Issue 10 (circa 1969)
Enlightenment: Self and Life
New Technique Shortens Time by Factor of 100
Newsletter of the Institute of Ability
Issue 10; Circa 1970
Enlightenment: Self and Life
New Technique Shortens Time by Factor of 100
Newsletter of the Institute of Ability
Enlightenment is an interesting word in itself. Literally it means to put light onto, so one can see what it is he has set out to become conscious about. The first important, well documented enlightenment is that of Buddha. He spent many years in his endeavor to understand and become enlightened about his true nature and about the true nature of life. He finally attained a deep enlightenment after actively working on it 18 to 22 hours a day for 6 to 9 years. With his teachings began one of the first effective civilizing influences on this planet.
Definition of Enlightenment
Abilitism defines enlightenment as becoming conscious of, through direct experience, whatever one has set out to be enlightened about. Direct, as used here, means through no vias or no means by which. If self enlightenment is the goal, one directly becomes conscious of oneself. One employs no vias, nor does he figure it out by a series of logical conclusions. Enlightenment is arrived at through direct experience only (see figure 1).
Self Enlightenment is more easily attained if several concepts are understood. The first to understand is the difference between being conscious of oneself as opposed to knowing oneself. According to Abilitism, consciousness always involves something other than oneself, along with oneself. A person must exist before it is possible for him to be conscious, but there must also be something outside of himself of which he is conscious. An individual can know unto himslef, but it is not possible for him to be conscious of himself by himself. Two different phenomenon are involved. One is self-knowingness by which one knows simply because one is oneself and has the ability to know; then there is the phenomenon of consciousness which involves something other than oneself. It is important to separate these two phenomena if Self-enlightenment is to be attained. An individual already knows who and what he is, but it is completely useless to him in Life. In order for something to be useful, one must have a consciousness of it. The difference between these two phenomena is a very critical point which has been overlooked, as far as I know, by every religion and philosophy on this planet.
Self-enlightenment, then consists not of knowing oneself, but of being conscious of oneself without any vias. This statement imparts some intellectual understanding of what enlightenment is. What is needed at this point is an understanding of the role enlightenment plays in self improvement.
Methods of Self Improvement
There are three ways, that I know of, to acquire self improvement. One way is through education. Learning data and information from others results in a better understanding of Life and thus enables one to live life better. Education is a valid method of self improvement. However, currently in this society, it is the only method of any significance used. The sole answer of the so-called advanced nations to the question, “How to improve?”, is education. It is the only method that has ever worked for them. It doesn’t work very well, but it is successful to some degree. Education helps, but it is not enough, if one is truly interested in self-improvement.
Another self-improvement method is that which involves people understanding each other. By understanding each other, they can relate better and get closer to one another. The pathways of communication are more open between them. Working to better people’s understanding of each other is probably the most important self-improvement approach that exists and Abilitism is highly involved in this work. However, Self-enlightenment does not play a significant part in this activity.
The third method of self-improvement is enlightennient itself. (see figure 2) Enligtenment is not finding out information from others through vias as education is. Neither does it necessarily bring about a better understanding between people. Enlightenment is a separate method of self improvement. In the case of Self-enlightenment, enlightenment is directly experiencing oneself.
Enlightenment was a missing factor in Abilitism until the spring of 1968 when we began our deep experimental research on the subject. It wasn't that I didn’t know anything about Self-enlightenment. I had worked on it in many ways and for many years. I found that the techniques other groups use are drawn out and slow, and that they don’t work very well. I finally became Self-enlightened in 1958, but I didn’t attach much significance to it. Then I realized that certain people’s advancement was being held up because they didn’t know who they were. They didn't know their own nature. They had read about it and heard lectures about it, but they had never had a direct conscious experience of themselves. Therefore, they lacked a state of complete conviction from which to act.
A state of enlightenment is uninvalidatable. An individual experiences himself as a fact, not as a belief, an assumption, or a possibility. He is directly conscious of himself. There are only a few basic facts about life. One of these is the nature of the individual and the experience of this is enlightenment.
Methods of Enlightenment
Many techniques for attaining enlightenment have been used. Perhaps the strongest and best developed technique was that started by Buddha and which has been carried on through Zen Buddhism. They have probably had a higher percentage of success than any other group. However, their techniques are still very long and arduous.
The Yoga approaches are other examples of techniques which have been used. These have often ended in a semi-enlightenment that is usually dependent upon holding the body still. This is a type of somatic state- a samadi. A person first experiences this state through various yoga. His body will get absolutely still. He can retain this state as long as he is not moving, or dealing with his body. It is a true state, but it is not very practical. Enlightenment is more useful if one can walk around and talk with people and be in the depths of dealing in life, and still be in the state of enlightenment. There have been other enlightenment techniques used in the past, and many are still being used today, such as Transcendental meditation, and Love and Inspiration (see table 1). However, to my knowledge, the techniques of Abilitism are the most rapid and the deepest going enlightenment techniques extant today.
Purity of Thot
Self enlightenment consists of an individual creating a thot in his own universe of himself. Thereby he has consciousness. In his own universe means in his realm of thot which is not connected to, related to, or dependent upon anything else. If his thot is related to or dependent upon something else, then it isn’t in his own universe. A thot that is in an individual’s universe is purely itself.
Purity of thot is the crux of Self-enlightenment. Purity of thot means having one thot and one thot only. In Self-enlightenment, this thot is a pure thot of oneself which is not connected with or related to anything. In order to be a pure thot, the thot of oneself can't be in words such as “I am a spirit”. That thot is connected with sounds and words and symbols of those sounds, and it is also connected with the thot “spirit”. Purity of thot means not connected with or related to other things, not even other thots. To become Self-enlightened, an individual must have a pure thot of himself. It must not be connected to any other thot, especially an intellectual idea of who or what he is (see figure 3).
Methods of Creating Pure Thot
There are several ways to create a pure thot, but to do it in a reasonable period of time, there are two choices. The first is to separate oneself and one’s thots from Life, and thereby create an artificial separation from Life. If a person disconnects from Life until there is nothing else but himself, it is relatively easy for him to get the idea of just himself. This is what many teachings and disciplines of the past have led to. It works, but it has a disadvantage. An individual has the idea of himself, but only when he's by himself and not dealing with Life.
Drugs have the same effect, Drugs create an artificial separation between an individual and his brain, and between his brain and the rest of Life. Therefore it is easy for that person to get the thot of himself. However, when the connections to Life are made again, he can no longer hold the thot of himself. He can remember, but that is a thot of the thot; it is a connected thot, not a pure thot. Abilitism does not use the technique of isolation from Life. In Abilitism, one ends up with a state that one can maintain when involved in Life. (see figure 4b) The path of Self-enlightenment that involves entering into Life through a carefully planned out technique will be covered in detail below.
How to Tell if an Individual is Self-Enlightened
The people who speak with true authority and don't act like fakes or personalities are people who are speaking from themselves. An individual who is enlightened speaks from himself and can be distinguished from one who is just relaying learned information. To be able, to speak with honest authority and certainty, a person must be at least Self-enlightened. He must be conscious of who he is. An individual is the source from which things come. But if he thinks he is a relay, he becomes a relayor; however, that is not his true nature.
It is an interesting phenomenon that every person who has become Self-enlightened tells the same story of who he is. The words may be different, but the story is the same. One might expect them to come to different conclusions, but their conclusions are always the same.
The value of Self enlightenment is that it enables an individual to speak from himself. He is conscious of who he is. He is conscious of himself, so there is no doubt about who or what he is. He has the composure of a person who can consciously create thots, can cause things, and is conscious of his relationships with others.
A Graph on Self-Improvement
If education is chartered on one axis, and understanding on the other, and if more knowledge, and fewer barriers are considered desirable states, the chart would look like the chart in figure 5a. An individual has “x” amount of ability to live life (the shaded area). However there is a third factor, and that is the factor of enlightenment. Imagine a third line perpindicular to both of the others and forming the three dimensional graph (see figure 5b). This factor represents “clarity of thot” or “degree of enlightenment”. In other words, this thrid line shows to what extent an individual can think a thot without it being connected to anything else.
If a person is well educated and has few barriers to his own communication with others, but no clarity of thot in his own universe, then all his is education and all his relatingness would be meaningless. We would feel as if we were a fake and Life would have no meaning, no certainty, he would have no confidence. He is open with people, and he understands them, but he is not sure of anything. It is currently popular in education circles to' not know anythings for sure. There are people who have fairly good clarity of thot, are reasonable well educated, but can’t talk to anyone. Then there is the person who is open, has fairly clear thot, but who is completely uneducated.
A well rounded person would be one who knows some things about Life, is open in relating with others, and who has a direct conscious expereince of himself. He knows what he is, and beyond that, he knows what Life is, which is Life-enlightenment. He know what Life is, not because anyone has said so, but because he has directly experienced it.
The thing that has been missing in our work for years was, this fact of Self-enlightenment. Those who had some Self-enlightenment responded well to our techniques. Those who had a little enlightenment respnonded some. Those who had none, didn’t resond at all. They got changes, but, to them, it didn't mean a thing.
The role of enlightenment is not a casual one in self-improvement activities. It would be wise to consider it very seriously, and to have as much knowledge on the subject as possible.
The Nature of Thot
It is easier to obtain Self-enlightenment if one has an intellectual idea and some knowledge of enlightenment. Knowing the nature of thot will help in this aspect. One of the major discoveries of Abilitism concerns what a thot is. For twenty-two years I worked on the question, “What is thot?” and I finally became enlightened on that subject. It is because of this that I think I can relate to others the key factors of enlightenment in a way that is not too foreign to them. Here is a summary definition of thot and even if only the most cursory understanding is drawn from it, it is enough to point the way to Self-enlightenment.
The key to understanding what a thot is lies in the realization that the answer is not to be found in the nature of an individual. it 'is not something that an individual is capable of by himself. He is capable of "knowing" by himself, but even though he has the capacity to communicate, he still needs someone else to communicate with or communication is not possible. (see figure 6a) In a similar manner, thot involves others. A thot is an individual choosing to relate to another. The nature of his choice determines what the thot is. How he chooses to relate - in what way, to what degree, through what means - determines what that partioular thot is.
Thot and Self-Enlightenment
A thot is the state of having elected to relate to another. Self-enlightenment, then, is the choice to relate oneself. The moment a person has the thot to relate himself to another or others he becomes conscious of himself. That is Self-enlightenment. Let me explain this point further. Consciousness, as I stated earlier, is dependent on an outside something, and in this case, it's another person. Electing to relate oneself to others brings about a consciousness of oneself.
Everyone has a consciousness of himself to some degree. For example if someone has a consciousness of himself as a body, he is presenting his body. In other words, he is electing to relate as a body. That thot of himself as a body is a via, a thot about himself. As long as one chooses to relate to others through vias, he will not become Self-enlightened. However, there are no vias between an individual and his thots. He experiences his thots directly. Therefore, when he has the thot of himself, it is direct experience, not a via, not through a via. This is Self-enlightenment.
Mastery of Attention
The depth and purity of thot that must be attained in order to become Self-enlightened is Self-defined. With the best techniques of Abilitism, it takes between twenty-four and one hundred hours of continuous attention on one subject to get the pure thot of Self. This is continuous attention. One must spend one hundred hours on only oneself without any distractibns or extraneous thots. I m'ean no thots like, "Gee, I'm hungry" or, "I wish 'I could quit,"' or, "I wonder if I'm getting anywhere." In order to do this, an individual must keep his attention on one thing. If I said, “Just consider who you are”, most people would spend fourty five seconds out of an hour on the subject. Let's figure this out. If they spend fourty-five seconds out of an hour, and they have to get one hundred hours in, it would take 8000 hours, or at four hours a week, fourty years. It's a long task, so being able to keep one's attention on the subject is very important. What we do in Abilitism is to get an individual into an environment in which he has relatively few problems. We get him out where he is not being distracted by his everyday problems. What is desired is a few days away from an individuals usual routine, with its usual problems and distractions.
A proper Question is Needed
We also need a question upon which to put one’s attention -some target for one’s attention. In Abilitism, we use a specific question that aims directly at an individual. "Who are you?" is one of our key questions. As one works on this question for several hours, one may start to get sleepy. However, it is important for one to be as conscious as possible. So, we have someone walk around and keep people awake. The important thing is that one is awake and conscious. The more conscious one is, the better the chance one has of becoming enlightened. So, we use monitors who help one keep awake and conscious and on the subject. In Abilitism, though, we go even farther than this meditational stage.
Ability Exercise Structure
In Abilitism, we have what we call ability exercises in which two individuals work together and take turns helping one another. Each person works for five minutes at a time. One partner gi0ves the other the instruction, “Tell me who you are” and the other says, I'm Charlie, I'm five feet eight and a half. The person doing the instruction or answering the question sits there for five minutes and alternatly meditates on the question and explains to his partner what thots he is having. In Abilitism, we have a partner sitting there with his attention on his partner. He keeps his partner on the subject that way.
Having a partner is a further advantage because one has someone who will listen and understand when one speaks. An individual can work on many things in his mind, but if he does not relate them to someone, they stay in his mind. In Abilitism, we have a person relate what he is working on to his partner, and this gets it out of his mind and frees his attention. In a meditational discipline, it might take an individual three months to realize that he is not what he thot he was. However, if he has someone to talk to, it might take three minutes to gain the same realization. The two partners take turns listening to and understanding each other. This helping of one another is a very powerful technique for improving one’s opinion of oneself. In increasing one's demonstrable ability in Life in general, and in attaining Life-enlightenment, it is also very important and powerful. So it can be seen that the use of this technique of Abilitism facilitates enlightenment by allowing an individual to complete the thot he is working on, free his attention from that thot, and thus enables him to continue with the next thot. (see figure 7)
The Importance of Treating Others Well
If one has the thot of oneseIf, one will become Self-enlightened. The question now is how does one find out who he is. One answer to this question involves being conscious of other people. This is another thing one needs to understand about enlightenment.
Being considerate of others is important because an individual's opinion of himself is determined by his opinion of other people. If he thinks they are worthless, that is what he really thinks of himself. It works both ways: What a person thinks of himself is what he thinks of others. A person knows that he is equivalent to others, that their basic nature and his basic nature are the same.
As long as a person thinks of others as being worthless, he is going to fail to reach Self-enlightenment. Not until he'is considerate of others will he discover his own basic nature. People of other diciplines who have become Self-enlightened always say in one way or another the same thing concerning their basic nature. It always has the attributes of God in one respect or another. Unless an individual is involved with others and treating them as God, he will fail to discover his own divine quality.
Isolation from others brings about a shallow enlightenment. Because the person isn't involved in relating to others, he doesn’t have very much of an opinion of others. Therefore, he doesn't have the problem of being considerate of others in order to become Self enlightened.
Enlightenment, then, a true enlightenment, consists of very much involvement with others, and a very great consideration of them.
The Role of Being a Master
The next thing that is needed for rapid Self-enlightenment is a master. A master is simply a person who has two characteristics: one, he is Self-enlightened, and two, he can recognize this in others. In other words, he is open enough to other people that it becomes self-evident to him when another person is enlightened. Many people come up with the right answers intellectually. They'll say, “Well, I've thot it all out very carefully and I am God.” They go through all the types of connected thot but fail to have one pure thot, a consciousness of themselves, That is all enlightenment involves -they are conscious of, and presenting themselves. Once a person has the consciousness of himself, he has all the right answers and doesn’t have to think about them. He can answer a list of about eighty questions without hesitation even though he has never considered any of them previously.
A master is also needed for inspiration. Enlightenment is not a matter of intellectually grasping a thot. It is a matter of having the courage to delve into the subject of oneself with sufficient intensity to break through the barriers that stand between one and Self-enlightenment. It is part of the master's role to inspire one to do this.
The master also answers key questions. Key questions are those fundamental to a gaining of enlightenment and not those of a long intellectual study. There is nothing wrong with intellectualizing, it has its role in education, and gathering data and ordering it into knowledge. But, the key questions mainly concern how to get enlightened. A person asks the master, "'Am I doing this properly?” or “Should I change my question?”. These are the types of questions the master answers to guide the person seeking enlightenment,
1. Know the Natute of Thot
2. Keep attention Subject ubject
3. Ability Exercise Structure
4.Be Considera'te of Others
Table II. The items necessary for rapid enlightenment
Another important factor is diet. It is helpful to eat lightly when one is seeking enlightenment. Overeating burdens one’s body and one's brain to such an extent that it is more difficult to become Self-enlightened.
The Stages of Self-Enlightenment
The first stage of Self-enlightenment is intellectualizing. A person is asked the question, "Who are you?", and he goes through all his past teachings trying to figure out the right answer. It's usually necessary to do this, but its just a stage that people go through in becoming Self-enlightened. One inteliectualizes, and finally he goes to the master and gives him his answer, and the master says, "How do you know that is true? There’s more”. A person goes through all the intellectualizing again and again and comes up with the same thing. He consults the master and is told, “There's more to it than that". He returns to his partner; despondent, and gives up trying to figure it out.
A person will then just sit there and finally he'll become inspired. He’ll hear something in the lecture and think that maybe it really is possible to attain enlightenment. He begins to consider the possibility that there is a barrier he hasn't broken through yet. He really starts working on his question and on comes the phenomena stage. He is very determined now and his body starts to shake. The room may appear to move back and forth. He get’s cold. He gets hot. He sees bursting suns and other hallucinations. The effect is the same as if he were on some drug. He is trying to make his brain to think the thot of enlightenment. This stage is the point at which the separation of thot from the brain takes place. The amount of phenomena varies from person to person, but everyone experiences it. A person will see the master at this point, and explain that he has seen himself as a glowing sun. The master will say, “That is a phenomenon. Continue."' Sullenly, the person returns to the others.
The next stage is no man's land. The person doesn't know which way to go. He doesn't know what to think about, or what not to think about.
Then he'll start hitting body barriers. He will discover that he can now keep his attention on the subject better if he keeps his back straight. He will want to sit straight, but he will keep slumping. He will get so interested in enlightenment that he won't want to go to sleep, and yet he wilI get sleepy. He will feel pain in his body, but he is more determined than ever.
Then, he comes to the point where he doesn't care whether it hurts, or whether or not it kills him. At that moment he goes through the barrier and he has what is called the experience. He may laugh, he may cry, he may scream, he may experience thrilling ecstasy. The experience, however, is not Self-enlightenment. It is just the Self-enlightenment experience.
Usually, at the moment of the Self-enlightenment experience, or shortly thereafter, because the person has finally broken the barrier, he becomes Self-enlightened. Once the barrier is broken, Self-enlightenment is a certainty.
The next stage is the glow. The person walks around very conscious of his state of enlightenment. This stage lasts a few hours or a few days.
Then comes the final part of Self-enlightenment, the steady pure state. One of the most distinguishing factors of this deep enlightenment state is that a person no longer has any interest in himself. He answers all questions in terms of other people and Life. He is interested in Life in general, instead of himself.
TABLE III - THE STAGES OF ENLIGHTENMENNT
3. No Man's Land
4. The Barriers of Emotion and'Pain
5. The Break Through
7. The Glow
8. The Steady Pure State
The steady pure state of Self-enlightenment leads to what we call Life- enlightenment. Life-enlightenment differs from Self-enlightenment in that it is a deeper state. One cannot become Life-enlightened unless he is Self-enlightened.
Life-enlightenment consists of being conscious of the potential of complete understanding between individuals. In other words, it is the direct consciousness of the contact potential between all individuals. If one has a direct conscious experience that there is a possibility of contact with every being in the universe (not every being that exists), then it becomes obvious to him what the purpose of Life is and how that purpose is acheived. In some religions this is called the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. In other religions, it is called Universal Nind. It is what is behind Tao. It is the miracle that it is possible for us to be able to relate with each other at all. It's not a matter of choosing to be committed to others. It is realizing that one already is. We do have the choice to act on that commitment or not. It is just a matter, then, of one doing the things that it is obvious to him need to be done.
Life-enlightenment and Self-enlightenment can now be achieved through the techniques of Abilitism in the Enlightenment Intensive format provided by the Institute of Ability.
H. Charles Berner, Founder