What is enlightenment?
This is a question that has been mulled over for centuries, and one that has a thousand differing answers. Looking to the dictionary, we define “enlightenment” as being freed from ignorance or misinformation, and having a full comprehension of reality. At its core, though, this question really asks, “What is the best way to live?”
Western views of enlightenment usually involve an understanding of the sciences, of the verifiable facts of the world as discovered through empirical research. Specifically, the word refers to a stage of cultural growth experienced in the 18th century, in which an intellectual movement focused on reason as a primary source of authenticity swept through Europe.
The Buddhist view of enlightenment is different, and much harder to define, as it is not something easily understood before attaining it. It is, in short, an awakening to our fundamental nature—seeing ourselves and our surroundings as they truly are, without the lens of our preconceived notions. It is a letting go of the “self”.
It is important to give due attention to both brands of enlightenment—the Buddhist flavor is one that is often overlooked in our busy, practical, and “I” centered culture. Let’s take a look at 6 steps you can take to help you begin your journey toward Buddhist enlightenment.