A Dialogue With Francis Lucille Regarding Teaching and Life Coaching
This post is a record of, first, a question the well-renowned Advaita (non-duality) teacher Francis Lucille (Rupert Spira’s teacher) was asked online a number of years ago (no longer available on the internet so I’ve posted here as a service). It follows with an email dialogue I had with Francis. I later talked with him in person (very briefly) and he said he got my email response and found it interesting because he wasn’t aware of what was going on online. After that I lost interest in the topic, as it seemed resolved to my mind.
The Old Q & A Post
What makes one qualified/ready to guide others on the Direct Path? – Francis Answers – 169
A short while ago I asked the following question:
When one is established in the impersonal Awareness, having gone beyond the distinction of teacher and student, but at the same time acknowledging the importance of it on the relative plane, what makes such a one qualified/ready to guide others on the Direct Path, as there isn’t really a formal transmission involved, as far as I understand it?
Without a shadow of a doubt (as you like to say :-)) this Consciousness is recognized as Truth and Beauty itself, ‘my’ true nature.
This realization spontaneously stabilizes itself more and more in daily life.
However, when the duality of teacher/student and seeking/realizing (or unfolding) gradually falls away with it, maybe I first have to ask if there exist the possibility of ignorance or delusion in this process?
Then, there is the further curiosity about when, according to your experience, someone can genuinely and without self-delusion guide others on the Direct Path?
You already mentioned speaking from own experience, and to be totally honest and earnest. I think there is a lot to share on this topic, but maybe you can point out some other important aspects? As it is sometimes confusing what teachers say and do concerning this, and it therefore is certainly not without reason why Dennis Waite wrote the book ‘Enlightenment, Path through the Jungle’.
I understand you have a lot of questions coming to you and may have limited time and availability, but as I find your clear understanding and explanations highly valuable, it would be most supporting to stay in touch by email or skype to be able to ask you a question.
With patience and gratitude I am looking very much forward if you can clarify some of which I wrote, in order to shed all ignorance away!
Don’t think you are the only one asking this question. Many ask the same question, and many more don’t, because they want to start teaching to satisfy their ego, and they are afraid that my answer would demonstrate their unpreparedness. So they start teaching and join the increasing crowd of half-baked teachers teaching half baked truths.
You can guide others no farther than to where you are. If you are not established in peace and happiness, guiding others will be a distraction preventing further progress, unless you do so under the umbrella and the guidance of a karana guru. I did this for fifteen years in France and in California, conducting meditation sessions, answering questions, but my friends were always send to my teacher to become his disciples. That’s how I learned how to teach.
Many sages are not teachers, and an even more teachers are not sages. What do you want to be? a teacher or a sage?
How would you prefer to be: happy, fulfilled, without teaching, or unhappy and teaching? Think about this: because a sage has mastered the fulfillment of his desires, there is no need for him to teach to make a living. Therefore teaching is not a profession in the usual sense, although it may appear to be the case.
Don’t count on teaching to make you happy. Get happy first, no matter whether you teach or not. Then teach, if you want to, out of this happiness.
You could ask: how do I know that I am unshakably established in peace and happiness?. Well, in case the meaning of these words is not clear enough to you, here are a few hints:
You should at least have mastered the following issues:
1. relationships with friends, supervisors, employees, clients, parents, children and spouses should be harmonious.
2. there should be financial abundance due to the discovery of the universal law of infinite supply. Any professional activity should be performed not out of the necessity to make money, but out of the joy it brings about.
3. more generally speaking, all desires should spontaneously materialize due to the absence of attachment.
4. fear of death should be absent.
In addition to these absolute prerequisites, teaching requires the following;
1. A vocation: the love, the enthusiasm, the passion for teaching (also an absolute prerequisite)
2. Highly developed communication skills, both at the intellectual and at the feeling levels. (Intellectual skills are required only for the path of knowledge).
3. Pedagogical skills acquired (among other things) through many years of steady attendance of the teaching sessions of a karana guru.
Skills 2 and 3 are not absolutely mandatory, since they can be developed “on the job”. The efficiency of the teaching will improve as these skills improve.
And, yes, last but not least, since you can only teach what you are, you can only teach from your own experience, not from hearsay, not from memory, and, of course, always with absolute honesty
My Email and His Response
I ran across something online a couple years ago that I saved on my computer (see above):
Do you still stand by this answer or would you modify it now? I’m not interested in being a teacher myself at the moment, but friends in the spiritual psychology community often ask this question concerning requirements because they want to be a “life coach” (this is akin to being a therapist without a license) and make money that way. But to my mind, unless they are happy themselves, love teaching, and meet some of the “mastery” elements you list; and unless people are coming to them asking questions or for help already – what business do they have setting it up as a their work or calling (leaving aside the question of spiritual teaching as a business)?
Yes, these are the requirements for a spiritual teacher. The bar is lower for a therapist, or a life coach, because the stated goal is not to take one to wisdom. I would suggest in this case absolute honesty and teaching (sharing is perhaps a better word) from the actual, current experience.
Hi Francis –
Thank you for the reply and my apologies for the slow reply.
There seems to be a range of life coaches, all the way from entirely psychological and technique-based, up to what could justifiably be called wisdom teachers (friend Garrett Kramer is an example of one of the latter – he’s sounding like a Rupert Spira these days http://garretkramer.com/articles/). However your comment about the “bar being lower” for life coaches is relevant, as is of course the suggestion to honestly share from current experience.
Right now there are schisms, divisions and debates going on in the spiritual psychology field that I was involved in (Three Principles Psychology), between those who are more Thought-based in their approach , who are pointing out how all that we experience is a projection of thought, thus supposedly helping to free clients to be more detached and see the relativity of their feelings and perceptions (but don’t really offer a good way to transcend thought-prisons in their self-proclaimed “paradigm” other than giving lip service to a vague and grandiose brand of “evolution “ – unconscious echoes of Hegel and Marx perhaps). They attack those who talk about oneness or consciousness, or anything absolute, etc.
And then there are those who are pointing to universal Consciousness/Mind, more in tune with the epiphanies, teachings and original intent of the mystic, Sydney Banks, that launched the now-worldwide movement. I see the latter folks as helping to free clients absolutely and be happy, if and when the teacher actually understands the teaching, which is quite variable, not unexpectedly.
It’s as if the separate self is playing itself out in the field, in defense of a sense-mind-based (“ego”) versus a Reality-based view. But it’s not surprising given the worldview embedded in our culture, and what happens when a wisdom teaching spreads and become diluted, and re-interpreted by the mind.
Unless I’m deluding myself (which is quite possible), I’m afraid I may be partly responsible for creating or helping to fan some of the flames of this stupid religious-political “war”, in my unabashed love for Truth (planting seeds of the non-dual virus) and offerings of insights, and philosophical comments in response to questions and confusions in the community. A loose cannon… [ed: this was a joking reference to what he called his teacher, Jean Klein]
The vast majority of these folks are not very philosophically sophisticated, and so a lot of what goes on is wheel-spinning. However it’s been interesting to see how people think, and what “self” they are coming from, their confusions, and it gives me material to write about, at minimum.
At this point I’ve backed away from much involvement in this community, as it takes a great deal of time and energy to respond to questions or comments, and while some of my essays seem to be highly appreciated and helpful for some, I have nothing to defend or invested per se, and it feels like trying to bail out an ocean of ignorance with a teaspoon. When it starts to feel “serious”, I know it’s time to back off, and follow my enthusiasm, as you often say…
Those who are from the non-dual/perennial wisdom camp in that community are still friendly towards me, but I’m not so much interested in the ego games and political turf wars of the rest. In any case I’m not a “practitioner” (I don’t take on clients or do verbal teaching for money), I’m more like a writer and philosophical gadfly, who sometimes sits in on online meetings. At this point my focus is more on transcending the whole mess and writing material that will make its way into a book (around a philosophy of non-duality).
As I see it now, the best way to help the world is to realize true Self, so deepening one’s understanding of reality (yours and Laura’s guidance is greatly appreciated, as are all expressions of the One teacher), and allowing a natural process is the way to go (or go away … :).
It’s become more obvious where true happiness lies [not in the world but within the invisible Self] … and besides, your dialogues are a lot of fun. 🙂
With Love & Gratitude,
This was followed by a brief in-person conversation where he mentioned getting my email, and found it interesting because he didn’t (is not interested, really) in what’s going on online (in the spiritual communities).
Further Notes and Reflections (Summer, 2018)
I’ve seen evolutions in the field over the last 21 years or so (the length of my involvement), as it’s grown to worldwide movement and become diluted often, and split into roughly 4 camps or schools (this is purely conceptual and for educational or reflective purposes, to be taken with a grain of salt):
1. The Puritans. The old-school and originals, who learned directly from Syd Banks, or early on, and/or those trying to stick to the original teachings, methods, form, and “purity” of the message of Syd Banks realization and what they think/feel/perceive/intuit he was wanting to convey, be that in Universal Mind, Consciousness and Thought, out of belief, loyalty, or it’s what makes sense to them, or not wanting to dilute the message, or the brand if you will (even if, like Christine Heath they concede that like Mr. Banks said, no one “understands” the 3P because of their infinite depth). These folks get upset if they hear others “mixing” the 3P with anything else.
2. The Newcomers, True Believers, Sellers. Those who never got it as an experience, still seeing it outside-in, often relatively new to it, or see it as a business opportunity, who have a whole range of understandings, from a mere technique, or valuable brand, or conceptual understandings, and mixing it with other things, to “getting it” to some degree as a universal message of a spiritual nature, or who “get religion” and are on a mission, defend it, want to change the world, etc. It’s more or less conceptual or new belief system or technique, rather than an actual experience.
3. The “Principles as a Paradigm” or “Single Paradigm” teachers. This relatively new formulation sees itself as a refinement and appears to be focusing on Thought in the context of the 3 principles, as they key to a shift to an inside-out understanding of life. “This psychological paradigm establishes that we are constantly experiencing our life through the principle of thought… we are only feeling our thinking in the moment about what we are thinking about”. This is arguably focusing on what is variable as a quasi-constant, when in truth Universal Consciousness (&Universal Mind, same unity) are the real constant. (https://threeprinciplesparadigm.com/home/welcome/)
4. The Non-dualists. Those who have gone in a broader or deeper fundamental non-dual understanding direction, similar to, or cleaving to, or realizing what the classic wisdom teachings on nonduality, Advaita and so forth, are pointing to, and seeing that as the real content or pointing of the 3P experience; or were already very Zen or non-dual and picked up the 3P as a beautiful teaching, or tool to help people, or who used the model for a time then more or less dropped it as they evolved.
“The nondual understanding has to be tailored to the audience. But it’s free of formula, sensitive, alive, responsive to the moment.” – Rupert Spira
Wisdom isn’t something one gains, but what is revealed.