Enlightenment in a secular context often means the “full comprehension of a situation”, but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual understanding or a fundamentally changed consciousness whereby everything is perceived as a unity.
Some scientists believe that during meditative states leading up to the subjective experience of enlightenment there are actual physical changes in the brain.
Enlightenment is used to translate the Pāli and Sanskrit word bodhi, which means a state of freedom from suffering, desire and ignorance known as saṃsāra. Bodhi is also translated as “awakening” or “understanding”. Nirvana and Bodhi are nearly synonymous, and in experience may be the same. Tathagata and Buddha-nature are further related terms in Buddhism.
In Theravada Buddhism enlightenment indicates a unique experience which wholly transforms the enlightened individual from their previous condition in samsara. The Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment, which may also be termed “Buddhahood” (the term being related to bodhi).
In the Zen Buddhist tradition anyone is capable of achieving enlightenment. In Japanese kensho is the name for an enlightenment in which one realizes the non-duality of the observer and the observed, while satori is a flash of sudden understanding or awareness. These are experiences along the path to full enlightenment.
Mahayana Buddhists equate enlightenment with discovery of one’s Buddha nature, a state of complete emptiness, a passage beyond the material world into a thought-transcending realm of non-duality and unconditionedness. It is a state where the ego and self have been transcended.
The Heart Sutra says that in truth there is no suffering and no enlightenment and this is also seen in the Diamond Sutra: paradoxically this truth is itself part of the enlightenment experience.
The real truth of enlightenment is that it cannot be described in language, expression or communication of any form.
In other traditions
Hinduism also uses similar ideas, moksha being a representation of freedom from desire and other worldly passions. For Hindus as for Buddhists and Jains, enlightenment ends the cycle of reincarnation. Souls are held to enter many different bodies through the course of their existence. In each of the lives they lead, they develop spiritually. The ultimate goal of this spiritual development is the liberation from the system of earthly suffering. The concept of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism and Hinduism is related to but distinct from ideas such as salvation and transcendence associated with Christianity.
According to Chafer, a systematic thelogian, Christians who have experienced enlightenment are of two groups: those who have experienced true illuminism (biblical) and those who experienced false illuminism (not from the Holy Spirit). One who through direct communication with God received a mystical understanding of God, is considered to have been enlighted. Judaism and Islam have sects that focus on the attainment of enlightenment: Kabbalah and Sufism, respectively. In the Fourth Way teaching, enlightenment is the highest state of Man (humanity).
In New Age Christianity, enlightenment is obtained by direct infusion from the Sacred Rays. The Sacred Rays are continuous streams of energy, consciousness, love and data from the Godhead that are color coded into 12 different frequencies. This energy is above gamma rays and not observable by current science. Nevertheless, these Rays can supposedly be caught by the higher self’s five different chakras, and then absorbed into the meditator’s more physical bodies, and retained within the 7 lower chakras, or the seven churches of John’s Revelation. There are 12 human chakras in this system, total.
There are also 12 petals on the heart chakra in this system. Specifically, these 12 petals are also designed to catch and hold the 12 sacred energies of enlightenment. The theory goes that as the energy from the 12 Sacred Rays accumulates in the chakras and petals, the higher-self will eventually become activated.
This, in turn, allows the enlightened individual to displace and transcend the selfish ego and quickly develop supernatural abilities, including the fruits and the gifts of the Spirit, perfect peace, the realization of the unity of all things, raise kundalini, and develop the siddhas of Hinduism.
Enlightenment is not accomplished by intellectual insight, dogmatic beliefs, or physical works in this method. It is more a product of dedicated meditation, surrender to Spirit and absorption of God’s grace, as contained in the Sacred Rays. This long process ultimately transforms “the old man” into “the new man”. It is also considered to be the “New Birth” by New Age Christians.
Numerous methods to achieve enlightenment are: Meditation, Yoga, Contemplative Prayer, Martial Arts Kata, Fasting, Exhaustion, Sweat lodges, Psychedelic drugs, Despair, and Near Death Experiences.
Jack, New Protector of the Island
6×17 – “The End”
Jack, the new protector of the Island absorbs new awareness and understanding (while symbolically standing in the stream)