What is Enlightenment?
East vs. West
In Eastern traditions, they use the word “enlightenment” to describe the same thing. Enlightenment entails losing the ego and being present with the now. Buddha is quoted to have said, “There is no self.” I think what he meant is that we are so in touch with all that is around us that we lose the egoic identity of “me” and “mine.” There’s a greater love, and we’re more in touch with other people than we are with our own limiting identity.
In the Western tradition, awakening is sometimes described by the term “via negativa ,” which means, “It isn’t what you think it is.” In the East, they use the term “neti neti,” which means “not this, not that.” So enlightenment is really beyond description. It fascinates us, we pursue it, and some people even enter monasteries to experience it. Some people enter retreat centers and special programs to find enlightenment or awakening. There is a lot of energy around the world going into experiencing this state of awareness.