The Enlightenment Intensive
To know yourself in truth, and
to speak with a natural honesty,
To receive others in truth,
and without labels and prejudice;
To live life more consciously
and effectively, in genuine contact
and in genuine relationship to all things,
To live the meaning of your life
that goes beyond all meanings.
— Paul Weiss
True Heart/True Mind
True Heart/ True Mind is an intensive 3-day retreat promoting a direct experience of our original nature no different than that spoken of in zen, dzogchen, Sufism and other enlightenment traditions. As Jack Kornfield has written: “As we awaken we discover that we are not limited by who we think we are. All the stories we tell ourselves – the judgments, the problems, the whole identity of the small self, the body of fear’ – can be released in a moment, and a timeless sense of grace and liberation can open for us.”
Paul Weiss has offered these retreats at The Whole Health Center in Bar Harbor for the past twenty-five years, drawing people from all over the world to participate in this uniquely transformative process.
WHAT IS THE TRUE HEART/TRUE MIND INTENSIVE? True Heart/True Mind is a unique approach to self-awakening that integrates ancient contemplation and modern communication techniques. It is not just a workshop. It is a slice of your own life with all the routine distractions taken away. It is a time to come face to face with the essential nature of your self and the essential nature of being. It is a greenhouse that fosters and illumines the natural processes of the self, confronting its conditioned tendencies, obstructions, distractions, and contradictions in the light of its inherent desire for freedom, love, and union.
It is an occasion for those willing to let their soul’s search for truth and self-realization become their ruling passion for at least these three days.
It prompts nothing less than the transformation of the mind’s paradigm: from distraction to devotion, from fixation to openness, from survival to growth. From figuring, labeling, and managing reality to the quiet opening of awareness that lets reality speak to us. And from a habitual social response to others, with all of its projections, to opening to others at the essential level of what it means to be a human being. It is the foundation of all spiritual work.
It is a wholly simple, benign, and loving process, in which each person’s unfolding occurs in his or her own time. But because the schedule is rigorous, and you are left with no distraction from the moment-to-moment experience of self, it may well be one of the hardest experiences of your life.
ORIGINS. The format of True Heart/True Mind was first envisioned in 1969, and developed and refined over the next ten years by Charles Berner. It is widely known as the Enlightenment Intensive. It was designed to enable you to directly experience your true self – not the self that we commonly experience as separate and apart from others, caught within the walls of its own opinions and attitudes, but that self which simply and freely participates in the ‘true nature’ of what everything is. In some traditions that has been called an enlightenment experience.
The barrier to such a direct experience of reality is our attachment to all those indirect mechanisms by which we form conclusions about reality: our projections, preconceptions, and judgments; fixed attitudes and emotional states; even our intellectual and analytical faculties. True Heart/True Mind provides a non-distractive, supportive, and safe environment in which you can learn to de-identify with your conditioned points of view, and open up to the full dimension of who you are.
THREE KEY ELEMENTS. There are three key elements that are conducive to the awakening of the self, whether we envision this awakening as taking place over lifetimes or in the space of a moment: 1. Sincere Intention to experience things as they are, without prejudice; 2. Openness to whatever arises in your experience, in keeping with that intention; 3. Honesty in communicating to another about the reality of your experience, without need to be more – or less – than you are. Communication is a crucial element that gives True Heart/True Mind much of its power.
As we grow in openness, we grow in our capacity to notice our own actual experience of self, without either denying or overlooking it; and in our capacity to communicate that experience to another with honesty and accuracy. This enables us to release the fixity of our identification with that experience or with our separative and self-limiting mental states. Ultimately we resume that individuality which is already simply free, and in relationship to things (and others) as they are.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE INTENSIVE. The True Heart/True Mind Intensive begins with individual interviews late Thursday afternoon and an orientation talk later that evening. It concludes with an informal sharing and integration session on Monday morning. During the interim we will be in full retreat from the outside world. Even our watches will be set aside. Except for communication in the ‘dyads,’ this is essentially a silent retreat without social interaction. The intent is to spend every waking moment learning to focus only on our contemplation.
The heart of the Intensive format is a unique dyad process that integrates contemplation on the question “Who am I?” with communication to your partner about what is arising as a result of your contemplation. You will learn to focus more accurately on the truth of the moment and to feel confident to communicate it to others. Working together with rotating partners, from early morning to late at night, each person unfolds layers of personal identity, gradually letting go of the stories and fixations, until we have exhausted all but our openness to the essential nature of ‘self’ and ‘other.’ This dyad process is alternated with contemplative periods of walking, sitting, exercise, lecture, rest, and meals.
For many, this openness and intention allows for a dramatic breakthrough in experience, as by some grace we are suddenly relieved of our self-clinging and directly glimpse our true nature. But such an awakening – at whatever level it might occur – is not something apart from the ongoing maturation of our being, and the practice, or process, that supports it. And it is in this supportive practice that we are being schooled at the Intensive.
WHY IS THIS INTENSIVE HARD? The Intensive is hard because it is your real spiritual process happening in real time. It is an intensification of your life, not an avoidance of it. Whatever struggles the mind is likely to present it is likely to present here, as hour after hour you’ve told all your stories, run into all your own barriers, communicated the beliefs, the emotions, the fantasies, the self-judgments, and you’re still sitting there with no apparent way forward and no way back. The mind is being asked to function in a new way, and you may feel completely stuck. At this point you may announce to your partner with great conviction and eloquence that the process doesn’t work, that it’s certainly not for you, and that you clearly made a big mistake in coming here. Has your life ever felt like that?
WHAT THIS INTENSIVE ISN’T. If you have experienced other kinds of Intensives, know that this one may be very different. It is not intended as a “cathartic process,” although you are encouraged to freely communicate the thoughts and emotions that are arising in your contemplation. Neither is it a therapeutic or group support process; nor is it intended to problem-solve or resolve life crises. Yet the structure, the boundaries, the rich contact with others, and the careful attention of the staff will support you in doing the deepest kind of personal work. The true intent of the Intensive is to directly experience who it is that is living your life.
WHY AM I DOING THIS? The demands of the Intensive are balanced by the breakthroughs, the love and the openness, and by a contact with others and with yourself perhaps deeper than you have ever known. The awakening to Self is an end in itself, and at the same time an essential foundation for our continued growth. Whatever level of experiencing occurs for a participant at an Intensive, most will experience a greater integration, authenticity, and lightness of being; and an increased capacity for relationship, authentic communication of reality, spontaneity, and openness to the reality of others. The great sage Hillel said, “If I am not for me, who will be? And if I am not for you, what am I? And if not now, when?”
We encourage you to see True Heart/True Mind not as a ‘fix-it’ weekend, but as one more avenue of growth in a life committed to living, loving, and speaking truly.
ABOUT PAUL. Paul Weiss, who leads True Heart/True Mind, is a teacher, poet, and multi-modal therapist who has directed The Whole Health Center in Bar Harbor, Maine since 1981. He uses the principles of the Intensive in his therapeutic work with individuals and couples. He began his practice of zen and tai chi in 1966, studying under several teachers in and out of monastic settings. Introduced to the Enlightenment Intensive process in 1983, Paul has been conducting Intensives under the name True Heart, True Mind since 1984. He first brought the Intensive to Kripalu in September, 1999. Paul’s studies of meditation and qi gong have taken him on many trips to India and to China, where he has been certified to teach by three different schools of qi gong.
For more information or to enroll please contact Paul either by email at The Whole Health Center or by phone at 207-288-4128.
TRUE HEART/TRUE MIND:
WHAT PARTICIPANTS HAVE WRITTEN
The True Heart/True Mind Intensive provides us an opportunity for many levels of growth and transformation, including profound instances of sudden awakening or a direct seeing into the nature of reality that doesn’t depend on books or the opinions of others. Some of the excerpts below recount the self-realization experiences of ordinary men and women. What these excerpts do not convey is the hard work within the Intensive that leads up to them. There are no shortcuts.
¤ “Somewhere in the course of the weekend everything changed. I came to a place where the mind had nothing left to offer. For the first time in decades it became still. There were no thoughts left, no clever things to say, no bright ideas about who I was, nothing but stillness. In that stillness I found myself, directly experiencing the me that was beneath all the stuff, that was part of eternal being. I knew absolutely that the stuff is just seaweed that clings to us, that below and beyond is the ceaseless river of which we are all part. At that moment I became a different person – me.”
Bettina Dudley, 1994 – Town Hill
¤ “As a direct result of the Intensive I experienced a transformation beyond imagining. The fog of confusion has lifted and I enjoy a clarity that I never expected to have. The difficulty with awakening lies not in its complexity, but in its simplicity. I am an expression of consciousness. Not separate. I do not breathe, I am being breathed. Thanks for guiding me back in the direction of simple truth each time my mind beckoned me to do otherwise. Contemplation works.”
Mickey Lynn, 2001 – Camden
¤ “I was beyond self in a vast, open, tranquil place. Between great waves of tearful ecstasy was a deep awareness of being welcomed. The word outrageous kept coming up, the outrageousness of being! Everything I looked at seemed outrageously incredible, sacred, precious, pure essence. Every other is EVERYTHING. And I knew that everything is exactly perfect as it is. There is no judgment here. The concept of ‘self’ and ‘other’ is an illusion of the human mind. It is all ONE. …I can see through pain to the sacredness of every living thing. And, when my own pain comes up, it too is part of everything and to be fondly welcomed.”
Ann Hooke, 1998 – Deer Isle
¤ “Suddenly the door opens. My agenda is meaningless. The mind has only one part to play: Be Still! There are no words to convey my awareness from then on. Who I really AM has nothing to do with “my issues.” I kept thinking it was something that would be all mine. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not ownable, not measurable. It is everything. Nothing has been the same since.”
Barbara Cegelis, 1989 – Southwest Harbor
¤ “A butterfly doesn’t have to be called a butterfly. That pillow is simply there, and no name can make it more there or less. All my words are swept away as soon as they arrive, because
whatever I am saying points to no thing, and whatever I am cannot be said. And even though I am a person, I am not; and even though I say “I,” I have no I. I am just here and I am so happy that tears flow all by themselves, and the birds and the eyes of another IS IT. It is all that simple. Simply is. And I just wait to see what shows up.”
Michelle Grodon, 2001 – New York
¤ “I was trying desperately to stifle this (laughter) when I caught sight of Paul behind my partner, and he made a motion that had the most incredible effect – it was sort of an invitation to let it come. And I was literally blown away. I’m not sure I remember everything I did, but I was shouting ‘I’m here, I’m here’ and pounding my fists on my chest (yes, Tarzan-like). I remember the bell ringing and I said I didn’t want to stop and we all laughed and it kept coming. I felt as if the top of my head had come open, and there was such joy and gratitude to everyone, and I cried and cried. I remember saying, ‘I want to know it all, I want to know it all.’ And to my partner, whose question was ‘What is another?’ I said, ‘Look – this is what another is!’”
David Sanderson, 1997 – Lamoine
¤ “The Enlightenment Intensive was both enlightening and intensive. I experienced boredom, mental anguish, energy, peace, joy, love, the interconnectedness of all creation, the mutability of time and space, and what fun it is to laugh uncontrollably. We journeyed from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again….and again. There was also the added bonus of the group bonding – creating a loving family feeling. Paul Weiss and his staff provided impeccable leadership and direction as we were swiftly brought into deeper levels of awareness of our true nature. Since the Intensive, I’ve noticed a greater joy and appreciation in interacting with people and nature, along with a strong desire to watch the comedy channel. There’s also an appreciation for life as it is and a renewed desire to become more conscious of our divine birthright, which is to know ourselves and to know God.”
Richard Handel, 1997 – Somesville
¤ “Late Saturday, my heart aches and my ribs are cinched by that familiar steel band. My heart suddenly opens – it is not my heart, it is THE HEART OF GOD – infinitely open, infinitely compassionate, loving, capable of receiving and holding all pain….I breathe deeply and freely. The steel band that cramped my chest melts into the heart of God. Sunday morning: I am turned inside out. My tender flame of love – that I always felt I needed to protect deep within – is suddenly all on the outside streaming down over me, into and out from me. There is no outside and inside. That which I called my smile is not my smile – it belongs to the universe.”
Ann Hooke, 2003 – Deer Isle
¤ Through the floating dust
A single shaft of light
Birth and death do not
Distract. The clear and present
Source chooses to shine.
F. J., 1994 – Bar Harbor
¤ “Pure loving presence, no dogma, no pretense, no hype or masks. With refreshing simplicity, sharp focus, and crystal clear, compassionate guidance, Paul engaged us in a difficult dyad process with ease and fluidity, and with his team, they remained a genuine, loving, supportive, and inspiring presence throughout. The Intensive gifted me with a direct experience of my true self and practical tools and inspiration for continued practice and integration of self-realization. I heartily encourage ALL who are deeply committed to Self Realization and the upliftment of humanity to not miss this divinely inspired Intensive. I thank my Kriya Yoga master, Govindan, for encouraging us to take it.”
Gita Masiques, 2001 – Toronto, Canada
¤ “The Enlightenment Intensive appears as one of the most exact, the most rigorous, and the most truthful methods of knowing the self among all those which have emerged in the course of humanistic psychology.”
Jacques de Panafieu (in the French publication, Psychologie)
See more about True Heart / True Mind under More True Heart / True Mind.