Cloud Mountain
About Us
About Retreats
Photo Tour
Contact Us
Enlightenment Intensive
November 17 - November 23
6 nights
Murray Kennedy
Patsy Boyer
For more information about a teacher, please click on their photo.
Retreat cost: This retreat is offered on a tiered scale:

Subsidized fee: $ 420 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff
Sustaining fee: $ 460 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff
Supporting fee: $ 500 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff

Following in the Buddhist tradition, none of your registration fee will go to the teacher(s). Please consider offering teacher dāna at the event to support their livelihood. (Dāna is a term for generosity, or freely offered giving. You can find more information about this way of offering the teachings and the "economy of gifts" on our Donation page.)

Mail/Fax Registration
Retreat cost: This retreat is offered on a tiered scale:

Subsidized fee:
$ 420 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff

Sustaining fee:
$ 460 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff

Supporting fee:
$ 500 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) & staff

Following in the Buddhist tradition, none of your registration fee will go to the teacher(s). Please consider offering teacher dāna at the event to support their livelihood. (Dāna is a term for generosity, or freely offered giving. You can find more information about this way of offering the teachings and the "economy of gifts" on our Donation page.)

Mail/Fax Register

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.
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 read following personal endorsement from Laura Hauer, Cloud Mountain's Executive Director, to understand why it has been included on the retreat schedule.

"It's not often that Cloud Mountain chooses to offer a retreat that isn't solidly grounded in the traditional teachings of the Buddha. However, there are times when our commitment to supporting people to awaken must take precedence over considerations that have more to do with dogma than Dharma.

I happened into my first Enlightenment Intensive two years ago, drawn by their use of the age-old spiritual question, Who Am I? and my own pull to more deeply understand the Buddha's teachings on anatta (not-self). To my surprise, the EI technique offered opportunities to apply Buddhist practices and understandings in a different practice format that were powerful complements to my current practice, and which, in some important ways, even exceeded the effectiveness of traditional Buddhist silent meditation. Coming from someone who runs a Buddhist meditation retreat center, this is no small admission!

In Buddhism there's a distinction made between Sudden Awakening and Gradual Awakening. For many of us who came to the spiritual path seeking "enlightenment" it was the experience of Sudden Awakening we were looking for; for myself, I define it as a radical and unmistakable shift in consciousness and a kind of unmediated knowing that causes a permanent deepening of understanding and insight into the nature of reality. This is exactly the experience toward which the EI technique seems so effective in propelling us. And these Sudden Awakenings -- or "direct experiences" as they're generally termed -- happen frequently over the course of an EI, for "old-timers" to spiritual practice and beginners alike. The frequency and depth of these awakenings using the EI technique of investigation (the EI term is "contemplation") is really quite amazing.

These direct experiences have been invaluable in deepening my Buddhist practice in two ways. The first is their content. Dharma is Dharma. Truth is Truth. These experiences have offered particularly deep and direct insights into aspects of anicca (impermanence) and anatta (not-self). The second way has been in deepening my faith that is possible to know the truth of reality (or, aspects of it) in a way that goes beyond a merely cognitive experience that is basically belief into instead a quality of knowingness and certainty that has a fullness, depth, dimensionality and substantiality. It becomes not just knowing the truth of reality, but experiencing and living that truth in a completely different way from what we're used to from our usual, fixed, limited and conditioned perspectives.

EIs have opened my eyes and deepened my Buddhist practice in other totally unexpected ways. I never really knew what it meant to take refuge in the sangha. Prior to doing EIs, I could never take refuge in the sangha with the same sincerity I could in the Buddha and the Dharma. Frankly, people have felt more like challenges than supports along the path of practice. I've now come to see what a mysterious and powerful resource my Dharma brothers and sisters are, and how we miss out on an amazing opportunity to support one another's spiritual deepening not only in daily life, but also in the silent, isolated format of a modern-day Buddhist meditation retreat.

Here's what I mean. On an EI, we basically take the same approach that we do on a meditation retreat to the contemplation of the question/koan by applying precise moment-to-moment awareness of what is arising in the present moment. Just like in silent meditation, we're cultivating and applying mindfulness, investigation and effort (along with developing the full roster of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, actually). And we're aspiring to maintain the same kind of continuity of awareness that we do on a meditation retreat. In the silent presence of another person, who is giving you the gift of their complete, nonjudgmental and nonreactive attention, it is infinitely easier to remain deeply present and awake. Frankly, in silent meditation, it's very easy to lose focus, zone out, nod off, have our energy and precision wane, etc. We cease to be fully present. We might peek at our watch, think about what's for lunch, go off into the story line of the moment or sink into sloth and torpor. The simple presence and attention of the other person minimizes that tendency to "wander off." It's much easier to stay put and stay present, which becomes a massive enhancement to continuity of awareness.

As we trade back and forth in a dyad with one partner speaking the truth of the present moment and the other listening, we learn a few things. Being able to hear others give voice to the movements of their consciousness and the course of their inner investigations, the more one comes to see the infinite variety among how our paths can unfold. This can be particularly helpful in reflecting back and recognizing in oneself habitual paths our own consciousness takes, or coming to recognize areas where we may be either a little lazy or unconsciously blocked in what we allow into our field of awareness. For myself, as an example, I see how much more comfortable I am in opening to physical pain than to emotional pain, for example. Sometimes I might hear the same observation or story line emerging in the exact same way from my own mouth a number of times over different dyads. This has given me the opportunity to see a self-identity contained there that I've resisted recognizing. Or sometimes I may see that I'm just plain avoiding looking at something below the superficial level of the story. Often it's possible to find the courage and clarity to go deeper into ourselves because we can see the compassion in the eyes of our partner and recognize that what they're putting into the field of the dyad is helping to hold us in our unfolding.

And it goes even deeper. The greater depth my partner brings to the dyad, the greater the possibilities for depth in my process. There seems to be a kind of resonant effect in which the more deeply one partner works, the deeper the other can go too. It's even a relatively common occurrence on EIs for one person's direct experience to trigger one in their partner. The kind of phenomenon points to a level of transcendent reality that I'm utterly unqualified to even begin to comment on. But it makes me reflect on a statement the Buddha made to his disciple, Ananda, that spiritual friendship was the whole of the holy life, and wonder what unplumbed depths of connection between us all he might have had in mind when he said that!

Lastly, I've found that an EI opens a world of possibility for using speech in service of our practice. We all know more than we probably want to about Right Speech from the point of view of how speech can be wildly unhelpful and unskillful. But speech can also be employed in service of deepening insight and understanding. In a dyad we can tune into our own radical truthfulness through listening to ourselves as we're speaking from our present-moment experience. Our own words have power to open the space and lead us into Beginner's Mind and ineffable aspects of experience. It's been quite amazing to be in the middle of experiencing something I've never ever experienced before, and know it to be utterly new territory in my awareness because I have no words available to me to describe it. These, particularly, are the kinds of moments that are frequently lost to my awareness in silent meditation. But during an EI they show up so much more clearly in the landscape of my mind simply because, in the instant of recognizing that I have no words or concepts available to name or define them, I become so much more aware of the newness and freshness of what's happening and can wake up into an unconditioned experience of the reality of "what is."

In hosting this retreat at Cloud Mountain, it is my intention to offer a uniquely effective technique of investigation and inquiry to all people who wish to wake up, but especially to experienced Buddhist practitioners. For those who have cultivated awareness and have a solid grounding in Buddhist understanding, the EI technique provides a powerful adjunct practice to traditional sitting and walking practices. I feel EIs would be of particular value and benefit to those who have spent years cultivating the Gradual Path but have had few "Aha!" moments. Through the EI technique, these moments are very available and can profoundly deepen one's understanding of and faith in the Buddha's teachings.

Ehi Passiko! Come and see for yourself!"

Cloud Mountain 2020