What is Enlightenment?

What is Enlightenment?

To be enlightened…to experience enlightenment… What does that mean to you? For you? What does it mean for me?  The following is my exploration of enlightenment as a goal and a process in my mind, in my Spirit, and in my life.

Recently, in a class on meditation, the teacher asked us to write what our next enlightenment would be and how did each of us plan to get there.  I didn’t know how to respond.  I haven’t ever connected to the word ‘enlightenment’.  How was this person defining enlightenment? Why would I want to be in that state?

Let me tell you upfront I have heard some weird ass ideas about enlightenment that have colored my ideas here.  I have a friend who created lists of people that she or others thought were enlightened.  How did they know that?  What was the evidence?  Someone is observing something in these ‘enlightened beings’ that must be continuous over time.  What are they observing?  Is that even possible for the human body to maintains a 24/7 enlightened state?  Now this same friend decided that she was enlightened. (Based on what I knew about her, I immediately thought that she has no idea what enlightenment was.)  Then there is the old saying, “what do you do after you are enlightened?  You take out the garbage”.  Which means to me that enlightenment is a temporary spiritual state and we all live in this 3D world and continue to have to do 3D stuff even if we have reached ‘enlightenment’. 

In order to answer the question of what my next enlightenment would be, I decided that I had to understand more deeply what the term enlightenment meant to me. First, what is the definition of ‘enlighten’—the idea of shedding light on something, illuminating it, making it clear.  That makes sense, but what is enlightenment, i.e. the act or state of illuminating something, making it clear.  That was not clear to me! In fact, I had a visceral reaction to the term.

Via the internet and Wikipedia, I retrieved the following about the term ‘enlightenment’. Historically, the term enlightenment appeared in the 17th and 18th centuries, also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason.  This Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith. Using the power of the press, Enlightenment thinkers like John LockeIsaac Newton, and Voltaire questioned accepted knowledge and spread new ideas about openness, investigation, and religious tolerance throughout Europe and the Americas. Many consider the Enlightenment a major turning point in Western civilization, an age of light replacing an age of darkness.

Several ideas dominated Enlightenment thought, including rationalism, empiricism, progressivism, and cosmopolitanism.

Rationalism is the idea that humans are capable of using their faculty of reason to gain knowledge. This was a sharp turn away from the prevailing idea that people needed to rely on scripture or church authorities for knowledge.

Empiricism promotes the idea that knowledge comes from experience and observation of the world. (I do believe that being the observer helps me gain more clarity about my experience.)

Progressivism is the belief that through their powers of reason and observation, humans can make unlimited, linear progress over time; this belief was especially important as a response to the carnage and upheaval of the English Civil Wars in the 17th century.

Finally, cosmopolitanism reflected Enlightenment thinkers’ view of themselves as actively engaged citizens of the world as opposed to provincial and close-minded individuals. In all, Enlightenment thinkers endeavored to be ruled by reason, not prejudice.

The thinkers of the Enlightenment, influenced by the scientific revolutions of the previous century, believed in shedding the light of science and reason on the world in order to question traditional ideas and ways of doing things.  The scientific revolution (based on empirical observation and not on metaphysics or spirituality) gave the impression that the universe behaved according to universal and unchanging laws.  This provided a model for looking rationally on human institutions as well as nature.  (Ah, I am gaining more traction here.  The view that the answers to everything are thru logic and rational thought has really tripped up humanity’s relationship with nature and our spiritual nature.)

Now these are the definitions of Enlightenment I was familiar with.  But I don’t think that this is what my teacher had in mind when he was talking about ‘enlightenment’.  He was referring to our spiritual nature not our rational nature.  The quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin comes to mind here, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.”  

So the term enlightenment as used in spiritual groups describes a state that is not rational.   I have read different descriptions where enlightenment can be both an attained state that one lives in for a long period of time and one that is momentary.  Enlightenment is rarely defined as a physical state, though its longevity seems to be linked to the capability of the body to sustain and maintain the holding of higher frequencies.  Here I searched in dictionaries

Enlightenment. It translates several Buddhist terms and concepts, most notably bodhikensho and satori. Related terms from Asian religions are moksha (liberation) in HinduismKevala Jnana in Jainism, and ushta in Zoroastrianism.

Roughly equivalent terms in Christianity may be illuminationkenosismetanoiarevelationsalvation and conversion.

Perennialists and Universalists view enlightenment and mysticism as equivalent terms for religious or spiritual insight. (Ah, I have been a Unitarian Universalist for almost 40 years, so now I am getting nearer to what enlightenment might mean to me. )


Enlighten – advise, disclose, edify, educate, guide, illuminate, inform, instruct, preach, teach, uplift

Enlightenment – nirvana, awareness, bodhi, insight, knowledge, truth, understanding, wisdom

Nirvana (from Hindu and Buddhists view) – bliss, compassion, condition, emancipation, harmony, joy, paradise, seventh heaven, stability, wisdom.

So I know that both Hindus and Buddhists talk about a state of enlightenment, which is often also referred to as Nirvana.  So where was this specific teacher headed in his definition of Nirvana/Enlightenment?

He provided me with some clues

“Imagine in your future there is a moment in which you are enlightened.  Create a connection between that moment and now.  Then ask “what are the steps from now until my enlightenment?” – This seems a most practical approach to something that I thought was a spiritual/higher dimensional state.

“What is enlightenment for you?  If you start to define what enlightenment is for you can understand what to write. It is a way to prepare your own program. ..to connect with the Divine Forces and to speed up and to increase this movement.”  – So I define what enlightenment is for me and it has something to do with connection with Divine Forces and I can speed up my movement toward connection with Divine Forces?  Now at least I have a direction to head in!

“For every one of us, enlightenment will be different.  Shape, describe to yourself what you  mean when you say you want to be enlightened.  What is the path from now to that moment, something very practical. “ Again, make it practical movement toward connection with Divine Forces. Got it!

“From our perspective of physics, perception is like a magnet. It attracts. The power to observe is the power to attract.”  I should observe where I am and where I would like to be.  GPS for my enlightenment!

“There are many enlightenments during your life.  So the steps you create today are only for the next enlightenment. “  Well, that’s a relief.  I only have to plan for my next enlightenment!

So my first task was simply to define what enlightenment is for me.  I used the template 3 of the Creation Exercises – ‘Craving what enlightenment is for me is’.  My CC in that creation exercise included the following.  (the italicized phrases were the emodied phrases from my C1, C2, and C3 recursions).

Craving what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is living in the 3D world as I walk hand in hand with Creation in a reality of unity creates what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is being the joy of my landscape vibrating with the white light of Creation.  Creating what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is being the joy of my landscape vibrating with the white light of Creation sustains and maintains what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is holding in my field the vibrations of wisdom, compassion, joy and bliss such that they are absorbed by all who are within my field.  Sustaining and maintaining what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is holding in my field the vibrations of wisdom, compassion, joy and bliss such that they are absorbed by all who are within my field embodies what my next level of ‘enlightenment’ is for me is being fully in alignment with Creation and my Divine Beings in all that I Be and Do for the rest of this lifetime on earth.  

Now, what is my plan to get to this state of ‘enlightenment’?  I don’t have a specific plan per se. It seems that part of the ‘plan to gain enlightenment’ includes spending more time in alignment with Creation and my Nature of Being as well as deliberately living as I want to be when enlightened, which includes living in alignment with my principles and being one with the Divine Mother who is both my Nature of Being and a field that supports me in my work here.  

What are those principles?  Here are my definitions of those principles.  I created those definitions after writing Template 3 ‘Craving what’ exercise on each of those terms.

Integrity – standing as a warrior for the return of the original design of both this Earth and of Humanity in this lifetime.  

Fervor – best of states of being with earnest pursuit of new comprehensions and forming them into new matrices of realities of unity for myself and humanity.

Curiosity – opening the window of the world to see what is, what is possible and what I can create. 

 Elasticity – the fun of responsiveness in all directions as I include more in my field as I grow into whom I came here to be.

Service – loving who I am as I am while I open to larger fields that comfortably hold both me and my Nature of Being, and in this way I am in service to the whole of humanity.

Love – being with another as I both see them as their highest being and hold them as they navigate this 3D life. 

Creativity – warm affection for the coupling of the old and the new that brings new matrixes of love and connection into my life.

While I don’t have a a specific objectives and goals ‘plan’ to get to what enlightenment is for me, I do have a greater sense of what enlightenment is for me.  I hope that my walk thru my questions gave you some ideas on how you can plan for achieving your next enlightenment. So what does enlightenment mean for you?