What is Enlightenment?



First of all, the experience of enlightenment cannot be accurately captured in words. So to define it is not really the purpose of this essay. I say this because the other night, I stumbled upon an article written by a certain guru (http://lovebliss.eu/…-about-enlightenment.html) who is invalidating all other people’s definition or description of ‘enlightenment’. He invalidated a bunch of world renowned, as well as not-so-world-renowned spiritual teachers’ concept or description of enlightenment.

Among others, he invalidated Eckhart Tolle, A Course in Miracles, the Buddhist view of enlightenment, and a few other teachers I am not familiar with. It is clear that he is well read because he knows exactly which teacher said what, and he gave his explanations on why this and that spiritual teacher’s take on enlightenment is a fallacy, or in his own words, “plain wrong.”

So, by invalidating all the others’ descriptions of enlightenment, is he then saying that only his description or experience of it, the real deal? Is he saying that he has the exclusive knowledge of what enlightenment is all about? If others described it in a way that does not conform to his description, does it mean that these others have not really experienced enlightenment?

Personally, I do agree and relate to his idea of enlightenment. What he seemed to have forgotten, however, is that enlightenment, itself, is beyond words to describe or define.  Enlightenment is beyond the ‘verbal utterances’ of one individual. So if other people defined it in a certain way and he finds their description to be lacking, inferior, or “plain wrong,” it could simply be because words are not enough to capture what enlightenment is all about.

He got so wrapped up in his abstract concept of enlightenment that he considered all other ‘takes’ to be less promising than his.

His abstractions are perhaps great. However, the point is to make the truth accessible to those who are not so inclined to think in very abstract terms. And this is why many teachers, beginning from ancient times, have to use finite human terms to communicate their mystical experiences, including that of ‘enlightenment’.

We have to acknowledge that the very moment you translate the Infinite in finite terms, it gets boxed and thus, becomes limited.

Nobody holds monopoly on the real definition of enlightenment. When we put forward our idea or ‘description’ of this elusive phenomenon, all we are doing is describing a minuscule facet of the Infinite, according to how it revealed itself to us.

Yes, enlightenment is Love-Bliss and all that, and more than that, and beyond all this and that.

So what is the big deal?

It is better to keep in mind what the ‘Old Man’  (Lao Tzu) said:

Words are hollow scratches written in the image of mankind.”

I’m still stunned the way a Zen Master presented it, in a riddle:

“The sound of one hand clapping.”

And this is why, I always say:

. . . in the end, it is all storytelling!  🙂


4 thoughts on “What is Enlightenment?

  1. What is enlightenment? What is beauty? What is life? Who/what is God?
    They are all questions that will have as many answers as the people you ask. We can all try and define each one of them, and would expect a degree of success however, I would suggest that to expect a finite definition that applies to everybody is just arrogance. The best that I can come up with are definitions that are based on my perspectives and beliefs. They may be shared by many others but shared by everybody is highly unlikely.
    Good Post. Very thought provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

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