The Enlightenment Intensive, as it was called at that time, was designed by Charles Berner in the late 1960’s and arose from the progressive developments that were occurring at that time in the fields of psychology, spirituality, and the raising of one’s consciousness. This technique combined the philosophies and practice of Zen Buddhism with the communication techniques developed by Carl Rogers, and added the intensity of the “encounter groups”, popular at that time in a way that was truly powerful and profound. Though the Contemplation Intensive (C.I) produces many positive effects, its basic purpose can be stated simply: It is to enable a person to experience their true nature, or the truth of ‘who’ and ‘what’ they are.
As the years have gone by, this technique has spread across the world and has actually become more and more relevant with the lifestyle changes occurring in the 90’s and first decade of the 21st century. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced, busy, and what’s truly new for us is the degree to which we are ‘wired in’ and connected to each other and to immense amounts of data and information. We are often overwhelmed by the complexity and activity of our everyday life. At the same time, we see there is a tremendous growth in interest in practices, such as meditation, yoga, and other disciplines that have the purpose of helping us relax, concentrate, focus, and relieve ourselves from the intense stress, confusion, and the perceived lack of meaning or purpose in our lives.
The fact is that for many, the modern life style is making it more difficult than ever to reach the depths necessary to attain an experience of higher consciousness, or even enlightenment itself. The Contemplation Intensive is a real gift for those of us who need or desire to live in this increasingly stressful world while also seeking to experience growth in the development of our consciousness. In fact, there are some people who feel that the 3-day Contemplation Intensive is equivalent to many years of daily meditation as it takes a person into very deep levels of the subconscious and allows blockages that lie within us to be released.
One way to think about the nature of this kind of work is to imagine that our ordinary mind is like a cloudy sky where we sense the existence of a shining and warm Sun, but are unable to see it. Because it’s been cloudy for so long, we have even come to doubt that there is a Sun there at all, even though we see its effects and believe that it must be there somehow. But before we can discover this hoped for Sun, we must find a way to dissipate the intense cloud layer until every single cloud is gone. Only then will we be able to experience the fullness of the Sun. Each of Is that Sun, of which I speak. And the C.I. can create conditions where a person may succeed in experiencing the Sun that each of us really ‘Is’, in its bright and shining Essence, as it brings about a steady clearing of those clouds that block the experience of our own true nature.
It is also important to know that the C.I creates a safe environment for this to happen. A person will be engaged in a process that can break down barriers and release beliefs, held both consciously and unconsciously about onesself, which is what is necessary if we are to experience who we really are. Why? Because those barriers and beliefs are clouds that block our ability to know our true nature. Thus, this process can be thought of as an emptying out of the trash existing in the many layers of our mind.
A Brief Description of the Technique
The C.I. technique is a form of meditation, or perhaps even better said, contemplation. In fact, we are going to learn to contemplate by doing it. Unlike regular contemplation, however, this technique uses a dyadic (two people) approach. Some call it ‘partner-assisted’ meditation.
It is based on a communication process where two people sit across from each other. One person is asked to contemplate an ‘Essence’ question. That person will verbally express to their partner whatever arises in them as a result of the asking of this question. The partner will receive the communication without comment or judgment, but with the Intention of being fully present with their partner as they express what is coming up for them. After a designated period, the roles are reversed and the process continues with the partners alternating between the one who contemplates and expresses and the one who silently witnesses and receives.
This dyadic communication creates an astounding affect that is somewhat difficult to describe. On one hand as the mind releases the “stuff” we know as our ‘internal dialogue’, it can become quite quiet, which in turn enables and encourages deeper material residing in our subconscious to surface. This new material is then expressed and released, and the process continues in this manner. What we are doing is reaching or burrowing into our own subconscious, bringing the discovered material up to the surface, so that it can be released. Many participants describe this intense process as alternating between periods of increasingly deep silence followed by periods of turbulence and stormy thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. This then creates an even deeper silence and the process begins again, until we have reached bottom. And what is bottom? It is Who we are. It is our own true Self or Essence. When all that is false is eliminated, all that can remain is Truth.