I have just completed a seven-day Enlightenment Intensive (EI), which must be the best spiritual workshop I have attended, perhaps ever.
I would have said some years ago that the est Training was perhaps the best transformational experience I've ever participated in, but I’m afraid I think a seven-day EI surpasses even est. And I think that is hard to do.
At the heart of the Enlightenment Intensive is the use of paired communication, called a "dyad." The listener asks the contemplator a question such as "Tell me who you are" or "Tell me what love is."
From here the format involves two steps. The first step is the contemplator closing his (or her - I won't repeat both pronouns) eyes and going through a process. He gets a sense of what EI calls the “object of enlightenment.” In my case, it was myself (in other cases, it might be "another" or "life" or "love"). He then intends to directly experience that object. He opens himself to a direct experience of it and takes what he gets. He sits for a short while with his eyes closed, contemplating.
The second step involves communicating to the listener what arose and then spending the remainder of his turn (five minutes) communicating whatever else there is to be communicated on the subject.
At five minutes, a gong sounds and the two participants reverse roles. Each partner takes four turns in a cycle.
The listening partner may not comment on the contemplator’s communication – either in the dyad or at any other time. The environment is as safe as it possibly can be. Many people who take Intensives have suffered greatly in their lives. Unless the space is made absolutely holy and safe, they could not penetrate through the layers that have been created over the years.
I did what I might have done at est - expose my masks, reveal my pretenses and agendas – how I was managing my impression, the ways in which I was allowing my ego to control, etc. I went down through layer after layer in what was for me deep psychological surgery.
The first layer was my pretense. The second was my personality, which was deconstructed. The third saw me drop my ego and reach a state of being or presence that est would have called a "transformational" experience -- a movement from unconscious awareness to conscious awareness. The fourth saw me give up “doership” and allow God to speak, talk, eat, and walk through me. The fifth shift saw me dissolve in the energy that was rising in me.
The experience I had at the end of the retreat I would not call “enlightenment.” I reserve that term for anything including, and above, fourth-chakra illumination. Among experiences I would call what I had a “squeaker,” a taste of things to come.
<p>However, I have seen others around me get enlightened in what I would say was at least fourth-chakra experiences. I am totally awed by what I saw.
What I am going through at this moment is the ecstacy of experiencing the divine energy sporting through me. I have spent seven days weeping and turning myself inside out to be rewarded by a feather touch of God's Hand.
Undoubtedly this energy will disappear as I re-enter the world and start to work again (enlightenment is only permanent after a level Sri Ramakrishna calls "vijnana" and Ramana Maharshi, "sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi"). But I have a few days to relish it and look forward to the next Enlightenment Intensive.
For this was I made: that through me God should meet God and, through that meeting, enjoy His own Bliss. When I meet Him (and enlightenment is His gift alone), it will be because I have gotten out of the way. I am bait waiting to be swallowed by a great Fish, bread baking in God’s oven for His own consumption and pleasure.
I am eternally grateful for the experience I have had, for the insights it contributed, and for the divine energy that continues to play within me, assuring me of God’s existence and of my own identity with Him.
I ache for my EI group, so close did we become. But I know September is coming and, when it does, I will do another seven-day Intensive.