personal accounts

"I cried for most of the second day just with relief..."

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. I cried for most of the second day with relief at realising that many of my fears were skewed perceptions of reality, and in effect, groundless. They had developed as a result of my feeling unable to 'check them out' in my normal life for fear of criticism. (S.C.)

"All because I know I exist..."

My first direct experience was so quick I missed it. It only became apparent in the later telling of it that it had indeed been a very brief glimpse of Truth. I was working on 'Who am I'. I had realised, during the course of one of the exercises, that I had not been communicating fully. What had come up as a result of my contemplation had been a lot about my RAF career - most of what I perceived as bad things, for me. Not one thing had come up - they had all come up, more or less at the same time. I was faced with communicating that, "A lot of stuff has just come up about various incidents in my time in the RAF", or communicating every incident, and I chose the former. It quickly became apparent that I had chosen the wrong option, because all of the bad stuff kept coming up again, every time I put my attention on myself. With help from the Master I saw that I had little choice, if I wanted to make this process work, other than to communicate my way, piecemeal, through every one of those incidents that had come to my awareness as a result of putting my attention on me. I was very unhappy about this. I could see that all I had to say would take me a month of dyads, but there was no shortcut. I had already tried that. So, with a very heavy heart, I began the telling of the incidents, as briefly as I could, and was saved by the bell signifying the end of that session.

Still feeling very low, and disappointed by all that I had to do, and by how long it was going to take, and grimly aware that I would never get through it all by the time this Enlightenment Intensive ended, I went outside to put my boots on for the work period, and as I looked into one boot, I saw one of my dog's blond hairs nestling in the bottom. I was inexplicably filled with the most ridiculous depth of overwhelming love for my dog, and then I knew that I exist. That was it. The love, then the words, and the knowing of it. I still can't explain it. But I know I exist. And at the same time - the great back-yards-full of stuff that I had to communicate about all the crucifying incidents I suffered in the RAF? Gone - all gone. Wiped out. Gone. From that day to this I have been able to talk about all that was wonderful, and all that was awful, about my time in the RAF with joy, freedom, compassion (for me) and honesty - and not a qualm about how others might perceive me, or how I might be judged if I say this, or that... Nothing. All because I know I exist. It's bizarre. Fantastic, though.

I have a 'self' now. I didn't realise this was me. The steady dawning that I am this being that I am, has been the single most staggering and fantastic realization of my life. I am liberated. This is me. I own myself. I own all the good, the not-so-good and the frankly shabby. It's all me, and I accept and love me. That's what my direct experience of Truth has done for me.

I am no longer a hologram, a representation of someone I hoped others would find acceptable. I lived permanently in fear of discovery of what I felt was the real me - some worthless grub not fit to be on the face of the earth. Ha! This being that I have helped to create, is me, and has been all along. And I really like me! (S.C.)

"the luxury of a personal space without distractions..."

The first day I seemed to spend rehashing old problems as if I needed to get old problems out of the way. What a difference it made to articulate, to actually say in spoken words, thoughts and feelings I had stewed over for years. And to be listened to! To grope for the fragile framework of an insight and not have it demolished by a dismissive remark such as "All you need to do is..." To reveal a hesitancy or vulnerability and not have it ignored with simplistic value judgements such as "There's nothing to stop you...." Much more painful was finding myself having to move away from judgements or positions I had held for years, to accept responsibility for my actions - or lack of action. I could no longer blame others for situations I could have done something about myself. But there were also insights which brought a sense of freedom: I no longer feel a need to wear the wedding ring from a relationship that had failed. I was able to accept that since I had moved on myself that 'significant others' - friends, family members, work colleagues, a partner - could cease to be significant and would fall out of my life. I seemed to be looking at my life with my own eyes rather than seeing it as it would be viewed by others.

With decades of life experience re-evaluated, I felt I had reached a point of stillness like a swimmer moving from the choppiness of surface water to the calm of deeper levels ready to drift with the underlying currents. At this stage words seemed to disappear. I found myself experiencing sensory experience directly like waking dreams full of colour and symbolism which I had to struggle to convey. Yet I was suspicious of this stage too! Was I just telling myself stories? Was my mind creating yet more distractions?

For there is a relentless quality to an Intensive. We had been asked to focus on the question "Who am I?" and the Intensive is so structured that each one of us was confronted with that again and again. By the end of the three days I had not had a 'direct experience of Truth' but I had the luxury of a personal space without distractions in which to get to know my Self. I was left with a yearning for more. (G.E.M.)

"It was the first time that I felt capable of telling the truth..."

I didn't have a direct experience on my first Intensive but what I got out of it, through doing the technique, had a huge effect on my life. It was the first time that I felt capable of telling the truth, both to another person and to myself. This was and still is a very liberating thing for me to do.I was afraid of what I would find out about myself if I let thoughts come into my head without some sort of filter. I also thought other people would find out something unspeakably awful about me and that was too much to bear. During the intensive lots of thoughts came up that I had to communicate that were really difficult but it was OK because they were true. I had thought them. They were and are me. I have taken this simple fact into the rest of my life and in trying to accept all of me, the good and the bad, I feel more at home in the world.(R.L.)

" The person I thought I was was blown away and I was left..."

The first direct experience of the Truth that I had came totally by surprise. I had been vaguely and increasingly unhappy about who I was, I felt like I was becoming more and more fearful and didn't know how to get out of it. I realised that I couldn't give my friends and family a straight answer to any question because I was only concerned with keeping up the facade of who I thought I was. I had to be right about everything. I identified myself as an Atheist, sceptical science type and everyone else was deluded, especially people who believed in an absolute reality.

A close friend confronted me one night with "I've known you for five years, but I don't know who you are". This totally freaked me out and there seemed two options; palm him off with my same old shit or own up to the fact that he was right and that I was hiding from him and everyone else. I went for the latter and the next night I had a direct experience of who I was. On the train on the way home I suddenly got that I was really alive, that I did exist. Then when I got back to my digs my body had unstoppable waves of energy going through it as I sat down and everything in the room was bathed in a golden light. I was drawn to look in the mirror and saw myself totally free from any judgements and realised for the first time in my life that I was OK. In fact at that moment I loved myself unconditionally.

After this I realised that who I thought I was before was a construction of ideas that kept me in an ever more restrictive prison. The person I thought I was was blown away and I was left. The energy waves and light were impossible to explain, as was my certainty about now knowing who I was (and still am). The stream of realisations from this event was life changing. I could now look people in the eye when I talked to them, I could give my friends and family straight answers and it was alright to be wrong about things. It was not a magic answer to all my problems, but I can now see them from a perspective that gives me a choice to do something about them (R.L.)

It was during lunch that I had the most amazing experience of my life...

As a newcomer to the growth field, I had no experience of counselling or therapy (despite being a psychologist), and I was unused to sharing my thoughts and feelings with complete strangers. I did like the idea of contemplating who I am, however. At this point in my life I was literally anxious to know myself. Outwardly I presented a well-rehearsed "cool dude" persona. But inwardly I saw myself as a shy, nervous oaf, with a very dark shadow. I'd been in an identity crisis since my teens, and now, approaching my thirtieth birthday, I reckoned it was time I stopped playing games and "found my true self" - if I had such a thing. I reckoned I'd probably benefit by diving in at the deep end and doing some really heavy work on myself. I had nothing to lose ... though the more I found out about this Enlightenment Intensive process, the more I feared it might send me round the bend for good!

Anyway, I did it. And it was one hell of a shock. The daily schedule ran from about six in the morning to about eleven at night, and it was "Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?" virtually all the way. No social chat, no alcohol or coffee, no wristwatch, no shaving or cosmetics - and nothing to do but contemplate a question. Worse still, I was a dedicated carnivore, and they had me on a meat-free diet. I didn't know how I was going to make it!

The Master said that we should communicate whatever occurred as a result of our contemplation, no matter how trivial, embarrassing, weird, or painful. She explained that by communicating this stuff as it emerges, it is cleared out and makes room for something else. Rather than getting stuck on particular thoughts, feelings or memories, we would be able to keep moving through the mind's 'stuff' towards the truth itself.

And sure enough I found myself, like everybody else, going through all manner of stuff during the three days - anxiety, amusement, boredom, frustration, happiness, grief. On the first day I was mostly affected by the orderliness of the situation - the lack of everyday distractions, like TV. It's amazing how interesting wallpaper can seem once the inward search begins to bite! Without the support of the group structure as a constant reminder, I know I wouldn't have had the will-power to stay with the technique. Some people soon wanted to leave, but the Master assured us that resistances will come and go all the time. I just resolved to see it through and give it my best shot.

On the second day it was more like taking the lid off my unconscious. I had all sorts of spontaneous memories, feelings, images, fantasies, as did others in the group.

Seeing others taking risks to say what was really going on for them was, for me, incredibly inspiring, and I began to feel very close to several in the group, despite the formalities. That second day was the noisiest - there was screaming, shouting, hysterical laughter, yet all the time we remained sitting respectfully in our neat rows!

On the third day there was a calmer, more 'studious' atmosphere. A warm trust had developed within the group, and almost everyone was by now well into the process. The Master had said that people almost inevitably go through a crisis as the process deepens, and late in the morning I was going through one. Basically, I kept 'seeing' my gravestone, as if my unconscious was getting me to accept that one day I'm going to die, something which I found terrifying. The last thing I wanted to do was to confront that fear - so here it was, bang on cue. I started shaking and panting as I communicated it to my partner, but I finally got it out. Then it was time for lunch, and the whole thing was behind me.

It was during lunch that I had the most amazing experience of my life. There came a timeless moment at which I just knew who I was. It was as if I had always known it, but had simply forgotten. It was so obvious, yet so marvellous! I started laughing uncontrollably, until a passing Monitor got me to communicate it to her. As I did so, I understood why communication is the key to this process. In communicating, that moment of knowing returned, leaving me so awestruck and humbled by its reality that my rational mind could never deny the experience.

I had read of people having spontaneous and totally unexpected mystical experiences. One moment they are out walking the dog, the next moment they are in blissful union with ... well, whatever. Then moments later they are back to normal, only now their lives have been changed for good. I knew I had just experienced something of this sort. Despite all my efforts I hadn't made it happen, it had just come out of the blue, like an act of grace.

Since that first one, I have taken numerous more Enlightenment Intensives. As a result of being blessed with more and more encounters with truth, my initial scepticism has given way to a developing spirituality and self-knowledge grounded in absolute reality.(B.M.)

"it will always be with me..."

I took a lot of 3 day Intensives over a good few years before I had an experience of the Truth. I forget exactly how many but I know there was a period of 8 years between the very first Intensive I attended and the one where I had an experience. It got really really tough at times and I wondered whether it would be best for me to give it all up. But eventually it was worth all the doubt and the yearning because the Truth that I experienced was undeniably mine and mine alone. 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.(M.C.)

"I grow stronger through it all..."

Recently I took part in a 2 week Intensive. I was working on the question, "What am I?" Although I didn't have an experience, I've come away with a strong sense of my Self that I can get in touch with no matter what else is going on for me. I've got an awareness that all is well on some fundamental level. On day 8 I realised that I accept every part of myself, including my disappointments, failures and distractions. I'd been thinking that being single, childless and having experienced depression were all things to distance myself from, to seek to change. I'd been trying to accommodate these unsavoury aspects of myself on the basis that I'd be far better off without them. But I know that I would not be who I am now if I hadn't been through the hard times and that I grow stronger through it all. When I think about the Truth I think of joy and gratitude beyond measure. (M.C.)