The Enlightenment Intensive
The Enlightenment Intensive (EI) is a highly effective format for breaking through the mind and experiencing reality, uncut, to give a glimpse of how life actually is and who we really are. When we have a taste of Truth, it is much easier to know what direction authenticity lies in. The EI is a simple structure with a single goal that has been transformative for thousands of people around the world. The format is a fusion of the Rinzai Zen sesshin with the communication dyad developed by Charles and Ava Berner. The first EI took place in 1968 in the Californian desert and was an instant success. Thousands have now been run, worldwide. It was also swiftly taken up by other groups such as the Rajneesh/Osho movement and back into the Zen fold by Zenways in the UK. Alice Whieldon has been involved in EIs since 1985.
Based on the ancient method of question-asking or koans, the EI offers participants the chance to directly experience Truth in a moment of samadhi. It is not religious and does not require you to believe anything; only that you want to know the Truth and are willing to put the work in. It is a fully structured, supported environment in which you can devote yourself to this ultimate investigation. The bringing together of inner contemplation with connection and communication is a powerful combination; it is only when we speak what comes into our minds that we really test its truth.
The classic EI is a three day workshop; there is no social interaction and the days are carefully scheduled to free you from distractions and look after your basic needs. You are given a koan/question and everyone begins with the most fundamental question: ‘who am I?’. Other questions are: ‘what am I?’, ‘what is life?’ and ‘what is another?’. You contemplate your question in a dyad, sitting opposite a partner, taking it in turns to contemplate/communicate and receive. The day also includes meditation walks, meals and a talk. Staff look after your needs and check in which how you are doing. The combination of contemplation and communication brings healing and regeneration on its own, and for many people over the years it has also opened the door to a deep knowing of the Truth, experienced directly.
When some Truth is experienced, however fleeting, we finally have the certainty we crave; and this comes from ourselves rather than from something told to us.