just as the roots and the branches of a tree converge towards its single trunk. In an almost simultaneous apperception, the personal entity I was identifying with revealed itself in its totality. I saw its superstructure, the thoughts originating from the �I�-thought and its infrastructure, the traces of my fears and desires at the physical level. Now the entire tree was contemplated by an impersonal eye and both the superstructure of thoughts and the infrastructure of bodily sensations rapidly vanished, leaving the �I�-thought alone in the field of Consciousness. For a few moments, the �I�-thought seemed to vacillate, just as the flame of an oil lamp running out of fuel, then vanished.

At that precise moment, I awakened to my eternity.

Eternity Now
Francis Lucille

Q. Who am I? I keep coming up against concepts and phrases, which I don�t really understand anymore?

Well, if concepts appear, they obviously don�t appear in somebody else � they must be appearing in you. So, what you are is that � whatever that is � in which all concepts, perceptions and all sensations appear. That is what we all call �I�. It�s very easy.

Q. So why do I feel frustrated that I am missing that understanding? And what compels me to seek and come to you and ask that question?

Perhaps because you have heard somewhere that, if you answer this question, the answer will solve your problems and make you happy. The answer is obvious � it�s an open secret. That�s why I told you that it�s easy. The problem is that although it�s obvious, we don�t trust it. Instead of sticking to the answer, which is that we are whatever that is which perceives, we think, we believe, we feel that we are something perceived � the body, a conceptual limited being, a human being, a woman. So, it is this belief � of being a separate entity and the accompanying feelings of being separate � that comes in and distorts the easy and clear answer. In other words, we tend to believe, to trust our belief, which we have inherited from our surroundings, education, parents and so on, rather than our direct experience of what we are. The experience of what we are is easy, simple, but we seem not to trust it.

Q. Why is it set up that way? If I am all this and that which I am seeking is already within me, why do I deny it so? I don�t understand the game. If awareness is so amazing and it is my nature, why don�t I �feel� that? Why do I create these barriers and then want to knock down the barriers? It�s ridiculous.

Yes, I agree. It is ridiculous, so I am returning the questions to you! Why are you doing that? I guess because you are enjoying it.

Q. But the whole world is in that state. Very few people�

Well, let�s not worry about the whole world here but let�s worry about the truth. What the whole world believes is totally irrelevant because truth is not a democracy. In 1905, Einstein was alone when he came up with his paper about the Theory of Relativity. Everybody, including the scientific community, thought he was nuts. It doesn�t mean that he was wrong. He was alone. So, the fact that a large number of people believe one way is no proof at all what they believe is true.

You ask me how it is that we feel that we are separate. That�s a very good question. It�s a question that you shouldn�t ask me, you should ask yourself. By asking yourself this question, it will pave the way to the answer. How is it that I feel separate? Based on which experience do I feel that I am separate?

Q. When I think about it, just sitting here, there isn�t a feeling of separateness.

Exactly. But what is it that makes us feel that anything is separate from anything else? For instance, that an apple from this tree is separate � it�s a concept. Even if the apple falls from the tree, does it mean that it is separate from the totality of nature? Does it mean that it�s separate from the totality because at some point it has fallen from the tree? Now, when the apple has fallen down on the ground, it�s just a concept that separates it. Nothing is separate from nature. It is the same air inside our lungs that is outside and the same water that is running in our blood as outside. So, at the physical level, we are not separate. At the subtle level we are not separate either. We are exchanging thoughts, concepts � they are not yours or mine, they are just being exchanged. We don�t know who owns what. It�s always a concept that separates.

Q. Is ego just a concept?

It depends what we call ego. I don�t use this word much, you know. I certainly don�t use it in the sense of a separate individual with characteristics and behavioral patterns and so on. When I use it, it is in the meaning of identifying that which we are � whatever that is � with a specific body-mind organism. That�s what I would call ego � an identifying thought, an identifying feeling.

Q. Peace comes with not identifying with these thoughts?

Yes, but the peace is there, no matter what. The peace of our true nature, of this reality, is already there, is already present, no matter whether there is agitation in the mind or not. Chaos in the mind, agitation, is triggered by this notion, this belief that I am separate. The moment I am separate, I am a fragment. The desire for completeness arises and also the fear that goes with the fragmentation. If I am a fragment, I may be threatened and that creates turmoil. The moment I understand everything is One, there is no separation and the agitation of not being any longer, fed by the notion of being a separate entity, gradually wears out. It doesn�t mean that the mind stops. It doesn�t mean that there is no dynamism. It doesn�t mean that there is no thinking that doesn�t go on. There might be thinking, there might be dynamism, but it is harmonious without resistance.

Q. This is a point that I have not really grasped � that all there is is Consciousness and within that, chaos and agitation arise. And yet, there is some effort to move away from that chaos and agitation and the attachment to them. On the one hand, everything is all God; and on the other hand, there�s some kind of movement to disassociate from those thoughts � which are still God. I don�t understand.

We can, through an effort, try to disassociate an object from another object. But then, instead of being left with one object, you are left with two! It would be enough to understand, to see, that that which we are is forever disassociated from any object that may appear within all of this. Just as the mirror is forever disassociated from any reflections that may appear within it. So, to try to disassociate the mirror from any reflection contained within it would be a childish effort.

Q. But who makes that effort?

This effort is the product of ego or ignorance. Nobody makes it. It is the natural growth and subsequent decay of the seed of ignorance. It decays because we are meant to have inkling of the thought that Consciousness is already free from appearance, is already disassociated with it, which will sooner or later lead to peace, to harmony. So, these efforts, by a truthful seeker, to disassociate himself or herself from objects, no matter how childish and useless they might be, eventually will lead to the understanding that this disassociation has always been the case, that freedom has always been present.

Q. So it�s like a process of seeing what you are not, which leads to a point of understanding of that which you are. But I am making an intellectual game out of all of it, to be honest.

Of course you are making an intellectual game. That�s why you are writing a book about it. It�s a way of being involved without being involved. It�s a way of being serious without being serious. If you were being really serious about it, you wouldn�t write a book about it, you would try to live from there. It has to be of vital importance to you. It�s like a matter of life and death. So, we can gather all the information we want, all the intellectual understanding, but that never replaces this strong desire for it, which is in fact the only prerequisite, you see � to desire it more than anything else.

Q. And then it becomes clear?

Intellectual clarity is only the tip of the iceberg. It has to become clear at the level of feelings and perceptions. It has to be clear in the way in which we feel our body, the way we feel our body no longer tells us I am separate. When the way we feel our body is a song to Oneness, then we don�t have to worry too much about thoughts because the moment the feeling is of Oneness, it�s not going to trigger thoughts that we are separate. But if the understanding is simply intellectual but our body is screaming that it�s not true � well, we have a problem.

So while our body is screaming that it�s not true, there are all kinds of conflicting thoughts and doubts because we fear that existence or experience at the body level is contradictory with our theory of Oneness.

Q. Freedom � it depends how much you really want it. Is that what you are saying? That�s what it really boils down to. I could ask you lots of questions about the mind and the emotions, about why I am not happy, but at the end of the day it depends on how much I want to be free.

Yes. You get what you desire, you see.

Q. But I think I want freedom I really do. I have cried for many long hours, I have been on many retreats, I have read many books, I have done many things.

It�s important to be free from all theories about freedom, not to become a �freedom theories expert�. Some of these theories are quite good but they more or less boil down to the same thing, so it will be enough to take one in the end. What truly matters is to have the courage and determination to live in accordance with the theory. The obstacles are fear and desire. A very strong desire for truth is, however, desirable in order to have the determination and the courage to put our money where our mouth is.

When we try to live in accordance with a non-personal or impersonal perspective, then we receive confirmation so that our love for freedom and our desire for it increase. It gives us more courage next time in more difficult situations to try again to make the impersonal choice and then again to miraculously receive a new confirmation. In this way, we are no longer stuck because we are implementing our theory. It is merging with our daily life from the book, from the library of the mind into the way we perceive, we feel, we relate to other human beings, to the world, the way we act, the way we decide and so on. And the confirmations we receive are very diverse, beautiful. They come from love, they come from intelligence, beauty, and they open new doors in all realms of our experience � the realm of feelings, understanding, of perceptions.

Q. A lot of fear arises to make that leap. There�s a knot of fear right inside me that prevents that final letting go.

It�s neither easy nor uneasy. The facing of this fear is very important. You have to know it completely to be acquainted with it so that it stops making a slave out of you. Any time you act out of fear, you are going to suffer. No matter what realm of your life your action refers to � making relationships, intimate feelings, your professional life, your financial life and so on � every time you act out of fear, it�s a rule, a golden rule � there is a price to pay.

There is a lesson to be taken so you have to know your fear quite well because it�s made of bodily sensation, sense perceptions and feelings. It will be important not to entertain the desire to get rid of it � welcome it completely, be ready to live with your fear. The moment you are ready to live with it, without trying to do anything about it, it�s already neutralized because you are already free from it.

It�s like if you have to live in a room with a cobra. If you turn off the light you are in great danger, whereas if you turn on the light you can see at every moment where the cobra is. If you can move in accordance with the cobra�s position, it is neutralized, you see. So, it�s the same. Don�t hesitate to turn on the light, to see your fear. There�s no need to get rid of it because, if you try to come close to the cobra, it will kill you. So don�t try to kill your fear, just watch your fear so that your fear can never catch you, can never kill you and can never feed on you. It�s very important to face the fear.

[Extract taken from The Teachers of One: Conversations on the Nature of Nonduality by Paula Marvelly]

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