What is Enlightment? What does it mean to be Illuminated?
Enlightenment could allude to a personal spiritual revelation or a deep insight into the fundamental meaning and purpose of all things. It often includes a sense of communication with – or an understanding of – the mind of God. Enlightenment signifies the dawning or transmission of pure Light into one’s mind opening up the consciousness, awakening the mind to new realities, filling the mind with profound understanding of spiritual things, and fundamentally changing the nature of a person’s perceptions giving them the sense that they are united with all existence.
The terms “Enlightenment” and “Illumination” are the English/Latin expressions for the experience and simply refer to the idea of bringing Light into one’s mind. The concept or experience has a fuller definition in other cultures. Words such as Bodhi, Prajna, and Satori, usually translated as enlightenment, express a sense of awakening to one’s true nature, uniting with the cosmic or God, understanding the path to liberation from the mundane world. Such awakening can be partial and require strengthening over time – perhaps over centuries and many lifetimes – leading ultimately to Buddhahood, a state in which all limitations have been removed from the mind and one’s full potential as a human being has been completely and perfectly realized. It is a state of infinite compassion, wisdom and skill.
Having said that, it is important to keep in mind that Enlightenment isn’t about being super good or kind all the time – It doesn’t mean you have to be all brooding and silent like some golden statue of the Buddha – It certainly doesn’t mean you have to suffer in any way. In fact, Enlightened people rarely suffer – they might experience great pain from time to time – but their sufferings are limited. Enlightened people are simply free of the pressing need for material satisfaction. And Enlightened people are among the happiest most joyful people in the world.
Many paths to Enlightenment exist and no one group, religion or school has a monopoly on the process. Enlightenment is the ultimate experience of the true nature of a human being, and thus, it is not so much that we gain enlightenment from an outside source – we merely come to realize, finally, our true nature and are able to express it. The path to Enlightenment resides within each of us. Our task is to look within ourselves and awaken to our true and natural identity. In truth, everyone is already enlightened, they just don’t know it. It is more a matter of clearing away the darkness, or the fetters that keep us locked into the illusion of the world, and allowing ourselves to be free.
Enlightenment makes us born in the Spirit. It reveals our authentic self. With Enlightenment we are free of the burdens of material desires. We are free of fear and free of the imagined limitations to achieving are greatest self. With Enlightenment we come to know and understand reality and the nature of the universe – we come to know and understand ourselves.
So how does one find Enlightenment?
- We must first accept that the past, and any mistakes we feel we’ve made in the past, or any hurts we feel we have experienced in the past, should remain in the past. What has happened has happened. All we can change about it is our attitude towards it. Living in the present – in the here and now – is the first great freedom we can claim.
- We should begin, as much as possible, to associate with others who are also seeking Enlightenment. Read books, watch movies, listen to music, participate in society all with the aim of experiencing the Enlightened state. The various lists found on my website can be helpful in this practice. Begin to immerse yourself – gently- in a world of enlightened ideas and images.
- Give yourself the space and opportunity, on a regular basis, and as often as possible, to open yourself up to living a fully conscious, wakeful life.
- Learn to relax, cleanse yourself of stress and worry and simply notice how good it feels to be calm and at peace.
- Allow yourself the simple pleasure of experiencing different scents, colors, sounds, tastes and feelings. Start to become more and more aware of your surroundings and expand your awareness beyond the mundane world into the cosmic world that is the true basis of authentic living.
- There is no getting around this. In the entire history of enlightenment no one has achieved the favored state without meditating. How they meditate and what they call the practice differs from culture to culture, century to century. But all who are Enlightened meditate. Find a simple method first – such as the one offered on my website – and let the practice grow with you over time.
- Make every day and every action you take, however simple, a part of the Enlightenment process. Act as though everything around you is a special message that urges you to experience your full capacity for living – your full capacity for life. The Master Jesus said that with Enlightenment, with full wakefulness, you will have Life, LIFE IN ABUNDANCE.
Enlightenment is a natural part of the Human experience – we are meant to be AWAKE, if we are meant to be anything at all. There is really nothing to ATTAIN; it’s just a matter of rediscovering our authentic way of being. But getting caught up in the mundane, material world is so easy we tend to forget that there is another way of being. The world of material existence encourages us to remain asleep and content with our condition. Most of us learn at an early age that the systems of Government, Religion, Education, Industry and even family life prefer us to stay asleep and unconcerned with the greater world outside our tiny sphere of activity. You rarely hear of a fully conscious person who frets about the price of sugar, oil or gold. Enlightened people have other things on their minds and tend to define power, glory and riches in ways the so-called “masters of the universe” fear.
To find Enlightenment you should be aware of it and go looking for it. Look within yourself, for, if it is anywhere to be found it is there. Open yourself to the possibility of wakefulness and embrace your authentic life to the fullest.