Enlightenment

This is the degree to which one is able to attain satisfactory answers to important questions in life on the basis of observation and reason, and wherein it is such realizations that lead to inner and outer peace. It is important to understand that this state of enlightenment is not something that you either have or don’t have. It is not like a basic light switch, in which the light is either on or off, but more like a dimmer switch, where there are countless shades and degrees of light. There are many degrees of enlightenment that can be achieved, and one’s degree of enlightenment can be increased or perhaps even decreased depending on certain circumstances.

To clarify, this definition of enlightenment differs somewhat from the Buddhist conception of the word where followers of this religion seek enlightenment through what is known as the eightfold path. The word “enlightenment” is the western translation of the Sanskrit and Pali word “bodhi”, which means the knowledge or wisdom, or awakened intellect, of a Buddha. In the Buddhist context, enlightenment usually comes with insights into the Four Noble Truths that are central to this worldview. It does appear that there are some similarities between the Buddhist eightfold path and the aspects of enlightenment that are outlined here, and there may also be similarities between what some Buddhists have in mind when they think of enlightenment and the meaning that is intended within this project, but there are important conceptual differences between these two senses. One main difference is that, from a Buddhist perspective, enlightenment is often seen as a state that one can be in, whereas enlightenment by our definition comes in degrees and can be approximately measured.

In addition, this definition of enlightenment differs from the Eighteenth Century philosophical movement known as The Enlightenment. This work draws heavily from the ideas, methods, values, and arguments that were promoted by Enlightenment-era thinkers, but herein the word “enlightenment” is meant as a state of mind and/or a belief system and the relation such things might have to the truth and to peace.

What does enlightenment mean to you? Let your voice be heard in the forum.