Enlightenment is a word closely connected to Buddhism. Bodhi, in Sanskrit & Pali means enlightenment. The true meaning of ‘Bodhi’ is to attain perfect wisdom of four noble truths to end ‘dukha’ or sufferings so as to attain ‘nirvana’ and to ultimately become ‘arhat’ or liberated soul. Mahayana Buddhism classifies Bodhi as ‘perfection of wisdom.’
‘To attain supreme wisdom by understanding the divine truth of life is Enlightenment’- Buddha
Suzuki, a well known Japanese scholar who is also known as Rinzai Zen Monk gave the term ‘ Satori’. The exact meaning of Satori is ‘to know’. To explain it more, enlightenment is to experience insight into true nature of reality. It is to know more about reality.
Zen also says enlightenment as a ‘permanent state’.
Vajrayana, a tantric practicioner which comes under Mahayana calls enlightenment as a transformative state.
It is like letting yourself enter in some other world or experiencing something new . But, Zen says it’s not actually going in some other world but realising self as being the part of that permanent world or to attain a permanent state or a permanent bliss.
Now looking forward the meaning of Enlightenment in 17th & 18th centuries which is also called as ‘An Age of Enlightenment’.
This era is called as a philosophical movement which highlighted science & reason over myth & superstition.
In modern age, what does enlightenment means? For me, it’s freedom of communication, elaboration of self opinion, expansion of thoughts, true vision of dreams, creating your own circumstances & living in your own reality.
In Buddha era, Enlightenment may be called as learning, wisdom, perfection of truth & acquisition of knowledge.
But, Kant a German philosopher of late 18th century defined enlightenment differently. ‘Enlightenment, according to kant, is the act of leaving behind the condition of immaturity, in which a person’s intelligence must be guided by another.’
Throughout history, we could see people as being the slave of others thought. Humanity is directed by thinking & opinions of either political leaders, spiritual gurus, paternalistic views, bossy manager and authority of old books.
Kant claimed that to have courage & energy to be self directing in one’ thinking, to think for oneself is an art of enlightenment.
In other words, to be enlightened, one shouldn’t contradict what others considered as a truth or reality. To be enlightened is to weave one’s own path by being a critical & creative thinker, and write one’s own destiny.