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What Is Enlightenment?

As we start meditating and reading spiritual books, we encounter the word “enlightenment.” Our imagination immediately runs wild and tries to understand the concept of enlightenment. But what is it?

I used to think that enlightenment was a state of being where everything was perfect. The mind would be at peace, and everything would be bliss. I am not so sure any longer.

What if enlightenment doesn’t exist as an end goal? Perhaps it is just another fantasy of the mind. There are good reasons why enlightenment can’t be an experience to hold. Every experience is fleeting. The experience itself can, therefore, not be the supreme.

The question we must look into is this: what is observing the experience? What is there through sadness and joy, low and high? There is a perceiver within us that sees all these experiences come and go. Perhaps enlightenment lies here?

There may be a state of being where the mind stops producing thoughts, and it merges with the supreme. Such a state would mean the person never comes back to common humanity. I instantly think of Buddha, but he kept teaching after he was proclaimed enlightened. Could he teach and interact with the world if he had reached enlightenment?

Enlightenment and the Kingdom of Heaven have parallels. Both speak of a place, within or without, where everything is blessed. The Christian tradition says it will come after death, and eastern traditions are barely different. The only difference is that it is the ego’s death that grants access to this heavenly kingdom. Perhaps the Christian story is a metaphor then?

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