Enlightenment Is A Big Word

Let me share my reflections with you. My very first go at meditation was in 1993 at a small Buddhist monastery in the north west of Thailand.

Since then, I've done numerous retreats in a handful of countries. The experience of living in spiritual communities where the emphasize is more on awareness and work, as opposed to formal meditation practice, also ads to the understanding of what enlightenment is and isn't.

Misunderstanding Enlightenment

I've lived with many Buddhist monks and nuns over the years who have had little or no idea about what it takes to attain enlightenment and what enlightenment is. The view that enlightenment is not attainable unless you're an exceptionally gifted meditator, is the result of just that.

In addition, many meditators got the idea that concentration is a higher practice than mindfulness, so they prefer to practice concentration which only makes the mind calm. Now, not even deep concentration leads to enlightenment.

The path to enlightenment involves seeing things the way they really are which is done with relaxed yet alert attention. Other commonly used terms are awareness and mindfulness.

What Is Enlightenment?

Normally, we hold on to our feelings and thoughts which is a form of identification. We think that whatever feelings and thoughts we experience, are ours, and as a result we take almost everything in life personally. This identification causes us a lot of unhappiness.

The enlightened mind has transcended that delusion and sees things the way they really are. When the body is in pain for example, the enlightened mind is aware of the pain, only to let it go. While normal consciousness would resist the physical pain and create a lot of unhappiness around it, which can be called psychological pain.

We are thinking non-stop and totally identify with our thoughts. The enlightened consciousness on the other hand, doesn't get stuck in thinking. Instead, thinking is only used when needed. When there are no thoughts there's only awareness of the present moment, which is a soothing state of mind.

Best of luck!

Related:   Stages Of Enlightenment   Spiritual Practice   Spiritual Doubt

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