The first Enlightenment Intensive was given as an experiment in 1968. Inspired by Philip Kapleau’s, Three Pillars of Zen, a western teacher combined the Koan practice and orientation to sudden awakening of the Zen sesshin with face-to-face contact and communication between partners. His students contemplated the “Koan”, “Who am I?” in an intense 3 day format. The results were remarkable. A significant number of participants actually had direct experiences (see below for deeper discussion of what this means). Encouraged, they did it again and the results were duplicated – time after time for 48 years. Enlightenment Intensives proved to be a pure and effective way to work through hindrances and obscurations and, in some cases, to catalyze direct experience.

On an Intensive no one tells you who you are. The inquiry is yours to make. The teaching team will only encourage you to keep contemplating and presenting yourself as you find yourself to be; moment by moment.

This is a retreat where face-to-face contact and communication between partners is combined with continuous contemplation of the age-old spiritual question: Who am I? You work in pairs (dyads). Taking 5 minute turns you practice being present to yourself with immediacy and awareness. Who am I? Whatever arises you communicate to your partner. When you are the silent listening partner, you simply witness. Judgmental or hurtful communications or any kind of commentary on the other’s experience are not made. When it becomes your turn to inquire, you contemplate your own reality. This is neither a mental nor a social operation; it is a practice of being conscious of and vulnerable to your on-going, present-moment experience of self, in the presence of another.

The Enlightenment Intensive is dedicated to sudden awakening. “Who am I?” inquiry aims at the direct experience of truth. Direct experiences have many levels, and each experience precipitates an unexpected and fundamental shift in consciousness. This is not something your mind can understand. Direct experiences have nothing to do with what you think, feel, believe, know, or remember; they simply cut through, resolving your question in ways you will never anticipate or imagine. The “Gateless Gate” spoken of in Zen, opens. Subject and object disappear leaving the completeness of non-dual understanding. Separation is gone; there is union. Self-evident Truth holds sway. There may be awe, peace, joy, knowing, contentment and a quality of understanding deeper than you have ever known. You will have the opportunity to explore your new awareness and to present your new awareness to your partner. Doing this helps you to live from the truth you have realized and to deepen your integration of this new understanding into the living fabric of your life.

On each day of the Intensive there are eleven 40-minute Dyads. These are balanced with meals, walks, rest, instruction and silent contemplation, in a schedule that provides for your needs while continuously showing you yourself. The group field becomes concentrated with love, courage, acceptance, honesty, generosity, presence, autonomy … Through personal contact and dedication to truth, Intensives inspire you to let go of roles and identities and be exactly as you are.

Participating on an Enlightenment Intensive brings many benefits; you clear away what you no longer need, and open your heart. You grow in your capacity to be in contact with others and in your ability to communicate and listen. Getting through crises – which do come up – develops freedom and strength. Self inquiry goes from being intimidating and confusing to a wonderful unfoldment. You make friends with yourself.

Directly experiencing and presenting the Truth enables you to live more consciously, in closer contact with others, and with deeper insight. It enhances whatever practice you are established in, awakening you to the Truth as a living reality. You know exactly what the poets and mystics are saying; you see with the eyes they saw with, hear with the same ears. Come join us with beginner’s mind and experience this for yourself.

NOTE: This is not a Buddhist retreat, but is a potent and effective method for deepening insight and wisdom.


The Enlightenment Intensive is an intense 5 days. If you have concerns if it would be right for you, you are very welcome to call Murray directly at 604-984-3282. He will be glad to talk it over with you.


Cloud Mountain continues to take endemic covid-19 seriously as a public health risk in the retreat environment. Masking and rapid testing requirements are in place.


Scholarship funds are available on all retreats to assist those with financial challenges. For more information, read the Scholarship section of our overview information.


The Enlightenment Intensive is an intense 5 days. If you have concerns if it would be right for you, you are very welcome to call Murray directly at 604-984-3282. He will be glad to talk it over with you.


$400 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff


To learn more about a teacher, please click on their photo.