What is an Enlightenment Intensive?


It is a three day or seven-day retreat in a country setting, surrounded by nature for a complete escape from day to day relative life. It is structured for emotional safety and the silent inner contemplation of the Truth using the question “Who am I?” or the other enlightenment questions.

This is an opportunity for participants to experience the same state of Enlightenment as the Buddha attained, yet at varying degrees of enlightenment. Participants are supported and guided through the many Stages of Enlightenment work using the enlightenment technique cutting through the barriers to Enlightenment.

Sitting, walking, and working meditation as well as rest and healthy meals are part of the monastic schedule. The work is challenging and rewarding. Over the past 40 years, Enlightenment intensives have supported 100,000s of people around the world to open to the truth of to who they are. They are dedicated to helping people reach enlightenment in just a few days!

The effects of the enlightenment retreat can continue progressing when the participant decides to walk the path of enlightenment lifestyle practices towards the steady state practicing the post enlightenment work in the areas of Self Practice, Therapy services, Community support and enlightenment work. With a regular 2 or more retreats a year, a person can make progress on the ten stages to enlightenment similar to the traditional Zen Buddhists.  If you are new to spiritual growth work, see the benefits for new participants.  If you already have a practice and do spiritual growth work, see how EI’s can benefit people with a spiritual practice.  For an understanding of how Enlightenment Intensives were first created, see the history of Enlightenment Intensive.


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”.


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.”


Insight is mere mental phenomena. Enlightenment affects and transforms the entire being.


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.’

Who am I question: New participants are advised to start their spiritual inquiry 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?


  1. Answers: 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.
  3. Memories: 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.
  7. Phenomena: On the 2nd day people begin to experience phenomena such as heat in the body or mild visual distortions. It’s tempting to try to stop this from occurring. 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?!
  8. Emotions: The room can become filled with emotions. Laughter, crying, deep contemplation, apathy.
  9. Serenity: 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 tends 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 involve 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 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?
  11. Enlightenment: 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.


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.


A barrier to enlightenment is something about yourself that you have not fully experienced and acknowledged as being a part of yourself. A barrier, therefore, is worth your exploration to know and experience. Communicate your barrier in detail in order to move through the barrier.


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.

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 is connected to the following areas of life: Body, Mind, Spirit, relationship, professional, financial and family.


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 everything 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.


Mindful practices:

  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.


  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 Transcended.
  9. Reaching the Source.
  10. Returning to Society.


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.


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


Truth Speaks #1 with Esther Squires.

Truth Speaks #2 with Johanne Robitaille

Truth Speaks #3 with Lisa Hoffe

Truth Speaks #4 with Lynn McCannell

Truth Speaks #5 with Ian Goudie

Truth Speaks #6 with Courtney Rowsell

Truth Speaks # 7 with Gloria Williams

“For the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and saw nothing missing.”~ EI Participant

“The one staring back at me was whole beyond my wildest imaginings.”~ EI Participant

“Nearly a year later I can contact that knowing and am brought to tears at the joy of it.”~ EI Participant

“The word “Enlightenment” conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being.”~ Eckhart Toll