Excerpt About Enlightenment
So it appears that the term “enlightenment” has no universal meaning. The concept can be useful only in a teaching that defines it very specifically. But we cannot use the concept assuming it means the same thing in all teachings or traditions. The term “enlightenment” is primarily of Indian origin. Buddhism, Taoism and various Hindu teachings employ the concept to signify some sort of ultimate realization or liberation. However, the Buddha is known to have established his teaching because he was not satisfied with the Hindu teachings of his time. Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism all use the concept of enlightenment, but there are basic differences among their traditions, and thus differences in their concepts of enlightenment. In the prophetic traditions, which dominate as we move west from the Far East, the concept of enlightenment is less central, if indeed it is referred to at all. The concept of spiritual development is emphasized without reference to a definitive experience, insight or state. The Hebraic tradition, as reflected in the teachings of the Kabbalah, employs the concept of progressive enlightenment or development. The Sufi tradition employs many distinctions describing the various processes and realizations. It speaks of evolution, development, refinement, purification and enlightenment. All these are taken to be progressive processes of realization, which can include various experiences and insights.
The perspective we follow in this book is that the human being is born with many and various potentials. The more he actualizes these potentials the more he develops and matures. This process of maturation is the realization of his potentials. Most important of these potentials is Being, with all its aspects and dimensions. Each aspect, even those of the Nonconceptual Reality and the Absolute Truth, is integrated through successive steps: the discovery of the aspect of Being, the permanent realization of this aspect, and the actualization of the aspect, meaning the complete integration of it in one’s human life. Any of these steps can be termed enlightenment. However, each one of them involves the working through of some segment of ego, i.e., complete metabolism of it. This working through can appear as a process or as a sudden realization.