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18 May 2020

Fran Bennett (195?-) monk, spiritual guide


Francis Bennett did a BA in Philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and then a two-year chaplaincy residency in the Ohio Health Hospital system. He then entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane, Kentucky in 1981 and in the 90’s subsequently lived at a “daughter house” of Gethsemane in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. And then after that a small urban monastery in Montréal. Bennett has been a “spiritual seeker” throughout, practicing in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition and inspired by the Christian mystic, Thomas Merton, and working deeply with teachers in both the Theravadan Vipassana and the Zen traditions of Buddhism as well as the Advaita-Vedanta teachings of Ramana Maharshi;. In 2010 he experienced a profound perceptual “shift” in which he realized the ever-present presence of pure Awareness.

Bennet then left monastic orders, and came to see that this awareness is actually the unchanging essence of who one really is and has always been; the Supreme Self, talked about by many sages and saints from many spiritual traditions down through the ages.

In 2013 Bennett published a book: I Am That I Am, described by reviews as simple and straightforward, yet profound.

Bennett then travelled and taught, lead residential retreats and weekend events in the US, Ireland, the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and also wrote and recorded a series of online courses.

She transitioned to female 2016-7. This was announced on Facebook 16 November 2016.
“God created humankind in the divine image … both male and female (Genesis 1:27). So God as Creator is both father and mother. God is both male and female. God is fully androgynous……God is therefore trans-gender if you will… 
I believe that we LGBTQI persons can be considered to be special gifts of God not in spite of, but precisely BECAUSE we are different and don’t fit within normally accepted societal gender or sexual attraction categories. We have been rejected by the leaders of most organized religions. Simply to survive emotionally and spiritually, we have been often forced to look more deeply into the meaning of life than the average person who fits in more easily. Our rejection by mainstream religions causes many of us to question the basic tenets of these religions in order to determine what fits for us and what does not. Though not always, this in turn can sometimes result in a higher level of spiritual consciousness. . . . Because our very survival depends on it, we who are different must question all these things. As survivors of this painful process, we are perhaps better able to tap into the true nature of God/Source/Consciousness, and the intended relationship of humanity with this absolute Reality.” (Bennett in Science & Non-Duality, and quoted in Horsley)
Fran has since then been involved in spiritual outreach to LGBTQI communities, as well as others interested in an inclusive study of the mystical forms of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. She regards being trans as just one part of her own journey, which she describes as a quest of the spirit.

“In that journey and process we do not necessarily need to reject spirituality or religion altogether. But we do need to reject the patriarchal, misogyny and sexism that has defined virtually all religious hierarchies and structures, both in the East and the West from time immemorial.”

*There is another trans woman with the same name: Fran Bennett the celebrity DJ in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
  • Rick Archer. “133. Francis Bennett”. BatGap, August 7, 2012. Online.
  • Francis Bennett. I Am That I Am: Discovering the Love, Peace, Joy and Stability of the True Self. Non-Duality, 2013.
  • Jim Morekis. “Renowned mystic leads two-day event at UU Church”. Connect Savannah, November 29, 2017. Online.
  •  Jasun Horsley. “The Rise of the Dream-State, part 3 of 3: Trans-Culture, Paraphilias, Non-Duality, & Corporate Cures for Alienation”. Auticulture, 12 June 2017. Online.
  • Francis Bennett. “What Does Being Transgender, Intersexed, Lesbian or Gay Have To Do With Spirituality Anyway?”. Science & Non-Duality, no date. Online.

Finding Grace at the Center (archive)       Francis Bennett Europe (archive)

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Francis has stayed with the male spelling: not Frances.

I am that I am” is the standard English translation of the name given by Yahweh or perhaps the Elohiym in Exodus 3:14. This is not the same as “I am what I am” as per Greta Garbo, Popeye, the Village People, a song in the musical version of La Cage aux Folles and a defiant cry from many who are queer.

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