The Enlightenment Intensive

During the explosion of new or improved self-help techniques that emerged in the 1960’s, Charles Berner started teaching a modification of an age old form of Eastern meditation. The approach was very well known, and Kipling describes it in his book Kim. It was also the method recommended by the sage Ramana Maharshi. It is simply to ask oneself the question – Who am I? This was usually done alone, and took possibly years to carry the meditation through the surface layers of self to a direct experience of ones fundamental nature. Berner discovered that by working with a partner the results of this technique were speeded up to an unbelievable degree. The results were that one uncovered and experienced who one really was, beyond surface doubts and uncertainties. Berner called this technique Enlightenment Intensive.

Although Enlightenment Intensives do not start from the point of free flowing movement, I see them as connected to inner-directed movement because they directly allow the same process to work. They encourage an open allowing state of mind that allows whatever you truly are in yourself to emerge and be known. When that emerges in the process it does become strong feeling and movement.

The format is very simple. A group of people work together. You sit opposite a partner who asks a question you have previously chosen to work with. The question can be ‘Tell me who you are’, or ‘Tell me what you are’. After making an intention to have a direct experience of who or what you are, you take note of what you experience each moment, and report it to your partner.

It is stressed that you keep an open allowing state of mind. When I experienced this way of working I was reminded of a vacuum cleaner. The open state of mind resembles a vacuum that sucks up any debris lying around and so cleanses one of attitudes and concepts that have been lying around for ages.

An example of this is given by a man: “I had been using the method of  being asked the question, “Who are are you?”  for a couple of days, But I can describe what happened to me in a few words, I got to the point where I realised that the answer I was looking for was myself. So, why was there any need to make an effort to find oneself? The more one sought an answer, the less likely one was to find it. All effort dropped away and I existed in a simple state of being, of clear existence, for hours. My ego seemed to melt, yet it was still there, it hadn’t been destroyed or overcome, or denied. It had simply dropped like effort from the limbs when we sleep.

In this state I had a wonderful sense that I had been let into the Garden of Eden again. Everybody was always in the Garden but they cannot see it because they have lost their innocence. They have covered up their perception of it with too many thoughts, opinions, struggles, attitudes, fears, dreams and hopes. I could see that we play thoughts and attitudes like records, and these were not ourselves. I knew myself as the empty awareness of existence. It was heaven, it was peace, it was beyond any effort.

At one point I suddenly realised the meaning of the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland. I was touching the radiance, the self existent gentle joy of existence, and my ego was not there. It had melted, disappeared. And this was what I saw had happened to the Cheshire Cat. All that was left was the smile, hanging in emptiness. That was how I felt, like a smile hanging in space.”

This is the total practice, but its simplicity hides a great deal of value. Although it may sound very cerebral – that one sits and responds to a question – in fact the thinking mind is transcended. At times the body is powerfully affected, along with the emotions.


Practised as a intensive process over several days. This means it is an occasional event rather than an ongoing practice. Therefore availability depends upon whether you are near to Intensives being run. These are not frequent but are reasonably accessible.


Fairly expensive because it needs the use of a premises and helpers over several days. I paid £140 for three days, inclusive of food and lodging. The unwaged can get a lower price.


Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved