The word 'enlightenment' can be used to refer to many different ideas. In a secular or a non-Buddhist context the word is often used meaning full comprehension of a situation, or having gained spiritual insight. In Buddhism, enlightenment refers to a unique experience which wholly transforms the enlightened individual from their previous condition in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth or reincarnation. Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as the Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment. In Hinduism the word moksha, that means liberation of soul from the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation, is similar to enlightenment and Nirvana.
In Western culture, Enlightenment broadly means wisdom or understanding enabling clarity of perception. However, the English word covers two concepts which can be quite distinct: religious or spiritual enlightenment. Spiritual Enlightenment and Spiritual Awakening is the primary goal of almost all spiritual practices, traditions and religions and for any spiritual seeker. There are many names for this awakened state of Consciousness depending on what culture and tradition we belong to. This can cause confusion, since those who claim intellectual enlightenment often reject spiritual concepts altogether. In religious use, enlightenment is most closely associated with South and East Asian religious experience. The concept does also have parallels in the Abrahamic religions, in the Kabbalah tradition in Judaism, in Christian mysticism, and in the Sufi tradition of Islam.
In secular use, the concept refers mainly to the European intellectual movement known as the Age of Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason referring to philosophical developments related to scientific rationality in the 17th and 18th centuries. In his famous 1784 essay “What Is Enlightenment?”, Immanuel Kant defines Enlightenment as the man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is the incapacity to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. Such tutelage is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another.
Enlightenment can come in an instant or it may take many life cycles. The shortest distance between two points is in a straight line and so the fastest way to achieve enlightenment is to know that you are already enlightened. Few of us will be able to do that on demand because we all have lifetimes of experiences and circumstances that say we can’t do it. So we have to wrestle with all our memories and the wisdom of others that we have adopted to get to a place where we can accept our new awareness.
Changing a lifestyle can be met with great difficulty and struggle or wild abandonment and joy. It is simply another trip or a course along a different path that has an alternative purpose. It is not going to be any easier or more difficult than the one that you already chose and pending on how you think of it. Because there will be a profound change in you and your lifestyle you will lose people along the way, including friends and family. For one thing as you move along your new path you will learn a different language and as you start to master this language your friends and family will not be so easy to communicate with them, not they with you.
Along with having difficulties communicating with each other, you will not be able to relate to each other just as a grade one student will not be able to relate to another in grade 12 except on the most basic levels. As you empty your mind of old business and memory, new concepts and awareness will replace them and become your new truth. You will travel lighter and pay little notice of others that are around you, they will call you crazy or weird and as your awareness increases you will eventually move to a state of transformation.
One transforms when one has raised his/her vibration level so high that they virtually disappear and enter another realm of awareness. You will become invisible to all in the old realm. If your feet are firmly planted in the physical world and this is where you are strongly focused, transformation may take several lifetimes. Death is a human or physical concept and in truth you do not have to leave your physical body behind.
The first step in the thousand mile journey is to make a choice or decision for enlightenment. With this choice comes the eventual transformation that will take you out of this physical realm and into another. With this level of awareness comes rejection of all physical things and people. The truth is we are all headed there anyways. Those that have a higher level of enlightenment or awareness simply move faster and with anticipation lacking any fear what is to come. It is the tendency for all things to move back to its source, it is a natural law of cause and effect or Karma. There is a Buddhist teaching that says if you want to put new tea in your cup you must make sure you have an empty cup. In preparing for this new enlightenment you must let go of old belief systems and thoughts. You must clear your mind to make way for new concepts and ideas. Enlightenment won’t come when your mind is busy with old thoughts. Neither will it come while you try to analyze it, acceptance is the key to enlightenment.
There are many who say that they want enlightenment but few will receive it. The pull of physical world is strong, and addictive. For those that have found great meaning in the earth experience they will find it hard to let go. A man rich in materialistic properties cannot get into heaven, for when you are attached you are not going anywhere.
In preparing for enlightenment you must be prepared to leave all things behind. It is the natural tendency for all to move to the next level of awareness and to better themselves. Leaving this world and moving into the next realm comes enlightenment and physical death. There are few that have gone the first way and most people tend to get there slowly and through many lifetimes experiencing physical life again and again. Once you have grasped the idea that lie is an occurrence that you are in control of, and you grow to understand that you are not in school to learn anything, you will begin to look farther ahead to greater awareness with the knowledge that the spirit is eternal and cannot be destroyed.
Enlightenment should never course of experiences that you have absolute control of. Enlightenment can come in an instant or it may take many life cycles but always it about freedom of choice and unconditional love. You must have patience and willingness to give up your affection to your materialistic possessions. You must conceive enlightenment as lotus flower which has its roots in the mud,and grows up through the deep water. It rises to the surface and blooms into perfect purity and beauty in the sunlight .It symbolizes the mind unfolding to perfect joy and wisdom.
Be Happy – Enlightenment Can Happen At Any Moment.