Every time I read the words of Charles Berner describing enlightenment or how to do the enlightenment dyad technique I’m amazed, excited and inspired by the clarity of the counsel in his words. I’ve read all of his enlightenment related essays and listened to the original Enlightenment Masters Course audio lectures dozens of times throughout the years and each time I read a document or listen to an audio file I learn more. That amazes me. There is always something new and something more profound in my understanding. I'm always finding more nuances and subtleties that I hadn’t recognised in my previous encounter with the material. It brings me much pleasure to always find something new and awakening in the words that though I had read them before I hadn’t seen what I now see. It helps to define and frame my own evolution of understanding. It’s like watching a sunrise or the birds or the ocean or someone you love. There is always something new to appreciate.
In this collection of essays and articles from the archive of Charles Berner you may find your own evolution of understanding as well as the evolution of Charles Berner’s understanding. I heard him say many times that his own understanding evolves over time through his meditation experiences and that one should look to his latest writing and reflections, not his earliest if they want to understand what he understands, now. I’ve placed Berner’s essays on enlightenment in a roughly chronological order so you may appreciate the evolution of his understanding.
The Forward to this book was written by Edrid (Edward Riddle). Edrid began his studies with Berner in the early 1960's and has been a leader in the extended Enlightenment Intensive community since it began to take form in the 1970's. I've always respected and admired Edrid for his heart-felt dedication to Truth and his ability to explain in 'simple to understand' language what enlightenment is and how to do the Enlightenment Intensive contemplative technique. Edrid's first-hand recollections of Berner's universe and the beginning formulation of the Enlightenment Intensive is insightful and revealing. "Why would I bother with this history…" writes Edrid, "Well, to understand the Enlightenment Intensive, to get below the surface and really understand it, you’d want to see where it came from." Edrid helps us that understanding.
The first chapter of this book begins with an article that first appeared as the feature in the typewritten and mimeographed pages of the Newsletter of The Institute of Ability (circa 1969). The front cover of Issue 10 read: 'Enlightenment: Self and Life; New Technique Shortens Time Factor of 100; Self Enlightenment.'
That was quite a bold claim by Charles Berner and in the pages that followed he proceeded to explain, in quite some detail, what the findings of his research and personal discoveries were in the area of personal development. This is one of his earliest and thorough writings on the subject of self enlightenment and the retreat that came to be known as the Enlightenment Intensive. When this article was written in 1968 the Enlightenment Intensive probably hadn't even been christened with the name Enlightenment Intensive yet. The previous newsletter of the Institute of Ability, Issue 9 didn't use the term Enlightenment Intensive. Instead it called the retreat a Practice Session.
Chapter 2, entitled, What Is and Is Not Enlightenment was the first chapter of The Transmission of Truth. It originally was a lecture that Charles Berner gave at the first Enlightenment Masters Training Course in 1977. His lectures at the training course for future Enlightenment Intensive facilitators were transcribed and edited to became the basis of the book, The Transmission of Truth. It was first published in 1977 and later revised in 1981. It was edited by Lawrence Noyes.
In 2005 a new edition of those lectures was published by Mona Sosna under the title, Consciousness of Truth, a Manual for the Enlightenment Intensive. The chapter entitled, Enlightenment, is excerpted and re-printed as Chapter Nine from that book. The 2005 edition has a few differences with the 1977 and the 1981 edition. One difference is that Mona Sosna is co-credited along side Charles Berner as the co-author of the 2005 edition. Other distinctions in Berner's evolving understanding and refinement of what enlightenment is can be seen by reading Chapter Two and Nine of this book. Chapter Two is from the 1981 edition and Chapter Nine is the opening pages of the 2005 edition.
In the Foreword to the 2005 edition, Charles Berner writes, "It has been thirty-six years since the ﬁrst Enlightenment Intensive was held in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California. Many participants in the thousands of Enlightenment Intensives held since then have attained some level of conscious, direct knowledge of their true selves. Even so, it is difﬁcult to estimate whether or not Enlightenment Intensives and the Enlightenment Technique will endure down the ages. This is because there are two major threats to Enlightenment Intensives and the Enlightenment Technique: wandering away from the Enlightenment Technique and schedules, and confusing insight about oneself with conscious, direct knowledge of oneself. This edition of the master’s manual has been designed to forestall these threats.
I have responded to Mona Sosna’s extensive questioning as she was rewriting this manual. She has correctly presented in the best manner my convictions about what enlightenment is and how Enlightenment Intensives and the Enlightenment Technique should now be conducted. This book has been Mona’s labor of love for all who seek the realization of the Truth of themselves."
Chapter 3 is entitled Enlightenment. It was written by Berner under the pseudonym of Alan B. Dow and appeared as an article in Berner's ashram newspaper, the Vishvamitra. The article, written in the mid 1970’s is a first person account of the experiences of a fictitious individual, Alan B. Dow, who attends an Enlightenment Intensive for the first time.
Chapter 4 is an essay called Charles in Enlightenment Land. It was originally a lecture given at an Enlightenment Intensive in the 1970's. In this lecture Berner talks about his experiences as a participant on a five day Enlightenment Intensive. He counsels that one must have a high degree of discipline and devotion to the task of enlightenment if one is going to make progress past the beginning levels of self awareness. The chapter ends with Berner advising, "I have shared all this with you so that you will stand a decent chance in a reasonable period of time of getting deeply enlightened, so you will know what it takes to get there."
Chapter 5, Levels of Enlightenment and Advice On How To Do The Enlightenment Technique, was a lecture that Berner gave during a long Enlightenment Intensive in the early 1970's. I think it gives profound and helpful advice to participants of the Intensive on how to do the enlightenment technique. I've often read a few paragraphs from this lecture during the Intensives that I facilitate.
Enlightenment is the title of Chapter 6 and the last essay of this book. It is excerpted from the first chapter of Consciousness of Truth. Mona Sosna wrote this chapter which is based upon Berner's 1977 Enlightenment Intensive master training course lectures and originally appeared, as I said above, in the 1981 Enlightenment Masters Manual, Transmission of Truth as the first chapter, What Is and Is Not Enlightenment.
Bill Savoie wrote the chapter entitled, About Charles Berner. It is excerpted from Bill's unpublished book, The Bridge to One. Bill was a participant of the first Enlightenment Intensive in July, 1968 and has continued to be involved with the Enlightenment Intensive both as a participant and facilitator to this very day. In his essay he shares his experience and insights about Charles Berner and those early days from which the Enlightenment Intensive was formed.