Why is it called the Awareness Intensive?
“Awareness is all there is” – Swami Brahmajñanananda
To give you a brief and simple introduction – the Awareness Intensive intensely explores consciousness. The word consciousness, awareness, attention, observing, watching, seeing and concentration all share the same meaning. Being aware means placing your attention on something, being completely focused, concentrated, conscious of something.
When you wake up in the morning, your Awareness is that consciousness which has awakened. Thoughts, they come and go, but the background consciousness is continuously present during all your waking hours, until you fall asleep. You are Consciousness, nothing but Consciousness, looking through your eyes in this very moment.
Why is reaching self-realisation hard?
There are many reasons why we find it hard to gain a true insight of who we are. Many processes going on inside us unfold on an unconscious level. Generally, we may observe, how we mostly suffer because the majority of our behaviour manifests on an unconscious level – we react automatically in and to certain situations, in the manner we were taught in our earliest childhood. We would benefit greatly if our behaviour could spring from a place of consciousness, but that requires a lot of effort.
In fact, we spend most of our lives in ignorance. Let us, for instance, consider emotions and the intellect as additional reasons that disable us from reaching self-realisation. So often, we feel confused, sad, angry, melancholic, or on the other hand excited, joyful, full of life, and curious. However, when emotions take over, it is very hard to be aware of who we truly are. The same applies to our thoughts. There is a well-known saying that we are what we think, and it is true to the extent in which we are referred to as individuals with a certain kind of character and attitude. We have all experienced situations in which we didn’t know whether we should be led by our emotions or our reason, and if on top of everything we add a headache to the mix, we will have a hard time making a decision in accord with our true “self”.
Are we our emotions and thoughts, the traits of our personality? Are we our unconscious selves or just our bodies? And, who is the one asking all these questions?
If all your life you have been wondering who or what you are and you still haven’t found the real answer, we invite you to participate in the Awareness Intensive and discover the answer directly.
Not only an answer in the form of a word or an idea, but a direct experience of who you are in the heart of your being, or what some call your True Nature or simply, Truth.
The Awareness Intensive is a group residential seminar with one goal: to help you find the answer to the question “Who am I”?
What is “Direct Realisation of Truth”?
The real answer to this question is hard to express in words and it can only be answered through your own personal experience. However pretentious it may sound, we may say that the Direct Realisation of Truth is the main theme and goal of AI.
To achieve a certain goal, a lot of sacrifices must be made, and much effort, faith, knowledge, love, etc., must be invested. As it is the case with everything in life, nothing happens without our active dedication to a goal. But, sooner or later we will come to understand that enlightenment (becoming one with the truth) is the one and only, final goal of all souls. To put it simply, we can say that we all want to be free and happy.
Lett’s look at it this way:
What is the thread that connects enlightenment, resurrection, nirvana, yoga, and human love? The answer is unity. When we ask the question “What is the connecting thread?”, even by raising the question, we are expressing a desire for unity. We naturally aspire towards union. Enlightenment is a non-dual state of consciousness, a resurrection into the eternal life, life abiding in the Lord for only He is eternal and should be aspired to. The word yoga itself means unity; when we love someone, we long for them to love us back. We yearn to unite with them, physically, mentally and spiritually. A child spontaneously looks for its mother, the plants naturally reach for the sun, the fish cannot live without water…one cannot exist without the other. All suffering is a result of this separateness.
We are sad when we do not have someone to share our feelings, experiences and thoughts with… And why do we even want to? Something within us drives us to do so. In the biblical tale, Adam and Eve were banished form Eden because they desired for something other than God, and an illusionary void was created, an illusionary separateness from their true nature. We may conclude that as soon as a desire arises, there is an illusion of separateness. For instance, Buddha’s goal was to become free from all suffering and to achieve the state of nirvana – a transcendental state that we cannot fully understand or express by being tangled in the concept of “I“. Buddha came to realise that all suffering is a result of desire. If our desires are fulfilled, very soon others arise and they never seem to cease.
That is the root of our unhappiness, of suffering. On the other hand, when our desires are not fulfilled, we get frustrated and again we suffer. But when do desires arise? When there is someone who experiences them. If there is no ego – the one experiencing the desire – there is no suffering, because there is no separateness. There is no small “I“ wanting something other. Only in unity, there are no desires.
The purpose of AI is to lift the veil of illusion which seemingly separates us from the truth and to directly experience unity (non-dual consciousness, truth). The truth is always one and absolute. Truth is not subject to the repetitive cycle of birth and death, dimensions of time and space, matter and form. Truth is eternal, it is not born and it does not die, but is timeless and boundless, it is intangible and formless. To know it, we must relinquish our identification with all that is not our essence.
When we experience reality without the agency of our limited sensory perception and distorting mental processes, we are talking about the Direct Realisation of Truth. To come to know something directly means to experience it without using our mind to think about the truth, or our emotions (likes and dislikes), or on the other hand, having visions, clinging to different images we think represent the truth. Truth which we are trying to realise through our five senses, our mind and our emotions will always be something separate from ourselves, because in fact they are the obstacles to experiencing it directly, from within ourselves. We can have an opinion about what truth is, but we still aren’t this truth, it is contained only within our thoughts and is therefore separate from us.
Using certain meditative techniques, which are intensely practiced during the day (in some versions of the Intensive for three whole days), you are gradually led into a state in which all unnecessary things come to fade and seem to disappear… like an onion being pealed layer by layer, until we reach its core, we cast away those attributes (thoughts, emotions, images, physical sensations) which only obstruct and distort the truth of who we are. The Truth transcends such unstable attributes and cannot be known through something. It simply is.
You are probably wondering how it is possible to achieve Direct Realisation of Truth in one day.
If you are sufficiently open for Truth and you deeply yearn for the realisation of the Eternal Truth, your own aspirations will bring you half way. It has to be the kind of aspiration focused only on the goal of Direct Realisation of Truth. Just as a man lost and alone in a vast desert thirsts only for water, your thirst for Truth must be as strong. That is why it is of great importance to come to the AI with an open heart and a great desire for the Direct Realisation of Truth. Pretend for a moment that all your wishes, passions, desires are satisfied… is there anything else you want? When you strip everything down, and all your ego-desires are fulfilled, what remains, what is permanent and is it what truly makes you eternally happy?
After each ego-desire is fulfilled (“I want exactly that”), another one arises naturally because our mind has a dual nature, so when we get something we want, we quickly get bored with it and we start wanting something completely different. Thus, we swing from one polarity to the other without end, unless we calm the mind to see the Truth and realise it directly.
Your consciousness has no skin, no “inner” and no “outer”. Your consciousness has no barriers or divisions. Your consciousness has no walls or boundaries. Your consciousness has no head or hat. Your consciousness is without a centre. Your consciousness has no fences or horizons. Your consciousness has no periphery. Your consciousness has no ceiling or roof. Your consciousness is without plateaus or levels. Your consciousness is not Your own, consciousness belongs to no one. Your consciousness does not belong to You or to anyone else because You are that consciousness.Swami Brahmajñanananda