"The direct experience turned my whole world upside down. I understood why I had suffered so much in my life. I realised that I had got everything wrong - I had thought that things in life just happened to me. I am no longer a victim. My life is an opportunity."

"I had built up quite a picture of enlightenment over time, based on what I'd heard from my friends and from other participants on Intensives, and everything I'd read about. But to have my own experience of the Absolute has been of immense value. It is something I can go back to for strength and inspiration; it will always be with me."

"At my first two Enlightenment Intensives I didn't have a direct experience. I got rid of so much baggage, though, by managing to express thoughts and feelings and fears, that I had never before felt able to express, in an atmosphere of complete and unconditional acceptance. I cried for most of the first day just with relief at being in a safe environment for what felt like the first time in my life."

the benefits of enlightenment intensives

is there an absolute truth?

Enlightenment Intensives can make spirituality real for people, providing an opportunity for them to get that the Truth actually is and that seeking and experiencing Truth for oneself is a serious endeavour. Having even the most fleeting enlightenment experience will resolve completely for a participant the issue of whether there is an Absolute Truth or not.

During the dyad exercises many participants will also witness the enlightenment of others. This contact with the Absolute is indirect, but can be an extraordinary experience and an extremely powerful aspect of an Enlightenment Intensive. An individual's understanding of spirituality can be transformed simply as a result of witnessing another person's enlightenment experience.

genuine opportunity to reach enlightenment within a short space of time

Tens of thousands of ordinary individuals have had enlightenment experiences on Enlightenment Intensives since they began running in the 1960s, including a high ratio of those who are new to spiritual practice. Whereas traditional methods of attaining enlightenment often take years, Enlightenment Intensives have a proven track record of enabling people to have enlightenment experiences within a standard three day format. The reason why Intensives are so successful lies in the fusion of Eastern spiritual contemplative tools with Western psychological wisdom which together form the basis for the Enlightenment Intensive format. It is the unusual and innovative combination of a focusing technique with honest communication which offers a genuine possibility of enlightenment within as little as three days.

value of recognising the Absolute Truth

Although unusual, direct experiences do not only occur as part of spiritual practices. Ordinary people have moments of experiencing the Absolute in their everyday life, only they do not recognise these for what they are. They may have a sudden instant of being profoundly moved and affected, but not know why, and will generally not pay any further attention to what happened to them. When enlightenment experiences occur in this context, remaining generally unrecognised and not taking place within the supportive framework of conscious spiritual practice, much of their power to inform and benefit a person's life is lost.

When enlightenment experiences occur within the framework of a formal spiritual retreat such as an Enlightenment Intensive however, then these experiences have the power to affect an individual quite deeply. When a person directly experiences the Truth and then consciously acknowledges to themselves and others that this is what has happened, they are likely to be faced with the issue of whether they are living in accordance with the Truth that they have just discovered. They usually then begin to engage in a process of reviewing and re-orienting the choices they make which continues beyond the retreat. In this context the enlightenment experience they had is likely to remain alive for them as an important reference point and source of direction.

total spiritual freedom

A key feature of Enlightenment Intensives is their fundamental freedom from any religious tradition or belief system. Their one and only focus is enlightenment, with no attempt made to interpret this for the individual.

In this modern day and age, separating enlightenment from the established spiritual traditions has a strong relevance and function. The approach fits very well with Westerners in particular, where individualism is a strong cultural norm. Many Western people interested in enlightenment find it hard to accept some of the traditions of Buddhist orders, Christian churches, or other organised religions. Yet for those who are drawn to spirituality it can sometimes seem as though there is little choice but to accept whole belief systems which one may not particularly care for, in order to benefit from the attached spiritual teachings and support which are of interest.

Enlightenment Intensives provide a way for those who are serious about seeking the Truth to do so without having to take on a series of trappings, customs and beliefs in addition. Participants on an Enlightenment Intensive are there simply because they want the Truth and all that is required of them is their inner commitment to seeking the Truth. Beyond this, it is of no concern whether a participant is pro-God, anti-God, agnostic, atheist, Quaker, Sikh or Buddhist. This ability to cater to participants of all beliefs gives Enlightenment Intensives an important place in the range of spiritual retreats available.

The approach is also useful for beginners on the spiritual quest who may know nothing at all about the myriad of spiritual traditions out there and not want to commit to one when they are still at the beginning of their Truth seeking path.

the experience of deep inner awareness

Whether participants on an Enlightenment Intensive have a direct experience or not, they will nevertheless be engaging intensely in a demanding spiritual endeavour for the duration of the retreat and this can be an eye opener for those who are new to it.

Enlightenment Intensives are not in themselves a growth path. Participating on Intensives will not substitute for the long, sustained spiritual practice and meditation which is generally acknowledged as the way to arrive at deeper enlightenment. However, Enlightenment Intensives are a powerfully introspective retreat, and require people to enquire deeply within themselves in a steady, focused way using a formal contemplative method. The result gives people a taste of what it is like to be deeply honest, surrendered and have a quiet meditative mind. Whilst the sense of mental clarity and clear emptiness that many participants experience as the Enlightenment Intensive unfolds is not sustainable for long after the Intensive has finished, reaching this inner state of deep contemplative awareness can be a revelation and an inspiration to take up meditative practices after the retreat has ended.