The enlightenment technique as done on an Enlightenment Intensive (EI) is a modification of Zen meditation that is designed to give the practitioner an enlightenment experience. The technique was developed by Charles Berner who later was given the name Yogeshware Muni. The idea for the EI and the enlightenment technique came to him in a flash in 1968, which was soon followed by the first Enlightenment Intensive.
Traditional Zen practice is done in silence for several hours a day over many years. The process clears the mind of everything that is in the way of experiencing Truth.
Clearing the mind in this way takes a very long time which was not acceptable to Charles. A direct experience of the Truth, an enlightenment experience, is possible and usually takes a very long time. But, the EI uses a different approach to Zen that greatly speeds up the process of clearing a path through the mind. His idea was to combine communication with Zen. The results were much more than he could have ever expected.
An EI is a three day retreat where you do the enlightenment technique for 18 hours a day for the entire three days. Over the years the average number of people that have an enlightenment experiences on any EI is about a third. That is a phenomenal number! And it has been found that any individual taking three EIs has about a 90 percent chance of having a breakthrough to enlightenment.
The Enlightenment technique is a contemplation of self, life or other with the four questions used being, “Who am I?” “What am I?” “What is life?” “What is another?” All enlightenment is ultimately Self enlightenment. Because of this many enlightenment masters, those who give EIs, say to only use “Who am I?” and “What am I?” For this article only contemplation of the self and self enlightenment will be discussed.
There are two main parts to the enlightenment technique, self reflection and being open to who or what that is. The first part is the intention, the second is the surrender. Both are essential for a major breakthrough like and enlightenment. Put together these two parts are called contemplation.
The first part of this contemplation is put your attention on yourself, that which you most appear to be in the moment. You question yourself with “who am I?” Or “what am I?” then notice who or what you are now. In the EI you have added power because your partner will give you an instruction, they will say, “Tell me who you are.” Then you do that. When alone you take the initiative and question yourself.
In a way, the technique is a constant questioning of who or what you are. It is a continuous questioning of yourself; “Who am I?”
Your immediate experience of yourself will change as you do the technique. At first you may notice yourself as your name, your job, or as part of some relationship. Each time you start fresh and be with that most obvious self. This is a gradual evolution of the self.
Once you have your attention firmly on who you experience yourself to be you intend to directly experience the truth of that. Your intention is your direction, you have a particular direction to go. If you want to get somewhere in your car you don’t just drive around aimlessly, you set your direction and go that way. That is what you are doing with your intention.
Once you’ve set your intention, your direction, you sit and stay open. Keep your attention on what you most appear to be and stay open to the truth of yourself, be open to being anything.
Being open to anything can be the hardest part of this process. You start with no idea about the Truth of yourself, so you sit there with your attention boring a hole toward that truth, and stay open. It is that lack of surety that holds us back from the Truth. Not being sure of the truth of yourself is scary, and the mind will fight to the death to avoid it. The mind/ego doesn’t want to give up control, so it fights tooth and nail.
In a way, enlightenment is a death. The you that you currently are has to die for the you that you really are to be. There is a leap that must be taken, you have to throw yourself into the abyss. And, you have to do that each time you go in and focus on the Truth of yourself.
Eventually, if you continue to do this technique for long enough, you will break through to the truth of Self. You will merge with yourself so that there is nothing but You.
At this point, you still have a mind, you will still act and react according to your personality. But, it will suddenly be much easier to disengage from whatever is happening. You will automatically start treating others better, and be a more loving person. You will also start to attract more opportunities to grow and achieve according to your desire.