History of Enlightenment Intensives
Enlightenment Intensives were developed in 1968. Charles Berner, the originator, was looking for a way to accelerate the process of self-discovery. Using the method he created, Charles found after only three days in retreat, a significant number of people were having deep experiences identical to those had by students who practiced meditation for years.
Benefits for people who already have a spiritual practice.
Intensives are designed to accelerate you on your spiritual path and to not conflict with other belief systems. There is a great community of people attending Intensives around world in support of their Zen, Yogic, or personal growth practices. Many find after taking even one retreat, their daily practice deepens significantly and becomes easier to maintain. Here are some common examples of how people find their lives have changed.
Profound experiences of awakening and the ability to integrate realization into daily life.
A more open and available heart, deepening of authentic contact in daily life, and vastly improved communication skills.
Direct knowing of who they truly are for the first time beyond their personality or lifestyle.
Insights into what their next life steps are and making the choice to carry them out.
Deepening of experiences after the retreat and a renewed commitment to their daily practice.
Heightened self-care such as regular exercise, loss of addictive behaviors, and improved diet.
Benefits for new participants...
Contacting your real self by peeling away the unreal
Experience feeling alive in a new and real way
Opening your heart to experience universal love
Expressing your contemplations without interruption
Being received and understood by empathic listeners
Focusing intention and achieving wholeness.
Ten Stages of Enlightenment:
1. In search of the Bull.
2. Discovery of the footprints.
3. Perceiving the Bull.
4. Catching the Bull.
5. Taming the Bull.
6. Riding the BUll.
7. The Bull Transcended.
8. Both Bull and Self Trancended.
9. Reaching the Source.
10. Returnign to Society.
A printable PDF of the Ten Stages.
Post enlightenment work.
1. Being conscious of self in each moment.
2. Being attentive to what one is doing in each moment.
3. Completing one task before starting the next task.
Self Practice: Morning and evening meditations, authentic interaction and presentation with others.
Community support; Leela groups, Truth groups, Meditation groups.
Enlightenment work: Spend a few minutes each day contemplating the actuality or remembering the state that was experienced during direct contact.
What is the steady state?
The steady state of enlightenment is one that is always centered in the True Self, never in the mind.
The individual is always in contact with what is. At this stage, there is no tendency to fall from the enlightened state into the ripples of the mind or to try to make things some way that they are not.
The steady state doesn't occur as a result of an Enlightenment Experience, rather it is a developing condition. The Steady state grows by plateaus after an initial awakening which is either gradual or sudden.
The stages of the Steady state:
1. One's sense of self may grow steadily in terms of who one is.
2. One sees every thing as not separate from oneself, seeing the divine.
3. As this state gets steadier and without losing awareness of Self, the plateau is simply a self evident fact.
The path to Enlightenment Lifestyle practices.
We are whole beings each on our path to Enlightenment. Each area in our life needs the appropriate growth work assistance in self practice, therapy services and community work.
What are you doing to advance yourself on your path? Here are some example suggestions to guide you……
◦ Enlightenment Work: Attuning our vision to the actuality of what is.
◦ Self Practice: Developing a personal relationship with an activity while intending to raise one's own vibration and consciousness.
◦ Therapy Services: Using the available alternative resources of professional therapeutic experts within society to help remove obstacles to personal inner freedom and to open future possibilities.
◦ Community Support: Availing of our instinctual need to socialize, we can share and grow within a group dynamic particularly one which focuses on spiritual development and awareness.
◦ Each of these lifestyle practices are connected to the following areas of life: Body, Mind, Spirit, relationship, professional, financial and family.
A barrier To enlightenment is actually something about yourself that you have not fully experienced and acknowledged as being a part of you. A barrier, therefore, is worth your exploration to know and experience. Communicate your barrier in detail in order to move through the barrier.
The Enlightenment technique
involves expressing what arises inside when you contemplate an enlightenment question. As we express to others, the layers of illusion are removed until we eventually reach our true core. This opens us to a possibility of a direct experience of Truth. The power of the retreat comes from the contact between participants. Rather than sitting in silence alone, participants sit face to face in pairs called dyads and communicate what arises in their meditation.
When it is a participant's turn to listen to their partner, they receive them in silence, simply witnessing their communication. Participants remain in silence between exercises.
Stages to Enlightenment
At first answers and descriptions come up. These are mere answers and do not change anything. "Well what I am is an architect, that's what I do , that 's what I am."
2. Intellectualism and logic.
Looking deeper turning to education and logic for the solution. "I'm looking out at you from in here, so I must be some kind of an entity existing behind my eyeballs somehow…" These do not produce a fundamental change of consciousness.
Memories of childhood, old lovers other times. "I'm remembering how my mother used to stand in the kitchen, near the stove, I have this image of her there…." Useful to communicate but this is not enlightenment.
4. Insights and releases.
Encountering inner restraints and fears, insights come. New realizations about life and neurotic patterns. Sometimes these come quietly or with deep emotional releases. "Oh God, I've just been trying to live for my parents! When do I get to live for me?" Or "You know, I think I talk too much. I think I talk to avoid feeling what's really going on inside me." These have real therapeutic value. Whole layers of mental and emotional tension begin to fall away. Some will feel lighter, more emotionally released, more in your body. But these are not different from a counseling session or other means. These are not enlightenment.
5. Trying to see the Truth.
While trying to see the Truth, making efforts to locate the actuality of oneself, life or another, we tend to look, either into the inner space of mind or outwardly. It's natural. "Where am I/ Ah! I'm behind my eyeballs! Okay, I'll go look there. Nope. I'm not there anymore, now I'm the one looking at the space behind my eyeballs. I am the looker! I need to somehow jump into the me that's looking". This is called 'chasing' It is an inner search to locate the source of oneself at an experiential level.
6. No – Man's land.
Eventually people reach an unusual place of nothingness, where no thoughts are happening in the mind and nothing seems important. Contemplating, nothing comes up. "I can't believe it, there's nothing happening in my mind. I'm sitting here, aware… but I contemplate and nothing comes up. I'm just looking into empty space." This is not enlightenment. One must stay with the technique and give up trying to see yourself. Just keep trying to directly experience the one who is conscious of the nothing.
On the 2nd day people begin to experience phenomena such as heat in the body or mild visual distortions. It's tempting to want alleviate this from occurring or you may think you should stop the process. Just ask 'Who is feeling the heat. Who is the seer of the distortions. Go only for that. Who are you!
The room can become filled with emotions. Laughter, crying, deep contemplation, apathy.
Profound states of serenity, experiencing a trouble free inner peace " I feel such an inner stillness. I just feel at peace with everything. I could stay here forever." This is attractive and one tend to want to sit in this and stop contemplating. This is called the 'cave of satan" It is a state so comfortable that , like a drug, it can lull the contemplator into complacency or, worse, into thinking the goal has been achieved.
10. Crisis and ego death.
On the 3rd day, some fall into despair or acute fear of a new kind. These crises involves a kind of battle between what the ego wants and how things actually are. For example, the ego may want to make enlightenment happen, but it can't. Many an ego goes to its dying breath kicking and screaming in despair over this point. This crisis may also be associated with some core existential issue, "If I go a any further, I'll die, or go crazy, or be annihilated, or be abandoned". People are challenged now, Do you really want Truth, or do you want to back off?
When someone breaks through, he or she will speak from a place so essential that the inner light of the pure individual comes forth into the room s if from another world. They speak with an inner authenticity with both depth and lightness, magically mixed together and based on their direct experience of reality.
Degrees of Enlightenment using Who or What am I, What is life, What is another.
1st degree: The truth is self evident.
Who am I: 'I am', 'I am me', 'I am myself', or 'me'. What is Life: 'This!', 'Life is living!', Life is fulfilled by living' What is Another: 'Another is'
2nd Degree: The Individual has more sense of responsibility.
Who am I: 'I am the source of me', 'I am the God of my Universe', 'I am God', What am I: 'I am nothing', 'I am everything' What is Life: 'The purpose of life is to live as fully as you can.', 'The purpose of life is to become fully conscious of yourself and others.' 'Life is the relationship that all beings have with one another.', 'Purpose of life is love.' 'The purpose of life is growth.', 'Life is the way we can meet each other.' What is another: 'Another is unique, yet is identical to me'. 'Another is included in me'.
3rd degree: The Individual is attuned to the power of potential.
What is Life: 'Life is the potential to fulfill the relationship between all individuals'. (There are 8 degrees to life enlightenments. ) What is Another: 'I am pure consciousness relating to another who is pure consciousness.'
What is Enlightenment?
It is the act of bringing the light of consciousness into something. The direct contact or experience with Truth. It is a shift of state of consciousness in which a person transcends all thoughts, feelings and beliefs to apprehend the true nature of reality.
Enlightenment is literally indescribable and can never be fully conveyed through words. Enlightenment is simply awakening to our natural state that our busy mind keeps veiled with story and ideas.
Two ways Enlightenment is experienced:
1. A person may have an Enlightenment Experience or an 'awakening' moment.
2. A person may develop the Steady State or the actualization of the 'supreme way' in the daily life.
The 'Awakening' is sudden while the integration of the experience is gradual. "The experience of Enlightenment is so overwhelmingly rich and devastatingly fulfilling that it takes a lifetime to digest, incorporate and integrate into one's everyday life."
What is the difference between Insight and enlightenment?
Insight is mere mental phenomena. Enlightenment affects and transforms the entire being.
Who am I question: New participants are advised to start their spiritual enquiry with the question 'who am I'.
This inquiry aims you at the real You, the real thing.
Applying the enlightenment technique, you go through all necessary steps before you have a direct experience of your truest Self.
The Other Enlightenment Questions: Who am I? What am I? What is life? What is love? Or what is another?
What is Truth?
Truth is the Absolute.
Truth is eternal and unchanging which underlies all apparent reality. It is that which exists apart from our perceptions or conception or it. It is the way things actually are regardless of whether we like it or not, want it or not, agree with it or not.
A.H. Almaas said, "If you love the truth for its own sake, the truth will free you. But if you hope the truth will free you, you cannot be free".